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I guess Sony really was right about the PlayStation 3 being future-proof. Well, as far as design tools go, it looks like Sony's first-party studios seem to get the gist of the “future-proofing” and already have the tools and assets primed and ready. What am I talking about? I'm talking about Naughty Dog not having to upgrade their visual asset standards for Sony's newest console.

GamingBolt caught wind of the news from an interview on Eurogamer with Naughty Dog's co-president, Evan Wells, who stated that...
"The days of starting from scratch are gone," .... "We did start from scratch going from PS2 to PS3, and that's down to the fact that on PS2 we'd written our own programming language. Everything on Jak and Daxter was written in a language called GOOL - game object oriented list.”

“It was great, a great development environment that was geared to the kind of game that we made. Moving on to PS3 we are entering this group of developers that we could share technology with. We wanted to get into the more traditional development environment that other studios are developing with, so we did have to start from scratch. It was a tough road to hoe.“

Indeed. Budgets really did skyrocket, basically requiring a bare minimum of $10 million just to get a basic AAA game out there. The standards then increased to $20 million and a whole lot of bugs, glitches and kinks to work out. Budgets have become moderate for a lot of games thanks to the toolsets. Designing better tools means that it's easier to work out the lighting mechanics, shading, shadows, normal maps, bump maps and everything else in between. From the PS3 to the PS4 Naughty Dog seems a lot more confident than when they went from the PS2 to the PS3, with Naughty Dog's other co-president, Christophe Balestra stating...
"We had a pretty bad experience when we moved from PS2 to PS3, because we made some stupid mistakes," ... "And that was totally our fault. And also we were going from PS2 to PS3, the shaders were different and things like that, and we had a lot to learn. I think we've caught up though - I think our games look pretty good, so I feel like we're fine right now. But it's always scary, because you don't know what to expect just to do something. We'll see. We have a little more time to think about it."

Gamers may remember from a while back that it was noted that Naughty Dog uses a lot of high fidelity assets to create their PS3 games [via PlayStation Lifestyle]. What they create with the tools doesn't always translate to what gamers see on-screen due to optimization and level of detail scaling, but it means that if they wanted games to look CG-quality, they could, and it wouldn't cost extra.

Balestra further explained Naughty Dog's position, saying...
"It's about the quality of the tools, and about whether you can make something smarter. My guess is that they will expand - you'll have more this, and more that - you'll always have something more. In terms of our art, we always create our assets at a higher resolution than what you see in-game. A lot of our pipelines are already ready to move to something superior to the PS3. But it's scary."

I'm at least glad some developers are saying that it's not going to be a $200 million dollar step going into next-gen. I like that they're being more transparent about the design process and it'll only help with giving gamers a better idea of why some games cost more to make than others.

You can check out the rest of the interview over at Eurogamer.