This is the 10th post in a series about the making of our game, Super Mega Baseball. It was copied over from our blog.
Funding issues aside, the guys decided to trek forward with the resources they did have. Around this time they had finally been given the opportunity to get their first dev kit ('the box') and start working on a console for the first time.
Liane: What was the first console you got?
Christian: So at this point we had managed to become licensed Sony developers, which was super exciting. And this allowed us to finally purchase a dev kit - we were actually going to start working on a console. And the first one, the only one that was available to us at the time, was a PlayStation 3. So we bought one for - given our previous post - a very large sum of money to our company at that time. It was super exciting when it arrived, because it truly felt like we were console developers now.
Liane: Once you had it, what was the first thing you did?
Christian: So, all the technology that we’d been running on so far was made by people on PCs for PCs - it was open source / hobbyist / used for a few retail games technology. To our knowledge, no one had used it for PS3. The PlayStation 3 is a very fast box...if its technology and architecture are taken into consideration right from the get go. Which, with what we had, was clearly not the case. The first thing I did was just run a quick little test in comparing how fast its main processor ran compared to what I was working with on my desktop, and the results were incredibly discouraging. It was approximately 10 times slower than my much newer desktop processor. And at the time, the game was already struggling on my desktop computer to run at the speeds that we wanted it to. So if it was going to be way slower on the PS3, we were clearly in a lot of trouble. The second thing I did was check out the PS3 samples, to see what the box was capable of. There was one particularly encouraging sample that could draw a ton of animals marching around. In our game, what takes a lot of the time is just rendering all the people and stadiums, so this was very encouraging because at least we could see that if we did it right, the box was capable of it.
Here's a (blurry, sorry) photo of the first time the game was tested on the PS3 dev kit:
Liane: So what was your plan for porting the game?
Christian: As a licensed developer, you get access to certain tools that Sony makes, and one of those tools is something called PhyreEngine, which was a rendering engine (and is more of a game engine today) that is heavily optimized for the PlayStation platforms. But of course, when we were looking at this we knew that switching over to PhyreEngine would mean throwing a huge amount of work in the garbage.
Scott: I remember being nearly at the point of weeping talking to Christian about the concept of switching engines again. And I had my heart set on us taking what we had and finding a way to make it work. Cause even at this stage we just knew we had to ship something soon, so I was very scared about the idea of an engine switch…again.
Christian: And I did start putting some effort into getting an application up and running on the PlayStation 3 from scratch. And it quickly became evident that the amount of work it was going to be was insane. Huge. But Scott and I had kind of a different view…he saw how much we had to throw away, whereas all I could see was how hard it was going to be to take our stuff and make it work. But at this point, we couldn’t deal with throwing everything away again. We still had no game. We weren’t going to make the switch right now. It was crazy, we didn’t want to go down the path of porting our tech right now, nor did we want to go down the path of porting what we had over to a new engine yet.
Scott: And we also at the time had a lot of our gameplay code in Lua (a programming language), and I think we were planning that this code would survive to release.
Christian: So at this point we hadn’t actually made a decision to switch to PhyreEngine at all. The decision we had made was to not deal with the PlayStation 3 right now.
Scott: To summarize that…we knew that porting what we were already looking at to a console, or any other platform, wasn’t going to convince anyone to help us pay for the rest of development.
Christian: And we still had no game, really. It had to be more clear what we were actually making. And we just said okay, let’s just not worry about the technical problem and let’s actually flesh out what the hell it is we’re trying to make. Cause we knew we were gonna have to show it to somebody soon. And it didn’t show very well where it was at.
Eventually, they did make the decision to switch to PhyreEngine, but that was still a ways off. In the meantime, they developed a shorter-term plan.
Liane: So what was your plan now?
Scott: I had been thinking about how we were gonna bring this sort of thing to a point where it was a game and it was something we could justify asking for help with, either money or help building the bloody thing. And I had thought we should try and go to PAX East, and try to show it, because it would force us to actually build something that people like, and put a ton of pressure on us.
Christian: And I thought the idea was totally crazy, because I think that we’re talking about…this is January, and PAX is the end of March? So we have less than 3 months, we still don’t have a game, and we’re talking getting a booth at PAX and having people coming by and playing this thing…in like 3 months.
Scott: This was gonna be our brand’s first showing to the world.
Christian: So this seemed totally crazy to me, but it seemed less crazy than throwing everything in the garbage, yet again, and doing a bunch of work to get things running on the PlayStation and then still not having anything. So, I guess between those two options, we chose the crazy option of going to PAX.
Scott: Yeah and this is what kicked off the most ruthless hacking bender. Starting to do a bunch of work that we knew was gonna have to be massively transformed, but a true prototyping session. Which you could definitely make an argument that we should have been doing much earlier in the process.
Christian: Starting to make gameplay. Something you can play with, and not just look at.
And with that, we can look forward to our next post - it will be discussing (and showing!) the gameplay that was built in the three month period between this post and their trip to PAX East...and whether it was enough to actually show.
This post was copied over from our blog.