X360 Wednesday, February 4, 2009 | 8:29 AM

Halo Wars dev diary

Halo Wars dev diary

Microsoft released the second developer diary of Halo Wars, this time explaining how the developers managed (and succeeded if I might add) to integrate the Halo universe into a RTS game.


Dev Diary #2
Download: WMV | MP4 | AVI

All comments

Commented on 2009-02-04 09:23:36
Maybe they might explain why there is a considerable amount of screen tearing in the gameplay vids. I suspect the phenomenon will not even be mentioned in the forthcoming reviews. When will devs start to realise that screen tearing is an ugly thing to behold. Put more time in polish instead of hype please.
Commented on 2009-02-04 10:47:51
Noone buys a polished but unknown game. People buy hyped, flawpacked games, so nobody will change their marketing.

If you dont like a game, then fuck the hype and pass.

If you ask me, this one looks like fun...
Commented on 2009-02-04 11:15:13
Oh come on hiscore. I agree that many people find tearing irritating. But a much larger portion don't notice, or don't care. It's never bothered me, though I know it irritates some of my mates - not enough to have them sacrifice graphical flair or framerate though.
Commented on 2009-02-04 12:02:38 In reply to zerolight
Posted by zerolight
Oh come on hiscore. I agree that many people find tearing irritating. But a much larger portion don't notice, or don't care. It's never bothered me, though I know it irritates some of my mates - not enough to have them sacrifice graphical flair or framerate though.
I personally find it incredibly, almost deal breakingly irritating and it pissed me off hugely that none of the reviews for God of War mentioned the chronic tearing that game had for example. It needs to mentioned as a flaw in reviews just like hiscore says, just like poor framerate/ texture pop etc although I actually think it would be these days...
Commented on 2009-02-04 15:38:59
GAME LOOKS Amazingly fun... I love unit-focused RTSs.
Commented on 2009-02-04 15:48:16 In reply to hiscore
Yar, ye be right sir! Devs put screen tearing into games on purpose because they don't know it looks ugly! Yarrrr! *sarcasm*

Programming is typically a game of sacrifice. To gain one thing, you have to compromise somewhere else. There are usually reasons why certain things don't get fixed. I can promise you that the people who are smart enough to program and design a game like this are well aware of the tearing. They also know of 1000 other more important bugs that they had to fix that you would otherwise have been griping about. It's probably left in there because they didn't want to sacrifice something else. It's all about balance. In the real world there are deadlines and goals. You can't spend forever polishing and polishing a game over small details that the average person won't notice. These are real peoples' lives and finances that go into this stuff. It's not simply for the sake of your personal enjoyment, believe it or not.

Also if you ask me, this game has had very little hype, honestly... especially for a Halo related game.
Commented on 2009-02-04 15:58:21
Funnily enough, I've never noticed screen tearing in a game before. I guess I'm just more focused on playing the game itself.
Commented on 2009-02-04 16:10:17
There are worse things than tearing, but come on, how can one not notice it.

If you have played e.g. any splinter cell or saw this video and havent noticed any tearing, than I'd like to have your tearing-resistent eyes...

P.S. agree with zomfg.
Its all about balance and yes, the game has no hype yet.
I like Halo and Age Of Empires but until those dev-vids I didn't really care about this game.
OXM rated it 9/10, so imo they should start hype it more.
The seemed to have polished it long enough...
Commented on 2009-02-04 18:55:00 In reply to blmbox
Posted by blmbox
Funnily enough, I've never noticed screen tearing in a game before. I guess I'm just more focused on playing the game itself.
Ingame I don't notice tearing that much (depending on how fast the game is). It's in the cutsceens where it's really annoying.

edit: After watching the video I can't say I've seen much tearing. It's not even distracting.
Commented on 2009-02-04 19:39:29 In reply to hiscore
Posted by hiscore
Maybe they might explain why there is a considerable amount of screen tearing in the gameplay vids. I suspect the phenomenon will not even be mentioned in the forthcoming reviews. When will devs start to realise that screen tearing is an ugly thing to behold. Put more time in polish instead of hype please.
Its just a performance issue, its gunna be in there, ad compared to some games, this is nothing. Its really not that bad when it happens, and only happens at the big battles with lots of shit blowing up at once. Its not constant or anything, we've just seen a lot of it because obviously they want to show off the big impressive battles and what not. Also, tearing is often less noticable when you experience it directly rather then through a video. Plus its a bit of screen tearing and no expenses spared for visuals, or you get 60 FPS and bitch that the damn game looks like shit. Good with the bad people, and its a pretty small issue anyway.
Commented on 2009-02-04 21:03:58
Its really not hard to ignore screen tearing, you'll spot it if you look for it or if its REALLY that bad, but no developer will leave a game in that bad a state that any average gamer is going to see. To whine about tearing is so pointless if its minute and just irritating, its not like frame rate where if its slow, the game becomes unplayable, you can still see the screen, everything reacts the speed it should and game play isn't hindered, just ignore it.. jeez =/ The game looks awesome and I cannot wait to play it.
Commented on 2009-02-05 04:38:05
Demo comes out in 6 hrs and 24 minutes.

That's how much I care about the tearing issue. I personally have DL every video I can find and I haven't noticed it on any one of them so either I'm blessed- or your screen isn't updating correctly.

Either way- 6 hrs. and 23 minutes.
Commented on 2009-02-05 06:09:10 In reply to munkini
Posted by munkini
I personally find it incredibly, almost deal breakingly irritating and it pissed me off hugely that none of the reviews for God of War mentioned the chronic tearing that game had for example. It needs to mentioned as a flaw in reviews just like hiscore says, just like poor framerate/ texture pop etc although I actually think it would be these days...
You do know what screen tearing IS right? Its caused by the framerate being higher than the output / tv / screen's refresh rate.
In essence, while it can look annoying, screen tearing is a GOOD thing, it means that the game runs utterly fluidly.
Some games choose to ignore vsync because with some graphics engines vsync (which locks the framerate down to match your screen's refresh rate) actually has a framerate impact so big that the game would start to chug instead.

Anyone who's ever played a PC game or anything other than consoles already knows this :p Tearing has nothing to do with the game being "in a bad state", it simply is the effect of an excessive framerate. If anything you should ask the devs to jam in a few more special effects to keep the framerate lower if they dont activated vsync for whatever reason.

I dont know about you, but i prefer screen tearing to chuggy framerate drops.
Commented on 2009-02-05 09:56:27 In reply to Baleur
Posted by Baleur
You do know what screen tearing IS right? Its caused by the framerate being higher than the output / tv / screen's refresh rate.
In essence, while it can look annoying, screen tearing is a GOOD thing, it means that the game runs utterly fluidly.
Some games choose to ignore vsync because with some graphics engines vsync (which locks the framerate down to match your screen's refresh rate) actually has a framerate impact so big that the game would start to chug instead.

Anyone who's ever played a PC game or anything other than consoles already knows this :p Tearing has nothing to do with the game being "in a bad state", it simply is the effect of an excessive framerate. If anything you should ask the devs to jam in a few more special effects to keep the framerate lower if they dont activated vsync for whatever reason.

I dont know about you, but i prefer screen tearing to chuggy framerate drops.
Originally -on pc- enabling VSYNC was meant to synchronize the framerate of the game with the refresh rate of the monitor. BUT... devs have come to use the VSYNC OFF option in console games in order to avoid framedrops or slowdown. So it is not due to framerates being too high. If all games would run at 60 fps, why disable VSYNC for instance? The screen tearing in console/pc games with VSYNC OFF is caused by one or more screen frames not being completely drawn while the next frame is already displayed, hence the tear between the two parts of different frames. In order to avoid this, devs should willingly opt for VSYNC ON. The eventual resulting framedrops can be avoided by spending more time polishing the graphics engine. Some devs succeed in 60 fps in this current generation, so it is a matter of choice, knowledge and time spent. To conclude I'd like to say that it worries me more as a paying customer than as a gamer that people tolerate screen tearing while for instance they would not tolerate buying a car without brakes or a house without windows. If a paying community ignores its own QC, then devs have more "freedom" to make mistakes.
Commented on 2009-02-05 11:19:56
Yeah, spot on Baleur... except that in most cases on consoles especially it is exactly the opposite like hiscore pointed out (but it can be excess too). Thing is, VSYNC enabled the second the FPS drops under 60FPS (if that's the screen's refresh rate), you get 30FPS display, which is choppyin relation. Or 30FPS -> 15FPS. Triple buffering can alleviate the dramatic drop in refresh rate, but it introduces control lag, so most devs rather half-ass their way to turn VSYNC off so that the refresh rate fluctuates somewhere around where it's supposed to (which seems to be 30FPS in this generation as opposed to 60FPS when consoles had LESS juice) and you get screen tearing.

At least ID Software is still on the 60FPS bandwagon, props to them.
Commented on 2009-02-05 11:23:49
Screen tearing happens all the time regardless of framerate. And it's a lot more noticeable on LCD screens than CRT because LCD screens doesn't constantly refresh itself the same way CRT screens does. It's also less noticeable if you don't know what it is. :P

I personally don't find screen tearing an issue in slow and/or dark games. But in fast paced and/or bright games it can have a serious impact on image quality. Unfortunately, vsync (which is used to remedy the screen tearing problem) can have a serious impact on performance, increasing latency on user input as well, especially if triple buffering is used. Triple buffering (can prevent framrate drops when vsync is enabled) also requires more vram, which isn't something consoles have a lot to of to spare.

On PC games you often have the choice to enable/disable vsync, on console games the only thing we can do is to trust that the developers makes the right choice. While optimizing the game can reduce the risk of serious framerate drops you can only go so far when already pushing the hardware to it's limits.
Commented on 2009-02-05 15:55:28
Let's also keep in mind that the (console) screen tearing problem arises at the same time videogaming leaped to HD (720p, 1080p). Which means some devs had/have significant difficulties keeping those framerates in the acceptable area of 30-60 fps (which is a lot easier in 480p).

A simple "solution" would be to introduce a VSYNC ON/OFF option in every (infected) game so players can decide what they want: slowdown or tearing. Bioshock and Saints Row did it, and those were high profile titles. A true solution of course would be an industry standard of minimum 30 fps with VSYNC enabled for consoles (with 60 fps still as main goal).
Commented on 2009-02-05 17:14:18
No tearing in the demo here, seems like they turned vsync on for the full game.
Commented on 2009-02-05 19:54:45
lol @ 20 Batmans

Have to admit that these games really dont appeal to me, but the dev diary always manage to convince me.

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