Battlefield rendering architect talks PC graphics

Battlefield 3 is out today, and although I haven’t had a chance to load it up just yet, everything I’ve seen about the game suggests that it will set a new standard for graphical goodness. So, how’d they do it? DICE rendering architect Johan Andersson explained many of the details in a lengthy talk at the GeForce LAN event held a couple of weeks ago. Videos of that presentation are now on YouTube for all to see. Here’s the first section of the five-part playlist:

In the roughly hour of footage, Andersson provides loads of interesting information on everything from virtual texturing to how the lighting model interacts with particle effects. Individual scenes are broken down into their component parts to illustrate various effects and help explain why Battlefield 3 looks as good as it does. Even the game’s detail levels are explained in, er, detail.

Battlefield 3‘s low detail level on the PC is apparently similar to what folks will be seeing on consoles. Above that, PC gamers have plenty of extra options to enable, including an ultra mode intended for use with multi-GPU systems. There’s also a nifty performance overlay that provides real-time information on CPU and GPU utilization while you’re playing the game.

After being somewhat let down by my initial Rage experience, I can only hope that Battlefield 3 lives up to the hype. Me and the Battlefield series go way back, and we’ve already got a date for tonight.

Comments closed
    • C-A_99
    • 8 years ago

    From the BF3 beta, the XB360 version looked far worse than PC on lowest settings. Texture resolutions seemed to be less than half of those on lowest PC settings, and that’s before you account for the complete lack of anisotropic filtering, more restrictive color ranges, and horrible resolution. (Well, the resolution itself may not be horrible, but the end result looks that way when it upscales to the actual monitor’s resolution.) And it runs at 30fps with poor controls with very noticeably lower audio quality.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 8 years ago

    The game looks amazing even on medium settings, lol. I played most of the SP on high and it was astounding. I hope to one day turn up to ultra and get my mind blown.

    • Rza79
    • 8 years ago

    [quote<]... the core streaming ... it's not based on the viewing direction because that simply doesn't work that well on the pc when you're turning quickly with the mouse. You simply can't stream fast enough for that to work.[/quote<] This guy gets it! How come Carmack is so ignorant not to do the same thing?

      • Bensam123
      • 8 years ago

      He was consolized.

      • bcronce
      • 8 years ago

      Wiki: MegaTexture employs a single large texture space for static terrain. The texture is stored on removable media or a computer’s hard drive and streamed as needed, allowing large amounts of detail and variation over a large area with comparatively little RAM usage.

      MegaTexture supports 64k x 64k textures, which are about 11.5GB uncompressed. If you think they load that into video memory without streaming….

        • Myrmecophagavir
        • 8 years ago

        Err… the OP was referring to not basing your streaming on view direction, rather than not streaming at all.

    • Bensam123
    • 8 years ago

    It’s missing the most important feature and arguably the only real feature in dx11… tesselation.

    Which is kinda funny… because the game requires DX11 (it wont run under DX9)…

    That aside – I’m really telling you guys, go try out Living Legends for Crysis (which is a mod) and/or Hard Reset. BF3 honestly doesn’t look that amazing.

      • bcronce
      • 8 years ago

      In the linked video series, they talk about tesselation but mostly with terrain. But it is there.

        • Bensam123
        • 8 years ago

        Well looking at the game options both inside and outside the game and the wikipedia entry on the Frostbite 2 engine (for what that’s worth), it’s not. The only things Google is pulling up on it is people asking for it and the game supposedly using it on characters. The one that said it was only used on characters also mentioned there was no emphasis put on it, rather it was put on direct compute. Which makes it seem even less likely because you said the only place they really used it was on terrain.

        Normally when companies use a major graphical feature, especially for something like this, they bang their drum and tout it all around town for everyone to see. That didn’t happen here and it’s suspiciously toned down. I’m almost certain they’re saying they used ‘some’ tessellation to avoid saying they didn’t use any and then get asked why (that is of course if you believe companies don’t always tell the truth).

        I meant what I said about Living Legends and Hard Reset though.

    • NarwhaleAu
    • 8 years ago

    After watching the 5 videos for just under an hour, I went out and purchased the game (I say went out, but I mean I logged into Origin and gave them $65).

    Way to go DICE – I’m really impressed with how you guys have pushed things forward. I’ve decided to support you with my wallet.

    • danny e.
    • 8 years ago

    “Which makes rendering fast by not rendering things you don’t see. Which kinda makes a lot of sense.”

    A little stab at Crysis 2, perhaps?

      • lilbuddhaman
      • 8 years ago

      Z-buffer called, said “duh”

    • d0g_p00p
    • 8 years ago

    click the mouse button right after the “f” button right after the space bar at the exact same time or else you will do the same thing over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again.

    I am playing with a keyboard with a PC game. I don’t have a controller and I should not have to do this type of things. Bah!!!

    • LiquidSpace
    • 8 years ago

    Where are the BENCHMARKS?
    I wanna know how it runs maxed out at 1920.1200 and 2560.1600 on the current gen GPUs.
    Please give us the benchmarks.
    BTW can you do a video comparison between maxed setts and medium or low setts?
    thanks.

      • Airmantharp
      • 8 years ago

      From your local [url=http://hardocp.com/article/2011/10/25/battlefield_3_preview_performance<][H][/url<]

    • Bauxite
    • 8 years ago

    I just finished single player, and apart from a few glitches and some gameplay weirdness (melee scenes can be damned annoying) it was really good.

    MP will take awhile to iron out (back in ye olde days, we had to wait for mods worth a crap) but theres still fun to be had.

    • cheddarlump
    • 8 years ago

    Say what you want about the graphics, the initial birth pains of battlelog, whatever other issues: For my money, it’s got that awesome “holy crap this is fun” element that I remember from 1942, DC, and BF2, only amped up by a factor of 100.

    I hopped online yesterday at about 11pm, and it was already up and running, and I played on multiple servers for more than 3 hours without a single problem. Only one of the servers I played on had lag, and it was easy to change servers.

    In my humble opinion, give this badboy a dedicated private server option and LAN play, and I’m sold hook, line, and sinker. Reminds me of the hilarious battles me and my buddies had in years past, coming up with the most stupendous ways of obliterating each other..

    Also, I was at GeforceLAN 6, and had a blast. Too bad we couldn’t play BF3 there unless we wanted to use the tournament PC’s, that would have made it perfect.

      • dashbarron
      • 8 years ago

      I was hopeful of BF3 but skeptical because EA was funding it. I didn’t have to worry.

      I’m with this fellow ^. I think the gameplay is fun and nastoligic to old ’42 days; the graphics are slick and one of the best games I’ve seen (besides some lighting issue), and unlike Crysis they don’t bog your system down to oblivion even with the beefiest setup. 35-60 FPS range with an SLI setup.

        • yogibbear
        • 8 years ago

        Nostalgic*. Jebus christ poop on a stick. It is f****** phonetic.

          • lilbuddhaman
          • 8 years ago

          Nast-o-ligic !

    • Krogoth
    • 8 years ago

    Geez, it looks like BF:BC2 Plus to me…..

    I can’t be the only person who is getting the same vibe.

      • Airmantharp
      • 8 years ago

      Did you think it wouldn’t be an evolution of BC2?

      And to think, that’s exactly what I was hoping for, I loved BC2!

      • Bensam123
      • 8 years ago

      You aren’t. There are a lot of people ultra hyped up waiting for this game right now, so you can’t expect unbiased answers though. Wait a month or so for things to settle down.

      It basically is slightly better graphically then BC2 and the gameplay is more like CoD… Unique to it are planes and 64 player maps.. if you consider that new.

    • squeeb
    • 8 years ago

    It looks incredible. And it runs great too..I thought after the beta experience I would be disappointed but I’m impressed.

    • Forge
    • 8 years ago

    [url<]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDq30MDhE0Y[/url<] Yeah, it's super pretty. Also seizure-inducing.

      • JohnC
      • 8 years ago

      That looks like some game bug, or a person who posted that video is trying to use ATI/AMD cards in CrossFire setup (which is almost always a bad idea if the game was just released and it doesn’t have any “optimized for Red Team” labels). I haven’t seen such effects when I went over that part.

    • moose17145
    • 8 years ago

    [quote<]After being somewhat let down by my initial Rage experience, I can only hope that Battlefield 3 lives up to the hype. Me and the Battlefield series go way back, and we've already got a date for tonight.[/quote<] Get ready to be disappointed. Personally (so agree or disagree this is how i feel), for this game supposedly being developed for the PC it feels like a very poor console port. The Minimap and basically everything on the HUD is useless. The game lacks in game VOIP (and the com center dealy requires you to basically add everyone to your friends list before you can talk to them... like that is gonna happen....), Bug galore... seriously.... this is one of the buggiest games i have seen... and i play eve... so i know what a buggy game looks like. Lack of colorblind mode or other ability to change the color scheme on the HUD (Seriously this is an OLD feature... im not colorblind, and even I wish i could change the color scheme on my HUD), Although the maps are 64 player sized... they utilize like 15 or 20% of the map and have all the control points / flags all bunched together in the middle within about 400 meters from each other (this leads to basically one big clusterf**k of shit getting blown up instead of smaller squad based skirmishes all over the map like in BF2 where the control points were spread out over a massive area), getting into multiplayer from their stupid browser based setup in of itself can be a miracle... seriously its buggy as hell ... get used to seeing this message in your battlelog "Sorry, Something technical went wrong". Honestly for 65 dollars (after tax as i bought the disc version), I am not impressed. This game honestly feels like several steps backwards from what BF2 was... Oh and i cannot get my back to karkand maps to show up either... and yes i already redeemed my little redemption code thingy for them. Honestly after watching my roommate play the game on the 360 and being able to chat it up with her whole team or just her squad, and being unable to do that on the pc because of lack of in game VOIP, and the way the maps are setup... i actually think you are better off going with the console version. Yea PC has way better graphics, no denying that... but its like they centered all their attention on making it pretty (as even the youtube video in this article demonstrates), and then totally forgot about game play and all the feature that the other BF games had TEN YEARS AGO that made them such a huge success. And even then i cannot tweak the individual graphics settings to my liking... I'm stuck with just changing their basic graphics options from low, medium, high, and ultra... that's it... for a game that was developed for the pc first... one would think that being able to tweak each individual graphics option would be a given. Oh and the sound quality still sucks compared to the X-Fi sound mode in BF2. Not sure if anyone else feels the same way as me... but that's my rant and how I feel. oh and this pretty much sums up the minimap.... [url<]http://i.imgur.com/LtY5H.jpg[/url<]

      • Lazier_Said
      • 8 years ago

      BF2 was borderline unplayable at release too. That’s EA, push it out the door and fix it later.

      That works for me because by the time other people have beta tested it I can pick it up for $30 instead of $60.

      • zdw
      • 8 years ago

      The “Back to Karkand” is an expansion that will be released later, so that’s normal.

      • cheddarlump
      • 8 years ago

      Would you like some cheese with that whine?

        • Bensam123
        • 8 years ago

        How do people like you get thumbs up’d?

      • homerdog
      • 8 years ago

      You can certainly tweak individual graphics options. Select “Custom” in the presets list and go to town.

      Sure the game isn’t perfect but I’m having an absolute blast with it regardless.

      • Airmantharp
      • 8 years ago

      I hope you enjoy hating the game in your own little world- the rest of us find it amazing and are having a blast.

      And the game’s not nearly as buggy as you make it sound.

        • Bensam123
        • 8 years ago

        You don’t speak for me.

      • Bensam123
      • 8 years ago

      Yup, I covered a lot of these points in the forums in the BF3 topic. It honestly doesn’t live nearly up to the hype… Well compared to the hype MW3 has for simply existing, it lives up to it quite a bit more, but that doesn’t mean a whole lot.

      The EA developers need to use more of the color pallet then greys and browns.

      LOL at the minimap transition. I agree the HUD is terrible.

      • Arclight
      • 8 years ago

      I would like to welcome you to the world of PC gaming Anno 2011, lack of legacy options being the name of the game

      Bugs and DICE/EA acting like everything is perfect are well known old facts but imo the game is good enogh to want me to “soldier” on. Your requirment for in game VOIP does not apply to me but other points you touched are valid for me as well. I just wish they gave up the whole Origin stuff and made an ingame web browser but it’s still not a deal breaker.

      During the BETA i had problems joining servers only when the they were overrun at the beggining. After a few hours there was no major problem using the browser to join. But i do despise the lack of usefull info when you get kicked out or the game crashes with no warning or error.

      That said i still think it’s worth it, at this point in time there is nothing better, imo and in time they will certainly make the game less buggy.

      Disclaimer: the bugs i talked about in my post were related to the BETA experience and might not represent the finished game which is said to have fixed many issues.

      PS: i also wish there was a console (as in command prompt or developers console as it is known in Counter Srike) that could be used for usefull stuff like in game frames counter etc.

      • l33t-g4m3r
      • 8 years ago

      Well, glad I don’t have to worry about it, since I’ve made the decision not to purchase this game until it’s sold outside of Origins. Their privacy policy is insane.

    • PrincipalSkinner
    • 8 years ago

    Goofy guy!

    • Derfer
    • 8 years ago

    They keep showing these screenshots that look ridiculously identical to scenes from Crysis. Down to every little decorative object and their placements. Like that one shot in front of a small barricade is identical to the entrance to the dock with the big crane on Crysis 1. What gives?

    • Noigel
    • 8 years ago

    Graphics crashes (Nvidia) keep me from playing it, can’t go five minutes without a crash to desktop. Newest drivers downloaded today…

    That’s one of 3 gripes I’ve got with it so far.

    • michael_d
    • 8 years ago

    I played it yesterday for about 30 minutes. All in-game settings set to Ultra at 2560×1600, MSAA off and motion blur off. It was running fine with a single Radeon 5870, I had to turn off CrossFireX due to stuttering.

    The visuals are inferior to Crysis and Metro 2033 and in fact it is not much better than BFBC2. Animation, physics and sound are great though.

      • JohnC
      • 8 years ago

      The visuals aren’t really inferior, they just really abused the lighting system in some areas, making many surfaces overly bright and as a result looking “washed out”.

      B.t.w, if you have CrossFire setup – don’t use the latest CAP (I believe it’s 11.9 CAP3 or something), they were designed for an earlier (beta) build of BF3. As usual with ATI/AMD you must wait a week or a few for them to “catch up”.

        • michael_d
        • 8 years ago

        Yes, the light is too intense but it does not hide absense of heat haze, subpar smoke effects and the lighting itself is less than stellar. If you want to see excellent heat haze, smoke and lighting, check out Rage, Metro 2033 and Crysis

        I uninstalled CAP3 too. AMD needs to work out all the kinks.

          • JohnC
          • 8 years ago

          Can’t really say about Rage or Crysis 2 as I don’t really feel like wasting $$$ for such mediocre products. I have played Metro 2033, and yea, the exterior (above ground areas) particle effects look extremely well-done and better than what I’ve seen so far in BF3, but overall (taking in the account all of the “eye candy”) I was more visually pleased with BF3.

      • Arclight
      • 8 years ago

      Sorry dude, i played Crysis 2 multiplayer and is very very inferior to BF3. If BF3 had maps as small as Crysis 2 on multiplayer they could have made all the things look like in real life. Try making a map the size of Caspian Border with the engine used for Crysis 2 and let’s see how detailed (not) that map will be in order to maintain the game playable for even the highest end systems.

        • michael_d
        • 8 years ago

        Crysis 2 engine the CryEngine 3 as they call it, should more appropriately be named CryEngine 1.5. The original Crysis had superb visuals that are still unmatched in many ways. BTW BF3 has a similar look as Crysis 2.

          • Arclight
          • 8 years ago

          Again Crysis 2 is on a micro scale compared to BF3 and yet you say they look similar…think about it for a second and soak in the implications…

          And Crysis 1 =/ Crysis 2. Crysis 1 was open world while Crysis 2 isn’t.

            • Bensam123
            • 8 years ago

            You’re mistaking engines for game iterations, Cryengine vs Crysis.

            • Arclight
            • 8 years ago

            How am i “mistaking engines for game iterations, Cryengine vs Crysis”?

            Was Crysis 2 not made with another version of the Cryengine compared to Crysis 1?
            I didn’t use the engine full name since i don’t remember and i used the games made with those engines instead. I see no mistake.

            • Bensam123
            • 8 years ago

            Yes it was and Crysis 2, based on CryEngine 3, looks inferior to Crysis 1 based on the CryEngine 2.

            He was saying that Crysis 1 is inferior to Crysis 2 graphically and you’re basing your argument around Crysis 2 looking the best out of the bunch of the Crysis games. You lost track of his argument when he started using CryEngine instead of Crysis as best as I can tell.

            His use of saying ‘BF3 looks as good as Crysis 2’ was based around the fact that Crysis 2 looks inferior to Crysis 1, further backing up his original argument.

            Which in my opinion is true. Crysis still has better visuals then BF3, especially when you play a mod like Living Legends.

        • Bensam123
        • 8 years ago

        Crysis 2 is inferior graphically to Crysis 1; that’s why everyone references Crysis and not Crysis 2.

          • Arclight
          • 8 years ago

          I didn’t play Crysis 1 in 2007 (was it?) so i don’t have any nostalgia about it. I did play it last week though after playing Crysis 2 for a while and i must say it’s not better in any way compared to BF3. BF3 has DX 10 and 11 features and imo it looks better than Crysis 1&2.

            • Bensam123
            • 8 years ago

            BF3 uses direct compute (a dx11 feature), which isn’t a graphically distinguishable trait. It doesn’t use tessellation as best I can tell, which is the main graphical feature of dx11 besides physics which BF3 uses lightly (it uses a lot of scripted events). I should note there are a lot of conflicting sources online on whether or not it actually uses tesselation too. Hopefully Scott will do that nifty tessellation thing with BF3 when he starts testing it like he did with Crysis 2 so we can actually see if it’s using it or not.

            Crysis supports DX10.1 and BF3 doesn’t make use of tessellation so that sorta cuts out any sort of technical specs that would put it above Crysis (which is sad).

      • south side sammy
      • 8 years ago

      yeah, it’s a pisser isn’t it. read an article over at hard-ocp about that……. dual card setups. all the money you invest for the best gaming experience and ATI falls short again……. which happened alot with multi generation cards vs the green guys…. not that they didn’t have problems. really makes me think twice about xfiring my 6950…….. which I wouldn’t own if the 2gig 560ti didn’t take a crap right after purchase. Go figure……??
      I did see the vid earlier and it does have a lot of info for tech heads and other nerds. nice watch.

        • michael_d
        • 8 years ago

        I like CrossFire it helps a lot with modded S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games, Metro 2033 and Crysis. BTW the 6000 series has excellent scaling far better than 5000.

      • lilbuddhaman
      • 8 years ago

      I’ll have to agree with you. It’s not that anything is particularly low quality, just that nothing seems to mesh together. Art assets don’t have a unifying style/theme, and when looking at any complex scene, you notice. As well, whatever post image filter they use (or is it lighting?) just puts a bad overall look to the game.

      • volnaiskra
      • 8 years ago

      Well-implemented object-based motion blur is one of the reasons Metro2033 and Crysis look so good. It add smoothness to movement, makes things like explosions appear more dynamic, and overall adds a much more cinematic and realistic look to everything (things shouldn’t remain really sharp when moving fast, because that neither happens in movies, nor in real life).

      So if you turned motion blur and AA off, you weren’t seeing it at its best at all, so I can only take your judgement with a grain of salt.

    • d0g_p00p
    • 8 years ago

    Are the auth servers up right now (I’m at work) meaning when I get home will the game be ready to play or will they turn on at midnight?

      • JohnC
      • 8 years ago

      The game was “unlocked” for both campaign and multiplayer in US region like 12 hours ago…

        • d0g_p00p
        • 8 years ago

        Thanks. I was having issues with the pre-install download and have not gotten around to installing it yet. I thought it was coming out tomorrow.

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