Skyrim on the PS3 might be broken forever

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If you’re playing Skyrim on the PC or Xbox 360, you’re having a great time, there’s no doubt about that. Sure the PC may have access to some mind-bending visuals and mods, but at least us console gamers still get a smooth, fantastic experience.

Wait, what’s that PS3 owners? Your game freezes and slows down more than Stephen Hawking when his wheelchair hasn’t been charged overnight? That’s terrible for you guys, and it looks like the issue might not be resolved any time soon, due to the hardware of the PS3 itself.

Fallout New Vegas developer Joshua Sawyer of Obsidian explained in a personal Q&A on Formspring that the divided memory pool of the console was responsible for the problems in the Skyrim engine. Both Fallout 3 and Skyrim on PS3 suffer from this, when the increasing of size in a save-game would cause the title to perform terribly.

“The Xbox 360 has a unified memory pool: 512 megs of RAM usable as system memory or graphics memory”, Sawyer 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. 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”.

But hey, we’ve got the power of the internet and instant patches available straight from the developers themselves, don’t we? According to Bethesda however, this issue with the PS3 will not be an easy fix unfortunately.

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“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 commented directly yet regarding the massive PS3 problem, but the developer has made mention of releasing a title update to fix minor issues soon, while additional patches that will hopefully not break the game again, are scheduled for release next year after the holidays are done.

Last Updated: December 6, 2011

Darryn Bonthuys

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