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PC vs Console


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Poll: Platforms (50 member(s) have cast votes)

Which platform do you prefer to program for?

  1. PC (Windows) (36 votes [44.44%])

    Percentage of vote: 44.44%

  2. Xbox 360 (6 votes [7.41%])

    Percentage of vote: 7.41%

  3. Nintendo Wii (2 votes [2.47%])

    Percentage of vote: 2.47%

  4. Playstation 3 (7 votes [8.64%])

    Percentage of vote: 8.64%

  5. Other (7 votes [8.64%])

    Percentage of vote: 8.64%

  6. iOS (9 votes [11.11%])

    Percentage of vote: 11.11%

  7. Gameboy (All Variants) (1 votes [1.23%])

    Percentage of vote: 1.23%

  8. Nintendo DS (2 votes [2.47%])

    Percentage of vote: 2.47%

  9. Android (10 votes [12.35%])

    Percentage of vote: 12.35%

  10. PS2 (1 votes [1.23%])

    Percentage of vote: 1.23%

  11. PS1 (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

  12. Xbox (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

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#1 Savalric   Members   -  Reputation: 157

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 01:39 AM

I know this debate has already been talked about several times, but I would like to know what your opinions are as developers regarding this issue. I'm currently writing a research paper and I'd like to get your opinions/viewpoints based on the developing games for each of these platforms.

 

1. What issues do you run into on one/some platforms that you don't run into on others?

2. Which platform do you prefer to develop for?

3. Which platform is the easiest to develop for?

4. Which platform is the hardest to develop for?

5. How many years experience do you have in programming/developing?


Edited by Savalric, 20 February 2013 - 03:10 AM.


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#2 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 21319

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 02:50 AM

Several obvious missing poll items:  Multiple targets, newer and undisclosed consoles, older consoles, handheld consoles like DS, 3DS, and Vita, and the catch-all "other".

 

What issues do you run into?

Every system is different.  Every project is different.  Every tool chain and build chain is different.  Every team is different.  I think this is an overbroad question so it has no definite answer.

 

Which is easier/faster in general to develop for?

PC is generally fastest and easiest because of the debugging tools available.  Edit-and-continue is perhaps the most amazing feature when it works, eliminating several iterations of a potentially 5 to 10+ minute compile/deploy/reproduce cycles for modifying code in place.  That feature alone can save several hours each day per developer, which you can multiply out over many developers over the course of a project to see a savings of potentially many work-years of effort.  In my experience the X360 has the next best available tools, mainly because it is essentially a PC.  The other platforms tend to have tools that are much less polished and are prone to error.  Many good engines are cross platform and include PC, so you can do most gameplay development on the PC version and only use the console-specific versions when an issue arises.

 

 

Which is cheaper/more profitable to develop for?

Development cost and profit margins are not directly related.  Also depends on the project.  

 

Cost of a AAA game will be very different than the cost of a minor title, which will be different again from a homebrew title.  Development cost for handheld consoles and last-gen systems is generally much less than current-gen and next-gen titles.  For a AAA game, if you are targeting either X360 or PS3 it is not significantly more money to target the other as well.

 

As for profit, the Wii (and Wii U) can be extremely profitable for the right projects that fit the system's demographics, although they are more often a money pit for bad projects and inappropriate ports.  The GBA, DS, Vita, and other handhelds have all proven to be consistantly profitable relative to development cost and risk.  The profit margins needed for a AAA console game to be considered successful are different than the profit margins for a minor title or homebrew title to be considered successful.  


Check out my personal indie blog at bryanwagstaff.com.

#3 Savalric   Members   -  Reputation: 157

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 03:39 AM

Just wanted to point out that I didn't ask about the handheld/mobile aspect because the main debate between gamers is generally between the major consoles (PS3, Xbox, Wii, and PC). Also, I'm getting gathering information also in regards to current market sales and opinions, as for most people, future consoles are still speculation and there are no facts statistically on those products. I also revised the questions, so hopefully it'll be easier to respond.



#4 Ashaman73   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 7496

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 06:25 AM

This question is really hard to answer. First off you need to consider, if you are a small indie/hobby developer, which will have a hard time to get his hands on a real development kit for the XBox360/PS3, or a larger studio who will get his hands on the kits, but will most likely develop on both consoles nevertheless. Then there is the question of the market, the player base of the Wii is quite differnent to XBox360/PS3. Therefor the decision to consider development on PC vs Console is mostly business driven and less technically.



#5 Savalric   Members   -  Reputation: 157

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 05:00 PM

Well, I figured the developers on gamedev were mostly indie/hobbyist so i just wanted your opinions on the platforms. If you really only dev for PC that's fine, as a kit isn't readily available to you. I'm also asking (attempting to) some major studios for there opinions as well. But I also know that a lot of games (not sure of the percentage) are developed on the XBox and then ported over (I know Skyrim was, hence it's terrible UI for PC). So, if as a indie/hobbyist you only develop for PC, that's alright, because I just want your viewpoint from a development standpoint. If you have a studio, be it indie or not, i'd also like to know as far as business goes. You don't have to stick to the questions above, I just figured they'd make it easier to understand what I wanted. Think of them as guidelines.


Edited by Savalric, 15 February 2013 - 05:38 PM.


#6 phantom   Moderators   -  Reputation: 7278

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 06:47 PM

But I also know that a lot of games (not sure of the percentage) are developed on the XBox and then ported over (I know Skyrim was, hence it's terrible UI for PC).

Ugh... I hate how this myth persists... in most cases the console and PC games are developed at precisely the same time from the same code base and the same basic asset sets - there is no 'porting' of code going on. In our games ~95% of the code base is the same between platforms and at any point during development you could compile the game for the target platform and it would run.

If the UI is 'bad' it is because it was a design choice made which probably had very little to do with what platforms were being targeted.

I put up with this myth/misunderstanding on gamer forums, because frankly those guys are laughably clueless at times, but it shouldn't be something which persists on a development forum...

#7 Savalric   Members   -  Reputation: 157

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 08:00 PM

Well, that's why i'm here, to learn. I've only recently started to learn c++ so I can't say anything for certain without another developers insight. Any feedback at all, is great feedback to be honest.



#8 Hodgman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 30385

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 08:05 PM


But I also know that a lot of games (not sure of the percentage) are developed on the XBox and then ported over (I know Skyrim was, hence it's terrible UI for PC).

Ugh... I hate how this myth persists... in most cases the console and PC games are developed at precisely the same time from the same code base and the same basic asset sets - there is no 'porting' of code going on. In our games ~95% of the code base is the same between platforms and at any point during development you could compile the game for the target platform and it would run.

If the UI is 'bad' it is because it was a design choice made which probably had very little to do with what platforms were being targeted.

I put up with this myth/misunderstanding on gamer forums, because frankly those guys are laughably clueless at times, but it shouldn't be something which persists on a development forum...


In some cases, it's only false on a technicality.
In my experiences, our engines were cross platform, so the game would run on PC/360/PS3 pretty much the same throughout the entire development cycle. Even when we were making a 360-only game, or a Wii-only game, most of the staff would be developing on the PC -- so it's false in that regard, the game is developed on the PC.

However, our publisher usually didn't want a PC version at all, so that build wasn't released, or they would want the PC version 12 months later (apparently to avoid PC piracy impacting console sales). In that latter case, the publisher would also want this late PC release as cheap as possible, so one person would be assigned to dig up the 12-month old code and assets, and get it presentable. A small team would then work with QA to fix any (severe) PC-specific bugs that were reported, and to integrate platform APIs, like GFWL or Steamworks.
The smallest amount of money possible would be spent getting this PC build out the door, which meant:
* no extra graphical options, even though we could've easily added higher quality settings.
* no GUI menu for customizing controls. You play with a 360 pad, use our keyboard layout, or hack our config files.
* no tweaks to the in-game UI to better suit keyboard/mouse controls, rather than one optimized for game-pads.
* a poor online experience with a quickly ported GFWL matchmaking/friend system, even though every gamer despises GFWL.
* no support for modding of files, even though it would've been easy to release the toolset and despite the quite large group of fans waiting to create mods for us (they'd already set up a website/forum to share their mods) to extend the life of our product...
* and once: frame-limiting the game to 30Hz (which is what the consoles ran at), because the AI performed differently at other frame rates.

So despite them not technically being "ported" to the PC, I have still worked on enough "cheap PC ports"...

Edited by Hodgman, 15 February 2013 - 08:08 PM.


#9 MrDaaark   Members   -  Reputation: 3555

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 10:04 PM

If the UI is 'bad' it is because it was a design choice made which probably had very little to do with what platforms were being targeted.

Also a matter of opinion. I remember when Morrowind came out. Console UI had all the functionality, but was streamlined to the point where you'd get things done with a quick button press, and it would pop up and go away in half a second.

On the PC you get all these layers and overlapping windows. Why do I want to drag a helmet from an inventory window on the head of a paper doll? It's a helmet. Since I can't equip it on my foot, I don't need extra functionality to specify WHERE to equip it with a long drag across the screen. It should only ever have been one button press.

Streamlined doesn't always mean worse.

#10 TheChubu   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4353

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 11:11 PM

If the UI is 'bad' it is because it was a design choice made which probably had very little to do with what platforms were being targeted.

On the PC you get all these layers and overlapping windows. Why do I want to drag a helmet from an inventory window on the head of a paper doll? It's a helmet. Since I can't equip it on my foot, I don't need extra functionality to specify WHERE to equip it with a long drag across the screen. It should only ever have been one button press.

Streamlined doesn't always mean worse.

 

Morrowind comes from an era where PC RPGs where supposed to be overly complicated sometimes :D There are many RPGs that seem to have over worked mechanics with an ugly way to expose them to the user. In that case the streamlining was a good influence. It probably forced Beth to start caring more about that stuff.

 

Skyrim's case was kinda exceptional. At launch, the game didn't properly supported a mouse. Get it? PC game without proper mouse support?

 

There was this "zooming in items" function (required for using dragon claw doors) that wouldn't work because it seems that the mouse wheel wasn't mapped to the zoom at all. That and several issues when clicking buttons in character creation and inventory.

 

That is a game designed with an xbox in mind.

 

On the other hand, you have Crysis 1. That was a game designed with a PC in mind in all aspects. Then the sequel, Crysis 2, even if it did looked better in PC, had all the graphic options, moddability, etc that Crysis 1 had (people often complain about the graphics and settings mostly) you can clearly see a console oriented design. The movement is paced differently, the weapons, aiming and shooting feel different. Much more similar to other console oriented shooters like Halo, CoD, etc.

 

That's why I actually liked Rage. It still had some remnants of old school fast paced PC shooters like Quake 3 Arena. Designers at iD didn't butchered (too much) their style to appeal to console players. And for a studio that has more renown for their tech than anything else, they have some amazing artists working in ther stuff. The dead city? Breath-taking. Really.

 

It is a matter of preference I guess. I don't like console-centered designs. That's my take on it.


"I AM ZE EMPRAH OPENGL 3.3 THE CORE, I DEMAND FROM THEE ZE SHADERZ AND MATRIXEZ"

 

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#11 darkhaven3   Members   -  Reputation: 160

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 01:10 PM

I vastly prefer PC to play videogames in nearly all cases, although I do have soft spots for games like the Xbox port of Minecraft so I can play with a friend of mine who doesn't have a working PC at the moment. That being said, I have consistently witnessed ignorant (not an insult) individuals on Nintendo Network, Xbox Live, and Playstation Network who think "PC games are full of hackers" and "X is the most powerful gaming machine out right now". The insufferable arrogance of 12-year-olds screaming racial expletives over the internet at me because I killed them on Call of Duty is also not worth the trouble on Xbox or Playstation... Not to say that's everyone, but I've frankly had enough of it.

 

That  being said, I am not adverse to programming for the Xbox 360 nor the Wii. I actually had quite a lot of fun at the time getting a simple JPEG decompressor routine to get up and running on the Wii back when I was new to it! And there's just something really nifty about spending a late night finishing up X or Y tweak on a raycaster engine you've been working on for Gameboy Advance, and being able to take it with you and show people in the palm of your hand, on the original hardware.

 

So in short, I think console gaming is more or less intolerable in most cases and I absolutely prefer playing on PC. However, as far as programming goes, I have a fondness for the Gameboy Advance, the Wii, and several other "vintage" consoles.



#12 blueshogun96   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 916

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 08:00 PM

As frob stated, there's numerous options missing from the poll....

 

If I had to choose one, I had the biggest thrill working with Xbox 360.  Although I hate Xbox 360 with a passion (except for it's XBLA), it's a joy to code for.  I wrote code for Xbox1 and 360 and I kinda liked the first Xbox SDK better (as far as the DirectX super set goes).  In the 360's XDK, I found much of the really helpful APIs removed (i.e. D3DDevice::BlockUntilVerticalBlank, less primitive types, etc.), but I did like editing the shaders and stuff.  I personally don't like XAudio and prefer DirectSound, but the last time I complained about it here, I got ripped a new one, so I won't.  But the best part was obviously the bridging of the gap between PC and Console.  That's what I liked about coding for Xbox.

 

Many of you will disagree or even argue with this next one, but so far, the hardest platform to program for in my experience is iOS.  Spending weeks or even months trying to get a very basic feature to work isn't ideal to me.  I like it, but it's more trouble than it should be.  It took me a ridiculously long time searching google to find enough information to write an OpenGL ES 1.1 based framework that would work on my iOS 3.1 device (which is all I have atm).  Fortunately, I don't have to do it anymore and I have a framework I can rely on.  I had the same experience with writing cocoa based MacOSX apps.  It was really hard finding information on initializing OpenGL, interface builder and all of that stuff.  I eventually gave up and started using SDL.  After that, no problems.  Then things started getting fun!  I had a field day learning about how to use Apple's vendor specific OpenGL extensions (even found some extensions that were similar to NVIDIA's for Windows).  Apple has some really great OpenGL extensions, and I have yet to learn how to use them all.

 

I dabbled with PS2 before, but never anything serious.

 

Those are my biggest platform programming experiences.  I have yet to get anything working on Android.


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#13 Savalric   Members   -  Reputation: 157

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 03:08 AM

I've decided to add more choices to the poll, since a lot more people were choosing "Other" than I had expected. Obviously, mobile gaming is popular, and while I didn't intend to include it in my paper, I suppose it does deserve a seat on the battlefield. I left other there, for consistency purposes. Thanks for the feedback you've all given so far, it's providing a lot of insight into the minds of the devs.

 

EDIT: I also thought about it, and it seems like some/a lot of developers like to develop on multiple platforms. As such, I've allowed multiple choices.


Edited by Savalric, 20 February 2013 - 03:11 AM.


#14 MrDaaark   Members   -  Reputation: 3555

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 03:56 PM

It is a matter of preference I guess. I don't like console-centered designs. That's my take on it.

You're assuming that console fans liked the Skyrim interface just because the PC crowd hated it? It was a poor design on all platforms.

#15 Nypyren   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4303

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 04:23 PM

It is a matter of preference I guess. I don't like console-centered designs. That's my take on it.

You're assuming that console fans liked the Skyrim interface just because the PC crowd hated it? It was a poor design on all platforms.
It seems like SkyUI would work great on consoles as well; all it really needs is an adjustable font size for people sitting a mile away from their TVs.

#16 kushinn landoky   Members   -  Reputation: 115

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Posted 04 June 2013 - 08:14 PM

 

But I also know that a lot of games (not sure of the percentage) are developed on the XBox and then ported over (I know Skyrim was, hence it's terrible UI for PC).

Ugh... I hate how this myth persists... in most cases the console and PC games are developed at precisely the same time from the same code base and the same basic asset sets - there is no 'porting' of code going on. In our games ~95% of the code base is the same between platforms and at any point during development you could compile the game for the target platform and it would run.

If the UI is 'bad' it is because it was a design choice made which probably had very little to do with what platforms were being targeted.

I put up with this myth/misunderstanding on gamer forums, because frankly those guys are laughably clueless at times, but it shouldn't be something which persists on a development forum...

 

In some cases, it's only false on a technicality.
In my experiences, our engines were cross platform, so the game would run on PC/360/PS3 pretty much the same throughout the entire development cycle. Even when we were making a 360-only game, or a Wii-only game, most of the staff would be developing on the PC -- so it's false in that regard, the game is developed on the PC.

However, our publisher usually didn't want a PC version at all, so that build wasn't released, or they would want the PC version 12 months later (apparently to avoid PC piracy impacting console sales). In that latter case, the publisher would also want this late PC release as cheap as possible, so one person would be assigned to dig up the 12-month old code and assets, and get it presentable. A small team would then work with QA to fix any (severe) PC-specific bugs that were reported, and to integrate platform APIs, like GFWL or Steamworks.
The smallest amount of money possible would be spent getting this PC build out the door, which meant:
* no extra graphical options, even though we could've easily added higher quality settings.
* no GUI menu for customizing controls. You play with a 360 pad, use our keyboard layout, or hack our config files.
* no tweaks to the in-game UI to better suit keyboard/mouse controls, rather than one optimized for game-pads.
* a poor online experience with a quickly ported GFWL matchmaking/friend system, even though every gamer despises GFWL.
* no support for modding of files, even though it would've been easy to release the toolset and despite the quite large group of fans waiting to create mods for us (they'd already set up a website/forum to share their mods) to extend the life of our product...
* and once: frame-limiting the game to 30Hz (which is what the consoles ran at), because the AI performed differently at other frame rates.

So despite them not technically being "ported" to the PC, I have still worked on enough "cheap PC ports"...

 

 

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#17 polyfrag   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1843

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Posted 05 June 2013 - 03:25 PM

I'd develop for PS3 if I knew how.



#18 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 21319

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Posted 05 June 2013 - 04:15 PM

I'd develop for PS3 if I knew how.

 

The development part is fairly easy.

 

The more difficult (or perhaps just more expensive) parts are convincing Sony to accept the studio, and then when the game is ready getting it through the crazy certification process.


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#19 Ravyne   GDNet+   -  Reputation: 7386

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Posted 05 June 2013 - 04:27 PM

It is a matter of preference I guess. I don't like console-centered designs. That's my take on it.

You're assuming that console fans liked the Skyrim interface just because the PC crowd hated it? It was a poor design on all platforms.

Yeah, but you can tell when its really bad on PC (I'm looking at you, Borderlands). If developers put in the time up-front to abstract their UI away from the console experience, it wouldn't be such a problem to modify it to suit the PC later. Better yet, get the PC port polished right after the console version is out the door and sit on it 6 months if piracy is a concern.



#20 TheChubu   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4353

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Posted 05 June 2013 - 07:09 PM

^That, and:

 

It is a matter of preference I guess. I don't like console-centered designs. That's my take on it.

You're assuming that console fans liked the Skyrim interface just because the PC crowd hated it? It was a poor design on all platforms.

No. I'm assumed that Skyrim's ui was designed with console users in mind, given that it didn't even had proper mouse support at launch. For PC it was broken and clearly not designed for people with a monitor but  a "10-foot-user".

 

Guess what PC players didn't complained? People who played it with an Xbox controller, because it just worked with it.


Edited by TheChubu, 05 June 2013 - 07:10 PM.

"I AM ZE EMPRAH OPENGL 3.3 THE CORE, I DEMAND FROM THEE ZE SHADERZ AND MATRIXEZ"

 

My journals: dustArtemis ECS framework and Making a Terrain Generator





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