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Visceral: 60 FPS 'Was Definitely A Must' For  Dante's Inferno
Visceral: 60 FPS 'Was Definitely A Must' For Dante's Inferno
February 5, 2010 | By Staff

February 5, 2010 | By Staff
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The leads on Visceral Games' Dante's Inferno had to push their staff to get the game running at 60 frames per second, but they felt it was an essential decision in an action game.

"There was a fair amount of angst over that decision. And there was definitely a strong feeling from myself, and my boss, Nick [Earl], the lead engineer, Brad, and the lead designer, Steve," says Visceral's Jonathan Knight, speaking as part of a new Gamasutra feature interview. "Most of the leads understood why we were doing that... But yeah, we had to evangelize that decision."

"I think any artist would be lying if they said that they didn't prefer to have more bandwidth," Knight continues. "Any milliseconds you give them, they're going to use it on just one more effect, or what-have-you."

Creating a game that moves at 60 frames per second is a technical challenge, but it's more about willpower than technology, he adds: "You just have to commit to it, and say, 'Here are your budgets. Here's the box we're gonna play in.'"

It's not easy, he explains: "Thirty frames is a very challenging box to play in as well, and so once you just get everybody bought into that, then what I've found is that the visual effects artists, and the environment artists, and so forth, they just found ways to make stuff look good at 60, and you just have to hold them to it."

Month after month it's a challenge, says Knight, but one he's glad the team undertook. "I'm totally convinced that it was the right thing to do," he says. "And it's not just for gameplay -- in my opinion, it's not as simple as sacrificing visuals for gameplay. I actually think the visuals benefit from the higher framerate."

Knight adds, "If you were to take a screenshot, you might be able to point out, like, 'okay, here's the compromise you made because of your framerate,' but when you sit and play the game, the overall visual experience is enhanced by the fast framerate. So, I can't really decouple graphics from framerate; I don't feel like it's an either/or situation."

And for fast-paced action games, higher framerate is becoming increasingly essential, he believes, at least in certain situations: "I don't think it's essential for Dead Space, for instance, which has a different pacing, and it's a different genre. But for Dante's, it was definitely a must."


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Comments


John Mawhorter
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Good on you for making the correct aesthetic choice even in the face of marketing people who would rather have better screenshots and worse play!

Paschalis Agnostos
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I grew up with 80s arcade games and then 16-bit consoles where pretty much EVERY game ran with 60 FPS. My biggest pet peeve with video-games today is how most game developers don't even bother having constant 30 FPS. It is downright depressive when it happens to 2D-plane games like Little Big Planet and Shadow Complex.



If I was king of the world I would force everybody out of the game industry who doesn't think 60 FPS (a standard from twenty-five years ago) is a must. I am harsh ...but fair.

Rodney Brett
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It's good to see an emphasis on animation over highly visual detailed assets. I've always had this problem with Bethesda games when it comes to their animation. Animation seems to be taking a hit in favor of highly detail characters. Parts of Fallout 3 and Oblivion move at very slow framerates. It's one of the things I miss about the PS2/Xbox last wave of games. They moved silky smooth. When I first played Gears of War, it was pretty good visually, but I remember the framerate to be pretty bad.

Mike Lopez
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@Pashalis: Every 16-bit game ran at 60fps? Really? I would have to say that is an entirely mistaken assumption. Maybe one or two 16-bit fight games with tiny environments ran that fast but I really doubt even that (most were more likely at a fixed 30fps). Most games ran about 20fps on Genesis/SNES but graphics spikes caused frame rates to drop significantly down to the 12-15 fps mark (sometimes worse). I recall the Contra games having significant slow-downs as did some of the similar Japanese action shooters. I worked on Road Rash and we were in the low to mid 20s as I recall. If only we had 60 fps in those days...

david vink
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Good thing this guy isn't king of the world..

Chane Hollander
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It would've been nice if Mr. Knight would've quantified the difference in something more than feelings in motion.



It's always a tough subject when you're talking about how much better the "controls feel" when running at 60, but at least this opinion and the desire of the team to reach this goal was put out there. Thanks guys for keeping the bar high and knowing that you're being held up to the excellence of the God of War franchise!

Paschalis Agnostos
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Mike Lopez,



Contra: Alien Wars ran with 60 FPS throughout except when you used a smart bomb and with certain weapons when climbing the big wall in the middle of the third level the speed (and framerate) dropped to half for half a minute or so. I think the Mega Drive version didn't even have slowdowns and opted to not draw some sprites when under heavy load instead but I didn't play through that three times a day for a year so I don't remember exactly. Castlevanias -> 60 FPS, Street Fighter 2 -> 60 FPS, Mega Man games -> 60 FPS, Mario -> 60 FPS, Sonic -> 60 FPS, Zelda -> 60 FPS, Gunstar Heroes which must be the game with most sprites on screen from that generation ran with 60 FPS. The only games of that generation that I have played and ran with less than 60 were (fake) 3D games obviously and Metal Slug.



Rodney,



seconded when it comes to Bethesda games. But the first Gears of War had pretty much stable 30 which is what almost all Microsoft games aim for. Halo 3 was much worse. The multiplayer beta already had framerate problems so the moment the full version arrived I started an empty multiplayer map, made a 360 turn on the spot where I spawned and it started tearing significantly. It was a sad month for me. I cried. But I am still very manly.

Tynan Sylvester
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The most important part of 60fps is that it reduces control latency. This means little to beginners, but is critical for skilled players. Most action games couldn't respond fast enough to keep up with an expert player at 30fps, so they walk away and the community atrophies.

Joe Cooper
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When I grew with an 8-bit NES I very clearly remember when too many entities were on screen in Zelda II the screen would tear, blink and the framerate would hit the floor. 60 fps my rear.

Ismael Escandon
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I completely agree with Paschalis Agnostos maybe not all games back then were at 60 FPS but the quality of games were in a much higher standard. I personally think and this is my opinion Game-play > Graphics great Game-play and story telling have always been the reason why I play games and honestly I've had a problem with recent games I just seems not only the world of people but the world of gaming is turning into a huge melting pot where everything just fuses together and we see the same recycled ideas of games in other games personally I'm getting tired of the unoriginality.



But that's just me.

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Ben Allen
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@Mike Lopez yeah, road rash 3 was unplayable due to the low framerate, did you sacrifice gameplay for graphics?



I have no intention of playing dante's inferno but I do like 60 fps.

Ismael Escandon
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@Bob

`Yeah, I totally agree with you I see it happen all to often. Really is a shame too but you would think by now they should be able to handle the costs of making a game that would take millions to develop, I mean the huge Corp Behemoths right? EA - I will admit at first I just saw them making crap game after game but all of a sudden you see all these maybe unoriginal but semi great tittles that want to do things diff of course you still see that Market control in these video games but it just seems like they're trying to fight for their own freedom



Its just disappointing to see games that could become something great some times and see it fail either because the company is to afraid that it won't hit the market correctly and it will fail or the game won't fit into society correctly great examples of that is - Ookami - When the game first came out man no one touched it 2~4 years later its discovered and remade for the WII - Ico - - Shadow of the Colossus - games that took that risk and succeed in attracting a great crowd/ I miss those type of ballsy developers who said screw it lets make a game.



Only time will tell though.

al marcy
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I started playing computer games when they were text only. I taught afterschool classes to grade school kids who really enjoyed them. My company gave me two afternoons a week to do volunteer work. It wasn't as if I ever worked "normal" hours in that delightful era of computer enterprise. Forty hours were usually in by Tueday, Wednesday on a slow week. Friday meant only two more working days until Monday. That was a long, long time ago. I now play Aion, a lot. I have been disabled for twelve years, and it passes the time very pleasantly. I understand the idea that the fastest joystick or mouse or whatever is the only real test of a computer game, but, I am not convinced that fast hand/eye coordination is the ONLY way anyone can enjoy playing. Some of you seem to think you know the real deal. Sorry, but there is no real deal. Some games are fun. Some aren't. Each of us gets to pick what we enjoy. Saying that a game is dead when the quicky experts leave is a bit preposterous. If people keep buying the game, it is a good game. If not, your version of why it failed is as meaningless as the original specification. Nobody cares. 60 fps is just another hoop to jump through. The fastest does not always win. The best wins, because the game that makes the most money is the only real best. The rest is just posing poppycock. I see game demos online of crude trash that looks as though the developers had a much too short schedule. There is more to business that quick ROI, but, not everyone can comprehend anything beyond the time/money matrix. It has killed more computer companies, in any and every application, than slow response time. Not everything is as silly and arbitrary as projected cost. But, some will never guess, even after another great new company has been destroyed by "clear goals". Play On! But, do not confuse technical challenge with success. They are only coincidental, occasionally. Life is not fair... It is possible that NOT every second of game play has the same requirements for speed. Even serious downhill skiers on big mountains get a few seconds to enjoy the amazing view, now and then. Those final few seconds of short stroke frenzy are not the only fun part of sex Even I can remember that much... when you are sure you understand all the issues, your brain dies. Beware the Jobberwhacky ;)


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