Assassin’s Creed Unity Devs Say 30fps Is “More Cinematic” And “Feels Better”

It seems that the higher levels of the Assassin’s Creed Unity team are all suffering from a case of foot in mouth, with another rather odd episode about resolutions and frame rates coming out in interviews with TechRadar. As I’m sure you’ll all remember from a few days ago, Senior Producer Vincent Pontbriand failed spectacularly at avoiding “all the debates and stuff” when he explained how and why both Xbox One and PlayStation 4 would be releasing at 900p. After this, Ubisoft said that his words were easy to misinterpret, before then admitting that the 900p30 spec wasn’t absolutely set in stone.

But that hasn’t stopped them from digging new holes, this time in relation to frame rate, with Creative Director Alex Amancio saying:

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30 was our goal, it feels more cinematic. 60 is really good for a shooter, action adventure not so much. It actually feels better for people when it’s at that 30fps. It also lets us push the limits of everything to the maximum.

It’s like when people start asking about resolution. Is it the number of the quality of the pixels that you want? If the game looks gorgeous, who cares about the number?

The whole problem with this is that I can see what they’re trying to say, just as I could before with the debate avoidance debacle, but the main point he wants to make is getting lost with one errant statements. 30fps does not feel better than 60fps for many people, not by a long shot, but saying that it does distracts from noting that they’re able to push the number of NPCs on screen at any one time, deal with more physics objects and push the overall graphical quality higher than when targeting 60fps. We’ve seen this point made quite succinctly a number of times.

However, World Level Designer Nicolas Guérin added to this with the following:

At Ubisoft for a long time we wanted to push 60 fps. I don’t think it was a good idea because you don’t gain that much from 60 fps and it doesn’t look like the real thing. It’s a bit like The Hobbit movie, it looked really weird.

And in other games it’s the same – like the Rachet and Clank series [where it was dropped]. So I think collectively in the video game industry we’re dropping that standard because it’s hard to achieve, it’s twice as hard as 30fps, and its not really that great in terms of rendering quality of the picture and the image.”

Except that, in response to that, I’d argue that neither statement is as clear cut. Image quality within films is rather different to games, with camera-based motion blur and the amount of light captured by the camera for each frame distinguishing points between 24fps and 48fps, things that aren’t considerations when developers come to try and make film-like motion blur in their games, something which they are yet to really achieve but that should be calculated independently of frame rate.

I would kind of agree that some developers are stepping away from 60fps, focussing instead on better visuals, but there are notable instance where, for example, Battlefield 4 is at 60fps on PS4 and XBO compared to 30fps in previous console entries. However, we do see games like Driveclub stick to 30fps when you might have expected them to aim for 60 in the past. Depending on the genre, this matters to players to a greater and lesser degree. Action adventure games such as Watch Dogs and Assassin’s Creed are much more forgiving than a twitchy online-focussed shooter or racer.

In truth, the main issue here is that several members of the Assassin’s Creed Unity team sat down for interviews and slipped up when trying to say that 30fps allows them to make the game world prettier and have more NPCs on screen than any previous Assassin’s Creed game.

Source: TechRadar, via VideoGamer

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25 Comments

  1. This was the sane argument used to defend Infamous SS & The Order 1886 being 30fps so it shouldn’t be a problem really.

    • I think it’s more about how they’ve gone about it. It’s been an absolute chuckle-f**k from start to finish! :-)

  2. Whats that saying about “stop digging when your standing in the hole”

  3. Have to agree with the “The Hobbit movie, it looked really weird.” statement. That opening scene in the first movie was so sharp and crisp that it actually looked fake and dodgy.

    I don’t know how to explain it better but somehow with the quality being so sharp, it actually felt like a budget ITV3 show. Everything was too clear and it was as if the action was hard to focus on.

    Saying that, when you are directly controlling a character and not just viewing action, I can’t quite see it as being the same problem.

    • I’m going to disagree on that. Sort of. The 48fps thing with The Hobbit really helped if you saw it in 3d.

      There were scenes that would have looked horrible in 3d at the “normal” frame rate. Having twice the number of frames helped smooth it out and made it a lot easier to focus on what was happening.

      It’s a problem with 3d if anything too exciting happens. Particularly sideways movement. Actually, I think that’s a problem with 2d as well, but it’s nowhere near as bad and headache-inducing.

      For games, I don’t really see any reason why people are getting so worked up about not hitting 60fps. It’s at least twice as hard to do, for very little benefit. It’d be much better to use that extra power to get 1080p, rather than 900p, which isn’t really something people should be accepting.

      • Both Hobbit movies have looked horrible in both 2D and 3D.

        Some of that is how I hate what has been done to the book, but it really does look like a TV show when seen in 2D. 3D tends to look better, but not by much in the case of The Hobbit (Gravity and the likes Jurassic Park are a very different story though, they look much better in 3D)/

      • I never watched in 3D so couldn’t comment on that one. It’s funny though. You never seemed to have an issue with it and I’ve heard plenty of people say they haven’t but on the other flip of the coin some people did.

        I’ve always wondered if it’s my eyes that are dodgy. I will say though that the second movie never had the same issues as the second.

        Really should rewatch the first on Blu-ray and see if it happens again.

    • The thing that made the Hobbit movie look weird was super-strong rabbits pulling Dr Who on a f’ing sled.

      No messing with frame rates can save that.

    • Yes, but as I said, the laws of physics which necessarily apply to the light that can be captured and turned into images by the cameras simply are not there in games. Bringing up The Hobbit isn’t really a valid comparison because, even when digital effects have been added, they’ve been added to match the look and style of the live footage.

      With a video game, it doesn’t matter what the frame rate is for the overall look of the game, because the game engine rather than reality determines the rules for how light bounces, reflects, how motion blur is applied and so on. Aside from the smoothness that you can derive from a higher frame rate, the way the game actually looks in motion should be identical.

      In other words, it’s a moot point.

  4. I honestly couldn’t care less. It’s clearly gonna be a brilliant game.

  5. “30fps allows them to make the game world prettier and have more NPCs on screen than any previous Assassin’s Creed game”

    They totally should have just said that & left it at that.

  6. First of all making a game run at 60 fps is more than twice as hard as every part of the game, rendering and CPU calculations, have only 16.7ms compared to 33.3ms at 30 fps.
    So I get why devs focus on a solid 30, as the world simulation in addition to the graphics can be much better.
    However, to say action adventure games feel better at 30 isn’t right for the majority of gamers. I mean both TLoU Remastered and MGS V look great at 60. TLoU showed that some people do prefer 30, but MGS V shows how good games look and more importantly feel running at 60.
    I never really thought AC Unity would run at 60, but instead of making out they’re making a choice for our benefit, they should just say it’s because of how detailed the world is and we would all understand.

    • Agreed. Let us know the trade off and most people will understand. Let us know that we can’t have both (on the consoles). That’s me fine with honest explanations.

  7. Its a very silly case and one in which that can be interpreted in many ways. Yet underneath it all is Ubisoft being very amateurish.Their statement about FPS not working in action adventure games is just plain wrong. I am not saying it is better for it but to leave it out because of what they think is pretty silly. The last of us remastered is a game that will still more than likely look better than the new AC and it gave gamers the choice between 60 and 30 FPS-a feat in console game design. That way, the most important people can decide which is better-gamers.

    Away from this, I hope that games start to have better design in the future. As much as graphics/res is important, the ways in which typical action/shooting/driving games can be played needs to be addressed as well as storytelling. Ubisoft use a lot of filler content in their games and you can be as sure as hell it will be the case with Unity also.

    • this is aimed at ubisoft, not this article.

      just wanted to clear that up.

  8. inFamous Second Son was locked at 30fps…amazing game looks and reacts gorgeous.

    The Last of Us Remastered is 60fps…amazing game looks and reacts gorgeous.

    Is it such a big deal?

    • Infamous isn’t locked at 30, it bounces between 60 and 30, unless you manually lock it in the settings, which makes it worse in my opinion.

      And TLoU remastered has completey changed my view of 60fps being not as cinematic as 30fps.

  9. Maybe I’ve been living under a rock but I’ve never recalled this much outcry over framerates in the past. What gives? Its like any game that doesn’t hit 60fps it only good for the trash these days and that’s quite a sad thing to hear.

    • It may be because there’s a not insignificant number of people who’ve invested in new hardware largely on the promise of improved visuals. If framerate/resolution aren’t important as, say, the art direction why bother upgrading? Especially as games such as Titanfall and Destiny are largely the same across generations except for framerate/resolution.

      Personally I prefer 60fps, I find it much easier on the eye and completely eradicates the motion sickness that used to sometimes make gaming a real slog. I’d hoped that this gen would consign that to the past. I also find that the higher framerate seems to gives character models and environments a solidity they previously lacked. TLOU and MGS: Ground Zero are great examples of this.

      Of course there are many factors that go into making a game good or bad, but I think they should at least be the same resolution as your screen with a comfortable refresh rate.

      • Of course 60fps is preferred but it’s definitely not the be all and end all some people would like you to believe, though the solidness it adds to the environments like you mention is the main draw for me. Stuff in the past like Dante’s Inferno (to me) looked massively deeper in its 3d’ness and felt much slicker at 60fps, however it did not make it a great game IMO and this is the argument. God of War at 30fps (or less at times) was miles ahead of it, the lower refresh rate didn’t make it a crap game by default.

        I guess I just don’t get the argument as I’ve never suffered with the motion issues other gamers like yourself are plagued with, and therefore am oblivious to it being a problem. If that’s the issue, then great I’m on the same side and am all for higher fps, but if it’s just bitching for bitchings sake about not being 60fps that annoys me. Maybe I have low expectations that helps to avoid getting my knickers in a twist over the lack of 60fps :)

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