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A Look At the Tech Behind Burnout Paradise

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the eight-cylinders-of-awesome dept.

The Almighty Buck 44

Eurogamer sat down with Richard Parr and Alex Fry of Criterion Games about the evolution of the technology behind Burnout Paradise , and how they engineered a complex, open world across multiple platforms. "Criterion's method of exacting the most performance from the new architecture isn't so much about threading as such, it's all about parallelization. Rather than lump different game aspects onto different threads (where massive latencies can build as each processor waits for the other to finish its work), game code is highly optimized to make use of what processors are available at any given moment on whatever target hardware, and by choosing the all-important balance points, the experience is like-for-like on all platforms. High-level management code that is unique to each platform then processes the game code according to the hardware that is available." The first part of their Q&A session has also been posted.

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Oops (0, Offtopic)

nicolastheadept (930317) | more than 5 years ago | (#28371687)

Who tagged this as government?

Re:Oops (2, Funny)

MadKeithV (102058) | more than 5 years ago | (#28372275)

Bailout Paradise? ;-)

Re:Oops (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28373327)

Soulskill continues to prove that he's retarded.

Meh (4, Insightful)

ubrkl (310861) | more than 5 years ago | (#28371747)

This is more like an ad for their new DLC. TFA is very light on technical details.

buzzword overload (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#28371937)

"isn't so much about threading as such, it's all about parallelization"

umm, isn't that what you do with threads... run processes in parallel?

Re:buzzword overload (5, Insightful)

Edgewize (262271) | more than 5 years ago | (#28372093)

The interview (as opposed to the article) is at least a little more interesting.

There is nothing fancy here but he is trying to explain about the distinction between between running five tasks at once (a classic "threading" model), and splitting one task into five work units.

Many common threading models in video-game engines do not reduce latency; eg, "render thread", "audio thread", etc. You get a big win from doing two or three threads, but after that your physics takes an entire frame, or your rendering takes an entire frame, and you bottleneck. No matter how many more CPU cores you throw at it, those fixed number of threads are not getting any faster.

Nine women can't deliver a baby in one month, etc etc.

Hardly groundbreaking, but still a nice achievement given the state of most video game engines out there today. Burnout Paradise runs at 60hz with very low latency between input and screen. That's worth some kudos.

Re:buzzword overload (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#28372205)

so he is just using more threads....

Re:buzzword overload (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28372247)

I guess I shouldn't be too surprised that someone who's been around so long still hasn't managed to get that elusive +1 karma bonus when all he does is try to oversimplify things that have been clearly explained to him.

Re:buzzword overload (2, Interesting)

MadKeithV (102058) | more than 5 years ago | (#28372645)

No. There is some distance between "parallelism" and "threads". For example, SIMD instructions, are parallel, and have nothing to do with threads. On the other hand it is perfectly possible to have multiple threads that are not running in parallel (on a single processor for example).
See also: Threading/Concurrency vs. Parallelism. [danielmoth.com]

Re:buzzword overload (2, Interesting)

AlXtreme (223728) | more than 5 years ago | (#28374797)

From article you link to:

If on a single core machine you are using threads and it makes perfect sense for your scenario, then you are not "doing parallelism", you are just doing multithreading.

There are different types of parallelism, and you and the blog article you link to define parallelism as strictly speeding up processes using multiple processors.

This is a false dichotomy. Parallelism at a process level allows a single program to run multiple bits of code in parallel of each other (instead of sequentially). Parallelism at the OS level allows processes to (seemingly) run at the same time, in parallel. Parallelism at the CPU-level or network/cluster-level allows you to speed up a task that would take longer sequentially. I fail to see why you'd want to restrict parallelism to only these last levels.

Threads, processes and clusters are (in my book) all means to achieve parallelism (simply doing stuff in parallel at a certain level), regardless of goal or the number of cores you're running on. But I guess it's all down to semantics.

Re:buzzword overload (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28372659)

no

Re:buzzword overload (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28372789)

Basically they wrote an engine that breaks down tasks and feeds it to whatever hardware is available. So the main code doesn't have to worry about threading. The engine automatically splits up the work. Think of it as JIT threading, hahaha.

Re:buzzword overload (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28372439)

Nine women can't deliver a baby in one month, etc etc.

Sorry to go off-topic good sir, but I was wondering if you could assist me in a simple inquiry:

How are babies formed?

How, in fact, does a girl "get pregnant"?

Thanks for your time.

Re:buzzword overload (1)

The Ultimate Fartkno (756456) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373233)

What is this "girl" you speak of?

idiot, learn your memes (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28373495)

how is babby formed?

how girl get pragnent?

answer:
They need to do way instain mother> who kill thier babbys. becuse these babby cant frigth back it was on the news this mroing a mother in ar who had kill her three kids . they are taking the three babby back to new york too lady to rest my pary are with the father who lost his chrilden ; i am truley sorry for your lots

Re:idiot, learn your memes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28376475)

Actually, the way it was presented made me chuckle a bit. Also because it was unexpected.
Simply regurgitating the original Yahoo Q&A is neither 'Informative' nor entertaining.

In short, whatever dude.

-Different AC

Re:buzzword overload (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373885)

he is trying to explain about the distinction between between running five tasks at once (a classic "threading" model), and splitting one task into five work units.

Well, that's your interpretation. I think he's not trying very hard to explain whatever it is that he's talking about. Long on spin, short on examples.

re: Burnout Paradise deseving of kudos .... (3, Interesting)

King_TJ (85913) | more than 5 years ago | (#28374071)

I agree with Edgewize, and while it's a little less "on topic", I'd also add that this game was one of the best values for the dollar in games for my PS3, to date.
Unlike most new release titles, they didn't hit me for upwards of $50 as retail price, for starters. The game turned out to be more fun and playable than some of those $50+ titles, too. And after that, the value kept building because they regularly released updates to the game (such as adding motorcycles to it, a couple months after I owned it).

This is the way a console title SHOULD be, IMHO. The fact it was coded intelligently doesn't surprise me.

Re:buzzword overload (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28372173)

I am far more interested in the rendering technology behind Burnout Paradise, particualrly on the XBox 360. Does the map use an enormous BSP file, or is it broken into sections? Why did they choose BSP trees over quad or octrees? How did they implement the gourad shading so efficiently?

I hate this place (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28378655)

NO ONE knows the ANSWERS to my FUCKING QUESTIONS. I FUCKING HATE this SITE.

STILL no RESPONSES (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28381461)

I HATE you ALL

BINGO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28372037)

I had architecture, engineered, optimized and high-level.

thats all nice and good.... (1, Funny)

gintoki (1439845) | more than 5 years ago | (#28372465)

this reminds me that since finishing my exams 2 days ago. Ive had nothing to do. Perfect time to play burnout paradise and check out the new dlc. And just so that I'm still on topic....go "parallelization" woooo!!!!!...yeah....i dunno what it actually means except from what little was stated above but anyway.

Re:thats all nice and good.... (4, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#28372957)

i dunno what it actually means except from what little was stated above but anyway.

It means they've found a way to affect a paradigm shift by developing synergy and fostering a team environment.

Re:thats all nice and good.... (1)

gintoki (1439845) | more than 5 years ago | (#28374077)

now all they need to figure out is how to show the crashes that occur when you crash the bikes ingame and still keep the rating it currently has. C'mon people i wanna see the bikes crash. This is burnout and the bikes are pretty redundant without the crash element.

Re:thats all nice and good.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28376569)

Paradigm shift? Synergy? Team Environment? Your buzzwords are way out of date. Either that, or your corp environment is stuck in 1998. I suggest you attend a two-week 6-Sigma meeting, stat.

Re:thats all nice and good.... (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#28377541)

Are you kidding? Where I work, they're still doing the "Fall back and let the other team members catch you" trust exercise.

If only they'd mastered some OLDER technology (0, Troll)

kieran (20691) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373181)

I played through BP on one-player a while back and loved it. I sold it, but re-bought it recently as a party game (now I have a console-friendly housemate) and we discovered it doesn't do f***ing split-screen multiplayer - even if you buy the add-on party pack, it's pass-the-controller action.

So if I want to race my friends, they have to be in another house. How sociable!

A**holes.

Re:If only they'd mastered some OLDER technology (1)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373975)

Yeah, the current gen is really lacking for single-machine multiplayer (except the Wii).

Also, as a primarily-PC gamer who just bought his first next-gen system yesterday, I'd like to say:

How can you console gamers put up with this? Expensive hardware, so many confusing options and add-ons, having to keep up with game patches and system updates... ugh, I think I'll just go back to the PC where it's so much simpler :)

Hahaha, damn it felt good to type that.

(for the record, I bought a 360--it would have been a PS3, but my wife loves RPGs and there are way more of them on the 360, which is a total reversal from the last generation)

Re:If only they'd mastered some OLDER technology (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | more than 5 years ago | (#28386553)

for the record, I bought a 360--it would have been a PS3, but my wife loves RPGs and there are way more of them on the 360, which is a total reversal from the last generation

Yes, the 360 has more, but not "way" more. Neither system has as many RPG's out for it at this stage in their lifespan as the PS2 did. You might still have been better off with a PS3, in the long run, as long as it was a model with PS2 backwards compatibility. There's still more PS2 RPG's coming out later this year!

Re:If only they'd mastered some OLDER technology (1)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 5 years ago | (#28389773)

Already have a PS2. Both are getting FFXIII, and the 360 had the new Star Ocean as an exclusive, so that pretty much sealed it. IIRC, the PS3 only has 2-3 exclusive RPGs so far, and I think at least one is a tactical RPG, which is a sub-genre we don't usually play. The couple RPGs on the PS3 that looked to be the best out so far were also available on the 360.

I felt dirty buying it, and despite the fact that it's one of the newer systems I can't shake the feeling that it'll suddenly die on us in a month or two, and I don't really like the controller... but in the end we decided we probably wouldn't use the Blu Ray feature much, and all but 2-3 games we wanted to play were cross-platform or 360 exclusive (guess I'll have to borrow from a friend to play MGS4). No wireless, which sucks. I don't really like the system, but it's where the games are, unfortunately.

Re:If only they'd mastered some OLDER technology (3, Funny)

GweeDo (127172) | more than 5 years ago | (#28374005)

No...they can be in your house. They just need another system + TV + Network Connection.

Re:If only they'd mastered some OLDER technology (4, Interesting)

Edgewize (262271) | more than 5 years ago | (#28375017)

The lack of splitscreen is, sadly, a design tradeoff for having a huge open world where you can drive anywhere.

In most level-based games, like past Burnouts, the whole level is loaded ahead of time. Splitscreen just means having more players in the same amount of space. Every new player in splitscreen comes with a small, fixed overhead cost. The whole level has already been put into memory so there is nothing extra to be loaded.

But in an open-world game like Burnout Paradise, the players could be anywhere. The world is too big to fit into memory, so the game loads as much as possible and then intelligently loads "ahead" of where the player is, so that the world appears to be seemless.

But splitscreen players could be in totally different places on the map, driving at full speed in opposite directions. So the game would have to load twice as much data in the same amount of time. The second player doubles the cost of everything - twice as much memory, twice as much disk bandwidth to load ahead of each player, etc.

There are hardware limitations about how fast textures can be loaded from disk, how much memory is available, etc. Splitscreen is very hard for open-world games. It can be done, but it would take significant resources - making it work would probably tie up their best programmers for months.

Game development is all about allocating your resources as best you can. Ultimately someone decided that it was acceptable to drop split-screen in favor of making sure that the single-player and online experiences were as good as possible, and getting the game out the door on time.

The removal of split-screen still stings, of course :( But maybe you can understand why it's missing.

Re:If only they'd mastered some OLDER technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28376655)

Uh, maybe you should have bought the PC version. Surely you both have PC's, right?

Asshole console dweeb

Technical or not, it is a downspiral (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28373401)

Sorry to say this, but Burnout Paradise follows the trend of "let's double what is good in it" ..... this is how the first entertaining Transporter movie ended up like a lame CGI joke, how Crank got "faster" in the second rendering it unwatchable and ridiculous......... and that is how the games like Ghost Recon, Battlefield, Rainbow Six and many others become shallow adding only eye-candy.....

IMO Burnout was a good game, then they made the arcade more arcade and then they made it "open ended" ... which is great if you want to drive around in a city doing what exactly?

Then again maybe I am just too old to enjoy the same games I enjoyed 5-6 years ago ......

WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28374017)

How can you bundle "tech" with Burnout Paradise?

I download BP: The Ultimate Box demo and my jaw dropped at just how shitty the physics and graphics were.

Seriously. This is a bargain bin title that doesn't have physics representative ENOUGH of driving at all to warrant purchasing. This is not what happened to the Need for Speed franchise in its change to more arcade-friendly racing physics: this is just plain ugly.

But does it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28375315)

I have Burnout 3, an ancient relic, which features some nice hella-annnoying loading screens that appear after every activity that could possibly be cached.

It is great to hear that they can program for multiple consoles... but is the game as annoying as fuck like the last entries in the series? Or does it transition smoothly between scenes like games that can generate natural publicity (rather than this, "hey I found a press release this morning" crap).

Re:But does it... (1)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 5 years ago | (#28381257)

Are you under the impression this is a new game? If so, you are wrong.

Multi-platform development (1)

CopaceticOpus (965603) | more than 5 years ago | (#28377353)

I really like their approach of creating one codebase which runs on multiple platforms, as opposed to writing for one console and then porting to other platforms. That should make the process of updating the code and adding new features very streamlined. If they're really good, they've set up a system which will make it much faster to develop other cross-platform games as well.

I can't understand why Google didn't take this approach with Chrome. It would have pushed back the initial release date, but in the long run it would give them a flexible system with huge savings in development time.

Multi-playform eh? (1)

topnob (1195249) | more than 5 years ago | (#28384289)

when I read Multi-playform i thought oh cool, but its really just console and PCs? ok so then I read PC....what does that mean, does it run on linux? or bsd...... wish they'd stop calling Windows games PC games..... i call b***s***!

It took me a little while to realize. . . (1)

Fantastic Lad (198284) | more than 5 years ago | (#28384565)

The video on the story page looked really neat. The Sun moving across a big digital world? How cool!

I thought, "Wow! Is this some sort of interactive game set in a futuristic city? Oh, well, it's not futuristic. Okay. Whatever. It still looks really fantastic. That sun moving across the sky looks wonderful. Er. . , but this video is beginning to look like it's all some dippy driving game. No. It can't be. All this work for a dippy driving game?"

And then I realized, "Yes, actually! --This whole giant coding and hardware effort IS all because people want to pretend to drive. Driving; one of THE most boring activities available in the wide library of Human Experiences. I HATE driving. Why the hell would I want to simulate an experience I already find tiresome and annoying? Moving around while sitting on my ass? Ugh. Unless I'm going to end up somewhere interesting, then I'd rather just avoid the whole thing. And in these games is just driving in circles."

Oh well. Each to their own, I know, but this seems to be my week of childishly judging activities which other people are engrossed by. I apologize.

-FL

Re:It took me a little while to realize. . . (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 5 years ago | (#28386909)

There is a VAST difference between commuting and driving/cruising/racing.

Re:It took me a little while to realize. . . (1)

Fantastic Lad (198284) | more than 5 years ago | (#28390363)

There is a VAST difference between commuting and driving/cruising/racing.

Granted. I prefer to cycle. You can move with much grater freedom and nobody but you is in any danger. But I wouldn't waste my time with a biking simulation. Flight sims are even worse; you'd think that they would be interesting because so few people ever get to fly, but once you're 'up' there, you realize it's also incredibly boring. Unless you have missiles. And then it's still boring, but now you have to go line up dots on your screen while trying to pilot a damned air craft. Still, I at least understand flight sims.

Though, I suppose if you feel pent up in a car, driving to and from work every day, you might wish for some kind of reckless release. Maybe driving games are for those people, which I suppose is a lot of people. But my response was simply to stop going to work and find something where I didn't have to drive a car. Much more satisfying.

But it is true. Some people love to drive. Fair enough. Just because I don't get it doesn't invalidate it.

-FL

My impression of the game (1)

whereiswaldo (459052) | more than 5 years ago | (#28385427)

I've played Burnout Paradise on the Xbox 360 in single-player and multiplayer mode. The graphics are really great and the game is challenging. Scenery is interesting. Not something I'd buy myself, unfortunately. My biggest gripe is that in multiplayer mode something about the way the graphics are done is different and gives me and my friend a headache. I noticed this on a bunch of Xbox original titles and am surprised that some games still have that problem.

My favourite Burnout game was Burnout Revenge on the Xbox (not the 360). Furious fast pace, great soundtrack, spent many hours playing that one!

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