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The Tech of the Colossus 62

Posted by Zonk
from the specular-fur-make-me-smile dept.
Via a Cathode Tan post, a gloriously in-depth look at the technology behind the PS2 title Shadow of the Colossus. From that article: "In games such as DOOM3 on the PC, the model used for generating the shadow volume is almost equivalent to the character itself. But with SOTC, in order to speed this up, we made use of a simpler model with much fewer polygons in. The main character generally consists of 3,000 polygons, but the colossus can be around 18,000 polygons, depending on the type. But the model used for shadow generation will contain a substantially lower amount than this. For example, the simple model seen by the player will probably only use 1/40th of what the original model contained."
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The Tech of the Colossus

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  • I see this in lots of games these days.

    It's a very neat effect. But I find it distracting, and my eyes are constantly trying to focus, and I end up getting a headache after a while.
  • by tengennewseditor (949731) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @02:30PM (#14877644)
    So Shadow of the Colossus is only 1/40th as complex as the real thing?
  • Letdown.... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by otis wildflower (4889)
    ... From the subject I was anticipating something about either the Colossus computer [wikipedia.org] or the Colossus of Rhodes [wikipedia.org].

    Or even something about this [wikipedia.org]
  • SoC is a great game but I have to ask why they used the PS2. When you look at resident evil 4 on the cube, you're almost drooling at how great it looks, then you play SoC and go "well.. that's nice.. but the hero runs like a retard and it's really muddy and blocky". The screenshots in the article really do seem selected to avoid showing this, but a couple show you how bad it is ( http://www.dyingduck.com/sotc/3dwa03.jpg [dyingduck.com] for example).

    It's a great game and I'm not trying to put it down, but it's the type of ga
    • Re:SoC (Score:4, Informative)

      by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @02:40PM (#14877735)
      SoC is a great game but I have to ask why they used the PS2.

      Oh, I know the answer to this one! It's because the game was made by Sony. I think it's highly unlikely that they'd spend their resources developing a GameCube or xBox game. Although this game would've been awesome on either of those two platforms. I got through 9 or 10 of the colossi before getting my nice new 32" LCD HDTV. This game is just painful to look at on that screen now because all the flaws and uglies are so apparent.
      • I'm with you.

        I had a friend tell me this was the greatest game ever. I picked it up when I had some store credit at Best Buy thanks to an Xmas gift error. I took it home and put it on my 52" widescreen TV, and the graphics were horrible. Add to that controls that I personally think suck royal ass, and I wonder how this game got so much drool factor from the gaming community.

        Granted, I've never seen it on a blurry old-school TV, so I have no idea if that helps to make it look better or not. Even so, I ha
        • The controls do take a little while to get used to, but you eventually do learn to deal with them. The camera gets kinda wonky at times, too. As for playing on an SDTV, it helps a whole lot. The overall appearance is much softer, which fits with the mood and tone of the game. Overall, it is a pretty fun game. Maybe I'll fire it up again this weekend and try to complete it...
    • by inkless1 (1269)
      They talk about that somewhat in the article.

      And for the record, "well.. that's nice.. but the hero runs like a retard and it's really muddy and blocky" isn't how I'd describe the game at all ... or anyone I've known who has actually played.
      • I got a demo a few weeks ago. The way the hero runs really is off IMO and basicly the world feels "dead" to me. It's pretty but theres just no life in the place, so it's just "hey lets dash across a crappy textured floor". The distance is great and the collosus look fantastic, but when you get close all the effects die and it looks PS1 quality.

        On the other hand I adored the ICO demo which came with it and just ordered it from Amazon.
        • Re:SoC (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Knos (30446) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @04:25PM (#14878644) Homepage Journal
          Maybe it's simply because you are meant to sink in this atmosphere of dread. I mean, it's bound to be voluntary for this particular universe to be almost devoid of any advanced lifeforms. The way you have to wander around in those deserts, making you feel like if you were even more dead than the one you are trying to revive. Even the colossi are ambiguous.. part machines part animals. Golems of some sort.

          It does create more sensations than it tells a story.. I think it does it pretty well even.
        • I think the feeling of desolation is completely intentional. The world you are in is not supposed to feel natural and full of life. You constantly feel like you don't belong there.

          As for the graphical quality of the game, I can somewhat agree with you. When I described the game to a friend, I said: "It looks like total ass, and it is beautiful." I got the impression that they overstepped the bounds of the system. The textures were just too detailed for the PS2 to handle, as there was no AA or Ansio t
      • by dogbowl (75870)
        I killed the first 2 bosses and then put the controller down. It was too frustrating trying to figure out the controls while trying to maintain a decent camera angle.

        Mario 64 got it right 10 years ago. You'd think somebody else would be able to do it by now.
    • eww, you suck (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Ender Ryan (79406)
      Eww, you suck :)

      I think SotC would have been a real letdown on any other console. The effects, which are nothing short of amazing, may have been used to cover up the lack of a huge poly-count in some cases, but they're really what gives the world in SotC it's beauty. The main character, I agree, does look kinda crappy. The horse isn't too bad. But the world looks absolutely amazing, and so do the Colossi.

      The PS2 doesn't have the raw power of the Xbox or the Cube, but it is capable of some really ama

    • Yes, the tech meant that a few cutbacks were made. The main character is strangely blocky, but if you can get over that tiny detail everything else is utterly sumptuous. The artistry of this game is second-to-none, showing a kind of attention to detail in envoronment that out-does what Nintendo managed in Zelda Wind Waker and Namco's Resident Evil 4. Maybe Resident Evil 4 has a bit more texture detail and polygons, but it can't match the feel of the enviroment in SoTC. RE4 feels like a traditional comp
  • by jshackles (957031) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @02:45PM (#14877788)
    Games like SoC, with "tweaks" like this article suggests, remind me that the current generation of video game platforms is going to be dying in a pre-mature, marketing-driven, death.

    While developers are finding things like this *still* that will optimize the code on a 5 year old system, tell me why I need to rush out and buy a PS3 right away? I keep hearing that the cell is hard to develop for. This same thing happened between PS1 -> PS2. A lot of the "fluff" games in the PS2 launch were not as good as some of the titles being released for the PS1, and I think we'll see a mirror of that between PS2 -> PS3

    • Why? Can't tell you, but the general video console generation is 5 years. MS did a great disservice to the industry by bumping the XBOX 360 to 4 years. Hell, Sony should have had the PS3 out last November if they were keeping it up ;)
    • by supabeast! (84658) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @03:29PM (#14878180)
      "...tell me why I need to rush out and buy a PS3 right away?"

      Texture quality. The PS2 has always had a deplorably pathetic amount of video RAM, and it shows - especially in big games like SoC where the same tiny aliased texture is reused and remapped all over the place. The PS2 has had a lot of really, really fun games that were just painful to look at because of this, and since Sony actually has competition this time around, they've been forced to give developers enough VRAM to make games a hell of a lot less ugly.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Texture quality. The PS2 has always had a deplorably pathetic amount of video RAM, and it shows - especially in big games like SoC where the same tiny aliased texture is reused and remapped all over the place. The PS2 has had a lot of really, really fun games that were just painful to look at because of this, and since Sony actually has competition this time around, they've been forced to give developers enough VRAM to make games a hell of a lot less ugly.

        Have you ever developed games for the PS2? I'm guess
      • The PS2 has always had a deplorably pathetic amount of video RAM, and it shows - especially in big games like SoC where the same tiny aliased texture is reused and remapped all over the place.

        No it doesn't. The artistic design more than makes up for the lack of texture quality. A higher res game with less creative scenery would look a lot worse.
    • Well, imagine how good the game would look with the following changes:
      • Instead of being designed to run anywhere between 15 and 60 frames per second, put out a solid 60fps at all times.
      • Instead of having to trick around with "superlow" backgrounds and composited rendering, have a greater normal draw distance for fewer artifacts and a less complex engine. Not only can the graphics card keep up with this now, you can hold far more data in RAM and stream off a faster drive.
      • Instead of manually placing scene b
    • Games like SoC, with "tweaks" like this article suggests, remind me that the current generation of video game platforms is going to be dying in a pre-mature, Microsoft-driven, death.

      Fixed. And if you think I'm hating on Microsoft, you may be right, but maybe you should go look at some historical console releases first. Specifically the time between PS1 to PS2 or Famicom to Super Famicom. Both were over six years, compared to four (!) for Xbox to 360.

    • I wouldn't count on the PS2 dying a premature death. Publishers feel that they "left money on the table" by moving away from PSone too quickly and they'll be looking to PS2 sales to help smooth the transition to PS3 and Xbox360. A Sony guy once told me they half of all the PSones after the Japanese PS2 launch and there's an enormous PS2 installed base (100 million, I believe) which won't be going away any time soon. I completely believe that people will be making PS2 games through 2008.

      Now, it won't be at t
  • I really hope more techniques like this one are applied in more games... I wonder how Prince of Persia would look with this stuff.
    • Well, considering that the latest installment of PoP looks like shit on all the consoles, and even the PC, I wouldn't hold my breath for anything so magnificent from Ubisoft. It's a damn shame too, because PoP:WW is one of the most beautiful games I've ever played - I played it on GC, I hear the PS2 version had serious framerate issues. T2T just looks like shit by comparison. Good game though, just could have been better. With everything they had going for them... it's almost as if Ubisoft was determine
  • It's a good thing that developers keep developing for older hardware and game consoles as it allows for optimizations that can be passed onto newer hardware for visuals that could not of been achieved before. If software developers were to keep relying on the hardware to improve to get better visuals, then people would have to spend 1000s each year just to see a game that looks moderately better. While playing SOTC I was amazed at the way they did the lighting and how the landscape was so vast and looks so
  • As mention on the post, that I found this at Pixel Kill: http://www.pixelkill.com/2006/03/05/shadow-of-the- colossus.html [pixelkill.com]
  • by MaWeiTao (908546) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @03:33PM (#14878217)
    People will likely disagree with me on this, but I'm convinced that these kinds of games are completely wasted being developed for a console. They really belong on a PC instead of being hindered by the limitations of consoles.

    As for the light bloom, blurs and other effects, while producing a neat result, especially in stills I tend to find distracting during gameplay. I've seen several games with these kinds of effects and the majority tend to overdo it. It's like I have cataracts or something. Someone with good eyesight doesn't see the world that way. I realize they're going for a cinematic feel, but at least don't overdo it.

    I think Guild Wars, for example, has a nice glow that adds to the visuals without overdoing it. Then again, some of the problems here may be due to the low resolution of the PS2.

    As for motion blurs, I've never liked them especially in driving games. If the world starts blurring around you because you're driving too fast then you probably shouldn't be racing at all. Imagine if the world turned to a haze for Formula 1 or WRC drivers.

    Despite that, I'm impressed by how much they reveal about the game. It's an interesting read.
    • by Brunellus (875635) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @04:20PM (#14878607) Homepage
      As for the light bloom, blurs and other effects, while producing a neat result, especially in stills I tend to find distracting during gameplay. I've seen several games with these kinds of effects and the majority tend to overdo it. It's like I have cataracts or something. Someone with good eyesight doesn't see the world that way. I realize they're going for a cinematic feel, but at least don't overdo it.

      Amen. "lens flare" effects are overdone to DEATH...I love how it seems that in games, all the "lenses" have nearly circular apertures, a bad problem with internal reflections/ghosting, and what look like dozens of air/glass interfaces. It seems to me that if you care enough to put flare/ghosting effects in, you should at least bother to make them believable (polygonal apertures instead of circular, effects of flare on overall image colour/contrast, etc).

    • Guild Wars is a great game sure, but the bloom effect is totally overdone there as well. Find a nice scene and sit there turning it on and off, and note the difference.

      The first time I ever played it I thought I'd rubbed Vaseline into my eyes or something.

    • by polyp2000 (444682) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @07:58PM (#14879898) Homepage Journal
      Why should a game, any game be wasted on a console? If people want to put the time and effort into creating a good game, why shouldnt they do it? Your statement sound's kinda snobbish to me.

      The great thing about consoles is that they are relatively speaking a stationary target, ie the technology stays the same for several years. Its nice to see that despite the age of the PS2 now that its developers are still manging to push the boundaries of the machines capabilities. Perhaps some of the skills learned from making more efficient use of console hardware could be translated to PC games. Lets face it develpers can be a hell of a lot more complacent on the PC platform, especially when Next-Gen 3d cards are being pushed by ATI or NVidia. Limitations and constraints breed creativity and that is a factor that can never be underestimated.
    • I dunno, I like "art" games like "Ico", quirky games like "Katamari Damacy" and "Stretch Panic". If they were developed for a Windows PC, I wouldn't see them.
    • People will likely disagree with me on this, but I'm convinced that these kinds of games are completely wasted being developed for a console. They really belong on a PC instead of being hindered by the limitations of consoles.

      Don't you really mean, they belong on a console, instead of being hindered by a system like PC where everyone has a different card, and each card has different capabilities and different means of accomplishing the same effect, so you can't rely on any of it for artistic benefit?
    • People will likely disagree with me on this, but I'm convinced that these kinds of games are completely wasted being developed for a console. They really belong on a PC instead of being hindered by the limitations of consoles.

      You are seriously, seriously, overestimating the ability of PCs. With a 3GHz, dual core, 2GB RAM, Top level graphics card with VRAM, Shadow of The Colossus would crawl, crawl to a halt unless the graphics were turned down to a level where 10 fps and heavy pixelation was acceptable.

      To s
  • by Profound (50789) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @08:52PM (#14880130) Homepage
    Maybe I've been playing Civ 4 too much, but after reading this title I immediately thought of Bronze working.
    • I was thinking the same thing, that this was an archeology study of the ancient wonder of the world, where trying to build a statue like the Statue of Liberty with Bronze Age tools might have been a very major accomplishment, and it would have been "How did they do that?"

      A cool engineering topic in its own right.

      The other thought I had was that perhaps this was all about the WWII computer that was developed by the British Government to reverse engineer the Enigma Machine (German encryption device that was i
  • I clicked on this in the "Older Articles" sidebar, expecting it to be some sort of new archeological info on The Colossus of Rhodes [wikipedia.org].

    /bummer
    //Slashies!
    ///Wait...where am I?
  • Around the time of the PS2, Xbox and Gamecube Developers started getting lazy. Why? Because instead of using all this power to craete incredibly new experiences, they split it half and half between "Shiny visuals" and "Room to be lazy". Look at the Xbox 360. Sure it has some amazing visuals, but nothing much better than last year's good PCs. While this is often the case with consoles, 3 3.2 Gigahertz cores and the "Latest" ATI chipsets should be providing better performance than this! Sometimes I prefer o

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