Irrational Games Reflections and Imagery
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It wasn't long ago that games were shipping on 3.5) floppy discs. (I worked on a game that fit on three floppies,) says Gerritsen. (That is a whopping 4.32 megabytes of compressed data. We'd have programmers working on fancy animation systems for weeks to cull every extraneous bit of data to fit our game into those 4.32 MB.) For perspective, a typical mp3 file is around 5 MB. Games today can ship on a dual-layer DVD holding 8.5 gigabyte (8,704 MB) and sometimes even using a 50 gigabyte (51,200 MB) Blu-ray disc. The amount of data is staggering, and all that data needs to be processed to fit onto that disc. (The build process on The Lost took about 20 hours to complete,) says Lead Programmer John Abercrombie. (It was a ridiculous setup that included a script that automated mouse movement and button presses since the application didn't have a command line interface.) A build process involves taking all the raw assets such as models, textures and sounds, and converting them to a format the game understands. Depending on the game, this could be tens or even hundreds of thousands of assets. (There is nothing worse than going through a 20-hour build process to find a blocking bug once you load the game up,) says Abercrombie.
As the amount of data in the final game grows, so does the revision database. (I had a meeting with the IT department to discuss how large our Perforce server should be for our first next generation game,) remembers Senior Technology Programmer Steve Anichini. Perforce is a program that builds a database that stores every revision on every asset in the game. (We estimated it would take one terabyte (1,048,576 MB), which at the time was unheard of. The IT department was rather skeptical the project would need that much space, especially compared to games from the previous generation which were only a couple hundred gigabytes. By the end of the project the Perforce database was well over two terabytes,) says Anichini.