Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Battlefield 2: The Video Card Controversy Part 2

Following the feedback received from the initial article: Battlefield 2: The Video Card Controversy, it appears this issue is far from clear and understood. Battlefield 2 requires new hardware in order to even startup, while in the past games have required new hardware in order to run smoothly at higher detail and resolution levels. Besides the fact that the minimum supported hardware, a Radeon 8500 is slower then the non-supported GeForce 4 Ti. With the upcoming release of Battlefield Modern Combat on the Xbox making this all the more laughable. Battlefield Modern Combat will be the Battlefield 2 Xbox port. The Xbox uses a tweaked version of the GeForce 3 running PS 1.3 and is programmed for DirectX. This is clearly showing that DICE can make the Battlefield 2 engine run on GeForce 3/4 Ti hardware.

Many users attempted to respond by telling people to upgrade their video cards. Claiming the issue was no big deal and an upgrade was only $50. These people obviously do not grasp the situation nor understand the economics behind this ignorant response. GeForce 4 Ti owners, especially 4600 and 4800 owners paid over $375-$400 for their cards back in 2003. At the time this was the top of the line card. It played Battlefield 1942 and Battlefield Vietnam on the highest detail levels. Battlefield Vietnam was released only last year. GeForce 3/4 Ti owners completely understand that newer games will not be able to be played at the highest detail levels but being unable to even start the game is unacceptable.

AGP will be replaced with PCIe entirely. The latest GeForce 7800 is PCIe only and SLI can only be found on PCIe. When these owners upgrade they would obviously be going for a PCIe video card, requiring a new Mainboard, CPU and Memory. If they looked to run the game on the recommended hardware, this so-called "upgrade" is now pushing $1000. Not a $50 "fix" that would actually give them worse performance in other games.

How many owners have already upgraded from a high end GF4 to a low end GF5? How many know that they purchased a slower though more "compatible" card based on bad online advice? Instead of looking at the facts: A GeForce 4 4600 is faster then even a GeForce FX 5700, as well as a Radeon 9600.

Notebook users who have GeForce4 Go GPUs have absolutely no way to upgrade without replacing the entire notebook. Yet they can play games such as Doom 3 and Half-Life 2 without any problems. How are they supposed to "upgrade"?

Supported List
Battlefield 2 only supports the following video cards:
(minimum 128MB)

Radeon X700 (PCIe)
Radeon X600 (PCIe)
GeForce 6600 (PCIe)
GeForce PCX 5900 (PCIe)
GeForce 5800 Series (AGP)
ATI Radeon X800 XT Platinum Edition
ATI Radeon X800 PRO
ATI Radeon 9800 Series
ATI Radeon 9600 Series
ATI Radeon 9550 (RV350LX)
ATI Radeon 9500 / 9700 Series
ATI Radeon 8500 Series
ATI Radeon X300 Series
NVidia GeForce 6800 Ultra
NVidia GeForce 6800 GT
NVidia GeForce 6800
NVidia GeForce FX 5950 Series
NVidia GeForce FX 5900 Series
NVidia GeForce FX 5700 Series

Note: GeForce 4 MX users have to upgrade. The MX card is nothing more then a glorified GeForce 2 and does not have any pixel shader support. So even the Shader Mod cannot help you.

Response from a Game Developer
"I think this is a poor decision. Dropping support for the GF4MX series is justifiable (since they're really GF2s), although not the best business decision, but lack of support for GF3/4 is not. Yes there's the ps_1_3 limit in D3D and the NV_register_combiners issue in GL. Yes there's the 96 constant limit.

Both are not difficult to surmount - Cg can generate 'fp20' code which is equivalent to ps_1_3 on GL, and is basically a scripting tool for NV_register_combiners. nVidia even provide code to run that through GL.

The 96 constant limit is mainly an issue with hardware skinning, since bone matrices eat up constants for breakfast. Solutions include splitting the skeleton in half, or having the option to use a lower detail skeleton (which would be a good option for scalability anyway).

Neither of these issues are very hard. Material and skeleton systems should be designed to be scalable anyway. So this is one of 3 things:

1. Laziness
2. Technical snobbery
3. A crushing lack of time

I suspect the latter. But don't pretend this is a good technical decision - not only is this issue very solvable - it's run-of-the-mill. Locking out all the people with GF3/4's is not a good business decision either. Some people in here seem to think the only people who matter are those who are capable of pulling out cards and upgrading them every 2 years. That's very short-sighted, and rather arrogant and elitist - there are LOTs more ordinary PC users who don't do this, and excluding them just accelerates the move away from PC game playing to the simpler technical experience of consoles."

Xbox Yes PC No?
Battlefield Modern Combat is scheduled to be released in the fall of 2005 on the Xbox. Which is nothing more then a port of Battlefield 2 to the Xbox. Since the Xbox's graphic processor is a tweaked version of the GeForce 3 and the Xbox uses DirectX as an API, it is quite clear Battlefield 2 will and can support PS 1.3 and the GeForce 3/4 Ti line. If DICE/EA does not release a BF2 patch at the time of Modern Combat's release to support GeForce 3/4 Ti owners, it will clearly show DICE's development team to be hypocrites.

Update: I stand corrected on the BF2 Modern Combat Xbox port as it is using the RenderWare engine and not the BF2 Refractor 2 engine. The rest of my criticism stands.


HellHitZ said...

First things first, the engine behind Modern Combat is NOT the same as the BF2 engine, therefore it is probable that the modern combat engine supports pixel shaer 1.3 and the BF2 engine doesn't.
Don't get me wrong, I also think this was one bad move from EA/DICE, but if u ask me, I think they are not the only responsibles for this. I guess nVidia had a word on the matter too. They probably "asked" DICE not to include pixel shader 1.3 support in hope that many people would go out and buy GF6 based cards, in fact, the first page of the BF2 manual is an advertisement to a 6600GT videocard, if I recall correctly. And yes, I also think that DICE accepted the idea because they were lacking time and maybe there was some $$$ involved...

In conclusion, I would expect a patch for pixel shader 1.3 support, at least not in a near future.

just my 2 cents...

Andrew said...

You really believe DICE wrote two seperate engines for both games? Please. First off they didn't have time. Take a PC that has a Intel Pentium III 733 processor, 64MB of RAM and GeForce 3, now scale the detail level back and on the engine and it would look exactly like that.

Etienne said...

I agree with the above comments.

This is the best game ever made, and yes I work in the industry so Im not a tard. Doom3, HL2, Mario they can all suck it hard, Tribes, BF1942 and now BF2 are all giant steps in gaming, I dont consider Carmack's latest hallway shooter to be a great step forward, and people upgraded like crazy for that POS!

Huge maps, land/sea/air vehicles, massive depth, you expect this to run on another but the latest and greatest?? LOL!

Andrew said...

If you read the article I was not using a GeForce 7800 as an example. It was meerly to reference that AGP is moving to PCIe. Any true gamer would upgrade to an SLI system and when you factor in all the parts it comes out to $1000. This is with a more practical GeForce 6600GT.

As for performance improvements moving to PCIe? SLI is the single biggest performance improvement you can upgrade to and it is PCIe exclusively. AGP may be around but not for long and the GeForce 7800 is proof of that.

"People that demand backwards compatibility in every piece of software are a major contributors to the bloat, bugs, and performance hits that we see every day. Just think of how fast and sleek Windows could be if thousands of people didn't whine because they think they need support for hardware/software developed 10 years ago."
->This is a joke right? People's system requirements have NOTHING to do with bugs in software. Windows bloat has nothing to do with it's hardware compatibility.

Andrew said...

Releasing something on the PS2 doesn't prove anything.

Andrew said...

SLI is more future proof. Even if you just bought the mainboard and one PCIe SLI compatible video card, it allows for you to easily upgrade and double your performance.

Upgrading to an expensive AGP card is foolish in that everyone at some point will need to move to PCIe.

You draw the line on 4-5 year old hardware NOT 2-3. Especially not 2-3 TOP of the line hardware.

DIE said...

iT'S written in python so what do you expect... S L O W

Think if Doom3 was written in Perl.