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Terrains, landscapes and level of detail


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Terrains, landscapes and level of detail

  2. 2. LOOKING BACK • If we look back to 1998 when the hit PS1 game “Spyro The Dragon” came out we see a revolutionary change in the way games process graphics. Spyro had a custom built engine for it as it was a 3D open world game it suffered limitation from the hardware on the PS1, if Insomniac were to use an existing engine they’d have to have fog in the distance ruining the stunning visuals in the game, so Alex Hastings of Insomniac developed a new engine that eliminated fogging in the game by reducing the amount of polygons that are shown at a further distance away, the polygon count in an object would increase as the player go closer to it. Thanks to this first step we begin to see greater and better landscape detail and more visually stunning terrains within video games.
  3. 3. FOGGING • So I mentioned fogging in the previous slide but what does fogging actually do? Well the best way to think about it is to compare to rendering a video, if you wanted to run a video on an old laptop that had an old CPU and about 256MB of RAM you won’t render the video at 1280x720, you’d render it at something like 853x480 or even lower, or when in Photoshop you optimize and image for web, you can add Gaussian blur to the image to reduce the size and the amount of processing power required in order to output the image. When “Fogging” occurs in a video game it reduces the polygon count in order to take strain of the processor inside of the console or PC, a lot of earlier games use this technique in order to run better on the hardware limitations of their time, this is something we really don’t see nowadays as much.
  4. 4. GOING BACK A BIT FURTHER… • Going back now to 1997, a video game for the Nintendo 64 came out known as “Turok: Dinosaur Hunter”, this game and many other games released on this console are name for using distance fogging in order to lessen the stress on the processor inside of the console. Though instead of just having this limitation in the game as a nuisance the developers actually used it for atmospheric effect to actually better their games and make the limitation less noticeable by turning it more into a theme of a game rather than a hardware limitation. This being said it was a completely different game to Spyro The Dragon in the fact that this game did not rely on visually stunning landscapes but more on the gameplay and atmosphere of the game, so it makes sense as to why Insomniac went through so much trouble in order to have a game without fog for Spyro The Dragon.
  5. 5. FOGGING IN MODERN GAMES • The thing is we will probably never see unnecessary fogging in games ever again (unless it for atmospheric effect), the hardware found in modern consoles is just to good now compared to older hardware found in holder consoles, so good to the point where there is no need to worry about to many polygons on screen at one given point in time. Thanks to modern hardware we should never see this horrible fogging in games again meaning we get more stunning visuals and better landscapes and levels of detail in games. If we look at a newer game such as Titanfall we see there is in fact no fogging found within the game and all visuals are visible with a higher polygon count. Though one thing to note is that a sort of fogging effect is used to create depth within modern games, it is used to show that something is further away and is not the main focus at the current moment.
  6. 6. 2D GAMES • 2D games usually will not have fogging as there is no real distance in the game which would demand much processing power, in 2D games most backgrounds will probably be static which doesn’t need polygons in order to render, a good example of a 2D game which is “Ultima III: Exodus for the Nintendo Entertainment System, it is an open world game like Spyro but it was released in 1983 so it only has 2D graphics but because of this there is no fogging at all in the game. Due to the hardware limitation around 1983 there was no way we could have had 3D graphics so with the games all being 2D there is no need for fogging and since there are no 3D graphics there are no polygons for the processor to render. You could argue that because there is no fogging in 2D games that they have higher levels of detail and better landscapes which in a way could be true if you look at it in a way of the ability to show more elements on screen at one given time, but the more visually stunning games are going to be the 3D games, especially in open world games.
  7. 7. COMPARISON IMAGES • The first image is from Ultima III which has no fogging present but only contains 2D graphics, the second is from Turok: Dinosaur Hunter which has 3D graphics but contains much fogging, and the last is from Spyro The Dragon which contains 3D graphics and no fogging is present at all.
  8. 8. RESOLUTION • Going forward a bit now to 2000 and 2006, what’s special about these two dates? In 2000 we had the release of the PS2 and in 2006 the release of the PS3, during those 6 years there had been many breakthroughs in CPU and Graphics card processing power. When the PS2 first came out the maximum resolution we could have was 480p which was good for the time, when the PS3 came out it came with a built in Bluray player and the nessessary components in order to output 1080p HD video which was amazing for the time, since at the time many people still didn’t have HD TV's. Resolution is ALWAYS a limitation of the console with different consoles having different resolutions which actually has come to spark some controversy within the gaming community with the newer generation of gaming consoles which I will go into more detail in the next slide. PlayStation 2 Playstation 3
  9. 9. XBOX ONE VS PS4 • Currently within the gaming community there is a lot of debate going on about how the Xbox One upscales 720p to 1080p with most games whereas the PS4 displays true 1080p. A game which is a great example of this is “Call of Duty: Ghosts” which runs at 720p on the Xbox One and 1080p on the PS4, this is due to the Xbox One having weaker hardware than the PS4 in terms of CPU and Graphics Card power. Because of this people expect the Xbox One version to have a lower level of detail and not as good visuals compared to the PS4 version, though in reality if you compare the two side by side it is actually quite hard to tell the difference, they both run at a solid frame rate of 60FPS so they run just as smooth as each other, but because of the Xbox One having weaker hardware the developers had to sacrifice resolution in order to get a higher frame rate or the game may look choppy when played.
  10. 10. XBOX ONE VS PS4 CONTINUED • This is a comparison between the Xbox One and PS4 versions of COD: Ghosts. As you can see there really is not any different, if you were to look at one then the other you’d think they’re on the same console.
  11. 11. SOURCES • r_spyro_.php?print=1 • launches-at-the-center-of-xbox-one-controversy/ •