This article is from the official account:Game Research Club (ID: yysaag), author: stone leaf young, title figure from: vision China span> p>
Is there anything more maddening than loading in a game? Staring at Loading with both eyes and pressing with both hands, I feel that I am aging a little bit. The loading time of the game is too long, and it has always been a problem that has been widely complained by players.
Sometimes you can’t blame the players for being too harsh, because some games are too long. For example, in 2017 “Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3”, as a new era game, it takes 5 minutes to load.
In the era of Internet cafes, 5 minutes can do a lot of things. Some foreign media did an interesting test. During the loading of “Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3”, the experimenter can finish a round of 3 laps of “Mario Kart”, and can pass “Home” 5 times. , Or go out and grab a Pokémon in “Pokémon go” and go home.
Waiting for loading undoubtedly affects the gaming experience quite a bit, so many games now regard ultra-short loading as one of the highlights of the game. For example, in the upcoming “Cyberpunk 2077”, the developer publicly stated that there is no loading screen in the game.
There is no loading screen mentioned here. It means that there will be no other loading screens in the game except for the first loading when opening the game, reading archives, and quick transfer. Players enter new scenes and buildings are all Seamlessly. Many of today’s 3A games can achieve this level.
With the advent of the next generation, load time may be about to become history. When talking about PS5’s changes to the gaming experience, Epic CEO Tim Sweeney said bluntly that “the era of game loading is over.”
In the Xbox Series X demonstration, we can also intuitively see the loading time of the next-generation console. The presenter switches back and forth in several games, and the waiting time is only a few secondsbell.
Later next-generation games such as “Horizon 2: Western Forbidden Domain” and “Resident Evil: Village”, some producers have said that their games have no loading time, even if they are reading archives and fast transmission. The loading time is also negligible. When you first enter the game, the loading is almost instantaneous, and you can play the game immediately after opening the game.
The wishes of the players for many years are finally becoming a reality.
Since the advent of the game, the struggle between people and the loading of the game has never stopped.
Loading is essentially a game between the amount of data and the speed of loading. If you want to get a shorter loading time, you must increase revenue and reduce expenditure.
For game developers, they cannot change the speed of data loading, so they can only use various methods to reduce the total amount of data that the game needs to load.
One of the common methods is to design a set of reasonable data loading logic. Some games do not load all the content, but only load the environment within a certain range around the player, and then run according to the player’s actions. load.
For open world games, this system is even more important because the game canThere can only be one huge scene. If it takes up a lot of time and resources to load it all at once, and the time that the game needs to load is scattered in the process of the game, the player will not feel obvious loading.
In order to further reduce the amount of data that needs to be loaded, many large-scale game vegetation and buildings have multiple sets of models with different levels of detail(LOD) Span>, the game will adjust the fineness of modeling according to the distance between the object and the player, and replace it with low-resolution materials and models at the distance that the player can’t see or pay attention to, and then replace it level by level when the player is close A more detailed model, which saves the occupation of resources without greatly affecting the game experience.
Different colors represent different levels of detail
Although developers can optimize the loading process, as the size of the game becomes larger and larger, the loading pressure is still heavy. Developers cannot fundamentally eliminate the loading time, so they thought of another solution : Hide the loading process.
The biggest problem with loading is that it interrupts the rhythm of the game and makes players feel irritated. Game makers realized that to solve this problem, there is no need to really shorten the loading time of the game, as long as the player does not feel the loading.
Many gamesThe middle producer will cleverly hide the loading screen. For example, set up a door that requires two people to open, a very narrow passage, or let the character enter the elevator and wait for a while. Many of these designs are designed to attract the player’s attention, just like magic, secretly the game is actually loading desperately. In order to “shorten the loading time”, some games even start to load secretly on the main menu page, even if you don’t click to start the game.
Mass Effect was once complained by players for too many “elevators”
Some games will play some animations when loading, or turn the loading screen into a small game to ease the anxiety.
For example, before entering the game, “Ridge Racing” allows players to play a small racing game, which can effectively alleviate the loading syndrome. The difference also shows that the game was really long to load at that time.
Whether it’s designing smart loading logic or secretly hiding loading screens, it requires manual production and debugging, which means a longer development cycle and higher costs. For some manufacturers with small budgets, it is obviously a more cost-effective choice to use the same time and cost to optimize the game’s screen, or to polish the quality of the game, so optimizing the loading time is often given a lower priority At the level, there will be extreme examples like “Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3”.
From the software level, the game systemWorkers’ ability to improve loading time is very limited. After all, loading is an objective need for game operation. If you want to really reduce or even eliminate loading time, you still have to rely on the improvement of hardware performance.
From a macro perspective, the loading time of a game changes with the development of computer hardware technology. The longer loading time indicates to a certain extent that the development speed of the game has exceeded the development speed of the hardware.
In the early days of 8bit, a game might take up to ten minutes to load. In particular, some hosts and computers use magnetic tapes as storage media, which cannot be read at will like memory, but can only be read sequentially according to the playing order of the tapes, so the loading time is very long.
After that, the carrier of the game became a cassette, and the loading time was shortened suddenly. Many people should feel deeply that when they were young, whether it was GB or FC games, they could play directly after plugging in the card, and there was no reading time.
But then the game got stuck in the hardware bottleneck again and again. The capacity of the cassette cannot hold the latest game, so the carrier of the game becomes a CD. This time the game data needs to be copied from the CD and the hard disk to the internal memory, and then run on the internal memory, unlikeThe cassette can be read directly, and the loading time is lengthened again.
Of course, there is another important objective reason. At this time, the magnitude of the game is no longer comparable to that of the cassette period. The system is becoming more and more complex, and the amount of data that needs to be processed is increasing exponentially. So in order to get the same loading speed as a cassette game, the reading speed of the device also needs to be qualitatively higher.
In recent years, when it comes to improving loading speed, solid state drives have been mentioned. Many players regard SSD as an artifact to shorten the loading time of games. After replacing the solid state drive, the loading time of general games can be well improved.
The reason why the PS5 and Xbox Series X two next-generation consoles can significantly reduce game loading time is largely because they are equipped with high-speed SSDs. Developers claim that they will change the game experience in the future.
SSD’s effect on the loading speed of games is undoubted, but it is only one aspect. Part of the game loading is to transfer data to the memory, and the other part is to read the data from the memory. SSD is mainly responsible for the former part, while the latter part is the responsibility of the CPU.
The impact of CPU performance improvement on game loading time varies from game to game. For games with a lot of computing work, powerful CPU has an impact on loading time. The improvement is very obvious
Some media have conducted experiments, trying to run the same game with different performance CPUs and hard drives, and observe the effect of CPU performance and solid state drives on loading time. Experimental results show that high-end CPUs with mechanical hard drives have the same effect on game loading speed as low-end CPUs with solid state drives, but neither of them can achieve the best results.
As for old hardware like PS4, even if SSD is replaced, the loading speed cannot be greatly improved. This is because of the limitation of the interface and cable. PS4 uses the SATA 2.0 interface, and the upper limit of the data transmission speed is limited to 300MB/s.
So, from these examples, we can see that the loading speed of the game follows the barrel principle, and is affected by many factors. The shortcomings of any aspect will limit the further improvement of the loading speed.
To eliminate game loading time, we don’t just need to upgrade one or two components, but we need a whole set of systems to serve them, with a multi-pronged approach, both soft and hard.
This is the case for consoles and PC games. For mobile games where every second counts, the loading speed of the game has become a must.Ground, after all, more than ten seconds to load is enough to make a player lose interest and switch to various social and short video platforms-there are too many apps that compete with games these days.
In just a few years of the development of smartphone games, we have witnessed the continuous expansion of the game volume and the new highs of chip performance year by year. In the early days, games were small in size, usually only tens of MB, but due to weak hardware performance, the loading of games was quite slow. In particular, the public at that time was still relatively unfamiliar with the flow logic of the APP. In order to prevent players from turning off the game during the loading process, game developers usually reminded that “game loading does not consume data”, which can be said to be painstaking.
Nowadays, games on mobile phones are easily calculated in GB, which is a hundred times larger than in the past. But the loading time for you to play a game may have been shortened, of course, thanks to the improvement of the mobile phone chip performance.
If you have followed some mobile phone conferences (especially Android ones), the conference speeches will almost always treat the game as a Important performance metrics. Especially in the early years, there were not so many dimensions of mobile game technology, so at the press conference, each company liked to come up with a popular mobile game to compare the loading speed to show their excellent performance.
Nowadays, mobile games support more and more special effects, and players care about more and more indicators. Not only need to load quickly, but also to further pursue screen special effects, sound effects, heat, control feel, etc., even the high refresh and high frame rate of the PC gaming field has also been introduced.
Whether it is a host/PC or a mobile game, the ultimate goal of technology development is often that people cannot feel the existence of technology. Future players may not understand how much trouble the “loading” event will bring to people, just as modern players don’t know how much the “hair color number” and “fast activity” have caused the game’s screen performance. There are reasons to believe that with the continuous optimization of software and hardware, the future gaming experience will be improved, achieving effects that players in the past could not imagine.
This article is from the official account:Game Research Club (ID: yysaag), author: stone leaf young span>