Monday, April 16, 2007

Talkin' about the resolution

I am terrible at keeping secrets and I had to sit on a good one for the last month since GOW2 came out. Namely this one ... (Kotaku helpfully hosted the pic for everyone)



We were proud to get this into the game at the very last minute. I set a bad example though as I am always arguing for us to not add new stuff after Beta and I broke my own rule, bad programmer...

Its funny that the story could have actually gotten out a lot earlier if the journalists at the launch party had been paying attention. We were running around the Metreon Bar rebooting all the PS2's so it would look nicer on the Plasma TV's it was running on. I think the Journo's had been successfully distracted with the free alcohol.

Our marketing guys were nice and let us write a no bullshit little press release that is honestly a pretty fair reflection of why we hid it in instead of making it obvious. I tried to keep it relatively non technical and figured I would add a bit of extra detail on here.

So for what its worth:-

God of War 2 normally runs at 512 * 448, the 'HD Mode' runs at 640 * 448. Thats a 25% increase in Horizontal resolution. 640 * 448 is pretty much as high as you can run an NTSC Playstation 2 game. Gran Turismo 4 had a 1080i mode, but even that is a bit of a trick. If it wasn't running at 60fps, it wouldn't look any better than 480p. They switch between odd and even scan lines every other frame. We cannot sustain 60fps for the whole game, so it wasn't an option for us.

Our 'HD Mode' has to draw more pixels than the normal mode. This means that any place where we are 'fill rate' limited, the game will actually run a bit slower since it has to draw 25% more pixels. In places where the game is slowing down because its drawing a lot of particles or graphical effects, e.g. a big fight, it will slow down a bit worse in our 'HD Mode'. On balance though its probably only slower in a few places.

Now lots of games, us included, talk about 480p. In truth that doesn't actually mean we render 480 scanlines, we only do 448. This is because most televisions do not display all the scanlines. There is really no point in rendering them since no one will see them and you can use the processing time to do other things.

Its going to be the same on next-gen games. Everyone talks about 720p and 1080p, but in general a lot of games render a few scanlines less. This is also because the LCD and Plasma TV's don't render all 720 scanlines. Many more next gen games are fill rate limited, so you will see a lot of these tricks used to get that little extra bit of performance.

Its also true for the Playstation 2 and Euro TV's. In Europe the standard is 576P, but most people render only 512 scanlines. Unfortunately the 512 * 512 resolution that we render the PAL game already takes a lot more Video Ram than out normal 512 * 448 NTSC rez. To do the same HD Mode trick on the PAL PS2 would have needed 640 * 512 screens and there simply isn't enough VRAM (the 640*448 NTSC one only *just* fitted). Our SCEE Press team got a bit confused about why there is no HD Mode in the Euro release. But not enough VRAM is the real reason, its a bummer, wish we could have done it.

Alright enough resolution talk, I wanted to share a classic 'Internet expert' post that we found on the official Playstation boards after the release of the first God of War. It was printed out by one of the designers and put on the fridge at work where it caused a lot of amusement to all of us. Its kind of a geeky joke, but hey your reading a blog by a game programmer so what did you expect.

Re: God of War Demo Question

Progressive scan, from what I know (I may be wrong since I am talking about PC Progressive Scan), is when the disk basically reads ahead, alowwing the AI to anticipate your movement, allow the game 0 lag, and other features, as opposed to Tracking scan, which is basically scan only the location you are in, and nothing else.

125 comments:

Vitali said...

As I feared... It's kinda funny though that SCEE will give them the wrong reason. Isn't this what Sony is/should be trying to avoid? Not enough bad press for ya?

Who's the designer who put this up? I'm no expert but I always thought progressive scan ment the image will contatin 1.6 times the vertical lines that interlaced is outputting.

If this HD mode is using progressive scan, what does the progressive scan in the options menu mean? Is it only an option for the PS3? I'm confused!

Anonymous said...

Well you could have done it for PAL resolutions, just restricted to people running the game in NTSC mode.

It's really no different to all the PAL games that implement a 60Hz startup option where they then use NTSC if the user confirms the signal displays correctly.

Check passes -> go to NTSC and HD mode available.

Check fails -> stay in PAL with no HD mode.

I haven't seen the PAL version of GOWII so maybe there isn't a 60Hz option, though that'd be a little weird for a game so late in the PS2's lifecycle.

Vitaliy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vitaliy said...

Hi, Tim!

Please, tell us about the functions of engine. Namely, about graphic functions of engine GOWII. There is no information about technologies of engine officially. Very interestingly exactly to know about a rendering-engine from a creator, but not from forums.
Bump mapping? Spherical Harmonic Lighting? Normal Maps? Or What? :)
A question is especially technical and faiths.
More technical information wanted!!!

ps.sorry for my ugly English(it's not my native tongue).

Devin Greer said...

Progressive Scan doesn't work on any of my TVs... I don't know why... The HD Mode is pretty nice... Someone told me about it and so I had to check it out, it's a fairly nice jump. I don't know much about that sort of stuff, but I do know it looks nicer... Speaking of resolutions, my friend got this 22" monitor and the resolution he set on that thing was fucking crazy... A lot better than the 1024 * 768 on my monitor... I was so jealous, until he decided to sell his computer like a moron.

Eric said...

All I know is that the bigger resolution looks more nice on my TV. Also, the HD mode seemed to help with scaling issues my TV was having when playing GOW2 on my PS3.

Eric said...

Thanks Tim!

Devin Greer said...

Tim, I was wondering, what would college would you suggest to someone who wants to be an animator, in the game buisness? I'm only in my sophomore year of high school and I have to know where I want to go. So that I can check them out and see what requirements they have, so that I can know if I need to take another year of math and science. Please get back to me as soon as you read this.

Anonymous said...

so why not only send this to

Ken said...

Hey Time,

Nice blog you got goin' here.

May I make a suggestion about the combat mechanic for the next God of War title?

Can you guys make it so the player can stop his combo in the middle and block? The one thing that annoyed me in GoW2 was that I'd get started on one of those "automatic" combos where Kratos gets going and can't stop, so he gets wacked a bunch of times.

It really detracted from the incentive to use those combos. Plus, it doesn't make much intuitive sense that Kratos can't stop and block.

Thanks,
Ken

Vitali said...

Tim! Tell us how to solve that Roman Numbers puzzle! I already know the secret behind it, but I never really solved that riddle...

Devin Greer said...

Too late, now, eh...

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