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tri-Ace Introduces the ASKA Framework

All about the latest Japan-developed engine and how it's used in Resonance of Fate.

The Impress Watch article has numerous comparison pics showing the differences between the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of Resonance of Fate.

Add another name to the list of Japanese-developed game engines. Joining Capcom's MT Framework and Square Enix's Crystal Tools is the ASKA Framework, an internal engine from Resonance of Fate/End of Eternity developer tri-Ace.

Impress Watch technology writer Zenji Nishikawa has a length two page report on the engine and its use in Resonance of Fate. I've summarized a few points here. For more, Japanese readers can see part 1 and part 2 of the column for themselves.

Work on ASKA, which stands for "tri-Ace Superlative Knowledge-based Architecture," began in 2005, initially as a project to convert tri-Ace's PlayStation 2 engine to a programmable shader architecture for use on PC, Xbox 360 and PS3. They fixed an initial feature set for the engine at some point in 2008. Infinite Undiscovery, Star Ocean 4 and End of Eternity all use the engine, and to varying extents, they were developed in parallel with it. Another game, currently unannounced, was started in 2009. It uses a new version of ASKA and can be considered a second generation ASKA game.

The Resonance of Fate team provided Nishikawa with some specs for the game's graphics performance. For cut scenes, battle and the world map, a single scene will use 350,000 polygons. This isn't what's rendered by the GPU -- just the total geometry of all the buildings, NPCs and other elements. In town, a single scene will have 150,000 polygons.

A single frame will have a visible polygon count of between 100,000 and 200,000 polygons. When adding in all the real time rendering elements like shadow maps and so forth, the GPU burden for a busy scene is around a million polygons.

Player characters and primary NPCs use between 30,000 and 40,000 polygons. This is twice the standard of the current generation, says the staff. A good amount of that is used on hair -- 5,000 for male characters and 8,000 for female characters. Event scenes and real time scenes use the same 3D model.

The game runs at 30 frames per second, but during high processing scenes the framerate will drop some times. Resolution is 1088x720, scaled up to 16x9, and with 2xMSAA. In terms of frame rate and rendering resolution, there's no difference between the PS3 and Xbox 360.

There are a variety of differences in how the two systems render their visuals, though. You'll have to read up on these yourself. The second page of the feature has plenty of comparison shots.

Development for EoE took place with Xbox 360 as the target platform. However, the programmers kept in mind that they'd be porting it to the PS3. That foresight, combined with the ASKA Framework, allowed them to port the game to the PS3 in three weeks. They actually just made it in time for the PS3 version's debut at the Tokyo Game Show. After this, they spent about two months tuning various areas of the PS3 version.

The PS3 version ended up being more efficient than the 360 version in some areas. The game's physical calculations make heavy use of the CELL's SPUs, making them run far faster on the PS3 than on the 360. The programmers made adjustments to make sure the two versions of the game have the same performance, but looking at efficiency, the PS3 version has more room to spare.

The 360 version has advantages in shadow maps and other areas. For specifics, and plenty of other technical details, you'll have to read the original articles.

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