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Insomniac's New Game

The game maker's engineers ask: does framerate matter?

1 min read

I profiled Insomniac, makers of games including Resistance and Rachet & Clank, in a previous issue of IEEE Spectrum.  The company always manages to churn out great games that exhibit both sophisticated technology and addictive play.

But, according to this blog post from Insomniac's Mike Acton, the games are changing.  The company had long been making games under a certain formula - the higher the frame rate, the better.  But those days are done, Acton says.   "One of the long-standing sacred cows here at Insomniac is framerate," he writes, "We’ve long viewed a solid framerate as both a sign of a quality product and professionalism as developers. It’s always been point of pride in our work and considered an extremely serious part of our development process. However, during development, there are hard choices to be made between higher quality graphics and framerate. And we want to make the right choices that reflect our commitment to providing you with the best looking games out there. To that end, our community team did some research into the question of framerate. The results perhaps confirmed what I’ve known for a long time, but found it difficult to accept without evidence. They found that:  A higher framerate does not significantly affect sales of a game.  [AND] A higher framerate does not significantly affect the reviews of a game."

Read more here.

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Deep Learning Could Bring the Concert Experience Home

The century-old quest for truly realistic sound production is finally paying off

12 min read
Image containing multiple aspects such as instruments and left and right open hands.
Stuart Bradford

Now that recorded sound has become ubiquitous, we hardly think about it. From our smartphones, smart speakers, TVs, radios, disc players, and car sound systems, it’s an enduring and enjoyable presence in our lives. In 2017, a survey by the polling firm Nielsen suggested that some 90 percent of the U.S. population listens to music regularly and that, on average, they do so 32 hours per week.

Behind this free-flowing pleasure are enormous industries applying technology to the long-standing goal of reproducing sound with the greatest possible realism. From Edison’s phonograph and the horn speakers of the 1880s, successive generations of engineers in pursuit of this ideal invented and exploited countless technologies: triode vacuum tubes, dynamic loudspeakers, magnetic phonograph cartridges, solid-state amplifier circuits in scores of different topologies, electrostatic speakers, optical discs, stereo, and surround sound. And over the past five decades, digital technologies, like audio compression and streaming, have transformed the music industry.

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