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Are Console Developers Neglecting Their Standard-Def Players?

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the give-me-hd-or-give-me-death dept.

Games 200

The Digital Foundry blog takes a look at how the focus on high-quality graphics in console game development may be lost on more gamers than people realize. According to Mark Rein of Epic Games, more than half of Gears of War 2 users played the game on a standard-definition television. While you might expect that dropping the graphics quality would correspond to a boost in frame rates, that turns out not to be the case, and running at standard definition can actually be a detriment in some cases. Quoting: "PAL50 is mandatory for SD gameplay on all games on all European PS3s. You can't avoid running at a sub-optimal 50Hz unless you splash out on a high-def screen. The Euro release of Killzone 2 works at SD resolution on any PS3, even if it can only run at PAL50 on a Euro machine. In short, if you're a Euro PS3 owner playing Killzone 2 on a standard-definition display, you're losing around 17 per cent of the frame-rate owing to the lack of PAL60 support in the PS3 hardware. The game itself isn't slower as such (as was often the case in the Mega Drive/SNES era), and you'll note that it's effectively a sustained 25FPS while the 60Hz versions can be somewhat more variable. But Killzone 2 is already somewhat laggy in its control system and this impacts the feel of the game still further. While there is a 17 per cent increase in resolution, this is far less noticeable than the additional numbness in the controls."

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Not that I can see (1, Interesting)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 5 years ago | (#28824845)

But I have a Wii. One of the reasons I don't get a hd console- early reports of games that ran poorly in standard def. The other reasons are the price (less of an issue now), and the lack of any interesting games (no, FPSes aren't and never have been interesting).

Re:Not that I can see (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28824865)

A specific example of a game which is nearly unplayable on Standard Definition is Dead Rising [wikipedia.org] .

niggers (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28825279)

nothing wrong with neglecting niggers.

i hate niggers.

Re:Not that I can see (3, Interesting)

Rayonic (462789) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825303)

and the lack of any interesting games (no, FPSes aren't and never have been interesting).

Translation: I think all first-person games are the same! Call of Duty is the same as Fallout 3! Aren't I smart and sophisticated?

Answer: No.

Re:Not that I can see (1)

Kokuyo (549451) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825407)

So he can't just not like FPS games (which must all have SOMETHING in common to be categorized in the same group) without you calling him names?

You're an ass.

Re:Not that I can see (1)

MogNuts (97512) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825847)

1) Fallout 3 can be played in 3rd person view.

2) You're wrong. The only common element that F3 has with COD is the perspective (which can be changed). If you were to use that argument, then ALL videogames are the same, because they ALL share *some* type of common element.

Re:Not that I can see (1)

MogNuts (97512) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825791)

Why do you users always just propose every solution as, "so get a Wii"? Ever think that it's NOT the solution--or NOT a solution everyone prefers?

Some of us *like* the games found on the 360/PS3/PC, and that's why we bought it *GASP*! Maybe we just happen to prefer Mass Effect and Sins of a Solar Empire to Mario Party #56 and "Shake The Wiimote #42." And if you happen to not want/afford a HDTV (which are so cheap these days), hook it up to your existing monitor and BAM--instant HD picture!

Old Snake would never approve. (4, Interesting)

jx100 (453615) | more than 5 years ago | (#28824861)

I'm currently playing MGS4 on an SDTV and... good god, everything's tiny. It's nearly impossible to read half the material on the screen!

Re:Old Snake would never approve. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28825221)

ANY Snake would have pistol-whipped you for buying a ps3 just to play MGS4 when you could play it through YouTube. No Place For Kojima!

But you're just a fucking idiot.

--Ethanol-fueled

Re:Old Snake would never approve. (1)

Lord Fury (977501) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825325)

This is my experience. I care less about the frame rate and more about the size of the text. On my 29" 10 year old tv the text on the pitches on MLB 2k8 are so small my friends and I had to get right up near the tv just to read them. It's impossible to read the scoreboard in both NBA and NHL 09. It's not my eyes, I'm 21 and have 20/20 vision and this has never happened any other console generation. I've noticed my other games have smaller text than xbox and ps2 games, but with sports games it's almost unbearable.

Even if I could afford a huge HDTV, I'd have no place to fit it.

Re:Old Snake would never approve. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28825653)

On my 29" 10 year old tv

Even if I could afford a huge HDTV, I'd have no place to fit it.

Well, you could buy a 29" HDTV right?

Re:Old Snake would never approve. (1)

Brandee07 (964634) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825971)

Mod parent up!

I don't need fancy graphics and awesome special effects. They're nice, but I don't need them. I DO need readable text-- for everything. Non-voiced dialog, menu options, etc.

I don't have the money to buy an HDTV, nor the desire to bring one into a house so likely to see a wiimote thrown straight through it. So, I'm stuck squinting and getting real close to the TV to try and figure out what menu option I'm about to select.

Maybe, but who cares? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28824863)

My thought is this: if the game is playable, then they're doing their job. Maybe it's just me being an American, but what do I care about PAL 50 frame rates? What I'd be more concerned with is whether the fonts are readable (which, in the case of dead rising for the xbox 360, they weren't), HUD being recognizable, etc. a 17% drop in frame rate (so, what, 5 fps?) doesn't really concern me, especially at that low of a rate anyway.

Furthermore, what really matters in frame rates is just getting a good multiple of the natural framerate. Getting a consistent 25fps on a 50hz tv shouldn't be any issue.

Consider: there is some percentage of people that have bluray players, but no HDTV to play them on. Would you suggest that bluray developers are neglecting this market segment by not offering a fullscreen version of the movie?

Remember developers' mindsets... (3, Interesting)

DRBivens (148931) | more than 5 years ago | (#28824887)

Understandable, perhaps, by thinking about the mindset of developers in most game companies' labs. Who really wants to be the poor sod with the low-def development gear at his/her desk?

Any self-respecting geek (myself included!) would rather chew glass than suffer the agony and stigma of working on old gear...

May I be the fist to say it (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28824889)

Nowadays doesn't everyone own an hd tv?

Re:May I be the fist to say it (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825867)

Nowadays doesn't everyone own an hd tv?

No. Indeed, I don't know a single person who does.

boo hoo? (-1, Flamebait)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#28824905)

as long as the fonts are readable and the game is getting 25fps or greater, what right do you have to whinge? I own a 70" full hi def tv, you'd want to hope content creators are pandering to the leading edge consumers since they are where the money is, not your stingey cheap skates still playing their xbox on a 50cm CRT. how the hell else are you going to see progress?!

Re:boo hoo? (2, Interesting)

Jared555 (874152) | more than 5 years ago | (#28824931)

On some TV/game combinations the fonts are NOT readable. A lot of people don't have HDTVs in every room. So when there are other people in the household who want to use the TV for.... *shocked*... watching TV the person playing games is playing them on an older TV.

Not everyone can afford large TV's, you would think the game companies would rather someone spend the money on their games rather than a new TV. In addition, with a 20" widescreen HD screen, you end up having to sit a foot away to read anything.

Re:boo hoo? (4, Informative)

mustafap (452510) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825225)

>A lot of people don't have HDTVs in every room

This may come as a shock, but some of us don't have any type of TV in every room.

Re:boo hoo? (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825229)

Maybe not everything needs progress. TV is one of those inventions that was good enough. The increased definition doesn't add anything to the experience. I have enough upgrade cycles in my life, I don't need to waste money on new TVs when my existing ones are working perfectly. You see, as an adult I have things like a mortgage and retirement to save for. Or other hobbies that I enjoy more than watching TV. Even then no one is complaining that they support more advanced TV, merely that they do testing so that it displays well on older TVs that still make up far more than 50% of the install base. And Sony/MS wonder why Nintendo is eating them for lunch.

Re:boo hoo? (1)

MogNuts (97512) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825815)

So your answer is that we should all retard progress, and dump higher resolution displays and go back to good 'ol CRT, because Nintendo is doing the best sales-wise?

User interface size (5, Interesting)

Jared555 (874152) | more than 5 years ago | (#28824911)

This combined with the fact that a lot of games don't seem to scale up the user interface very well when using standard definition. Combing SD with a small UI is bad enough, once you reduce the TV size below 27" things get even worse. (Even with the PS2 many games had small enough text that with a lot of (especially smaller) TVs the letters were solid blocks even if you were looking at the TV from 2" away.

Re:User interface size (1)

PhrostyMcByte (589271) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825053)

Agreed - I recently got a chance to try out a 360 on a standard-def screen. I don't think any of the ~5 games I tried had a UI that worked well on it. If the text wasn't downright unreadable, it required an extra second to process because of how little detail it had. If over half the Gears 2 players are on SD, you'd think it would make a little sense to have it looking good for them.

Re:User interface size (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28825131)

This combined with the fact that a lot of games don't seem to scale up the user interface very well when using standard definition. Combing SD with a small UI is bad enough, once you reduce the TV size below 27" things get even worse. (Even with the PS2 many games had small enough text that with a lot of (especially smaller) TVs the letters were solid blocks even if you were looking at the TV from 2" away.

I call bunkum. CRT PAL televisions have 625 lines of pixels regardless of their size.

Re:User interface size (2, Informative)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825359)

I call bunkum. CRT PAL televisions have 625 lines of pixels regardless of their size.

No they don't. PAL gives you 576 interlaced lines of picture - the rest are in the vertical blanking interval and thus not displayable (generally used to send stuff like teletext, subtitles, etc).

Also, you'll find that, in order to make the resolution not seem quite as rubbish as it really is, different models of TVs will apply different amounts of blurring. This is why SD displayed on an HDTV can often look far worse than SD displayed on an SDTV.

Plus, the chromanance has a resolution far below that - PAL works by averaging lines together, so you get a chromanance resolution of somewhere in the 288 lines ballpark.

Re:User interface size (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825147)

Maybe the real answer is that game consoles aren't really that fancy anyway. If you want extreme graphics you need something better than what a TV can offer anyway.

Don't forget that the PAL frequency of 50Hz is to avoid interference with the power grid that works at 50Hz. And NTSC runs at 60Hz but has an even lower resolution vertically than PAL, so there is nothing to gain by selecting NTSC instead.

Anyway - almost every TV set sold today is able to have a better picture quality than the classic PAL or NTSC systems ever offered, so this problem is a passing problem.

Re:User interface size (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825821)

almost every TV set sold today is able to have a better picture quality than the classic PAL or NTSC

I bolded the text that is relevant here. I bought my TV in 2004 and it's a 82cm 16:9 CRT TV. That still cost a lot of money back then and HDTVs were either cost prohibitive or simply not sold yet (I really wouldn't know). A TV, to me, as the lifespan in the range of a decade... and if it doesn't break: much longer. There are still people, like me, who do not toss away "older" gear, just because something newer is out. The TV is still good, I can watch Cable, I can play with my PS2 and I can play DVDs.

I sure hope there still are a lot of people like me.

Finally: it is true, that if my TV would break, I wouldn't bother to bring it to repairs. That said: I wonder how long the lifespan is of those new fancy flat HDTVs. Their longevity hasn't been proven yet.

PC Gaming Owns (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28824921)

gaystation

Why does someone have a $300-$400 console but not. (5, Insightful)

TheRealRainFall (1464687) | more than 5 years ago | (#28824941)

a 500$ TV. You can get a 42" LCD 1080p for 499 at Costco last i checked. I mean why would you have a PS3 and NOT have a 1080p TV? Seems pretty silly. Sell the PS3 and buy a TV and then buy a PS3 again when you can afford it. It's well worth it for watching all the sports in beautiful HD.

Re:Why does someone have a $300-$400 console but n (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28825051)

Well because thats ANOTHER $500 on top of the price of the console for an increase in resolution. I wouldn't pay $500 to run my PC games at, say, 1600 x 1200 vs 1024 x 768 with AA on.

Also, I think High Def television is one of the biggest rip offs I have ever come across, now that the BBC and Channel 4 are putting things online it's much more convenient just to watch from the PC anyway. Fuck TV, it isn't worth half a grand for an increase in resolution.

Re:Why does someone have a $300-$400 console but n (1)

TrancePhreak (576593) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825083)

Standard def is 640x480 interlaced, vs hi def's 1920x1080 progressive. That's 13.5 times the pixels, or a 1350% increase.

Re:Why does someone have a $300-$400 console but n (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825197)

Standard def is 640x480 interlaced

Where I am, standard def is approximately 720x576. Widescreen sets may support 1024x576. But even using your figures, my calculations say that it's only a factor of 6.4 increase. Interlacing reduces the frame rate, not the display resolution.

Re:Why does someone have a $300-$400 console but n (1)

throup (325558) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825269)

SD widescreen sets are still 720x576. All SD sets will then stretch the image to get the correct aspect ratio. A 4:3 set stretches 720x576 => 768x576; whilst a widescreen set stretches 720x576 => 1024x576.

Re:Why does someone have a $300-$400 console but n (2, Informative)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825385)

SD widescreen sets are still 720x576. All SD sets will then stretch the image to get the correct aspect ratio. A 4:3 set stretches 720x576 => 768x576; whilst a widescreen set stretches 720x576 => 1024x576.

Well not quite. There is no hard limit to the horizontal resolution of an analogue TV - the horizontal dimension isn't divided up into pixels, it is simply a continuously varying signal. If you're driving the TV off RF or composite then the horizontal resolution is restricted by the modulation (high horizontal frequencies will bleed into the chroma carrier, so the modulators will usually need to filter them out). SVideo, RGB and component shouldn't be affected by these limits, so you can drive your TV at pretty much whatever horizontal resolution you like - you're now limited by the internal components of the TV. (This applies in both 4:3 and anamorphic 16:9 resolutions, although it obviously makes sense to have square pixels if your TV can cope with being driven at that kind of resolution).

Of course, if you are using an inherently digital TV, such as LCD, DLP, etc. then the TV will sample the received signal into individual pixels, and depending on the TV it might have a fixed horizontal sample frequency, no matter what aspect ratio it is displaying.

Re:Why does someone have a $300-$400 console but n (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825307)

omg fail. do you know WHY it reduces the frame rate??! because it's refreshing 2x lower res frames INTERLACED to make them look like a larger, higher res image. this is why 1080i is not as smooth to watch as 1080p. the actual number of pixels making up the original image source is almost half as much.

Re:Why does someone have a $300-$400 console but n (1)

mikkelm (1000451) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825343)

One could argue that by cutting your framerate in half, your TV is only pumping out half the amount of image data that it otherwise would at a given resolution, effectively halving the "usable image."

Re:Why does someone have a $300-$400 console but n (1)

lilo_booter (649045) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825363)

PAL 4:3 and 16:9 are both 720x576 - they get scaled vertically to 768x576 and 1024x576 resp. (well, actually, +20 for both and the outer 10 pixels on left and right aren't visible, but that's a small detail :-)). If you ignore the scaling (and the resultant overscan), and compare pixel for pixel, you get a factor of ( 1920 * 1080 ) / ( 720 * 576 ) = 5. NTSC is different - 720x480 which is displayed at 640x480 and 854x480 (too early to double check maths :-)) giving an effective improvement factor of 6 (again comparing samples only).

Also interlacing doesn't reduce the frame rate - there are still 25 frames per second. What it does is split the frame into two fields which are half the resolution (effectively meaning that you get each field scaled vertically too).

Well three things (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825531)

1) 720x576 may be the spec for an analogue PAL TV, that doesn't mean that's what a console renders at for it's standard def. Wouldn't surprise me at all if it did 640x480 as that is very common in the PC world and they are using PC based graphics chips. Remember that older consoles, like the SNES, worked at extremely low resolutions like 256x256. You don't have to target the spec resolution.

2) An analogue TV isn't going to resolve its spec resolution anyhow. Unless you've got an extremely expensive studio monitor, you aren't actually going to get 720 distinct pixels in a field. They are going to blur and bleed together. That's not the case for digital HDTV. You can easily get as many clear and distinct pixels as your screen supports.

3) You don't get the same chroma resolution on an analogue set. PAL, like NTSC, uses a much lower bandwidth for chroma data than luma data. Also, because of the phase cancellation concept, its vertical chroma resolution is particularly poor. This is not a problem with HD games, as full colour data is transmitted to the TV from the console. In digital terms, one might say a PAL signal has 4:2:0 colour resolution, DVI/HDMI has 4:4:4 colour resolution. In reality analogue doesn't map so neatly to digital and it is lower still. Colour is something PAL and NTSC are not good at.

What it comes down to is that you really get a much better image, especially for digital data, on an HD screen. You will note that even back in the days of all analogue all the time, desktop computers didn't use regular PAL or NTSC screens. The reason was because the image quality is so poor. Does a horrible job for text in particular, but really isn't good at all for computer generated imagery. Hence they used more expensive displays that could produce the images they needed.

Well, now we don't have to deal with that difference. LCD HDTVs are made on the same technology as your LCD computer screen, and their interconnects use the same signaling. With an HDTV, you can have all the same resolution you get on a computer, and new consoles are made to take advantage of it.

Re:Well three things (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825923)

Colour is something PAL and NTSC are not good at.

You know, NTSC is short for "Never The Same Color"

You will note that even back in the days of all analogue all the time, desktop computers didn't use regular PAL or NTSC screens.

Well, the early home computers did use the TV. But then, e.g. the ZX Spectrum had a mere 256x192 resolution, so it didn't really matter.

Re:Why does someone have a $300-$400 console but n (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28825085)

turn in your geek card. you're obviously a moron

Re:Why does someone have a $300-$400 console but n (1, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825127)

then your an idiot for buying a ps3 in the first place, since it's whole selling point is high def in the first place. stick to your ps2 and SD.

and the difference is more then 1600x1200 vs 1024x768, it's 1920x1080 vs 320x240. so unless you have rocks in your head it's a hell of a big step up.

Re:Why does someone have a $300-$400 console but n (1, Insightful)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825195)

No, the selling point of the PS3 is new games and a more powerful console. HD wasn't a selling point to everyone. Your point would only be valid if every game for the PS3 also came out on the PS2.

As for a big step up- eh. I can barely tell a difference on TV shows. Haven't done a test on video games, the difference there may be more pronounced, but I (and many others) quite frankly don't care.

Re:Why does someone have a $300-$400 console but n (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825209)

and the difference is more then 1600x1200 vs 1024x768, it's 1920x1080 vs 320x240

Nothing uses 320x240. Seriously. Standard definition of a PAL TV is (approximately) 720x576.

Re:Why does someone have a $300-$400 console but n (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825335)

try delacing that so we are comparing apples and apples. oh look it's pretty close to 320x240.

Re:Why does someone have a $300-$400 console but n (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28825497)

You're a fucking moron. If you delace then only one of the dimensions gets halved.

Re:Why does someone have a $300-$400 console but n (1)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825661)

Actually the effects are more complicated.

Interlacing means that each line on the screen is only drawn 25x per second. It does not mean you have only half as many lines. The result is that thin horizontal lines tend to flicker, but it does not diminish the resolution.

What DOES diminish the resolution is the rather coarse dot pitch and low video bandwidth of old TVs. Especially if you connect to the antenna port on the TV. So you get an image that is maybe as sharp as 640x480 standard VGA on a decent computer monitor.

Re:Why does someone have a $300-$400 console but n (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28826037)

The result is that thin horizontal lines tend to flicker, but it does not diminish the resolution.

Super Smash Bros. Melee for GameCube and Super Smash Bros. Brawl for Wii have an option to blur the screen vertically (using a [1 2 1]/4 filter IIRC), precisely to get rid of flicker. So yes, there is a tradeoff between flicker-free video and resolution in SDTV.

384x288 then (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28826027)

Nothing uses 320x240.

NTSC pretty much does, per field.

Seriously. Standard definition of a PAL TV is (approximately) 720x576.

Composite video signals are made of two frequency bands: luma and chroma. Chroma in PAL occupies the band 4.43 MHz +/- 0.6 MHz. Therefore, luma has to fit in below 3.83 MHz in order not to cause ugly artifacts. Nyquist's theorem states that such a signal can be perfectly reconstructed from samples at a rate of twice the highest frequency, in this case 7.66 MHz. Each scanline is 52 microseconds; 52 * 7.66 = 398 pixels, which is very close to 384x288 which would give square pixels with the 288 lines per field.

Re:Why does someone have a $300-$400 console but n (1)

CSMatt (1175471) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825107)

Because most people have already spent all their money on the console?

Re:Why does someone have a $300-$400 console but n (1)

drsquare (530038) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825231)

Sell the PS3 and buy a TV and then buy a PS3 again when you can afford it. It's well worth it for watching all the sports in beautiful HD.

So, 500 for the TV, then more than the same for Sky HD so you actually have anything to watch on it, then 300 for the PS3. You're looking at well over a grand.

Re:Why does someone have a $300-$400 console but n (0, Troll)

Turiko (1259966) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825319)

small problem; it may cost only 500$ in america, but in europe tv's like that cost well over â800. basicallly, america is milking out europe for just about everything.

Re:Why does someone have a $300-$400 console but n (1)

QuantumLeaper (607189) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825783)

Something you overlooked, USA doesn't make TVs anymore, there are no America TV manufacturers any more.

Re:Why does someone have a $300-$400 console but n (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28825351)

Not everyone lives in the USA, with it's $500 HDTVs. Even up here in Canada, the absolute cheapest 42" 1080p LCD TV is $800, and that's some brand no one's ever heard of. If you want a brand you might recognize, you've already hit the $1000+ mark, plus taxes, so easily $1200 or more. I can afford a Xbox360, but not along with a HDTV. Nevermind, there's basically zero content in HD . Zero ATSC feeds here, and the only HD [lite] chans my cableco carries are networks I never watch (and they want like $100/month for it, along with a $600 cable box).

Thanks, but no thanks.

Re:Why does someone have a $300-$400 console but n (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28825525)

What? Just spend the $400 on a new console, then $1200 on a new TV, $600 for the cable box, and then $100/month for HD cable. It only works out to $8000 for the next 5 years! Why not pick a 52" TV instead, along with a Blu-Ray player and replacing all your movies along with that?

No wonder the Wii sells so well!

Re:Why does someone have a $300-$400 console but n (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28825937)

It's well worth it for watching all the sports in beautiful HD.

did you forget where you're posting? this is slashdot

PAL50 isn't new (4, Interesting)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | more than 5 years ago | (#28824947)

The issues with 25frames/50fields per second aren't new with the development of HD. Why is someone trying to relate the two?

50 fields is a lot, you can certainly play fast-paced game with those framerates quite well.

And Killzone 2's controls are not "already somewhat laggy". It responds just fine on my HDTV. Who comes up with this stuff? Maybe the author has various laggy upscaling systems turned on on his TV (tweener circuits are near ubiquitous on recent PAL TVs since 50Hz is noticeably flickery to a lot of people).

Re:PAL50 isn't new (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825175)

The issues with 25frames/50fields per second aren't new with the development of HD. Why is someone trying to relate the two?

Because with the introduction of HDTV we now have standards for both 50fps and 60fps that are both actively deployed in the same area, so the issue is now one that's on user-by-user basis, not a country-by-country basis. People who know each other and regularly play on each other's hardware are seeing differences now, not just people who travel from country to country.

50 fields is a lot, you can certainly play fast-paced game with those framerates quite well.

Certainly agree here. I've never understood why you would want more than this. Films run at 23.976fps, and you don't get many people complaining that the action is jittery. Most of us can't tell. I fail to see, therefore, why games should need to run at any higher frame rate -- except for issues of poor design where stuff is only calculated once per frame that may need to actually be calculated more frequently than that.

Re:PAL50 isn't new (1)

jx100 (453615) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825315)

The reason films are acceptable at 24 frames is because there's a very large amount of motion blur inherent to the format. This blur smooths out movement and hides the low frame rate. Stop-motion animation *doesn't* have this motion blur, which becomes obvious whenever you see it.

Re:PAL50 isn't new (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825507)

The reason films are acceptable at 24 frames is because there's a very large amount of motion blur inherent to the format. This blur smooths out movement and hides the low frame rate. Stop-motion animation *doesn't* have this motion blur, which becomes obvious whenever you see it.

There are plenty of techniques available that produce simulated motion blur in each frame. Why not use them?

Ahh but you can tell the difference (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825349)

You've just probably never been exposed to it. You can tell the difference between a 24fps movie and a 60fps movie. In fact, it is more dramatic than you might imagine. I was really amazed at the difference just when dealing with framerate upsampling. Some new DVD software, PowerDVD 9 in my case, has the ability to upsample frame rate as well as pixels. What it does is rather than just displaying a frame multiple times (since monitors are higher than 24fps_, it actually uses various algorithms to calculate intermediate frames. While this doesn't work right all the time and produces some artifacts, over all it works amazingly well and the quality is spooky. Motion is just so very smooth compared to the normal film. It is an extremely noticeable improvement. It would of course be a better improvement if it was actually shot at 60fps to begin with.

Also, one of the reasons that film works to the extent it does at 24fps is because of motion blur. If you look at individual film frames, you discover that as motion gets faster, things blur owing to the exposure time. This helps it look more natural to our eyes since fast things blur to our vision in real life. Well, games don't do that. They display nice, clear frames. Thus when something moves fast, it looks more jumpy. Eventually this problem may be solved, some games are working with motion blur, but it is far from universal at this point and even when implemented it isn't perfect. To truly work as film blur does, the GPU would have to render multiple sub frames per real frame and combine them in an accumulation buffer before outputting them. This, of course, requires more power.

Finally, there is the issue of input lag. Another way to express a 25fps output rate is a 40 millisecond refresh time. If you send a command to the game, the earliest you'll get a visual response is 40ms later. It'll actually take longer, of course, since there's lag on the controller and processing and such. With a 60fps output rate, you are only talking a 17ms refresh time. Now this isn't all just silliness, we are dealing with numbers around the limits of human perception here. You start to get perceptible lag, which makes your game play experience less pleasurable. Remember with games you are just dealing with outputting a fixed stream of data, it responds to the player and thus the amount of time the response takes matters.

Re:PAL50 isn't new (1)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825415)

Because with the introduction of HDTV we now have standards for both 50fps and 60fps that are both actively deployed in the same area, so the issue is now one that's on user-by-user basis, not a country-by-country basis. People who know each other and regularly play on each other's hardware are seeing differences now, not just people who travel from country to country.

Sounds like this comes down to people complaining that "this works better on my friends shiny new hardware - I want the same results without having to upgrade my 10 year old hardware". Clearly an utterly stupid complaint.

Certainly agree here. I've never understood why you would want more than this. Films run at 23.976fps, and you don't get many people complaining that the action is jittery. Most of us can't tell.

Well, I can certainly see the low frame rate of films compared to TV, particularly on panning shots. (No, 50 fields per second is not the same as 25 frames per second - in normal interlaced TV you do not get a single frame which takes 2 fields to display, each field usually comes from a separate distinct frame). But I can't seriously see many people being able to tell the difference between 50Hz and 60Hz, other than possibly the inherent flicker rather than the frame rate itself.

I fail to see, therefore, why games should need to run at any higher frame rate -- except for issues of poor design where stuff is only calculated once per frame that may need to actually be calculated more frequently than that.

Yes, I've long been astounded at gamers complaining that they can only run their game at 190FPS when their friend can get 200FPS - if your display is only running at 72Hz then who cares?

Re:PAL50 isn't new (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28826067)

I've long been astounded at gamers complaining that they can only run their game at 190FPS when their friend can get 200FPS - if your display is only running at 72Hz then who cares?

There are three reasons to demand a higher FPS than your monitor can display.

  • You have less chance of your game dipping from 72 Hz to 36 Hz or lower during complex scenes.
  • You have less chance of your game dipping from 72 Hz to 36 Hz or lower when your visiting friends (who don't necessarily own a console or PC that they can remove from their home) plug in their gamepads and the screen splits.
  • Your game can render the scene twice and average them so that the motion blurs, which makes things look even more realistic.

Re:PAL50 isn't new (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28825423)

There's a difference between how films are generated and how the images on the screen are generated (google). Games are unplayable at 24fps. 50FPS is acceptable, but not good.

Re:PAL50 isn't new (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825505)

There's a difference between how films are generated and how the images on the screen are generated (google). Games are unplayable at 24fps. 50FPS is acceptable, but not good.

Yes. My argument is that this is a flaw in the game design, not in the display device.

Let me guess: you like turn-based games (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28826069)

My argument is that [failure to play well at 24 fps] is a flaw in the game design, not in the display device.

Let me guess: you're a fan of turn-based games and FMV-heavy games, not real-time games.

Re:PAL50 isn't new (1)

dkf (304284) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825717)

There's a difference between how films are generated and how the images on the screen are generated (google). Games are unplayable at 24fps. 50FPS is acceptable, but not good.

The problem is that you're using low quality cables to connect your video output hardware to your display. Luckily, Denon sell just the things you need to improve your performance (provided you remember to plug them in the correct way round; get it wrong and the electrons will be forced against their geomagnetic polarity and will go slower, increasing the amount of lag experienced).

Re:PAL50 isn't new (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28825453)

Killzone 2 isn't laggy, but controls are much slower than on most FPS games because Killzone 2 devs said they wanted some control realism to their game.

Oh, please. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28824985)

With so many industries focusing on mediocrity (loudness war? fast food?), do we really want game makers devoting their efforts toward the lowest common denominator? If we make it too "comfortable" to be obsolete (PAL is a 1960s technology!), we'll stunt our own growth.

Innovation. The bleeding edge. It may not always be comfortable, but it's the reason the information age exists.

Re:Oh, please. (0, Redundant)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825011)

Don't ask me why that was posted AC. I was logged in and the "post anonymously" box wasn't checked.

If PAL is 1960's then (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28825161)

NTSC (Never Twice the Same Colour) is definitely 1950's era technology.

AFAIK, the main reason for the lower frame rates is the fact that MAINS Electricity in Europe uses 50hz not 60hz like the USA.

HD "standard" is the problem (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28825023)

Seriously, we're making console gaming and just watching TV much more difficult than it should be. Standards are important for a reason: it's a basic consumer protection, because no one has the time and money to support all these different formats, and most consumers just want things to work at an acceptable quality. That's always been console gaming's strength: simplicity.

This is why, when choosing an HDTV, my roommates and I didn't mess around with 720p or 1080i. I don't care about image quality/money economics as much as I just want something that works with my content.
"They" are still screwing around with frequency, though. What's with this 120hz and 240hz nonsense these days?

However, innovation is the natural predator of standards-compliance. The unfortunate side effect is that lazy support (forward or backward) is the natural scavenger that proceeds to devour the scraps.
My solution to this problem is currently to collect classic games and enjoy them on my two free SDTVs. The roommates use the new HDTV for their fancy high-def consoles, which I enjoy on occasion as well.

They're just raping you... (0, Offtopic)

Quantos (1327889) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825091)

Why pay them to rape you? What the hell on tv is worth watching in HD anyway, it's all crap in low def.... It's the same bullshit for games. They expect us to buy the games because they are HD, they still aren't putting anything what-so-ever into the plot or playability(is that a word?). I for one don't buy games for pretty graphics, I want a good immersion experience. It's lacking all across the board.

Re:They're just raping you... (1)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825101)

You want a good immersion experience without graphics?

Play Dungeons and Dragons. Or chess. Or poker.

Otherwise you're like a vegetarian complaining that the meat is too raw.

Re:They're just raping you... (0, Offtopic)

Quantos (1327889) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825219)

I'm an avid D'n'D player, that's exactly why I won't fall prey to this trap. For me it's a social occasion, we drink a couple of beers, we have some laughs. It makes an excellent weekend. Oh, I actually get to see my freinds in HD :)

Re:They're just raping you... (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825153)

Why pay them to rape you?

why are clouds pink? why does toast fall up? see i can play lets ask stupid questions to!

Re:They're just raping you... (0, Troll)

Quantos (1327889) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825237)

What kind of mumbling idiot are you? Read my sig, carefully. Repeat as needed.

Re:They're just raping you... (0, Flamebait)

Quantos (1327889) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825253)

I got modded down for that? That just goes to show how smart the average mod is. Have at it boys, don't take anything with a grain of salt or anything. I'm not trolling, I'm dead serious, you really are idiots.

Wii (3, Interesting)

arazor (55656) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825135)

I got rid of my Wii for the opposite reason. It looks like crap on a HD set.

Re:Wii (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28825267)

Wow, someone actually had a reason other than "After playing it for the first two weeks of ownership, it just collects dust".

You sir, are in the minority.

Most don't care that they are playing with the equivalent of game cube hardware. They just care that they bought something that was the equivalent of game cube hardware and can't find an excuse to play it.

That is, IMHO, of course.

PAL60? (2, Insightful)

julesh (229690) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825223)

Why would you expect the PS3 to use some half-assed psuedostandard that not all TVs can actually display? PAL60 is a perversion of the standard that just happens to work on some TVs because the difference between 50Hz and 60Hz is within the tolerance of their hardware. You can't rely on it to work, and even when it does the results might not be what you want.

Example: my last TV could display PAL60 signals, but the picture ended up squashed in the top 3/4 of the height of the display, its aspect ratio completely distorted and practically unwatchable. If I bought a PS3 and it displayed games like this, I'd return it.

Re:PAL60? (3, Informative)

grumbel (592662) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825337)

Why would you expect the PS3 to use some half-assed psuedostandard that not all TVs can actually display?

PAL60 has been standard feature of a lot of games for almost a decade, quite a few even have it as mandatory requirement (Metroid Prime 2: Echoes on Gamecube, lots of stuff on Xbox360). Its just natural that people expect features in their new console, that they did have in their old ones already.

Yeah what the hell is Pal 60? (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825341)

I work in TV/Film and thought I had worked with every crazy framerate/pulldown/interlacing scheme on earth and I had never even heard of PAL60 before (then again I'm from the US so don't work with anything PAL very often). I had to go look it up on Wikipedia thinking perhaps I had missed some big thing new in Europe. I still don't know what it is or why it exists. So it's PAL color with NTSC fields? Who uses that? Who supports that? Why would Kill zone offer it?

Re:Yeah what the hell is Pal 60? (2, Informative)

Spad (470073) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825467)

Put simply, most games shipped in Europe in the pre-HD days were done with chunky black boarders at the top and botom of the screen to get the same number of lines as NTSC and thus avoid the slowdown issue normally associated with moving from NTSC to PAL. PAL60 is a fudge that allows them to use the whole of the screen without any slowdown and in general it works pretty well if your TV supports it.

Re:Yeah what the hell is Pal 60? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28825637)

European Laserdisc players can convert NTSC to PAL60, for the benefit of those who have a TV that does not speak NTSC. Because the signal on an LD is analog it would be a major hassle to convert it to true PAL, hence the PAL60 compromise. But for videogames or anything else that starts off in the digital domain it's a mystery to me why anyone would use PAL60.

Re:Yeah what the hell is Pal 60? (2, Informative)

supertusse (1237022) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825919)

Also useful for playing NTSC-material on PAL screens to keep the original framerate and avoid having to resample the audio (or change the speed).

Re:PAL60? (2, Insightful)

CronoCloud (590650) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825579)

Perhaps you should convince your governments to switch to the NTSC/ATSC standard used in the countries that develop and manufacture the majority of the games. Unless you do so, you PAL folks are always going to be second class citizens video game wise.

Clueless Poster (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28825953)

You do know that the whole world produces games? You have probably heard of that game called "Grand Theft Auto", right? It's produced in the UK (Rockstar North). PAL is NOT some outdated standard because you 'Mericans use NTSC.

Re:PAL60? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28825731)

PAL-60 actually has a proper standard: it's called PAL-M and is used in Brazil, if I'm not mistaken. There may be a slight difference in the frequency the chroma signal is modulated at.

Re:PAL60? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28825799)

Yes yes yes. Article is dishonest in using the terms 'PAL50' and 'PAL60' to present the two as equally valid options when, as you point out, PAL60 is a non-standard hack and PAL50 is regular, standard PAL.

Brazilians of people disagree with you (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28826087)

PAL60 is a perversion of the standard

So is the 288p mode that 8-bit and 16-bit home computers and every game console up through PS1 and N64 used.

And even if you stick with interlaced signals like those of the Dreamcast, PS2, and newer consoles, there are brazilians of people who would disagree with you. Brazil uses PAL-M [wikipedia.org] , which is PAL60 where even the color subcarrier has been moved down to NTSC frequencies.

Biggest problem with SD (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825357)

By far the largest issue I have playing games in SD is fonts. Lots of games use fonts which are so small that they are barely legible in SD. The worst offender by far is GTA IV where I can't even read the messages that pop up on the phone.

I realise HD is the future but if SD support is mandatory (and it is), the frigging game should be playable in SD.

what a shame (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28825425)

you can't even buy a non-HD TV in the UK any more, so who cares?
Also, I haven't seen any TV or DVD player in recent times that can't cope with PAL60. I have been recording HD video from cheap digital cameras (which use 30fps) for some time, and it works just fine on everything that I've tried.

CONSOLES KILLED GAMEPLAY (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28825449)

There are good console games. But for the most part its pretty obvious that good gameplay and gameplay mechanics have taken a back seat to eye candy. Sadly the gaming industry is focused on the soft market and they are completely underestimating the market for people who like more extensive gameplay. Its abigger market then they realize. We just need more independent developers and publishers.

SD? Is that available still? (1)

IrquiM (471313) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825559)

I haven't seen a new SD-TV for sale since probably 2006. Are people still using them? Come to think of it - I haven't seen one in use either since around the same year.

Re:SD? Is that available still? (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825875)

I haven't seen one in use either since around the same year.

TVs have lifespans in the range of 10 years. So, you'd expect to see SDTV still in use in 2016 or later. Yes, they are still around, even if not sold anymore.

In my in-law family, I can only think of two families that bought HDTV sets. One of those SDTV sets serve now.... as output screens for the kids consoles.... The other is simply used as a TV in a different room.

I have no HDTV, my parents have no HDTV, my sister has no HDTV.... The only one actually having a HDTV in my close family is my brother, and only because he's just moved out from my parents and, well, that's typically when you buy your own TV.

Try to explain me why I should replace a perfectly working SDTV bought in 2004.... I do not see a good reason except for throwing away money. The TV cost about 1000€ back then. Which boils down to about 17€ per month. If I keep it another 5 years, the cost per month will be about 8€. The longer I keep it, the longer those 1000€ have been useful to me.

Re:SD? Is that available still? (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825951)

I don't know about the TVs for sale, but many people don't buy a new TV every few years. I expect to buy my next TV some time around 2020. Unless the current one breaks, of course.

Some games don't even appear to be properly tested (2, Interesting)

Tridus (79566) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825611)

This bugs me less then the games that it looks like nobody even bothered to test in SD.

Dead Rising is the most famous example. The text is UNREADBLE in SD. It was pretty fun getting that demo and then not having any idea what the hell to do becuase they just threw a wall of blurriness at you. Lost Odyssey's character status icons were simlarly illegible (but the other parts of the game were okay), and I've seen the same lack of attention to it from lots of other games.

It's pretty silly. They didn't put on the box "does not function correctly without HD", so I expect the game to at least work on SD. Now since then we've upgraded to HD and things work fine, but it caused more then one game purchase to not happen.

Re:Some games don't even appear to be properly tes (1)

Desirsar (666014) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825725)

I'm going to jump in here with the same complaint about Forza, being the game I've played most on either XBox console and the reason I got a 360 at all. Aside from the interface being too small and too blocky of fonts to be clear in SD (my 27" made in 1987 can't handle it well, while everything is clear on my 20" made in 2004, though both are SD and both have an s-video port), they try too hard to model the real life tracks as closely as possible. Even in HD, if you're not playing on a 40-50 inch or larger screen, you can't read many of the distance markers or see clearly braking markers and cones from a useful distance. The developers could fix this by slightly altering the signs and other objects as necessary, but seem to assume that everyone who will play the game has hardware at least as good as what they're using to develop the game.

Valve gets one thing right better than any other developer when it comes to this issue - they do hardware polls through Steam fairly frequently, all users can see the poll data, and they tend to develop their games to run well and be playable in the UI and framerate on the average hardware of their users, instead of assuming everyone will have high end equipment. It's very frustrating to see online games with dwindling populations get killed off because the developers constantly make "optimizations" that give a 25% increase to the top 10% of their users' systems (increase them from 200 to 250 FPS on their 80Hz displays) while giving a 25% decrease to everyone else.

In short, playtest your game on what you expect to find at the house of the kid whose parents were barely able to save the money to buy the console and game for a combined birthday and Christmas gift (when those two events are some number of months apart), and the game will look great for everyone. HD is supposed to be an upgrade, to make things look better than an already working SD version.

Surprising (1)

NeoThermic (732100) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825767)

I've done development for the Xbox 360, and one of the submission requirements is to have the game properly tested on SD hardware. You can fail a submission if this has not been done, and for that MS do not release the game. It surprises me that it appears there's no such requirement for PS3 games...

PCs vs consoles... again? (3, Insightful)

Waccoon (1186667) | more than 5 years ago | (#28825887)

HD is simply higher resolution, and even budget PC hardware has been able to do HD-comparable resolutions for years. I wish people would stop making excuses that going to HD can result in framerate and responsiveness problems when the real issue is that developers are simply throwing in too many polygons, too many pixel shader effects, using memory for textures instead of the frame buffer, and basically making their 3D engines too inflexible. Oh yeah, and the fonts are too small. Force these people to use an SDTV over a composite cable once in a while, please.

What next? Benchmark pissing wars? I've already had my fill of PC enthusiasts gloating over 140 FPS with their $600 video cards, completely oblivious to the fact that if the video isn't synced with the 60Hz LCD display, the graphics are actually going to look [i]worse[/i]. Consoles are already showing PC-like issues like frame tearing and no v-sync. Haven't we already fixed these problems in the PC industry?

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