Why Skyrim May Not Be Working Right On PS3

by Jim Reilly on Dec 05, 2011 at 07:02 AM

Some PlayStation 3 owners are still experiencing severe frame rate issues and stuttering with The Elder Scolls V: Skyrim, and the issue appears to be stemming from the console hardware itself.

Fallout New Vegas developer Joshua Sawyer of Obsidian explains in his personal Q&A on Formspring that the divided memory pool of the console is problematic for Skyrim's engine. Both Fallout 3 and Skyrim on PS3 suffer from the same issue where an increasing save file size would cause the game to run poorly.

“The Xbox 360 has a unified memory pool: 512 megs of RAM usable as system memory or graphics memory, he said. "The PS3 has a divided memory pool: 256 megs for system, 256 for graphics. It's the same total amount of memory, but not as flexible for a developer to make use of.”

“As with Fallout 3 and Skyrim, the problems are most pronounced on the PS3 because the PS3 has a divided memory pool.”

He added: “The longer you play a character, the more bit differences on objects (characters, pencils on tables, containers, etc.) get saved off and carried around in memory. I think we've seen save games that are pushing 19 megs, which can be really crippling in some areas."

So how will Bethesda fix this issue? It's apparently not very easy. “It’s not like someone wrote a function and put a decimal point in the wrong place or declared something as a float when it should have been an int,” Sawyer said.

“We’re talking about how the engine fundamentally saves off and references data at run time. Restructuring how that works would require a large time commitment. Obsidian also only had that engine for a total of 18 months prior to Fallout: New Vegas being released, which is a relatively short time to understand all of the details of how the technology works.”

Bethesda has yet to comment directly on the PlayStation 3 issues for Skyrim. The developer said last week it plans to release a title update to fix minor issues and then will release additional game patches after the holiday.