Sunday, 13 June 2010

3D Stardust Sees 2D Performance Increase

Earlier this week Sony released a patch for Super Stardust HD finally enabling 3D support to coincide with the launch of their flagship 46” Bravia 3D LCD HDTV. Not long after the patch was released came reports that the update not only allowed the game to be played in 3D, but that it also added some graphical enhancements to the title as well.

Users reported a smoother image and cleaner look to the game when running the game in 1080p mode, and some have also stated what looks like additional anti-aliasing in when running in 720p. Yesterday on Sony’s official UK blog at this was indeed confirmed to be the case.

Super Stardust HD originally ran in 1280x720 with 2xMSAA and at 60 fames per-second for 720p, and in 1280x1080 with no AA for 1080p, also I might add at the prerequisite 60fps. That in itself is pretty impressive given the amount of particle effects and transparencies on screen at any given time, especially when you consider the game managed to maintain a smooth 60fps update throughout.

For 3D developers essentially have to render each frame twice, one for each eye, meaning that you’d either have to be doing 720p at 120fps to maintain the same resolution in 3D at 60fps, or halve the rendering resolution to keep up the framerate if this isn’t possible. With the upgrade Stardust manages to not only keep up performance in 3D, but the developers have furthermore optimised the title to enhance image quality overall for the game running in 2D.

Housemarque CEO and co-founder Ilari Kuittinen confirmed via the official blog that Stardust did indeed receive a noticeable performance boost in 2D owing to the resulting work carried out in order to get the title running suitable in 3D. Surprisingly most of the work done in getting the game running in 3D was done without an actual 3D HDTV.

“We had the first 3D version of SSHD running in autumn 2009. We didn’t have a proper 3D television at that time and we had to use paper anaglyph red-and-green (or cyan to be exact) glasses to see the 3D image on our monitors. The images we could produce didn’t even have proper color in them, but it was still really impressive.”

For 2D the developers have upper the level of anti-aliasing from 2x to 4xMSAA in 720p, and for 1080p now have the game rendering in full 1920x1080 and at 60fps with no AA. Previously the game rendered at 1280x1080 for 1080p mode, with the PS3 then performing a horizontal upscale to 1920 resulting in some loss of sharpness and some minor upscalng atifacts.

The difference is easily noticeable with 720p looking cleaner and more jaggie free than before, and 1080p now looks mind-blowingly sharp. Both at 60fps too, which makes this upgrade all the more impressive.

Similar improvements can be found in the game’s split-screen mode as well. Before Stardust would only run at 30fps in this mode, but after the upgrade it is running in 60fps matching the single player game.

Both Housemarque Ilari Kuittinen certainly seemed impressed with what they have achieved, and so they should be as nobody really expected full resolution 720p and 60fps for the game running in 3D.

“3D certainly has a bright future ahead and we are happy that we had a chance to develop the first 3D PS3 game that runs 720p resolution in 60fps for both eyes, meaning that we are actually having 3D SSHD running in 120fps!”

A recap of the updates listed below as on the official PlayStation blog:

- 3D mode of the game running 720p at 120fps (60fps per eye)
- 2D mode of split screen co-op mode updated from 30fps to 60fps
- 4x antialiasing support in 720p and native 1920×1080p support in 2D mode

You should also check out the blog entry too, as it has a few insightful details on how the upgrade was achieved.

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