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360 Game Installs: Don't Get Too Excited

Word out of Microsoft Germany says some games will show less loading-time improvement than others.

I am never, ever going to finish this game, am I.
Amidst all the hullabaloo about the newly redesigned Xbox 360 dashboard--sorry, experience--that's coming at some point in the next few weeks, the ability to load your retail disc games onto the hard drive for faster loading is quietly the feature that had me most excited about the fall update. It's not for convenience's sake, since you still gotta stick the actual disc in there anyway to verify ownership whenever you want to play. But I've been stoked about the idea of games loading faster and generally performing better than they do running off the DVD.

Wait, hold your horses! You may not notice much improvement in your loading times after all, at least when it comes to anything recent. Turns out that newer 360 games have already had their file structures optimized on-disc to minimize load times to such an extent that running from the hard drive won't help much. Older games that didn't get this treatment will still see noticeable enhancement, though. Gizmodo has the scoop, straight from Microsoft Germany.

There are prominent examples, for instance: Project Gotham Racing 3, one of the first games for the Xbox 360. There the load times have been very long; those are going to get reduced immensely. Recent games are already optimized; there the gain is relatively small.

Bummmmerrrrrrr, dude. If that famous precision German engineering can't solve the problem, we're all screwed. I was waiting for this feature to jump back into GTA IV just so it would run more smoothly and get missions loaded faster, but it seems that won't be the case. Guess that's a dumb reason to not be playing one of the best games of the year, anyway; it's not like it runs poorly as is.

On the plus side, at least you won't have to listen to that jet engine of a DVD drive whirring away while you're playing from hard drive. Brad Shoemaker on Google+
47 Comments
Posted by Brad
I am never, ever going to finish this game, am I.
Amidst all the hullabaloo about the newly redesigned Xbox 360 dashboard--sorry, experience--that's coming at some point in the next few weeks, the ability to load your retail disc games onto the hard drive for faster loading is quietly the feature that had me most excited about the fall update. It's not for convenience's sake, since you still gotta stick the actual disc in there anyway to verify ownership whenever you want to play. But I've been stoked about the idea of games loading faster and generally performing better than they do running off the DVD.

Wait, hold your horses! You may not notice much improvement in your loading times after all, at least when it comes to anything recent. Turns out that newer 360 games have already had their file structures optimized on-disc to minimize load times to such an extent that running from the hard drive won't help much. Older games that didn't get this treatment will still see noticeable enhancement, though. Gizmodo has the scoop, straight from Microsoft Germany.

There are prominent examples, for instance: Project Gotham Racing 3, one of the first games for the Xbox 360. There the load times have been very long; those are going to get reduced immensely. Recent games are already optimized; there the gain is relatively small.

Bummmmerrrrrrr, dude. If that famous precision German engineering can't solve the problem, we're all screwed. I was waiting for this feature to jump back into GTA IV just so it would run more smoothly and get missions loaded faster, but it seems that won't be the case. Guess that's a dumb reason to not be playing one of the best games of the year, anyway; it's not like it runs poorly as is.

On the plus side, at least you won't have to listen to that jet engine of a DVD drive whirring away while you're playing from hard drive.
Staff
Posted by FCKSNAP

Question: Why are blu-rayz so much quieter? It seems that the older the game I put into my PS3, the louder it gets. Is it swapping out lasers or something?

Posted by MeatSim

Yea the 360 DVD drive spinning is just way to noisy, storing your games on the hard drive is worth it just for that.

Posted by AlucardaLaCarte

Noooo! I'm still gonna be trapped in the Longest Elevators in the Universe when I play Mass Effect!

Posted by mussbus999

within the next few weeks forshure!!!!?!?!?  I wasn't really interested in slower loading screens, they never bothered me.  I am really interested in the disk drive not spinning, reducing scratching, noise, and overheating.

Posted by SoulEdgeSlayer

Well, I kinda figured it would be something like that.  Oh well, gives those of us who didn't get a chance to play some of the older 360 titles a reason to give them a shot.

Posted by AndrewB

The thing I'm most excited about is just getting rid of that damn DVD spinning buzzsaw noise that the 360 is plagued by. I mean, really, they had to use the loudest freaking DVD drive ever in their system, and make it non-upgradable to boot.

Posted by elektrixx

As long as there is even a slight difference, I'll be installing everything I've got.

For me, it's the little things like texture pop-up from Unreal Engine 3 titles that I hope makes a real difference.

Posted by L

Yeah but I guess no disc at full spin means a bit more of a quiet Xbox 360! Less noise > faster loading.

Posted by Joseppie

Yeah, too bad it's not what we might hope, but the no-DVD drive is still a huge plus.

Posted by Dolphin_Butter

I was waiting for this so I could jump back into Mass Effect... Darn...

Posted by DugHerb

I was sort of waiting for the fall update to play through Mass Effect again thinking the texture pop-in might improve.  I purchased a nice big screen tv  since I last finished the game and wanted to play through again in full HD glory.

Posted by fpsDoug

For some reason my Wii has to be at least 10 times as loud as my 360, no joke. It emits this high-pitched noise whenever a disc is in it. It actually makes me want to avoid playing it whenever possible. (as if its game library wasn't already causing that)

Posted by zig

Quieting the jet engine that is the disc drive is my only concern, to be honest faster loading times never even entered my mind when I heard about this feature.

Posted by CleverLoginName

Most of the glitches i've had with some games, Oblivion in particular, was the system would hang up trying to read the disk so sound and textures would cut out and sometimes it would just stop reading the disk and pop up the "Disk is unreadable" thing... I'm hoping this will alleviate that problem.

Posted by Noxat

Well I'm a little bummed that it doesn't improve loading times much, but really I'm more concerned about cutting down on needless wear n' tear on my 360 drive.  I mean, Oblivion pretty much copies itself completely to cache in the first few hours you play, yet the disc needlessly spends hours spinning away like a jet engine in the drive, doing nothing.

Posted by ocdog45

On the plus side, at least you won't have to listen to that jet engine of a DVD drive whirring away while you're playing from hard drive. .................... that is one of the most annoying things ever. jump of a building or something.

Posted by duxup

I look forward to my weed-wacker of a 360 noise machine to just be quieter when I load a game.

Posted by dtran1212

Brad, why don't you play GTA4 on the ps3? there are hardly any load times and when it is loading, it seems like 2 seconds. i guess you're playing for points on the 360, but gta4 is much similar, if not better, on the ps3.

Posted by SmokePants

It may not load much faster, but there are plenty of good reasons to install on a hard drive.

Seek times are pretty inconsistent from a disc. So, you can be playing a game like Mass Effect and sometimes a texture will load promptly and sometimes it'll load late. The hard drive should theoretically eliminate a lot of those types of artifacts.

Posted by Stealthoneill

The Oblivion load times should hopefully be improved which should be nice. And as someone said before I used to get the 'Disk Unreadable' cut off now and again. Usually in the middle of some dungeon where I havent saved. Really hoping this cuts that straight out.

Posted by MrKlorox

I was also mainly looking forward to seeing how GTA4 runs off the HDD. I'm still 3000% sure there will be reduced pop-in... but the PC edition is coming out in November anyway, obsoleting the console versions.

Posted by Brad

@dtran1212

Points, yeah, and also because I already bought the 360 version. Might as well get my money's worth out of that one.

Staff
Posted by TheWoj

If MSFT decides to drop the price on the 120 GB HDD to like $70 or so, coupled with this update, I think they would fly off the shelves.
Like everyone else has said, we all hate our 9000-decibel DVD drives spinning like no tomorrow.
With all my Rock Band downloads, Arcade titles and such, I'll have enough room for like, one game to be on my measly 20 GB drive at a time.
And that game will probably be Rock Band 2.

Posted by angryemu

@Snapstacle

Answer: The blu-ray drive on the PS3 is quieter because it's only spinning at 1x. The 360 drive is spinning much faster.

Posted by TheWesman

Oblivion load times improved?  Nice.  Might have to play that a 10th time now!  haha.  Also, like some others, I'm disappointed Mass Effect won't be changed any.  Those future elevator rides are SO slow.  

Posted by TheHBK

The reason to use it is not loading.  Loading is fine right now, the dvd drive is too noisy, thats why.

Posted by m1k3

the fans on my elite still are loud without the drive running so even if i copy the game, i will still have to deal with a high pitch wirr, and thats just at idle speed

Posted by FalcomAdol

Bluray is quieter because it spins at a slower speed.  The overall data transfer rate on the 360 is higher than the Bluray drive on the PS3, but the spin rate on the PS3 is lower (data is packed together tighter on Bluray), the high spin rate makes the noise, which is also why you may get more noise playing PS2 games on a PS3.

I'll be doing installs because I get dirty disc errors from time to time.  The discs aren't dirty, so it's probably a dirty lens, but I've had bad experiences with lens cleaners, and I don't want to open the 360 up.  Installing the disc instead of getting a dirty disc error after an hour without saving in Lost Odyssey is definitely the way to go.

Posted by Xelloss

I really hope they bring out a bigger and cheaper HDD upgrade, 150-180 for 120 GB is such a waste.

Posted by jangofett88

As long as it improves mass effect, sign me up.

Posted by SpikeDelight

I'd do it if I didn't have so much crap filling up my 12 Gb HDD.

Posted by GaspoweR

Ey, I don't know if any of you guys who bought Soul Cal 4 noticed but when I started playing it, I found that the fans were reasonably much more quiet than before. Is it because the programming on Soul Cal 4? Is it because of the DVD format that it uses was optimized to a point that it didn't need for the fans exert more effort for it to run? Just an observation since it might be just pure coincidence. I'm no technical expert of X360 hardware so the stuff I mentioned were just pulled out of my ass (figuratively speakking).

Posted by Meelis

I currently playing Mass Effect and the load times and texture pop-ins are quite annoing. So I'm hoping this will fix the problem. Either way the silence of the DVD drive will also be a good thing.

Posted by Alphazero

If it will quiet the DVD drive I'll be happy. That thing sounds like a leaf blower.

Posted by Kohe321

If it can reduse the noise of that damn drive I'll be happy.

Posted by WilliamRLBaker

I think there is a reason to get excited let alone the reasons posted in comments so far, what this german guy is saying is true of any game on any system with the abbility to install if the game is optimized for harddrive cache and dvd smart use then its not gonna see a massive benefit, but a game that isn't will see it. so no matter what your gonna see some sort of benefit.

Posted by Superfriend

Yeah right! But they don´t talk about the massive problems a lot of 360 disc-drives have. Ever notice the disc spinning fast and then suddenly slowing down?? Yep, those are small disc-reading errors, that make a game such as Gears of War virtually unplayable on a lot of older 360s.
I´m literally willing to bet my ASS that THOSE 360 owners are going to have a much smoother experience with everything running from the HDD.

Posted by BeeMac420

Mass Effect texture pop ins were severe at times but it didn't bother me too much although I remember thinking I'd be willing to wait through an extra 5 seconds of loading if it meant all the details were drawn onscreen when it started up!

Posted by FelixLighter

I would imagine that some of the games that just fit on the a single DVD, such as GTA IV and Mass Effect, may actually have some potential room for improvement.  The developers had 2 challenges when creating the DVD, fitting the game in the storage available and optimizing the physical placement of files on the disc.  You would have to imagine that some compromises were made to achieve both goals, so I wouldn't be surprised if the improved transfer rate of the HDD improved the experience after all for games in that particular situation.

Or I could be completely wrong.  I really have no idea.

Posted by KaneRobot

That's fine with me...most current games really are not that bad as far as loading times.

Hopefully Burnout Revenge will be a little more tolerable now, though.  That was an early game that had some damn frustrating load times.  I would check out the next Smackdown game since those are infamous for loading times, but really, that series is so tired now I don't think I'm going to bother.

Posted by SmokePants

Re: Being willing to wait an extra few seconds for Mass Effect textures to load fully. You'll be waiting forever. The 360 doesn't have enough memory to keep every high resolution texture loaded at once. The system fetches them dynamically as needed. This is where inconsistent seek times play a role. For the same exact scene, the textures might pop in quickly or they might take an extra half second. It's random. Hopefully, the hard drive removes that randomness and loads every texture consistently fast.

Posted by Shadow71

I'm still going to give Mass Effect a shot at installing, you never know...it MIGHT not have been the one of the one's optimized the game IS a year old now.

Posted by Crash_Happy

MS including a install option was never about loading times being faster, it's always been to pre-empt the disaster that multi-disk games are for consoles.

Online
Posted by ChrisTilton

I don't know, I'm still optimistic that there will be some improvements, most notably, texture streaming in open world games. Games like GTAIV varied wildly in how fast the world would load textures and such, depending on how fast you are driving, what was in the cache at the time, and also the kind of DVD drive that is inside your system. I can't imagine those annoying glitches not improving from having the game on the HD, especially considering the actual DVD drive issue, since some systems have better ones, and some have crappier ones (not unlike the original XBox).

I think the first obvious test is going to be something like Mass Effect, where texture loading speed was all over the place. The same scene may load great or terrible just depending on all sorts of circumstances, most likely related to your cache and or where the optic laser was positioned at the time the scene was loaded.

I really can't imagine performance NOT being improved in games like Fallout 3, which will be taxing your system loading texture sets left and right as you Fast Travel all over the world.

Posted by Afroman269

I didn't care that it would lessen load times. I'm into the fact that the disc won't be spinning and the drive won't be loud. Also I won't have to worry about the disc drive wearing out.

Posted by heavymtlhead

This is great for me. I want to go back and play Oblivion and this update should fix all the loading times.