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Mr Puggsly said:
curl-6 said:

It's not as simple as that; RAM impacts a lot more than just textures. In open world games last gen, the limited RAM meant games had to be constantly shunting data in and out of memory. This not only resulted in a lot of pop-in and loading stalls, but also impacted performance because the CPU was bogged down by managing all this data streaming. These factors are a big part of why even top tier productions like Skyrim and GTA 5 could run so poorly.

It was also a big headache for developers; ask pretty much any dev who worked on PS3/360, and apart from the PS3's ridiculous architecture, they'll likely tell you that the hardest part was working with such extreme memory constraints.

I hear ya, but we have console with like 10x the memory to work with and generally its not producing a world of difference in game design. Even modern open world games suffer from the same issues of clearing out data after a certain distance, pop in, loading stalls, etc. If you play modern PC games you would also see a big RAM hog (VRAM) is textures. I feel there is also just less efficient use of RAM given there is less limitations to work with. Many of the performance issues on 7th gen were likely due to GPU bottleneck.

Just an example, Gears of War Ultimate is really just the original game with improved graphics. But its somehow a massively more resource intensive than the original game in every way. I mean its still a linear shooter, its essentially using the same code, yet much more demanding. I see that as an example of less efficient use of resources.

In spite of the memory constraints, they did amazing things on 7th gen specs. I also feel the average game would have benefitted with GPU power over RAM.

Well, open world games this gen do tend to run a lot better than they did last gen. It's mostly a developer convenience thing; devs no longer have to do insane memory management hijinks to work around harsh memory restrictions, which makes their job easier. Nowadays they may focus mostly on memory-hungry textures, but that's only cos now they have the luxury of doing so; back then it was a struggle just to get the fundamental design of an open world game to run decently, before even worrying about textures.

By say, 2008, PS3/360 were still fairly capable in the CPU/GPU department, (far from cutting edge, but decent) but even by then 512MB was just miniscule. Their GPUs continued to pump out great looking games throughout their lifespan, while their RAM limitations became quite evident long before their replacement.

That said, I definitely agree devs did amazing things on last gen; there are still PS3/360 games that I can boot up today and be like "holy shit, how the hell does this run on less than 500MB of RAM and a GPU from 2005?" Just this year I replayed Gears 3 and Halo 4 expecting them to have aged poorly and was taken aback by how good they still look.

Last edited by curl-6 - on 04 December 2018