PS3 Attitude

PS3 news, views and gossip from PS3 Attitude - a PS3 site with bite!

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

10 Questions with Qube on 'Q'

Qube Software recently announced a new middleware offering for all current platforms including the PS3.

The product, simply named 'Q', is being officially launched at GDC this month. Founded by Servan Keondjian and Doug Rabson, the software pioneers who between them created Reality Lab and Direct3D, and based in West Hampstead (London), Qube has designed and built Q to provide a consistent software framework for development studios.

"We've designed and built Q so it rocks on the current generation of platforms; the Xbox 360, PS3, Wii and hi-spec gaming PCs. It positions us well for next generation mobile devices and it’s both fast and compact enough so that last generation devices can handle it. It’s a solution that works for every genre; RPG, MMO, FPS, racing, sports, action and even the latest stars like rhythm action games.” - Servan Keondjian, Managing Director

We caught a few moments with Qube Software's Program Manager, Jamie Fowlston, and asked him 10 questions on 'Q':

[PS3A] What does 'Q' bring to the PS3 development community?

[JF] Q brings a number of high-end technical features to the PS3, including background data streaming for huge seamless worlds, a texture manager that allows scenes to have gigabytes of visible texture and a novel n-dimensional animation blending system.

But Q's real innovation is its extensibility, the extent and ease with which it can be customised and specialised by developers.

Extensibility may be much less glamorous than a shiny graphics feature, but it is vastly more important to the process of creating a game. Q has been designed and built to let developers in at every level so they can make the PS3 hardware sing.

[PS3A] Why is it different to other middleware offerings?

[JF] The real problem for middleware has always been the difficulty of customising it.

Existing middleware typically comes in two flavours: game engines and low-level renderers. Game engines give you a naked game and the tools to clothe it; if the game you're building is similar to the original, it'll work great.

But if a developer wants to do something differently, it takes a huge investment in understanding and re-engineering the original game. For low-level renderers, there's lots of work to be done on top of the renderer to complete the game.

Q is a totally different beast.

Q provides high-level features and tools like a game engine, but it is built from small, modular components. Developers can pick and choose the standard components they like, add their own when necessary and even bring in pieces from other developers. We don't know of any other middleware that gives developers such freedom to mix and match the pieces they need.

[PS3A] What challenges did you face in bringing your platform to the PS3, and how was it different to other platforms?

[JF] We actually found the PS3 pretty easy to work with. I don't recall any major challenges. It took us about a month to get everything up and running.

We brought Q up on a PS2 first to make sure it was small and fast so when we ported to PS3 everything went like a rocket. We had some minor performance issues running expensive shaders on early dev kits, but that's ancient history now.

The Cell is obviously quite different to anything on other platforms, but that's just given us the opportunity to offload various tasks onto the SPUs, which is nice.

[PS3A] Which titles are already in development using 'Q' and are any of the PS3-based?

[JF] I'm afraid we can't say anything about the games in development using Q at the moment as they belong to our customers, not us. But I can say that Q's PS3 capability has played an important part in the decision making process for a number of developers.

[PS3A] After seeing the videos of 'EarthSim 2' my immediate reaction was two words - David Braben! What would it take to bring a next-generation 'Elite' sequel to life using 'Q'?

[JF] Earthsim 2 adds a number of custom plug-ins to Q to bring its planets to life, using dynamic tessellation and procedural detail techniques. To build something like Elite on top of that base wouldn't be hard - the technology's been done, the rest is gameplay!

[PS3A] How well will 'Q' work alongside other exciting middleware offerings, such as the Havok 'ragdoll' physics engine or the forthcoming HydroEngine that allows developers to 'flood' levels with realistic water?

[JF] We haven't worked with those specific middleware offerings, but from our point of view integrating another middleware component is just like a developer adding their own components: it's what Q was designed for.

[PS3A] How many people are there in your team now?

[JF] There are 7 of us working on bringing Q to market right now. There are another 3 engineers on the Earthsim 2 team who make sure what we do is useful.

[PS3A] What's the most amazing part of your life?

[JF] Finding out that BAFTA awards bend when knocked off a table.

[PS3A] Where is the best place to eat in West Hampstead?

[JF] The Banana Tree Canteen: the chicken laksa noodle soup is a marvel.

[PS3A] What does the future hold for Qube and what's at stake if you don't reach your goals?

[JF] We're currently working on Q and Earthsim, we think both projects are now ready to take on the world, so we're working hard to make them successful. If we don't reach those goals, we'll have to see what happens; we're not planning for it!

We'll wait to see what Q has to offer when it is fully launched at GDC. In the meantime, take a look below at the three-part Earthsim 2 run-through.

Many thanks to Jamie and Qube Software for sparing us their time - PS3 Attitude will watch what happens next closely.

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Tuesday, 23 October 2007

The PS3 Attitude Interview; LocoRoco Cocoreccho's World No. 1

We have a love/hate relationship with LocoRoco Cocoreccho here at PS3 Attitude. We love the LocoRoco franchise and have spent many an hour smiling happily away at the PSP original. You just can't help yourself! It's certainly a great way to de-stress. In fact, if you gave everyone in the world a PSP and a copy of LocoRoco, you could probably deliver world peace!

But we've not always been that complimentary about the follow up on the PS3. When SCEE told us it was an 'interactive screensaver', we winced. Screensaver or not, it turns out there's a reasonable amount of gameplay in a title that cost only £1.99, and there are world leaderboards to boot.

Not only is 'bunnyho' the world's number one at LocoRoco Cocoreccho, he happens to be from the UK as well - which makes us even happier at PS3 Attitude!

Recently, we spent a few moments with bunnyho finding out what it takes to be the leader.

PS3A: Thanks for spending time talking with us. What first drew you to LocoRoco Cocoreccho?

BH: I usually check the PlayStation Store every day. I saw the trailer via the store a week or two before the game was available and that was enough to convince me to downloaded it when the game came out. I'll be honest, I downloaded it at first glance with no hestitation simply because its LocoRoco!

PS3A: And what is your current high score?

BH: I am at 1,303,060 at the moment.

PS3A: LocoRoco Cocoreccho is a game that involves a number of different mechanics. We don't need to 'tip the land' anymore, but there is a lot of shaking the SixAxis in order to uncover all the LocoRocos and Mui-Muis. What tips and tricks can you offer to other players who want to score big?

BH: The answer to the bigger scores is to spend more time on the mini-games, especially the first and third ones. Interestingly, you can let the LocoRocos do pretty much whatever they want to do. You don't have to keep them all in one place - they're perfectly safe doing their own thing! In the first instance you need to find enough of them to unlock all the different areas so you can get to the third mini-game.

PS3A: What's so special about the third mini-game; the one with the big owl?

BH: It is where you can build up some massives scores. The tactic is simple. Try to coax the bigger LocoRocos in to the mini-game and then lose most of them straight away, leaving just three or four of the larger LocoRocos on his wings. Then, just learn the pattern of eye movements and stay on the wings. And don't get too close to the edge. It's tempting to go for the high scoring 'flashing bee' that comes close to the owl's wingtips, but it's too high risk. You just need to stay on for long enough. I cant stress enough you need A LOT of spare time to get a good high score - a minimum of at least 4-5 hours! I only stopped at 999,990 for this mini-game because I was worried what would happen if I reached a million - there didn't seem to be enough space on the screen for seven figures!

PS3A: Did you find it natural or does it take a lot of practise to be number one?

BH: I'll say that it came naturally, since the day it came out I never left the top 10. The first day alone I was in fourth place, and day-by-day I was moving up and down off the number one slot until the day I got THAT high score. I wouldnt say that practice is needed but mainly time and patience and a good memory of where everything is and when you should perform certain tasks. I always knew in myself I could beat any of my scores on any given day - it just takes a bit of luck on the mini-games not to be eaten and a lot of time. So whilst it comes naturally to me I think most players could beat their current scores if they had the time and patience.

PS3A: If LocoRoco Cocoreccho 2 came along, what would you like to see in the game?

BH: I would like to see more than the one map. Whilst it is a pretty big map with different sections to unlock as you go along, I'd like to see other maps too. That way people could have their own 'map high scores' and then the game could have a master high score for all maps. An option to play the mini-games without going in-game to play them, much like how the original LocoRoco was on the PSP, would be welcome. This would give the game a longer life span, because currently there's pretty much nothing more to do other than the day I get beaten or if I feel like extending my score - which I'd need to put a whol day aside for! Right now positions 1 to 20 of the leaderboard has hardly moved in weeks except for the number two spot who I have seen finally bringing life into the leaderboard - he/she is slowly creeping up my score. I'd also like to see an actual screensaver option for the PS3 just like they ill-advisedly stated in the video preview.

PS3A: Do you prefer LocoRoco on the PSP or the PS3 sequel?

BH: It is a close one but the original PSP title just takes it. Don't get me wrong - I love the new one. It is a different game to the original so a comparison is a bit harsh but in terms of gameplay, the original one is better. Yes the new one is great with the online scoreboard and the cheap price but i guess you pay for what you get. Cocoreccho is not really a long-lasting game or rich in material whereas the original one is 'pick-up-and-play' anytime of day. The PSP original has so many levels and you can play the mini-games whenever you want. The LocoRoco editor is a lot of fun too. In a ideal world if they bought out a LocoRoco 2 on the PS3 with BOTH types of games then they would have a huge hit and I definitely would snap it up in a heartbeat.

PS3 Attitude would like to thank bunnyho for a great interview. Maybe we should all go back and give LocoRoco Cocoreccho another chance, and by all accounts at least a whole day of our time!

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Friday, 20 July 2007

Whilst we're thinking about Super Stardust HD...

If you're one of those people who is wondering how on earth some players are managing to score 700, 800 or 900 million on the PS3 phenom that is Super Stardust HD, you'll love this interview at PS3 Fanboy.

'Zafro' can be found in the top five of the high score list and although he starts off a bit slow, he soon gives up lots of valuable information on how you too can reach the dizzy heights of Super Stardom.

Apparently the answer is to build up at least 70 bombs!! Seriously, it's more complicated than that. You may need some actual talent to play this game after all (something I'm sadly lacking at the moment!).

Read the full Super Smashing interview now...

[via PS3Fanboy]

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