TLDR: Legacy cutscenes bog down performance, don't look great, and don't feel like a broadcast, yet they're the major representation of the game's "graphics". The quick fix would be to simply change the camera direction.
Kill the wild camera swing.
Limit graphical strain from DoF, 3d grass, and high-quality models by picking camera angles intelligently.
Lower the DoF strength for far distances.
Smooth out jerky animation on replays with slow-motion.
Adhere more to broadcast camera direction.
Hey Wicked Witch, hey Cole, hey fellas of the forum. There's been some great and often re-occurring gameplay feedback here that I hope makes it to the final version of RC4. All of us want the game to succeed, and so far this early access build shows that it definitely can with some work.
Here's something to consider on the presentation side of things:
I've been doing a lot of graphical comparative analysis of RC4, FIFA, PES, NBA 2k, and Madden lately. Obviously, the Frostbite Engine is more powerful than UE4, and basketball doesn't have to deal with a huge stadium and crowd size soaking up resources, but every single one of these games is working with the same amount bandwidth afforded to it by the current-gen consoles.
We all think of FIFA has having fantastic graphics, right? But if you compare the on-pitch graphics in FIFA to RC4, there's very little difference in quality. The player models are low res and aliased, and the pitch is a 2d texture. Depending on the camera angle, you don't even see the stadium during gameplay in FIFA. Performance is the number one priority when the ball is in play. This all becomes super apparent in the Pro camera angle (that lighting is still gorgeous, though):
So when we think of FIFA and good graphics, we think of the cutscene package with the high fidelity models, spectacular lighting, and 3d grass. But with all that graphical power, how do the cutscenes still run smoothly when they lag like crazy in RC4? I picked up on some interesting cutscene tricks that you should 100% apply towards RC4 without changing anything except the camera direction:
Kill the Camera Swing
The legacy cutscenes almost all use wild camera swings that are neither authentic to the sport broadcast or visually appealing. In RC4, with the DoF and 3d grass that has to be rendered in split seconds as the camera swings, it's become a huge drain on performance. Here's how some of those cutscenes play out on a PS4:
I load into the game and the very first thing I see is lag. The PS4 is trying to process the stadium, crowd, pyrotechnics, player models, DoF, and 3d grass by the split second as the camera swings.
Here are some more cutscenes with camera swing. Although the lag in this video doesn't seem as pronounced as the previous video, it definitely feels sluggish in-game, and the whirlwind of the camera just feels cheesy, like it's trying to add action and motion to the scene artificially. This might have been a solution in RC1-3, but now we get lag and grass pop-in.
Limit Strain Through Intelligent Camera Angles
This is where sleight of hand comes in to pack as much visual fidelity into cutscenes as possible. In RC4, all the cutscene cameras are angled from the ground, at medium distance, looking up, forcing the 3d grass and depth of field into the frame. The player models get this black grid on them that I assume is a technique to lower the amount of texture that has to be rendered, which makes sense if you're packing in all these resource-hogging extras.
FIFA is actually pretty tricksy when you break their cutscene package down. They're working with the same set of graphical tools (we'll leave lighting, anti-aliasing, and motion blur out of this for now):
Depth of Field
But they handle their camera angles so that, for the most part, only 2 out of those 3 are used at one time:
Depth of field
Mainly for player reactions, close-up shots feature super high quality character models and depth of field. They're always focused on the player from the waist up, and the player is framed so that they take up most of the screen.
These are shots you usually see pre-match, half time, and post match.
Depth of Field
There are some exceptions to these rules--you'll even find some camera swing--but generally this is how EA packs in as much as graphical wow as possible without tanking performance.
RC4 has some great graphical potential that, let's be honest, isn't being treated very well right now. The Edit Player render for superstar players is absolutely fantastic, and tells me that you have all the right tools available to you to make this game look AAA.
Lower DoF Strength for Far Distances
Depth of field is a great tool to provide some realism, and I love it, but please adjust the distance and strength settings. The cutscenes end up looking like a tilt shift diorama with that super strong blur in the far distance. I can't tell if the DoF is hiding the stadium's aliasing, or if the strength of it and the swing of the camera is actually causing the stadium to look aliased. Either way, it's not a good look, and I'd either soften the blur at far distances, or, as suggested above, use DoF more selectively.
Smooth Out Jerky Animations in Replay with Slow Motion
Even FIFA animations can look jerky when you look at them closely, and they invest millions into their animation. One way you can make RC4 look just that much better than it does right now is to revise the replay package to use slow motion when the ball is near the camera. I play around with the Instant Replay tool a lot, and everything, in general, looks much better when slowed down just a bit.
Adhere More to Broadcast Camera Direction
Working more on the camera angles as suggested above should already you put you closer to a simile of a rugby broadcast, with no new animations required. Generally, stay high and tight for player-centric cutscenes.
Kick at Goal
If you've made it this far, I salute you. @WW - Cole I hope you can pass some of this on to your developers and, if I'm not completely talking out of my behind, help with improving the performance and presentation of the game at the same time.