The Last of Us creative director says porting to PS4 was 'Hell'

The Last of Us creative director Neil Druckmann explains why porting the game from PS3 to PS4 was harder than you might think.

14

The Last of Us getting a PlayStation 4 version didn't come as much of a surprise, even without the deluge of leaks and rumors. But just because the idea seems obvious doesn't mean the road was easy. Creative director Neil Druckmann recently described just how hard the task was, in some unexpected ways.

“I wish we had a button that was like ‘Turn On PS4 Mode’, but no,” Druckmann told Edge. “We expected it to be Hell, and it was Hell. Just getting an image onscreen, even an inferior one with the shadows broken, lighting broken and with it crashing every 30 seconds… that took a long time. These engineers are some of the best in the industry and they optimized the game so much for the PS3’s SPUs specifically. It was optimized on a binary level, but after shifting those things over [to PS4] you have to go back to the high level, make sure the [game] systems are intact, and optimize it again."

He said that even after optimizing, the two versions had to be run to make sure nothing was broken in the process. The task ended up ballooning past its original size, from a few programmers tinkering with the idea to a "significant programming staff" to port everything over. Druckmann says the team was very careful to preserve everything just as it was, which means they haven't gone out of their way to tweak things that were knocked in the original.

“Star Wars comes to mind. I’m more of a fan of the original cut and Han Solo shooting first," he said. "I have so much attachment to that one that any shifts in the dialogue, or even in the moment-to-moment gameplay, [mean] something about it feels so different that it becomes inferior in my mind. It’s only subjective, but there’s something nice about saying, ‘We’ve finished it’. That’s what we put out there, that’s the final experience – now it’s just about a locked frame rate and all the hi-res textures and assets our amazing artists created. I would like to say the game is the game, so I’d like to just bring it over to the PS4 and get a more solid version of the same experience.”

Editor-In-Chief

From The Chatty

  • reply
    May 19, 2014 11:45 AM

    Steve Watts posted a new article, The Last of Us creative director says porting to PS4 was 'Hell'.

    The Last of Us creative director Neil Druckmann explains why porting the game from PS3 to PS4 was harder than you might think.

    • reply
      May 19, 2014 12:13 PM

      I wonder if Rockstar feels the same way about porting GTA V and how long it might take to port.

      • reply
        May 19, 2014 12:18 PM

        Ironically, it's probably easier to port Xbox 360 -> PS4 (or PC -> PS4) than PS3 -> PS4 because the PS3 architecture is just very different from anything else... the PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One and PS4 are all x86 architecture so programming for them all is relatively similar.

        • reply
          May 19, 2014 12:55 PM

          xbox360 is also powerpc, like ps3. It is not x86.

          • reply
            May 19, 2014 1:09 PM

            Oh, you're right about the X360... but PS3 is NOT PowerPC... PS3 used cell processors (7 of them in each PS3). PowerPC architecture and development is still very similar to those on the x86, while cell processors work quite differently.

            • reply
              May 19, 2014 1:57 PM

              PS3 is powerpc. It has one xb360 core with 8 SPEs attached to it. These SPEs are vector monsters with huge performance and annoying programming.

            • reply
              May 19, 2014 1:58 PM

              The Cell is the name used for the whole thing. It is made up of a single PPC and 7 SPEs.

            • reply
              May 19, 2014 9:54 PM

              You're right that Cell isn't technically PowerPC, but it's absolutely part of the same family of microarchitectures. It didn't have 7 processors, it had 1 POWER Architecture core and 7 SPU coprocessor cores.

              • reply
                May 19, 2014 9:58 PM

                PowerPC is technically a trademark for certain Power ISA chips. They all share very similar instruction sets which used to be called PowerPC but are now called Power ISA.

            • reply
              May 20, 2014 8:39 AM

              Look at how wrong you are. Just look.

              • reply
                May 20, 2014 6:16 PM

                Not on the main point, which is that developing for PS4 is more similar to X360 than to PS3...

      • reply
        May 19, 2014 1:05 PM

        gtv5 is rather portable, it shouldn't be a huge deal. I'm sure TLOU was terrible :( they must have had many 10s of thousands of lines of something near assembly for the SPEs.

        • reply
          May 19, 2014 9:31 PM

          I'm kind of surprised there hasn't been word on a PC/PS4/XbOne version of GTA V by now. I wonder what they're waiting for.

          • reply
            May 19, 2014 10:02 PM

            an incentive? they've sold assloads so far. the install base for the new consoles is tiny compared to the existing ps3 and 360 base.

          • reply
            May 19, 2014 10:27 PM

            They'd be better off starting on the next game on this next gen platform.

            • reply
              May 19, 2014 11:33 PM

              They fucking better not just move on. Every GTA game has come to PC. If they pull that Red Dead Redemption bullshit on us with GTA V I'm going to be real pissed.

              • reply
                May 19, 2014 11:55 PM

                Even if they do release it this year, if it's like GTA4, then it'll be another year before a hardware is good enough to play the game at it's full potential if you want ot enjoy it that way. As of now, you can enjoy the full game on a PS3 or 360.

    • reply
      May 19, 2014 12:26 PM

      So when the hell is it coming out?