PS4 ICE Team Programmer: Anything Below 720p/30fps Is Actively Unpleasant

Cort Stratton shares his thoughts about frame rate and resolution.

Posted By | On 05th, Jun. 2014 Under News | Follow This Author @@Martintoney2012

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Cort Stratton who is a programmer at Naughty Dog and also a part of Sony’s secret ICE team, has shared his thoughts on frame rate and resolution. This generation has been more focused on resolution and frame rate wars compared to any other generation in the past.

Cort Stratton has added his own opinions into the matter stating that anything below 720p resolution and 30 frames per second is “actively unpleasant.” He also believes that “anything higher isn’t necessarily a clear improvement,” in an interview with Polygon. He personally prefers high resolution over frame rate since according to him it does not make much difference when the game runs above 30fps.

Dropping the frame rate from 60 to 30 fps results into a gain of of 16 milliseconds of frame time and he rather use it “to make the game world significantly more beautiful/fun/rich/complex/awesome, instead of wasting it all to make the game marginally more responsive to player input.”

It is important to note that Cort Stratton is also one of the developers working on the PSSL, which is the PS4 API for rendering game, so it is interesting to know about his thoughts about frame rate and resolution. However his statement does not necessarily apply to PS4 games development since each game has a different vision. This goes to show that at the end of the day the developers can make cuts in frame rate or/and resolution to be faithful to the vision of the game. What are your thoughts on this matter? Let us know in the comments section  below.

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  • Psionicinversion

    “Dropping the frame rate from 60 to 30 fps results into a gain of of 16 milliseconds of frame time and he rather use it “to make the game world significantly more beautiful/fun/rich/complex/awesome, instead of wasting it all to make the game marginally more responsive to player input.”

    It is true cus i learnt this from crytek. at 30 fps you have a 33ms window to fit everything in, at 60 fps you have a 16ms window to fit everything in prolly why gfx cant be as good unless you got more powerful hardware than the type of hardware your targetting to fit stuff in so it is true in a way but for high speed high action you need 60 fps cus the screen needs to be update faster to seem more fluid and natural at high speed. so yah

    • DarthDiggler


      It depends on the developer and how they “skin the cat”. There is no golden rule for this stuff. There are many games that have had been very good sellers that capped out at 30fps.

      You can still achieve high speed and high action with 30fps. You are only talking about milliseconds of difference here,

      Shooting for higher frame rates can lead to screen tearing as well. Especially on the PC where you various configurations and the end user has control over the detail settings.

    • wehtrewrhrge

      On the PC you have “Adaptive V-Sync” which eliminates tearing.

      nVidia has it natively within it’s driver control panel, AMD you can get it with a 3rd party program.

      However, there is also a push for a similar method in both the screen and graphics hardware where the monitor will match the output of the graphics hardware.

      However, the real reason we get screen tearing is when the frames are out of sync with the monitor.
      For instance, if you are rendering a game at 120fps and you have a monitor/TV which is 60hz (As majority are…) Then every second frame is dropped, and this is when you get tearing.

      On the PC however, again there are solutions to the problem, you can also buy a 120hz monitor which will forever eliminate the issue, on the consoles, you are spoon fed, you get what you pay for… A second rate experience on 3rd rate low-end hardware.

    • DarthDiggler


      I had given you an upvote because you had pointing out some information I neglected. However I took it back and you got a down vote for being a jerk.

      On the PC you have “Adaptive V-Sync” which eliminates tearing.

      True, I believe most PC games support some variety of V-Snyc. Adaptive V-Sync is an Nvidia technology, which allows for frame rates to remain unlocked until nearly the point of tearing, at which time it does lock sync to avoid the tear.

      On the PC however, again there are solutions to the problem, you can also buy a 120hz monitor which will forever eliminate the issue

      Technically wouldn’t a game that exceeded 120 frame per second still have issues with a 120hz monitor? Theoretically speaking. 🙂

      Yeah with PC there is no end to the money you can spend chasing the Purple Dragon known as the Penultimate Gaming Experience.

      on the consoles, you are spoon fed, you get what you pay for… A second rate experience on 3rd rate low-end hardware.

      Well there is more than one way to this of this. You can be a total jerk about it and diminish what consoles are or you could look at this in the manner that the console buyers look at it.

      For $400 you get a system that can run games much better than a $400 PC. You get a network that you can reach your friends. You have applications to share your gaming. Almost any developer working on any project of scale is working on consoles. Its a beautiful turn-key solution for those that do not have an over abundance of time on their hands.

      Futhermore very few games are actually designed for your expensive PC. Most games are designed for the consoles and PCs are given a beauty pass. $800-$2000 seems like an awful lot of money to spend on lipstick and blush.

      You should be happy Sony and MS released new consoles, it means your PC games will get better. 🙂

  • Guest

    What happened to give me 108p 60fps or give me Death? They knew very well they couldn’t hit it with every game on the PS4. Overhype and hypocrisy at its finest.

    • OMGitsSexyChase

      Thats not the ice team these people are realists, thats the sony leadership business men not developers

    • Guest

      Who ever said that?

    • Guest

      That was one person making an unofficial tweet, Shahid Kamal Ahmad, NOT “all of Sony”. He’s the Senior Business Development Manager at SCEE.

      Second, he tweeted “Give me 60fps or give me death.”, NOT 1080p 60 fps.

      You’re misquoting one guy’s tweet out of context and trying to blame “Sony” for it.

    • DarthDiggler


      What happened to give me 108p 60fps or give me Death?

      Your quote is off some, but I don’t think Shahid Kamal Ahmad speaks for the entirety of Sony’s executives. 🙂

      They knew very well they couldn’t hit it with every game on the PS4. Overhype and hypocrisy at its finest.

      You really can’t be this dense. Sony isn’t in control of what resolutions and frame rates developers use. It is up to the developer and the publisher to program the game as they see fit.

      It was Microsoft that was forcing Kinect upon it’s users and developers. Prior to that MS was going to force always on DRM for XBONERS.

  • andy

    And a game like Dead Rising 3 that can’t even achieve a steady 720p 30fps is a perfect example. Horrible slowdown throughout but acceptable if you don’t care because you just like zombies.

    • DarthDiggler


      I have always thought some of the push for zombies has been developer / publisher driven for a few reasons…

      A. General popularity of Zombies (which may have been affected by the later reasons)

      B. General ease of lower than Rated M content. Much easier to get a Teen rating if you not killing human beings. Gore may have to be tempered but the violence could still be high.

      C. General ease of programming mostly Slow, Dimwitted AI. Zombies are not known for being very smart, thus gives the developers reasons to use lazy AI. Not all zombie games employ this philosophy though.

  • jacksjus

    I wish people would just let the developers be and do as they see fit. They are the visionaries and we are simply the customer. Prior to this gen we have never seen so many developers have to come out and explain the thought process behind the games.

    • Gavin

      You have it backwards. The only reason they are able to create their vision is because the customer is willing to pay for it. As a customer, I demand they tell me why I should ALLOW them to keep using my money to create a vision I don’t agree with.

    • hesoyamdonMonster

      I total agreed bro ! and that why some time being indi is bit of problem, because some developers create games that they only might like it and play it, and make us, the gamers odds ones. And indi are the main reason there is very unique and creative games that big publisher might never invested. And good example is minecraft.

    • jacksjus

      Prime example. We have two varying opinions so therefore the developers cannot satisfy everyone. Even more the reason that they should continue to do as they please and it is up to you if you then choose to buy it. No one is forcing you to pay for anything you don’t want to. We aren’t slaves to any brands around here unless you choose to be that way.

    • DarthDiggler


      Well developers should not act in an echo chamber and ignore the community, but at the same token they shouldn’t be setting up design aspects of their games just based solely on large resolutions and high frame rates.

    • jacksjus

      Well of course you’re right. But we do agree as the visionaries they should be able to create what they desire. It’s art no matter how you look at it and as a former artist no artist likes to be told what to create. It’s just let me do me and if they catch on we have a hit. If not then it’s back to the drawing board, but you learn from the past mistake.

    • DarthDiggler


      I will freely admit as a PlayStation Gamer I appreciate that Sony has put together a system that can take XBONE to the mat.

      However clearly this is becoming a double edged sword, if we gamers insist on things from developers they won’t be able to be as creative.

      I have yet to hear people complain about resolutions and frame rates with MineCraft, Some games prove it doesn’t matter, but we next gen gamers do like to be amazed at seeing pretty pictures. Certainly gaming would suck if all developers adopted MineCraft’s graphical principles.

    • DarthDiggler


      The only reason they are able to create their vision is because the customer is willing to pay for it.

      While the customer is always right in an overall sense, you can’t expect your customer to make all the behind the scenes decisions which will often directly relate to how successful your game is. That is the reason developers hire people who have experience and expertise. Having gamers hand over “requirements” to developers wouldn’t be any better than the publisher doing it or the platform holder doing it. Sure there may be certain features that you wish to achieve, but if you make things a requirement that will often stifle creativity because you are boxing creative people into a corner.

      That isn’t how it has ever been done. If you are a game player that insists on 60fps and crazy resolutions than the PC is the system for you. In order to maintain that performance you will need to update your system on a semi-regular basis to keep achieving those results as new games are released that require more hardware.

      As a customer, I demand they tell me why I should ALLOW them to keep using my money to create a vision I don’t agree with.

      You have a very odd perception of a business transaction. When you go to a store to buy a game by EA you may be their customer, but the money you have spent is no longer yours. You have no strings attached to it beyond if there is a defect in your product (thus negating the original transaction). You pay for your EA product, now that money belongs to EA and they can invest it and use it how they please, without your prior permission.

      If you don’t like what they do in the future you are by no means required to purchase their products, but at the same time if you aren’t a customer you have little room to complain. 🙂

    • jacksjus

      Very well stated. You did it very respectfully on top of that. As a customer I want to be surprised by the experience (e.g Wolfenstein). I don’t see the point in anticipating something that is predictable at best.

    • DarthDiggler


      He is totally mixing up the role of a customer and a stockholder. I get it peeps spend large sums of money on things and they begin to take ownership, but that only goes so far really.

    • jacksjus


    • DarthDiggler


      AMEN! Although the benefit to the developers explaining this stuff is that they are distributing much more information about the process, which I always find interesting.

  • Guest

    I thought GNM is their API an GNMx is the higher level API, know im confused.

    • Anon

      No, you are right. The author has it wrong.

      ‘PSSL’ is synonymous with shader languages like ‘GLSL’, ‘HLSL’, ‘CG’, etc. ‘GNM’ and it’s high-level wrapper, ‘GNMX’, are used as the PS4 rendering api similar to D3D and OpenGL.

      Also, regarding the article, “… Sony’s *SECRET* ICE team…” has never been close to being a secret. Please don’t start pulling stuff out of thin air.

    • DarthDiggler


      Good info but triple post (each an hour from each other, odd). Do you work with a developer or publisher?

      Sony’s ICE team isn’t really a big secret, at one time it was just an internal name, but it has gained a bit more of a PR role over the PS3’s lifespan.

    • Guest

      Thanks for the clarification, thats what i thought and i agree with you that its stupid to continue talking about ICE team as “secret”.

  • HisDivineOrder

    PSSL is the reason DX12 won’t matter. Every console has their low level access method for developers. And every console improves that API over time. The worst part about DX12 as a savior of performance for the Xbox One is that the biggest thing about DX12 announced thus far is that it includes low level access, which Xbox One already had. That was a feature announced aimed at PC’s. For Xbox One, …virtually nothing worth mentioning has been announced that wasn’t already included in the DirectX 11.X that Xbox One was built on.

    Now as to Frame Rate versus Fidelity (as Total Biscuit put it), I usually agree with his takes on things, but not in this case. He worships at the temple of framerate and I worship at the altar of High Resolution.

    Neither of which modern consoles seem to target. They drop resolution and framerate on a regular basis. A lot of these arguments aren’t about resolution, they’re about shaders, effects, character models, and more textures. Lowered rendering resolution with reduced framerate can enable enhanced usage of costly effects and shaders. Lowered rendering resolution probably makes those reduced texture sizes seem more palatable, too.

    But ultimately I think resolution is king. There’s nothing quite like a native, 1:1 pixel perfect image rendered at the resolution of your display. This is especially true at 1600p or higher, but it’s also true at 1080p. And you really start to notice the crawling if you aren’t scaling to a multiple of the resolution you’re rendering at AND if you render at below HD resolutions to use hardware cheats to scale upward.

    Others like Total Biscuit worship at that Temple of High Framerate because they are prone to motion sickness and want everything to be buttery smooth, even if the fidelity AND the resolution suffer. Eh. I think fixes for the “smooth” problem are coming with Gsync/FreeSync/Adaptive Sync, so I think this is a problem that needs to just go a little longer before it’s solved for those who want it “fixed.”

    That rendering resolution problem ain’t going away. Developers spent all of last gen dropping the resolution the games are rendered at and are now hooked on the idea of cheating their way to having better graphics than they actually can do at the proper resolution. Since they did it so long they went abhorrent in the last gen, they have to do it now to keep up the progression. Otherwise, what do people do? Consider what was said about Titanfail. “Xbox 360 looks as good as Xbox One.” So naturally, that can’t be great.

    Resolution must drop again to keep up the appearance of improvement.

    Eh. For me, this is what makes PC gaming best. It allows you to choose if you want to render at a lowered resolution with more effects, want to render at the native resolution with lowered effects, want to render with reduced resolution and effects to get higher framerate, OR if you want to spend more money to beef up your hardware and reduce nothing.

    With PC gaming, you have options. With consoles, you have none.

    • Bliss Seeker

      Fair enough.

    • DarthDiggler

      He worships at the temple of framerate and I worship at the altar of High Resolution.

      Who is HE?

      With PC gaming, you have options. With consoles, you have none.

      LOL you are funny. We console gamers have no options. 🙂 We have plenty of games that can play right out of the box without any d!cking around with settings.

      I hope some of you PC gamers realize, that many of us Console gamers used to PC game. The real attractive nature of a Console for me? It plays games, all day all night. I will never see a SpreadSheet on my PS4 and I LOVE that about it. I work on PCs all day at work. The last thing I want to look at when I get him is a PC.

      I prefer multiplayer on Consoles, too many PC games are riddled with hacks and exploits. The open platform makes it an attractive option for cheaters.

      I realize the PC is more powerful, but to some degree much of that power is wasted on games that are mostly designed for the Consoles and Ported to the PC with a little sexiness added. There are very few PC games that simply won’t run on the next gen consoles. Most of your PC exclusives are smaller titles that consoles can run easily. There are a few PC titles that simply would never run on Consoles, but those are few and far between because developers don’t like to limit their audiences.

      Just because PCs are more powerful doesn’t mean it is the go to gaming device for all gamers. Some of us have out grown the PC because we don’t have tons of time to spend on optimizing systems. I optimize my system every 5-7 years when a new console comes out. The rest of my entertainment dollars is spent on games. 🙂

    • DarthDiggler


      I am not going to suggest you are wrong on all counts, but you seem to paint the console game development community with a VERY WIDE BRUSH.

      There are some developers that have always had high regard for frame rates, some have had high regard for resolutions. Most console gamers really do not care about these knobs and buttons you PC guys get to push. Sure we want good graphical fidelity, but we are happy to allow the developers optimize this for us. After all they have a great deal of expertise in these areas and if they have to drop the resolution of some shadow effects in order to meet a frame rate or resolution they desire, I don’t mind. The great benefit about the console is that you actually get a game shipped to you that has already been optimized by professionals.

      With PC gaming, you have options. With consoles, you have none.

      We don’t need very many graphical settings at our disposal. Having tons of graphical settings per title would deny the console gamer some of that “pick up and play” value that the console brings. Some games like Killzone Shadowfall give you a bit of granularity in the settings so people can adjust it for taste.

      Can you PC guys stop positioning your PC as the system everyone needs to game on? Some of us came from PC gaming and we had enough with the hacks, cheats and upgrades. For $400 I get a system I can play for 5+ years that only requires games from here on out.

      Is it the best system? For me it is. 🙂

    • Guest

      “Can you PC guys stop positioning your PC as the system everyone needs to game on?”

      I dont think thats what he was saying at all. While not a 100% accurate most of what he’s saying is true.

  • TI_21

    I think you can drop the word “secret” by now. 😉

    • Guest

      Sssshhhh, its a secret.

  • Bhushan Vaidya

    As long as the game can hold 30 fps, I’m even fine with it. But it gets worse when it dips below that causing stuttering, ruining immersion. Good examples of 30 fps games on PS4 are AC4, Watch Dogs.

  • Manoj Varughese

    Just waiting for it

  • Solid Snake

    Just free up 2GB of the 3GB of ram tied to the playstation 4’s interface & reserve the addional 2GB for game development because 1GB is enough to run the playstation 4’s entire interface with enough breathing room with addional room to spare for future updates to the interface.

    Cheers Gamers & Happy Gaming!

    • DarthDiggler


      Sony kind of has to wait and see what is in store on the competition. If Gamers flock to MS’s multitasking interface with the ability to shrink the game screen and have apps running as well, Sony may have to respond to that.

      If Sony lowers the memory overhead of the dashboard now, they would not be able to raise it in the future. Once you have games using those memory addresses you won’t be able to “take them back” without having compatibility issues with said games.

      MS and Sony were kind of smart about reserving so much. It helps give the product a bit more lifespan as they optimize the dashboard and feature-sets that gamers want.

      I would love to see a game that used 7GB, but I also don’t want Sony to back themselves into a corner and not have the ability to respond to the desires of the marketplace. I think the next couple years will be very telling in regards to which direction they take.

      IMHO MS making the XBONE very “app heavy” and “app centric” isn’t really going to change much. Most people use apps on tablets and smart phones, and the TV screen seems a little “much” for some of these apps (Netflix, Hulu and the like excluded in that assessment of course). The Social stuff is a no-brainer, but Sony has a good bit of that built into the OS. I really don’t have any need to video chat with other gamers while I am playing. That just seems impractical and distracting.

  • chrisredfield31

    Sorry man, PC gamers will never take notice. They don’t care about stuff beyond their own platform.

    • DarthDiggler


      Most everyone noticed Uncharted 2 and the PC Gamers couldn’t ignore it because most of the PC developers of note were looking at it in awe.

  • DarthDiggler


    Well I am pretty sure that PS4 can deliver most Indie titles at 1080p / 60fps perhaps he was speaking for his department. LOL 🙂

  • Dynasty2021

    Anything less than 60 is unacceptable, period.

    The 30 FPS argument is retarded, and just an excuse by console owners that realize their precious box isn’t powerful enough.

    • Guest

      Your opinion that nothing below 60fps is acceptable is unacceptable.

  • Dynasty2021

    And DDR4 is right around the corner. Good to see devs can make use of it with the new consoles.


    DDR4 looks set to give massive performance gains, and we won’t see any benefit from it for YEARS because devs have to code for useless, aged console hardware.

  • Guest

    Im with you, i prefer 1080p/30fps to 900p/60fps

  • timothytripp

    I totally agree with him. 30fps is fine as long as the resolution is 1080p, especially if the AA is good enough. What’s not really ok though is going below 1080p. At all. Ever. At least not for me. Watch Dogs looks beautiful in lighting and textures but even with good AA there are some places where I can see it’s not 1080p. I’m sure with a little more optimization they could have gotten it to 1080p; 900p aka 1600×900 is decent but not quite high enough.

    What people don’t realize is that BluRay, DVDs and movies are 24fps and they look great. Most people can’t perceive stutter below 30fps and a lot of times this is just a numbers-on-paper issue. But resolution affects EVERYTHING. Screen shots, video capture, reviews, all are affected by resolution, where FPS really doesn’t affect those things unless it dips (ever) below 30fps.

    As we move away from the PS3/360 cross-platform games, the worlds will demand too much detail for 1080p/60fps without sacrificing draw distance and detail. Look at the Witcher 3 and other truly Next-Gen games and ask yourself if you’d rather have less detail in order to have 60fps instead of 30. I wouldn’t.


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