PS4 Pro’s 4K Checkerboard Is A ‘Cute Trick’ But Requires Big Investment, Says Former Lionhead Developer
“That Sony have chosen to accelerate part of this for developers can only be a good thing for the short term.”
The PS4 Pro is not powerful enough to actually push native 4K visuals on most games- that’s why Sony have to resort to tricks and shortcuts such as checkerboard rendering, an upscaling technique to 4K that works better than traditional upscaling.
Developers largely seem to agree- while they do think that it’s a trick compare to native 4K rendering, they also think that it’s a good way to get developers acclimatized to the challenges of outputting in 4K resolutions. One of the developers who thinks this is Don Williamson, former developer at Fable development studio Lionhead, and currently the Owner and Consultant Engine Programmer at Celtoys.
“[PS4 Pro’s Checkerboard rendering is] a cute trick that fell out of the temporal anti-aliasing line of thinking,” he said. “Like TAA it requires a big investment in a specific direction for your engine architecture: you need per-pixel velocity vectors, fallback strategies for the myriad effects that don’t fit that design, well-designed reprojection systems and game systems that are aware of single-frame effect limitations. If you’ve already invested in TAA then it could be a lot easier for you to integrate but there are strains of developers who don’t believe betting the farm on TAA is wise: you end up building a significant amount of code that stops working the minute you turn TAA off.
That said, he does think that there are advantages to using the technique, and thinks that Sony are smart in pushing it. “On the plus side? You get stunning performance improvements with visual idiosyncrasies that you might be happy with. That Sony have chosen to accelerate part of this for developers can only be a good thing for the short term as we figure how to target higher resolutions more efficiently.”
I suppose it is as good a tutorial for developers about developing in 4K as anything, but- its ultimately a trick. I imagine that when true 4K gaming becomes mainstream, the difference between this and the real thing will become more apparent.