Thursday, August 31, 2006

Blu-ray Useful For Gaming Say Devs.

The debate over Blu-ray in the PS3 has only intensified as more information has come to light. Many people question whether or not a new format, especially with such a large amount of space, is really required for next generation gaming. Further, many people question whether or not the price increase due to the technology is worth the gain.

However not all views on the format have been doom-and-gloom. Several developers we contacted were eager to tell use why they thought Blu-ray was not only important, but imperative for the PS3 and Sony, and a genuine edge over Microsoft.

“Consider that games of the current generation have to use DVD5 or DVD9 for all of their content,” points out Mike Ball, Co-founder and CTO of Ninja Theory, the studio behind the anticipated title Heavenly Sword. “So roughly the storage medium is 100 times larger than the main RAM of the unit. Although they could, it's rare that a current gen title would take the option of pressing on CD for example. Next generation machines have ~512MB RAM on board, so a DVD5 or DVD9 is only 10-20 times the size of main RAM.

“Why is the ratio important? Many games use streaming, so a single level can require many times the amount of data needed to fill the main RAM of the console.” Mike goes on to point out that the quality of the content in the future is only increasing, and that the filesizes will follow. “Don't forget the streaming audio too. Dialog may be translated to multiple languages especially if a title is for multiple territories. Some audio may be surround sound, so that will push up the size. It's also worth considering HD video especially if it's 1080p @ 60Hz at high quality".

The problem this presents is that the current DVD formats use a larger laser, allowing them to store less data in the same space a smaller laser, like the one in a Blu-ray player, can store and read. Mr. Ball says he thinks “it's not a problem for the current titles, [but] I'm sure that many will soon find a single DVD9 to be quite tight. In fact I'm sure it won't be too long before we see multiple disk games being released".

Other developers have said that they value the improved data streaming that Blu-ray provides them, and the ability to create a game without worrying about distributing content between multiple disks. “With a single Blu-ray disk, you know that all the data will be there".

While some think that the ability to put games on a single disk is not worth the cost of Blu-ray, the developers clearly disagree. We won't be able to make a completely educated judgment until the system is released, but we are looking forward to seeing the technology in action.

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