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.

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/