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Games Entertainment

Are Console Developers Neglecting Their Standard-Def Players? 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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Are Console Developers Neglecting Their Standard-Def Players?

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  • Re:boo hoo? (Score:5, Informative)

    by mustafap ( 452510 ) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @04:11AM (#28825225) Homepage

    >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:PAL60? (Score:3, Informative)

    by grumbel ( 592662 ) <> on Sunday July 26, 2009 @04:44AM (#28825337) Homepage

    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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 26, 2009 @04:46AM (#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.

  • by FireFury03 ( 653718 ) <> on Sunday July 26, 2009 @04:50AM (#28825359) Homepage

    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.

  • 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.

  • by Spad ( 470073 ) <> on Sunday July 26, 2009 @05:22AM (#28825467) Homepage

    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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 26, 2009 @06:00AM (#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.

  • by supertusse ( 1237022 ) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @07:24AM (#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).

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982