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Are Consoles Holding Back PC Gaming? 518

Posted by Soulskill
from the pc-game-makers-are-holding-back-pc-gaming dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Despite all the excitement over Nvidia's upcoming Fermi GPU, there is still a distinct lack of DirectX 11 games on the market. This article points out that while the PC has returned to favor as a gaming platform, consoles are still the target for most developers, and still provide the major limitations on the technological sophistication of game graphics. Inside the Xbox 360 sits an ATI Xenos GPU, a DirectX 9c-based chip that bears similarity to the Radeon X1900 series of graphics cards (cards whose age means that they aren't even officially supported in Windows 7). Therein lies the rub. With the majority of PC games now starting life as console titles, games are still targeted at five-year-old DirectX 9 hardware."
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Are Consoles Holding Back PC Gaming?

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  • by Rydia (556444) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @10:38AM (#31647168)

    Why should devs adopt DX11? Because the last iteration of DX lasted about a year and a half before being ditched and extended/redone? Because the majority of the market doesn't have DX11 cards? Because there's no clear advantage in developing to DX11 rather than DX9c?

    Why should developers shift from something they know to something that they don't know as well unless there was significant profit motive to do so? There simply isn't in this case.

  • Re:Why the tech? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Sunday March 28, 2010 @10:48AM (#31647256) Journal

    You're somewhat wrong, because games are also sold by their graphics and sounds and such. You're probably thinking that great graphics and sounds make a bad game, but you can have the both. I enjoy some of the old games, but seriously I rather play with awesome graphics and sound environment too.

    Also, you are missing one important thing. If you free more resources from the graphic rendering by using newer technology, you can have more resources on AI and other gameplay elements.

  • by tepples (727027) <{tepples} {at} {gmail.com}> on Sunday March 28, 2010 @10:53AM (#31647294) Homepage Journal

    //PC Gamer since 1986 ///Now happily a 100% console gamer ////Though I love to play Cave Story

    Your example of Cave Story just illustrated another point: PCs tend to be better for games from smaller studios. Indie games on PCs are commonplace; indie games on Sony and Nintendo consoles need a jailbreak unless some major label notices the developer. See Bob's Game [wikipedia.org] for an example of what Nintendo can put developers through. And the modding tools for PC games tend to be far more complete than for console games. For example, the stage editor in Super Smash Bros. Brawl is limited to just a few predetermined pieces on a grid; there's no way to add custom pieces, custom characters, or a custom soundtrack.

  • Good! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ilsaloving (1534307) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @11:01AM (#31647348)

    If not being able to use the latest shiny things is holding things back, then I say good. Why should I have to spend 2 grand on the latest and greatest hardware every 6 months just to play the latest fad game, when the computer I bought 2 or 3 years ago still serves perfectly well for everything else? Computers are expensive, and last I checked most of the world is dragging it's feet out of financial crisis. Additionally, we reached the 'good enough' mark a long time ago. Pushing the technical envelope for the sake of pushing has been an exercise of diminishing returns for a while now.

    The Nintendo Wii in particular has proven a very important point. Hardware spec wise, it's a pile of crap. Yet it's also a wildly popular platform. Why? Affordability is a significant factor. Also it's because instead of focusing on massive polygon counts and 1600x antialiasing and whatnot other geewhizbang features, they make games that are enjoyable to play.

    If I wanted high quality photorealistic graphics withe pixel perfect shading, etc, I can go outside. It's better than 1600x1200x32 bits [userfriendly.org] out there.

    Now get off my lawn!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 28, 2010 @11:08AM (#31647394)

    sopssa, for fuck's sake, go work in the gaming industry for a while before you go making your blatantly stupid comments.

    Who wants to use OpenGL? Just about every game developer! I looked at your link, and for fuck's sake, you just cited yourself. You have trouble speaking on behalf of yourself, let alone for all developers. That said, the "problems" you mention in your other post are PURE BUNK. Those who replied to you did a pretty good job tearing your "arguments" apart.

    We all want to use OpenGL because it's a nicer API than Direct3D, we can develop for it on our Macs, and our games will support just about every modern gaming platform imaginable (because we aren't tied to Microsoft's platforms).

    No, gamers shouldn't care whether a given game uses Direct3D or OpenGL. But when they're Mac users (like approximately 10% of all users now are), Direct3D is pretty fucking useless to them.

    In terms of DirectX 11, we don't want to use it because OpenGL is better for our needs. DirectX 11 doesn't support Macs, it doesn't support the PS2 or the PS3, it doesn't support the Wii, and it doesn't support most mobile devices.

  • Re:Why? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by commodore64_love (1445365) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @11:13AM (#31647444) Journal

    Question -

    If OS X is a unix operating system, does that mean Mac games will work on Linux too?

  • Re:Why? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 28, 2010 @11:50AM (#31647698)

    DirectX 11 in this context does not mean 'version 11 of the Microsoft API for game programming' it means 'graphics cards with geometry and compute shaders and hardware tessellation support'.

    It always bugs me when people talk about "DirectX hardware". It's that sort of attitude - describing everything in terms of what Microsoft does, as though it's products and technologies are the core of computing science - that basically lets it maintain its dominance.

  • Re:Why? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @12:00PM (#31647794) Journal
    Not quite. The big change was between DirectX 9 and 10. If you use OpenGL, you can access the new rendering model on Windows XP which, according to Steam, gives you 80% of the PC gamer market (or, at least, the subset of the market that is willing to put up with DRM'd crap). DirectX 11 is a relatively small change from 10. You can do some extra stuff with it, but it's much easier to write code that uses 11 and falls back to 10 than it is to write code that uses 11 and falls back to 9.
  • by Joce640k (829181) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @12:23PM (#31647950) Homepage

    When you program a console you know exactly what hardware is available so you can create a "budget" for polygons which uses it 100%.

    On a PC you have to program for 20 different levels of hardware capability and try to scale the graphics up/down accordingly. It never really works properly and programmers hate doing it.

    There's also the issue of drivers. On a console you know what the drivers are and what bugs are present. On a PC you have no idea.

    The stability/predictability of a console's environment is what gives it the edge over a PC, not raw processing power.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 28, 2010 @12:31PM (#31648038)

    Good question. The market penetration of the latest hardware typically depend on new generations of games, but when the hardware already out there is close enough, is it worth the risk and effort?

    Lately, titles like MW2 or DAO could have driven hardware sales, but I think both run well on last generation cards. Console compatibility aside, bioware probably took warning from NWN2 which went for the cutting edge but ended up performing poorly what every you trow at it, and MW2 probably saved a bundle by keeping the technology from MW1.

    Even without consoles, the risk/reward factor may simply not be there at this point in time, with the economy and all.

  • Re:Why? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Foofoobar (318279) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @01:20PM (#31648434)
    Except... Warcraft is 100% open GL. And alot of game makers (as the article and others read) are not interested in DirectX anymore because Mac is gaining in popularity, consoles are gaining in popularity, iPod/iPhone/iPad are gaining in popularirty, etc. They use something so they don't have to code twice and can save money on coding costs.

    That's why they originally went with DirectX because there was no other platform. Now there are... and game makers want something to cut their costs and CODE ONCE, USE EVERWHERE!
  • by RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) <taiki@cUMLAUTox.net minus punct> on Sunday March 28, 2010 @01:54PM (#31648742)

    Also, since the pad is a poor control method

    uhm

    what?

    The pad is a great control mechanism. I'd hate to remind you, but there are more games out there than just Third/First Shooters, MMOs and RTS games out there. I wouldn't want to play Tiger Woods '11 with a mouse/keyboard. I definitely wouldn't want to play Super SF4 with a keyboard(or a pad either; arcade controller plz). I wouldn't want to play Katamari Damacy with a keyboard or a mouse. The list goes on and on.

    In this sense though, PC gaming has been holding back console gaming. When are PC gamers going to get a game that takes rich advantage of a control scheme like Katamari Damacy does? Never! That's when. So if western devs are developing with the PC in mind, it's going to hold them back from doing something extraordinary.

  • Re:Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jurily (900488) <[jurily] [at] [gmail.com]> on Sunday March 28, 2010 @02:05PM (#31648848)

    Except... Warcraft is 100% open GL.

    Is it? [blizzard.com] Or better yet, start the same client two times at the same time and see it complain about DirectX [photobucket.com].

  • Not consoles (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Todd Knarr (15451) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @02:17PM (#31648960) Homepage

    It's not consoles that're holding games back. It's Windows 7. All the hard-core gamers I know are still running XP on their gaming rigs because of the hit they get to frame rates running Windows 7. These are the people who care about a 5fps difference even when they're getting over 60fps. The game companies know these people are their core audience, and if they put out a game these people can't run on their rigs that game won't sell well. Those rigs run XP, XP won't do higher than DirectX 9c, so the game companies target DX9c. It'll run on the hard-core gamers' rigs, it'll run on the average consumer's Windows 7 machine, so there's no sense in supporting DX10 or DX11. The only games I've seen that require DX10 or DX11 come from Microsoft itself.

  • by Joce640k (829181) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @02:26PM (#31649032) Homepage

    You'll have trouble measuring a real performance difference between OpenGL and Direct3D (which isn't surprising since both APIs are simply ways to queue up commands in buffers for the graphics card to execute)

    Since Direct3D 9.0, both OpenGL and Direct3D are very equivalent in terms of features and ease of use. Neither is "more suited" to either games or serious use.

    For long term projects OpenGL has been much more suited to "industrial" apps simply because it's a lot more stable. If you'd started a project ten years ago using Direct3D you'd have had to rewrite the graphics code three or four times by now. With OpenGL the ten-year-old code would still compile/run, no problem. This long-term stability has a downside in that OpenGL has a lot of accumulated cruft - functions which serve no real purpose these days or have better alternatives.

    OpenGL ES is a cleaned-up, modern OpenGL which would be perfect for games but for some reason it's never really been pushed on desktop machines (which is a pity IMHO).

    Direct3D is a teeny bit lower level when it comes to things like memory management (e.g. for fine control over where geometry/texture data goes) whereas OpenGL just says "leave it to the driver". This gives Direct3D a slight advantage for games.

    The main reason Direct3D is used for games though is because Microsoft spends lots of money wining and dining the CEOs of games companies and making pretty presentations to the developers.

  • Re:Why? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TheKidWho (705796) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @02:36PM (#31649124)

    That kind of fragmentation is what ruined OpenGL to begin with. DirectX sets a standard and it's nice for programmers to be able to target a standard.

  • Re:Why? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 28, 2010 @03:07PM (#31649386)
    ummm MS was the driving force and did most of the research behind the rendering tech in directx 11 hardware, yes it works on both and yes it is annoying when people mislabel stuff with MS, But in this case it is actually pretty accurate, They are the driver and the manufacturers and OpenGL are the followers.
  • Does Nintendo's requirements on size extend to their shop channel?

    Yes. According to warioworld.com, home-based businesses are no more eligible for WiiWare than they would be for Wii Game Disc.

    2D Boy describe themselves as a two person studio, and they only have 4 people listed in the credits for World of Goo

    Without a dedicated business office, 2D Boy had to pretty much cheat Nintendo in order to get a devkit: the developers allegedly worked on the port in a Starbucks shop.

  • Re:Why? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Xest (935314) on Monday March 29, 2010 @05:43AM (#31654736)

    "The difference, and why the PC gaming will win in the long run? It's easier to just program a game in openGL that runs on all platforms than it is to program for wii/ps3/xbox360 where you have 3 entirely separate hardware and development requirements."

    No it's not, because you have to cater to the different levels of processing power, memory, disk storage, you still have to optimise for the different iterations of difference graphics cards for each different vendor, you have to implement optimisations. You have to cater to OS differences, you have to cater to conflicting other software (anti-Virus) that might crop up and cause problems and so on.

    Besides, the graphics API is largely irrelevant, any company worth their salt has a re-usable graphics abstraction layer written, and in fact, abstraction layers for most components so that's really a non-issue.

    Writing for 3 platforms, is far easier than writing for literally, millions of platforms, which is the real problem with PC development. Those added development and testing requirements coupled with higher rates of piracy on PC, and lower per-unit profits coupled with lower average figures for units sold just make the PC a rather unattractive platform in comparison.

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