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Old 12-23-03, 07:59 AM   #169
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Originally posted by saturnotaku
Perhaps had it been done properly (y'know like I'm sure what Bungie wanted to do before the switch to Xbox) then we wouldn't have these problems. I don't think being able to get 30-40 fps consistently at 1280x1024 on a 9800 Pro w/o AA or AF is out of the question considering that Halo's engine is quite a bit more than a year old.

The FPS sucks at high res not because the coding has be done poorly, but because it's a console port - console games are engineered to take advantage of the fact that they only have to display at TV resolutions, and therefore pump a ton more stuff through at minimal performance cost. When you blow that up to 1280x1024, the hardware demands get very unreasonable - year old engine or not.

I think that if Gearbox had ripped the thing to shreds and then rebuilt it (we have the technology), it probably would have ended up with much better performance. GB did good things with the Half-Life engine - they're capable. But MS wanted a port, and that's what Gearbox signed on to do. That's what they did.

The problem with porting an FPS to the PC from another system is that PC FPS games have a whole host of features that are considered absolutely basic - so much so that no one really considers them features anymore (no thanks to Carmack ). That's a lot of things to be adding to a body of code that wasn't originally designed to use or even need such things. And to boot, Gearbox gave Halo configurable controls - which goes a long way towards making Halo not feel like a console port. Console ports generally have poor control schemes and you can't change them to anything useful (see the Spiderman-movie game for an excellent example).

So, after a bit of adjusting, Halo doesn't feel like a port anymore - when you sit down at the computer, you're using the same control scheme you've been using to play FPSes for the last ten years. But there are netcode problems. And the textures aren't as high res as, say, Call of Duty. Since it's slowly becoming more like a PC game and less like a port, the deficiencies are much more glaring.

And Gearbox has the uneviable position of making Halo feel more like a PC game and less like a console port, thus making the contrast sharper and drawing even closer attention to the remaining problems. I think they're doing a pretty good job - and I applaud them for taking the time to do so, 'cause most developers that do ports just throw it together and have done with it. They don't re-engineer with the mouse and keyboard in mind. And they sure as heck don't rework the UI for the mouse.

I ain't sayin' that Gearbox has done a perfect job w/Halo, but blaming lower average FPS on them might be going a bit far, considering the roots of the code and the fact that GB had to recreate all the graphical goodness of the Xbox (at variable resolutions) without sacrificing vehicle physics, draw distances, poly count, AI, dynamic sound, inverse kinematics, or unlocking the framerate.
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Old 12-23-03, 08:59 AM   #170
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Vash, I would absolutely agree with you had the PC version come out within eight months of the Xbox version. But they had a year and half (at least) not to mention the other time Bungie had put in before the MS buyout (remember the screenshots from PCXL?). You can't tell me there wasn't a single bit of code they couldn't salvage from that time period.

That said, I'm probably going to buy Halo 2 because I did enjoy the story and want to see how it continues/finishes. But if for some odd reason it comes out for PC I'm going to pass on it.
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Old 12-23-03, 11:13 AM   #171
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As far as I know, Halo 2 won't be for PC. I'll have to buy an Xbox or something.

The development of the PC version didn't start immediately after the Xbox version was released. I don't remember the date, but I do remember a Randy Pitchford interview where he stated that when they were approached to do Halo PC, they were flabbergasted that someone wasn't already doing it. They had figured someone else was about 1/2 of the way done with the port, but MS apparently sat on it for some time, probably to maximize Xbox Halo sales. I'll try and come up with the quote or the date or something. But no matter how much time GB had to do the port, if MS didn't want them completely ripping apart and reconstructing the game from scratch, GB's hands were tied.


And oh...yes... the PXCL screenies. *commences nostalgic drooling*

I don't know. It seems to me that moving from a PC platform that's aiming at a TNT-based graphics pipeline to the Xbox is a pretty big freakin' move. I do know that Halo originally underwent two seperate engine rewrites before Bungie was aquired by MS. They were adjusting the scope of the game pretty drastically (from an RTS to a MMOG-style FPS to standard FPS when they moved to the Xbox).

What does that mean for the code? Well, moving from OpenGL to DirectX, and rewriting/redesigning how the game interacts with the hardware. Fixing the framerate. Realizing they can kick up everything because they have a fixed, lower resolution to hit (and they cranked it up as far as possible - even Xbox Halo slows down sometimes).

There was salvagable code - it sounds to me like Bungie must have left stuff in there for when Halo was to go to the PC. Once Gearbox shut off the autoaim, for example, the mouse/keyboard thing worked perfectly, no additional tweaking needed. That didn't happen by accident. Generally, just uncommenting or commenting a section of code doesn't result in a clean activation/deactivation of a feature, unless it was planned. If that was in there, there might have also been other stuff in there as well - maybe. Bungie was programming for the Xbox, and they're weren't about to make the Xbox version rock less just because one day someone was going to bring it to the PC.

Programming for a fixed set of hardware by its very nature leads to very strange coding - I did MIPS assembly programming during school, where we were programming a specific processor. That definitely required some strange and confusing programming. That's one of the biggest hurdles when moving from a console to a PC - moving the code base away from a single configuration and making it friendlier to a wide range of hardware. Bugs crop up when the code you've written interacts with itself, the OS or the hardware in unforseen ways - and a port is a prime place for such strangeness to happen.

Similarly, moving code from a PC to the Xbox and back to the PC has the same potential for not working very well. And I'm not sure in any case that Bungie gave Gearbox their pre-Xbox code to begin with.

I'm not going off on you, Sat - it's just that there is so much negativity out there for this game (all of it not necessarily undeserved) that I want to make a positive noise whenever I can. The game's out, and Gearbox is still working on it, and that's exactly how I want it to be. I want new patches and the Halo Editing Kit, and co-op. I don't want them to get buried under a mountian of negativity and flaming, and decide that it isn't worth it and move on their next project.


As far as the SP campaign is concerned... yeah, I really dislike the Library. The levels following are fun enough to keep me interested, but are no where near as good as the opening levels. I would really have liked to see what the SP campaign would have been like if MS hadn't rushed it out as a flagship game for the Xbox. I don't really even play SP anymore. It's MP all the way!
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Old 12-23-03, 12:01 PM   #172
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I fully understand that there are complications when making the transition between console and PC. But it begs the question in my mind - exactly how difficult is it to do ports specifically from the Xbox to the PC? From what I know about the hardware (PIII 733, GeForce3) and what I understand about the SDK (DirectX for all intents and purposes) I can't imagine it would be too terribly hard. But again, I just don't know.

I could see moving from the PS2 or GameCube to PC being a more arduous task. But Rockstar did a pretty decent job with GTA: Vice City (much better than GTA3) and it didn't take them 18 months to do it. I remember, Vash, you telling me that development on the PC version of Halo was to start shortly after Christmas 2001.

I believed Halo would be a game that would take us back to its roots - to where Bungie had intended during the PCXL screenie days. It sounded like Gearbox was going to take great care to make sure the game was done right, and I know I'm not the only one here who has been more than a little disappointed by the results. You say they're working on it, well they've been working on it for almost two years now. I'm frustrated at Gearbox, I'm frustrated at Microsoft, I'm frustrated at the continued prevalence and sub-par quality of console ports. And I'm saddened that Halo has to be put in that category, especially after we waited so long.
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Old 12-23-03, 01:27 PM   #173
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Quote:
Originally posted by saturnotaku

I believed Halo would be a game that would take us back to its roots - to where Bungie had intended during the PCXL screenie days. It sounded like Gearbox was going to take great care to make sure the game was done right, and I know I'm not the only one here who has been more than a little disappointed by the results. You say they're working on it, well they've been working on it for almost two years now. I'm frustrated at Gearbox, I'm frustrated at Microsoft, I'm frustrated at the continued prevalence and sub-par quality of console ports. And I'm saddened that Halo has to be put in that category, especially after we waited so long.

This may sound contradictory, but, Amen! I honestly, deeply wish that Bungie hadn't been bought out. That's the root of the design flaws that we see in Halo. The stuff that they were talking about doing during the original PC development was mind-blowing. Still is.

I'm not going to put Halo in the sub-par category... par for console ports seems to me to be right in the middle of the crap pile. Vice City is definitely a well-done port. But Halo's also much better than any one of the slew of high profile console ports that have come out - Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance, Metal Gear Solid, Spiderman: The Movie, and Enter the Matrix jump to mind.


And you know, I'm more disappointed with the SP than I thought I would be. I don't really care, though. It was worth going through just for the experience - the MP justifies the purchase of the game for me. I wish your broadband situation was more ideal; taking people apart in CTF would be easier if I had someone who I knew on my team.

Simply choosing to program to construct your entire game to take advantage of one archetecture gimps you if you end up moving it to a dissimilar archetecture that has no hardware standards whatsoever. Instead of starting from scratch and building something that can run on many different configurations and then picking one and running with it, you're picking the one way that's efficient and powerful to do things on this platform, and then trying to tack on additional functionality afterwards. It's the difference between using a powered screwdriver to get a screw out of a wall and using the blade of your pocket knife to achieve the same task - both will do the job, but one was designed specifically for the job while the other is doing multiple jobs that it wasn't necessarily designed for.


Yeah, I think that Halo started development Christmas 2001 - you're right. This was still plenty after Halo PC was released for the Xbox. Gearbox has had it for a long time - but I think that a lesser company would have churned out something that was a lot worse.
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Old 12-23-03, 02:46 PM   #174
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I still wish Halo was an MMO game like it was originally intended...
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Old 12-23-03, 02:51 PM   #175
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I still wish Halo was an MMO game like it was originally intended...
Yeah.
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Old 12-23-03, 03:30 PM   #176
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I still wish Halo was an MMO game like it was originally intended...
Yeah but if they did that they probably would have only released it for the Mac too.
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Old 12-23-03, 04:00 PM   #177
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Quote:
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Fuel rod gun is also, IMO, highly overrated. Pistol and shotgun are a fantastic combination; use the zoom on the pistol to strip their shields, and then when they get near you, whip out the shotgun and kill them in one shot.
If you're good enough, you can kill them in one shot with the shotgun without stripping their shield, but it has to be point-blank (Something which is difficult to perform when playing in a non-LAN environment).

Good tip for online play, however.

Quickest death possible with each weapon is:

Plasma Grenade : (Tag) Instant death. Even when opponent has a full overshield.

Frag Grenade : 2 consecutive grenades at any range. First will leave your opponent with 3 health / no shield (If it's a direct hit). Second will kill.

Melee : (From Behind) Instant death. Even when opponent has a full overshield.

Pistol : 1 head + 2 body.

Shotgun : 1 body shot point blank.

Fuel Rod : 2 shots (any range).

Rocket : 1 shot (any range).

Needler : 3/4 Clip (any range, all needles must make contact however).

Plasma Pistol : 1 fully charged shot + full cell. You can use a fully charged shot + melee for same effect. (More reliable)

Plasma Rifle : Takes approximately a full Cell at point blank (This is up for debate, however).

Assault Rifle : 3/4 Clip at point blank.

Sniper Rifle : 1 head shot at any range.

Other than the Plasma Pistol/Rifle which are educated guesses based on the time (3+ months) I've spent with the game, these are accurate "quickest death" scenarios.

Hope this helps those that didn't know before hand.
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Old 12-24-03, 07:36 AM   #178
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Quote:
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Yeah but if they did that they probably would have only released it for the Mac too.
Ha! That woulda sucked. But then I would have had to go out and buy that Titanium Powerbook that I've always wanted.




...hmm...come to think of it, I think that even back in the original development days they were aiming for a PC release then a Mac release (they know where the majority of the gamers are).


But then, if everything hadn't happened as it has, who would've lit those ninjas on fire?
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