PC/Console Convergence

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VideoGameCritic
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PC/Console Convergence

Postby VideoGameCritic » July 29th, 2015, 6:49 pm

It occurred to me that all the hallmarks of PC gaming are being the reality of console gamers.

Mandatory hard disk install? Check
Buggy new games? Check
Frequent mandatory updates? Check
Physical media going away? Check

I'm sure you guys can add a few.

What's ironic is that these are the exact things that drove PC gamers to consoles in the first place!
You'll notice that all of these items benefit the publishers far more than the customer.
Yet there are some gamers who actually argue that these changes are for the better.

jon
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Re: PC/Console Convergence

Postby jon » July 29th, 2015, 7:05 pm

My favorite series Front Page Sports Football Pro was buggy has hell. The '97 version had some glitches, one was when you simulated games sometimes would crash and you'd lose everything, sometimes it would be seasons into a franchise mode. And '98 didn't even work. It'd crash after one play if you got that far. They actually made a patch, I found out years later. I don't even know how one would find out back then.

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ptdebate
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Re: PC/Console Convergence

Postby ptdebate » July 29th, 2015, 7:58 pm

VideoGameCritic wrote:It occurred to me that all the hallmarks of PC gaming are being the reality of console gamers.

Mandatory hard disk install? Check
Buggy new games? Check
Frequent mandatory updates? Check
Physical media going away? Check

I'm sure you guys can add a few.

What's ironic is that these are the exact things that drove PC gamers to consoles in the first place!
You'll notice that all of these items benefit the publishers far more than the customer.
Yet there are some gamers who actually argue that these changes are for the better.


I definitely see hard release dates (resulting in buggy new games and frequent updates) and physical media going away being totally of benefit to publishers, but the installation thing doesn't directly benefit anyone. The loading time improvements that they impart definitely benefits consumers though. We're talking about a difference of about 100MB/s between a BD-ROM drive's data transfer rate and that of a SATA-II HDD. Loading Titanfall directly from disc would be torturous due to how much more data that game is pushing than your typical Gen-7 release. It would also wear out your laser faster--note how few launch 360s and PS3s are around these days. You'll see much better longevity from the current generation; and if a hard drive dies, it's much easier to replace than an optical drive.

What would be sweet is if games could load from flash modules like they did in yesteryear, but that would unfortunately add about $40 to the price of the game (just going based on the current GB-per-dollar rate of MLC flash).

A lot of the changes in console gaming have to do with online multiplayer. Keeping everyone playing together means keeping everyone's game version the same--hence mandatory online updates. Online connectivity brings with it a whole host of complications, hence the massive, PC-like operating systems running on consoles. The Xbox One runs a version of actual Windows.

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Re: PC/Console Convergence

Postby VideoGameCritic » July 29th, 2015, 9:22 pm

I disagree that installation isn't benefitting anyone. Before the age of hard discs developers had to intelligently cache and stream data from the disc to minimize/mask load time. Installing to hard disc is a total cop-out. Not to mention it's really time-consuming for the guy who just want to pop in the game and play. And it is a serious problem when my PS4 (which had the largest hard disc at launch) can't even have a dozen games installed at once. It's bad enough I have to wait an hour for a new game to install. Adding insult to misery I have the chore of cleaning off my hard disc.

Installation benefits publishers by not having to work so hard on the game, and it's detrimental to gamers because it takes up their limited hard disc space, and TIME. Funny how people don't consider how important TIME is anymore. Are you okay with a lazy publisher taking an hour of your time? I'm not. I don't see how modern day reviewers can sit through so many time consuming installations and updates and not mention a thing about those in their reviews.

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Re: PC/Console Convergence

Postby Vexer6 » July 29th, 2015, 9:59 pm

I don't believe it is a cop-out at all, that's just how technology is nowadays, overseas game installations happen way faster due to a lot of those countries having better internet then we do.

Time is important to me too, but I can always occupy my time playing portable games while waiting for my installation to finish. Games taking an hour to install does not mean the "publisher" is "lazy" at all, it just means the USA has lousy internet.

Also these things do benefit the customers, frequent content updates are nice when they add free content(like Witcher 3 does)

Also some people are fine with physical media going away(though i'm not one of them)

Install times aren't relevant to the game itself, so there's little point in mentioning them in reviews(also they might have better internet, so their installs take less time)

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Re: PC/Console Convergence

Postby ptdebate » July 29th, 2015, 10:55 pm

VideoGameCritic wrote:I disagree that installation isn't benefitting anyone. Before the age of hard discs developers had to intelligently cache and stream data from the disc to minimize/mask load time. Installing to hard disc is a total cop-out. Not to mention it's really time-consuming for the guy who just want to pop in the game and play. And it is a serious problem when my PS4 (which had the largest hard disc at launch) can't even have a dozen games installed at once. It's bad enough I have to wait an hour for a new game to install. Adding insult to misery I have the chore of cleaning off my hard disc.


Well, you could posit as a cause the fact that HDDs weren't an assumed inclusion in the SKU last generation or the fact--which is the core of my argument--that game file sizes have increased from a couple gigabytes at most (generation 6) to between 30 and 60 gigabytes on average--resulting in bigger textures, prettier effects, and larger game worlds.

Whose idea was it, after all, to start putting hard disks in consoles? Were the hardware manufacturers colluding with the software developers, cutting the latter slack to make lazy games in exchange for...wait, that wouldn't benefit the hardware manufacturers at all! So why do it if it's not in the service of better games that get better scores and produce more dollars?

In anticipation of the question why--why gamers need anything that looks better than the best looking Gen 6 or Gen 7 titles--I draw upon the lessons of history. If you take Halo for the original Xbox--a very nice looking game for its time--and zip it up to a 1080p framebuffer changing absolutely nothing else--what you get looks pretty awful. Its like seeing the girl who looked like Marilyn Monroe last night in the truth of morning light. You did nothing to increase the game's file size, but by putting it under the magnifying glass you realize that in terms of assets...there's not a whole lot there. Barely any grass, the same copy-and-pasted trees, literally like 5 character models.

It gives you the feeling that you should have probably left it at 480p. OK--so we have our Halo game running at native 480p...how do we play it? Well, there's this nice new 60" plasma in the living room--let's fire it up there!

Oh...my god. Did I forget my glasses today?

And so you see the dilemma. We want a big game on our big TV that has lots of small detail.

VideoGameCritic wrote:Installation benefits publishers by not having to work so hard on the game, and it's detrimental to gamers because it takes up their limited hard disc space, and TIME. Funny how people don't consider how important TIME is anymore. Are you okay with a lazy publisher taking an hour of your time? I'm not. I don't see how modern day reviewers can sit through so many time consuming installations and updates and not mention a thing about those in their reviews.



Well, I'm definitely with you on disliking waiting. For modern games, "caching" to RAM on the fly isn't a workable solution though. If it were, don't you think at least somebody would be doing it? On the PS4 and Xbox One, note that literally nobody is experimenting with games that lack data installations. That's because "before the age of hard discs" was a time when sub-HD framebuffers hid all sins.

With the PS3 specifically I remember waiting a lot longer and more often for disk-based games with minimal or no installation than with similar games downloaded digitally or requiring a large installation of game data. I buy PS3 games digitally rather than at retail whenever possible because the speedy hybrid drive in my console literally cuts loading times in half across the board. The difference saves me somewhere around 7-10 minutes every hour of play in games with frequent loads (Skyrim, Dark Souls II).

Loading entirely from disk can and did work well for certain types of games under the circumstances of last generation, but those were by far the exception rather than the rule. First, let's look at an example of one of those games and why it succeeded--and where it failed.

The Last of Us (PS3) features a largely uninterrupted adventure through beautifully detailed locales and requires no installation of game data to the hard drive. A true 720p framebuffer and fantastic lighting reveal a very lovingly and painstakingly crafted game environment with a high level of textural detail for the hardware specs. How is this possible? Well, in a sense, the game installs every time you boot it up. GTA did exact same thing in its PS3 iterations. A few minutes of waiting each time you boot up the game followed by a largely continuous experience. A multitude of tiny installations rather than one big one. I think you'll see what I'm getting at: more of your time will be wasted by The Last of Us on PS3, an ostensibly "put in the disc and play"-type experience than The Last of Us on PS4, which smartly makes use of the stock HDD capacity (Something PS3 devs couldn't just assume about their consumers, whose product SKU includes anywhere from 12GB of space to 500GBs or 1 to 2 TB for customized models) to eliminate that few minutes you had to wait every time you played the PS3 version--heck, PS4 games will even install while you play them! I Or was it that the hardware manufacturers paid the extra money to put that hard drive in their console so the software devs would have a crutch? I think we already agreed that that makes no sense.

Guess what you can't do in The Last of Us though.

Backtrack to previously visited locations. If you want to do that, you'll have to go back to the title menu, select an earlier chapter, wait another 4 minutes, and replay that section of the game. In Uncharted and its entire ilk, including linear first person shooter campaigns, every step of your journey is curated. Every fall of a boot is anticipated. There is no going backwards; it's like going through a large airport on one of those automated walkways except it only goes in one direction. An effective illusion; a technological artifice.

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Re: PC/Console Convergence

Postby ptdebate » July 29th, 2015, 11:10 pm

Wait--as an addendum to my post--what game installation takes an hour? The PS4 lets you start playing after about 30 seconds and the rest of the game installs while you play the opening parts. I can see a large update potentially requiring an hour if you have a slow internet connection, but you can always decline the update as long as you don't plan to play multiplayer.

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Re: PC/Console Convergence

Postby Sut » July 30th, 2015, 5:27 am

You make some valid points critic but at least you don't have to bugger around with the settings for graphics, textures, framerates, etc. That is what turned me off PC gaming more than installations.

I don't mind installations so much as I know once it's installed it will improve my gaming experience. I completely agree with PT's very well considered counter argument and the improvement from PS3 installations (MGS4 anyone ?) to PS4 installations is vast. And as PT points out the bulk of PS4 games let you play whilst the game is installing.

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Re: PC/Console Convergence

Postby Sonicx9 » July 30th, 2015, 11:39 am

VideoGameCritic wrote:It occurred to me that all the hallmarks of PC gaming are being the reality of console gamers.

Mandatory hard disk install? Check
Buggy new games? Check
Frequent mandatory updates? Check
Physical media going away? Check

I'm sure you guys can add a few.

What's ironic is that these are the exact things that drove PC gamers to consoles in the first place!
You'll notice that all of these items benefit the publishers far more than the customer.
Yet there are some gamers who actually argue that these changes are for the better.


It could only get worse if viruses/malware came to modern consoles, witch would not be surprise as the PS4/Xbox One are X86 based consoles.

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Re: PC/Console Convergence

Postby Vexer6 » July 30th, 2015, 1:26 pm

Installations on Microsoft systems are much less painless then ones on Sony systems. System updates for the 360 were way faster then ones for the PS3, they only took about a minute, and game installations were a lot faster too, GTA V took about five minutes or so to install, and after that it didn't need any mini-installs whenever it booted up.

I kinda like graphics options on PCs(being able to turn off motion blur for one thing), but sometimes it is annoying constantly fiddling around with them trying to get the game to both run well and look good.


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