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Why are new games taking up so much hard disk space?



Red Dead Redemption 2 : 105 GB of disk space required. Shadow of War : 98 GB. Final Fantasy 15 : almost 150 GB. Why the hell do these games take up so much space on your hard drive?

Here are a few different factors play a role. And to be exact, we're talking about big, AAA 3D ​​games, not Minecraft or Stardew Valley . But in the simplest case, there are three main reasons: game files get bigger, game worlds get bigger, and available space becomes cheaper. Let us examine that.

High Resolution Game Files Are Larger

Wrap the story back over 20 years to the dawn of 3D gaming. At that time, both the characters and the environments in 3D games were simple, as developers were busy with the tools of a new art form. Here's a look at what Solid Snake, by the venerable Metal Gear franchise, looked like in 1

998 Metal Gear Solid .

<img class = "wp-image-392341 size-full" data-pagespeed-lazy-src = "https://www.howtogeek.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/ximg_5bd14604e5e28.jpg. pagespeed.gp + jp + jw + pj + ws + js + rj + rp + rw + ri + cp + md.ic.6ftBD4nafy.jpg "alt =" Metal Gear solid, playstation, graphics, 3d, [19659006] Metal Gear Solid, 1998.

Metal Gear Solid was a top-notch at the time, offering some of the most stunning 3D graphics available on every console, but today Snake looks blocky and simple: you can Polygons that make up his head count practically, and the textures (two-dimensional images superimposed over the polygonal models, such as wallpapers, to define them) are blocky and pixelated.

That's because the original PlayStation was only a fraction Not only were these older consoles unable to render more complex characters and environments, they did not have to: D he PS1 was only able to output videos with a resolution of 320 × 240 for most games. If you're reading this article on a new phone, that's less than a square inch of its small but high-resolution screen.

That was about all the loyalty needed to maximize the capabilities of 90s television. Game sizes with simpler 3D models and low-resolution 2D textures were correspondingly small: on two compact discs Metal Gear Solid consumed about 1.5 GB of storage space. PC games could be bigger and produce more high-resolution graphics, but they were still a fraction of the size of modern games.

Now consider a modern version of this character for comparison: Solid Snake from Metal Gear Solid 5 released in 2015.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain 2015.

Snake's face is almost photorealistic: apart from a few angles on eye patch and hair, it's hard to say that this is a collection of polygons and textures and not a real person. These textures are also important: they are now equipped with sufficient resolution so that players who see them on a 1080p or 4K TV will not see pixelated blocks (unless they approach closer).

More visual information, such as modified surfaces for light effects, different materials that behave differently in the physics engine, and things like floating particles for smoke or fire add layers to the complexity of the graph. And all of this happens in real time, in a game engine that the player can interact with, not in a previously rendered cutscene like in a CG movie. Is it any wonder that MGS5 claims twenty times the original travel margin?

More complex 3D models and 2D textures are not the only part of this equation. Sound data has also become more complex. The soundtracks of Cartridge games had only a few rudimentary notes, and although they did reproduce some impressive music ranges, they had to fit in file sizes smaller than any image on the page you were reading.

In comparison, the high-fidelity music and sound effects of modern games are gigantic, not to mention the files for each dialogue line and any random grunt or gasp of the character. Sometimes these sound files are also uncompressed, more like music on a CD than on an MP3, so that the console or the processor of the PC is not burdened with an additional processing layer in addition to the running game. In Titanfalls PC version of 2014, the game contained 35 GB of storage space intended only for uncompressed audio.

Game worlds are getting bigger

In addition to the graphics and the audio of modern games, they are becoming more complex The games themselves are getting massive. Take a look at this comparison chart for the Grand Theft Auto series. 2001 GTA III was considered one of the largest free play games ever to be released, but three years later the developers doubled the size of its playing card GTA: San Andreas , The latest game in the series, GTA V has a map more than ten times larger, covering many other types of terrain and environments.

  gta, playing card, game size, gtaii, gtav, San andreas,
Grand Theft Auto Playing Cards, 1997-2013.

This is not a fixed rule: some more structured games, such as Overwatch or Street Fighter have only a few different levels. Accordingly, they are much smaller in file size. But the explosion of open-world games over the last decade has triggered a race between developers and publishers eager to create the largest possible seamless playing cards.

Far Cry, Assassin's Creed, Just Cause, Borderlands, The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, and The Witcher : Some of the most popular titles on the market have enormous game worlds, which exponentially expand the increasing size requirements. Just Cause 3 has a play area that, when scaled to the real world, is 20 miles on each side. Many of these worlds use related resources – for example, the same texture can be used over and over again for a quarry or concrete wall. But larger maps and areas only require more data.

Assassin's Creed: Odyssey, 2018.

Even games that follow a more conventional level-based approach such as Doom will be much larger just because the levels are larger than they used to be and the Graphics and audio files must be increased. Unique visual elements require dedicated files in the game's memory. The more levels you have and the larger these levels are, the more space is needed.

Memory becomes cheaper; Internet speeds up

My first computer in the mid-1990s had a 40GB hard drive. (And at the time, my dad was amazed at the excess, noting that the room-sized supercomputers he used with Lockheed in the '70s and' 80s had about a tenth of them.) The desktop PC I type on has four terabytes of space between a SSD and a hard drive – 100 times more storage capacity than my old Compaq. And this is hardly a PC-limited phenomenon: Apple has sold its first handset with 512GB of memory this year, and some Android phones may have more than a terabyte thanks to MicroSD cards.

4 TB of space on my main PC. 19659012] Storage capacities are not only getting bigger, they're also faster, thanks to solid-state storage that replaces more and more hard drives. But even if you need more memory with a conventional hard drive, this memory is also cheaper. A PC hard drive with 4 TB of storage space – enough to beat my father's old supercomputer literally a thousand times – can be had for about $ 100. Getting this kind of space preinstalled on your new computer or console is not all that cheap, as manufacturers want to make a profit on every upgrade, but they're still unbelievably cheap compared to what it used to be. The cheapest models of Xbox and PlayStation now come with 1TB hard drives, although they cost only $ 300 for the whole machine. It makes the "groundbreaking" hard drive on the original Xbox poorer.

For players, this is a mixed blessing. For faster game processing, every big game is about being installed on your hard drive, even if it's an old-fashioned CD you buy in a store. In a 1TB hard drive, you can have between 20 and 30 big AA games or maybe just ten, if they're all like Final Fantasy 15 . Hard disk space fills up quickly and you need to uninstall older games if you want to play newer games.

No big deal, you can download it anytime, right? That's right. And modern internet connections are much faster, at least for most people living near a big city. But even with a very good 100 Mbps connection, a 50 GB game needs more than an hour to download. With a typical 25 Mbps connection, you'll need more than five hours, provided you get an ideal download from the server – even on the best Internet network, PlayStation servers are slow. Insert data caps into this mess and it leads to many headaches.

Here is an illustration. The picture above is my current primary PC memory drive, just under 900 GB full. The red area is Steam, Origin and Blizzard games, almost 500 GB for a handful of modern titles. The green section is my ROM collection, hundreds and hundreds of console games from the 80s, 90s and 2000s – just over a tenth the size of my modern games. The blue area represents the files that the Windows operating system must execute.

The developers did not understand the file size correctly between larger drives and faster connections. If your player has 1TB of space, what's the problem with a 100GB game that only requires a tenth of it? Twenty or thirty years ago, the limits of the medium forced developers to be stingy with their file sizes – the reason that Scorpion and Sub Zero look so similar in the original Mortal Kombat is because they are the same Texture files, just tweaked a bit to make them different colors. Now developers no longer have to worry about optimizing games for storage – though they might do so to spare their players the frustration of constant installations and deletions. [196590016] Will that be better?

Probably not, at least in the short term. Games are getting bigger and more complex and they're probably going to do that faster than expanding the available space. This is an aspect of modern gaming that we have to live with for a while.

There is one thing that could shift this equation: game streaming. Companies like NVIDIA and Sony are already offering AAA-style games that are streamed over a high-speed connection. This setup does all of the graphics and storage on a remote server. Therefore, for local playback, only one controller, one screen, and a small program are required to view the remote game. Google, Nintendo and Microsoft are investigating the same technology for future services.

But that's not an ideal solution. Like streaming video services such as Netflix and Hulu, streaming games services are limited in terms of libraries and only mark the games for which they have negotiated the rights. It's likely that no matter what service you choose, there will be a few games you do not want. And streaming games require a much broader and more stable Internet connection than streaming video. In addition to a broad "pipe" for lots of data, you need a low-latency connection that only takes a tiny fraction of a second to send pictures and sound to you and send your controller commands back to your server. 25mbps are an absolute minimum for good 1080p streaming games, and more complex 4K titles need, well, about four times as much.

If you're sitting on a desktop PC and have memory issues, I recommend investing in a cheap expansion drive. You can move game files from your primary drive or SSD and restore them only when you need them. Laptop options are more limited, especially for newer thin-and-light models that do not allow users to access the hard drive. The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 support external hard disks for storing game files, and Do-It-Yourself types can replace the internal storage drive (such as on a PC) if they want to override their console warranty. [19659002] Photo credit: Wikipedia, Steam, GTA Forums / Masny, Amazon


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