This week I want to write a blog about the Uncharted 4 video game because I was so blown away by the environment and overall graphics of the game to the point that I kept dying because I was being distracted by things like the dimensional light rays seeping into a clearing or a certain texture on the side of a building..
Naughty Dog uses their own rendering engine, even for the cut scenes, which is built on the principles of Physically Based Rendering (discussed in detail in the next post) and the results are phenomenal. Tate Mosesian, one of Uncharted 4’s lead environment artists, says that the team aimed to integrate their signature handcrafted look into the PBR pipeline while maintaining artistry and unique quality of the textures (Minotti, 2016). An example of how certain elements are enhanced by PBR is the water that has varying reflection quality depending on the intensity of the sun light. Also, the way the character interacts with the environment has a great impact on the realism and quality of graphics of the gameplay. For instance, when Nathan rolls in the mud, his clothes and body get dirty, and when he interacts with a waterfall, the mud and debris are very realistically washed off, and the water soaks into his clothes (Smith, 2016).
Perhaps the prime reason for the outstanding quality of the game is the team’s dedication to detail and aesthetics. Rogelio Olguin, another lead environment artist, says, “we add as much depth as possible when it comes to the macro and micro of our environmental storytelling that may or may not even add anything to the greater story.” (Minotti, 2016) This also reflects the way the environment is modeled and textured as there is intricate detail in every asset, even seemingly insignificant.
There is a special level of realism to the way characters are rendered too. It combines excellent modelling, smart design and a comprehensive rendering engine. Major elements of the characters like skin and fat move and bend realistically, while details such as eyebrows, pupils and even stubble are intricately designed and rendered.
Skin and fat also bend and move realistically while details such as stubble, pupils and eyebrows are beautifully rendered in high fidelity. Beyond that, clothing is also taken into account as part of the simulation, such as the way Drake’s shirt reacts to the wind simulation or how his tools bounce around as he runs (Linneman, 2016). The environments are very vast, dense and interactive which brings the gaming experience to the next level. Along with PBR, wind systems were implemented to achieve a more realistic result that allowed the artists to set values for intensity and speed of the wind that directly impacts the environment.
Another aspect of the design and graphics that I found particularly fascinating are the volumetric light shafts and the technique implemented in Uncharted 4 allows for the light to remain visible even if the light source disappears from view (Linneman, 2016).
Minotti, M. (2016) How uncharted 4’s artists created their amazing landscapes. Available at: http://venturebeat.com/2016/06/01/how-uncharted-4s-artists-created-their-amazing-landscapes/ (Accessed: 20 November 2016).
Smith, B. (2016) Uncharted 4 graphics analysis: Next-gen begins when naughty dog says so « GamingBolt.Com: Video game news, reviews, previews and Blog. Available at: http://gamingbolt.com/uncharted-4-graphics-analysis-next-gen-begins-when-naughty-dog-says-so (Accessed: 20 November 2016)
Linneman, J. (2016) Tech analysis: Uncharted 4: A thief’s end. Available at: http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-2016-uncharted-4-thiefs-end-tech-analysis (Accessed: 20 November 2016)..
Byrneinator, K.B. (2016) Uncharted 4 news, multiplayer hands on, gameplay & release date – final trailer released. Available at: http://www.expertreviews.co.uk/naughty-dog/1402477/uncharted-4-news-multiplayer-hands-on-gameplay-release-date-final-trailer (Accessed: 20 November 2016).