Digital Foundry Article Technical Discussion Archive [2016 - 2017]

Discussion in 'Console Technology' started by Rangers, Jan 7, 2016.

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  1. Silent_Buddha

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    Additionally it doesn't appear to have that dramatic and drastic "clipping plane" with regards to grass and vegetation that Oblivion had (due to hardware limitations and engine rendering limitations) where it just disappears after a certain distance. Mods on PC could extend that out with an associated heavy cost to rendering.

    Regards,
    SB
     
  2. Rikimaru

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    To be fare Xenon is not good either. At least Gamecube CPU is out-of-order and does not have LHS headache. It does not perform better per clock. It's worse.
    Interesting conversation https://twitter.com/tom_forsyth/status/657318225651216384
    Quite fun fact indeed: "Fun fact: PS2 can do sqrt() faster in wall time than the PPC970FX based cores... :)"

    As for Zelda U graphics I find it quite dull. I think Skyward Sword looked better. Style masked technical flaws.
     
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  3. Billy Idol

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    Flower had lot's of grass blades rendered on PS3. I recall how the devs got help from SSM to achieve this.
     
  4. orangpelupa

    orangpelupa Elite Bug Hunter
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    everything is covered in grass in flower.

    theres much more grass than flower actually
     
  5. Shifty Geezer

    Shifty Geezer uber-Troll!
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    Yeah, but Flower was basically a grass simulator. That's all it was. BoW is getting similar grass quality up close in a full open world RPG.
     
  6. hrdcr_plyr

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    I don't think I'm insulting. I'm simply giving my opinion in a subject based on real world number (like the WiiU specs or the fact that for Nintendo the graphics are not a priority).

    The beginning of this video it's you with between 3 and 5 highly detailed (when compared to Zelda) human beings rendered in real time, meanwhile: "how many complex objects have we seen in the Zelda videos"? The stone golem, which is pretty simple in terms of polygons, it's the only thing that comes to mind and it's still an ultra-low poly mess when compared to that.
    But this is a Nintendo game after all so "no-humans" is totally within expectations. Let's analyse the outside scenarios, and this is how foliage is represented in oblivion:
    [​IMG]

    Tons of different trees from different species, all rendered to such an absurd detail it seems every single piece of foliage can be distinguished individually.
    On the other hand, let's take a look at Zelda's "trees":
    [​IMG]

    What the hell is this mess? In order to save bandwidth and graphical resources, they had to put a PS1 cardboard in form of "leaves" coupled with an ultra low-poly trunk that wouldn't even be considered decent on a PS2. I mean, the difference is brutal here just in terms of transparencies, polygons and textures. And then multiply that by the hundreds and hundreds of trees you see in Oblivion, that alone would make the WiiU to literally explode.

    Oh and by the way, where do you see that the "blade of grass" has any kind of shadowing attached to it? Those blades of grass doesn't project ANY SHADOW, they're not shadowed in real time which completely invalidates your argument.
    [​IMG]

    See, considering there's a light-source coming from behind (the explosion) and:
    1. Not a single blade of grass casts it's shadow anywhere. They've got no shadows, this is PS1-PS2 levels of awfulness. I mean, this is the first Uncharted, an unpolished PS3 game that only scratched the surface of what PS3 was capable of, and:
    [​IMG]

    Simply WOW. Every single leave casts it's shadow in the ground, every single branch does the same. And I insist, this is PS3 at half his power, while Zelda will be Nintendo biggest effort in a console that released 7 years later. By the way, do you know a game called Flower? It was an ultra-low cost project that simply seek REAL INNOVATION when it came o gameplay, and what Nintendo has had to copy in order to be able to release it's Zelda.

    Cartoony helps you hide your graphical shortcomings. A low res texture, for example, looks miles better when you use cell shading -and occupies less space in memory- than a realistic texture, because:
    1. It can have much less details.
    2. It looks ok having those much less details.


    But the point is... ZELDA DOESN'T HAVE PER-BLADE SHADOWING. It doesn't even have "per foliage" lighting like the first Uncharted, but since you ask for it, this is an ultra low-cost project made by Sony that Nintendo has blatantly copied in order to make it's next "most innovative" game.
    [​IMG]
    This is what PS3 and XBOX 360 were capable of when it came to rendering blade of grass. Properly lighted blades in an absolutely expansive world full of small details, and a physics driven videogame that puts that Nintendo Zelda at the level of a PS2 on-asteroids game.
    Of course, this was just a small project that in no way makes a good use of PS3's real power, and there are dozens and dozens of more technically demanding games on the system. But even that small indie game completely destroys Nintendo's best effort when it comes to graphics, and it's logical, the PS3 may perfectly be between 3 and 5 times more powerful than the WiiU so even the smallest projects destroy Nintendo at every single metric.

    Stop bringing that "per blade shadowing" argument because its false. And no, TLOU had much better grass than this Zelda, come on, even the first Uncharted had it as you can see in the pictures and TLOU is almost a generation above it.
    If even a tiny demo destroys Zelda at what you thought it was unbeatable, how do you think Zelda can beat an absolute master piece like TLOU when it comes to the technical feats?
    [​IMG]

    Look at how every single leaf casts it's own real time shadow in the grown, in a game where apart from the light of the sun you can have dozens of real time light-sources coming from the pistols when you shot or the fire of torches if you equip yourself with one.

    As you've seen, the lighting in Zelda is much below what you claimed it to be since it has no per-blade shadowing -a pretty basic rendering feature in my opinion-. If it had per-blade shadowing and like 10 times the amount of real-time light sources THEN it could be considered a -still fairly mediocre- PS3 game. But it doesn't have that. It has a single "good enough for PS3" light coupled with a "much below ps3 standards" shadowing system that coupled with its cartoony looks can feel like its decent enough. A good technical feat considering the hardware is between 3 and 5 times less powerful than a PS3 (and that's considering it has more RAM, because in terms of CPU, the Cell is at least an order of magnitude faster than the 1999 archaic design of the WiiU).

    Xenon has its own share of problems as well, but it's from a 2005 architecture. It supports a far more modern instruction set that the 1999 CPU on the WIIU simply doesn't support and would take dozens of instructions to simply emulate (that's without even counting the fact that the WiiU CPU works with 2x32 bits when it comes to floating point operations, which is a fraction of the 4x32 bits (x 2, because the Xenon processor has the FPU + the Altivec processing unit), and the "out-of-orderness" of the Game Cube CPU was so limited that in practical effects it was an in-order CPU as well.
     
  7. Shifty Geezer

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    Grass is billboarded sprites. There's not a lot of grass detail there, and that's an idealised screenshot. Typically it's a flat polygon with a grass texture on top and a few clumps of grass dotted around.

    What's with the emotional language?
    You do realise that Zelda's trees and Oblivion's Speedtrees are doing the same thing, right? Both are collections of leaf textures hung off a simpe geometry trunk. Just that the Oblivion trees have more leaf splats in higher detail. Not seeing massive detail in Oblivion's trunks either. And yes, Zelda's trees are weak, I'll give you that. Without getting all het up because I'm not emotionally invested in PS3 being better than Wii U or vice versa...

    Defintely close to axing you from the forum. Way too emotional and not very rational. Clearly I wasn't talking about every blade of grass casting a shadow because that's not what's happening (in any game of that gen save maybe Flower which had a specialist grass-rendering engine built for rendering grass and not much else!). Ergo, what must I have meant? I'm a crazy blind Nintendo fanboy raving about the imagined awesomeness of Wii U? Or, grass receiving shadows?

    The age of the console has nothing to do with anything. No-one's claimng Wii U is more powerful. The only point raised is (whether) BoW is doing some impressive stuff with crap hardware or not. You also make a pretty wild assumption that Zelda is the best Wii U can do. This is Nintendo's first large-scale, open world game on hardware they're a decade behind the times on mastering. Why think that Wii U can't do better than this when several iterations of Uncharted showed the difference experience can make in getting more from a platform?

    Okay, now you're axed. You're just here for an agenda and won't have anything meaningful to contribute to the forum.

    OMG, look at the grass in TLOU. It's soo AAAWWWWEEESOOOMMMMMEEEEE!!!!

    [​IMG]

    Every blade of grass casting a shadow is a pretty basic feature?! Despite no games doing it.

    Anyway, this is a discussion for other calmer, more rational people to engage in. Bye.
     
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  8. Shifty Geezer

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    DF tech analysis. Not very technical sadly.


    Also YouTube compression kills the details. Grass is just a flat sheet of green, and it's hard to tell where that's LOD and where that's compression!

    Still, there's some clearly observable features in BotW. Grass remains something special on this class of hardware, with individual strands everywhere. Terrain texture also have normal maps and some level of added detail, whether geometry or POM I don't know. But certainly the stones are decidely un-flat. It's full TOD and there are volumetric lights of some form. Of course it wouldn't be a Nintendo game without gobs or rim-lighting in the shaders! It still kinda works, but I really wish they had the full on shading model from E3. That was something a bit special. Didn't immediately notice any dynamic secondary illumination on objects that have it. Only one shadow casting light. View distance seems impressive, as they view way across the map, so the LOD is potentially having to deal with a lot. At 5:50 we see foliage casting shadows. Yes, Wii U can just about stretch itself to add some shadow maps to the ferns! The floating leaves on the water actaully look like geometry and some of them move in response to Link wading about. No dynamic water surface though. The interior at 8:30 has quite nice AO, but it seems a bit sporadic. Looking more closely, the SSAO is only visible in shadowed areas. It's quite broad and works pretty well IMO. Clear shadow pop-in at 9:07. That's perhaps the engine's big issue at the moment, is the quality of the distance views is pretty weak. Aggressive LOD means no shadows and simple trees.

    Another observation from 2:46, self-shadowing from the clothing on Link.

    Will be nice to see some direct feed footage.
     
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  9. steveOrino

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    Looks good to me, my only real complaint is the AA hurts the art and hopefully they will have a better solution in place near release.

    I have yet to see a real time grass worth a shit because its a really difficult problem to solve, which makes this argument over "which grass solution looks worse!" pretty amusing. I am far more interested in how Nintendo integrates the object physics into the gameplay (so many games do a really half-ass job at this) more so than I am about the engine tech checkpoints.
     
  10. Silent_Buddha

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    I'm actually even more impressed with this title after seeing it in action a bit more. The physics in the game looks to be very solid (plank of wood + rock on ground + raising boulder in air = fun times). That also means that it appears they might be doing at least some rudimentary physics modeling of wind. The smoke from a campfire for instance reacts correctly to the intensity and direction of the wind as indicted by the way the surround grass is moving. It'll be more impressive if that varies based on weather conditions combined with variability in wind. But I'm guessing variability in wind (as you would see on a real life windy day) is likely beyond the capabilities of the system. And hell it's not like any other game in existence attempts to model wind variability.

    And I'm glad to see that one of my major pet peeves in games that feature flowing water doesn't exist in Zelda. Streams and rivers actually seem to have some modeling of currents instead of being just a graphical representation with no physics modeling (The Last of Us for example has great looking rivers that have absolutely zero current). Also one of the few things I actually liked about WildStar. However, I didn't get to see whether the river currents actually affect the player character or not. If not, that would be a huge disappointment to me.

    The view distance while relatively simplistic (low LOD at large distances) is still impressive for this level of hardware. PS3/X360 games with expansive levels often used clipping or fog for anything that was at a major distance. It wasn't until PS4/XBO that we saw a general trend away from that for console games.

    I finally figured out what the tree's and landscape remind me of when watching this. It's very Park-like. Which makes a lot of sense when you considering the art direction (like a Painting) and intended audience (mostly children and adults that grew up with Zelda). Portions of our family ranch's forests look quite similar to this. Not all as we only spend about 4-5 months out of the year doing land management (for the health of the forest, looks, promote the growing of grass, and control weeds that are harmful to livestock). Anyway, it's a deliberate choice to go with an uncluttered looking (less dense) forest. It facilitates the Zelda style gameplay while matching the art style they are going for combined with reducing the load on the console.

    All in all, it actually makes me quite tempted to get a Wii-U. I wonder if it runs at 60 FPS? Probably not, which means it'd be a non-starter for me. Either way, if the NX ever comes out and this title runs at 60 FPS on it, then it'll be quite tempting.

    Regards,
    SB
     
  11. zed

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  12. Shifty Geezer

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    30 fos, with some major dips, although it's not final code so may get some optimisation. Not gonna be >30 though.
     
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  13. Silent_Buddha

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  14. zed

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    Very true, but then again the above it running on a GPU more than 1000x less powerful than the ps4/xb1
     
  15. Shoujoboy

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    I think Zelda BoTW looks great however I am curious are there any Ps360 titles that
    bring something as impressive to the table in an open world game ?

    Despite the turn the last conversation took, I still think something cool could still come from the question.
     
  16. orangpelupa

    orangpelupa Elite Bug Hunter
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    hmm GTA V and MGSV are impressive on PS3X360.
     
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  17. Shifty Geezer

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    Plenty. As orangpelupa says, GTAV was epic for example. It's stupid to try to compare BotW to PS360 games as if either BotW is rubbish or doing something PS360 couldn't, as we know Wii U isn't massively more powerful so literally can't do anything more impressive save some graphics techniques dependent on the more modern GPU architecture. We should only be discussing BotW like any other title - what is it doing and how on the hardware available.

    It's obsessesive drives to turn games into examples of godlike powers by superhuman devs, or as evidence of a weak system deserving contempt, that turns good discussion to shit. I don't undertand how that mentality can continue to exist in some people long past their teenage years when they should really outgrow it.
     
  18. sebbbi

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    Unfortunately fill rate hasn't increased as much as ALU. I found grass/tree rendering to be the most difficult part to get running at 60 fps on Xbox 360. So much overdraw. Rendering foliage to a fat G-buffer is painful (our G-buffer was fortunately only 12 bytes per pixel). And foliage was even worse on PS3 as you didn't have EDRAM. Most PS3 games used quarter resolution transparencies (640x360).

    WiiU is actually pretty good in transparency rendering (compared to XBox 360 and PS3) as it has 32 MB of EDRAM.

    Foliage shadows require pretty high shadow map resolution + good shadow map filter. Otherwise you get a flickering mess. Not many last gen games had grass that cast proper shadows (screen space AO tricks were of course used).
     
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  19. milk

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    sebbbi, what if each blade of grass is an individual mesh with no alpha map? Does that make it less expensive on fillrate (considering the engine can handle such geometry density) or is rendering a bunch of long polys too terrible for rasterisation and shader efficency? I guess the overdraw you save by quitting alpha-testing might be cancelled out by the sheer volume of blades you end up having to render, but maybe with that kind of dencities more agressive lodding isn't as noticeble...
     
  20. nightshade

    nightshade Interwebz Hijacker !
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    GTA5 actually pared back a lot from GTA4 in terms of physics simulation and AI.
    Cel Shading also requires about twice the polygon count of a non cel shaded game due to how cel shading works.

    Absolutely not.
    Oblivion's last gen even by last gen's standards...Zelda isn't.

    That isn't real time. It's from a cutscene..from a game with a different art style.
    Pretty damn sure you are just trolling, your claims have no technical basis and your statements have an immense amount of hyperbole and bias.

    And this is Uncharted 3..not Uncharted 1.
    I also don't see grass shadows, and let's not forget Uncharted games were some of the most confined games made last gen.
     
    #560 nightshade, Jul 4, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2016
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