So about those shadows....

Hey Lloyd, I hope you're reading this :)

I recently had the opportunity to test Elite Dangerous on the PS4 Pro. One of the major things that tempted me to purchase a Pro was the promise of better shadows in Elite Dangerous. And yes, shadows are pretty darn amazing in ED's quality mode on the PS4 Pro! However, for reasons I saved for another thread, I'm returning the Pro and sticking with my Slim. While I may be the exception in the forums, I believe overall I'm the 'rule', in that many more PS4 gamers in general own the 'vanilla' PS4 instead of the Pro. So about those 'vanilla' shadows...

I do not expect the very sharp, dynamic, and long-range shadows that PS4 Pro gets in quality mode. I realize that has to be GPU intensive. I'm okay with soft or even a bit blurry shadows, to a point. My biggest complaint with ED's shadows is the extreme flickering, which creates these "Yars revenge" patterns on the mailslot and flashing, strobe-like patches everywhere else. I already submitted this as a bug back when 2.4 dropped, and it sounded like it was being treated as such, yet here we are many months later and it's still really bad.

Speaking of the PS4 Pro, these exact shadows are seen in performance mode, so :p to everyone who said my Slim was dying.

There has got to be a way to give us something in between the laser-sharp shadows of the Pro's quality mode and what we currently have on PS4 Vanilla. Just get rid of that flickering, please. I noticed in some PSVR games that LOD is emphasized toward the center-of-view and softened more toward the edges. Would it be possible for you guys to have quality "zones" in ED? For example, the mailslot is always a focal-point in the game when we are docking, so perhaps you could code mailslot shadows to be a higher quality while keeping the lower quality, higher performance shadows for the periphery items.

So long story short, both the PS4 Slim and the XBox One are the two 'popular' consoles, so please Frontier, keep developing ED with these in mind. The more you optimize for the base consoles, the easier it will be to someday offer 4K and other enhancements to those who own the Pro and XB1X.

Thank you! [heart] [heart] [heart]

ps - I know you can make this happen, I have renewed faith :)
 
IMHO, I think that if we'll ever see them addressing all the small graphical issues we've highlighted over the last months that'll be in Q4 when the new real-time multiple light-sources (and shadows) will be introduced. Of course, that's likely going to be more a bit more taxing on the GPU, so other issues might come up for us...
 
I don't think it's just an ED thing. I suspect it's a PS4 thing. Or maybe a PS thing in general. I remember those flickery shadows from the PS3, particularly in Gran Turismo. It was more noticeable on the bigger race tracks, (Nurburgring for example) and it bugged the heck out of me at the time.

When I got the PS4 I didn't notice it in any games for ages - the graphics on PS4 are generally great at least on the games I played - until ED came along last year. There were the flickery, blocky, strobing shadows again. Then last Christmas I got Gran Turismo Sport on the PS4 - sure enough they were occasionally visible there on the bigger tracks again, not as much as before - only in certain sections and certain camera angles - but they were there. A real shame as the rest of GT Sport's graphics are amazing.

I remember looking into it back in the PS3 days and finding that it's something to do with the resolution of shadow maps. Shadow maps take up memory and they seem to have an independent level of detail setting of their own that determines their resolution. That's why they were getting blockier and more flickery on the larger GT tracks - the console memory was getting low and the LoD routine was knocking the shadows down in resolution. Obviously the PS4 is a different machine, but seeing the same sort of effect happening in the same game series makes me think it's the same cause. It's annoying because the rest of the graphics (in ED & GT) are stunning but those shadows alone really spoil the look.

Maybe it's something to with the 'priority' of the shadows resolution setting?

Actually on a side note, LoD management in general is something I think ED struggles with on the PS4 at least, I quite often see pops in LoD when viewing ships from the external camera (directional thrusters are a particular culprit), on terrain when approaching planets for landing, and on some mega ships when approaching close to them.
 
IMHO, I think that if we'll ever see them addressing all the small graphical issues we've highlighted over the last months that'll be in Q4 when the new real-time multiple light-sources (and shadows) will be introduced. Of course, that's likely going to be more a bit more taxing on the GPU, so other issues might come up for us...
I've actually made this same argument regarding HDR and 4K. I'm hoping there's a "quick fix" for shadows, because I don't remember them being this bad when the game first released (I think they went flickery when 2.4 dropped). However, if I have to wait until Q4 for that fix, so be it. It would be nice if Frontier would actually comment on this one way or another.

I don't think it's just an ED thing. I suspect it's a PS4 thing......

When I got the PS4 I didn't notice it in any games for ages - the graphics on PS4 are generally great at least on the games I played - until ED came along last year. There were the flickery, blocky, strobing shadows again.

.........

Obviously the PS4 is a different machine, but seeing the same sort of effect happening in the same game series makes me think it's the same cause. It's annoying because the rest of the graphics (in ED & GT) are stunning but those shadows alone really spoil the look.
When testing my PS4 Pro against my Slim, I did a back and forth comparison of Horizon Zero Dawn. HZD looks amazing on the Pro, but it also looks amazing on the Slim. If you look real carefully, you can see how they transition from softer shadows to sharper shadows, but never did I see any awful flickering "minecraft" shadows. HZD also does an amazing job with LOD transition and antialiasing on the Slim. In other words, it can be done on PS4 hardware.

I enjoyed David Braben's recent commentary on the original Elite, about how he used XOR to erase the wireframes and redraw them instead of doing a full screen wipe (which all the other games were doing) in order to greatly increase performance. Elite was known for pushing limited hardware well beyond what people expected at the time. Now on consoles it's almost the opposite - Frontier appears to be using generic PC "brute force" methods of rendering graphics instead of doing the clever things that the developers of HZD, GoW, and many other AAA games are doing to give us amazing graphics on even the humble Slim. I expect more from Frontier - I expect them to go back to their roots of cleverness and find the XOR equivalent for modern-day shadow implementation.
 
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stormyuk

Volunteer Moderator
I'd like to see Old Duck limited to ONE RANT THREAD on these issues. Yes I appreciate he has a point but this is just tedious...Its like Trump tweets - endless and very unhelpful.
Its a fair point but, saying that I think he did need his point making after his test with Pro vs Slim first hand so do understand.

But, Old Duck chap, please just use this one from now on, we have been good over on the 4K rant and kept it all in one megathread. I'll be watching.

You two are old timers here, so lets live and let live. Also there is always the nuclear "ignore" option.

As always please discuss the topic, not the poster. :)
 
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But, Old Duck chap, please just use this one from now on, we have been good over on the 4K rant and kept it all in one megathread.
No problem! Shadow quality is pretty much my only PS4-specific rant these days. The minecraft textures were fixed, as was the broken DS4 head-tracking, and I've got not one but two gold paint jobs available, so my fingers are firmly crossed that Lloyd and team can fix these shadows as well.

I should, however, reserve a new thread for whatever new and lovely bugs we'll be getting in the 3.1 update ;)
 
And the guys at DICE think they’re butt deep in Salt regarding Battlefront II! FDevs should go to Stockholm for a breather!
 
No problem! Shadow quality is pretty much my only PS4-specific rant these days. The minecraft textures were fixed, as was the broken DS4 head-tracking, and I've got not one but two gold paint jobs available, so my fingers are firmly crossed that Lloyd and team can fix these shadows as well.

I should, however, reserve a new thread for whatever new and lovely bugs we'll be getting in the 3.1 update ;)
To be fair, there's still the little issue of the game blue screening the PS4 when 3 people land on a planet...
 
I'm playing on PS4 Pro and my biggest gripe with the graphics is the low antialiasing factor which makes some lines very jaggy, best example is the toast rack. But I know these kinds of post-processing effects are very GPU intensive and consoles players need to make sacrifices in that regard, a PS4 isn't a 1000+€ PC.
 
Shadows in JWE on standard PS4 look decent enough, so maybe there's hope yet for shadows in ED. I did notice some flickering when zoomed way out above park (things like the helicopter blades), but at that distance I'm not surprised. Close up shadows look pretty good.
 
Just a couple days away from the update! I went ahead and spent real money on Frontier Points (something I vowed not to do until these shadows are fixed), so I'm counting on you Lloyd to uphold your end of the bargain ;)
 
Just a couple days away from the update! I went ahead and spent real money on Frontier Points (something I vowed not to do until these shadows are fixed), so I'm counting on you Lloyd to uphold your end of the bargain ;)
I did that last time and felt a little burned. Not enough not to do it this time, but I’m certainly waiting to see if more than two of us can land on a planet for #ps4-1y
 

Tiny_Rick

Banned
Duck, you'll have to forgive me for approaching this topic far late into the discussion, but from what's gathered, is it fair to say that my 4k tv doesn't merit a Pro upgrade with respect to ED?
 
Duck, you'll have to forgive me for approaching this topic far late into the discussion, but from what's gathered, is it fair to say that my 4k tv doesn't merit a Pro upgrade with respect to ED?
Hmmmm..... ED does look better in quality mode, but it didn't look better enough for me to upgrade my fairly new PS4 Slim to a Pro. Now if I owned a 4K TV and didn't have to deal with power restrictions, I would have kept my Pro for other games like Horizon Zero Dawn which supposedly look amazing in 4K HDR.
 

stormyuk

Volunteer Moderator
Hmmmm..... ED does look better in quality mode, but it didn't look better enough for me to upgrade my fairly new PS4 Slim to a Pro. Now if I owned a 4K TV and didn't have to deal with power restrictions, I would have kept my Pro for other games like Horizon Zero Dawn which supposedly look amazing in 4K HDR.
There are plenty of games that do, unfortunately while Elite does look great on the Pro, no 4K mode, I guess checkerboard is not part of the Cobra Engine, I have not tried JWE but that is 4K apparently on the Pro and by all accounts it does look good but I have seen no comparisons with other platforms.

I booted up Elite for first time this week to get my Sidewinder (which was full of loaned parts because I think it was used for BH got an hour a year ago today) ready for the meet up and the graphics are still very impressive. (the anti-aliasing is my biggest issue)
 
I booted up Elite for first time this week to get my Sidewinder (which was full of loaned parts because I think it was used for BH got an hour a year ago today) ready for the meet up and the graphics are still very impressive. (the anti-aliasing is my biggest issue)
One of the things I noticed when I tried Quality mode on my Pro was that the aliasing was worse in this mode, at least that's how it looked on my 1080p gaming monitor. I actually preferred how Performance mode looked regarding aliasing, because everything seemed smoother, almost as if some form of antialiasing was applied, at least to UI elements and sharp edges. I don't know why this is, but it was very noticeable to me, and thus one of the reasons I returned that Pro less than 24 hours later.

Oh but I do miss those nice crisp shadows! That said, I can handle 'soft' shadows as long as they don't blink and flash like a disco ball on an LSD trip :p
 

stormyuk

Volunteer Moderator
One of the things I noticed when I tried Quality mode on my Pro was that the aliasing was worse in this mode, at least that's how it looked on my 1080p gaming monitor. I actually preferred how Performance mode looked regarding aliasing, because everything seemed smoother, almost as if some form of antialiasing was applied, at least to UI elements and sharp edges. I don't know why this is, but it was very noticeable to me, and thus one of the reasons I returned that Pro less than 24 hours later.

Oh but I do miss those nice crisp shadows! That said, I can handle 'soft' shadows as long as they don't blink and flash like a disco ball on an LSD trip :p
That's weird when DF did the analysis, the performance mode on PS4 Pro and standard PS4 give identical graphical output with the PS4 Pro getting a frame rate boost, they both use FXAA anti-aliasing, which is actually worse than the Xbox one and PC with SMAA (higher setting). In Quality Mode the PS4 Pro switches to SMAA.

FXAA results in a more blurry image, but FXAA does better with jaggys, my issue is the flicker which is present in both modes. Maybe you prefer FXAA over SMAA? I prefer the latter basically for a clearer image quality.
 
That's weird when DF did the analysis, the performance mode on PS4 Pro and standard PS4 give identical graphical output with the PS4 Pro getting a frame rate boost, they both use FXAA anti-aliasing, which is actually worse than the Xbox one and PC with SMAA (higher setting). In Quality Mode the PS4 Pro switches to SMAA.

FXAA results in a more blurry image, but FXAA does better with jaggys, my issue is the flicker which is present in both modes. Maybe you prefer FXAA over SMAA? I prefer the latter basically for a clearer image quality.
I wish I had taken a PNG screenshot on the Pro to compare the two. I could clearly see jaggies on my UI (specifically the diagonal lines on the left and right readouts beside the radar display) and on distant objects like stations far off. Distant objects felt 'sharper', but the jaggies actually felt more "jagged" to me, especially on things like a rotating station. The performance / standard PS4 mode feels slightly softer, but I don't consider it blurry at all - except shadows, which are extremely blurry of late, but I honestly believe this is a bug because it wasn't like that on launch day.

I wouldn't be surprised if your 4K upscaler is helping with the jaggies that were very noticeable on my 1080p display. A good upscaler will 'fill in' the transitions between pixel lines.
 
Unfortunately YouTube's compression algorithm "smooths" the video, thus much of the moire pattern (like you see on TV when people wear striped shirts) has been smoothed out, but long-story-short, there have been no improvements to shadow quality. I was able to stomach flickering, blocky shadows on stations, since I'm usually just passing through, but since 3.0.? dropped, the shadow quality inside our cockpits have taken a heavy degradation, and this is in my face all the time (when exploring planets) now.

[video=youtube_share;bPCS2on8VmA]https://youtu.be/bPCS2on8VmA[/video]

I'm sorry, but if you think we're getting 4K HDR on the PS4, you haven't swallowed the bitter pill that Frontier just doesn't care about graphic quality on our platform. Yes, I'm angry, but I'd rather be red from anger than blue from holding my breath in hope that someday Frontier will get its act together regarding these things. "Hope deferred makes the heart sick."
 
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