Top

thor

Trainee
CRank: 5Score: 0

Why Blu-ray Is Still Not Needed For Games

This is my first blog post in a while - and this time around I'm dealing with an issue that's been in the news a lot lately. Both Rage and Final Fantasy XIII are said to use more than one disk for their 360 versions, as opposed to only one blu-ray disk.

http://www.n4g.com/xbox360/NewsCom-380615.aspx?CT=1
http://www.n4g.com/xbox360/NewsCom-380785.aspx?CT=1

Many blu-ray proponents are celebrating these facts as justification for the format. But I see it from a different perspective - these games are clearly capable of running on the 360, and by recent developer comments Rage seems to already be running smoother on the 360. It seems the DVD format hasn't held back Rage's performance at all - and why should it - after all, DVDs are actually capable of being read faster through the 360's drive compared to the slightly slower blu-ray drive in the PS3.

Is it needed already?

Let's take a look at past PS3 games that, it has been claimed, would have been hampered were it not for the blu-ray disk they were burned onto.

A few games come to mind. Heavenly sword is one:

http://www.joystiq.com/2007/08/15/heavenly-sword-packed-with-10-gb-of-sound-data/

Metal Gear Solid 4 is another:

http://pocketnews.cocolog-nifty.com/pkns/images/2008/06/13/080613_01.png

In Heavenly Sword's case, by simply compressing the audio, a great deal of space could be saved. The fact that it was uncompressed didn't really add to the quality, it was just because it could be left uncompressed. Localising the game for different regions rather than including all of the multilingual content on each and every disk could also have pushed it easily under the 8GB limit. Remember that this was just a short 6 hour game.

As seen in the image above, MGS4 takes up just shy of 30GB. It barely needs the dual-layer blu-ray. By my count, even by leaving in all of the uncompressed audio, it would only require 4 disks on DVD. Now this may be a big deal for you, but remember that swapping disks isn't nearly so much of a pain in the neck as having to install the game 5 times on each playthrough. The required installs are akin to disk-swapping, only a lot more painful. In this game's case, swapping disks as well as installing wouldn't be much more hassle.

Unfortunately my computer's blu-ray drive refuses to read PS3 games, but I believe certian things that were said regarding the disk space usage of Resistance 2 and LBP were exaggerated. Especially considering that all of the expansion packs for LBP (the data for which have actually been included in the free patches) have taken up very little space and provided a load of new content.

99% of games this generation can quite happily fit onto one DVD. You may wonder why this is, when games were filling up whole DVDs last gen, but actually DVD-9s can store 8GB - nearly twice the storage space of most games last gen. You also find that there is a limit to how much data you can actually create for a game - games aren't going to be getting any longer, because it's simply not economically feasable to make a 20-hour game and sell it for the same price as an 8-hour game, especially if it's an action game which would require huge amounts of attention to detail in every part.

Compression

Now let's move onto compression. A major argument in favour of using blu-ray for games is that you needn't compress assets for your game, resulting in higher quality. This is also one of the reasons that a PS3 game might take up more space on the disk than its 360 counterpart.

The first point I wish to make is reagarding lossless compression.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lossless_data_compression

A losslessly compressed file, when decompressed, is bit-for-bit identical to an uncompressed one. Since all in-game assets need to be loaded into memory anyway, this is a small step which may actually improve loading times if reading from the disk is especially slow.

My second point is that often it's very difficult to distinguish between a raw, uncompressed image and a lossily compressed image. The same holds true for audio; and MP3 at a sufficiently high bitrate is nearly indistinguishable from a losslessly compressed sound file. And who's to say which one sounds better? This image is stored in a lossless file format (gif), but one of the pictures here has been compressed first using lossy JPEG compression. Can you see the differences?

http://imrannazar.com/content/img/compression-jpeg-photo.gif

My third point is that when you're focusing on playing the game, the fact that a texture has, under close scrutiny, very slight artifacts won't impact your gaming experience in the slightest. It won't even affect the graphics. Even the most obsessive videophiles on the planet wouldn't be able to spot these 'bad' textures from a distance.

Bottlenecks

What's stopping Final Fantasy XIII from being 100 hours long instead of 50?

What's stopping Halo: ODST from looking as good as other games in the genre?

It's not the limitations of the DVD format, that's for sure. The main reason games aren't longer than they are is simply time constraints. It takes a lot of time and effort to make a high-quality game, and each extra hour of gameplay is going to mean more work and costs. As I said before, it makes no sense to needlessly increase the length of your game just because you have a lot of disk space to fill. And hey, if you absolutely NEED to make a lengthy game, go ahead, and use more than one disk.

Graphical bottlenecks come primarily from memory constraints, as well as the power of the graphics card. It's all very well having 50GB of data, but you've only got 256MB of graphics memory in which to put it. Going back to compression, this means that if you want to pack your massive uncompressed textures into the video memory, you're going to have to compress them anyway!

It's not as though blu-ray itself doesn't have limitations; the slower read speed of the drive means that if you have more data to read, it's going to take longer. This is a major cause of required installs - otherwise it would slow the load times to unbearable levels, and streaming would be impossible. It's not as though these difficulties can't be overcome - but then, the issue of disk space is more easily overcome.

Do we mind swapping disks?

Because I don't. After all, if I want to play the game in the first place, I have to insert the disk. I've never heard anybody really complain about that. If Final Fantasy XIII ships on 3 disks, and is 50 hours long, that means I have more than 15 hours of gameplay before I have to spend 20 seconds swapping the disks over. Not a big deal at all really.

Rage supposedly will ship with multiplayer on one disk, and single-player on another. I can't see any reason that anybody would be flicking between single- and multiplayer more often than they would flick between playing one game and another. I may be playing a single-player game, and fancy playing multiplayer on another game, and this forces me to swap disks. But I've never had a problem with this, and neither has anyone else. Single-player and multiplayer modes are effectively two different games anyway since they are so distinct.

The Future

Of course, the fact that blu-ray isn't yet needed for games doesn't mean it won't be needed in the future. Of course there will come a time where 4 blu-ray disks are needed and at that stage DVDs aren't sufficient. But that day is years away. For now, there really is no compelling evidence that games are being held back by the limitations of the DVD format, so blu-ray is still not needed for games.



The story is too old to be commented.
Saaking2533d ago

Lots of games are getting gimped because of the 360's DVD and hardware limitations. Bluray IS needed if you want all games to be as good as PS3 exclusives.

Halo3 MLG Pro2533d ago

Dude do you have a life? You comment way to much. Put your anger aside and go out and enjoy some sunshine.

Saaking2533d ago

You know it only takes about 5-10 seconds to comment sometimes less.

Breakfast2533d ago

220 comments in 48 hours.

lol

DelbertGrady2533d ago

That's because you never have anything of value to share.

rockleex2533d ago

DVD is not needed
CD is not needed

We only need cartridges.

Welcome to next gen, where we use last gen storage.

FamilyGuy2533d ago (Edited 2533d ago )

I can't believe I'm going to sit here and waste tons of time siting where you're wrong. You PROVE yourself wrong on multiple occasions in this blog. You are also misinformed on a lot of the things you discuss so I'll bring those thing up.

MGS 4 only required you to install information to the hard drive 1 time, not install the game "5 times on each playthrough".

Heavenly Sword being a "short game" doesn't change the fact that it had "4,500 lines of dialog". It was one of the most cinematic videos ever because every character you came across actually spoke to you, no soundless text reading only anywhere in that game.

What you should site hear is only the 11 different languages (PS3 games are region free) but even that saved money as opposed to manufacturing separate disc for each country the game would release in.

You wrote: "but actually DVD-9s can store 8GB - nearly twice the storage space of most games last gen."

The problem is that the disc from last gen games were ALSO Dvd 9 disc, not Dvd5 which is apparently what you're thinking.

Audio compression is NOTHING like jpeg/gif image compression. Audio buffs recognize the difference but they are in the minority so uncompressed audio is just a thing to boast about, it doesn't regular gamers.

You note that blu-ray drives read slower than dvd-drives, one that's not necessarily true: First of all there's usually more on a blu-ray disc to read and second the blu-ray laser is more refined reading much more data in the same amount space a dvd laser would. You don't know the RPMs of either so you can't say it's "slower".

You admit that compression causes slower data read times. If not for all the compression 360 and PS3 games would have far from similar loading speeds but because 360 games are they don't get that quicker speed that should come with (dumbing it down) reading bigger data with bigger lasers with possibly less to read on the disc.

"It's all very well having 50GB of data, but you've only got 256MB of graphics memory in which to put it. Going back to compression, this means that if you want to pack your massive uncompressed textures into the video memory, you're going to have to compress them anyway!"

^^^This I won't even explain to you but you have absolutely no idea what you're talking about LOL

"I may be playing a single-player game, and fancy playing multiplayer on another game, and this forces me to swap disks. But I've never had a problem with this, and neither has anyone else"

^^^ There is one complaint: That's the RPGs that think (thought for one) it's a good idea to solve the 7.5Gb limitation by separating certain cities/towns within their game on separate disc. Games like these where you might need to return to previous disc (cities/towns) quite often. It would be a REAL hassle in those cases and they would be (is in one case) proof that the Blu-ray format/more disc space/at least a HDD standard IS needed.

All in all, the only real reason to say blu-ray is not needed is simply because switching disc is that big of a deal. We gamers do it all the time whenever we want to play a different game so those little intermissions between disc are really not an issue unless the game is open world.

The main issue is that the HDD isn't standard ALONG with having only 7.5Gb left over for 360 games (space is used on every disc for their encryption).

thor2533d ago

I must chip in here and correct you about MGS4.

Check out any of the links from google:

http://www.google.com/searc...

Sure, they only take about 3 minutes, but it's still longer than swapping a disk. You have an animation of Snake smoking whilst it installs.

I know it installs after each act because I've played through it multiple times - I also know that it installs each time you CHANGE act; so that when my brother who was on act 1 whiilst I was on act 2, we had to install it each time we wanted to play. A real pain.

By referring to Heavenly Sword as a short game I meant that there are plenty of games that are much longer, with just as much dialogue if not more, that don't take up nearly as much space. Take Oblivion for example. The size of the audio could easily have been cut down.

Guess I was wrong about the DVD-9 vs DVD-5 issue - but even still, last gen there were very few games taking up more than one disk or even requiring the full DVD-9.

I mentioned that it's very difficult to tell the difference between lossless audio and compressed audio.

Referring to your point about slowed load timjes due to compression; I actually said, "Since all in-game assets need to be loaded into memory anyway, this is a small step which may actually improve loading times if reading from the disk is especially slow." Reading from the disk takes a lot of time compared to reading from memory; so actually compression can help load times. Not always of course, but it will have less of an impact than you are suggesting. Of course, probably the fastest way is to have uncompressed data stored on the hard disk, but that's another issue.

Oh and compressing textures on the GPU?

http://developer.nvidia.com...

Of course there are other methods

http://my.safaribooksonline...

But these have their own drawbacks.

Open-world games could potentially have issues with multiple disks, I agree. But we've not actaully seen this yet - and I acredit this to the amount of development required to make an open-world game so large that it would require more than one disk.

Standard HDDs are a seperate issue. Clearly a hard drive may be read much quicker than a disk and so is a significant advantage. The issue of disk space only matters if you're stuck with a 20GB drive - with the new 120GB drives nobody's going to worry. And I don't care waiting 5 minutes for a game to install when I've been waiting for it to come out for months.

FamilyGuy2533d ago (Edited 2533d ago )

You're a lot... calmer(?) than I initially read you to be.

"You have an animation of Snake smoking whilst it installs. "
Those scenes are really short, i simply thought the game was loading LOL. So I guess I was wrong about that one.

You don't have a problem installing the entire game on the 360 but the 4Gb max installs on the PS3 are a down point? Neither is really an issue and neither is the actual swapping of disc. Except in the special case of that RPG and you and your brothers situation. I would've made him wait, had one of us play a different game or played the levels at the same time.

Anyways, I know you just said that it wasn't part of this argument but we are talking about the 360 as far as it not needing blu-ray sized disc space and I just mean to say that this would be true if HDDs were a standard to where developers could depend on that feature the way they do for pc and PS3 games.

paul03882533d ago

For the person that said he comments too much... stop being such a damn hippopotamus, you took the time to comment too, it's like the pot calling the kettle black..

On a different note, we really didn't NEED DVD's at the start of the PS2's life cycle. CD's were fine, well, that is until games started to get bigger and more complex. Much akin to what's happening now, no? Imagine if developers didn't limit their games to just one DVD - what possibilities!

Well, some developers don't limit themselves to one DVD, they happen to be First Party Sony Studios, and that's why their exclusives are heads and tails above anything else on the market.

The blogger also posted about 4 MGS discs. I'd much rather have one disc with all my info on it instead of 4 discs. There's always the chance that one may be lost... I have a bad habit of setting discs beside my PS / Xbox when switching games - and 4 discs, as I have come to know from avid PC gaming (Fear, COD 2, Half Life 2), are a huge pain in the ass to keep over a period of time. Thanks to the multiple discs of the above games listed, I now cannot play Fear or CoD 2 anymore because I'm either missing disc 2 or 3, and because of that, I can't install it. Imagine if that happened to MGS 4? Well, you couldn't sell it back to Gamestop or on eBay so you'd be S.O.L, so to speak.

With one disc, sure, it has to install periodically at points where changing disc's would be probable, but if playing straight through or after watching the 60 minute cutscene before that, you'd need a break! Take a nice satisfying poop or have a smoke, come back in 3 minutes, and you're good to go!

The point I'm trying to make is that complaining about advancing technology is pointless unless you obviously show a degree of bias towards a certain console that I will not name. A real gamer embraces advancing technology and wants to get their hands on every new game that comes out, regardless of platform! So can't we just leave our hate at the door for once???

thor2533d ago

I don't agree that it's the blu-ray disks that have allowed Sony's 1st party studios to create higher quality games. Gameplay is a non-issue here as that is clearly not affected by disk space. The main issues are graphics, sound and game length. Whilst I agree that there are some games that have excelled in the visual and audial departments, this is down to clever programming and art design rather than simply having more space.

For instance, Killzone 2's textures aren't head and shoulders above anything else but the particle effects, the post-processing and the lighting make the graphics really something special. You may bring up the 2GB per level quote, to which I would respond that that was an estimate for the size of the demo which contained said level. There are many reusable assets (textures, character models) which are used again and again through the course of the game.

If you can give an example of a game whose length has benefitted through blu-ray, be my guest, although I think you'll have a hard time finding any. As I said in my blog, there is actually no reason for game developers to make their games any longer than they are - it would take up too much time at every stage of design and execution.

I'm not sure really what your point was about losing multiple disks. Surely if I have 4 games I'm just as likely to lose one of the disks? I know for a fact that I've lost games before, but the disk has turned up sooner or later. I don't really think this is a serious issue.

lh_swe2532d ago

And what about yourself huh? You never say anything that diverts from common fanboy drivel, antagonizing remarks and an unhealthy hostility that never seems to let down.(this is of course with reference to previous comments, not this one)

There is absolutely no need to approach such an unimportant matter with a defense which makes it seem like you have a personal stake in this battle between Sony and MS, which is exactly what it is, their competition shouldn't have to extend to the consumer, sadly enough it has and on a major level. But have you actually stopped to think why you have to defend the console like it is your honor and attempt to ridicule others?

Maddens Raiders2532d ago

people still embracing DVD-9 and the perpetual dumbing down of rural & city kids in America while M$, MTV, FAUXNEWS & Spike feeds them gobs of retard pie.

miss that HD-DVD add on huh? sad.

The Lazy One2532d ago

if the PS3 had a faster drive then it would make a difference.

The slow search times on the blu-ray drive hamper it's usefulness currently.

Do agree we should revert to some sort of cartridge type system though.

FamilyGuy2532d ago (Edited 2532d ago )

But that term and object is archaic so it's being used in a sarcastic way.

What you don't realize, are ignoring or simply forgetting (apparently) is that there are SD cards that hold more than 50Gbs and games could be run off of them as long as the games files are separated to make the Fat32 File system happy. IE 4Gb chunk limit. I'd be no different to what the PspGo! is doing now except the memory cards would be permanently locked so you couldn't erase the game on it.

I would have absolutely NO PROBLEM buying SD cards loaded with the game I want on them as apposed to disc. Disc have a longer life so that would be the only reason not to use SD or similar memory cards. SD card have a read and write shelf life and even though it's something really high like 40,000 reads 40,000 writes it's still a limit.
On the pro side though it would mean quite, cooler running hardware along with possibly faster speeds. Though im not actually sure what's faster between the bluray disc read speed and a high speed SD or similar memory card.

Thanks for unknowingly bringing a new argument to the table though.

The Lazy One2532d ago

The read speeds are literally incomparable to any optical media if they designed a memory type for gaming as opposed to being designed primarily for pictures and music.

The read write issue is only really an issue on read/writable media. If someone figures out some sort of static solid state low cost media, it would be by far the better option.

Snake Raiser2531d ago

"MGS4 takes up just shy of 30GB. It barely needs the dual-layer blu-ray. By my count, even by leaving in all of the uncompressed audio, it would only require 4 disks on DVD."
The costs for the developer to put it on 4 disks would cost more than just putting it on one disk. The main reason that MGS4 didn't got Multi is probably because nobody wanted to spend the time and money to put it on 4 dvd's/

BattleAxe2531d ago (Edited 2531d ago )

Blu-Ray is still not needed for games if you're a broke ass bum that can't afford to buy a PS3 or if you're a 360 fanboy who is stuck with DVD and just doesn't have a choice, so you tell yourself what you want to hear, because it makes you feel good. It makes you feel like you're "the man" .......oh yeah, you feel soooooo good saying that blu-ray is not needed for games its like you're blowing your load all over your XBOX 360, but then your spooge starts to cook onto your 360 because its always on the verge of overheating, but you don't care because you're gonna send it back to MS, and they're going to do a temporary fix on it and they'll even clean off the cooked on spooge. So from your standpoint I can see why blu-ray isn't needed for games.

+ Show (14) more repliesLast reply 2531d ago
lh_swe2533d ago

Because I frankly couldn't be bothered to read that fanboy drivel, The FACT is that it's bigger, games are getting bigger, games need more space, voila blu-ray is the result.

Why are you being so ignorant, by now your ready to muster a defense about how your not a fanboy just someone stating the facts, newsflash you are, you take a deep enough interest and obviously dislike the PS3 despite cleverly hiding it in you text, this article is just flaime bait, props for your effort to hide it though.

Don't take it personally, I usually don't mind fanboy's but lately you guy's (BOTH SIDES!) are really start to piss me off.

jadenkorri2533d ago

by thor logic, we would still be using 3.1 disks....
Its called new technology, something the turning world does.... if the world followed thor's logic, we would still have floppy dics, cds, who the hell needs them, Im sure we can put fallout 3 on approx 1778 floppys, since it takes up 5.51 gb on my harddrive, do the math!.... Thor i have two suggestions, move out your parents basement, 2nd GET LAID, seriously, you should of realized something as you were typing that whole blog of yours...

rockleex2533d ago

I sure don't mind swapping floppy discs every 5 minutes. ^_^

ultimolu2533d ago

Lol and rockleex.

n_n *ruffles hair*

Mr_Controversy2532d ago

Do you know why the media hates Sony? It's because of Sony Defense Force fanboys such as yourself.

The creator of this blog made a very informative post which isn't biased at all. Blu-Ray isn't required at all for games or movies.

Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, Fallout 3. These are by far the biggest games OF ALL TIME and guess what? The DVD format is PERFECTLY suits these games. Sure 2 of these games are on Blu-Ray but when you compare them side-by-side the DVD is better any every way and with no sacrifices in graphics, sound, or gameplay. It has more dialogue than Heavenly Sword or Metal Gear Solid 4.

Jade Empire on the Xbox alone boasts more dialogue than ANY PS3 GAME TO DATE! Size is definitely not the problem. Sony released the Blu-Ray format to counter piracy, that is all.

Killzone 2 looks great for a Blu-Ray but Crysis which is on a DVD looks 20 times better.

The simple fact is, Blu-Ray doesn't make a difference. DVD is just good enough. Don't fix it, if it isn't broken.

lh_swe2532d ago

I could care less about blu-ray, the point is that you are only a fanboy fueling your own rage and FOR WHAT PURPOSE!?

+ Show (2) more repliesLast reply 2532d ago
Raf1k12533d ago (Edited 2533d ago )

The amount of storage space that games use up has been increasing ever since the first video game.

Even if you don't think the Blu-Ray (or some other high capacity storage solution that may come along in future) is needed at the moment it will be needed sooner or later as more and more games start to require multiple DVDs.
edit: (I noticed you've already said that)

Blu-Ray is here though and to me it's obvious that devs are more than happy to make use of the extra space.

The Lazy One2532d ago

Devs ask for more space, so they get more space. Then they're stuck with more space and lower search/read times that hold back their use of that space.

They only have so much money to make their content with, so the amount of content they can fit in budget is pretty fixed. The only way to use more space then would be to up the quality of the content, but they're hampered by the read time and the other hardware in that regard.

LordMarius2533d ago

Did you write this because of the number of disc for FF13?
And no matter how much you try to deny it, Disc swapping shouldn't have been in this gen, but of course one platform refused to adopt Blu-Ray and held back some games, good think for exclusives

darthv722533d ago

PS2 had both CD and DVD based games. PS3 has some bluray games that are nothing more than DVD games on a bluray disc. Pointless to use the capacity of a blu (even a single layer) for games that could fit on a simple DVD.

Frankly I dont know why Sony is pushing all devs to use that format if they don't fill it up. You can blame the 360 for multiplat stuff sure. Why arent the multiplat games taking advantage of the space with extra stuff (like a making of feature). They may as well just release their multiplat games on DVD for both in this case.

If a game like burnout paradise can be released on the PSN then what business does it have being released on a high capacity bluray? Should have been a regular DVD as should many PS3 games. Leave the high capacity discs to those who know what they are doing.

Raf1k12533d ago (Edited 2533d ago )

I agree that if a game can fit on a DVD then that should be what it's released on.

However, if it takes up more than one DVD there's no problem with sticking it on Blu-Ray. Like I said games will eventually require more storage space than the DVD can provide. Sure you can stick games on more than one DVD but when games on multiple DVDs becomes the norm people who don't yet have a problem with changing disks will have something to complain about.

Technology has allowed us to make our lives easier in so many ways. Blu-Ray is just another example of how. Think of what it would be like to have to still change TV channels without a remote.

Once people get used to tech that makes even the simplest of tasks that bit easier, that task then becomes a pain when the tech is no longer available.
edit: That's why I think it's usually people who don't have the luxury that say it's not needed while those with the luxury simply sit back and enjoy it. This is true for so many different things. I'm sure we can all think of a few pretty easily.

frnkyl2533d ago

I think it's the fact that it's multiplat that stops the devs from giving the PS3 version more features as that would be unfair to the 360 users.

Rhythmattic2532d ago

Even if it fitted on a DVD, Give it to me on a Scratch resistant BR Disc.