Call of Duty: Ghosts May be Confirmed at 720p on Xbox One…

UPDATE 10/16: Further confirmation of a cover-up regarding the Xbox One resolution has been added to the bottom of this article.

The other day a rumor broke out that Call of Duty: Ghosts would be running at a much lower, much more “current gen” resolution, on the Xbox One than it does on the PS4. Claims have come about that the Xbox One version of the game runs at a native 720p resolution, while the PS4 version runs at 1080p.

Some fanboys attack this on Twitter by saying all Xbox One games run at 1080p, but they don’t understand the concept of an upscaler and how the system upscales content to output to a 1080p television.

The guy who started the rumor in the first place, Pete Dodd, updated his blog yesterday with more information about the issue, and now it’s sounding like something that’s definitely confirmed…

Days have passed and I’ve heard it from many sources now. This is no longer something I consider flimsy. If it’s not true I will be shocked at this point because the sources are that strong (I will also lose all credibility – that’s not something I’m oblivious to). Though, there is a wrinkle to it that I didn’t know about during the initial rumor… Activision is very hard at work trying to up the resolution. Whether this comes as a day one patch, or a day 100 patch, or what… I don’t know. It does point to Microsoft’s tools being behind more-so than just a huge power gap (the gap does exist but the XB1 is powerful enough to run this game at 1080p, clearly). The point is that Activision is still working very hard on it. As such they aren’t talking about it. Microsoft isn’t talking about it. The press isn’t allowed to talk about it. It’s a forbidden topic.

What isn’t a forbidden topic is the native 1080p resolution of the PS4 version. Sony’s Adam Boyes proudly announced that the game was running in native 1080p at yesterday’s PlayStation Brazil conference that was live streamed around the world on UStream. Sony is proudly proclaiming the resolution that Ghosts runs at on their system, because it’s something to brag about. On the other hand Microsoft is deferring questions about Ghosts to Activision, and the press is forbidden to discuss the Xbox One resolution matter. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

The comments about Activision working hard to fix the game is interesting, as it will be in the form of a patch. The game is already packaged and shipping to retailers. Unless it comes in the form of a Day 1 patch, that disc you put in your Xbox One will run natively at 720p.

As for the patch itself, it will be a first for a console game to radically increase the game resolution that much. Ghostbusters: The Video Game and Burnout Paradise got minor resolution boosts, but this would be a huge change. The closest comparison would be Zone of the Enders 2 HD on the PS3 that launched pretty bad, and then they spent an entire year re-writing the rendering engine to bump it up to 60fps, which was then patched in. That took a year. How long will it take for Activision to fix Ghosts?

Even funnier is the IGN Xbox team’s podcast this week, where they basically stumble over themselves to try to downplay the Xbox One 720p issue. I understand you have to play to your audience of Xbox fans who have plopped down $500 for underpowered hardware, but trying to downplay a major technical limitation of a next-generation gaming system just makes you look like a paid shill.

For those who can understand the more technical side of things a NeoGAF poster found this comment by the creator of FXAA, Timothy Lottes, which was made back when the two systems were still being developed. Back then, the Xbox One was Durango/720 and the PS4 was Orbis. His comments here discuss why the Xbox One has such a hard time reaching 1080p with games. It’s the 32MB of esRAM that Microsoft slapped in the system as a bandaid to help compensate for the slower DDR3 RAM they chose to use in the system:

Only DDR3 for system/GPU memory pared with 32MB of “ESRAM” sounds troubling. 32MB of ESRAM is only really enough to do forward shading with MSAA using only 32-bits/pixel color with 2xMSAA at 1080p or 4xMSAA at 720p. Anything else to ESRAM would require tiling and resolves like on the Xbox360 (which would likely be a DMA copy on 720) or attempting to use the slow DDR3 as a render target. I’d bet most titles attempting deferred shading will be stuck at 720p with only poor post process AA (like FXAA).

My personal project is targeting [email protected] with great AA on a 560ti which is a little slower than the rumored Orbis specs. There is no way my engine would hit that target on the rumored 720 specs. Ultimately on Orbis I guess devs target 1080p/30fps (with some motion blur) and leverage the lower latency OS stack and scan out at 60fps (double scan frames) to provide a really great lower-latency experience. Maybe the same title on 720 would render at 720p/30fps, and maybe Microsoft is dedicating a few CPU hardware threads to the GPU driver stack to remove the latency problem (assuming this is a “Windows” OS under the covers).

It’s interesting to note that Sony at one point considered a similar architecture for the PlayStation 4, but decided against the esRAM direction in favor of high-speed GDDR5 RAM. It’s looking like they may have made a very smart decision in that case…

If you’re OK with 720p content being upscaled to 1080p on the next-generation system you just spent $500 for, none of this should bug you. But if you want a real next-generation system, not one that runs games at the same resolution as the Xbox 360, this is something that should really piss you off. Especially since Microsoft is forcing the press to not talk about it until the system and games are released and they’ve ran to the bank with your money.

Update:

Something to think about. If there isn’t an issue with the resolution, then why is Microsoft trying to keep it quiet with an embargo?

 

 

Apparently the review embargo for Call of Duty: Ghosts expires for all platforms except the Xbox One on November 5th, the day the game actually ships. The Xbox One embargo is up on November 12th.

Well, That Escalated Quickly…

I thought today was just going to be a quiet Saturday. At one point I was about to get in the car and drive down the freeway to a conference I wanted to attend, but a staying up late last night prevented that so I ended up just watching the live stream and relaxing. Then the Twitter app on my phone started exploding. Followers and retweets of a couple Xbox One mocking tweets I’ve made were flooding in, and I knew something was up.

Either the site had been Reddited or something else was going on. I found out it was on NeoGAF, and then the day began. I’d say I spend about 70% of my Twitter time on Star Wars and geek-related stuff, and gaming makes up the rest, but today was all Xbox One with people asking about the Call of Duty: Ghosts 720p issue, Battlefield 4 being at 720p, and Microsoft’s embargoes over reviews.

The GAF thread really exploded when gaming prophet Crazy Buttocks on a Train popped in a confirmed that the 720p issue was the least of Micosoft’s problems. Mod bishoptl fueled the fire with hinting that news was so bad if it ever comes out there would be thermo-nuclear war on the forums. This bad news is currently hidden behind embargoes that have gagged “gaming journalists” due to how beholden they are to PR.

I’ve only heard about the resolution issues. But I have heard the same rumors about the OS and networking not being anywhere near ready for launch with whispers of crashes and other serious issues franticly being ironed out prior to launch. They’re just rumors and could be completely false, but there is definitely some kind if serious technical issue facing the system prior to its launch next month.

The big problem with this is that due to the gaming companies providing early review copies and hardware to gaming sites, they have become more and more beholden to the PR firms of the big publishers. I plan to go on a bit of a rant about this in this week’s podcast, but I’ve seen the beginning of this where about ten years ago Rockstar began to become very brazen in thinking that they could bully an outlet to raise a score to a 10. Thankfully, I never saw one of my co-workers do this, as they stood up to PR and explained the score they gave the game was damn good, but in the last decade high scores for certain games have become more and more suspect and the grip PR has on gaming outlets has become even stronger.

One publisher, who will remain nameless, once flew editors to Europe for a press junket for a PS2/Xbox game and offered to buy hookers for the editors. They didn’t follow through on the offer, but it was on the table for a time. Statues, free copies of games, lavish trips, expensive E3 parties, and the like are just ways for PR to woo editors more on their site.

In 2013 I don’t think I’m the only one who feels that major gaming outlets are nothing more than an extension of PR, and I’m pretty sure the publishers see them that way too. Every outlet wants to be able to review games prior to them hitting store shelves, and in order to do that you have to basically be on PR’s leash. So you have to play by their rules, even if it goes against your instincts or beliefs.

Embargoes are obviously important for marketing reasons as the publisher would have a specific marketing timeline worked out, and they’ll like to see a bunch of review hitting at the same time to coincide with their launch push of the game. Embargoes for crap games that are set to not run until launch day, or after, in order to hope people spend money on a game before reading how bad it is are deceptive. The same thing happens with movies (usually if you hear no reviews until opening day, you know it’s crap), but that doesn’t make it any more right.

But when a publisher sets an embargo that outlets need to follow, and stay quiet about, in order to hide a potentially major negative aspect that could affect purchases, the editors of that outlet become true collaborators in throwing their readers under the bus. If a publisher wants to blacklist you for telling the truth, tell the damn truth. So you won’t get a free copy of the latest Spider-Man game anymore. It’s more important to be truthful to your readers and not be a puppet of a publisher’s marketing department.

Ten years ago I doubt I would be writing this rant. But that was a decade ago. People grow, they change, beliefs also grow and evolve, as do convictions and outlooks on life. I’ve been pushing the Xbox One 720p stuff as it just really feels like people are being lied to and the truth, which could affect their $500 purchase, is being hidden from them. $500 is a hell of a lot of money for a gaming console, especially in this economy, and I know there are a lot of people out there who may think twice about buying one right at launch if some of the big titles are running at 720p.

Gamers have a right to know what they’re about to spend a lot of money on, and to hide that from them is wrong. That’s why this whole 720p thing is exploding today, and why people are so interested in finding out the truth.

Lord of the Rings Lego Game Coming

It’s pretty easy to predict what Lego video games are coming. Basically when a popular franchise is licensed to become Lego sets it won’t take long for it to become a video game. It happened with Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Batman, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Harry Potter. Now it looks to be happening to Lord of the Rings.

MCV has seen pictures of the packaging for the upcoming Lego LOTR sets, and it apparently advertises the game is coming. As you’d expect it’s being developed by Traveller’s Tales and will probably play like all of the other Lego sets. With the toys coming in the fall, the game should be in stores just in time for The Hobbit this December.

As E3 is just a few weeks away, we’ll likely see the first screens around then.

The 10 Most Badass Gunslingers in Science Fiction

Old West style Gunslingers seem to be a perfect fit in science fiction, and whenever they pop up they instantly make whatever they’re in better. From Star Wars to shows like Stargate; there’s no shortage of scoundrels ready to pull a gun at a moment’s notice and make you’re day go from bad to worse. Here are ten of the best gunslingers in science fiction.

Han Solo

Anyone who doesn’t recognize the Corellian Smuggler Han Solo as the definitive science fiction gunslinger needs to have their head examined. Han was the best part of the original trilogy as he added a more human face to the mythical mumbo jumbo the Jedi were spewing. And he’s quick on the draw too, at least in the non-special edition.

Roland of Gilead

As a young man, before becoming one of the most popular authors of the 20th Century, Steven King created Roland. A gunslinger drawn to the Dark Tower. It took him decades to complete Roland’s tale, but the result is one of the best stories you’ll ever experience and it’s being made into a movie trilogy and television show soon.

John Crichton

John Crichton shot through a wormhole to a distant part of the universe. At first Crichton was looked at as a “lower than most” species. The writers often made a point to show the other aliens claiming the human brain and body were inferior on many levels. However, despite all of his short comings, John always seemed to prevail. With the help of his powerful sidearm “Wynonna” John and his crew soon made a name for themselves in the uncharted territories.

Captain Reynolds

Joss Whedon’s science fiction Western Firefly (or Serenifly, whichever you prefer) is the perfect setting for gunslingers, and Captain Malcolm Reynolds fit the bill perfectly. There are people out there who don’t think Whedon is all what his fans preach, but Firefly and Captain Reynolds can be considered one of his best creations.

Cad Bane

The Clone Wars series is beginning to get pretty dark, and Season Two brought Bounty Hunters into the mix. While familiar faces such as young Boba popped up, the series introduced a new Bounty Hunter in Cad Bane. A dual-wielding Duros with a big western-style hat, he’s the most like the typical Old West Gunslinger that Star Wars has seen.

Dash Rendar

He may be a poor man’s Han Solo, but Dash Rendar saw the spotlight in Shadows of the Empire. Han was frozen in Carbonite, so the Star Wars universe needed a smuggler to take the spotlight for a while, so Dash filled in for fans in the short time period between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

Ronon Dex

Stargate Atlantis had a lot of problems. One of them was the constant changes in the cast that happened nearly every season. But that turmoil did bring us Ronon Dex, who ended up being one of the best characters on the show and an easy second favorite among fans right behind Rodney McKay. Ronon was an expert with his pistol, and the buddy-cop style chemistry he and Sheppard had made the series entertaining.

The Fetts (Boba and Jango)

Both Fetts are here because, well, Boba is a clone of Jango. While Boba did really just use a sawed-off blaster rifle, he wielded it like a pistol, a trait he obviously got from his old man, the dual-wielding Jango Fett.

Duke Nukem

“I came here to kickass and chew bubble gum…and I’m all outta gum.” Duke Nukem was the asskicker who saved the world and all of its babes from annihilation. Using monumental catch phrases that were inspired by Evil Dead’s Ash Williams, Duke ran through alien bodies like they were butter. Duke Nukem was a muscle-bound, lady killing, alpha male, with a bad attitude and a bitchin’ cigar. His one liners alone, have put people into tears.

Teal’c

Teal’c a gunslinger? Indeed. While his gun was usually at the end of a giant stick, I doubt there is anyone you’d want to face off against in a quick draw contest.

10 Terrifying and Haunted Spaceships

Horror films have recurrently explored the haunted house trope to the point where it’s been reduced to a cliche. Haunted spaceships, on the other hand, are specifically particular to the SciFi Horror medium. As a result, lists for such are relatively slim compared to others. We’re here to name some of these inhabited crafts and we’ll welcome a helping hand if we’ve missed any.

The Derelict (Alien, 1979)

Viewers sensed something dark and foreboding when the crew of the Nostromo boarded the ruins of a destroyed spacecraft. Inside, was a horror beyond comprehension as all movie fans currently know.

Ship Crash landed on Morganthus (Galaxy of Terror, 1981)

This Alien clone coincidentally employed James Cameron as a crewman before he succeeded Ridley Scott his the inheritor to the franchise. This movie featured a crew stranded on a planet where their very fears came into physical being. One scene involving an alien maggot assaulting a woman was so graphic that it was completely omitted from some releases.

Alexei Leonov (2010, 1984)

The lesser known sequel to Stanley Kubrick’s classic has a craft more or less possessed by the incorporal Bowman.

Ship in Nightflyers (Nightflyers, 1987)

Based on the novella by acclaimed writer George R.R. Martin of a “Song of Ice and Fire” fame, the movie involved an expedition by scientists to discover a mysterious creature. Eventually the ship’s computer menaces its crew.

“Ghost Ship” (Super Metroid, 1994)

Inspired partially by the Alien franchise, The Metroid video games predictably had its share of eery habitats. Particularly, there was a dilapidated spaceship infested with alien ghosts throughout its corridors.

The Event Horizon (The Event Horizon, 1997)

Paul W.S. Anderson’s under appreciated thriller about a dimension traversing craft featured a starcraft inhabited not by any specific ghost or host of ghouls in general. It returned from a voyage possessed not by the devil, but hell itself.

Sphere (Sphere, 1998)

Never at a shortage of ideas, Michael Chrichton invented the idea of a time traveling American vessel misidentified as an alien spacecraft. The ship manages to recreate the central characters’ thoughts and whims and sometimes even their fears.

Von Braun (System Shock 2, 1999)

Another video game, System Shock 2’s spaceship was infested with parasitical aliens akin to the Zerg or Body Snatchers. Due to the implants installed in the protagonists body, he would detect psychic “echoes” manifesting as ghosts from time to time.

Solaris (Solaris, 2002)

Less malevolent and more mysterious than the other ships listed, the Solaris has lost several of its crew members but manages to manifest physical replicas of people familiar to those it encounters, including the dead.

U.S.G. Ishimura (Deadspace, 2008)

Zombie-like beings, Necromorphs, dwell in this video game’s distressed spaceship.

The Last Jedi at D23 Expo – What to Expect

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Disney is holding their biennial D23 Expo this weekend, and with Lucasfilm skipping Hall H at San Diego Comic Con, this is where there will be some new The Last Jedi content revealed.

Unlike San Diego Comic Con, Disney runs their D23 Expo very differently. Where everyone in Hall H is allowed to keep their phones and cameras, allowing real-time blogging of whatever the panels reveal, that isn’t the case at D23 Expo. As Disney only does this event every two years and they’ll show footage and content from things two-to-three years away, they confiscate all cameras and securely seal all phones in solid silver baggies.

While Disney traditionally does not release any of the footage they show to the public, there may be an exception with The Last Jedi this year as they are not going to SDCC.

Lucasfilm’s presentation is on Saturday as part of the Walt Disney Studios two-hour Live Action panel from 10:30am to 12:30pm. Traditionally The Walt Disney Studios takes the stage first and this year they’re confirmed to show a trailer for A Winkle in Time and will likely show the first footage from Mary Poppins Returns and Magic Camp. More casting announcements for The Lion King are likely as well.

Then Marvel takes the stage where they will be showing new footage from both Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther, and are expected to show the first footage from Avengers: Infinity War much like they did with Captain America: Civil War in 2015. At the last D23 Expo Marvel also showed a concept art reel for Doctor Strange, and it’s possible they do something similar for Ant Man & the Wasp and possibly Captain Marvel.

Finally it’s Lucasfilm’s turn. We know Rian Johnson will be at the expo, as will Mark Hamill (who is being made a “Disney Legend” on Friday), and other cast members are likely. Since they aren’t at Comic Con this year, it’s pretty much confirmed that there is some kind of Behind the Scenes sizzle reel for The Last Jedi planned at this presentation. Since the previous BTS reels were released online at their respective conventions over the past two Julys, this one could very well be as well.

Outside of The Last Jedi it’s possible we’ll learn the official title for Han Solo (and maybe a picture of a cast in-costume like we got for Rogue One in 2015) and we could also learn what the 2020 Star Wars movie will be.

D23 Expo begins on Friday and we’ll be there for the whole weekend, so keep an eye on our Facebook page for live video from the show.

Han Solo Crew Shirts Include a Cool Title Logo

An image of a crew shirt from the Han Solo movie has leaked online and it includes a pretty cool logo for a potential title of the movie.
The front of the shirt has a “Star Wars: Solo” logo with the “L” in Solo being made up of Han’s famous DL-44 blaster. This isn’t the production name for the movie, as that was “Red Cup”, which referenced the red solo cups that inspired Han Solo’s name.

Lucasfilm is expected to reveal the final title for the Han Solo movie within the next few weeks, likely by the time of D23 Expo in early July. If it ends up being “Star Wars: Solo” and uses a logo like that, we’d be perfectly fine with it. It’s a simple and fitting title for the Han Solo standalone origin movie.

Don’t Expect Much About Snoke in The Last Jedi

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Star Wars fans want to know more about the Big Bad in the Sequel Trilogy, Supreme Leader Snoke, but it sounds like they may be waiting a long time to find out what they want.

Vanity Fair is doing an AmA on Reddit, and they explained that we probably won’t get much about Snoke in Episode VIII:

“I asked Rian Johnson about Snoke—Who/what is he?—and Rian was fairly up front in saying that Snoke is not a character he particularly gets into in TLJ. Hmmm.”

Lucasfilm has been dropping big hints about Snoke in the novels recently. As of right now the best money is that he’s someone The First Order encounters when the Empire flees into the Unknown Regions following the events of the Aftermath trilogy. Thrawn explains that there is some kind of threat in the Unknown Regions, and all signs are pointing to Snoke being related to that.

MAJOR SPOILERS: The 5 Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Post-Credits Scenes

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WARNING: THE FOLLOWING POST CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2’S POST CREDIT SCENES. DO NOT OPENLY SHARE THE SPOILERS BELOW IN ORDER TO PRESERVE THE SURPRISE FOR THOSE WHO DON’T WANT TO KNOW.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has not just one big post-credit scene, but five scattered throughout the credits. Much like the first movie, none of these really set up bigger things in the MCU but two of them do seem to hint at what we’ll see in Vol. 3.

These are the scenes:

– Sylvester Stallone’s character Stakar (Starhawk) is seen meeting Ving Rhames and Michelle Yeoh who play Charlie-27 and Aleta Ogord. Krugar and Mainframe also appear in this scene setting up the original Guardians to possibly appear together in the third movie.

– Ayesha is seen talking about how she has a way to destroy the Guardians and we see a figure in a cocoon. This is obviously Adam Warlock who at one point would’ve been in this movie but is being saved for the third.

– Teenaged Groot is seen playing video games.

– Sean Gunn’s character tries to use Yondu’s fin to control one of his arrows. He can’t control it as well as Yondu so the arrow hits Drax. There is a bigger spoiler connected to this scene in the movie itself, which we won’t post here.

– Stan Lee is in space talking to Watchers! They walk away from him because he’s talking too much.

The Stan Lee one is interesting as it was believed that the Watchers are tied up with Fox’s Fantastic Four rights. It could be that just Uatu is with Fox and Marvel is free to use the big-head Watchers in the MCU or it could be something else entirely.