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Top Five Video Game Myths |

MYTH: Upscaling improves video quality

It doesn’t. Scaling on the console can avoid compatibility problems with rare TV’s, but other than that, there is absolutely no benefit whatsoever. Most TVs scale internally and whether the console or TV does the scaling doesn’t affect the end results. In fact, it’s better that the console does not upscale as that can result in actual quality loss due to double scaling, where the game renders at one resolution (e.g. 720p), the console upscales to a second resolution (e.g. 1080p), and the display downscales to the physical display resolution (e.g. 1366×768). Since scaling is almost always a lossy process, this should be avoided.

And no matter what you name the scaler chip or how you try to spin this, it doesn’t change the facts.

I suspect that upscaling DVD players are slightly different in that they typically achieve small quality improvements by doing wavelet decompression and post-processing at a higher resolution rather than just doing a simple upscale.

The 360's "secret weapon" or a strong does of FUD?

The 360’s “secret weapon” or a strong dose of FUD?

MYTH: User created content = Hobbyist game development

Hobbyist game development is a noble effort but often takes months or years of highly skilled and well coordinated effort. I applaud the people behind Darwinia and the legendary Counterstrike, but those are rare achievements by professional quality groups. Developing anything beyond extremely simple games at the hobbyist level is often wildly impractical.

User Created Content includes uploading YouTube videos or Singstar videos or making a game level, and other more practical avenues for user content creation.

MYTH: PS3 is harder to develop for than other consoles.

Remember Oddworld: that legendary PS1 developer who was extremely outspoken in criticizing Sony’s PS2 development tools and dramatically switched to exclusive development on the Xbox? Remember how the media extensively cited this as proof of all kinds of problems with the PS2? Well, did he prove his point by delivering even more successful titles with his new dev tools of choice while the PS2 failed miserably as he predicted? Or did the PS2 achieve phenomenal success while he went on to criticize Microsoft and ultimately bitterly resigned from the industry?

Programmers are notoriously opinionated on toolsets and technology standards. Some programmers love the PS3, others hate it. Most game developers respectfully keep their political opinions to themselves, but the ones that don’t are heard the loudest.

MYTH: Cross-platform titles are more profitable than platform exclusive titles

If the investors and owners of game development studios believed this, every last third party developer would stop developing all exclusive content immediately. That is not happening.

Just to name some recently released big name platform exclusive titles that were developed by completely independent third party developers:

Gears of War, Resistance, Okami, Bully, Final Fantasy XII, Yakuza, Lost Planet

There have been huge headlines about big name exclusives going cross platform (VF5, Assassin’s Creed, Obvlivion, GRAW), and most journalists have extensively proclaimed the third party exclusive to be dead, but that doesn’t make it true.

There are plenty exclusives in active development, and while some will surely go cross platform and make big headlines, many will remain exclusive.

MYTH: Playstation games are all about graphics while Nintendo creates more original games that focus on gameplay.

Nintendo has created some amazing content and I don’t want to discredit that, but the PlayStation consoles have also delivered on more than just GTA and God of War. For example:

Quirky + Casual Katamari Damacy. LocoRoco
Music Rhythm Of course Guitar Hero I + II. Also Beatmania, SingStar, Amplitude and Frequency, Taiko Drum Master, and Parappa back from PS1
Cater to Non-Traditional Gamers or younger players Ratchet & Clank, Jak & Daxter, Sly Cooper
Original Concepts Ico. Shadow of the Colossus

  • Richard

    Are we really supposed to see the PS3’s lack of scaler as a “good” thing now?

    I’d say that knowing you will be able to play games in an HD resolution no matter what kind of HDTV you have, or what resolution the game itself supports, is preferred instead of developers having to plan ahead for multiple HD resolutions, and some HDTV owners being unable to play in HD at all.

    A theoretical situation of having a console scale to 1080p and then back down to less than that on a TV is silly, because even in that situation, it would be easily avoided by changing the setting. That’s the difference between a problem that can be fixed/avoided, and one that can’t.

    and then you prove that ps3 is not harder to develop for by the example of….an original Xbox game? That the ps2 sold a lot of consoles…doesn’t suddenly make it or the ps3 any easier to develop for.

    the bit about cross platform games is confusing, those games you mentioned were exclusives either due to the high installed base of a single platform (ps2 for bully, FF and okami), or because their development was paid for in whole or in part by the console manufacturer (Gears of War, resistance, lost planet). show the money that backs up your point…which doesn’t exist because it isn’t true, exclusives are that way either because one platform has such an advantage in installed base, or because the manufacturer makes it worthwhile by throwing extra money on the table.

    the oddest thing about any of these myths, is that I don’t think anyone believes them (as they are written here). I’m sorry if this was satire and I mistakenly took it seriously, I was just expecting a punch line at the end.

  • User

    You’re downplaying 360 Hardware scaler. The 360 scalar is not meant to improve video. It wwas put there to make the system flexible in whatever output resolution you want. Not like PS3 where you are stuck in the TV native resolution. Some TV has even bad scaling capability, sometimes even useless. The 360 can render 720 internally then output it in 1080 if and if only if ur tv doesn’t support 720. On ps3, it has to be rendered at internally 1080, which i assume will degrade some of the effect since rendering internally at 1080 requries a lot of procesing power… os you’ll have to render at 480… bummer.

  • Sporty

    Actually the scalling issue is highly exagerated by idiots in general.

    Nearly all HDTVs can accept 720p signal even if they dont display them. You will only get downscalled on first gen games if your stupid enough to disable the res in settings. I’ve tried Resistsance on a few different CRT 480p/1080i TVs and you dont get scaled down unless you disable 720P. If you have been following then you know that Sony added software/hardware hybrid scaling to the devkit.

    That really is only a idiot proof fix though. A real fix would be to ignore unchecked 720p disable in settings.

    BTW PS3 can render games at 720P internally also. But you should know that unless your just talking out of your ass.

    But the real problem is Blu-Ray movies on 720p only sets. They don’t downscale to 720p atm. That’s what they need to work on. Everything else is bias fanboy FUD from haters, and ignorance from people that don’t know what they are talking about.

  • WonderSteve

    I still think the issues with scaling is overblown. I am not surprised that early adoptors have a TV that can only take 1080i signals, but I think they are the minority of people that have HDTVs. Of course I have no statistical data to prove it.

    I rather Sony focus on other things than trying to fix this problem. Probably because this doesn’t affect me. Perhaps they should mandate all their games to support 720p AND 1080i.

  • Why does everybody say, the PS3 does not have a real hardware scaler?

    The Toshiba Super Companion chip (specifically made and tailored to the CBEA) is totally able to scale any resolution from 480i to 1080P (digitally, which means, if used right, better quality than analogue). This chip was presented way back, when the CBEA was announced in great detail.

    Problem was, that we didnt know, what the chip above the Cell was, up until Sony announced, that horizontal scaling was now available. It is still not 100% proven, that it IS the SCC, but specs, size and connection, all point towards it being a SCC.

    I rather think, Sony did the same, as when they launched the PS2 (They told devs, that fp titles need to look better than DC games). They forced the devs to do more work, to be superior (which in terms of first and second party they succeeded) to the 360. If they allowed the devs to use the scaler from day one, they could have just cheated (as MS did with PGR3) and render games internally at a lower resolution and then scale them to 720P or 1080I/P. That had the negative aspect, that they couldnt use it to upscale to 1080i/p, which a minority of gamers have as their only choice in resolution.

    Now… harder to develop… Look at the Interview at Dice with Pete ( PS1 was (with the 3DO) to have an “integrated” api to be used by programmers, which made programming for it easy as cake, but also they couldnt go to the metal. Everybody complained about that, so the made the PS2 programmable to the metal, and guess what… Everybody complained, it was much too hard! Now the PS3 is sort of a medium solution between metal and api. You can easily program simpler games (like EAs games imho), but sophisticated games like MGS and so on need much more grease to work right, but in the end, they look 100 times more impressive (also Hideo Kojima himself said, he likes it more to be challenged, or every game will look the same in the end). MS has the advantage of being a software company, which also does dev environments (although not the best imho :D) so they could just adopt their own tools, which Sony has to make from scratch sort of.

    I find it not strange, that many first and second generation games are not exclusive. First, there is a much smaller userbase on all systems and only time can tell, which system will be “the winner”. Why should they, already in the beginning, bet on a soon to be dead horse, which they dont know, who its gonna be? They HAVE to play it safe, as game dev costs are no piece of cake, especially the additional costs of adopting new hardware.

    We will see many exclusives, when it is forseeable that one console takes a lead, which will be 2008 if not later.

    Nintendo and fun. Now thats some arguable stance… For me, most of Nintys games are too shortlived. My brother has a GC, but we seldomly switch it on, if ever. This is, of course, just our experience. Nintendo has some great IP and many good devs in terms of gameplay, but does it matter, if that experience is nearly the same on other consoles? For every Link, theres Amaterasu, for every Mario there is a Sly and for every F-Zero theres a Wipeout. Looking at this, it is just your own taste (input device or a massive media center with superb graphics?) which should define your investment into a console. I for one made the choice, when it was clear, that Linux was available for the PS3 (that was MY killer app!!) but others need more to be convinced. All I can say is (if you are not sure) WAIT for games to come! If you buy now without looking into the future, you maybe disappointed (goes to all systems, even PS3).

    Thats it… Sorry for my sometimes strange english… Some sentences just dont convert well to english!!

  • matt

    I don’t even know how to start this after reading the comments posted. Richard first I think what you said is dead on. Segitz the PS3 has some problems with resolutions and this cannot be denied. Millions and nillions of early adaptors spent 4-10x the amount of money on their HDTVs as we did. They should not be ignored because without them HDTV prices would still be out of reach.

    Myth 1- None of the machines can output a true 1080p signal and still render a good game. You can argue all you want but the hardware cannot do it. Do some research and you will see the same thing.

    Myth 2- The PS3 IS harder to develop for. I know this because I am friends with developers at EA. The artwork is useable in multiplat games but the programming is not. EA is having a hell of a time getting games to work and this shows in their first games. A year after release Fight Night Round 3 is a better game on the 360 than it is on the PS3. By no means a game released a year later should look worse on a “More Powerful” console. This tells me that the PS3 is not as good as the 360 or the developers cannot maximise the PS3. Neither scenariois good for PS3 owners.

    Myth 3- Platform exclusives.

    You have to know this by now. Companies pay for exclusives. Whether they are timed or console exclusive they are payed for. Most industry people thought Oblivion was 360 exclusive. MS didn’t pay for it and now they lost it. GTA 4 is another great example. Sony used to pay for the exclusiveness and they didn’t for the game coming out this year. Developers go where the money is. Just like anyone else in the world. The only exclusives a console has is their own studios. Microsoft wins in that department.

    Myth 4-

    Are you serious? All games mentioned were a product of the PS2’s success in the market. If Nintendo lead they would have gotten those games and Sony would be hung out to dry. If you don’t understand that take some college business classes.

    It is nice to not wake up to console blindness. Own them all and you can be a true gamer who knows what each console offers.

  • Matt, as I said, the HDTV issue IS something, Sony MUST address!!

    But now to Myth 3…

    There was some talk about GTA3 some time ago… Rockstar proposed it to Microsoft, which in turn did not take this offer, but Sony did. There was no exclusive money flow here. That may have changed with VC or SA, but 3 was not payed for.

    Microsoft wins? Where do they win? In buying devs out? That is NOT how buisness should and does work. Ok, MS has the money to buy anything they want, but this is surely not the way to go on the long route. MS said, they think long term, in case of consoles, and if they continue that way they do ATM, the console market WILL suffer, if the 2 others will leave buisness! MS has (nearly) limitless funds, the others dont. Sony is by no means poor, but it cannot compete with MS in that department. If we, in the next 2 or 3 generations, see another console crash, I wont be surprised. The same was with Atari in the 80s. No competition, bad and unispired games drove the market drop, essentially opening the Market for Nintendo and Sega (but killing Atari).

    And why are (third party) exclusives the only way to go? Nintendo does very well without them, because their own IP is great (if one likes it). Sonys first party is also by no means bad. MS on the other hand does NOT have anything besides Halo, GeoW and Viva Pinata (correct me if I am wrong). They have to buy exclusives to differentiate themselves from the other two!

  • liar

    Oh great another I have an insider friend in one company known for their focus on producing crap – so I’m in the know about how much better the 360 is across the developer board and then goes on to talk about how everybody else has console blindness. Geez give me a break. Sony knows exactly what they are doing. They want developers to push themselves to 1080p games instead of building to the lowest common denominator and relying on upscaling. Unlike MS and EA who are only interested in getting away with cheapest possible way and then spending marketing dollars to tell everyone it’s something else. People behind the Sony Playstation (not necessarily Sony worldwide) are interested in actually pushing the envelope and producing GREAT products – not mediocre ones. HD-DVD without HDMI and HD sound anyone?

    Seems like Bethesda produced a better Oblivion on the PS3? Matching high-end PC’s.? Forgot to mention that I guess. So now we know just how much more inferior the 360 really is. Also guess those Core system users are out of luck for downloads on Oblivion eh?Oh but your objective and everyone else has console blindness. Sorry not everyone can buy all 3 consoles – maybe you got yours for free – the rest of use have to pay for them.

    The PS3 is much more than just a game console. Most of the people I know have also bought blu-ray discs as well. On-line play for free as well. We never would have been on-line otherwise. RFOM is awesome.

    Also explain how someone was able to produce something like GTHD so quickly and over 3 years on the 360 developers are having a bitch of a time producing something that doesn’t look like cartoons in comparison. Surely something like that should have come out around 360 launch if it had been so much easier than the PS3 for development and the more POWERFUL PS3 was so lacking as you imply. You actually get the butterflies going over that first hill because your eyes are tricked into thinking the surroundings are real. Is there anybody who has seen that who doesn’t think those god dam mountains are

    And the original posting was correct on just about everything. You have to be careful about your component selections and who is doing what to your signal. Source, Surround/Video processor, T.V. Any device along the way can upscale/downscale your signal and each component and mfg have varying degrees of quality in their processing. As already mentioned the PS3 does have a scaler as well.

    Nice try in spreading more that the PS3 is soo expensive one has lost steam..time to move on to the next one eh? How’s HD-DVD going? MS just doesn’t seem to be able to make decisions in the best interest of their customers do they? Sony on the other hand seems to have made the correct decisions in the customers long term interests.

  • Sino

    I agree PS3 is harder to develop for than other consoles, but it doesn’t stop PS3 to be successful. Just like the guy from VALVE, Gabe he was bitching about PS3 but it didn’t stop him to release HL2 orange on the PS3. The reality is that they are all in it to make money, so if there is a market out there then the developers and publishers will go there. It has nothing to do with which console is better at something.

  • Darrin

    I somewhat regret posting this, as I am insinuating more petty arguing, which is really not my goal in writing for this site. On the other hand, I love to see some of the great thoughtful comments and discussion that everyone posted, which is what sites like this exist for.

    Thanks for the comments everyone. There is a ton of real news and content spread over the next month to talk about. I hope everyone else is as excited about that as I am.