Good Graphics Is More About Quality Than Quantity
That should come as quite an obvious statement, shouldn’t it. After all, you can push a billion pixels at a time but if none of them have any real purpose or differentiation then what’s the point?
However I am coming from a slightly different angle, so bear with me.
- You’ll Be Able To Play (Expensive) PS2 Games On Your PS4 Now | 2 months ago
- Jessica Jones Disempowers Its Male Characters And The Effect Is Refreshing | 2 months ago
- Hell Is 30 000 Deathclaws Tearing Through Boston And It’s Glorious | 2 months ago
- Sony Santa Monica Is Teasing Something Truly Strange | 2 months ago
I recently purchased a 23″ Samsung LED monitor which has two HDMI slots, so that I could use both my PC and Xbox 360 simultaneously, in full HD. Previous to this, I used both platforms on an older 19″ 5:4 monitor (also a Samsung — I’m a fan) which had VGA and DVI slots as input, but a console on VGA is like an athlete wearing body armour. Not only was my console severely restricted but having just the one monitor, the constant switching over at times was taking its toll on my hardware. Now with the new monitor in place, I have a dual-screen setup at long last (quite honestly like I’ve always dreamed) where the older monitor now forms the extended display for my PC, connected through DVI, while the new monitor is my main display. This means that should I opt to switch over to console on my main monitor, I simply switch on my second monitor and use that for other things, the likes of Firefox, Skype, Mumble or anything else. It really comes in handy when I’m following collectible guides or taking notes while playing a game (I do this, sometimes).
Anyway with the new monitor my PC now runs at full 16:9 1080p, which anyone with a half-decent knowledge of HD should know implies a 1920×1080 resolution at 60Hz. The refresh rate might be a bit low for my tastes, but it’s sufficient enough for allowing me a Full HD experience in my games and media. So for the first time, I’ve now been playing games at 1080p. Some games look absolutely amazing at higher resolutions while others, unfortunately, don’t. Some games are bafflingly laggy on my otherwise adequate PC, such as GTAIV which drags along even on low settings whereas I can play Crysis 3 on medium and BioShock Infinite on high. Badly coded engine or just a bottleneck in my system? I’ll leave it up to the techies to decide.
Having built my PC a good few years ago now, it is indeed showing its age, however what I’ve noticed across the board of games that I’ve played so far, trying out 1080p, is that it’s not the high resolution and therefore increased pixels on screen at a particular time that is important, but rather how well they are processed. To this extent, I understand that the bit width of your GPU is important, and so that means GeForce cards will always win out over their equivalent Radeon competitors, but I thought I’d explore this a bit more.
See, when I try out BioShock Infinite, I can get a very playable frame rate if I turn off anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering and set everything else to maximum settings. However turning on either post-processing filter severely hinders my frame rate, forcing me to drop other settings until I find a satisfactory frame rate. Now, the game looks gorgeous enough without the post-processing filters and shading and shadowing, both also post-processing methods, are still around to ensure the game looks splendid, but turning on these two filtering methods which have been around for ages now, simply transforms games sometimes. Sure there are games like Infinite which don’t suffer for it, but I dare you to try playing Doom 3 for example, without anti-aliasing on… it’s not that great to behold, by comparison.
The only exception to this rule seems to be The Witcher 2, which has a whole other setting called Ubersampling, which effectively runs the entire scene multiple times, with all other post-processing effects, to create quite possibly some of the most impeccable, hyper-realistic visuals that I have ever seen in a game running on PC hardware. Subsequently, it cripples that PC hardware. Seriously, turning that one setting on will cause a drop in frame rate that is as equally unparalleled as the visuals it brings.
Now my reason for wanting to talk about this today, based off of my recent gaming experiences, is that as far as hardware goes with regards to the next generation of consoles, and from what we’ve seen of next-gen engines thus far, the focus seems to be more on pure processing power rather than refinement. I think this is the wrong direction to go, because for all intents and purposes, we are in a golden age of visuals right now and while I’m sure there is a much higher potential for graphics, I’d sooner see the focus shift onto post-processing and creating easier methods for filters.
Think about it for a moment, even if you’re going to be gaming on a 70″ screen, if you’re doing it at 1080p — and this is assuming the game is actually running at the full 1080p, which is usually not the case — then you’re playing the game at a resolution of 1920×1080 at 60Hz. So why bother with hardware that can support, say, double that resolution? Why bother with something that pushes what will never be used? Why not instead focus on refining the experience at that resolution?
If your card can handle 1080p gaming, then surely it should also be able to handle post-processing filters of all kinds, so that we can turn on all shaders, shadowing, anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering. Hell, we might as well be able to turn on ubersampling as well. Am I the only person who feels that now that we’ve reached an upper limit, rather than reaching for an even higher limit let’s first make this current limit comfortable?
When I upgrade my PC later this year, I am not going to bother with the fastest in terms of pure processing. No. I’m going to look at what works best at 1080p with post-processing filters enabled. And we’ll take it from there.