Discussion in 'PC/Console Game Discussion' started by Lizard_King, Jan 5, 2012.
Koei makes decent dynasty warrior PC ports.
Because this is still being read/linked to, here's a slightly cleaned up and better written version. Read it instead:
Old post below:
Also, because this issue really fucking annoys me, massive incoming technical post with reasons why it may have been technically difficult or visually undesirable to have higher framebuffer resolutions or framerates. As a bonus, I’ll likely throw in other stuff they dealt with which might have impacted their decisions on rendering related changes. I will also rate each independent point with two 1-10 scales, the first representing how much entitled PC gamers would bitch and moan about it, with 10 being the Whiny Entitled PC Gamer Who Chooses Not To Buy It Because It is a Total Deal Breaker, Man, and the second representing development cost, with 10 being "Fuck it, bin the project, it costs too much."
This one is low hanging fruit. But if you know exactly what resolution your game will be, often it is significantly easier to build all of the UI in such a fashion that it just lands on screen where you want it. This means all the game UI could in theory be on one large texture that's just slapped to the screen and that's that. Even if they didn't do that, the resolution is guaranteed to be perfect, and the positions are close to guaranteed to be hardcoded. Meaning that if they were to up-res the framebuffer, you would have huge chunky blocky UI that would be immediately at odds with the rest of the game's high resolution. To fix it would require rewriting a large part of the UI system to either properly scale everything, or properly position relative to screen edges, and having the artists completely redraw all of the UI such that it would look good or better at higher resolutions.
2. Texture mapping (including normal maps).
Given the game's internal low resolution, the look of their art was probably balanced such that the artists knew the target resolution. Given the rough size of enemies on screen, and the graphical look of the game, I'm expecting they made heavy use of low res normal maps in order to get the level of detail they wanted on characters and enemies. Were you to upres the framebuffer without creating new normal maps, it's possible for characters to suddenly look like they are all wearing outfits made of small colored bathroom tile, as a single pixel of a normal map would map to significantly more screen space in a roughly square fashion.
The textures will also be nearly the same resolution as the texture maps, because if they are too drastically different they'd look absolutely terrible.
Cost: 7 (10 if including the world).
3. Low polygon models
The game world is large and open enough that the character and enemy models are likely quite low res, only you can't notice it at their target framebuffer size. Clever use of texture mapping and normal mapping is what generally lets them get away with this. But at a higher resolution, the magic disappears and suddenly you are looking at blocky models. Which is *especially* apparent if they have low resolution textures.
4. Fill rate.
A lot of the really interesting and cool effects they have for a lot of the enemies, bosses especially (Sif immediately comes to mind), use a ton of fill rate by massively layering transparent polygons or particles. The cost for these kind of effects increases exponentially with render size in pixels. Fixing it would require remodelling, retexturing, and likely redesigning the problem models so they don't look like complete ass, and don't drop the framerate to single digits when they suddenly take up the entire screen.
Some math (assuming Sif has about 8 layers of fur, which seems likely from the screens I've examined):
Frame buffer at 1024x720, wolf fills the screen:
This means it has to draw 1024x720x8 pixels in a worst case. That’s 5.9m pixels. Per frame, of course. So at thirty FPS it’s trying to use about 17.7 megapixels of fill rate.
Frame buffer at 1920x1080 (cause if you are a pc gamer, I’m sure you have at least this, otherwise what the fuck are you complaining about?):
1920x1080x8 pixels in a worst case. 16.6m pixels. Per frame. That’s 49.8 megapixels of fill rate.
Of course, videocards don’t measure pixel fill rate, they measure texture fill rate, and when 3d rendering, nearly everything counts as a texture. Lighting? Check. Shadows? Check. Textures, normalmaps, spec maps, alpha maps... check check check. You get the idea. That 50 megapixels very quickly becomes 300-400. For a single character.
But wait! You say. Modern video cards are much faster than the consoles! BZZZZT. They are, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. Console video chips have specific optimizations based on how developers tend to use them. As such they can do things like transparencies and FSAA for free. Or nearly so.
Oh you wanted some kind of AA on Sif? Well on PC that just doubled or quadrupled your frame buffer. So now you are using somewhere between 1 and 2 gigatexels of fill rate.
Whine: 9 (I can’t fight sif! the game slows to a crawl!)
5. Shader Languages.
This is where they take the biggest hit on the port, and where they have likely focused most of their work. Because they have a 360 and PS3 version, they obviously have some kind of shader abstraction going on. But the problem is, when you hit PC, different videocards support different things when it comes to shader languages, and using the wrong thing at the wrong time can take a 60fps game down to nothing. On 360 and PS3 this isn’t an issue but on PC? You bet it is. In fact, it’s something you can’t ignore, despite the cost of testing, debugging, and profiling on a ton of video cards. On a modern engine? Shit, this has been done for you (or mostly). But on the one they used? It’s only there as a rough helping hand.
Christ, even when making simple PC games nowadays, you’ll find features you take for granted that just don’t work for shit on common videocards. Locking the framebuffer resolution may have allowed them to take shortcuts for problem graphics chips.
6. Online Stuff
I’ve already gone into this further up in the thread, but this is not a trivial thing either. But they made a choice which was great for them and likely enabled the project at all.
Cost: 10 ( Non-GFWL ), 2 (GFWL).
7. Animation Quality.
Animation can take up a lot of space, especially when you have multiple skeletons (they have unique skeletons for everything in the game as far as I can tell), and when there’s a lot of bones per skeleton (oh, there is). One way people get around this is by using very high rates of animation compression. Well, that’s what you do when you can’t use a single skeleton (which is what a vast majority of games these days do).
What animation compression does is reduce the size of the animations in memory, but it also introduces a jittery aspect to the motion. Ever seen a character’s feet float around on the ground when they were standing still? Animation compression.
Using a lower framebuffer can hide some of that jittering, which would otherwise look fairly terrible.
Whine: 4 (6 if you have crashing due to running out of memory from less compressed animations).
Cost: 2 (reduce animation compression), 7 (change animation compression algorithm), 10 (try and change skeletons/reduce raw animation cost).
8: Timing Calculations
For those of you who don’t know how to make games, every frame the game takes a rough count of how much time has passed since the last frame, and calculates a new game state. That’s moving things, rendering things, animating things, etc.
The problem with Delta Time, or DT as we call it, is that if you are working such that you always have a known or high DT (High being lower framerate), there’s a fuckton of code bugs that will never get seen. From particles that don’t work (It normally looks like fire! But now it looks like a laser beam into the sky!), to physics that freak out (When I kill that enemy he stretches to infinity!), to things that to the layman simply don’t make sense at all (My attacks don’t hit anymore! I fall through the world! The enemy only ever turns left!).
Finding and ironing out all these issues after the fact? It’s close to impossible. Especially when some of those issues may have to do with fundamental architecture assumptions.
9. Single threaded game updated.
Given the PS3 only has one general purpose CPU, it’s not irrational to think they may have a single threaded game update. Depending on choices they made, that same game update may have to wait for the frame render to complete in between updates. If this is the case, then, given the fact that we already know their AI eats up a fuckton of CPU, it’s likely that in this case they have to keep the render costs extremely low in order to have a playable framerate at all.
The reason I think this may be the case is that traditionally japanese developers have worked this way in order to target their games for a locked 60 frames per second. But they are also used to building games with very little update logic (AI and such), so they could traditionally keep CPU costs for things other than rendering low.
But I’ve seen how poorly modern games can perform in these scenarios, so if they did build it this way, they’d have little choice in these matters.
Whine: 8 (poor framerates)
I’m going to stop here. I can’t say for certain any of these happened or were an issue, but all of these things have been problems I’ve seen in game development in the past. And all of them are major issues that lead to hard choices.
So yeah. I don’t give a shit that the greatest game made in recent history has a locked framerate and a low res frame buffer. Plus I already played it on my PC monitor and it still looked pretty damn great.
Thanks for taking the time to explain that, Charles. To the uninitiated a console port with a sub-standard resolution smacks of laziness or rushing the port out the door but it's obvious that is not always the case and not likely the case here.
Great post. Although you're clearly trolling me with the "Entitled" stuff now :)
Ehh. If anyone wanted to play it, hasn't played it on console, and are choosing not to play it because of resolution? Then the title will stick. If you don't fall in that category then feel free to let is slide off.
The main reason I'm excited for the port is that it opens up a new community of players for the game. The Asian servers of Demon's Souls had one character, the NA release another, and then Dark Souls was a totally different creature online at different stages in its popularity (and, likely, between PS3 and Xbox communities although I have no firsthand evidence one way or another). I'm looking forward to playing it with different people, in a coop, adversarial and...in between sense.
The extra content is just a nice bonus (largely because unlike many criticisms of the game that I think of as relatively superficial, I really enjoy its approach to storytelling through setting and artifacts), and if they can get a more stable network infrastructure that would be a huge improvement over the console version. The frame rate thing never really bothered me in the game that much, and I don't expect it to be worse relative to the console version so I remain fairly optimistic.
The reason I'm blunt in saying "don't buy the game if x technical issue is a big deal" is that on one level I've had the advantage of seeing a lot of these things explained in bits and pieces from people like Charles, and that from my perspective I think there will already be a good amount to talk about as newcomers run into some of the more dramatic conceptual leaps the game asks of you. It's an eminently accessible title if you're willing to learn from what the game is telling you versus simply trying to apply the same formulas that have worked in games that superficially resemble it, but by and large most of us need a boost here and there to get over the humps. Not all, of course, as some people just tear right through because the structure of the game clicks with them.
That's the kind of thing I really enjoy about the community for these games, and that's why I'm less tolerant than I might otherwise be of preemptive gloom over criteria that I think misses the point. The port in itself is an unusual experiment building on a very successful experiment, and I hope people approach it with an open mind.
Very nice explanation. I am still sad though. I have the game on PS3 and I barely played it, because I was waiting for the PC version, which I assumed would run at 1080p@60fps like pretty much every other PC game ever made.
The fact that thanks to Charles I now have an explanation why the quality will be console-like is nice, but it is still dissapointing. I will not cancel the preorder, but only because I expect PC version to stick closer to 30fps than console one, at least. But still god dammit, I expected more.
The best way to entice japanese devs to make more pc games is to buy them.
Charles, regardless of the technical reasons behind the problem, it's still a problem. It's one that PC users will be very unfamiliar with. It's not "entitlement" to expect something to be up to the technical standards set by every other full price game on the platform.
I appreciate all the explanations and the back history, but people do not deserve abuse for thinking the technical problems are a deal breaker. I'm not particularly happy about it or the weird fps/quitting to menu thing, and as I understand it the performance is pretty shoddy on the original console(s) too. There's a lot of good games out there y'know, vying for consumer money. I can totally understand people being put off by talk of technical problems.
Sure, they might not understand that FROM's hands were mostly tied for the reasons you've outlined, but does that matter? Gamers aren't asking for the world here.
This, a thousand times this.
Would you prefer I call you a graphics whore then? It's a term I haven't trotted out in a long time but I will happily add it back to my vernacular.
I mean, lets be honest here, we are talking about people taking a pass on one of the greatest games ever made because they don't like the size of the pixels.
If that's not graphics whoredom, I don't know what is!
That's fine! Like I said upthread, "entitlement" tends to be a lazy slur that's become really popular to throw at anyone who happens to be disappointed by anything. Sometimes it's valid. Often it's not. Calling people's judgement into question because they're worried about graphics (and potentially performance on top of that) for a console port when the game is rated by its legion of fans as the best thing since sliced bread strikes me as eminently fair, as long as you recognise that the problems strike the average person as being major warning signs given the previous history of console ports. They don't deserve abuse for that. I'm sure there's plenty of RPS commentators and the like who are talking absolute shit who deserve the flak, though.
And regardless of the disagreement, I have learned a lot in this thread, so thank you.
This kinda bugs me. I'm not comfortable calling it a 'problem' until I see it (or, more accurately many players see it and report it) in person. Does it let me select my native resolution? Yes. Does it look like ass? I don't know. For now I'll assume no.
I disagree, it's not a problem but it is unconventional.
There is nothing problematic about running at a fixed resolution, back in the 2D days this is all any game did. But in the era of 3D PC games it is definitely a different approach though again very common on other platforms (consoles). You're choosing to see it as a problem because you have an expectation of how this sort of thing generally works but that doesn't mean that's how it needs to work.
That's fair. I am conflating it with the other issues, i.e. the framerate troubles and whatever other jankyness we can expect from a difficult port.
I feel like this is a chicken or egg type of comment.
Capcom also ported some games to PC, like Resident 4 and 5, they are both great games, but RE4's PC port is horrible. Just because the game is great doesn't make it ok to release some half ass port.
though Capcom has improved recently with their RE5 and Street fighter ports.
I have a problem with this comment, as a gamer, all I should care about is whether or not I will enjoy the game I spend my hard-earn dollars on. Just like game critic shouldn't give better review to a bad game if that game is hand-coded by a guy with only 1 finger. the process shouldn't matter to consumer at all, what matter is the product.
I'm sure a lot of people who purchased PC version of dark soul probably already played it on console, so they probably know what to expect, but for anyone who doesn't read game news, but decide to check out dark soul on friend's advice or r they like the armored dude on the game cover. When they play the game, the first thing they will notice is "why can't I change resolution", follow up with "WTF is wrong with the frame rate".
Before someone call me a hater, I own Asian version of Demon's soul and NA version, as well as NA Dark Soul and having Dark Soul PC pre-ordered on Steam.
I don't even count Capcom since they've done lots of pc ports (as you say some bad some good.) When Charles asked earlier about japanese devs doing PC ports the only thing I could think of was Binary Domain which I thought was an extremely well done port (but it still had to be patched to fix some issues iirc.)
Do you think this might be why the game has a 3 ghz CPU requirement? I saw that, and the low frame rate "feature" and realized I'm unfortunately going to need to pass for awhile.
I bought this about 2 months after release, played it a little more than casual. But as soon as I heard about the rumor of it possibly being ported to PC I quickly stopped! I want to play this on my PC very badly. Badly enough to not even finish the game on my PS3! I couldn't care less about the 1024x720 buffer, 30FPS (rumored?) lock, GFWL or "lack" of standard PC options. I am a pretty hardcore PC gamer, but I do enjoy console games too.
I am just grateful that we're even getting it on PC at all based on community desire. FROM/Namco didn't have to port it, but they were willing to give it a try. Good for them!! I am a proud Dark Souls: PTD pre-order customer and I won't be disappointed with this game on PC!
Whoa, I did not notice that. I am glad I decided not to pre-order last weekend with the GMG deal. I will need to wait for a new PC before getting this.
Oh wow, yes. I didn't even know of that requirement but yeah, that totally fits. I'm actually *worried* a bit now since almost no CPUs are 3ghz... hell, my Core i7 in the basement isn't 3ghz. I'm hoping that requirement is only if it's a single CPU.
Wow, I just realized mine is only 2.7 or something. That is pretty harsh.
AMD Phenom II X3 720 @ 3.4GHz here. GeForce GTX260 Core 216 OC'd too, I haven't played any games I couldn't run at 60FPS+ yet.. I'm confident I won't have any issues with Dark Souls, or else I may have to actually upgrade, lol. I will if I have to of course.
Hell, I just did some 'shopping' and realized whatever new pc I would get wont have 3ghz. I don't know what's up with that. This sounds like a legit problem.
It's important to look at the specific recommendation as Mega just did: "MD Phenom II X2 545 3.0 Ghz - Intel Core 2 Duo E6850 3.0 Ghz"
I'm assuming the tier of processor is as important as the clock rating. I really don't know what the key variables are but rough comparisons (that's my old i7) seem to indicate that 3 ghz is not the end-all be-all of the conversation.
Fuckin' shitballs I guess I'm out too (2.83GHz)
I just don't see many games that require 3ghz, but there appear to be a few recent games that are beginning to recommend them (Secret World) even if they don't require them.
Well, you're well over the 3ghz anyway. :)
Lizard_King brought up a good point. I'm below that with an E6600. I'm in that generation of Dual Cores so the 3ghz definitely matters for me, but maybe not others.
Sorry to get people worried over potentially nothing.
Oh hmm, I misread that too fast what with my INTERNET OUTRAGE!!!! >:| So my quadcore is probably fine.
Yeah, I apologize for not just copying/pasting the CPU requirement across when I asked my question for clarity. There's likely no fire here.
Doesn't describe the situation as well as "entitlement," though. PC gamers are freaking out because they thought it would be some kind of super glorious HD remaster of the whole thing, which is the most overentitled attitude imaginable in this situation.
It's a port. It should run on par with or better than the original. Apparently it does, so what's the problem?
GAFers illustrate why that forum is useless and why Charles is awesome.
Yep, unless there's some hard technical reason why actual clock speed is crucial to them, most of you have processors that are a damn sight better than the minimum requirements. Clock speed on its own is pretty meaningless in most cases.
Good lord the idiocy in that thread is astounding. I'm consistently amazed that anyone reasonable can stand it over there.
If all the rage from all the haters were gathered into a missile and shot into the sun, our galaxy would implode with our sun being the epicenter of the apocalypse. I hope that made sense. Reading all the negative posts in these many forums, NeoGAF and Steam included, is just so upsetting. I hope that FROM/Namco aren't reading all the negative/troll/rage posts because it's going to steer them away from ever developing for the PC again.
On the one hand, I want to say that if CPP had also posted the bit explaining why Japanese devs don't/can't do PC ports it might have helped. On the other hand, that's a lot of concentrated stupid. No, it probably wouldn't have helped.
I also question if not having that processor makes particular areas poor. If it means my blighttown and filled new londo ruins lags as it did in on the 360 but every other region of the game is good(I have the Q6600 @ 2.4 but can bump it to 3 if needed :D )- then that is fine with me. If it means that any of my bosses that shoot bright lights or are near water or something have a fps hit for most of the battle- then its a big deal.
from lordkosc on Qt3 ( EDIT: sorry massive spoilers in the videoj http://www.imdb.com/video/cbs/vi3840582937/) < If that is my fps/graphics on a general "recommended system" that is fine. But thats probably a showcase system and if I did see lag it would mean I am screwed.
It would probably be good to mention that it's a clip from the new content, and thus not something that anyone wanting to see it for themselves the first time would want to click on.
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