Now that the PlayStation 4 Pro has been announced, we can tell you that we are working on a PS4 Pro patch for The Witness.
The Witness already runs at a consistent 60fps on the base PlayStation 4, so rather than increasing frame rate, our patch is about visual quality. Please don't take the specifics mentioned here as absolute promises; things might change by release. But here's what we are aiming for:
When you start up the game on a PS4 Pro, it will go into one of two modes, depending on the current display device:
* When using PS4 Pro with a 4k display, we will render at 1440p or possibly higher, all while keeping a consistent 60 frames per second. This image will then be upscaled to 4k, and we will draw text, menus, and other UI at native 4k resolution. (This is similar to what happens on the base PS4, where we render the 3D scene at 900p, then upscale to 1080p and draw UI at 1080p). We might be able to achieve resolutions higher than 1440p based on various engineering tradeoffs (for example, if we boost the resolution of the main scene to a greater degree than we boost the resolution of the reflections in water, which tend to be distorted anyway. Also, we'll evaluate checkerboard rendering -- we're not sure if it's the right way to go for this game, but we'll see.) We'll post again when we finalize these specs.
* When using PS4 Pro with a display that is 1080p or lower, we will render the scene at 1080p (instead of the old 900p), and increase antialiasing quality from 2x to 4x MSAA, again while keeping a solid 60 frames per second. We are exploring additional visual quality increases, like increased streaming distance for high-resolution meshes, or decreasing the noticeability of the fade-in between faraway LODs and high-res close-up meshes. Again, we'll post details when this is finalized!
We're also working on HDR support. Here in the office we just got a new LG B6P television, which is very bright and has low black levels, providing a lot of dynamic range, and it's been fun so far tweaking the look of the game on HDR displays like this.
We thought we were working on HDR support only for the PS4 Pro, but yesterday Sony announced that they will be enabling HDR support on all PS4s via a firmware update. Sometimes Sony even surprises developers! (Back when the PS4 was originally announced, we were surprised by some of the final specs too ... and I was on stage in that show!)
We think it's great that Sony are doing this. We don't know the technical details of how it will work, yet, but provided that nothing prevents us, the Witness patch will use HDR on all PS4s when available. (You will, of course, need an HDR TV or monitor for HDR mode to kick in!)
If all goes well, this patch will be downloadable on November 10 when the PlayStation 4 Pro is released.
We'll keep you posted as we continue work on this patch!
The best PS4 Pro news so far! Thank you!
I’d say the best PS4 Pro news is that it had Wireless AC support. Unlike the UHD BR drive, that actually has an impact on gaming. :)
More than 60FPS is not necessary?
Well, there are always tradeoffs. A lot of peoples’ TVs won’t do 120fps, for example; of those that do, maybe some of them don’t take a 120Hz signal over HDMI, and instead just frame-interpolate or whatever.
But if we render at higher visual quality, we know that everyone with a PS4 Pro can get that benefit.
With something like HDR, it’s an in-between case; not everyone can get the benefit, but it also doesn’t cost any performance really, so it’s not like we are giving up anything big to support HDR.
Wonderful. I look forward to trying it out. Thanks.
Is the “UI” just the menus or does it include something else?
Menus, subtitles, the cursor and frame around the border of the screen when tracing puzzles, and … maybe other stuff I am forgetting. The Witness is a game that is pretty light on UI generally, but what is there we want to look good (especially text — text looks really nice in 4k!)
The best PS4 Pro news to come out so far! I’m thrilled that you’re using a 2016 LG OLED for your testing, since I have the same thing at home! I can’t wait.
Any word on a Physical Release on PS4?
It looks unlikely. We talked with some publishers about doing it, but there was never a situation that seemed very good for us. Sometime in the future, if we do a physical release, it’d be a small limited run, but I don’t know the chances of that; there are no plans at this time.
Have you considered working with Limited Run Games for a physical release? Great job on a fantastic game and I am delighted we are getting a PS4 Pro patch. Thank you.
I would be very interested in a “Limited Run Games” release. It’s been quite successful for all limited runs that came out!
Sounds great! And although not the topic here, any news on the iOS version by any chance?
What about if I hook the PS4 Pro up to my 1440p monitor?
I dunno yet what will happen in that case. We would probably just let the PS4 Pro do whatever it does by default, but I am not sure what that is.
Would dynamic resolution scaling make sense for this game, or is the graphic workload more or less constant throughout?
Also, at 60hz TAA should be quite convincing and a lot cheaper than MSAA.
We worked hard to make the workload always fit beneath a certain size so that we can have a solid frame rate.
I think that’s better than dynamic resolution scaling for high-end platforms. (We do dynamic resolution on low-end platforms, such as the Low Quality setting on the PC).
As for TAA, I don’t totally like the idea of it. If you think about it, TAA is basically a form of motion blur. I prefer to do things that are solid and work well even without motion!
TAA actually looks its best when things aren’t in motion (or when there’s very little motion). It’s possible to do TAA without motion vectors at all with some smart filtering (comparing with previous frames), although that only yields benefits with unmoving or near-unmoving (in screen space) objects.
It also complements dynamic resolution scaling beautifully, but if you already have a good upscaling solution, that may not be of interest to you.
And since the style of The Witness, from what I’ve seen, makes it less prone to specular aliasing and the like, I can see why MSAA might be a sufficient — and even good — solution in your case.
Nice. Glad to hear you’ll be taking advantage of the new hardware, and providing different benefits depending on the display types.
Is handling these display variations that PS4 Pro enables challenging to implement? It seems like it would still be fairly straightforward compared to the myriad of PC configurations…
I already have the game on PC, but I’ll be sure to pick the game up on PS4 Pro to show support and appreciation for the additional effort you’ll be putting in. Great stuff!
It’s a bit off topic but 140 chars might not be enough.
Despite Sony promises I bet a bottle of Ruinart with a friend that by next September a game exclusive to PS4 pro (said without retro compatibility on PS4) will be announced.
I’d be curious to have your opinion an this if you’re willing/allowed to talked about it.
I don’t know why you would not believe Sony on this. They control the platform and can dictate what developers are allowed to do on the platform.
Imho because games are getting greedier in term of computing power over time and I guess some developers/editors will end up not wanting to spend time/money in backward compatibility and will condition the availability of their game on PS4 to the possibility to not implement this compatibility.
But may be I’m taking the problem the wrong way and Sony has more to offer to the editors in term of visibility which place him on the strong side of negotiations.
Or may be I just see evil everywhere :-)
These are very good news! Love that you are working on further improving the experience with this already awesome game still!
But: I would like to be able to switch between the different display modes on a 4K display if possible. Just to be able to compare them and select the one that offers the best result for my taste.
Great news, thanks for detailing your plans.
Is it technically possible to manually pick the option of 1080p (with possible better visuals) when using a 4K TV? And will you allow this?
In all cases it would be pretty neat to compare the two. But I also know that some people with smaller 4K TVs viewed at a distance might not be able to appreciate the finer resolution. You might ask why they have a 4K TV at all – that’s just how the market is going, and the better quality panels with HDR etc. are increasingly only on 4K TVs. So I just wondered.
We are still working on the interface for switching between modes, but we will take ideas like this into account. Ultimately it might not matter, it might always be better for this game to render at the highest resolution. Unclear yet.
If it’s a choice between higher resolution or better AA (which it sounds like it will be) I’d be very surprised if AA was the better way to go in any situation. Even if you’re not close enough to be able to see much of a difference between 4k and 1080, it’s not as if your eyes are somehow only seeing every other pixel or something. You’re still getting subtle benefits from that extra resolution. The most tangible is less need for AA.
Will this or any patches cost money on the PS4 Pro?
Our patch will be free to anyone who owns the game. I don’t know how it works for anyone else!
Thank you :) Great job on the game btw and future patches.
I know you’ve expressed concerns about VR for the Witness in the past, most notably that losing the fixed camera would allow looking through walls and seeing things from positions other than the carefully placed camera location. There are also concerns about locomotion and VR sickness. However, I know you can play it in VR on Windows, although I understand that’s not an officially supported solution. Have you ever reconsidered doing a PSVR patch for the game, perhaps only unlocking it after the game is beaten? I’d even pay for that although if it was paid I guess you couldn’t gate it that way. I’d love to wander around the world of the Witness in VR even if I couldn’t play the game that way, it’s such a beautiful and carefully designed space that I think it would be amazing to experience it in VR.
In any case, regardless of that, I absolutely loved the game and I will eventually be picking up a PS4 Pro, so I am thrilled you’re going to the effort of doing a patch (and a thorough one at that) for the game. I’ll probably have forgotten half of the puzzles by then so I’ll be sure to do another playthrough.
Can’t you render at 1440p and downscale to 1080p for 1080p users? It is how nvidia and AMD handle DSR/VSR on PC graphics cards and it would look better than just cranking MSAA.
It is a possibility. It’s just that you start to get into diminishing returns at that point, so it may be better to spend the GPU power a different way. But we’ll do whatever produces the overall best result. (It’s also not clear to me that 1440p 2x MSAA downscaled to 1080 would not just be worse than 1080p 4x MSAA … but we could try it some time and compare.)
Well, I game on console and PC. Use a 1080p TV for both and run nearly all my PC games @ 1440p with DSR downscaling plus some MSAA. Looks much better than native 1080p to my eyes.
1440 downscaled will look better than native 1080. That’s not the question though. It’s whether or not 1440 downscaled looks better than just using better AA. I assume that the main benefit you get from downsampling is just better AA anyway right? It’s effectively just SSAA as opposed to MSAA. By my understanding at least.
Yeah, we are talking about 1440 with worse AA versus 1080 with better AA. It’s not obvious.
I use GTX 970’s in SLI on my gaming PC, so what I do is DSR 1440 –>108op downsampling (which has a weak sort of supersampling AA effect), plus I also use at least 2x MSAA, preferably more and wherever possible 2x Sparse Grid SuperSampling as well. The resulting image is very nice and the various forms of AA working together clean up the image more overall than any one of them could alone.
Now, I realise you can’t expect that much out of a console, but I think 1440–>1080p plus 2x MSAA should be very doable for a game like the witness on PS4 pro.
DSR is quite a bit more expensive than MSAA… Because all you’re doing is rendering the game at a higher resolution and scaling down. With MSAA, the scene is edge detected and super-sampled in those areas, reducing the workload needed. So in terms of anti-aliasing itself, MSAA is more efficient for a given level of aliasing reduction. BUT, DSR will give you a cleaner overall image because it’s not just anti-aliasing things but also sampling textures at a higher detail, and often models are loaded in at a high detail LOD due to the resolution being rendered.
So it’s a choice between lower performance and slightly better image quality versus decent performance and less aliasing alone.
Any news on the iOS or Mac compatible steam release?
We are working on these still … we’ll announce when we have something concrete to say!
Good to hear these are still in the plan! +1 Mac!
I know this is a PS4 post, but I’m curious, will the HDR tweaks you are implementing make their way into the XB1 version for use on the XB1S? (As both console implementations are HDR-10 if I recall).
Great that you are continuing to support your games!
It would have to be in a future patch … we don’t know when that will be yet (we are mainly focused on the launch right now).
Hi. May I ask if I play PS4 Pro on my 1440p monitor, how will it look and what the resolution it will display? 4K downscaled or 1080p upscaled?
We haven’t figured this out yet.
As I understand it, the LG B6 in game mode (and HDR turned off) has input lag of around 55ms. How does that feel for a slower paced game like The Witness? Think it would hold up with a game like Braid or another faster paced game where reflexes are more important? So many 4K TVs hover in that ms range (or above with HDR enabled).
The Witness is playable but I would not want to play an action game this way. It actually feels like more than 55ms to me but I haven’t measured it.
Hopefully they will patch the firmware to fix this.
Hello. Have you guys gotten HDR to work on your OLED? Can you comment on input lag? Thanks!
This particular TV has a lot more input latency in HDR mode than I would like. I wouldn’t consider it playable for an action game. But hopefully they will issue a firmware update that fixes this via an HDR game mode (I think some other TVs have done that already).
sorry for posting my question in this forum – found no other place yet (mail etc.).
I have a question regarding to the NVIDIA Ansel update, which is available on steam since August 22nd.
When will this update be available at the humblebundle site, where I have downloaded the game installer?
Thanks in advance.
I want to know if you’ll give us an option to switch between both options regardless of our display device and let the TV scaler handle it?
I want to be able to play on 1440p (and, potentially, resolutions higher than that) rather than 1080p 4x MSAA. Or maybe someone wants to play the game at 1080p 4x AA with additional graphical fidelity.
Will you let us choose between either?
We may not be able to, for platform reasons. We’ll see.
I completely understand, although I, and many others, would appreciate if we had the choice.
is it possible to run in the 1080p mode even on a 4k TV? I would take the better AA and IQ improvements over the upscaled image.
On the plain PS4 one can choose the output resolution. Is this connected to this setting for us to choose?
But if you play in 1080p on a 4k TV … the image is then upscaled from 1080p to 4k. You aren’t going to avoid upscaling.
We are working out the details of the user interface still; we are mostly just doing technical work right now to make the rendering modes work.
Yes, the TV will upscale, but (as I understand your article) you will generate a higher quality 1080p image over the higher resolution choice (better AA, higher LODs etc.). Also, some (read: a especially my) TVs have much higher input lag in native 4k mode. My TV in 1080p game mode does not
actually upscale the image to a nice 4k image, but plain double the pixels on each axis (nearest neighbor upscale if you will). Although I can see a difference between a 4k rendered image and a 1080p one, the difference for me does not warrant the loss in IQ or frame rate (even at 65″).
I’m looking forward to this. Will the patch be available on release of the PS4 Pro?
Why not do a native 4K @ 30fps w/o AA (should be much better than 1080 w/ 4xMSAA but with a true 1:1 pixel ratio) and while 60fps is nice, wouldn’t 30 be an option for a “super high res mode”.
“If all goes well, this patch will be downloadable on November 10 when the PlayStation 4 Pro is released.
We’ll keep you posted as we continue work on this patch!”
Any news, if the patch will be available on Nov 10th? :)
Great!! Look forward to purchase this game. I love when developers give us options to resolution/graphic fidelity and let us choose what we want instead. While the PS4 Pro is being market at 4K, not everyone will have a 4K TV. I myself have a 75″ Sony 1080p 120hz and the games look beautiful on it. Now more so with the PS4 Pro and this game with the 1080p mode and max graphics. Great job!
When plugging in the PS4 Pro into a native 1440p monitor will the game render at native 1440p? Or 1080p upscaled?
No Patch yet? Tried it today and doesn’t seem any different.
We are submitting the patch to Sony on Monday, then we’ll see how long it takes to get approved and published.
Have a hdr capable TV and base ps4, but unable to select and enable hdr. Anybody else having this problem?