The Haus

Monday, March 28, 2005

Carmack on Cellphone Programming

id's John Carmack updated his blog on his recent (mis)adventures in programming games for cellphones. My favorite quote out of all of this is this comment on Java's abilities:

Write-once-run-anywhere. Ha. Hahahahaha. We are only testing on four platforms right now, and not a single pair has the exact same quirks. All the commercial games are tweaked and compiled individually for each (often 100+) platform. Portability is not a justification for the awful performance.

The Master comments: Carmack made a follow-up post to a Slashdot article expanding on his Java commentary:

One of our test platforms is a fairly high end Sony Ericsson, which is 10x as fast as our Motorola base platform. For a 128x128 screen, the Motorola renders about 4 fps and the Sony renders about 40 fps. Compare with Wolfenstein-3D performance (the DoomRPG engine has some extra graphics features, but it is still in that general class) at that resolution on older systems. A 386-16 would go significantly faster.

Note that the "As fast as a ..." comparisons from the benchmark are against purely interpreted java on the P3, which is about 1/10th the speed of a native implementation, and benchmarks that focus on expression and control operations will overestimate relative performance for applications that are array access heavy. Still, if a java app on that phone performed like a P3-100mhz, it would be pretty impressive.

It is true that a good JIT (which the phones don't have) can make java code go nearly as fast as C/C++ code that is written in the same style. The "in the same style" part is often overlooked -- in lower level languages you often have options for implementation with pointers and CPU tailoring that would make the code look very different, but go significantly faster.

I still generally like java, and maximizing performance is only important in a rather limited subset of software engineering.

Haus of Shogo Update

Really? You bet! Someone emailed me a question over the weekend about Shogo so I reinstalled the Linux version to try to give an answer. I discovered that sound wouldn't work. Thankfully I found a pretty easy solution. Check my Haus of Shogo for the details.

New Unreal Tournament Details

BeyondUnreal got some information on the next version of Unreal Tournament, gleaned from the pages of Computer Gaming World. Here are a few of the key points:

They also have a very sweet render of what Malcolm will look like in the new game. I can't wait to see what the minimum system specs will be for this game.

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