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."