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There's more to graphics tech than resolutions and framerates

Posted on 6th Jun 2014 at 10:10 by Rick Lane with 38 comments

Rick Lane
Last year I interviewed Ken Silverman, creator of the Build engine (used in games like Duke Nukem 3D and Shadow Warrior) as part of a monthly article series I write in Custom PC about graphics engines. While preparing for the interview, I read through his timeline for the engine's development, which is published on his website. Amid all the technical jargon and details of publisher deals was the simple line "Finally added SLOPES!"

It stood out because whereas so much of the information was factual and to the point, this entry conveyed more emotion; a strong sense of both relief and achievement. I asked him what the big deal was, and he responded thus:

"Slopes required hacks to the sector structure, new routines in C and assembly language for rendering a surface that was not parallel or perpendicular to the floor - which is more difficult than it sounds, because without some kind of trick like linear interpolation, a divide would have to be done for each pixel - which would have been unacceptably slow. Many physics functions in the Build Engine had to be amended to support slopes.

"The most difficult thing to implement was to get the depth-based shading consistent with the other walls, ceilings, floors. I eventually realised I could do a lookup table on the screen's y-coordinate. Implementing that was not as easy as it sounds though. Without shading, slopes would have looked ugly and out of place."

There's more to graphics tech than resolutions and framerates


Silverman's words highlight what a strange and exciting time graphics development was in the early nineties. A time when people like Ken Silverman and John Carmack were pushing into the unknown, and every development had a significant impact on the kind of game you could make. The effort and ingenuity involved simply to implement surfaces with a gradient. Such a basic thing, and yet massively important. Can you imagine games without any sloped surfaces? Everything would look like Minecraft.

But the times when we'd be amazed that not every surface in a game was rendered at ninety-degree angles are long past. We're used to seeing incredible-looking games on a daily basis, to the point where Ubisoft rendering the entire city of Chicago for you to explore can be considered uninteresting. Graphics have become rote, perhaps even boring.

Except they haven't. Graphics engines and tech are wickedly cool. It's the conversation about graphics which has become monotonous. It has divided into two camps between those who don't care about graphics at all, and those who only care about how fast the game runs and how sharp the image is. The console realm is obsessed with resolutions; questioning whether a game will run at 720p or 1080p over and over while 4k lurks around the corner like a mugger wielding a baseball bat. Meanwhile, over on the PC, if you're games aren't running at sixty frames-per-second then you're viewed as something between an idiot and a criminal who deserves to be lynched.

There's more to graphics tech than resolutions and framerates


Ironically, the conversation about graphics has become entirely two dimensional, focused only on the most superficial features. Worse, these tedious and petty arguments of the second camp only serve to confirm the suspicions of the first camp that graphics are dull and not worth talking about.

This isn't the case. Graphics tech goes far beyond these two exhausted topics. While the polygon count might have increased, creating game worlds relies on just as much trickery and sleight of hand as they did when Silverman was hacking slopes into Build. A couple of more recent examples of graphical magic include level streaming and LOD phasing. The former enables games like Skyrim and Dark Souls to render enormous and complex 3D worlds without any loading screens. If you want to understand the effect a good level streaming system can have on what a graphics engine can render, compare the relatively compact levels of The Witcher 2 to the enormous world CD Projekt RED are building for the Witcher 3. This wasn't made possible by a huge leap in graphics technology, but a comparatively simple reworking of how the levels were streamed in their home-brewed RED Engine.

There's more to graphics tech than resolutions and framerates


Level of Detail phasing often plays alongside level streaming to ensure objects look pleasant up close but aren't eating away at your GPU memory when they're far away. Yet its uses stretch beyond city skylines. LOD phasing is how the Total War series renders thousands of individual warriors in its massive battles. At the most distant zoom-level, the character models in Rome II are rendered with sprites, just as they were in the original Shogun. It's only when you focus in on the action that the game switches to the more complex 3D models.

Graphical techniques can also influence how games play in smaller, more direct ways. Features like volumetric smoke and fog effects can be used as tools by both developers and players to create more interesting game scenarios. A smoke grenade is only going to work in concealing your movements if the smoke looks convincing and billows out in a three-dimensional space. Perhaps the best use of this effect can be found in Dark Souls II's Shaded Woods, where a soupy mist hides near-invisible ghosts that like to sneak up behind you and stab you in the back.

There's more to graphics tech than resolutions and framerates


Even what may seem like a straightforward visual effect may actually have a functional purpose. If you've seen any footage of Frontier Development's ambitious space game Elite Dangerous, you may have also seen the lovely thruster effects on the various spacecraft you can pilot. Yet those chunky blue thrusters aren't designed that way simply because they look pretty against the black backdrop of space, they're deliberately exaggerated in order to telegraph the movements of ships to other players, so you can look at a ship's thrusters when chasing them in combat and can adjust your own direction to compensate without constantly glancing at your dashboard.

These are just a few examples of the vast number of ways graphical tech creates new game opportunities, and how developers can harness this tech for functional purposes. Every graphics engine and many developers have their own unique equivalent, some little technological innovation that aides or enhances their game development. So why are the topics of discussion so narrow and tiresome? The reason is publishers have inadvertently made it that way.

There's more to graphics tech than resolutions and framerates


For years the mainstream publishers have been pushing games purely on the visual quality of their technology instead of what that tech or the resulting game actually does. It's why the FPS genre has been driven into the ground, because every game was focused on looking better than the last one rather than doing anything different. It's still happening today with games like Watch Dogs and Dark Souls II, only now the games no longer live up to the visual standards they initially set, further funneling the debate down depressingly predictable courses.

It's this relentless push for better visuals, this sledgehammer approach to promoting graphical fortitude that has caused the conversation about graphics tech to become so dull. It's why the press are disinterested in discussing them, and why many players talk about them in such shallow terms. The mainstream industry has essentially marked graphics out as an object distinct from games themselves, a feature that has its own intrinsic value unrelated to mechanics, writing, sound, AI, or anything else that makes up a game, a value that is perceived by many to be greater than all of those other aspects.

There's more to graphics tech than resolutions and framerates


The only way to change this attitude is to stop viewing graphics as a separate entity, a superficial layer that merely acts as a well-dressed window into the game. They are a functional tool inherently bound up in the process of game design. The good news is, some companies in the industry, like Epic and Unity, are cottoning onto this fact, to the point where development kits such as Unity and Unreal Engine 4 can no longer really be thought of as graphics engines. Instead they are comprehensive tool sets designed to cater toward every aspect of game design. For example, Epic are currently working on a plugin for UE4 dedicated to the development of 2D games, with special rendering and physics capabilities geared toward the genre.

It's this point, where technology and designer intersect, where art and mathematics come together, that games are at their most fascinating, and graphics are not exempt from that. We need to stop thinking about graphics in terms of how good they can make a game look, and start thinking about how they can be used to make games great.

38 Comments

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Noxvayl 6th June 2014, 10:50 Quote
It would be so much better to read more articles talking about the functionality of graphics features than just use them as eye candy to sell a game. I do love good graphics and spend lots of money keeping my system up to date so that I can run my games at high settings but I'd also like to have a better understanding of the how the graphics are achieved.
bigc90210 6th June 2014, 11:02 Quote
Best article and by far the most interesting article I've read on BT in a long time, a credit to the author!
Dave Lister 6th June 2014, 11:28 Quote
Agreed, what a great article and i'd have to agree the stagnation in debate about graphics comes down to the publishers or developers or whoever not actually talking about what they have done.

I remember back during the nintendo/sega wars being able to talk to mates about different graphical effects which had been utilized in various games for example F-Zero using the pseudo 3D effect which couldn't be done on the megadrive/genesis, and the snes also having a higher colour count on screen which made made things prettier. There were all sorts of interesting facts back then which made graphics an interesting subject.
Umbra 6th June 2014, 11:44 Quote
Good article and if a game can be designed to run smoothly and be playable at 40-50 fps that would be great and maybe less gpu power would be necessary to run the game and while it's true that PC gamers are often obsessed about fps, who's fault is that?

There is nothing worse than trying to play a game that's stuttering along and freezing at intense moments so of course we are focused on fps but only because we want a game to be playable and 60 fps is a happy medium to achieve that, for me it's not essential to have 60fps as some status symbol, it's necessary to avoid headaches and make game playing enjoyable, sorry if that's a "tedious and petty argument of the second camp" but I don't build a gaming PC to watch slideshows, the game play may be brilliant but it's killed by rubbish frame rates.
themassau 6th June 2014, 12:01 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Umbra
Good article and if a game can be designed to run smoothly and be playable at 40-50 fps that would be great and maybe less gpu power would be necessary to run the game and while it's true that PC gamers are often obsessed about fps, who's fault is that?

There is nothing worse than trying to play a game that's stuttering along and freezing at intense moments so of course we are focused on fps but only because we want a game to be playable and 60 fps is a happy medium to achieve that, for me it's not essential to have 60fps as some status symbol, it's necessary to avoid headaches and make game playing enjoyable, sorry if that's a "tedious and petty argument of the second camp" but I don't build a gaming PC to watch slideshows, the game play may be brilliant but it's killed by rubbish frame rates.

I think most of the PC gamers prefer 50-60FPS and adaptable FOV setting over better graphics and graphics effects. The publishers should focus less on the graphics part of the game and more on the story and game itself. like far cry 3 the game play is good but the story just pulls you in and you just want to finish it. while assassin creed BF is more variating but is lacking a good story.
theshadow2001 6th June 2014, 12:17 Quote
Quote:
It's why the press are disinterested in discussing them

Disinterested means impartial not uninterested.

http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/disinterested?q=Disinterested
Umbra 6th June 2014, 12:17 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by themassau
I think most of the PC gamers prefer 50-60FPS and adaptable FOV setting over better graphics and graphics effects. The publishers should focus less on the graphics part of the game and more on the story and game itself. like far cry 3 the game play is good but the story just pulls you in and you just want to finish it. while assassin creed BF is more variating but is lacking a good story.

Agree with that, I play at 1080 on a single monitor with one gpu and that resolution and graphic detail is fine for me, I would rather lose some detail and effects to maintain 50-60fps.
GuilleAcoustic 6th June 2014, 12:22 Quote
I strongly agree. I'm a former game developper and have a master degree in graphics programming. I'm 30 years old and grew up at the center of those improvement (both hardware and software).

My first graphics programming book was one forworded by John Carmak, and his advises / principles still echoes hard in my brain : "The best possible optimisation is located between your two ears. An unefficient code, even optimized, will stay an unefficient code !"

http://cover.archinform.net/l/9781576101742.jpg

It's outdated now (mostly using assembly to display 3D GFX), but gives a clear idea about the trickery behind the screen. One of my teacher told me: "Coding represents, at best, 20% of the developement time. Take a paper and a pencil, think clearfully, draw and analyse it well. Go beyond the commonalties and innovate".

For people curious about graphics, I higly recommends this book (there's a new version on it):

http://mrelusive.com/books/graphics/Physically%20based%20Rendering.jpg
Maki role 6th June 2014, 13:15 Quote
What has me sad is how there's seemingly a divide between graphics and gameplay/story.

People think that you can only have one or the other, and that graphics don't matter in regards to the story and gameplay. This infuriates me because it simply isn't true. Our primary method of interfacing with a video game is through the visuals! how those visuals are displayed is therefore very important. People seem to think having good graphics is literally massive poly counts and realistic lighting, that's all. In reality everything from the art style, animation quality and cinematic features to even the actual camera method used are the graphics.

Beautiful graphics have the ability to convey a story, an atmosphere, a set of feelings by themselves. It's a shame that people are so ready to shed them nowadays.
GuilleAcoustic 6th June 2014, 13:47 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maki role
What has me sad is how there's seemingly a divide between graphics and gameplay/story.

People think that you can only have one or the other, and that graphics don't matter in regards to the story and gameplay. This infuriates me because it simply isn't true. Our primary method of interfacing with a video game is through the visuals! how those visuals are displayed is therefore very important. People seem to think having good graphics is literally massive poly counts and realistic lighting, that's all. In reality everything from the art style, animation quality and cinematic features to even the actual camera method used are the graphics.

Beautiful graphics have the ability to convey a story, an atmosphere, a set of feelings by themselves. It's a shame that people are so ready to shed them nowadays.

I agree with you mate. Poly count, AA level and res doesn't make something look good. Another greatly thing is the music / audio atmosphere. Sword and sorcery is a good example of what makes a ncie game :

y3gKyF5Muw8

While the GFX aren't high end by the current criteria, the animation and general ambiance is great. Its top notch sound track is the cherry on the top.
siliconfanatic 6th June 2014, 14:23 Quote
Very, very good article, one of the best I've read in along time.

Haveta agree with Maki and Guille, Everything from animation to soundtrack, mixed with everything else today's graphics technology brings to the table can make a truly great game. Get any of them wrong and you could ruin it.
Corky42 6th June 2014, 14:33 Quote
Maybe it's my slowing mind, but i used to understand the technical details of what went into making a map. Back in the days of Doom II the graphics and level design was, compared to today's games very simple.

When Quake came out things started to get a lot more complicated, even though i tried to understand the newer tools and the new ways to make it a more immersive experience i started to struggle.

Is part of the problem that graphics technology has advanced so far in recent years that it would be difficult for most people to understand it ? So people resort to discussing something they do understand, FPS, and resolution.

Or have i just shown myself up as being as thick as two short planks
dstarr3 6th June 2014, 15:15 Quote
Am I the only one who thinks that graphics looked just fine since 2006? Think Half-Life 2. If every game since looked like that... that'd be fine, really. That wouldn't impact gameplay in any way. Sure, pretty games are pretty, but being a pretty game does not make it a good game. Far too often these days do developers use a pretty aesthetic as a crutch for poor gameplay. "Our game is ****, but boy, is it pretty! 10/10, please."

I'd just like to go back to the days where games were heavily focused on being fun to play instead of fun to watch.
GuilleAcoustic 6th June 2014, 16:31 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by dstarr3
Am I the only one who thinks that graphics looked just fine since 2006? Think Half-Life 2. If every game since looked like that... that'd be fine, really. That wouldn't impact gameplay in any way. Sure, pretty games are pretty, but being a pretty game does not make it a good game. Far too often these days do developers use a pretty aesthetic as a crutch for poor gameplay. "Our game is ****, but boy, is it pretty! 10/10, please."

I'd just like to go back to the days where games were heavily focused on being fun to play instead of fun to watch.

I think this is where indie game studios succeded. Being small studio, if not composed of a single person, they can't produce tones of 3D models with very high res textures, etc.

Their only solution is to innovate on the gameplay side, produce simple graphics but with a strong artistic touch, tell a good story, etc. It's not uncommon nowaday to see an indy game with a 90+% rating and awaited AAA games with 50% or below. Players can't be fooled by eye candy graphics for too long, once you're accustomed to it you quickly get bored if there's nothing more to offer :)
Umbra 6th June 2014, 18:41 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by GuilleAcoustic
Their only solution is to innovate on the gameplay side, produce simple graphics but with a strong artistic touch, tell a good story, etc. It's not uncommon nowaday to see an indy game with a 90+% rating and awaited AAA games with 50% or below. Players can't be fooled by eye candy graphics for too long, once you're accustomed to it you quickly get bored if there's nothing more to offer :)

xFMHIu2zKcE

So true, it's why games like this are classics, they have it all, gameplay, music, atmosphere, even humour and they look great
t5kcannon 6th June 2014, 18:57 Quote
Good article. Would be interesting to read more about how graphical techniques feed into game play mechanics.
Guinevere 6th June 2014, 19:10 Quote
Great graphics do not make a game great.
Great games do not need great graphics to be great.

But pretty graphics can change how a game feels.

World of goo just feels perfect. Minecraft benefits from its cubes. Limbo & Monument Valley are visually perfect and can be rendered on the smallest of mobile GPUs.

And on the high end the tombraider reboot has such amazing engagement with the character because of what how the visuals look and MORE IMPORTANTLY what the devs have done with them. The movements, the textures - how Lara interacts with the environment - all go to keeping you engaged.

It's not alone. There's many games (good and bad) that have well thought out visuals that genuinely add to the experience.
GuilleAcoustic 6th June 2014, 19:31 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guinevere
Great graphics do not make a game great.
Great games do not need great graphics to be great.

But pretty graphics can change how a game feels.

World of goo just feels perfect. Minecraft benefits from its cubes. Limbo & Monument Valley are visually perfect and can be rendered on the smallest of mobile GPUs.

And on the high end the tombraider reboot has such amazing engagement with the character because of what how the visuals look and MORE IMPORTANTLY what the devs have done with them. The movements, the textures - how Lara interacts with the environment - all go to keeping you engaged.

It's not alone. There's many games (good and bad) that have well thought out visuals that genuinely add to the experience.

Exactly. Graphics, just like sound, music, force feedback, stereoscopy, odors (maybe in the future) ... all of them are just tools that serves the story tellings, the gameplay or both.
siliconfanatic 6th June 2014, 19:46 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by GuilleAcoustic
Exactly. Graphics, just like sound, music, force feedback, stereoscopy, odors (maybe in the future) ... all of them are just tools that serves the story tellings, the gameplay or both.
This.
iggy 6th June 2014, 22:48 Quote
the rest of it doesnt matter worth a **** if the game doesnt run at an acceptable framerate. < 60 is not acceptable framerates.
dstarr3 6th June 2014, 23:01 Quote
My first console was an NES as a child. Which is to say, I've been gaming at 30fps for the majority of my gaming life. And now that 60fps is becoming more common, you know how much it actually improves a game? Maybe 1%.

Resolution, however, okay, I'll accept that's important. I'll take 1080p@30 over 720p@60 any day.
dancingbear84 6th June 2014, 23:58 Quote
I don't really care about resolution or fps. Ok sure I don't want my gaming to be a stuttery mess, but as long as I can't see any lag I don't really care if I'm getting 60fps or 45.
I do however like to get sucked in by a game, I liked batman Arkham asylum, dead island, gears of war, civilisation, gta and many more, not for the fps I got but for the enjoyment & annoyance and frustration I got from playing, failing over and over again at the same thing, until finally realising what I was doing wrong, getting it right and moving on. For me it is an emotional enjoyment.

I am also permanently impressed by devs for the level of thought that goes into making a game of any kind.
exceededgoku 7th June 2014, 00:32 Quote
Hmm, interesting article.

Not sure I agree with it, but interesting nonetheless.

I often find myself purchasing the PC versions of games simply because I prefer the look and feel of the rendered environments (and the resolution) that simply isn't possible on my ONE or PS4.

In fact I have only 2 games on the consoles, both of which are solely available on the consoles.

I got the latest Spiderman game, and whilst the gameplay is mildly amusing the graphics really ruin it for me as it feels like it's from the early 2000s.

EDIT - Although when playing JRPG's and other mobile games (or similar) then graphics are fine...
Star*Dagger 7th June 2014, 21:15 Quote
All too many people are still running games at ridiculously low resolutions like 1920x1080 on some cheesy 24 inch monitor.

Most people have never seen Skyrim, in its fully modded glory across three 30 inchers.

People would do well to get their prescriptions updated as well, you can only see as well as your last set of glasses.

All of this will be made redundant when Oculus Rift ships with its 4k per eye version.

Enjoy the show.
Shirty 7th June 2014, 21:30 Quote
Star*Dagger: putting the world to rights one post at a time.

Problem is, all of your posts make you look like a bit of a Wan*Ker
debs3759 7th June 2014, 23:36 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Star*Dagger
All too many people are still running games at ridiculously low resolutions like 1920x1080 on some cheesy 24 inch monitor.

Tell you what - buy me 3 4K monitors and I'll stop using my "stupidly low res" 1080p monitor. Disability benefits don't go as far as they used to :(
GuilleAcoustic 7th June 2014, 23:38 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Star*Dagger
All too many people are still running games at ridiculously low resolutions like 1920x1080 on some cheesy 24 inch monitor.

Most people have never seen Skyrim, in its fully modded glory across three 30 inchers.

People would do well to get their prescriptions updated as well, you can only see as well as your last set of glasses.

All of this will be made redundant when Oculus Rift ships with its 4k per eye version.

Enjoy the show.

I have nothing to compensate :p
mclean007 8th June 2014, 10:41 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by debs3759
Quote:
Originally Posted by Star*Dagger
All too many people are still running games at ridiculously low resolutions like 1920x1080 on some cheesy 24 inch monitor.

Tell you what - buy me 3 4K monitors and I'll stop using my "stupidly low res" 1080p monitor. Disability benefits don't go as far as they used to :(
Think somebody missed the sarcasm...
themassau 8th June 2014, 13:16 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by GuilleAcoustic
I agree with you mate. Poly count, AA level and res doesn't make something look good. Another greatly thing is the music / audio atmosphere. Sword and sorcery is a good example of what makes a ncie game :

y3gKyF5Muw8

While the GFX aren't high end by the current criteria, the animation and general ambiance is great. Its top notch sound track is the cherry on the top.

Yes graphics and game engine are needed to improve game play but it only works up to a certain point and it has to be used to create the atmosphere. Imagine what could have been made with the BF3 /BF4 engine with those destructible buildings. things like alternative level design with multiple routes. or even multiple endings when you take other routes. just like Wario land 3 you had a whole three of options to get to an ending.

If you shoot a box in GTA VC than it just disappears but if the game play is optimise's for the engine than you destroy something and make it usable as a weapon or put in some puzzles.

A good example of a game that uses its graphics and sound for atmosphere is STALKER or metro, stalker was buggy but man i was scared when i was just walking at night. you can only see what is in your light beam. but the noises just make you scared.
jb0 8th June 2014, 13:43 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by dstarr3
My first console was an NES as a child. Which is to say, I've been gaming at 30fps for the majority of my gaming life. And now that 60fps is becoming more common, you know how much it actually improves a game? Maybe 1%.

Ummm... I hate to tell you this, but the NES ran at 60 FPS. Except in the places where it ran at 50 FPS because LOL PAL(I'm sure it's a fine TV standard in many respects, but for playing video games designed in America and Japan, it's complete crap).

Like many other video game machines, the NES doesn't generate an interlaced image. It uses the alternating fields of the television signal as different frames of a 60 Hz video feed rather than halves of a single 30 Hz video feed.
Utilizing a malformed TV signal, you can force the second video field to retrace the same scanlines as the first field, avoiding jitter and enabling 60 FPS video at reduced resolution, an effect that many classic gaming enthusiasts dubbed "240p" like it's an actual video standard.
The practice began with Computer Space and Pong. It likely started because working with interlaced video was a pain in the backside without fairly advanced ICs, and continued on because it conferred other advantages(the lower resolution reduced the computing load greatly, and the increased frame rate was highly desirable for action games).


60 FPS was not just standard, but MANDATORY, for years and years, and only even began slowing down on the PlayStation 2.




I have no real interest into wading into the broader debate(and an interesting debate it is). Just wanted to correct this misconception that video game consoles have always run at 30 FPS because NTSC commands it.

You can do a lot of horrible things to analog video signals and still get something that will display on a CRT TV. NTSC didn't really COMMAND 30 FPS interlaced so much as meekly request it but if you'd rather punch it in the face and steal it's lunch money that's okay too. And video game developers would much rather punch it in the face and steal it's lunch money.
rollo 8th June 2014, 15:59 Quote
Graphics engines change as time goes on.

By 2020 we will surely be aproaching Real World Graphics. Some game types are already aproaching it. Fifa 14 is a pretty decent comparison does it look a great deal different to your modern broadcast when they are not up close to the action.

Wether 60fps or resolution matters is id say a game type dependent thing. Twitch games that require fast reactions to whats happening higher fps does help if your screen can handle it.

4k and oculus people say are the game changes problem with both is content. Gaming at 4k is not really possible on todays graphics cards unless your running a few of them even then its game dependent on drivers. ( £1100 in gpus can power 1 4k screen in certain games )

Tv 4k is a long way away. Sky has 60 ish hd channels in the uk of which only 1/3rd are 1080 resolution. That is due to bandwidth constraints. Netflix is going to start offering some 4k content but you are not talking true 4k level of streams.

We may finally see a blue ray quality stream from 4k. A true 4k would be 12gb/s uncompressed for the record, 3gb/s for 1080 30fps x 4 basically.

The highest current single link today is 10gb/sec. SMPTE are developing new ways to deliver this to us but its not ready yet, Amazon and netflix are talking about between 12-20mbit so a rather large quality reduction using HEVC, A Blue ray plays at about a similar bit rate depending on movie

Oculus great for people who are gaming alone. Problem is if your game time is mostly with others in front of a tv for example then its not going to see alot of usage. Even in Pc space theres not alot of games where id say Oculus would be great here.

The next big space game maybe in Star Citizen but we are talking 2016 here at its current rate of development. ( Even in this game there are worrys about the controls for oculus) Would you really want it for a fps game where surely a mouse and keyboard will be a better control scheme than anything oculus can offer.

Oculus to be great has to fix a few things and the first version will not be 4k per eye more like sub 1080. I personally dout the oculus VR will be the one to buy with both Sony and Microsoft capable of building similar stuff but getting better deals on components. The first high resolution VR machine will likely come from one of the 2.
mclean007 11th June 2014, 07:21 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by rollo

Oculus to be great has to fix a few things and the first version will not be 4k per eye more like sub 1080. I personally dout the oculus VR will be the one to buy with both Sony and Microsoft capable of building similar stuff but getting better deals on components. The first high resolution VR machine will likely come from one of the 2.
It's not just about "deals on the components" though - Oculus has done some very clever stuff with motion tracking and latency, which is necessary to avoid motion sickness with VR headsets. It's not just a bag of components and it's definitely not a commoditised item - people will be willing to pay more for a product that they perceive as delivering the best experience.

And don't forget Oculus now has the almost limitless financial firepower of Facebook behind it...
PaulJG 13th June 2014, 09:22 Quote
Great Article! - Myself.. Im a purest, I look at a game deeply. Most often I buy them - I never finish them, I find myself sucked into the techie side. Is that rain effect working on the puddles down the street? Is that wave reacting to coastline? Whats the draw distance?? etc..

I find I enjoy the game much better if its engine performs as you'd expect it to - over the years as the BF series has evolved, I've always wanted to shoot out a light.. so that it changes how I play the level. Or even in the first splinter cell - if I shoot it.. will it go out? (nope, usually just swing around a bit looking like a pretty effect) - limitations of both the core engine, and the grx engine. Todays titles we demand realtime physics, dynamic lighting - less of the baked in lighting effects.. everything has to be realtime - and its slowly coming of age.

Looking at the E3 vids of upcoming games, it seems the industry has finally had to bite the bullet and invest in new engines for the nextgen games, no more.. bolt a bit on here and push it through with a 2, 3 or 4 on the box, and I welcome that.

Even indy games have changed over the last few years, its no more a oneman band coder in the bedroom churning out a very playable little game with functioning grxs. Now its state of the art 3d graphics and slick animation, lot of money being found from somewhere.
Anfield 13th June 2014, 16:17 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by mclean007
And don't forget Oculus now has the almost limitless financial firepower of Facebook behind it...

It will also have everyone living in constant fear that if they blink the wrong way the fact that they are gamers will be plastered over every social network...
Elton 14th June 2014, 22:19 Quote
I think there's something to be said about games with graphics that compliment it and games where the graphics detract from it.

I'll use STALKER since it's still by far my favorite FPS to have come out of the woodwork in years. STALKER is....odd when it's unmodded. It's glitchy (not too bad anymore), the voice acting is genuinely awful if you choose English, only the last game even gives the player a semblance of guidance, and while the lighting engine is magnificent (it REALLY is), the textures are hilariously bad.

It's an ugly game. Simple as that, it looked antiquated when it came out. Hell the hand models and animations are frankly awful, it's a game that genuinely lacks polish. Whether or not it was intentional however, it worked. It's a game that somehow knew exactly what it was doing: oppressing you. It isn't the hardest game ever, but STALKER was always an unforgiving game. It laced RPG elements into an FPS with a sci-fi twist that was down to earth and yet incredibly outlandish. STALKER proved to me that graphics weren't the end all. In 2008. Even though the engine was markedly complex (every iteration brought in new things, like better volumetric light, SSAO, wet surfaces, dynamic lighting etc) the textures and models were still hilariously out of place.

But it worked, the game had so much atmosphere, so much gravitas when playing that I forgot to count the pixels. I forgot that the grass was 2-D cross sectioned models with simple textures, I forgot that everything was Aliased, that the AA option never even worked. I forgot that the Anisotropic Filtering option didn't really do anything. I forgot because the game was absurdly engrossing. It didn't hold my hand, it was clunky, but it didn't feel unfair, it felt like I was in an oppressive and apathetic wasteland. And I was.

What's the point of this? Graphical fidelity isn't the end all and be all to a game's quality. It's about how one interacts with the graphics and how the graphics interact with the player. The crappy textures were forgotten when I was being attacked by everything. I forgot how aliased everything was when I was running away like a little girl in the darkness dropping the extra weight in my pack because I couldn't run long enough and I was being chased by a bloodsucker.

It was a combination of ugly and beautiful. But what it gave me was an experience. It was then I realized I cared little for great graphics as much as I cared for a world that is molded into a world I could care about and have stories and tibits to remember. Assassin's Creed 3 lacked that. A lush beautiful world. But I was limited. The mechanics of the game precluded me from really having those absolutely-pants-crapping-scary moments. But it wasn't the mechanics. It was it's aim for perfection. It didn't let me go outside of the boundaries. I didn't forget there were boundaries. It wasn't immersive.

And that's what I want from a game. Graphics are secondary if I can just lose myself and think in the moment of the game.
HeaverNothing 16th June 2014, 23:05 Quote
I think developers need to learn its not just all polygons and resolutions that matter.
ssj12 17th June 2014, 04:29 Quote
Unless we are talking about a game like South Park: Stick of Truth, framerate matters greatly. Any game sub 60fps a painful to play.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXJh9ut2hrc&list=UUy1Ms_5qBTawC-k7PVjHXKQ
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