Earlier today, Gamasutra put up their article on the behind the scenes development process of making Scorpio the best platform for game developers. This is another fascinating look into how Microsoft plans to support developers on the platform which if you recall, was one of the “four pillars” of their Scorpio road map. You can find the full article here and if you enjoy the details, we highly encourage you to check it out:
For those looking merely for the excerpts that are most notable, here are a few of them and why they are important.
- Microsoft has gone to great lengths to make sure developers aren’t required to build extra code for Scorpio specifically. From Xbox Engineering Executive Kareem Choudhry : “You can just write to the original set of [Xbox One] requirements that we have today, and then we’ll do the work to make sure that it actually runs better. But [developers] don’t have to do any custom work for Scorpio.”
- The final Scorpio XDK (Xbox Development Kit) is actually more powerful than the retail Scorpio including more RAM and more compute units. Why is that? Kevin Gammill, Group Program Manager for Xbox Core Platform, explains: “At a high level, it’s much easier for a game developer to come in higher and tune down, than come in lower and tune up. Or nail it. That just rarely happens,” said Gammill, by way of explaining why the Scorpio dev kit is a bit beefier than its retail counterpart. “Our overarching design principle was to make it easy for devs to hit our goals: 4K, 4K textures, rocksteady framerates, HDR, wide color gamut, and spatial audio.”
- The Scorpio retail unit will be able to be used as a game development kit for anyone, just like the Xbox One and Xbox One S: “If you’re a developer, you can go to Universal Dev Center, just like today, you can do that development on your Xbox One console you own today and also the same thing on Project Scorpio when it comes out,” said Choudhry. “And you’ll have more power available to you.”
- Microsoft is including an ultra-high speed transfer cable with the XDKs that support transferring 100gb of data in about 4 minutes. “It takes a hell of a long time to transfer a full build to a kit,” Mike Rayner, technical director at Microsoft’s Gears of War 4 developer The Coalition, told Gamasutra. He claims the new transfer cable is a significant time-saver for the studio, as they can now push a build for testing “6 to 7 times” faster. “Something that would have taken 3-45 minutes now takes a couple of minutes,” he added. “So that’s pretty huge for us.”
- While Turn 10, a first party studio, said they had Forza running in native 4K in less than 2 days on Scorpio, there has been the question of how easy that would be for other developers. According to Xbox ATG Head Jason Ronald, it’s been just as fast or faster for other developers: “One of the things that’s been really encouraging to us is, most people who are used to doing hardware bring-up, usually its a couple weeks to get games just physically running on it, let alone at performance. What we’ve seen with some of the middleware partners, the first-party and third-party partners, people have actually been able to come in, get their game running, and running at 4K, in less than a day,” said Ronald.
It’s very clear that Microsoft has very large plans for Scorpio. We believe the way at which they are slowly unveiling it is excellent and far removed (thankfully) from the way in which they initially came into this generation. The majority of the technical details are behind us so now that leaves the most important questions of all: how much does this monster cost, and when do we see the games. With E3 approaching in less than 2 months, we’re sure it won’t be long.