For corridor conflicts like Call of Duty: Ghosts, the PlayStation 4’s ambitious ‘Play as You Download’ feature is unlikely to prove a problem. Developers can easily arrange data so that the first level of the campaign is pulled off the server first, followed by the second, third, and so on. But for open world games such as The Crew, this may prove more of a problem.
Fortunately, it’s an issue that Ivory Tower and Ubisoft Reflections have rectified by slightly manipulating the racer’s design. “You need to be careful about how you arrange your data in download packages so that the data that you access first is downloaded first and the game can start while it's still downloading,” explained programmer Chris Jenner.
“This could be tricky for an open world game because theoretically the player can go anywhere, so it's hard to know what data we should be downloading first,” he added. “To get a quick start, we've had to build that into the design of the game, so you will start with only a limited area. But I think that that's quite usual in open world games anyway, to get the player used to the world."
Jenner likened the system to how data is “authored” on Blu-ray discs in order to speed up loading times. “You need to think about where all of your different bits of data live, which is really quite similar to disc-authoring on previous generations,” he continued. “It wasn't a big issue to do that [for The Crew].”
As part of the same presentation, Ubisoft Reflections revealed that it took just two to three people six months to port the next generation racer to the PS4 from PC game code. Straightforward truly is the future, then. Who would have thought?