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.

Rogue One Ticket Sales Possibly Beginning Tomorrow (10/26)

IMAX has begun teasing a big reveal during the Star Wars show tomorrow, and one of their teases makes it sound like tickets will go on sale…

They began with a Tweet saying there will be an IMAX reveal during the Star Wars Show tomorrow at noon Pacific:

But their Facebook post is even more specific:
imax-rogue-one
“Find out how you can aide the Rebellion and IMAX” sure sounds like a tease for ticket sales beginning. How else will you aide the Rebellion and IMAX other than buying a ticket to see the movie?

Fandango lists the movie, which was filmed in 6K digital, as an IMAX 3D release:
fandango-rogue-one

We’ll know for sure in less than 12 hours if you’ll be able to buy your Rogue One tickets tomorrow.

Early ‘Desolation of Smaug’ Reaction is Promising…

People are walking out of Desolation of Smaug much happier...

People are walking out of Desolation of Smaug much happier…

Those who were a little disappointed in the first Hobbit movie may find something more to their liking in the second.

The Desolation of Smaug had its first screening last night in Hollywood, and while people are embargoed from talking about it until the 8th of this month, the initial reaction coming out of the screening points to a movie closer to what people were expecting following the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

Here are some selected reactions form Twitter:

Apparently the movie does have a slightly shorter run-time than the first installment, which would make sense as this was originally going to be the last Hobbit film before splitting it off into a trilogy. It’ll be out in a couple weeks, and it will be released in HFR despite rumors to the contrary…

Gallery: Behind the Scenes Return of the Jedi Photos

These photos come from Mike Davis, a hardcore sci-fi nut who lives in San Diego. He and some pals went out to Buttercup Valley in 1982 and got to watch them film the Jabba Sail Barge sequence from Blue Harvest: Horror Beyond Imagination, a.k.a. Revenge of the Jedi a.k.a. Return of the Jedi.

Mike has posted his entire account of the adventure on the RPF boards here, a long with a few more pictures than what’s in this gallery. Head on over to their boards for the whole story and more awesome shots of the filming of Return of the Jedi.

Conan the Barbarian Review

Allow me to preface this review by saying that while I love Basil Poledouris’ score to the 1982 Conan the Barbarian, as a fan of Robert E. Howard’s original Conan stories; the film isn’t really a “Conan” movie. While elements are definitely inspired by parts of the Conan mythos, Arnold’s performance is about as far from Conan as you could possibly get. Where Howard describes Conan as “panther like” and actually a brilliant warrior and tactician, Arnold turned him into a brain-dead lumbering oaf. That’s not Conan.

Jason Momoa, fresh off playing another barbarian in Game of Thrones, IS Conan. He was obviously aware of the Howard descriptions of the character, and he brings to the screen the truest interpretation of Conan ever. The only complaint I have with him is that they should have either given him blue contacts or used CG to change the color of his eyes, as Howard describes Conan as having smoldering blue eyes. But aside from that; you have the articulate, intelligent Conan with panther-like reflexes and all the elements that made him a character that has endured for nearly 80 years.

Where the Arnold version of Conan did take inspiration from bits and pieces of some of Howard’s stories (but not specifically Conan stories), this one is very much residing in Robert E. Howard’s Hyboria. While both movies deal with Conan’s youth, this one does show his birth on the battlefield, and you could draw from the movie that his father was a blacksmith as in the stories. However in the Howard stories, Conan remains with his tribe until his mid-teens; the movie skips past his teenage years to Conan as an adult. That’s not a problem as specific Conan stories are actually mentioned in the movie.

Specifically the events in “The Tower of the Elephant” are talked about, and Conan’s time with the Pirates is mentioned along with some other smaller events from the stories. So while it’s an original story (more on that shortly), it exists within the established Conan canon sometime after Tower of the Elephant and his time as a pirate, but naturally a while before he takes the throne as king.

The story is really just an excuse for Conan to kill a whole bunch of people, and there is a lot of death. For a 112-minute movie, there are roughly 113 deaths in it. That’s a lot of carnage, and believe me there is no way this movie could ever have been PG-13. From the amount of blood, the gore (which even made me squirm once or twice), to the traditionally topless wenches Hyboria demands; this movie is a very “hard R” and Howard fans wouldn’t accept it any other way.

Since the story is relatively weak, you’ll want to get through the dialog as quickly as possible; and the movie does that. There aren’t many moments where it really slows down for long conversations. The action comes quick, often, and brutal in this movie. I should also mention that the soundtrack in no way compares to Basil Poledouris’ classic score from the 1982 film, but there’s no way it could ever possibly try to.

If you want to see the new Conan the Barbarian, go in prepared to not get Academy Award winning dialog or a story that will go down as legend. What you will get is the closest adaptation of Robert E. Howard’s classic Conan world with a near-perfect realization of the character by Jason Momoa on top of generous helpings of blood, gore, and nudity.

World of Warcraft is Now Free to Play (Until Level 20)

If you’re one of the three computer-owning people on the planet who hasn’t tried World of Warcraft yet, this news may interest you. As part of yesterday’s 4.2 patch to World of Warcraft, Blizzard has modified the game’s free trial by both removing the time limit on it and increasing its level cap to level 20. That means that you can basically play World of Warcraft for free and for as long as you want, but you’ll be limited to level 20. This new “Starter Edition” of the game also includes Burning Crusade content, which allows players on the trail to create Draenei and Blood Elf characters.

In addition to the changes in the trail, the “Classic” game is now bundled with the Burning Crusade expansion for $20 and is available for digital download.

RIFT Player Saves RIFT

If you’re a RIFT player, you may have heard of a lot of players having their accounts compromised. Aside from some players just being dumb and using the same login/password for fansites and multiple games; a RIFT player who posts on the official forums as “ManWitDaPlan” found a massive hole in Trion’s authentication server that allowed him to login directly to someone’s account without having the login/password. Just about two hours later, the RIFT servers were hotfixed and the hole was plugged. Everyone on the RIFT forums is saying he should be given a lifetime subscription to the game, and it sounds like he may just get that:

For those of you that say “give ‘em lifetime accounts”, etc. I don’t want to go into any details aside from saying that this was apparently a pretty big hole and Trion seems very happy with me for some reason. I’ll be around for a while…