There are few people in the gaming industry that you simply must pay attention to when they speak. One of them is John Carmack, founder of id Software and a friend of the site, creator of Doom. Another is Epic Games' Tim Sweeney, another pioneer in the field of computer graphics that brought us the magic of Unreal before bringing the rest of the gaming industry the Unreal Engine.
At DICE 2012, a trade show for game developers to demo their wares and learn from each other, Sweeney gave a talk on the future of computing hardware and its future. (You can see the source of my information and slides here at Gamespot.) Many pundits, media and even developers have brought up the idea that the next console generation that we know is coming will be the last - we will have reached the point in our computing capacity that gamers and designers will be comfortable with the quality and realism provided. Forever.
Think about that a moment; has anything ever appeared so obviously crazy? Yet, in a world where gaming has seemed to regress into the handheld spaces of iPhone and iPad, many would have you believe that it is indeed the case. Companies like NVIDIA and AMD that spend billions of dollars developing new high-powered graphics technologies would simply NOT do so anymore and instead focus only on low power. Actually...that is kind of happening with NVIDIA Tegra and AMD's move to APUs, but both claim that the development of leading graphics technology is what allows them to feed the low end - the sub-$100 graphics cards, SoC for phones and tablets and more.
Sweeney started the discussion by teaching everyone a little about human anatomy.
The human eye has been studied quite extensively and the amount of information we know about it would likely surprise. With 120 million monochrome receptors and 5M color, the eye and brain are able to do what even our most advanced cameras are unable to.
Subject: General Tech | October 20, 2011 - 11:00 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: xbox, PC, gaming, ea, dice, bf3, battlefield 3
Battlefield 3 is nearing its October 25th release date and information about each platform's release is starting to pour in. One notable piece of information concerns the optional hard drive install for the Xbox 360 version of Battlefield 3. We reported earlier that the FPS would come on two DVDs for the Xbox 360, and a BF3 producer had been quoted in stating that the DVDs could be installed to the system to enable "optional high resolution textures." At the time, I had assumed that the optional install would merely boost the (already) HD (high definition) image; however, according to Shack News the game will be only standard definition without the hard drive installation.
The PC will always have HD resolutions available, assuming your rig can handle it.
Executive producer Partick Bach explains that Battlefield 3 is based around a streaming texture engine where the terrain, textures, and content are all streamed in, and is a new way of doing things on the console (though not the gaming industry as a whole). Unfortunately, it looks like the concern many gamers had in regards to the Xbox 360's DVD drive not being able to stream high quality textures fast enough have been realized. Both the PC and the Playstation 3 on the other hand, are able to stream the necessary HD textures from the hard drive (PC) and Blu-Ray disc (PS3).
Mr. Bach further explains that because there are so many Xbox 360s with either no hard drives or (nearly useless) 4 GB drives, the company had to develop the Xbox version such that even a system with no hard drive could at least play the game, even at the expense of image quality. "You could call it a 'standard-def' version for the 360 if you don't have a hard-drive." What is still unclear is what exactly he means by standard definition. Whether that means the game will be limited to a 480p resolution without the optional hard drive installation or high definition (720p+) resolutions with relatively lower resolution textures is not certain (though likely the later rather than the former, if I had to guess).
What this means for Xbox 360 gamers, in the end, is that the game will be quite a bit more expensive than previously thought if they want the full experience after factoring in the cost of an (outrageously priced) Microsoft hard drive. Are you planning on buying the Xbox version?
Subject: General Tech | October 10, 2011 - 03:46 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: pc gaming, ea, dice, bf3, battlefield 3
The Battlefield 3 beta is almost at a close, and the Xbox 360 version of the game will come on two discs, one for the single player and one for the multiplayer modes. It is not all bad news, however. DICE has revealed that the Xbox 360 version will have an optional high resolution texture pack available on the second game disc that will bump up the graphical quality.
GamerZines has quoted Battlefield 3 producer Patrick Liu as stating “There's a voluntary install on the 360. I think Rage did it as well where you can install content to stream higher res textures.” Further, he believes that Battlefield 3 is the best looking game (on the console).
The PC will have graphical settings (far) surpassing those of the Xbox 360 and PS3; however, it is not clear how the hierarchy will stack up from there. The PS3 may well also receive the high resolution texture pack included on the Blu-ray disc that will not need to be installed, but this has not yet been confirmed; therefore, how the Xbox 360 and PS3 will compare graphically remains to be seen.
Did you manage to get onto the Caspian Border map over the weekend? What are your thoughts on the graphics of Battlefield 3 on the PC and/or consoles?