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Ubisoft responds to claims that  Watch Dogs  visuals were downgraded
Ubisoft responds to claims that Watch Dogs visuals were downgraded
June 20, 2014 | By Mike Rose

June 20, 2014 | By Mike Rose
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    25 comments
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing



"The notion that we would actively downgrade quality is contrary to everything we’ve set out to achieve."
- Ubisoft denies claims that it has purposely degraded the quality of the visuals in the PC version of Watch Dogs.

Earlier this week, a modder discovered rendering options hidden away in the code for the PC version of Watch Dogs, that allow for the game to be rendered in much higher resolution visuals than is possible with the default options.

This has led some critics to question why the game has been downgraded in this way, and whether or not it was in aid of making sure the game does not look better on PC than on next-gen consoles.

Now Ubisoft has posted a rebuttal to this claim, stating that these hidden options were not provided to PC players as they were not optimized properly.

"We test and optimize our games for each platform on which they’re released, striving for the best possible quality," the statement says. "The PC version does indeed contain some old, unused render settings that were deactivated for a variety of reasons, including possible impacts on visual fidelity, stability, performance and overall gameplay quality."

This new mod, says Ubisoft, may well enhance the visuals of the game, but can also have various negative effects, including performance issues and stability problems.


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Comments


Ferdinand Joseph Fernandez
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"We need to make the experience consistent with consoles, therefore, we need to disallow PC users from having the freedom to enable this in the graphics options!"

Ettore Luigi Gislon
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Wasn't watch dogs badly optimised on PC to begin with?

Also, aren't more demanding graphical settings inherently detrimental to performance, unless the computer is capable enough to handle them?

This rebuttal from ubisoft seems pretty weak to me.

Michael G
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I'd rather have them off to be honest, it looks horrible. All they did was reduce the DoF plane to about 50 metres and crank the bloom up so high that you get a yellow haze over your entire view (an effect that can be achieved with SweetFX). Even the headlight shadows are just stencils.

Sjoerd Bergman
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While I agree with your sentiment, it's a bit of an overstatement to say the game looks horrible. It simply doesn't, it's a good looking game with high production value.

Michael G
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I didn't say the game looks horrible, I said the reactivated effects look horrible. The vanilla game looks great, especially with RealVision SweetFX (which enhances the game's existing palette unlike ENB).

Sjoerd Bergman
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Fair enough, I thought you where talking about the visuals, not the company's dishonesty. Which is indeed horrible.

Jennis Kartens
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I don't get it. What do they fear? I doubt that there would be millions of support requests from users using unstable mods. Oh and the patch did apparently nothing against the stuttering issues a lot of peole have.

Good job Ubisoft...

George Menhal III
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LOL!

More bad, bad, bad from Ubisoft this week. They had a measly E3 and followed it up with blame-gaming and lies. They really need to get it together.

Ron Dippold
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Soooo... you couldn't just make it the Ultra option? There was a definite visual downgrade from this to retail, there's no denying that. I understand that it caused some machines to run worse (or even run unstable) but that's what non-default options are for. That's what PC is for. And for most of us admittedly self-selecting weirdos who took the time to apply the mod it runs much smoother than retail mode while looking better, which is the real knife in the back.

The real answer is likely that the PC market is small enough that They Just Didn't Care enough to do even that (and do the extra QA). I'd actually consider that a more respectable answer than this kind of publicist twaffle.

Kevin Fishburne
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They should have just stated that it was removed because it was too hard to animate. Had to say it.

Pierre Chanliau
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Wow, what in the world is wrong with Ubisoft's PR department lately?

First, the lackluster excuse for the poor performance of Uplay, then the terrible explanation for the lack of a female avatar for their co-op feature in Assassin's Creed: Unity, and now this terrible display of outright LYING.

I don't even know WHY they're lying about this, especially at this point. I mean, what do they possibly gain from this? Everyone complained about Watch_Dogs running horribly, crashing, and just not working at launch on PC, which wasn't helped by Uplay and they says thing like "We test and optimize our games for each platform on which they’re released, striving for the best possible quality," as reassurance?

Yeesh.

Dave Hoskins
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The problem with PCs is the VRAM. The data transfer rate is the bottleneck. Does your flashy graphics card have 4GBs of RAM? No? Any game written with the idea of sharing RAM between the CPU and the GPU is going to stutter on some PCs. And I guess the RAM's own speed is another factor.
There's certainly a lot of boohoos, and talk of 'badly optimised' code being thrown about, but it's just people being sour over their expensive gaming rig not being up to the job. Over time they'll realise that a lot of games are going to struggle on their system - it's upgrade time, once again.

Jennis Kartens
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There are plenty of people not running into hardware limitations and still have the issues.

Dave Hoskins
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There must me some kind of limitation, I'm intrigued - a little bit anyway. :)

Jennis Kartens
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Their code is causing the problems. From all I've read, including benchmarks of various systems, it's definitively a software problem.

I haven't tested it myself much (I only know I do run into VRAM issues with only 3GB@Ultra and 4xTXAA) since I really don't care that much about WD and am rather resisten to framrate drops and stuttering, but I am sure the sources I read are not lying.

Imo not a big deal all in all, since a) the game itself is utter crap and b) a lot of games in worse state have been released onto the PC, but it definitively is not the fault of the systems used but some weird bug within WD. Some are upset and I think the issues effect even varies. Some people claimed they have second long holds... on low settings.

Dave Hoskins
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Yeah, but 3GB is not enough perhaps. Maybe they are doing internal juggling of textures that worked fine on consoles, but when it came to the bottlenecks of the PC it was a massive mistake. And would need a large rewrite to do it differently, or you could say correctly like IDs megatexture.

Michael G
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The problem with that idea is there are people (myself included) running the game with Ultra settings (including textures) well over 30 FPS on mid-range cards. I only have a GTX 760 but I can run the game at an average of 50 FPS, while others with far more powerful cards can barely get 30.

Dave Hoskins
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Interesting. If they are moving textures constantly from RAM then the buss is still going to be the bottleneck, even if there's two cards in the machine.
People tend to go on power, not motherboard throughput.
But there could be other stoppages due to disc drives, I wonder what it is.
I guess they would have fixed it before if it wasn't a massive code/algorithm change. Wouldn't they? *cough*

Jennis Kartens
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@Dave

As I said, not judging from my own system. The 3GB are running full after a while, though reports stating people with SLI systems as well as 4-6GB cards having more issues as I do.

Dave Hoskins
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Yeah there's got to be a hardware bottleneck somewhere, perhaps the motherboards are quite different or BIOS settings, who knows. But I guess they've run it through a Profiler, so they must know, right?

Jennis Kartens
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One should think so... but seldom game development processes are properly exposed, so who knows for sure what is going on?

I miss the GDM post mortems therefore. Good insight of development processes for big titles, which explained a lot afterwards.

Michael G
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I am running the game on an SSD, so maybe you're right there. As far as I know the higher models in the 700 (600) series were exactly the same boards but with more RAM shoved into them. Inelegance has its costs.

Ben Sly
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I'm quite willing to guess that there indeed were technical issues that caused problems with the graphics settings (even thought the specific settings labeled "E3" raise eyebrows), but I don't doubt that this will reflect on them poorly despite that. Had they labelled them optional PC settings and left them in a reasonably accessible .ini file somewhere (especially with a comment saying "These settings may cause instability or glitches" or somesuch), I think that the public outcry would be negligible.

But since it came as a PR statement... well, PR departments for AAA games are not renowned for candid statements.

Jennis Kartens
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No idea how much this one can be trusted (not so much, from a quick research...), but this blog post is says Ubisoft is doing restrictions on purpose:

http://whatifgaming.com/the-division-developer-insider-we-already
-downgraded-a-few-things

Greg Rus
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For me the game seems to run faster and look better with the mod. This makes me sad, because it feels like I bought a sports car from Ubisoft, the car was advertised as really fast, but it turns out only the first two gears work. I will only forgive them when they release Beyond Good and Evil 2 :)

But consider this:

We praise the moder for finding the hidden settings, and rightly so. But since we live in the times of preorders and unfinished alpha access games - do we not risk some developers putting faulty, untested code into the game, and letting you pick them as "Experimental" settings? Then it is your own fault for using them without a powerful enough PC.


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