Thursday, November 16, 2006

If you bought a PS3... I really feel sorry for you

a lot of different reports are starting to come in from people able to get their hands on the Playstation3, and the reports are not good. Now, I'm just gonna link two of these reports so far for the sake of commentary. Source is Anandtech/Dailytech

Issues with PS2 compatibility

Lack of Upscalar

The first problem with the Playstation3 on launch is that it's PS2 compatibility list is far short of what was expected. As the Playstation2 contained the hardware for the original Playstation, the Playstation3 contains the Emotion Chip and Graphics Synthesizer (read: 1 128bit Mips CPU with 2 Vector Processors) that made up the Playstation2, so it was expected that the Playstation2 compatibility would not be an issue. When the Playstation2 launched a few obscure titles had some issues, but most of them were Japan only releases, and not really big sellers. So, imagine the shock people are getting with games like Xenosaga Episode II, Radiata Stories, Devil May Cry, and Suikoden III not working properly? Okay, so that's not the entire list of known problems, I just happen to... oh yeah. OWN THOSE GAMES. Other popular titles like Gran Turismo 4 and Tekken 5 also have issues.

Now, the excuses are already flying, with pointers to the lack of rumble in the Playstation3 controller, to the Virtual Memory cards instead of physical memory cards... but these... well, are not exactly good excuses. The primary reason these are not good excuses is the Operating System base for the Playstation2 and Playstation3. It is Linux. There should not have been any problems mapping the physical memory cards to virtual memory cards, and it should not have been any problem routing Rumble commands to /dev/null. To have software issues like this when you have complete control of the Operating System and the Hardware is inexcusable.

Granted, the most common problem isn't the game locking up, although that happens on a lot of titles. The most common problem is music getting off track, or no music at all. Which... Sony responded to with this gem:

some people can put up with playing games that lack sound

I am thinking that ranks up there with "5 million people will buy our console, even without any games." I really think the Sound Engineers working on Playstation3 titles need to think about how their work is being taken for granted.

The second major piece of news on the launch of the Playstation3 is the lack up an upscaler. This really isn't a big deal in and of itself. People who have set a 640*480 picture to be their desktop background on a 1024*768 screen, and then selected "stretch" know how bad the picture can be pixelated. But, in the case of the Playstation3, it supports resolutions of 480 interlaced, 480 progressive, 720progressive, and at least 1080 interlaced. However, a lot of High Definition Televisions on the market, including a lot of Sony models, do not support the 720progressive resolution. Many only support 480 interlaced, 480 progressive, and 1080 interlaced.

So, Playstation3 games that do not support the 1080 interlaced picture, but support 720 progressive, drop to 480 progressive picture.

Suddenly, Nintendo's decision to forgo anything above 480 Progressive makes a lot more sense, although it's not like I told everybody that... BACK WHEN THE GAMECUBE LAUNCHED. AND WHEN THE SPECIFICATIONS WERE REVEALED FOR THE 360 AND PS3. Oh wait a second... I did.

Anyways, the point is being made that at 480 progressive downscale, the pictures are, well, blurry. I hate to break physics to the rest of the Video Game Crowd, BUT TELEVISIONS ARE BLURRY! CRT televisions depend on the motion blur in order to fool your eyes into seeing motion. That is how televisions WORK.

Anyways, so it isn't like this was an issue that wasn't seen by engineers, especially by engineers who created the High Definition standards and how High Definition is implemented in a television set.

My problem with Sony on this is that they really should have known better, and should have made sure that development teams checked the 480 progressive output views on their games. I know Epic did with Gears of War. It looks great on a 480 interlaced, and a 720progressive screen.
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