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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I Saw A Show About Diets

I saw a show, “The Men Who Made Us Thin” (BBC, 2013) and it was a documentary about diets and dieting, the industry, its failures and its success’. And as a gamer I want to weigh in on the subject, so to speak.

When you think of gamer’s you think of the glasses wearing, over-weight people (mostly 20’s – 40’s white men but that’s a different topic). While there are people like that, that’s not everyone is like that. Look at this guy. The one on the right is SeaNanners (AKA Adam Montoya) a famous gaming You Tuber and he looks great. And then there’s his long time partners, Hutch and Sark (AKA Shaun Hutchinson and IDon’tKnowHisRealName. L-R Hutch, SeaNanners and Sark.) Hutch is a skinny sod and Sark looks like he can decapitate a brick wall.

So firstly, the stereotype is wrong, mostly, so don’t think that. That cleared up? good.

Now this may get preachy but that’s not the intention. Diets are stupid. There, I said it. Well, even the program says that. Anyway, me being the poor guy that grew up watching all this crap spread to a new generation before they even hit an age that required using 2 numbers, is scary. Seeing little kids being scared about their weight is good but scary. It’s good because they understand the health implications of what they eat (at least I like to think that, it makes me feel better) but it’s also scary because they shouldn’t be that scared about it. Little kids use “your fat” as an insult but the response that people should say is “yeah, so? It means when I kick you in balls it hurts more.” Then doing so. No, I am not condoning violence. On bully’s it is called justice. And it’s gratifying.

As a gamer, and as someone who spends most of their time in front of a PC monitor, I have learned to eat by one rule. “Eat as much as you burn“. Put the lighter down, I don’t mean burn the food then eat it. I mean eat as much food you burn off. Sometimes I spend most of my time on the PC, writing and whatnot so I don’t eat that much. I’m not doing anything or moving much so I don’t need that much. Then there’s the times when I’m out taking photographs and walking for hours. So I take a trip to Burger King on my way home or have a big meal when I get home.

But overall, I don’t really care about my weight. Yeah I’m always concerned about it. I don’t like wearing shorts or going swimming because I have to bear my unkempt self to the public. I just try to not put on weight because I’m heavy enough as it is.

Although, being concerned about your weight is pointless in the scheme of things because it has little to do with your overall health. Over-weighted body-builders/weightlifters are healthy and so are under-weighted marathon runners.

My XO Minecraft Map

For those who didn’t notice, I have made a new Minecraft map. It gives you the ability to play X’s and O’s in Minecraft. Not just the normal kind but in 3D as well.

Here is the map.

It comes with a resource pack but its only for changing the sand/gravel blocks into O/X blocks so you can play properly. I also changed a few of the mob faces so you would be reminded to switch to the default pack after.

Hope you like it. Go to the comments to say what you want about it.

ACB Clear’s “Grand Theft Auto V” and “Saint’s Row IV”

Gamers have got annoyed at the Australian Classification Board for some time. They have a tendency to not classify games, therefore banning them in Australia, for some time. A reason to this was attributed to their not being [effectively] an 18 rating.

But that changed this year with the creating of the R18+ rating.

So the soon to be released Grand Theft Auto V” will be released with an R18+ rating, the first time for the series. The past “GTA” games have been given a MA15+ rating but didn’t really come out unscathed. [Until it was released on PC for some reason.]

But “Saint’s Row IV” went to the board three times and only was cleared for classification the third time through. It wasn’t allowed classification ‘because of drug uses in connection to rewards and incentives’. But when it was cleared, they only took out one mission and it was given an MA15+ rating. So one mission was the difference between an MA15+ rating and being banned. Deep Silver said:

Deep Silver and [local distributor] AIE are pleased to report that the Australian Classification Board has now approved Saints Row IV for sale. They have granted the game a MA15+ rating. To achieve this rating one loyalty mission featuring the character Shaundi has been removed. This mission has been widely reported on and contains the use of alien narcotics to obtain certain superpowers. This mission represents approximately 20 minutes of gameplay out of the hours available to purchasers. The removal of this mission has no negative impact on the story or the superpowers and will not detract from the enjoyment players will get from their Saints Row IV experience. The rectifier weapon will be available as part of a DLC package as originally intended. Deep Silver respects this decision and thanks the Australian Classification Board for their assistance with this matter.

Living in the UK I haven’t seem many games get banned. I find it strange that the ACB drew an arbitrary line with drug use but didn’t with the nudity, violence, swearing and sexual references that are also in the game.

Agent Cole’s Story Continues

You may of remember that I talked the other day about Agent Cole, AKA the ad campaign for “The Bureau: X-COM Declassified“. Well his story continues, or is it finishes, in “The Chase“. Here it is;

I am really enthralled with Agent Cole’s story. Part of wants 2K to make this a bigger thing. I mean not just an ad campaign. Although it has served its advertising purpose. I am relativity excited about “The Bureau“.

I wouldn’t mind writing script-y things about Cole.

!SEGWAY!

I have set up a page for my writings. I am moving back towards writing scripts and such so I have dedicated a page to it here on the blog.

Agent Cole’s Decision

But there is also a prequel coming out this year that tells the story of how the eponymous organisation came to be.

The Bureau: X-COM Declassified” puts you into the shoes of special agent William Carter, an agent of The Bureau. It is a 3rd person squad-based shooter. You, as William, and your 2 squad-mates fight an alien threat in North America.

It is a prequel to the “Enemy Unknown” set in 1962, charting the creation of X-COM. It holds some of the mechanics “Enemy Unknown” had like character permadeath. So when one of your squad-mates dies, they stay dead and you have to retrain another man to take their place.

The design and the setting play to one another, making a juxtaposition of the stylised late 50’s/early 60’s time point against the higher technology that makes up the weapons and the alien technology. That means that the game looks good, really good. Although I have to say that this type of alien looks like Cryptosporidium from “Destroy All Humans“. [Though he looks like “Paul” as well…]

For advertising “The Bureau”, 2K put up a video on their YouTube channel of Agent Cole [played by Dominic Monaghan], a man working for the bureau, writing a file about the first Pima Incident, where his wife and son died. At the end it gave people the choice to vote #GrabTheBottle or #GrabTheGun. Here is the video;

The internet voted and by only a 1% margin, #GrabTheBottle won. [51% Bottle – 49% Gun] So Agent Cole’s decision was made;

It may of only been an ad campaign but I am interested in what 2K can make with the story of Agent Cole.

I’m not a squad-shooter player type person, [I’d rather just shoot it then command], but I can’t wait to see how this game turns out. To round off, here is the latest trailer.

SimCity Dev’s Leave Maxis EA To Go It Alone

You may remember when “SimCity” was released earlier in the year. You may remember the internet, including me, ranting and raving about the yes/no DRM and server problems. Well the creative director, Ocean Quigley,  lead architect, Andrew Willmott and lead gameplay engineer, Dan Moskowitz are leaving Maxis and EA altogether to set up their own company, Jellygrade.

Talking to Polygon, Quigley said;

“I have been a big studio developer for a long time, almost 18 years now,” he said. “EA has a certain roster of projects they want to do and they are a big company with big momentum. If you have something new and untried, and something that’s uniquely yours that you want to do, it’s really not the environment to do it.

“EA’s strengths are executing things with hundreds of people, to well-understood patterns. The stuff that I want to do now is to explore some new simulation themes and some new mechanics and do some stuff that EA is not well set up to do. So, not knocking EA, they do what they do, but it was time for me and the other developers Andrew Willmott  and Dan Moskowitz to go off and try some new stuff.”

Talking about their first project as a new company, Quigley said it was “a little too weird and science nerdy for EA” and said on Twitter;

The game is being built for the iPad.

“There’s a bunch of simulation stuff that we’re doing around fluid dynamics, around the movement of lava and water and rock. Gases and fluids and solids all mingling together to make lava landscapes and seas. There’s a bunch of stuff that I have been wanting to try out for a long time around touch sensitivity and the manipulation of those things.

“So we take some of the concerns and ideas about tactility that I have been thinking about for a long time and then apply them to something where you are literally reaching down and pushing lava around or making lightning come out of clouds or pulling down comets. You are reaching into the world and manipulating it with multiple fingers. It comes out of a desire to have more direct tactile interaction with the world that you are creating and manipulating.”

But he did say that he hopes there will be a PC port “in time“.

It’s always a daunting move when you decide to go it alone, especially in the games industry. These guys have a lot of knowledge between them and their game idea seems solid. Frankly, I can’t wait to see what they come up with. Here is one guy saying good luck to you guys at Jellygrade.