The PS4 and Xbox One have some nice hardware, but with great power comes a great learning curve.
When you get down to it, both the PS4 and Xbox One are basically PCs under the hood. Their x86 architecture has earned quite a few points with developers, who have said that the new generation’s similarity to PCs make it easier to develop for consoles. Capcom begs to differ, though: while it’s gotten easier to do little things, it’s far more difficult to make a game that lives up to players’ expectations. About ten times more difficult, in fact.
Capcom has crafted a new engine (Panta Rhei) to use as a baseline for their development going forward. The old one was working fine, but evidently it couldn’t scale up to max out the new consoles. “Next-gen consoles have drastically redefined the way games are rendered,” says Capcom senior manager Masaru Ijuin. “Conventional theories no longer work.”
Ijuin believes that the Panta Rhei engine is capable of “unlocking the full potential” of the new consoles. It’ll take some getting used to, but he says that the change is necessary. “If we create games the same way as before, we won’t be able to give our fans what they want, and that’s games unlike any they have ever played … but it’s clear that heightened game quality leads to a rise in the number of man hours. The amount of work involved in making games for next-gen consoles is eight to ten times greater than what is required for the current generation of consoles.”
It’s easy to see where that work is going – there’s new physics to be implemented, new lighting effects to program, and much more detail for art teams to create. It all points back to the big question of the new generation’s value: if these games will take eight times longer to create, will they be eight times better than last gen games?