Digital Foundry Article Technical Discussion Archive [2009]

Discussion in 'Console Technology' started by Shifty Geezer, Nov 14, 2008.

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  1. Shifty Geezer

    Shifty Geezer uber-Troll!
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    Rules of Engagement : Read before posting or run the risk of losing posting rights in the Tech Forum!

    This is principally a technical discussion thread. It is allied to the other tech analysis threads and shares the same rules as those which you should familiarise yourself with. The purpose is to discuss the findings of the Digital Foundry articles on a technical level, including the techniques employed by game developers in their games, and the comparative design decisions off cross-platform titles. Digital Foundry is more closely allied with Beyond3D than other gaming sites which is why they get special mention here! :D

    What this thread is not, is a place to complain about a port's quality and make accusations of developers, to offer feedback on the quality of the Digital Foundry writing or the writers' biases, trumpet your preferred console over the other, talk business and sales, or otherwise sidetrack the discussion from talking about the gaming technology covered in the Digital Foundry articles. If you do not post to the required standard, your posts will be removed, and persistent unwanted contributions will see you locked out of the Technology Forum.

    If you want to leave editorial feedback for Digital Foundry, the best place is to leave a comment for the relevant article(s).
     
  2. SG79

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    Digital Foundry Tech Articles

    Had posted this in another topic, and forgot about this one existed. The mere fact that the revisions go beyond having less enemies on screen at a time does make it a very different experience (noted at the end).

    There are areas that are literally empty in the NGS2, particularly chapter 14, that are obviously aren't tech-related. In fact, a lot of it seemed to be motivated to get a lower rating in Japan (the original had a Z rating, basically AO in the ESRB), especially that NGS1 remains a considerably bloodier game. In higher difficulty co-op mission modes, NGS2 mimics the original's experience far closer by throwing tons of enemies at you. Problem is that some of them are virtually impossible to beat.

    For those wondering, the final NGS2 version does have more enemies and a smoother frame rate than the demo. Still, I have taken personal issues with some of the design revisions (particularly chapters 2 and 14 *11 in NGII*).

    The good part is that it's a less buggy game and smoother, even though it's significantly easier. Mentor difficulty in NGS2 is my view the most balanced out of the two versions.
     
  3. SG79

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    Underground area in South America. Yes, it's gone because it was a particularly broken boss fight as were the two armadillos (replaced by a "new" boss). In fact, the entire area is gone in NGS2.

    Lots of examples of revisions made, most for the better, some for worse.

    There are more on screen at any given time in that game, and it ran just fine :?: In fact, that game maintained an overall most consistent frame rate than either NGII version. The only notable slowdown instances I've noticed were in the mission facing Doku, Alma, and Marbus and the Hydra fight on VH and MN modes.

    To be perfectly honest, I still like the look of that game better. Perhaps because of the art direction and higher poly count on characters.. it still looks prettier to me. Game-wise, I still prefer that one and the Xbox NGB by a long shot.

    The "underground" chapters post chapter 14?
     
  4. TheAlSpark

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    He means the New York Subway in Chapter 3. ;)
     
  5. SG79

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    Oh, thought there was some confusion because that's still there. Not as broken, but certainly easier.
     
  6. MazingerDUDE

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    That is what I'd call a supposition as we have absolutely no information regarding SPU usage in NGS2. Yes there's the EDGE to aid with RSX's limited vertex capability, but as seen in most third party games, it's still far from parity even to the 360 games with tiling. NG2 is a game that went sub HD to avoid tiling for maximum vertex performance. I'm not sure even guys like Naughty Dog or Santa Monica would be able to match that with all their coding tricks on PS3 and this is Tecmo we're talking about. Some lowly Japanese game company that is far from the best tech in the business. At this point, I believe it's pretty safe to assume that when it comes to vertex processing, PS3 is simply no match for 360 at least for majority of third party developers.

    However you do have good pixel shader with RSX regardless of its vertex performance. And it's something that's equally available to every game developers. The way NGS2 turned out to be is related to nothing more than tech limitation of PS3. But unlike your average 'lazy devs' Team Ninja just did with whatever they had available with pixel shader to make it prettier.
     
  7. MazingerDUDE

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    Yes you're absolutely right. You have choice with unified shader structure of Xenos. As for the 'maximum performance' it's all in relative terms. The vertex processing is a clear advantage 360 has over to PS3, and NG2 is a game that almost abused it. (along with ridiculous amount of alpha textures) On PS3's side, it hit its maximum because they added stuffs with whatever resource left in PS3.
     
  8. MazingerDUDE

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    IMO, removal of the two armadillos boss battle is more to do with tech limitation of PS3. That particular part is extremely alpha heavy especially when it goes berserk with all the fireworks. Having two of them doing that would be absolute nightmare for RSX. (With IS gone in NGS2 it would be even more nightmare for players to deal with them :lol:)
     
  9. MazingerDUDE

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    You do sometimes see more than 3 enemies later in the game, but that was when the background is nothing more than surrounding walls. It's usually capped at 3 unless you're in some arena battle with strictly controlled environment. Overall, the game exhibited considerable amount of screen tearing even with so little going on.

    They did reduce the poly counts on Hayabusa in NG2 from NGS1, but it definitely went back up in NGS2, it's at least on par with NGS1 version if not more. The enemy characters are more or less the same in poly count especially the spider ninjas that are just identical between NG2 & NGS1. They just added more bumps in NGS2.
     
  10. obonicus

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    So, wait. Do you think the removal/reduction of IS ninjas in NGS2 was more due to technical reasons rather than gameplay design?
     
  11. MazingerDUDE

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    Absolutely, IS scam in NG2 was overly abused to the extent that its alpha overdraws would make even 360 to crawl.
     
  12. SG79

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    Could be, though it was without a doubt the most complained about gameplay design choice in NGII alongside the archers in MN. I remember the flood of topics about them last year among many others... the game managed to push so many buttons that it had you wondering whether it was ever play tested :razz:

    However, the rocket launchers did cause slowdown immensely on Mentor and MN in NGII... at times below 20Hz. Then there is the infamous slo-mo stairs sequence and there are less enemies to deal with in NGS2 and bodies disappear.

    Speaking of crawling, ironically the most hotly debated choice among fan (the purple "haze" instead of gushing blood) does cause that during UT's as enemies get dismembered en masse in missions (try it with the flail)
     
  13. obonicus

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    Hmm, interesting. Do you think, then, that if the technical hurdles were made equal we'd see the exact same game on 360 and PS3?

    I'm just thinking that there's a whole Itagaki vs. Hayashi Team Ninja politics there, too. And as I said, NG2 wasn't nearly as well-received as NG1, and it does feel like NGS2 tried to be closer to NG1 (though that may just because they're using an engine designed for NGS1).
     
  14. SG79

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    Not quite, it's actually a hybrid engine made from the NGS1 and NGII engines so it's essentially a "new" multiplatform engine. Hayashi said that they took complaints from players to heart but who knows:

    http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=24388

    They recently had a posting for programmers to work on a multiplatform game, so could be the next DOA or NG3.
     
  15. MazingerDUDE

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    There really is nothing about NGS2 that can't be done on 360. In fact, they could probably add more alpha effects (blood, explosions) on top of it. In terms of theoretical shader performance, RSX & Xenos are roughly equal with Xenos being just more flexible with its unified structure. And you've got EDRAM for free MSAA and alpha as well.

    Then again, we don't know what Team Ninja did with SPUs. They maybe used for geometry culling, lighting, post processing etc. Even if that's the case, 360 should still be able to pull off something similar as there's nothing crazy going on, unlike NG2 that seems almost impossible on PS3. (direct port of course)
     
  16. MazingerDUDE

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    Any problem with NG2 is because they abuse it. Having 5 IS ninjas spamming relentlessly is one things, seeing archers or rocket ninjas in every platform you need to jump onto is just fXXXing ridiculous. I'm pretty sure NG fans wouldn't mind having these exploding projectile spammers every once in a while.
     
  17. SG79

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    They can be dealt with some patience for sure. Archers are actually a bigger pain in chapter 11 on Mentor and MN in NGII. I personally stopped at Mentor pre-patch last year and called it quits. Problem is that on Mentor and MN, projectile spamming is on full force from the get go (right at Chapter 1). Add insult to injury, the slowdown and glitches are more prevalent there too. Of course, there is an invincibility glitch but that's no fun :razz:

    What makes matters worse is that in NGII and NGS2, IS's detonate on contact (be it on floor or Ryu). There was more leverage and smarter design with the original game, that's for sure. Even standard enemy AI where enemies blocked, parried, got out of harm's way, and even interrupted attacks but never felt unfair. Master Ninja in NGB and NGS were sadistically hard at times but a lot of fun.

    In both NGII's, that mode isn't fun much. Even with the revisions, NGS2 has magical one grab and you're dead setups and two hits often kill you. Of course, enemy HP is through the roof and did I mention that the girls are a bit weaker for that mode? :lol:
     
  18. liolio

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    Well yes :) . Overall I get your point SPU culling or not (even it looks likely to me as they reworked the engine).
    Well the more I think about it the more I give credit to your analysis but I would not limit it to technical considerations as it looks like the team tried to reach a bigger audience the NG2, it happened that technical considerations matched pretty well "marketing ones" in this case :)
     
  19. Statix

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    I'm sorry, but I personally found that the Ninja Gaiden 2 comparison article Digital Foundry did to be very inaccurate with the writer putting forth the assertion that the 360 hardware has many graphical capabilities that the PS3 cannot handle. The writer mentions the greater vertex capabilities and polygon-pushing power of the 360, and how the PS3 would be unable to handle it. Yet many of the comparison screens shown in the article itself totally contradict this argument of the 360 version having superior polygonal detail, with many shots showing greater polygon detail in both the environment and the character models on the PS3 side:

    (More polygonal detail on the PS3, exemplified by the lamppost.)
    360: http://images.eurogamer.net/assets/articles//a/8/1/5/3/8/0/pixel_360_1.jpg.jpg
    PS3: http://images.eurogamer.net/assets/articles//a/8/1/5/3/8/0/pixel_ps3_1.jpg.jpg

    (Look at the difference in detail in the leaves/foliage on the right edge of the screen.)
    360: http://images.eurogamer.net/assets/articles//a/8/1/5/3/8/0/static_lighting_360_1.jpg.jpg
    PS3: http://images.eurogamer.net/assets/articles//a/8/1/5/3/8/0/static_lighting_ps3_1.jpg.jpg

    EDIT: And some other screenshots clearly comparing character models and polygonal differences:

    360 and PS3: http://www.gameswire.net/comparisons/comparison-large_147-0029-32033081_PlayStation%203_150-0016-74497985_Xbox%20360_stack.html

    360 and PS3: http://www.gameswire.net/comparison...ation 3_150-0028-80002136_Xbox 360_stack.html

    The difference in polygonal detail in both the models and environment are clear in many of these screenshots... in FAVOR of the PS3 version.

    I don't buy it that the person who did the comparison came up with the argument that the 360 has too much vertex capability for the PS3 to handle, because all he used to prove his point were comparison screens from a specific cutscene, a cutscene in which many werewolves were repeated over and over through the clever graphical trick of polygon instancing (the repeating of polygons or models without needing the performance to render each polygon separately)... not really a proof of overall "greater polygon performance" at all. Perhaps the instancing/character-repetition code wasn't working or performing as efficiently in the PS3 iteration, so they had to scale back the number of characters in this one particular cutscene. Still, I don't see this as proof that the PS3 version being inferior in terms of overall polygon performance, because the many of the screen comparisons don't bear this out. The writer is trying to make the argument that the 360 version is better in some ways, and the PS3 in some ways, but I think it's extremely lopsided in almost all areas except for some transparency/alpha and blood effects being scaled down on the PS3 version (and this one particular cutscene the writer mentioned with the many werewolves being repeated).

    EDIT: (regarding number of enemies on screen)
    This also appears to be a very inaccurate statement shortchanging the PS3 version. The writer claims that the PS3 version is more or less strictly limited to around 6 enemies on screen, while the 360 version can handle "far more enemies." Here's a video that shows the PS3 version handling 12 enemies on screen at a time (with perhaps some slight slowdown, although it's difficult to ascertain in the video):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MA7Runk_lSc
     
    #19 Statix, Oct 26, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 26, 2009
  20. assurdum

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    I'm not so sure about the easy approach of ngs 2 on the 360 hardware...light, rendering of shadows, specular maps...tecmo said to prefer ps3 hardware in its recent quote and ngs 2 show clearly that adding even a resolution boost and a good polish of the engine. Said subhd 585p with more enemies and overdraws impossible on the ps3 (we talking of 585p) but to reverse 720p 2xAA with more light, self shadowing and pixel shaders easy on the 360, not seems give justice to the work of the ps3 hardware. IMHO. And let me do a little OT to criticize eurogamer analysis: probably I'm paranoic, who know, but for the most of the tech analysis I have notice a tendency to bias everything about ps3 hardware, a maniac research of its limits in every game; don't get me wrong, it isn't a bad thing but I don't understand why 360 game not have the same treatment. I'm not refer to MazingerDude, to be clear, probably the only shows the same approach on both hardware.
     
    #20 assurdum, Oct 26, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 26, 2009
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