The "chaos" in Housemarque's voxel-based shooter Resogun wouldn't be possible without the PlayStation 4's GPU compute feature, lead programmer Harry Krueger told Polygon today.
To create effects like lightning as well as track and animate the "tens of thousands" of particles in the Super Stardust successor, Housemarque offloads the calculations to the PS4's graphical processing unit (GPU). That allows the central processing unit (CPU) to focus on other tasks.
"Basically, most of the cubes, the individual voxels, all of that stuff is basically done on the GPU," Krueger told Polygon. "And that offloads a tremendous workload off the CPU that's left to just focus on gameplay."
Sony detailed the PS4's architecture earlier this year, including a GPU with "a unified array of 18 compute units" that developers can use to create "graphics, simulation tasks, or some mixture of the two." You can see how Housemarque uses that architecture in a recent pair of behind-the-scenes videos for Resogun, which will be free to PlayStation Plus subscribers as part of the Instant Game Collection when the console launches this Friday, Nov. 15. .
"And that offloads a tremendous workload off the CPU that's left to just focus on gameplay."
Krueger said that the Finish developer decided to offloading processing to the GPU because Housemarqe is made up of tinkerers.
"At Housemarque, we've always been a very technically proficient company because we have a lot of people from the demo scene," he said. "A lot of people just naturally like tinkering with this kind of stuff, you know? So, it just came naturally that we just started looking at GPU compute and using it as much as possible in order to get all this stuff happening."
According to Krueger, Resogun would have to offer a different experience without the PS4's GPU compute feature, which gets "better results with less work" compared to developing with the PlayStation 3's Cell processor.
"If we had to do all of that on the CPU, the game would still kind of be a similar experience, but it would have a lot less of this going on," he said. "It would be a lot less dynamic, a lot less fluid. Basically, the experience would not be the same."
For more of Polygon's coverage of the PS4 during its launch week, be sure to check out our StoryStream.
Brian Crecente contributed to this report.