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Thoughts on FPS

Sunday, November 5th, 2006

How frame rate/frames per second (FPS) affects the user experience appears to be highly subjective.  Some folks are quite content at 15 FPS, while others (like me) find 30 FPS only marginally acceptable and prefer 40 or more. I think that pretty well everybody accepts that stutters (inconsistent FPS) is a bigger problem and that a smooth flow (even at low FPS) is important.

Further, FPS is likely only going to be an issue when there is fast movement on the screen, so in FS9 or FSX this might occur during sharp turns.  If flying heavy iron, low FPS is not nearly as much of an issue.

One reference: http://cas.umkc.edu/comm/faculty/Gutenko/papers/PURSUI.HTM states, “Thomas Edison had determined to his satisfaction that film should reproduce frames fortysix times each second in order to be completely free of flicker and discontinuity of motion (Brownlow, p.284). Through unpublished experiments conducted at the joint Trumbull/Paramount Pictures research division of Future General Corporation, Trumbull determined to his own satisfaction that an effective maximum frame rate should be sixty (Smith, 1984):”

Look at fast action on a large movie screen (at 24 fps) and see how jerky it looks.  Most film and video is limited to 30 fps, and they are quite correct, the brain will accept this to some degree as reality, expecially as this has been the standard for decades and we are used to it.  But immersion is quite different, and subjective.  I can certainly tell the difference between 30, 40, 60 and higher fps.  It looks smoother and more natural, at 20 fps it’s very distracting.  Other folks are clearly happy at 20 or even 15. 

I’ve heard some say that the scenery detail is much more important for their immersion, and they will gladly tradeoff FPS for detail.  Your monitor is a factor of course too; if it has 16ms response time, it likely cannot render above 60 fps anyway.

The bottom-line is that how much frame rate affects the enjoyment of the sim (or any game) is in the eye of beholder. 

  1. John Mensink
    Tuesday, November 7th, 2006 at 7:59 pm

    Nice to read a scientific article on fps, I was quite happy with around 19/20 fps till now experienced a drop to 3 – 15 in Misty Fjords (new) and for the first time noted stutters after reading about it in various forums I am now looking forward to do some research on how I can improve my machine’s performance

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