Say what you will but this generation of consoles have clearly struggled to reach 1080p and 60 fps performance consistently. Those two parameters are connected to each other and developers have clearly struggled to maintain the balance between the two. Although some developers have been able to achieve the standard but such AAA games are rare and far in between.
GamingBolt recently had a chat with Celtoys founder Don Williamson, who has experience with engine and pipeline optimization (besides developing the renderer for Splinter Cell: Conviction and was an engine lead for Fable) and asked him about his thoughts sacrificing frame rate over resolution and vice versa.
“Resolution is only connected to frame rate in-so-much-as it’s one of the easiest variables to change when you’re looking to gain performance quickly. It’s also one of the most visible and easy to measure compromises. If you go from 1080×720 to 1080×640 you can reduce the amount of work done by 10%. If your pixels are one of the bottlenecks, that immediately transforms into performance, leaving the rest to a cheap up-scaler.”
“The life of an engine developer is constantly mired in compromise that the average player will never see. Particles can be rendered at a lower resolution, volumes can be traced with less steps, calculations can be blended over multiple frames and textures can be streamed at a lower resolution. It’s a hard road and making compromises that the player will never see is difficult and rife with potential side-effects that can take days or months to emerge. As such, making these deep changes late in a project is more risky and less likely to be accepted.”
Williamson believes that it’s better to stick with a better frame rate than a higher resolution if it comes to the last moment.
“Changing resolution is easier with the most visible side-effect of more aliasing. Late in the game, if you’re going to be criticized anyway, frame rate with minimal tearing is king and most would rather take the punches on resolution.”