Posts Tagged ‘for’

For Your Consideration: SplitScreen

October 21, 2010 3 comments

In lieu of a decent written article, since I’m sitting at the college library and I don’t feel like actually writing, here is an un-edited discussion about things to do with games, between my good buddy Mark (of Random Hoo-Haas, see side-bar links), and myself. Enjoy?

[11:35] Ian: Quick, Mark, spit something at me. Postulate something about the games business for me to extrapolate on.
[11:35] Ragey: Um.
[11:35] Ragey: Offline multi-player – do developers still acknowledge it?
[11:36] Ian: You god damn genius. Is the art of split screen lost? Golden Eye 2010 begs to differ!
[11:36] Ian: As does most of the wii, for that matter, which may be why the Wii is a big family/party system.
[11:37] Ragey: There’s a lot of games on the 360 that I’m surprised have online-only multi-player. I mean, how hard can it be for OutRun 2 to include splitscreen?
[11:38] Ian: Indeed. That’s one thing that I think games like Halo and Call of duty still have over a lot of other shooters that helps give them that foothold in the industry
[11:38] Ian: that being they still fully support four player split-screen.
[11:38] Ian: Albeit Halo multiplayer is on a much grander scale when you’re online, it’s still fun to sit down with three buds and shoot eachother in the face hole.
[11:39] Ragey: Of course. Left 4 Dead is fun online, but it’s much more fun when I’m playing it with people in-person (though it only supports 2-player splitscreen, which given the amount of zombies and crap on-screen I guess is a given)
[11:40] Ragey: Also I suppose it’d be neat to maybe talk about the programming behind splitscreen? Like, I get the impression it’d be something that’s relatively simple, but since a lot of games even back in the day struggled with it there must be more to it than I think.
[11:40] Ian: Yeah, that’s an issue. In this age of Hi-Def gaming, split screen means A: A smaller view for each player and B: More objects that have to be rendered at a time.
[11:40] Ian: I mean, think about it
[11:40] Ian: For every screen, the game is literally having to render a whole other scene.
[11:42] Ragey: I think that’s the bit that confuses me – does having a second camera (player) mean that it has to re-render everything that’s visible?
[11:42] Ian: Yes, essentially.
[11:43] Ian: The assets are shared as far as memory goes, so there’s not a huge extra processing or memory load, I don’t think
[11:43] Ragey: But depending on the intensity of the game it will have an impact, I imagine.
[11:43] Ian: But the graphical elements definitely suffer a bit. I haven’t really looked at Reach, for example, splitscreen in depth VS single screen, so I can;’t pull any isolated examples
[11:43] Ian: But it seems like the logical thing
[11:44] Ian: It’s kind of like this 3D games thing on the Playstation 3
[11:44] Ian: Those games that are starting to implement glasses 3D definitely suffer, because they are having to render the game from two slightly different angles.
[11:44] Ian: Which has been developer confirmed.
[11:45] Ragey: Hm, intriguing.
[11:45] Ian: Fascinating indeed.
[11:47] Ragey: Of course, then there’s also the usage of low-poly models for when stuff gets too much. Mario Kart Double Dash is the first example that springs to mind. I can’t help but wonder if, say, there was something like Left 4 Dead made for the PS3/360 with 4-player splitscreen, but the graphics were N64-quality. Would that make it easier to run or would the sheer amount of models (never mind their complexity) still bog it down?
[11:48] Ian: It would make it much easier to run. I could run several N64 games at the same time on my laptop at home via emulation and not have any slowdown
[11:49] Ian: In fact, I’m pretty sure there’s a port of the n64 Goldeneye on XBox Live Arcade
[11:50] Ragey: Now that’s very interesting. Because I admit I was almost wondering to myself, why have we never seen anything like Left 4 Dead until the 360 (in the sense of a co-op game against tons and tons and tons of mass mob enemies), but it’s really just down to the processing power, I imagine. I’d love to see a cheap low-poly version of the game made just to see how it would run.
[11:50] Ragey: And I know Perfect Dark’s been ported to the 360, I think Goldeneye’s still in legal limbo.
[11:51] Ian: “Rumors and even footage of an XBLA remake of Goldeneye floated around the Internet in recent years, but due to licensing and other complexities, a brewing re-release of Goldeneye appears to have been aborted. ”
[11:51] Ian: correct you are
[11:51] Ian: Parfect Dark was more or less the same engine, though.
[11:51] Ian: so the example stands.
[11:51] Ragey: Mmm.
[11:53] Ian: That all said, I’d imagine multiplayer split screen shooters usually run at so fast a pace, you wouldn’t really notice any drop in visual quality at the time.
[11:54] Ragey: Of course. And the fact the screen is squashed probably helps, too.
[11:54] Ian: Yeah