DF Weekly: why Ratchet and Clank is crucially important for the future of PC gaming

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DF Weekly: why Ratchet and Clank is crucially important for the future of PC gaming

On the face of it, the past week hasn’t been filled with gigaton news announcements – so we were expecting a fairly light edition of DF Direct Weekly, but the news that Ratchet and Clank is coming to PC next month changed all that. It may not be a game designed to appeal to the core PC audience, but the quality of the port is crucial to the future of the PC format.

If that sounds somewhat hyperbolic, allow me to explain. The new consoles have a lot in common with PCs: they’re based on x86 processors, they use Radeon graphics, and they have SSDs. These were staple components of a mainstream gaming PC for many years before the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X arrived in 2020. However, Ratchet and Clank relies heavily on components Proprietary PS5s and their equivalents in the PC space have yet to be established. nor have they been combat tested in a triple-A version. Ratchet and Clank seem set to change that.

Let’s state the challenge here. Insomniac’s game is designed entirely for the PlayStation 5. With its rich visuals, lightning-fast loading, and portal mechanic that literally takes you from one dimension to another in the blink of an eye, it depends heavily on two aspects of the PlayStation 5: its solid-state storage and its hardware decompression blocks. The SSD streams data at lightning speed, the decompression blocks take care of losslessly decompressing the data for use by the game.

On the PC side, legacy storage APIs are in desperate need of updating, while there is no hardware equivalent to hardware compression blocks, which means developer Nixxes must exploit new technologies to produce solutions that will fit a range of PCs. material. It could go wrong – and it did go wrong with the PC port of The Last of Us Part 1, which relies far less on the PS5’s innovative hardware. So how can Ratchet and Clank run on PC – and on a range of PC hardware, no less?

This week’s DF Direct Weekly spends a lot of time discussing the Ratchet and Clank PC port situation!

00:00:00 Introduction
00:01:08 News 01: Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is coming to PC!
00:19:38 News 02: Nvidia demonstrates AI-generated NPC conversations
00:37:54 News 03: Dolphin emulator blocked since Steam release
00:44:41 News 04: Redfall Development Issues Detailed
00:54:56 News 05: HDMI 2.1 capture cards announced – but there’s a catch!
01:02:27 Supporter Q1: What are your predictions for next week’s Xbox Showcase?
01:07:52 Support Q2: Does XMP make a big difference on DDR5 RAM?
01:10:36 Supporter Q3: Are plasma TVs viable for high quality retro gaming?
01:14:54 Support Q4: Why doesn’t Switch support HDR? Could it be included in a Switch 2?
01:16:32 Supporter Q5: Are we in a downward spiral of declining developer output and GPU stagnation?
01:22:34 Supporter Q6: If a game is running at 30 or 60 fps locked, is there any benefit to setting your console to 120Hz output?
01:25:55 Follower Q7: Has Jensen’s prophecy ever come true? Will Gran Turismo 7 ever come to PC?

There’s been no official announcement on how Nixxes plans to do this port, but adopting Naughty Dog’s “solution” in The Last of Us Part 1 just won’t work. In this case, the decompression work done “for free” on the PlayStation 5 hardware was instead sent to the CPU, resulting in extremely heavy CPU overhead that meant the 60fps standard set in the PS5 version was out of whack. about for an equivalent. Computer components. The game streams and decompresses data as you play, which can overwhelm less capable hardware and reduce the performance of all processors. This is a solution that is not ideal in this game and totally unsuitable for Ratchet and Clank.

From our perspective, the only logical way to run Ratchet on PC in peak condition is to take advantage of Microsoft’s DirectStorage API designed for DirectX 12 Ultimate. This supports both CPU and GPU decompression and for now we hope to see Nixxes using the GPU decompression side of the equation rolled out in Ratchet and Clank. Essentially, the work done by the PS5’s hardware decompression blocks is taken over by a PC’s GPU, which should produce very similar results. Forspoken on PC showed interesting results from DirectStorage, but this was actually using CPU-driven decompression to do the job. If Nixxes does indeed use GPU-based decompression, it will be a first in the triple-A PC space.

It will also be essential and fundamental work in the future, as Sony’s proprietary studios will only push the hardware further and demand more from the SSD and decompression blocks. It’s worth remembering that while Ratchet and Clank is a showcase for the PS5, our own experiences with an artificially slowed PCIe drive in the console reveal that even with limited bandwidth, the game plays just as well. It is likely that the decompression equipment is doing the heavy lifting. Translate that to DirectStorage now and the job will be done redoing it to future PC ports.

DF Direct Weekly #113 spoke extensively about the Sony PlayStation 5 showcase – and the Project Q handheld.

00:00:00 Introduction
00:01:15 News 01: Sony Showcase Recap!
00:40:02 News 02: Alan Wake 2 impresses, but why is it digital only?
00:52:06 News 03: Project Q streaming laptop unveiled
01:05:45 Supporter Q1: Nvidia’s server GPUs seem to be in high demand, so could the company be diverting resources from the game?
01:14:09 Supporter Q2: What is the best way to measure and communicate the concept of temporal stability?
01:23:44 Supporter Q3: Isn’t the 4060 Ti much more impressive when you throw DLSS 3 into the picture?
01:27:10 Supporter Q4: Could John do a video on running modern games on consumer CRT displays?

Assuming Nixxes is using GPU-accelerated DirectStorage in Ratchet and Clank, we’d expect to see a range of tests on many different storage solutions – from SSDs to SD cards to the same 5400rpm laptop hard drives. /min used in the PlayStation 4. But just as important will also be to test with a range of graphics hardware, because basically there are two parts to the equation to make GPU-based DirectStorage perform as well as the solutions found in consoles PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series. Simply put, we can’t wait to check this out and see how scalable it is: remember, Ratchet and Clank can’t just run on console-equivalent PC hardware or better, it has to run on a whole host of different PCs. Components. Luckily it’s Nixxes working here and they know a thing or two about PC hardware upgradability, but suffice it to say – we can’t wait to check this one out.

The implications of this port dominate the discussion in DF Direct Weekly #114, but there are other topics too – notably the Nvidia demo showing a player literally speaking to an NPC, whose responses (and even corresponding facial expressions) are driven by AI. We spend time discussing the implications, if that’s even desirable, and debating the pros and cons of literally talking to AI characters. Of course, I would start with “who is the best lord” (Alexa actually has the right answer). We also share our own reactions to Jason Schreier’s recent Redfall report and talk about the recent announcements of HDMI 2.1 capture cards – which, alas, don’t allow HDMI 2.1 capture, but do support passthrough functionality.

I’ve also included DF Direct Weekly #113 on this page as there was no accompanying article last week, due to the UK bank holiday. You see fewer ads on Eurogamer’s internal player, which is worth considering! It’s also worth considering joining the DF Supporter program, where every contributor gets early access to every live in video and podcast form, as well as the ability to submit topics and questions and help shape the ‘issue. You’ll also help us produce “content” like John’s excellent System Shock remake video, which simply wouldn’t have seen the light of day without your help, certainly not to the same degree of quality. Join us!.

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Article source https://www.eurogamer.net/digitalfoundry-2023-df-weekly-why-ratchet-and-clank-is-crucially-important-for-the-future-of-pc-gaming

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