When GamerZines revealed that the Xbox 360 version of Battlefield 3 would ship with an optional hi-res texture installation on its second disc, word spread around the internet like wild fire. But some question marks remained over DICE’s technology. How does it work? What does it do? And is the streaming technology a demand of the Frostbite 2 engine, or something other developers could take advantage on the console in the future?
So when we caught up with Battlefield 3′s Executive Producer Patrick Bach in London yesterday, we asked him for more information about it.
“There’s nothing magic about it,” said Bach. “It’s the same thing we do for PC and PS3, so there’s nothing extra.
“I think the controversy about this is that we actually let you do it on 360 for once. So what it does is it gives you the same abilities, kind of, as the PC and PS3. You can actually stream information from the hard drive.
“That’s new for Xbox 360, but it’s not a new idea for the gaming industry as a whole. No one has really tried to do it properly, so us doing it will create question marks. “
But does installing the texture pack actually make a noticeable difference to the game? Bach certainly thinks so.
“It does make a difference, yes, absolutely. The whole engine is based around streaming textures, streaming terrain and a lot of other content.
“The thing with the 360 is that you need to be able to give consumers a game where you don’t have to install it on a hard drive, because there are 360s without a hard drive. So we need to give you the option of installing it, rather than just demanding it. You could call it a ‘standard-def’ version for the 360 if you don’t have a hard-drive.”
According to Bach though, it isn’t the Frostbite 2 engine that demands the use of streaming tech.
“It’s not the engine that demands it, but that it has the ability to create a more detailed experience. We can’t use more memory of the actual machine itself, we need to flush that memory with new information depending on where you are in the game.
“What we let you do is let you have high-res information that gets streamed in and out of memory at all times, and that gives you a more detailed, varied and vivid experience on all platforms. We don’t want to take that away from 360 players.
“We’re really trying to push the limits of what we can do on the consoles and the PC. Our goal is to see how we can utilise as many of the systems that you actually have in your machine that some people haven’t utilised before. Some (developers) just do it like, if it doesn’t fit into memory we just make a lesser game. We don’t do that. For us, it’s about how we can give you the most game ever even though the hardware is over five years old.”
Bach wasn’t sure of exactly how much space on the Xbox 360 hard drive the texture pack installation would demand, but if you’ve got a hard drive, installing the pack sounds like a necessity to get the most out of Battlefield 3.
Battlefield 3 launches on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC next Friday, October 28th.
Tags: Battlefield 3
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