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Naughty Dog Interview


Recently we were given the opportunity to ask Naughty Dog, the creators of Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, some interview questions. Here are the results.

Questions 3 and 4 answered by Pal Engstad, Lead Rendering Programmer. The others were answered by Evan Wells, the Co President of Naughty Dog

Q1: What kind of Home integration are you planning for Uncharted?

A1: Rather than each individual treasure, the Medals in Uncharted are more likely going to turn into Home trophies. We modelled the detail into the treasures just to increase the satisfaction in finding them. We also went to great lengths to make sure that they were authentic items that were from the right time period and location. We will have to come up with new 3D models to represent the trophies when the time comes.

Q2: What kind of tools (software packages) did your programmers and artists use to create the game?

A2: A lot of our tools were designed and created at Naughty Dog including a level editor, a shader and material editor, an asset management system and a scripting language that can be compiled and uploaded to the PS3 on the fly. With all of the development tools that we use, the most important feature is iteration time. We want to cut down the time it takes for our artists, designers and programmers to see their work show up in the game. This means that they will get the maximum opportunity to experiment which is the only way to make a great game.

Q3: Do you find a global queue of jobs to be doled out upon request to be a good approach to paritioning work to the SPE’s, or is it better to assign each SPE it’s own task in the game?

A3: Naughty Dog uses a Job Manager developed jointly by Naughty Dog’s ICE team and SCEE’s ATG group. This means that we can send any type of job to any SPE, and all of the scheduling of jobs is done through a priority system. This works well, since the overhead is minimal and we achieve good load-balancing between SPEs, something that would be hard to do by allocating a whole SPU to a single task.

Q4: With streaming technologies and the included HDD in every PS3, how important is actual memory? I ask because the PS3’s OS takes up so much more of the available 512MB than the 360’s OS does.

A4: Main memory is a cache, but remember that a larger cache enables us to keep more data in memory at the same time, enabling more detail in textures. Therefore, every MB saved improves the quality of our game. We’ve solved most of our memory problems by relying on the SPEs to perform compression, both at load-time and at run-time, using techniques developed by ICE, SCEA Tools&Tech and the SCEE ATG group. So yes, memory footprint is very important to us.