Warframe Is Getting Smaller, Not Bigger

Illustration for article titled Warframe Is Getting Smaller, Not Bigger
Image: Warframe

While Call of Duty’s updates keep making the game bigger, Warframe is doing a very cool thing and making sure that the game can now take up less space on your hard drive, not more.

In a post called “The Great Ensmallening”, Digital Extremes say that they’ve found that “some people can’t fit [Warframe] on their smaller SSDs and have to run it off of a slow HDD instead”, and that sucks, so they’re helping out with some changes.

One of the things we’re doing to reduce our footprint involves changing how our texture data is compressed. Although it isn’t a perfect analogy it’s similar to the trade-off between image-quality and file-size you get with different image formats: PNG is lossless but can mean very large files, JPEG files can be very small but may contain visible artifacts of the compression. The technology we’re using is called Oodle Texture and we’re extremely pleased with the savings we’re getting: our files are roughly half the size on disk and the visual differences are negligible.


They’re also going to be reducing the size of the game’s lightmaps, saying, “We spent a lot of time carefully analyzing the quality of the results and we doubt anyone will even notice anywhere but the harshest of tests.”

The first step towards making the game leaner will come with an update later this week, which will make the game’s install size 6.6GB smaller, though as the process continues,“In fact the real number will be much larger than that: we’re probably going to free up at least 15GB by the time we’re done.

Can I just say how much I love this? Download sizes and install space is a low-key big deal for a lot of people, and it’s great seeing a game prioritise that stuff over a visuals at all costs mentality.

As an example of what’s being done, here’s an existing normal map that’s 19MB in size:

Illustration for article titled Warframe Is Getting Smaller, Not Bigger
Image: Warframe

And here’s it’s replacement, at only 8MB:

Illustration for article titled Warframe Is Getting Smaller, Not Bigger
Image: Warframe

Luke Plunkett is a Senior Editor based in Canberra, Australia. He has written a book on cosplay, designed a game about airplanes, and also runs cosplay.kotaku.com.

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While I fully agree that this is a good thing, two thoughts come to mind:

1: If your game requires an SSD instead of a slower-but-much-higher-capacity HDD to play well, then you’ve done something exceedingly wrong, at least for now.

Don’t get me wrong, an SSD’s faster loading time is certainly quite useful, and maybe someday they’ll reach sizes large enough on devices cheap enough that we don’t have to design around the crude-but-effective HDD... but until then, a lot of people are going to shove this game onto their HDD along with the other 50 games they’ve got installed, and you should keep that in mind when designing it.

2: Again, while it’s a good thing to shrink the game’s HDD space...

...that’s not Warframe’s problem. Warframe’s problem is that it’s become memetically complex and hard to get into, and, well, when I saw that timeline, I was hoping “Does this mean they’ll make the game less of an utter mess finally?”

Now, the key word there is “memetic”. I legit aren’t sure if they’ve gone to sufficient lengths to fix that problem, just that every time I try to get back into it, I bounce off hard because I made a lot of progress years ago and now have no idea what I’m doing or where I’m going but I can’t find anything tutorializing shit. But it could very well be that I’m just missing the key triggers, but that it’s become memetic is a serious problem on the whole...