John Carmack Insists New Consoles Will Run Games at 30fps

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John Carmack Insists New Consoles Will Run Games at 30fps

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A PC gaming legend expresses his concern over the future of consoles.

If there's one thing you can say about Id Software co-founder John Carmack, it's that when he chooses to weigh in on a topic, he rarely holds back. In a recent Twitter exchange, the well-known programmer stands by his claim that future consoles will be capable of running most titles at just 30fps.

A well-established name in the PC gaming scene, Carmack has been largely critical of console gaming for quite a while. But given that both Sony and Microsoft have remained completely tight-lipped on what their next hardware release will be, any opinion of what next-gen consoles will be capable of is based largely on rumored specs and other details that may have no basis in reality.

With Id's release of Rage for both PC and home consoles, Carmack appeared to have mixed feelings. He is quoted as saying that the FPS title was designed for consoles, but noted the difficulty of fitting all of the game's content onto the storage mediums of the Xbox 360 and PS3. He later expressed regret in his decision to focus on consoles from the start, noting how negatively his choice affected the product on PC.

It remains unclear whether Carmack's stance on next-gen consoles stems from disappointment in the rumored hardware specs or a belief that developers simply won't push the consoles to their respective limits. Either way, it appears that Carmack is siding with the PC, at least for the time being.

Source: Twitter via DSOGaming

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I'm fine with that, if it means more actual content and things able to happen in the game world.

In Driver San Francisco, singleplayer supposedly runs at 60, multiplayer at 30. Switching to multiplayer you notice the change...

...for about three seconds. After that it's business as usual, and the FPS becomes irrelevant.

As long as it's a consistent - and preferably V-synced because screen tearing drives me mad - I have no problems with 30fps for most games, even first-person shooters. Games like Devil May Cry and Bayonetta I think benefit from the higher framerate the most, and I'm sure the majority of those games will strive for 60fps much as certain games did this generation. I've never had a problem with a solid, consistent 30fps this generation so I doubt I will the next. 60fps to me is simply a very, very nice bonus that enhances but doesn't define a game.

You know, back when my computer had a Pentium 4 processor with 2 gigs ram, I ran games at 30 fps and was happy about it!

Anyway, he's got his opinion and it's his right to express it (and I guess it's the Escapist's right to pick up a random twitter comment and turn it into a story...), but I've gotta say, Rage didn't run too well on PCs either :|

edit: btw, does he really "insist" it? I always figured "insists" means "maintains the same position when pressured," while this is more a case of "claims."

Fighting games can only really run at 60fps, but that's largely due to how inherently frame-intensive such games are. Some action games (DMC immediately comes to mind) also work better at 60fps, but that's largely dependent on the inherent mechanics.

You know... I really don't know where I'm going with this, so I'll show myself out now.

I'm a little confused. We can run games at 60 FPS on consoles now right? With some graphics hits and tweaking. I'm pretty sure Dantes Inferno is 60 FPS. So is he saying that the games graphics are going to increase to a point where consoles still can't handle higher frame rates? Are they going to look better enough that it's still worth than over 60 FPS?

EDIT: Accidentally wrote 30 instead of 60. Now corrected

Squilookle:
I'm fine with that, if it means more actual content and things able to happen in the game world.

Sadly, that's unlikely to happen. With every new gen, we talk about limitless possibilities and expanded realities. And some games deliver. most do not. Especially since the PS1 era. Remember when everyone was like "Man, if they can do Final Fantasy VII on 3 CDs, imagine what they could do with a DVD!"

And then people were like "imagine what we could do with BD!"

That's not even touching other tech specs. This gen brought us the rise of the Samey Brown Linear Shooters (SBLS), and capping framerate hasn't really done jack to benefit us.

Granted, I don't care. 30 FPS is fine for me in most games. Just saying.

BrotherRool:
I'm a little confused. We can run games at 60 FPS on consoles now right? With some graphics hits and tweaking. I'm pretty sure Dantes Inferno is 30 FPS. So is he saying that the games graphics are going to increase to a point where consoles still can't handle higher frame rates? Are they going to look better enough that it's still worth than over 60 FPS?

Yes, because gaming has mastered the art of polishing a turd.

BrotherRool:
I'm a little confused. We can run games at 60 FPS on consoles now right? With some graphics hits and tweaking. I'm pretty sure Dantes Inferno is 30 FPS. So is he saying that the games graphics are going to increase to a point where consoles still can't handle higher frame rates? Are they going to look better enough that it's still worth than over 60 FPS?

Modern console games can't run on 60 fps because it's crappy 6 year old hardware.

Ot: Well looks like more 30 fps locks.

Many games were made with consoles in mind and turned out great on both PC and consoles, sometimes better in one than the other, but RAGE, oh boy, it worked bad on both of them...

Roelof Wesselius:

BrotherRool:
I'm a little confused. We can run games at 60 FPS on consoles now right? With some graphics hits and tweaking. I'm pretty sure Dantes Inferno is 30 FPS. So is he saying that the games graphics are going to increase to a point where consoles still can't handle higher frame rates? Are they going to look better enough that it's still worth than over 60 FPS?

Modern console games can't run on 60 fps because it's crappy 6 year old hardware.

Ot: Well looks like more 30 fps locks.

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-dante-a-must-at-60-blog-entry

Dantes Inferno did indeed run at 60FPS on the consoles

EDIT: Also lots of the CoDs, Gran Turismo, Ratchett + Clank, FIFA.

Anyway I'm pretty sure the refresh rate on the TV my PS3 is hooked up to can't actually do 60FPS. You need a top end TV, so it's all good for me if they continue to focus on the graphics

Zachary Amaranth:

Squilookle:
I'm fine with that, if it means more actual content and things able to happen in the game world.

Sadly, that's unlikely to happen. With every new gen, we talk about limitless possibilities and expanded realities. And some games deliver. most do not. Especially since the PS1 era. Remember when everyone was like "Man, if they can do Final Fantasy VII on 3 CDs, imagine what they could do with a DVD!"

And then people were like "imagine what we could do with BD!"

That's not even touching other tech specs. This gen brought us the rise of the Samey Brown Linear Shooters (SBLS), and capping framerate hasn't really done jack to benefit us.

Granted, I don't care. 30 FPS is fine for me in most games. Just saying.

I'm actually more concerned about the game content devs ditch in order to keep 60 fps- Driver was certainly guilty of that. Technology limitations aside, if you decide right at the start to cap your game at 30 fps, you have a lot more breathing space for your game to do/display/calculate stuff before you start seeing hits to the frame count. I see 60fps as a sort of instant barrier on some features devs would probably like to be able to put in to their games.

MikeWehner:
or a belief that developers simply won't push the consoles to their respective limits.

I'm pretty sure it's this, but reversed. The consoles will be pushed to their limits, so hard in fact that they won't be able to keep up the eye candy at a framerate above 30 FPS. The hardware cycle for PC hardware is about a year for the top end stuff to be replaced, maybe 3-5 before even the high end stuff is obsolete enough to have problems running current games. The console cycle is supposed to be five years of the exact same hardware, but if this gen is anything to go on,seems to have slowed to about 10 years per cycle thanks to the economy. What that ultimately means is we'll be hitting up on some very hard limits well before the next generation ends. There's only so much even a programming god like Carmack can do to optimize something for underpowered hardware.

Excuse my ignorance, but don't many games now run at twice that? Whether or not that's a good thing is a matter of debate however.

This is all conjecture anyway until sony and microsoft actually release specs for their new consoles, before that we can only really guess at what they are capable of. I'd think they would want to push for 60 fps though as the Wii U I believe is capable of 60 fps and I'm sure they'd want to at least match that. I would also like it personally as going from my pc to my console to play a game the difference in frame rates can be quite jarring.

BrotherRool:
Is he saying that the games graphics are going to increase to a point where consoles still can't handle higher frame rates? Are they going to look better enough that it's still worth more than over 60 FPS?

Well Carmack himself doesn't say much, but that was the theme of the conversation. There are many, many ways to make games look better than current consoles. More polygons, 1080p or higher resolution, antialiasing, better lighting etc. 60fps is only one of those things, and it's something that a lot of people can't even detect unless the two framerates are shown side by side.

Therefore, it's best reserved for schmups, one on one fighters, racing games and a few other genres that are extremely dependent on quick reactions.

canadamus_prime:
Excuse my ignorance, but don't many games now run at twice that? Whether or not that's a good thing is a matter of debate however.

Unless you are playing on PC (where your FPS is determined by hardware/settings) most big name console games these days run at 30 fps. The only series that has truly committed to 60 fps is CoD, and in order to do that it had to sacrifice a fair amount of visual fidelity when compared to other games due to the obvious fact that it must render twice as many frames every second than say BF3. The only other future console game I know of that is running at 60 fps is mgs rising.
I have to agree with Carmack however, despite (in my opinion) the superior gameplay of 60fps, many console gamers seem to choose graphical fidelity over a higher frame rate, and to be fair as long as the frame rate remains constant the game is completely playable. Also, if I may be so bold to make my own prediction, I don't see many "next gen" games running at 1080p either.

Lucky Godzilla:

canadamus_prime:
Excuse my ignorance, but don't many games now run at twice that? Whether or not that's a good thing is a matter of debate however.

Unless you are playing on PC (where your FPS is determined by hardware/settings) most big name console games these days run at 30 fps. The only series that has truly committed to 60 fps is CoD, and in order to do that it had to sacrifice a fair amount of visual fidelity when compared to other games due to the obvious fact that it must render twice as many frames every second than say BF3. The only other future console game I know of that is running at 60 fps is mgs rising.
I have to agree with Carmack however, despite (in my opinion) the superior gameplay of 60fps, many console gamers seem to choose graphical fidelity over a higher frame rate, and to be fair as long as the frame rate remains constant the game is completely playable. Also, if I may be so bold to make my own prediction, I don't see many "next gen" games running at 1080p either.

Ok, I was sure about that.
As for my personal opinion, well it's the same as my opinion regarding HD, in that I have to ask, does it really affect the gameplay or your ability to have fun playing the game? And if it does, how shallow are you (I mean "you" generically, not "you" specifically)?

I've yet to see any evidence that the difference in frames per second poses any symptoms other than psychological ones. (I'm telling you I can see the difference. I know its there! That's why I keep losing to you. No it's not that you're a better player, damnit!)

BrotherRool:
I'm a little confused. We can run games at 60 FPS on consoles now right? With some graphics hits and tweaking. I'm pretty sure Dantes Inferno is 60 FPS. So is he saying that the games graphics are going to increase to a point where consoles still can't handle higher frame rates? Are they going to look better enough that it's still worth than over 60 FPS?

Yes. Games will (and have always) focused more in graphic fidelity and lighting effects than smooth gameplay; because it sells. Its harder to display a smooth gameplay than shinny graphics in promotional material. Screenshots and magazines can only show stills and they would much rather show games set to ultrahigh.

Besides, people with the need to justify their latest hardware purchase can grow quite critical of games that don't show the pores out of the skin of NPCs. The so called "graphics whores" exist and are quite annoying; and it will only get worst at the start of the next generation...

In the end, being locked at 60 FPS, even now, does not come cheap. Huge amounts of optimizations must be made and features will be scratched if they compromise that benchmark. Games have to be designed from the ground up to be 60 FPS, and the difference in sales won't be as noticeable (in fact, its likely many will attack the game because of its outdated graphics: see Call of Duty)

"It remains unclear whether Carmack's stance on next-gen consoles stems from disappointment in the rumored hardware specs or a belief that developers simply won't push the consoles to their respective limits."

It is neither. The next generation will be at 30fps for the same reason that this generation was: enhanced visuals are more marketable than enhanced framrate. The hardware will be capable of 60 and developers will push it just as hard as they always have, but most will not prioritize framerate over, say, lighting and shadows.

I'm just wondering is the next gen consoles will support tessellation and/or physx.
Because that'd mean multiplatform games would start looking so much better on the PC.

For those who say they can't tell the difference between 30 fps and 60 fps,

grigjd3:
I've yet to see any evidence that the difference in frames per second poses any symptoms other than psychological ones. (I'm telling you I can see the difference. I know its there! That's why I keep losing to you. No it's not that you're a better player, damnit!)

You actually can see the difference quite clearly side by side and it's really quite noticeable right away and bothersome to those who've become used to everything at 60 fps suddenly playing a game at 30. Your eyes cannot see the difference, but your brain can. IT makes a difference by increasing the fluidity of movements by a good amount.

Here's something to demonstrate the 30 vs 60 FPS thing. http://boallen.com/fps-compare.html
At the end of the day whether or not we need to have things at 60 fps on consoles is down to opinion. What's not down to opinion is the fact thatt there is a noticeable difference between 60 and 30 fps for the majority of people.

canadamus_prime:

Lucky Godzilla:

canadamus_prime:
Excuse my ignorance, but don't many games now run at twice that? Whether or not that's a good thing is a matter of debate however.

Unless you are playing on PC (where your FPS is determined by hardware/settings) most big name console games these days run at 30 fps. The only series that has truly committed to 60 fps is CoD, and in order to do that it had to sacrifice a fair amount of visual fidelity when compared to other games due to the obvious fact that it must render twice as many frames every second than say BF3. The only other future console game I know of that is running at 60 fps is mgs rising.
I have to agree with Carmack however, despite (in my opinion) the superior gameplay of 60fps, many console gamers seem to choose graphical fidelity over a higher frame rate, and to be fair as long as the frame rate remains constant the game is completely playable. Also, if I may be so bold to make my own prediction, I don't see many "next gen" games running at 1080p either.

Ok, I was sure about that.
As for my personal opinion, well it's the same as my opinion regarding HD, in that I have to ask, does it really affect the gameplay or your ability to have fun playing the game? And if it does, how shallow are you (I mean "you" generically, not "you" specifically)?

I feel as if you might have misinterpreted my prediction. Resolution only is an issue if you're talking sub-HD, or have your face pressed up against a monitor where you can actually see the individual pixels. Sitting on my couch, I don't give a damn if my 360 is outputting 720 or 1080. A lot of people think that the next gen will output in 1080p, which I think is false. Most Devs seem to value the extra juice for fidelity than for a sharper resolution.

Lucky Godzilla:
if I may be so bold to make my own prediction, I don't see many "next gen" games running at 1080p either.

I think 1080p is plausible. It makes a fairly noticeably improvement, probably more of an improvement than adding polygons or improving the lighting model. I'd say that antialiasing is more important, but antialiasing needs surprisingly little GPU power, so we may get both.

canadamus_prime:
Excuse my ignorance, but don't many games now run at twice that? Whether or not that's a good thing is a matter of debate however.

Many games do, but those that have huge environments or make extensive use of foliage or other demanding effects get a 30 FPS lock on consoles. On a good (not top end) PC, you can still get many games to run at 60 FPS and beyond.

Personally, I like my games at 40 FPS minimum, unless it's a turn-based game. I can see why it doesn't make much difference to console gamers, since most of them seem to favor plugging their console of choice to a TV across the room.

It's not really a matter of debate whether highter FPS is good for gaming since even if you don't like seeing smoother movement, higher FPS makes the game feel more responsive and dynamic, which is always considered a plus in a video game.

Bad Jim:

Lucky Godzilla:
if I may be so bold to make my own prediction, I don't see many "next gen" games running at 1080p either.

I think 1080p is plausible. It makes a fairly noticeably improvement, probably more of an improvement than adding polygons or improving the lighting model. I'd say that antialiasing is more important, but antialiasing needs surprisingly little GPU power, so we may get both.

The thing is, most devs tend to go for the complexity of their engine over the sharpness of their resolution. Take BF3 as an example, DICE could not obtain a consistant framerate. So faced between toning down the graphics or lowering the resolution they chose the latter. So whenever you play BF3 on 360 or PS3, you aren't even playing at 720p.

Really depends on how cheap your TV is. Most 60hz do basic interpolation on 30p to reach that refresh rate, so even of a game was running at 60fps, it would look very similar to 30fps.

Better manufactured HDTV especially with 120hz could do a little better, but that is not what is in the homes of most people. Getting a game to run 60fps on a console would be a waste of resources.

Lucky Godzilla:

canadamus_prime:

Lucky Godzilla:

Unless you are playing on PC (where your FPS is determined by hardware/settings) most big name console games these days run at 30 fps. The only series that has truly committed to 60 fps is CoD, and in order to do that it had to sacrifice a fair amount of visual fidelity when compared to other games due to the obvious fact that it must render twice as many frames every second than say BF3. The only other future console game I know of that is running at 60 fps is mgs rising.
I have to agree with Carmack however, despite (in my opinion) the superior gameplay of 60fps, many console gamers seem to choose graphical fidelity over a higher frame rate, and to be fair as long as the frame rate remains constant the game is completely playable. Also, if I may be so bold to make my own prediction, I don't see many "next gen" games running at 1080p either.

Ok, I was sure about that.
As for my personal opinion, well it's the same as my opinion regarding HD, in that I have to ask, does it really affect the gameplay or your ability to have fun playing the game? And if it does, how shallow are you (I mean "you" generically, not "you" specifically)?

I feel as if you might have misinterpreted my prediction. Resolution only is an issue if you're talking sub-HD, or have your face pressed up against a monitor where you can actually see the individual pixels. Sitting on my couch, I don't give a damn if my 360 is outputting 720 or 1080. A lot of people think that the next gen will output in 1080p, which I think is false. Most Devs seem to value the extra juice for fidelity than for a sharper resolution.

Ok, I was still mostly talking about the 60 FPS thing, but yeah that too.

Doom972:

canadamus_prime:
Excuse my ignorance, but don't many games now run at twice that? Whether or not that's a good thing is a matter of debate however.

Many games do, but those that have huge environments or make extensive use of foliage or other demanding effects get a 30 FPS lock on consoles. On a good (not top end) PC, you can still get many games to run at 60 FPS and beyond.

Personally, I like my games at 40 FPS minimum, unless it's a turn-based game. I can see why it doesn't make much difference to console gamers, since most of them seem to favor plugging their console of choice to a TV across the room.

It's not really a matter of debate whether highter FPS is good for gaming since even if you don't like seeing smoother movement, higher FPS makes the game feel more responsive and dynamic, which is always considered a plus in a video game.

Meh, makes little difference to me. After all some of the games I've gotten the most absorbed in were sprite based and had turn based combat so make of that what you will.

Lucky Godzilla:
The thing is, most devs tend to go for the complexity of their engine over the sharpness of their resolution. Take BF3 as an example, DICE could not obtain a consistant framerate. So faced between toning down the graphics or lowering the resolution they chose the latter. So whenever you play BF3 on 360 or PS3, you aren't even playing at 720p.

That might be a case of not budgeting their detail properly. If you find out, as the project comes together, that you can't maintain a good framerate, it's rather expensive to tweak all the assets but very cheap to change the resolution. It might not deliver the best result, but it's the most cost effective way to deliver a reasonable result.

It's really a question of balance. Resolution without detail wastes rendering time because a crude model at 1080p is still just a crude model. But detail without resolution is also a waste, because you won't be able to see the extra detail. In general, more powerful consoles will want to use higher resolutions to do justice to their extra detail.

The headline is misleading to the context. He seems to mean that 30fps will be the standard for most games, he's not saying they CAN'T run 60 just that they won't bother trying to push the standard to that because it won't see the benefit.

Squilookle:
I'm fine with that, if it means more actual content and things able to happen in the game world.

In Driver San Francisco, singleplayer supposedly runs at 60, multiplayer at 30. Switching to multiplayer you notice the change...

...for about three seconds. After that it's business as usual, and the FPS becomes irrelevant.

Wait the Driver SF multi ran at 30 fps! Well I guess I don't care about fps either as it turns out.

Carmack got the respect I lost for him after Rage with this comments. It should have been a PC game first and foremost. If he wants to be a cool guy again in my book, he has to make a decent Doom 4 and if the next-gen consoles suck which I don't really think, then just make it for PC and whatever Valve-hardware turns out to be.

Squilookle:

I'm actually more concerned about the game content devs ditch in order to keep 60 fps- Driver was certainly guilty of that. Technology limitations aside, if you decide right at the start to cap your game at 30 fps, you have a lot more breathing space for your game to do/display/calculate stuff before you start seeing hits to the frame count. I see 60fps as a sort of instant barrier on some features devs would probably like to be able to put in to their games.

Pretty much the same by way of example. We aren't seeing that, generally speaking.

The Artificially Prolonged:
This is all conjecture anyway until sony and microsoft actually release specs for their new consoles,

Devs like Carmack will almost certainly know the console specs, they will have had the console development kits for a while now. The Sony "Orbis" (PS4) for example is now in its third iteration. They usually start off like a graphics card or other internal PC component and then end up as a nondescript looking PC.

When devs start saying stuff about the next console gen its worth listening, they cannot say much because of NDAs but they can let some things slip.

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