The Exigent Duality
Game Musings - 17:01 CDT, 7/30/20 (Sniper)
I've been playing a lot of "Grounded" the past couple of nights. Thankfully, it retains the superb design principles demonstrated in their previous title, "The Outer Worlds"-- but does not suffer that game's unsavoury aspects. In fact, among its janky contemporaries-- "Ark", "Conan", and "The Forest" to name a few-- it's extraordinarily polished.

The game does have full controller support, but something about the analog stick input filtering feels a little off. Between that fact and the reality that the game doesn't leverage Unreal Engine's HDR support makes it a desk plus mouse and keyboard game for me, versus a comfy couch television one.

For being a very first release of an "early access"-style title-- sort of analogous to Minecraft in its 2009 alpha days-- it has a surprising amount of content. The story is very short so far and is essentially a tutorial, but seemingly the whole board is available to explore, and I'm continually unlocking new recipes.

I also purchased a license to Remedy's "Control" during this ongoing Epic Game Store sale. I want to save the bulk of my commentary regarding that title for its eventual review, but in a lot of good ways it feels like a spiritual successor to the 3DO's "Immercenary".

I've been thinking about the upcoming video game systems a lot. Having almost enough cash on hand to go write a check for a brand new Corvette, I have more money than sense at this point-- so wifey is telling me I may as well just pre-order both consoles, once pre-orders are available.

But I was just reading that the aforementioned "Control" barely hits thirty frames per second on the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X, which reinforced my notion that while the Series X's 12.5 teraflops might sound like a lot of horsepower now, in twenty four months we'll be right back where we are now: PCs will have 20 teraflop video cards, and the PS5 and Series X will be way behind.

Also remember: neither new system has dedicated AI hardware, which means any kind of DLSS-like reconstruction technique will need to suck up even more GPU cycles. I'm not sure how to compute this exactly, but for games which support DLSS, my current RTX 2080 is already a 20+ teraflops card in terms of pixel quality-to-frame rate.

For example, with full ray tracing enabled, my card runs "Control" like a slideshow at native 2160p. But with DLSS enabled, my card only needs to deal with 1080p, with the nearly-perfect reconstruction to 2160p being done "for free" by the card's so-called Tensor Cores. The Series X would need a lot more than 12.5 teraflops to brute force that level of performance.

In that sense, the new systems are already behind. And as mentioned earlier, just wait until Nvidia and AMD unleash their next generation of GPUs, along with the availability of PCIExpress 5.0 in just a couple of years-- which will support NVMe drives that, even sans compression, will outpace the PlayStation 5's raw throughput.

I think my current plan then is to just sit tight for now, and build a brand new PC probably in 2022. That way I can also pass my components down to my kids. And thanks to "DisplayFusion Pro" and its window position profiles, my biggest Windows 10 annoyance has been eliminated, making that operating system usable.