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Cinematic Effects Aid Gaming Realism

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the that-was-then-this-is-now dept.

Graphics 30

rtt writes "When Valve recently added support for HDR technology into their 'Source' engine, they quickly discovered that in games such as Day of Defeat, a WW2 based game, the rendering quality far surpassed the video quality that would have been possible in the time that the game was set. In a new round of updates, VALVe have researched and developed cinematic effects commonly used by the film industry - motion blur, color correction, and depth of field amongst others - to aid realism for the set period of the game. bit-tech has up an article detailing each of the technologies, along with video clips to showcase the effects at work in the Day of Defeat mod."

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Are we not simulating life, not film? (4, Insightful)

FromWithin (627720) | more than 8 years ago | (#14229373)

I don't understand. HDR as an effect is good because it's similar to how our eyes work, but adding cinema effects from the time period of the game plot? That's sounds completely bizarre.

Soldiers in World War II didn't all have eyes with built-in film grain. Sounds like somebody is working in the wrong industry. Games should try to be games, not try to be films.

Re:Are we not simulating life, not film? (1, Interesting)

Seumas (6865) | more than 8 years ago | (#14229442)

EXACTLY.

For cutscenes, that's fine - I suppose. But I wan't REALISM in my game. And by REALISM, I don't mean "like a movie". Contrary to apparant popular belief - MOVIES are not REALITY.

Re:Are we not simulating life, not film? (1)

FinestLittleSpace (719663) | more than 8 years ago | (#14229491)

Agreed, again!

I love the depth of field - and motion blue to an extent - you get that in a human eye, too... but why the hell is there all this sepia toning and film grain? It just looks wrong. I want to feel like I was a soldier who saw that horrific B&W world in full colour.

Re:Are we not simulating life, not film? (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 8 years ago | (#14229770)

I actually have a problem with motion blur -- isn't that just what the ghosting on my LCD monitor does anyway?

Re:Are we not simulating life, not film? (1)

FinestLittleSpace (719663) | more than 8 years ago | (#14229851)

motion blur of objects happens in real life. just watch a car pass you very very fast without focusing on it

Re:Are we not simulating life, not film? (2, Insightful)

FullCircle (643323) | more than 8 years ago | (#14230011)

The problem is that the computer can't tell what you are looking at. Depth of field and motion totally break realizm if they aren't in sync with what the viewer is focusing on.

If you are being guided through a cut scene or movie, depth of field can make you focus on the path the story intends. If you are in an FPS with "free" control, this can blur the object you are trying to see.

Re:Are we not simulating life, not film? (1)

Ford Prefect (8777) | more than 8 years ago | (#14229992)

I actually have a problem with motion blur -- isn't that just what the ghosting on my LCD monitor does anyway?

Not really - there's a demonstration of the keep-small-amount-of-previous-frames method shown in one of the videos, and it looks genuinely horrible. The 'correct' way of doing motion-blur seems to be to effectively render at a very high framerate and merge, say, four frames together into one displayed frame. The next displayed frame will be from the next four rendered frames in the sequence, and so on.

It's a feature that I'd really like to see in 3D games, but unfortunately it's probably also the most computationally expensive. As an extreme, you'd need a graphics card capable of rendering the game at a whopping 400 frames per second for a 100Hz display. That, though, would look utterly glorious.

The depth-of-field effect looks a bit cheesy and overdone in some shots in the videos. It gives the effect of everything being miniaturised and being viewed through a macro lens - I wish my own camera would give a depth-of-field equivalent to some of the shots shown. Still, a toned-down version could actually work in gameplay - with the player's 'eye' focusing on whatever's in the crosshair, and perhaps focussing on the player's weapon when reloading, for example.

The film-grain is definitely overdone. I suspect it's going to be the next cel-shading effect!

Re:Are we not simulating life, not film? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14229583)

While I agree that using film technique to simulate life is a little schizoid, I can understand the decision to go "period" with a new game. Whether or not the soldiers of the time had built-in grain effect or sepia tone stress vision doesn't matter; establishing the ambient environment of the game is. Using these techniques helps to draw the player into the game world in a way that stark clarity wouldn't. The effects of the game, visual or no, are part of what make the game experience fun, and each title different from another; the techniques may be the same, but their application makes the games unique.

But if games really are becoming closer to movies, when (or from where) do we get our Robert Evans, and when does Fallout Boy get his star on the walk of fame?

Re:Are we not simulating life, not film? (1)

DreadPiratePizz (803402) | more than 8 years ago | (#14229806)

I don't understand. HDR as an effect is good because it's similar to how our eyes work, but adding cinema effects from the time period of the game plot? That's sounds completely bizarre.
It's not a bizzare as you think. Stubbs the zombie had film grain and discoulouration, and It works extremely well as a way to enhance the atmosphere, immersing you into the world of the 1950s.

Re:Are we not simulating life, not film? (1)

Minna Kirai (624281) | more than 8 years ago | (#14230360)

It works extremely well as a way to enhance the atmosphere, immersing you into the world of the 1950s

There were zombie epidemics in the 50s? I don't even remember the laser-rifles, robo-butlers, or hovercars!

(Also, that's a 3rd person view... the game's "camera" is not supposed to be your own eyes, so mechanical artifacts will be more plausible in chasecam situations. You're watching Stubbs, not being him)

Actually, no, not really. (1)

Jacius (701825) | more than 8 years ago | (#14232075)

Soldiers in World War II didn't all have eyes with built-in film grain.... Games should try to be games, not try to be films.

The goal of games is not necessarily to simulate reality at all, just as the goal of painting, photography, and film is not necessarily to accurately show events as they occurred. There will always be non-realistic (i.e. stylized) depictions in any field of art, and that is not a bad thing at all.

Whether or not soldiers in WWII saw everything through film grain is irrelevant. All that matters is whether it enhances or diminishes the theme of the game. The more tools available to artists, the better.

Re:Are we not simulating life, not film? (1)

uNople (734531) | more than 8 years ago | (#14232382)

I think you are looking at this in the wrong way.

Technology like this doesn't matter because it looks good, it matters because of immersion. HDR is meant to be used so that the people playing the game feel it is so realistic (to look at) that they can't tell the difference between the game and real life. I don't believe the ''grain effect" as was talked about in the article is very impressive or realistic, being used for DoD. However, they have developed a very impressive technology which can be used for other things.

For Example:
If the player (in the game) has goggles/glasses on, they can get dirty. The game engine can calculate how dirty the glasses/goggles get, and up the grain on the game accordingly. I don't think this is a good example for (First Person Shooter) games right now, but for things like Virtual Reality/fully immersive games I think things like this (if they're used in the right place) can only lead to more realism.

But it's a flat screen already... (1)

spoco2 (322835) | more than 8 years ago | (#14235324)

The thing is that it's a flat screen already... so you are effectively 'watching' something that you are taking part in anyway... so you can't be truly immersed... so, what they're attempting to do is to make it more like what we're used to seeing on a flat screen, and that's movies... we have spent our lives seeing 'reality' presented via tv/movies in this way, so if you can make the game seem more like that, then you can make it seem like you're acting in a movie (in a sense anyway)...

There are ways and means to use this technology to make it seem more like you are really 'there' rather than making it film like, and that's the other way to try to take it... as much like looking into the real world as possible... but don't discount the filmic qualities as a way of immersion... it works very well too.

Re:Are we not simulating life, not film? (1)

Frenchy_2001 (659163) | more than 8 years ago | (#14243307)

Sounds like somebody is working in the wrong industry. Games should try to be games, not try to be films.

Actually, it depends on the effect they want to achieve.
If they are aiming to create a render closer to grainy black and white film, this is the way.

Moreover, games hardly want to emulate life. They want to emulate the glorious, exhilerating part of some topic. Those same parts that have already been glorified for several decades by the film industry. So, aiming your game to present and react as would movie heroes is not a bad choice.

Let's take an easy example: Pirates. We would all like to play pirates, right? However, most people prefer to play the romantic and heroic pirates that Herol Flynn portraied in movies that the scums dying of scurvy pillaging defenseless towns. See what Sid Meyer's Pirates look like for a case in point.

Graphics vs Content? (1)

Swordsmanus (921213) | more than 8 years ago | (#14229548)

I hope this isn't taking away from them releasing maps beyond the four that came with the launch. After all, the primary criticism of DoD: Source is its lack of content, not graphical quality or immersiveness.

Re:Graphics vs Content? (1)

JorDan Clock (664877) | more than 8 years ago | (#14229650)

Considering that the people working on this graphical enhancements are definitely not the map builders, I doubt that it's much of a trade-off. The problem is that creating content for high polygon count models and high resolution textures in a trully quality way is taking longer and longer. You can see it in the development of any high end games.

But I do hope they come out with some more maps soon. You're right that new maps are definitely a higher priority than newer graphical enhancements. I just don't see either addition interfering with the development of the other.

Shadow of the Colossus also used HDR (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14229582)

Here is neat technical write up (use the fish) on how HDR (and other things) were accomplished on the PS2 within Shadow of the Colossus.
http://www.watch.impress.co.jp/game/docs/20051207/ 3dwa.htm [impress.co.jp]

It is really amazing technology ... especially when you don't notice it.

Good Move (2, Insightful)

Dr. Eggman (932300) | more than 8 years ago | (#14229620)

I applaud Valve's move. It seems a rather humorous artistic take on the modern "realism" period in games today. Taking a WWII shooter, a very common "reality" subject, and applying affects to it in a way that is unrealistic but at the same time much closer to the way its primary audience knows WWII as "real" (we only know the second great war through its grainy footage, and I doubt there are many WWII vets playing DoD.)

I for one love this artistic move by Valve. We have enough realistic games and WWII shooters and this satirical take on modern graphics is a welcome change.

Well done, Valve! Keep up the great work!

Re:Good Move (1)

JorDan Clock (664877) | more than 8 years ago | (#14229698)

It's not about realism. It's about immersion. If these techniques make a player feel more into the game, I am completely for them. Anyone who thinks realism is the only way to create immersion is sadly mistaken. Besides, I don't think a battle in WW2 was clear and cleanly lit. While these effects might be more exagerated than what a real soldier saw, they're a lot better than the artificially clean look of most games.

Re:Good Move (1)

Dr. Eggman (932300) | more than 8 years ago | (#14229993)

I agree, immersion is what it's about but I think too many games confuse that with realism. Thats why I like it, it steps back from that and tries to immerse you in WWII from a different angle, namely a cinematic one not unlike what we are use to seeing WWII from.

From the article (1)

MMaestro (585010) | more than 8 years ago | (#14229832)

Day of Defeat: Source - arguably the best multiplayer World War II shooter around

I stopped reading after that.

A graphical updated version of a 4 year old mod (Beta 1 came out January 2001) is 'arguably the best multiplayer World War II shooter around'? Wth?

Re:From the article (1)

BlackMesaLabs (893043) | more than 8 years ago | (#14232506)

Newness != Quality

I can't wait for the next cinematic effect... (1)

Tim Browse (9263) | more than 8 years ago | (#14230558)

...lens flare!

Re:I can't wait for the next cinematic effect... (1)

mh101 (620659) | more than 8 years ago | (#14232059)

Been there, done that.

Many of the racing games I've played, some of which are several years old, have lens flare in the game. Very cool effect to see when you're driving around. Perhaps it hasn't been done yet in FPSs... I haven't played any in a while.

Re:I can't wait for the next cinematic effect... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14232193)

You're missing the joke. Lens flare has been heavily criticized because every space fighter game put it in. I doesn't make any sense, and on older hardware (think back to 2000 or so) it just looked really silly.

movie effects in a mp game? (1)

slysithesuperspy (919764) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231145)

What the fuck is the point of these effects in a multiplayer game? After ooing and ahing for 2 minutes everyones gona turn it off so it doesn't get in the way. Why dont they spend their time adding these to a SP game.

Re:movie effects in a mp game? (1)

slysithesuperspy (919764) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231201)

Although on second thoughts, it would be good for making movies. With quake 3 engine games it takes a lot of time to grab the depth of field (forgot the name of the hook program todo it). (Incidentally it can do motion blur with 1000fps samples- but I'm not sure how well that goes with the DOF simultaneously)

Re:movie effects in a mp game? (1)

SteevR (612047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14233468)

...except that you won't be turning HDR off in many games- the idea is that this is used for gameplay effects like being partially blinded as if your eyes are adjusting to the light (when you move from a dark area to a bright one, or have a flashbang go off near you, etc.). In a multiplayer game, they will need to remove the ability for the player to turn these things off (as that would be cheating). Thus, your Steam/VAC or Punkbuster/whatever servers will flag you as a cheater (and kick you from the multiplayer server) even if you do find a way to disable HDR effects.

Cinematic != Realism (1)

SteevR (612047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14233443)

I love how the mainstream game press loves to liken games and the game industry to their Hollywood counterparts. Naturally, "cinematic" 3D effects are being likened now to "realistic" effects (3dfx marketed this first with their "t-buffer" temporal motion blur nonsense).

This is not the journalist's problem; the corporate/marketing guys in the game industry who talk to the press are the ones who hail such things as "realistic" and "revolutionary", when in fact they are not anywhere near photorealitic and are in fact quite passe in the world of computer graphics (i.e. the technology is based off of a 10-year-old SIGGRAPH presentation). Of course, the only people who ever talk to the corporate whores are the technical staff at the game companies, and none of them really care enough to correct the suits; alternatively they just like getting free pats on the back for doing such excellent work and making "the impossible possible" from a suit's POV (when in reality they are simply engineering the probable, extrapolating the new from last year's technology).

To be fair, the story of the last decade in computer graphics has been the effort to get enough computing power to do something close to photorealism. It was quite accurate to say that more fillrate (for resolutions beyond 320x240) made games more realistic, bilinear/trilinear or anisotropic texture filtering made the scene more realistic, that antialiasing makes the scene more realistic (no jaggies in real life), advanced animation techniques that bring the entities in the world makes the scene more realistic, that HDR effects that partially blind you when you look at the sun are more realistic- but notice as time has gone on, the graphical effects implimented have more and more effect on actual gameplay. The more realistic the graphics, the more realism people will come to expect in the gameplay- this is being overlooked, and I think this is a reason why game industry is not living up to performance projections.

Not to mention the question: If the graphics are there to present and support the gameplay, must not the graphics be suited to do so? Are realistic/cinematic graphics really the best way to do so? Aren't we wagging the dog a bit here?

Like the old Calvin & Hobbes (1)

patternjuggler (738978) | more than 8 years ago | (#14236422)

This reminds me of the one where Calvin asks why old movies are black & white, and his Dad says the whole world used to be black & white...

the current problem with Day of Defeat: Source is that the quality of the scenes rendered is far beyond what was capable in the time period where the game is set.

This whole idea is a conceptual nightmare. I guess games set in periods prior to the invention of film are going to need to have mods to transcribe them into series of still paintings, pencil sketches, or woodcuts or something. Let's have a game set in prehistoric times rendered entirely in cave art!

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