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Games Entertainment

Are Console Developers Neglecting Their Standard-Def Players? 200

Posted by Soulskill
from the give-me-hd-or-give-me-death dept.
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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Are Console Developers Neglecting Their Standard-Def Players?

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  • Not that I can see (Score:1, Interesting)

    by AuMatar (183847) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @01:35AM (#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).

  • by jx100 (453615) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @01:39AM (#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!

  • by DRBivens (148931) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @01:44AM (#28824887) Journal

    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...

  • User interface size (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jared555 (874152) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @01:48AM (#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:boo hoo? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Jared555 (874152) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @01:56AM (#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.

  • PAL50 isn't new (Score:5, Interesting)

    by YesIAmAScript (886271) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @02:01AM (#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).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 26, 2009 @02:17AM (#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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 26, 2009 @02:50AM (#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.

  • Wii (Score:3, Interesting)

    by arazor (55656) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @02:50AM (#28825135)

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

  • by Rayonic (462789) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @03:35AM (#28825303) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • by Tridus (79566) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @04:56AM (#28825611) Homepage

    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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 26, 2009 @11:40AM (#28827791)

    I currently work as a tester on a very high profile first party title. I've been on the title since it started testing and the game has gone through many wonderful changes. One that hasn't, and that I've consistently brought up and even wrote broad reaching bugs about is the SD support on both NTSC and PAL. As of right now, it's impossible to read the EULA, or read any text on screen, such as names or key text.

    I can assure you the title was probably tested, in both 480i and 576i on standard def tvs, but the developers probably ignored the issue and waived it. The same thing is probably going to happen on the title I am on.

    You know what would change this? My guess is to start getting reviewers to review the games on standard tvs.

    As a side note, this is an issue with both Microsoft and Sony, before anyone brings it up.

  • by fedxone-v86 (1080801) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @03:17PM (#28829425)

    I think the parent is talking about those "modern geeks", those superficial, macbook wielding, super star programmers. You know, the cool kind of geek, who know all about the shiny tech the jocks and their girlfriends like to play with. They're real popular nowadays, too, because they can fix your Vista notebook or setup your HD home cinema or even write a witty reply on craigslist for you.

    But don't tell them anything about tinkering with old tech. Why would you play Quake on a TRS-80 when you can play Gears of War an a HDTV!? You'd sound like a total nerd to them ;)

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