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Op Ed

The Tech Report - Improving the PC as a gaming platform: the hardware.
The new spec would clearly involve some compromises, since you can't simply step up and demand that every new computer feature a Radeon 7970, 32GB of RAM, and a six-core CPU with Hyperthingamabobs. However, let's take a page from our own System Guide's Econobox. MPC-HD could set the bar at, say, a Radeon 7770 graphics card ($120 or so) and a Core i3-3220 processor (around $130). Those components provide solid gaming performance at 1080p in the vast majority of titles, even with anti-aliasing enabled. They would be a perfectly reasonable baseline to aim for—one that provides many times the horsepower of current-generations consoles.

Setting a baseline would make life easier for developers, as well. Let's imagine MPC-HD has multiple levels, and when publishing your game, you can simply state that the minimum requirement is MPC-HD Level 1. That's easy for developers to code for, easy for buyers to follow, and easy for manufacturers to advertise and profit from. One can only wish.

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30. Re: Op Ed Dec 31, 2012, 02:15 Optional Nickname!
 
This mini-rant was posted in the wrong thread, Thanks to Dev for pointing that out:

Bruno Ferreira wrote a controversial headline and failed to match the article's content to it.

His sophomoric assertions about PC hardware are incorrect, commonly available affordable PC hardware is more than capable of performing superbly with today's and yesterday's PC gaming software.

The problem with PC gaming is entirely, completely, and fully contained in the PC 'games' themselves. Software is the problem.

From always on DRM, to always on single-player games. From barely interactive cut-scene laden and quick-time embedded disposable 'AAA' snore-fests to tacky and frivolous 'casual' games festooned with 'ethical-microtransactions'.

Luckily there is an entire industries' catalog worth of player-centric PC games ready for you to explore; affordable and with your current hardware. Your PC can play Crysis.

Blame the PC gaming 'press' for refusing to focus on the issues, blame the near infinite presence of Steam shills, infecting nearly every thread on PC gaming, blame the influence of Hollywood demanding unreasonable returns on dubious pc gaming 'investments' and blame yourself for giving those vampires your money and attention.

GOG, indie games, Kickstarter, Linux (shudder!), Wine, Revisiting old titles, free-to-create game engine SDKs. These are what will advance PC gaming, not giving resources to those who want to deny you your hobby.
 
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29. Re: Op Ed Dec 30, 2012, 23:34 Rigs
 
No..no..I got the best way to fix this problem...anyone that wants to buy a new system or component has to DO RESEARCH and find out themselves. How about that? I mean, shit, back in the late 80's/early 90's, there weren't ANY standards. You saw Intel 386SX (or god forbid, '100% IBM Compatible' - whatever the fuck that means), 2mb of RAM and 10mb of hard drive space...also an optional 100% Sound Blaster Compatible sound card. Don't have it? Tough shit!

Oh and don't forget when you get the box open and it says you need at least 610k of conventional memory and at least 2mb or extended and/or expanded memory to run that awesome new game, which means making a 'boot disk'! Let's see how many kids figure that shit out nowadays! Then maybe we can play our Call of Halo Medal's in peace!

Yup, I'd be MORE than willing to go back to that...PC gaming doesn't need to be mainstream...

EDIT: This got me thinking about the first 'modern' PC game I ever bought, Aces of the Pacific. I got that six months before I got the PC to play it on! Just read the huge-ass manual over and over...Anyway, the box said Intel 386SX/16 with 2mb or RAM minimum. When I got my PC for Christmas (IBM PS/1 486SX/25mhz with 4mb RAM), I looked at the 'technical supplement' (this was all new to me and I hadn't been able to practice on another system beforehand) and it said you HAD to have at least 590k of conventional memory and at least 2mb of extended memory. You know it took me THREE DAYS to finally get the right configuration set to get it running?! Yeah, it was fuckin' worth it all the way, but damn! I can't see the kids of today taking the time to do something like that or even their parents...


=-Rigs-=

This comment was edited on Dec 30, 2012, 23:44.
 
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'We talked about peace! You didn't want peace. We talked about cooperation! You didn't WANT cooperation. You WANT war! Is that it? You want a war? Well, you've GOT a war!'
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28. Re: Op Ed Dec 30, 2012, 22:46 Jensen
 
Reckless wrote on Dec 30, 2012, 06:12:
Jensen wrote on Dec 30, 2012, 02:41:
I hope Apple releases one and pushes other companies towards using higher quality panels. I think their usage of high quality panels in the recent iPhones and iPads has help push the mobile industry in the right direction.
So you think that a TV with marketing bullshit like "retina display" will be any different than the afore mentioned HD moniker? The question here is the lack of a clear and concise statement about how good something is.

I actually find the term "retina" to be useful. It refers to an (Apple) device with exactly twice the linear pixel density (of what was previously an industry standard/average) while keeping elements the same physical size.

But retina isn't what I was referring to. The display on my iPad 3 is very close to the sRGB standard, has zero banding issues and uses an 8-bit IPS display. Many competing devices are using quite good screens, too.

I was disappointed with the plasma TV I got, even though it was quite highly rated at the time. I'd like a no-nonsense TV that looks as good as my iPad. Stores are worthless for picking a good display, always having the wrong settings.
 
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27. Re: Op Ed Dec 30, 2012, 12:40 wtf_man
 
The baseline for "Lowest Settings" should always be 30FPS with current lowest Intel Integrated graphics @720. (HD2500 ?)

Why?

Because you can sell more games.

That doesn't mean the highest settings can't push the envelope... but accessibility for the average non-techy user that buys their cheap shit from Dell, or Best Buy, or even fucking Walmart... the only way to hook them is to make the games accessible to those garbage PC's that they bought for $500, and leave the higher settings to us hard core gamers.

That's why the casual market took off, you can play that shit on crap computers.

Since the world is going mobile... most have switched to laptops. Most cheap laptops are, again, intel integrated gpus. If the industry doesn't target the vast majority of hardware out there... how the heck do they expect to make money?

The video presets should be something like:
(minimum 30FPS)

Low = Current Lowest Intel Integrated @720
Medium = Up to 2 year old Budget Discrete Card @720
High = Up to 2 year old Mainstream Discrete Card @1080
Ultra = Current Top End Discrete Card, or up to 2 year old dual Mainstream Cards. @1080

This comment was edited on Dec 30, 2012, 12:51.
 
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26. Re: Op Ed Dec 30, 2012, 11:09 eRe4s3r
 
Why would anyone laugh? That nvidia numbers inferior cards higher than better cards is confusing as hell, and often the only reason I know about it, is that I googled a benchmark. especially when you don't want the most expensive card or the step-down version of the most expensive card, things get very confusing.

But maybe a global naming convention that names stuff according to performance, price and efficiency would be helpful. Imagine if all things made in this world would have a classification label that puts them in a relation to all other devices made so far. Yeah it would be insane to figure out specific fair ratings for each device but it could work.. if an AI does it.
 
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25. Re: Op Ed Dec 30, 2012, 10:46 Beamer
 
Axis wrote on Dec 29, 2012, 19:58:
I guess if you are console-brained, messing with settings and tinkering with hardware may give you sad panda face.

For PC gamers, the majority PREFER to tweak to their tastes. We've seen it a million times before and if we wanted that guess what - we'd buy a console.

He's not saying anything 'wild, crazy new or otherwise', it's been said many times over the years... article to the trash bin.


Maybe, but that majority is a minority of gamers in general.
 
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24. Re: Op Ed Dec 30, 2012, 06:12 Reckless
 
Jensen wrote on Dec 30, 2012, 02:41:
I hope Apple releases one and pushes other companies towards using higher quality panels. I think their usage of high quality panels in the recent iPhones and iPads has help push the mobile industry in the right direction.
So you think that a TV with marketing bullshit like "retina display" will be any different than the afore mentioned HD moniker? The question here is the lack of a clear and concise statement about how good something is.

The only example I can think where this is done as best it could be is cars. You buy one on engine capacity, number of cylinders and fuel type. To give you some form of comparison manufacturers provide max speed and torque values together fuel consumption figures across a number of levels.

Sadly a PC is a collection of bits that work with each other. Throw in the fastest graphics card available in a machine without the best CPU and you'll probably not get the maximum out of the card. Upgrade the RAM when you don't need to and it'll make no difference. Obviously if you're constantly running out of physical memory then the PC will gain overall performance with more but it will not be shown as quicker in a rating like the Windows performance index.

CPU and GPU branding is the worst given they're the primary items that make noticeable differences in performance. For each you really need to have a multi-game benchmark mapped to a consistent result scale. The price point between models is simply too small as there is simply too much "choice" these days.

I wouldn't see any benefit in PC's being sold like consoles (fixed spec). A PC has always been more than a gaming machine and whilst their place has been eroded by consoles, phones, tablets and anything else that provides some form of interactive usage it's simply not yet possible to achieve what you can on a PC with any of the replacements.

Simply put - those who want fixed hardware configurations may as well buy a console, ignore PC gaming and not worry about the issue. Those who want better marketing in terms of labelling, performance indicators and pricing may as well give up and buy a console 'cause it isn't going to happen anytime soon
 
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23. Re: Op Ed Dec 30, 2012, 02:41 Jensen
 
mag wrote on Dec 30, 2012, 02:30:
If it's not indicated, then it's a TN panel. IPS always says so, PVA usually says so. Easy.

Easy for me and you. But they still don't explain the difference. I even see it here: "I sit directly in front of my monitor, why does viewing angle matter?")

Panel type is better than it has been in the past (Dell used to have some models that could come with either IPS or *VA.) You can also usually infer it from the specified viewing angle.

TV's are worse, though. I hope Apple releases one and pushes other companies towards using higher quality panels. I think their usage of high quality panels in the recent iPhones and iPads has help push the mobile industry in the right direction.

This comment was edited on Dec 30, 2012, 02:48.
 
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22. Re: Op Ed Dec 30, 2012, 02:30 mag
 
jdreyer wrote on Dec 30, 2012, 02:28:
Jensen wrote on Dec 30, 2012, 02:02:
Resellers love giving specs that are meaningless. I notice it with monitors:

Dynamic contrast ratio
pixel response time (several ways to measure this)
viewing angles (measuring method worthless)
"HD" (all monitors are HD)

They rarely advertise specs that are important to me: lag, bit depth, panel type.
Panel type probably being the most important indicator of image quality, but it's almost never indicated.

If it's not indicated, then it's a TN panel. IPS always says so, PVA usually says so. Easy.
 
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21. Re: Op Ed Dec 30, 2012, 02:28 jdreyer
 
Jensen wrote on Dec 30, 2012, 02:02:
Resellers love giving specs that are meaningless. I notice it with monitors:

Dynamic contrast ratio
pixel response time (several ways to measure this)
viewing angles (measuring method worthless)
"HD" (all monitors are HD)

They rarely advertise specs that are important to me: lag, bit depth, panel type.
Panel type probably being the most important indicator of image quality, but it's almost never indicated.
 
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"Microsoft is the absent minded parent of PC gaming" - Verno
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20. Re: Op Ed Dec 30, 2012, 02:02 Jensen
 
Resellers love giving specs that are meaningless. I notice it with monitors:

Dynamic contrast ratio
pixel response time (several ways to measure this)
viewing angles (measuring method worthless)
"HD" (all monitors are HD)

They rarely advertise specs that are important to me: lag, bit depth, panel type.
 
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19. Re: Op Ed Dec 30, 2012, 01:10 Mashiki Amiketo
 
Jerykk wrote on Dec 30, 2012, 00:28:
To be fair, going from 6 gigs of RAM to 14 gigs won't show any noticeable performance improvement in the vast majority of games. You only need that much memory if you do a lot of 3D modeling, video editing, etc. Replacing your regular HD with a SSD would actually show a greater performance improvement (in terms of load times mainly).

This pretty much is it. The only way you're going to see an increase as well with memory, is by tweaking and adjusting timings(cas, ras and so on) and by screwing with the timing clocks. And you're only going squeeze so much out of it anyway. We're pretty close to the end of the line for the current DDR3 standard for the desktop game, so what most people have a 3% difference isn't noticeable, hell a 5% difference isn't noticeable.
 
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there is a neat, simple solution;
and it is always wrong."
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18. Re: Op Ed Dec 30, 2012, 00:28 Jerykk
 
Kitkoan wrote on Dec 29, 2012, 23:21:
MisterBenn wrote on Dec 29, 2012, 22:21:
We have a rating system now, the Windows Experience Index

Sorry, but that rating system is garbage. It was a neat idea, but its garbage.

According to it, my laptop is rated 5.1 when I first got it (I think, I'm on Linux now so can't check). So, I had 6 gigs of RAM, and I decided to upgrade it to 14 gigs of RAM. With this speed boost, my laptop has the blazing score of... 5.1 No change and this is what kills it. It keeps telling me my laptops score is 5.1 because of my HDD isn't the fastest R/W speeds (compared to a SSD). This doesn't really hold much difference on games though.

To be fair, going from 6 gigs of RAM to 14 gigs won't show any noticeable performance improvement in the vast majority of games. You only need that much memory if you do a lot of 3D modeling, video editing, etc. Replacing your regular HD with a SSD would actually show a greater performance improvement (in terms of load times mainly).
 
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17. Re: Op Ed Dec 29, 2012, 23:21 Kitkoan
 
MisterBenn wrote on Dec 29, 2012, 22:21:
We have a rating system now, the Windows Experience Index

Sorry, but that rating system is garbage. It was a neat idea, but its garbage.

According to it, my laptop is rated 5.1 when I first got it (I think, I'm on Linux now so can't check). So, I had 6 gigs of RAM, and I decided to upgrade it to 14 gigs of RAM. With this speed boost, my laptop has the blazing score of... 5.1 No change and this is what kills it. It keeps telling me my laptops score is 5.1 because of my HDD isn't the fastest R/W speeds (compared to a SSD). This doesn't really hold much difference on games though.

What would really help make an improvement is a standard software checker that each digital store can freely use (since almost all software is now bought digitally). What it could do is check all of your hardware and use it as a filter to filter out all games that wouldn't run on your computer at an acceptable level (and stop using this "bare minimum" BS that means if you turn off/minimum setting of EVERY thing in game it might run at 20FPS... might...) Kinda like how the Android market works, if your specs shouldn't be able to run it, then it doesn't show up for sale. (Yes, I know that it isn't always the simple, some people are just greedy and will lower their requirements for a quick buck).

And of course, have an option to show games that your system can't run so you can look and what not, see what specs you might upgrade, giftable objects, etc... but with a warning in like red on the game screen that you can't run this game (like Steam does with games you already own).
 
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*automatically refuses to place horse heads in anyone's bed*
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16. Re: Op Ed Dec 29, 2012, 23:10 Creston
 
So... Improving the PC as a gaming platform: Make it a console.

Oookay.

Creston
 
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15. Re: More Big Picture Details Dec 29, 2012, 23:03 HorrorScope
 
killer_roach wrote on Dec 29, 2012, 22:03:
Axis wrote on Dec 29, 2012, 20:39:
Game manufacturers already label minimum requirements.

In all seriousness, though, a lot of system requirements are especially confusing to people who aren't familiar with PC hardware.

Clint Eastwood... Unforgiven... "They should familiar themselves then."

Those that would be confused by it, aren't really a target audience. It is what it is, newer generations will overcome.
 
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14. Re: Op Ed Dec 29, 2012, 22:43 loomy
 
PC gaming standards could happen and it would be fine. "PC" is a smorgasbord of standards.

but it would take motivation and leadership which does not exist. only a handful of companies could do it, and they just don't care. why? because they don't make money from you running windows games. that is why the only hope is valve.

or, if PC gaming goes down the tubes more than it has, amd/ati could choke and nvidia could standardize PC gaming in an effort to stop the bleeding. but right now, only valve has the motivation to standardize PC gaming specs.
 
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13. Re: Op Ed Dec 29, 2012, 22:21 MisterBenn
 
I can't see how this would work while PCs have socketed components. We have a rating system now, the Windows Experience Index (I hate Microsoft terms!) which attempts to set a standard performance figure for the relevant parts of a system. Unfortunately no vendors of hardware are interested in a standard, honest rating system since profit can be derived from understanding the value of a product more than the consumer.

Do you guys think a non-socketed PC product with integrated CPU/MB/RAM/GPU will ever come about? Generally speaking I buy all those in sync with each other, I don't think I would feel I was giving up anything if I bought a single hardware piece to do all that if the rest of my PC was like it is now. Then you might have a chance of standardising the measurement of PC performance. Maybe after a few years of acquisitions a company will be in a position to give it a crack!
 
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Playing: Path of Exile, Age of Wonders III
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12. Re: Op Ed Dec 29, 2012, 22:03 killer_roach
 
Axis wrote on Dec 29, 2012, 20:39:
Game manufacturers already label minimum requirements.

In all seriousness, though, a lot of system requirements are especially confusing to people who aren't familiar with PC hardware.

Case in point:

"The game says it requires a GeForce GTX 260... I have a GeForce 520, how come it runs like garbage?"

To a lot of people, this would be a perfectly acceptable question (even if pretty much everyone here would be laughing quietly, and hysterically, to themselves).
 
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11. Re: Op Ed Dec 29, 2012, 20:39 Axis
 
Game manufacturers already label minimum requirements.

I've never had a problem having a game immediately play after install. Optimizing happens tho after that point, either built in or manually tweaked.

Course I'm an enthusiast. I started back in the c64 days, and it's all so smooth and 'modular' these days with all the engines, wikis and faq's. So much smoother than compared to the dos nighmares in the 80 and 90s (I enjoyed it then too, but many didn't).

But really can't label a PC -- hell most don't even have flash installed by default. What then for those facebook guys?

No different than anything 'enthusiast' - wanna jump in gotta be at least a bit prepared for some learning trial and error. Read a few articles, ask a few friends, make a few posts - all pretty simple stuff.

 
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Yours truly,

Axis
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