Wading into the FPS/Reso Fray

I’m not one to really talk about these issues usually, as controversial as they seem to be to the vocal. But in recent days and weeks I’ve found my self baying for a chance to speak my mind in this topic and (while I haven’t asked) I’m most sure that my work colleagues at the Torch EG wouldn’t want me to speak on the topic. My opinions are usually not the part of the majority but their usually not controversial either. Maybe at some point this might get a re-write and end up on the site. Anyway…

Frame-rate, Resolution and Me.

As most know by now, My history comes from photography and film-making. I’m trained in both to a quite high degree. If you want to be specific, I trained as a writer and a camera man but also as a landscape and urban photographer. All don’t involve talking to people and working with other humans so it suited my secluded self. But this also means that frame-rate and resolution are mainstays of mine. As photographer resolution was key. Taking and getting the highest fidelity image possible because photographs could be used in advertising that takes up the whole side of a building. And in film-making, the standard is 24 frame-per-second on film, digital, and editing programs. It is the most efficient. You can go higher like Peter Jackson and double it to 48 frames-per-second but then it becomes expensive to produce, like shooting a film in 3D with 3D cameras. Films are already extremely costly (when it comes to Hollywood style productions) so adding to the cost to get some more frames is something most don’t really think about. Maybe in the future but now it is extremely rare. But on top if this, films are shot with the same “highest fidelity image possible” idea as photography forcing the idea that frame-rate might as well stay at 24 because it means the fidelity can get better, like IMAX showings.

In the case of video games, frame-rate is important. A higher frame-rate when playing a game means that there is less delay between you pressing a button and the action happening on-screen. But the same case can’t be made to resolution. There is the “highest fidelity image possible” idea but a lot of games are set in a graphically stylized world of fiction it doesn’t matter. Although, for games like “Call of Duty” and games set in the ‘real world’ (that being this world with humans but still as fiction) it sort of does. But does it?

Resolution is a thing that is nice for a game to have but the impact is has on the game is minimal. Graphics don’t make a game, the game makes the game. Look at the past eras of gaming. Back in the DOS years, there was no frame-rate or resolution debate. But as the games moved into 3D and 3rd/1st person the debate started. Slowly, more and more, the debate rose up to become the leading debated point between platforms. This came to a head when consoles like the Dreamcast said that they were the best graphical machine. (This ended up being their downfall ultimately because the PS2 and the GameCube shipped a year later with newer hardware.) But like I said, high frame-rates for games are good because there is less delay for the player making a more enjoyable experience. This just means that frame-rate (on the whole and generally speaking) is more important than graphical fidelity and resolution.

But why then the debate? Well as High Definition [HD] became a thing for film/television/photography it became a thing with games. High polygon models and high particle effects where already a thing because that is the of natural progression of game graphics, the same way that better ISO counts and higher film grains was the natural progression of films tapes for photography/film/television. It creates a better image, not necessarily a bigger image but better and more clear image. HD creates a better image but is that what gaming needed? It all depends on the audience. Time for some films theory.

There are widely seen in film theory as two types of audience, ‘passive’ and ‘active’. Passive audiences are mentally disconnected while active audiences are mentally engaged. Traditionally, film, television and photography has a passive audience because the audience is just sitting in a room watching, having no control over what they are watching in any way. This is the reason why film making throughout history have dappled with ways to make audiences more engaged with the film they are watching. This varied from things like “smell-o-vision“, 4D showings that are used in theme park rides, all the way up to the most recent return of 3D. Games on the other hand are active audience because that are interacting with the world they are watching through the player character. This means that the mental cognition of the audience is different, meaning that the finer details are not noticed because the audience it mentally doing something else. This is different to the passive film audience because will notice finer details because their only mental cognition is to watch the film. Things that the player will notice is things like a delay between pressing a button on a controller to the action happening on-screen. This again means that fidelity and resolution are secondary to the faster reaction time that higher frame rates bring.

But what happens when they combine? YouTube recently activated their 60 frame-per-second video player because gaming is big business on the site. Many already have taken advantage and uploaded many 60 frame-per-second videos. But does it matter? While playing a game at 60 frames-per-second is good for the person recording, it (on the whole) is not necessary because the audience that watches 60 frame-per-second videos is a passive audience. Considering that 60 frame-per-second player is only available to videos that are 720p HD or higher, it forces another boundary to people who want to come into the YouTube gaming space and those who are already in it. While recording software for PC’s is relatively cheap, same can’t be said for console recorders, (recorders that aren’t controlled and limited by the console maker) PCs and editing equipment that is capable to play, record and edit 60 frame-per-second videos. Total costs can easily rise into the several hundred or even over thousand. While it may be nice to watch videos at 60 frames, it on the whole doesn’t, and shouldn’t, matter.

So to clearly state my place;

  • Frame rate matters when playing a game,
  • But doesn’t (or at least shouldn’t) when watching it.
  • Resolution should be considered secondary for game,
  • But frame-per-second should be primary.

But as a final thought, both frame-rate and resolution should be considered secondary to getting good games. I don’t want graphics and frame-rates to take over to the point where that is all that matters so all that gets released is graphical tech demos that are mediocre games.

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My Thoughts on “Goat Simulator “

By now, most of you would have seen, heard or player  “Goat Simulator”. When I saw the gameplay of it (was ‘EatMyDiction1’ gameplay if your interested,) I was pulled back into the era of the PlayStation 1 and the early PlayStation 2 “Tony Hawk: Pro Skater” games. Your given the controls, a world and objectives and nothing else. At least that’s what I thought…

In the ‘Pro Skater’ games there are many levels. Even in the first one there where levels a plenty, giving you lots of space to go around in and, by the fourth and ‘Underground’ installments, lots to interact with as well. In “Goat Simulator” there isn’t. At least the developer is hopping there will be. The Steam Workshop connection is where the extra levels will come from with a tainted and asterisked ‘maybe‘.

At the moment, the game is a one-trick-goat. If/when I get it I will have fun but after I’ve done all the objectives there isn’t anything left.  You can get it but there is no guarantee that you will be playing it next week let alone next month or next year. Staying power it what games want. “Goat Simulator” is finding a new way of staying, it stays on YouTube.

‘TotalBiscuit’ made a good point in his review;

YouTuber bait“.

YouTuber bait is game that can last a few gameplay episodes of the few hours that make up a livestream, but doesn’t have the longevity that means it will be remembered as more than a joke. It like most primetime TV, its funny to watch but it forgotten as soon as it finished.  Easily digestible entertainment that is nice filling but lacks the zest that would make it great.

I moving into (or back into depending on perspective) the realms of YouTube and “Goat Simulator” looks designed for it. But whether it is a good game, in my mind is yet to be decided. The bones are to bare at the moment.

It’s still pretty funny.

DmC Primer and Review

I played the demo of this round about the time the game came out [January/February time] and I said to my self ‘This is a game made for me.” By god I was right. Those unfamiliar with the franchise, here is a quick lesson.

DMC Primer:

The first “Devil May Cry” was a hack-and-slash game that came out for the PS2 in August 2001. It introduced a Earth-world where demons kill, maim and do demon-y things. You play as Dante, a demon killer who runs a demon killing business that only includes him called ‘Devil May Cry’ [I see what you did there] who is tasked by Trish, a lookalike of you dead mother [Mmm… Freudian] to go to an island to kill Mundus, the emperor of the demons that killed your mother and brother. What follows is slashing through many enemies, bosses, more enemies, a betrayal, a twist that pays off 2 games from now, a reconciliation and killing Mundus.

“Devil May Cry 2” [PS2 – January 2003] not many people liked. I thought it was alright. It wasn’t that bad. It see’s Dante fighting more demons and saving damsel’s in distress, killing the bad guy, and getting locked in the demon realm. The chronology of the games were messed up but it was clear that this was the last one. [An un-finished manga and an anime series fit in as well as the 4 games making the chronology more complicated.]

The first chronologically but third in the series called “Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening” [PS2 – February 2005] showed the ‘origins’ of Dante. Before he had his ‘Devil May Cry‘ demon killing business he just ate pizza and didn’t ware shirts. After he meets the bold, deep-voiced, I-am-the-bad-guy Arkham [no connection to the prison] and sees that his brother Virgil is trying to take over the world, he heads off to stop them. You may remember that I said ‘a twist that pays off 2 games from now‘ when I talked about DMC1. This is this game and the twist is Virgil. Well it was sort of a twist. In DMC1 you find out that its your brother. In DMC3 you meet your brother.

Devil May Cry 4” [PS3/360 – Jan/Feb 2008] tied up all the loose ends that the series had accumulated over the years. It was a good round-off of the series and finished off the plot of Virgil who, turns out, is in all the games but only appears in 2.  Overall the series was good. I hits the platinum series for the PS2 and is one of the most known PlayStation series’.

Now to review “DmC: Devil May Cry“. And by the way, it’s a re-boot. So you don’t need to know any of what I just said. None of it. At all. None. So on to the review.

DmC: Devil May Cry Review [2013 – Ninja Theory]

This new DMC was made under the mire of many fans of the original series. Firstly, Dante has had a makeover. The white-haired, red-coated Dante is out with a punk-rock stylised, black-haired Dante replacing him. Personally, the look of him has changed but the badass-ness that made him such a well liked character is still there. That isn’t the only thing that has had a make over. The setting has changed to a more contemporary setting. Rather then being a world where demons and humans live together, there are two dimensions. The human dimension and Limbo, the dimension where the demons hide and secretary control the human dimension. The way the demons control the human world through Limbo is what ever happens in Limbo happens in the human world too. Although this idea seems to be turned on and off at a whim, or more likely, at the whim of platforming sections. But the idea is still an interesting one.

The man bad guy hasn’t changed. It is Mundus, the bad guy from DMC1. But he, as all the other bad guys, have also had a contemporary make over. As we Brits are rather pissed at authority figures right now, the main bad guys are figures of authority. Mundus is the head of Banking company [we pissed at the financial people for the banking crisis/tax rises], another bad guy is a news presenter/media mogul [Pissed of at media people for phone hacking/bias] and a mid-control and un-healthy poisoned drink conglomerate [taxes? It’s bad for you? Although the mind control poison drink is properly a dig at [name redacted]]. They even go further than that but keep is very British. When I said media mogul bad guy you must have thought I was talking about Fox News/News International/Murdock because that is the company/company/man connected with the media scandal. Yes it seems it’s based on that/that/him in a way because the news broadcasts that propagates that Dante is evil is very Americanized and Fox News-ish and Bob Barbas [Bad Guy] is a parody of Bill O’Reilly. But when you see the tower that he is hiding in, I couldn’t help but think ‘that looks a lot like BT Tower‘.

This anti-authority sensibility is weaved through the whole game. Dante’s main weapon is still his sword, Rebellion [I see what you did there], and Virgil heads a groups called ‘The Order’ that is rebelling against Mundus in, [a least at the start,] an Anonymous way. Virgil donning a demon mask and voice changer and hacking into the computer systems of Mundus company. This certainly piles on the look-alike side but the mask is dropped early in the game but the hacking stays because some one has to hack in this modern-day setting.

The gameplay itself is more refined. I have to admit that I wasn’t vey good at the previous games. Yes I played, finished and enjoyed them buy I always found it hard to get decent score ratings. In this one, it is more easer to get good ratings and style points. Some might see that as bad or dumbing its down but it makes the game more accessible to new players. That’s especially needed here because it’s a re-boot. [Or it might just be that my version of DMC 3 was a normal-is-actually-hard-mode version.]

On replay value, there isn’t much. The only thing there is as replay value goes is re-doing levels for better ratings or finishing it on harder difficulties.

Frankly, I adore this game with so much love and I am sad to see that I didn’t do well. I want to see where this new interpretation goes and I hope that Ninja Theory can continue on the series.

Overview:

The game is solid and the story and characters is something I adore about this game. But, if you’re not the sort of person who will replay levels over and over for a better score or for chops, I can see you playing it once and that’s it.

DmC: Devil May Cry – 4.5/5

“Warfame” [Beta] Will It Last Review

If you read my ‘initial play-through’ review of “Warframe you can tell that I have a lot of love for the game. The style is a good combination style with sci-fi ninjas and the gameplay if fluid and fun. The issues I had are still there. The mods are had to change with the lack of the ability to just take mods off.

But the game falls into the pitfall that most online games fall into. I’ve played the games for 3/4 week and I’ve started to hit the level cap, level 30. I can buy new equipment but only a limited amount. In the inventory there are only 2 slots for warframes, one taken by your starting warframe, and 8 slots for weapons, 3 taken by your starting weapons. Considering that I hat the level cap for my starting rifle first it  and will soon hit it with my warframe that’s not much room. And there are not many weapons to buy. Just for melee weapons there are only 4 you can buy with in-game money, one being the sword you started with, the others being duel sword you started with, a bo staff and gauntlets. There are 16 different melee weapons you can get but only 4 can be bought with in-game money. I can’t really hold that against the game because it’s a free-to-play game and they have to make money some how. You can sell weapons and warframes but your mods go with it so if you spent time on them you may think twice about getting rid of them. And I never seemed that I was disadvantaged from not buying things with real money. Yes people who did pay seemed more powerful than I was but I never felt that I was flagging behind the group or just standing around not doing anything. Except those times that I was put into a squad that all my other teammates where the rest of the team had bought full gear and I hadn’t…

The review that I gave before still stands and the score still does. It sits on the cusp of being a ‘game of the year’ game, but the gap between where it is and where it needs to be to be a ‘GOTY’ is properly a step to far. I think if it took that step it would properly be worse for it. Still doesn’t mean that I can’t fix the issues that I had with things like having the ability to just take off the mods. Even with all these issues, the game is still fun.

With your mods going with whatever you sell, the thing you might end up doing is hitting the level cap and keep playing because there are not enough inventory spaces. If your willing so spend a bit of money you won’t run into these problems but I you don’t want to, the level cap at 30 my advice is to choose a style of play as early as you can and sticking with it.

Warframe [Beta]

4.5/5 (Un-Changed)

Assured that it is great and that’s where it should stay.

Review: Warframe [Open Beta]

Warframe, even in its beta stage, is a game built with me in mind. Pretty much all the game is stuff I like and that’s great. But the game still has a way to go.

The Review:

Digital Extremes may be more famous for making the “Unreal” series of games than anything else. But they did a game called “Dark Sector” that came out in 2008 for PS3 and 360, (2009 for PC.) It was meant to be a very sci-fi affair but much of it was cut. But in “Warframe” they live on. “Warframe” is an online 3rd person co-op shooter. Straight into my good books. You are Tenno, a robo-suited warrior that awakes from cryo-sleep to defend the system. That’s solar system. Yes, its set in this system of planets. You can go to moons and planets named after real moon and planets in this solar system. Most of them I think are named after real one anyway. It’s a good way to brush up on astrology. Work out what ones are real and what one aren’t. (If any…)

That game has a mix of styles. There is the sci-fi style and elements with spaceships and roots and things, but it is mixed with a ninja/samurai style. The music has the oriental warrior style drums when fights break out, there is stealth element, (which I have yet to see let alone do) and you starting weapon is a sci-fi samurai sword. Yes your given a machine gun and pistol too but the sword is just awesome. I want one!

You, and up to 3 others, do missions and fight against three opposing factions. The Grineer, (a militarised race) Corpus, (a computer race) and Infested ( a mutant race.) Each mission is one of 7 different objectives. Capture, (where you capture a person is a really creepy way,) Raid, (where you go in and steal stuff,) Rescue, (Break some one out of lock-up,) Sabotage, (break a ship) Defence, (defeat waves for prizes) and Extermination (kill everyone). The 7th mission type is Alert missions. They’re special because it could be more the one of the other 6 objectives and are only open for a limited time, but give better rewards.

The rewards you get are cards/modifiers. You put modifiers on to your suit/guns/sword to make them more powerful. The modifiers are things like higher ammo capacity, more damage etc. The modifiers can me upgraded by ‘fusing’ other cars to them. The limitation to the modifier is their cost. Modifiers take a certain amount of space and the space you have depends on the level. For example, a level 5 gun has 5 spaces. But this is where one of the issues comes up. Putting the modifiers on things is easy but taking them off isn’t. There currently isn’t a way to take modifiers off without replacing them. This can be annoying after a while. Say you want to take all the modifiers off and replace them with a single big modifier, you can’t. And considering you can’t upgrade a modifier while they are on an item you have to do juggling act to take one off, upgrade it, and put it back.

The only other gripe with it is the learning curve. I teaches you how to move, shoot, etc, but doesn’t say anything else. I significant part of the mission is a hacking mini-game that is easy but needs a warning that is there. There is also wall/free running maneuvers that the game expects you to know. If you don’t know how to do it, you can’t continue the mission and have to abort. Me and the squad I started with did a mission and that introduced us to the mechanic and we had to quit because we all got stuck and didn’t know how to continue. An advanced tutorial after the main one, or just making it part of the main one can easily solve this.

The game is free-to-play which is good. There are micro-transactions to get things quicker or just get other fancy stuff but you don’t need to if you don’t need to. There not constantly asking for money either so you can play without seeing them. Either way, you can be fine with the standard weapons and the in-game currency lets you buy new weapons when you want to.

Overview:

For a beta stage game, its great. Needs only a few tweaks to make it great. Is a game I will follow and see if it gets to “Game Of Year” standard.  Now if you don’t mind, I going to play more of it.

Warframe [Open Beta] – 4.5/5

Site: https://warframe.com/

PC Gaming Master What?

It’s time I got back to writing on here, so here.

I’ve read a lot about PC gaming recently. And I’ve followed ‘Rage Gaming Videos‘ and ‘Generation Hollow‘ on the YouTube recently, both avid PC gamers. And ‘Hollow’ said the phrase that erks me in one of his vlog style ‘Tea & Questions’ videos.

Gaming Master Race.

I’ve always been annoyed at PC gamers saying that. And console guys, that goes for you too. My main tweak is that gaming should just be called gaming no matter what you play it on or how you play it. Considering there are so many types of gamers these days [hardcore, casual and otherwise] on many types of devices [phone, PC, consoles and otherwise].

A personal example is that I started paying games on the PS1 and the PC. Some games like FPS’ I always played on the PS1, and games like RTS’ I always played on PC. I have since tried playing those style of games on the opposing platform and it’s hard for me to make the switch.

One reason why I never wholly stuck with one or the other is because of limitations. Consoles are limited by their specifications and PC by cost and my lack of knowledge of the hardware. I’ve had the same PC for just about 2 console generations and the house PC ‘was’ fighting to be the oldest technology in the house. ‘Was’ because we got, [well, built with the help of Dr Cousin James,] a new house PC over Christmas. But that now means that there are more PC’s in the house then consoles. I have had all the last generations from Windows and Sony, PS1/2/3 and Windows 98/2000/XP/7. [No Vista ‘cos its that terrible.]

It’s that last statement that I have a problem with. I have played games on 7 things, but only 2 platforms, just at my house. And I’m fighting my hardware on this PC to keep that going without a major refit or replacement. If I added all the consoles/PCs I’ve played games on just in the last 10 years, it would be well in double digits. I can understand buying new devises, chips and operating systems to upgrade but after a while it just gets silly.

With the new 8th generation of consoles baring down on us it’s time to have a look at where it could take us. The WiiU it out doing its own thing, and with the new Xbox expected to be the “It’s On!” not-so-subtle announcement countdown to E3 it may be time to move on and move away from the gaming war parapets and join together as gamers of gaming media. We all end up spending far too much just on the hardware to play games, console and PC gamers, so just stop bickering. Although the chances that people will do that is slim but what the hell. I can still hope.

There is no gaming master race, just games and those who play them.