Xbox shooter Titanfall has finally landed to near universal polite clapping – but there is one nagging issue: what about the graphics? The game has been released on both Xbox 360 and Xbox One and one of points where almost all of the gaming press agrees, is on the graphics… They’re just… unremarkable. But why?
Richard Baker was the lead engineer on the title and has been speaking to Eurogamer about developing the game. Of the many interesting things to come out of it is the revelation that they never originally planned for an Xbox One version of the game.
And it was only this later on later on in the development process that support for Direct X11 was used. It seems that creating the game was a headache too – with the Source engine the game was built on (the same engine that powers Valve titles like Portal 2), having to be rebuilt almost entirely for the new game.
Given this technical backdrop, it is perhaps unsurprising that developers Respawn were able to work the Xbox One’s hardware as effectively as they would perhaps have liked. Though don’t be too disheartened – most new consoles are never fully exploited until later in the console’s lifecycle. Remember how Call of Duty 2 and Call of Duty: Ghosts both run on exactly the same hardware – despite the massive difference in graphics quality.
What’s also interesting in the interview is to note how new phenomenons like game streaming is effecting games development. Following the release of the Titanfall Beta, the developers were able to watch normal people on Twitch playing the game – and were able to taking their comments on board to make the final experience so much better.
In fact, thanks to the ability to patch the game, it seems updates are still continuing. Baker also told Eurogamer about plans to try and increase the screen resolution on the Xbox One – one of the not unrelated bugbears for elitist Xbox One gamers.
“We’ve been experimenting with making it higher and lower. One of the big tricks is how much ESRAM we’re going to use, so we’re thinking of not using hardware MSAA and instead using FXAA to make it so we don’t have to have this larger render target,” Baker tells us. “We’re going to experiment. The target is either 1080p non-anti-aliased or 900p with FXAA. We’re trying to optimise… we don’t want to give up anything for higher res. So far we’re not 100 per cent happy with any of the options. We’re still working on it. For day one it’s not going to change. We’re still looking at it for post-day one. We’re likely to increase resolution after we ship.”
So it sounds like we’re not done yet. Maybe one day Titanfall will actually be finished!