Sony Santa Monicas Jason McDonald and Mark Simon are, surely, exhausted. Theyve been flown into PlayStations London office for a day of press interviews and theyre flying back to Santa Monica later that same day to continue to refine God Of War Ascensions new multiplayer mode. Singleplayer might be done, but online play is the kind of job that never ends, says McDonald with a weary smile. They are both cheery and enthusiastic speakers, nonetheless.Were here to talk about God Of War, but really we want to know about PlayStation 4. We enquire whether Sony has asked them what theyd like to see from the new console as it was being built, in keeping with the rhetoric that emerged from PlayStation Meeting. Sony Santa Monica has been so hard at work getting Ascension finished or as finished as it can be before online multiplayer feedback begins to filter though that Jason McDonald and Mark Simon werent asked. But they can give us a sense of the feeling internally about the new machine.Everyones excited about it for sure, says Ascensions lead combat designer McDonald. The last hardware release was seven years ago so its not like this happens every couple of years were ready.Mark Simon is lead game designer on Ascension. Our studio is filled with gamers too so you have that buzz we see the new games and thinking as a developer is almost secondary, he says. You can see the possibilities but really youre like Man, I really wanna play this game.I think theyre concentrating on the social aspect which is great, because were kind of delving into it now with [God Of War] multiplayer. Weve found that its not like you develop the game and then you ask afterwards what people liked and didnt like. Now its whats working and whats not working and we can fix that. So thats the thing for the next generation hardware and PS4 that I think is exciting, that were embracing that and saying that thats important and games are about having fun with one another.McDonald is most interested in the implications of that Share button. The spectating, in particular, is very new, he tells us. You get a little taste of that on PC where people can just stream their games on PC people like it so having a way to do that on a mainstream console is going to be big. With games like Ascension people are going to get competitive and want to stream and see other people play.The raw power of the new console will open up greater opportunities for games like God of War, too. The hardware possibilities are crazy, adds Simon. Im excited that things like depth of field will look great next-generation. Its going to mean real cinematography, and real in-game is going to look like a pre-rendered movie. That is awesome, because then our cinematic games becomes really cinematic all the way through and theres no quality change between pre-rendered and in-game.Though hes had little hands-on experience with PS4, Simon can nevertheless explain why all the talk of creating games on PS4 suggests itll be easier to code for. Generally you have to write a lot of low-level code in order to work with architecture from PS2 and PS3 and then you go to this standard that everybody is programming with on PS4, he says. So what that means is it frees a lot of people to stop thinking about low-level code. Obviously it was a strength of the PS3 because the sub-processor was a badass, but it took a lot of work to use the full architecture of the PS3. But now by using something thats more common across all of programming land, that frees up time, and programmers with freed up time can make better tools and thats going to make for better games.Simon also acknowledges that Sony has learned lessons from outside the console business. Maybe in the future you start to see some things that are happening in mobile and on the web are starting to happen on console. I think those worlds are going to blur and I think its because of popularity and profit.The move to a more social, data-driven style of game development through online play has just begun, it seems. On PS3, God Of War Ascensions multiplayer will be tinkered with for the next few months, even years. When PS4 arrives, neverending, service-style game development might leave some at Sony Santa Monica looking back fondly upon the days when a project had a more definite beginning, middle and end.

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