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The Details of Dead Bodies in Gaming

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the have-to-put-them-somewhere dept.

Games 195

Via Stephen Totilo's Second Player blog, his most recent post at MTV concerns dead bodies in videogames. This rather morbid topic may seem like a small concern, but it's a big deal for the people making the games. From the article: "Dead bodies have been vanishing in games for decades because of technical difficulties. Old 2-D games -- like just about anything on the original Atari, Sega and Nintendo systems -- could only display a limited number of character graphics, or sprites, on a TV screen at one time. Letting a zapped enemy lie prone on the playing field caused problems, limiting the amount of new things, like new on-rushing enemies, that could be drawn onto the screen. 'You would end up sacrificing one of your precious moving objects to display an essentially useless dead body,' [game designer Ralph] Barbagallo said." With the advent of the newest generation of consoles, Totilo explains, we now have the luxury of corpses as far as the eye can see.

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The luxury of corpses as far as the eye can see... (4, Funny)

It doesn't come easy (695416) | more than 7 years ago | (#17631520)

Ah, that makes it all worthwhile...

Realism (2, Insightful)

master_kaos (1027308) | more than 7 years ago | (#17631596)

Anything that adds just a bit more realism is usually a good thing (in video games). There are cases where there can be too much realism, but this isn't one of those things. There is defiently a point where you will want to dispose the dead body - otherwise the environment can be completly littered and could possibly pose framerate issues. But either way, with the increase of horsepower these new consoles have, it will be extremely interesting to see what type of objects they place in our virtual world that used to not be possible.

Re:Realism (5, Interesting)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 7 years ago | (#17632082)

I wish corpses remained solid. It would add a whole new element to gameplay, making it a priority to get your butt through a hallway before the corpses pile up to the ceiling.

Also, in team play. Want to block off a path? Litter it with your opponents' corpses.

Re:Realism (5, Insightful)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 7 years ago | (#17632594)

That's fine -- as long as they carry through to the logical extension -- you can blow up the corpses into smaller and smaller fragments, or grab them and throw them out of the way.

I'm sick of bushes that either don't exist as immaterial, or are like a spike of some mithril adamantium substance that causes a truck to flip over.

Re:Realism (4, Interesting)

mmalove (919245) | more than 7 years ago | (#17634052)

Ahh yes, nothing like playing some flatout or carmageddon, and hitting the corner of a wooden shack or frail tree with a mac truck only to be completely wasted due to that object being "permanent". There was an MMO released last year called auto assault, which unfortunately lacked in many areas, but one thing I really liked about it was the nearly completely destructable environment. Roll up into an enemy camp guns ablaze, or roll OVER the enemy camp, through every building/structure.

If corpses are going to block projectiles, they need to be destructable. I could see this adding quite a bit of strategic element to even an FPS. I really wish that in battlefield 2 the tanks wouldn't immediately explode, because they made great infantry shields right up until they went boom, and presented a nice little mobile fortification.

If corpses don't somehow hold an interaction with the game, I see little point in their long lifespan. If I can't pile them high as a makeshift sand wall, or eat them to regen some health, sweep them along to digital heaven already.

Re:Realism (2, Insightful)

cowscows (103644) | more than 7 years ago | (#17634154)

I'm sick of bushes that act as barriers. First off, I could probably jump over that bush in real life. But even if I couldn't, my character is carrying a chainsaw that he already used to cut a half dozen dragons into pieces. You mean to tell me that that same chainsaw can't cut through a few shrubs?

Uh oh, a wooden police barricades. No way I can get past that. I guess my character isn't flexible enough to crawl under it, or strong enough to just push it over. Nevermind the rocket launcher that I'm carrying.

On second thought. (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 7 years ago | (#17632602)

On second thought, you'd want the bodies to be semisolid, where a player could sink into them. The more embedded you are in a corpse (or stack of corpses), the slower you'd move. (Or the more likely you would be to trip.)

For what it's worth... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17633132)

I wish corpses remained solid. It would add a whole new element to gameplay, making it a priority to get your butt through a hallway before the corpses pile up to the ceiling.

Tried it once in a Quake mod. Sucked balls. Perhaps it's just because Quake wasn't designed for it, or that the games interpretation of the real world (WRT Physics etc) was so off, but having loads of extra obstacles where nobody planned for them made getting around an awkward pain in the ass and added nothing but frustration.

Re:For what it's worth... (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 7 years ago | (#17633272)

Quake's models weren't designed for it. If their bounding box was significantly lower, having additional entities of MOVETYPE_SOLID wouldn't have been a problem.

(I used to mess around with QuakeC.)

Re:Realism (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 7 years ago | (#17633166)

Yet another reason I love Postal 2.

Re:Realism (4, Informative)

antime (739998) | more than 7 years ago | (#17633930)

In the old C64 game Nemesis the Warlock [] you had to pile up corpses to make platforms to reach high parts of the levels. In some levels this was the only way to reach the exit.

Re:Realism (1)

PatrickThomson (712694) | more than 7 years ago | (#17632396)

Well, the game "rogue trooper" handles this pretty well, in that bodies stay indefinitely until you harvest so-called "salvage points" from them.

Re:Realism (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 7 years ago | (#17633382)

There are cases where there can be too much realism, but this isn't one of those things.

There was a serious discussion by Red Orchestra [] game devs at one time (or least they said) about the use of keeping corpes in the game because they are aiming for the most "realitic" game ever. And RO is brutally realistic if you have never played it. (no crosshairs, realistic weapon trajectories, and realistic human attributes)

Given the fact that Stalingrad was literally covered with dead bodies that couldn't be buried because of the constant battles it was also considered for static models of dead bodies on the battle field.

But the problem was that the engine could not handle it without serious issues and there was no point in hurting game play just to have something so cosmetic.

Hopefully in the future it could be included once game engines and hardware can do so.

Re:Realism (1)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 7 years ago | (#17633792)

Anything that adds just a bit more realism is usually a good thing (in video games).

I stopped reading at this point.

Why must ALL games be realistic as possible? Does it really enhance Mario for a Goomba to stay squished on the floor?

Realism ! = Games

Games are about having fun and some times this means gore fest super realistic and other times it means a fat jolly man bouncing on Mushrooms. Realism has a time and a place, not always is it in games.

Re:Realism (1)

master_kaos (1027308) | more than 7 years ago | (#17634072)

Which is why I used the words "bit" and "usually". Obviously there are places where realism isn't a good thing, such as your Mario example.

Thief (3, Interesting)

starwed (735423) | more than 7 years ago | (#17631608)

I'm pretty sure dead/unconcious bodies were a game element in Thief; didnt' you have to hide them to avoid alerting any guards who stumbled across them? (I've never actually played Thief, but I remember my roommate dragging the bodies into closets all the time.)

Re:Thief (1)

LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) | more than 7 years ago | (#17631786)

That's true. Although in Thief there was a very limited number of enemies in any one mission (usually no more than 20 IIRC) and typically you wouldn't kill more than a couple of people so there was never an issue of the system being overwhelmed by too many bodies.

Re:Thief (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 7 years ago | (#17632626)

Kill? What kill?

Oh, wait. You were the "average people" who refused to play it on expert level, wherein you were forbidden from killing anyone (although knocking them out was functionally the same, though often harder to do as you could only do this by sneaking up on them.)

WHICH WAS THE WHOLE POINT OF THE GAME If I wanted a first person slasher, I'd go play Quake with the axe.

Re:Thief (2, Informative)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 7 years ago | (#17633548)

there was a bug in the game. if you let a guard chase you through a door, shut it and stand part way blocking the door. as soon as it starts to open the head pokes through the door and you can hit the model with your blackjack, but the line of sight test to make sure you KO with the blackjack tests from the other side of the door and so you can KO dozens of guards in a row at a door.

Re:Thief (1)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 7 years ago | (#17631822)

That reminded me of Deus Ex for the PC...

Except I was usually throwing the bodies at the guards.

One step further (2, Insightful)

plopez (54068) | more than 7 years ago | (#17631828)

By extension, wouldn't you have to mop up the blood stains as well?

Re:One step further (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 7 years ago | (#17632656)

There were no blood stains in Thief since you were forbidden from killing anyone and could only knock them out.

Unless you played it on the "Chimpanzee" difficulty levels.

Re:One step further (1)

fullmetal55 (698310) | more than 7 years ago | (#17633026)

actually there were. you had a sword. you could kill if you wanted to, it made it harder though. it was best to just knock them out, but if they attacked you, you had to fight back and that would be to the death. some missions had the "no kill" rule, but not all of them. and if you killed them you had to use a water arrow to wash up the blood and move the body or else guards would be alerted to your presence.

Re:One step further (1)

Punko (784684) | more than 7 years ago | (#17633468)

You missed the point.

Parent was referring to playing on the highest skill levels on the 1st two games, where if you killed anyone you immediately failed the level. Therefore no one dies, and no blood.

Parent made the point that playing on anything but the highest level was too easy. Some players take this further and play "ghost" where the player is not allowed even to be noticed, or cause any AI to notice anything (no torches extinguished etc.)

very tough.

Re:One step further (1)

secolactico (519805) | more than 7 years ago | (#17633496)

By extension, wouldn't you have to mop up the blood stains as well?

You had to clean them using water arrows.

Re:Thief (1)

rarel (697734) | more than 7 years ago | (#17631868)

Yes it's a plot element from the Thief series that was also implemented in Deus Ex. Great games, although the latest sequels lacked the sprit of the originals.

Re:Thief (1)

Thansal (999464) | more than 7 years ago | (#17631874)

yes, dead/unconcious bodies have been a player in stealth actions games (Thief, MGS, etc) for a little while now. However these games you rarely had a large number of badies in any one area.

In action games the bodies did have to be quickly removed so that you could make room for the new baddies. recently we have started to see bodies being left about, however I have yet to see MUCH of a point to it. Yah, it is a nice idea for realizim, however in most casses it does not add much realisim (rarely to the bodies interact with the environment), and often they are only good for removing you from the game, in the case of ragdolls where they will controt in ways no human body ever could, even if you liquified the bones. Admitedly this is also wonderfuly amusing (hey, playing with explosives and bodies is ALWAYS fun!)

So yah, they are there, but so what? I have yet to see an instance where they really added much to the game (asside from GPU cycles, and the mentioned stealth games). I can't really see any way of ussing persistand corpses as anything more then a gimick. But then again I am not a game making genious, and thus they probably will be somethign eventualy.

Thief,Splinter Cell,Painkiller. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17632456)

The Splinter Cell series also had this requirement.

"I can't really see any way of ussing persistand corpses as anything more then a gimick."

In Painkiller you could get a special gold coin if you kept a body in the air long enough.

Re:Thief (1)

PingSpike (947548) | more than 7 years ago | (#17631876)

Yes, it was one of the main dynamics of the game. If a guard that was awake discovered the body of his fallen comrade, he'd sound full alarm and the guards would stalk the whole compound looking for you. So you had to tuck the bodies away. In fact, if you killed them with a sword a suspicious blood pool would be left behind that also would cause an alarm.

If a knockout went bad and the guard managed to yell for help before you took him down you were in a tough spot. You moved slow with the body and you needed to get out of there fast before the crew showed up to check things out. I remember hiding in a closet with a body slung over my shoulder hoping the guards would give up looking for me.

Interestingly, you can kill KOed guards by tossing them down deep dropoffs or throwing their body in a pool of water where they drown.

Re:Thief (1)

silentounce (1004459) | more than 7 years ago | (#17632160)

Hasn't this been around a long time. MGS anyone?

Re:Thief (4, Informative)

Kelbear (870538) | more than 7 years ago | (#17632494)

They were also around in Hitman games, I never cared for the silent assasin, stealth, 1-kill-and-exit approach. I just killed everybody and piled up the dead in the bathroom. Good times.

Die by the sword had persistent corpses, along with dismemberment. So you could cut off a kobold's head, throw it at it's partner, then hack off the kobold's limb to beat the partner to death with it. Fun.

Re:Thief (1)

ToxikFetus (925966) | more than 7 years ago | (#17632666)

I remember my roommate dragging the bodies into closets all the time.

Did your roommate periodically clean those closets? If not, the smells emanating from your apartment would surely attract the authorities.

This will surely improve DOOM (3, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17631660)

Because an episode called "Knee-Deep in the Dead" kind of lacks impact when the dead don't lie around, let alone stack up to your kneecaps.

Re:This will surely improve DOOM (2, Informative)

My Iron Lung (834019) | more than 7 years ago | (#17631732)

There certainly were corpses in DOOM.. they just looked the same from every direction!

Re:This will surely improve DOOM (0)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17631908)

Well if they look the same from every direction they're either spherical and in an evenly lit room, or they're hallucinations... I vote for the latter :)

Re:This will surely improve DOOM (1)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 7 years ago | (#17632104)

or they are filled with mutant slugs that always point the part of the body they plan to shoot out of towards you...

Re:This will surely improve DOOM (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 7 years ago | (#17633228)

There certainly were corpses in DOOM.. they just looked the same from every direction!

Personally, I found the meaty piles of flesh and giblet production more entertaining.

Of course, I think the game was made to play with IDKFA, IDDQD, and BFG or stimpack the entire time.

Although the chainsaw did have its moments.

Re:This will surely improve DOOM (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 7 years ago | (#17633486)

Because an episode called "Knee-Deep in the Dead" kind of lacks impact when the dead don't lie around, let alone stack up to your kneecaps.

After iD released the source code to Doom, the engine got some rewrites. IIRC, Doom Legacy [] supports solid corpses. Enjoy.

UOZaphod (5, Interesting)

UOZaphod (31190) | more than 7 years ago | (#17631682)

This reminds me of one of my buddy's D&D stories. The DM would track the corpses on the map and would force players to make a skill roll (I forget which one) if they wanted to step over a body. My buddy asked if he could carry a kobold corpse around with him to lay in front of enemy combatants to force them to make a roll. The request was denied, of course.

Re:UOZaphod (4, Funny)

PFI_Optix (936301) | more than 7 years ago | (#17631922)

"The Lich lunges forward and...trips over a dead kobold."

"I pick up the dead kobold and hit the lich with it."


Re:UOZaphod (2, Interesting)

Constantine XVI (880691) | more than 7 years ago | (#17631942)

It's been 4yrs since I played, but I'd say it would be a standard Dexterity check. And if that was my table, by all means he would be allowed to drag the corpse around and put it in people's way. Of course, he would have to deal with things such as: the weight of the corpse, handling the corpse steadily and the decaying body (which would bring in disease, as well as the smell of a dead body).

Re:UOZaphod (1)

maroberts (15852) | more than 7 years ago | (#17632196)

The list of problems would go on. Increased exhaustion, causing reduced of chance to hit, increased AC in combat. Reduced DEx while carrying body, lowered ability to respond to surprise attacks..... Loss of charisma due to smelling of dead kobold all the time....

I think soon he would get the message.

Re:UOZaphod (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 7 years ago | (#17632864)

> and the decaying body (which would bring in disease, as well as the smell of a dead body

Only if they're there for more than 24 hours. And serious, vomit-inducing, disabling stink probably won't really start taking for 2 or 3 days, depending on the temp.

Re:UOZaphod (1)

gregtron (1009171) | more than 7 years ago | (#17632174)

There's a fine line between a good DM and a DM who's a soul-sucking jerk who's only DM because of severe anal retention that would prohibit normal game progression if he were a player.

In my days, my friends and I were more smartasses than hardcore players. Corpses were fair game for our antics, and I'd like to see that reflected in upcoming video games.

Re:UOZaphod (1)

silentounce (1004459) | more than 7 years ago | (#17632244)

What a lame DM. I would never have my players make trivial checks like that. I mean, who can't step over a kobold with little effort. Maybe, if it was combat, then some kind of check. But why do you have to step over them in the first place? It's not like they would mind. And how can a DM deny a request like that? "No, you're player can't do that." "Why?" "Because... because I said so!! Yeah, that's right." I hate DMs like that.

Re:UOZaphod (4, Funny)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 7 years ago | (#17632440)

In my DM opinion, if a player comes up with a novel solution, it's at least worth a roll. I had a player one time convince me that letting his character scream like a woman would surprise the enemies for long enough for the other players to each get in an attack. The idea surprised me so I allowed it. I let him roll against charisma/4 (the div 4 was for the small likelihood of such a thing really working). He hit it. I let him repeat it with exponentially diminishing odds. Eventually it wasn't worth wasting a turn over, but we still occasionally talk about the group of fire golems he stunned by screaming like a woman. The DM is there to create and/or interperet an exciting world, not lord power over everyone.

Re:UOZaphod (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 7 years ago | (#17632952)

I recall starting to DM a new group of guys at college lo 20 years ago. For some odd reason, they were afraid to do anything. Eventually I found out that their former DM (actually still a current one as they went to both) was fond of sudden death traps like 50,000 volts on a statue and crap like that. It took a little while.

We actually played "Keep on the Borderlands" on a giant laminated 1" square grid my dad, umm, borrowed from the drafting department at work, such that the entire cave area would fit on it yet we could use the little pewter figurines. Pretty awesome when lain out on the floor.

Re:UOZaphod (4, Funny)

Cervantes (612861) | more than 7 years ago | (#17633518)

One of my favourite moments came in a game of Magic a few years ago. The DM was a dick whom we shortly thereafter stopped playing with, but at the time we were giving him the benefit of the doubt... so he decides he wants to kill us all, for some unknown reason. So he sends us into this large, open field, with only a small shack and a few trash cans to hide behind, and then pops a Black Ops helicopter with mega armour and 6 turrets of chain-gun goodness up from no-where. One of our mates tries to shoot it. "Whoops, no natural 10, your bullets bounce off harmlessly. Now, let's calculate your damage taken from being shot by it." (picks up 6d10)...
Yeah, he was a real winner.
So, anyways, bullets don't work, rocks don't work, apparently the structure of the chopper is magic-resistant so melting it or turning it into a giant donut isn't an option. So, with half the party shredded, up comes my turn. Me, the mental/hand-to-hand guy.

Me: Can I see the pilot?
DM: Yeah, I suppose, through the bullet-proof canopy.
Me: I plant a suggestion in his head.
DM: Hah! He's a trained soldier, getting him to go back to base or crash into the ground is gonna take a natural 10! Pfft, go ahead, what's your suggestion?
Me: You know his control panel?
DM: Hah! He's a trained soldier, you'd need a 9 to get him to think snakes are coming out of it! Give it up!
Me: The "engine fire" light is on.
DM: ...
DM: ...
DM: ...
DM: ... crap ...

We broke up that gaming group shortly after, but I'll always remember with great relish and glee, the moment that he had to grudgingly admit that getting someone to believe some simple tiny light bulbs was on wasn't really that hard, and that the absolute, unavoidable consequence of a pilot seeing all his Engine Fire lights on would be to stop fighting and immediately land somewhere close and safe to inspect the aircraft.

I'm sure this is completely unrelated to the article, but your story just reminded me of that, and how much I enjoy finding novel solutions to problems.

DMing (1)

mparker762 (315146) | more than 7 years ago | (#17633672)

Reminds me of a funny story a friend told me (though it may not have been original). A group of them were running in a dungeon and ran into a locked room, and peeking under the door revealed that it was full of gold statues and jewels, and it was obvious that the key was going to be at the bottom of the dungeon. The DM had given them a teleport pad for running back to town for supplies and R&R, and they had left the other one back in their room in the inn. So one member teleported back to the room, then hoofed it back to the dungeon with the teleport pad. They slid one under the door and set the other one up on the wall in another room, and proceeded to toss fireballs at it while avoiding the gushing gouts of molten gold coming back at them. Waited till it cooled, then the fighters chopped it into pieces and loaded it into their packs, and everybody headed home. Halfway home they were all knocked unconscious by a passing level 18 wizard on a flying carpet who then stole their gold, because the one thing a good DM can't stand is being a Monty Hall.

The DM decided to "fix" the previous problem by enforcing PE=KE so you couldn't use the teleport pad until you were near the bottom of the dungeon so the potential energy between the two was very low. Unfortunately the next trip while crossing a lake high up in the mountains the guy carrying the teleport pad got killed and fell in. The (walled) town promptly filled up with boiling water from the lake, turning it into a very large bowl of halfling stew.

Fun stuff. Computer RPGs just don't quite compare.

Luxury of corpses as far as the eye can see? (1)

OglinTatas (710589) | more than 7 years ago | (#17631692)

Who wrote that? Idi Amin?

Idi Amin? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17632480)

Idi makes great ice cream!

Re:Luxury of corpses as far as the eye can see? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17632514)

No, I think it was either Hitler or Stalin. Maybe Hello Kitty. It's so hard to tell.

Total War. (3, Informative)

maroberts (15852) | more than 7 years ago | (#17631708)

AFAIK, the Total War sequence of games has no problem tracking dead bodies, and there may be thousands of them!

Certainly Rome:Total War leaves the dead on the battlefield, even if they are simplified. Even missiles, such as arrows are tracked into the ground and only disappear after a while.

I fail to see the problem with letting the dead pile up, they're just objects like everything else.....

Re:Total War. (1)

sesshomaru (173381) | more than 7 years ago | (#17631902)

Persistent corpses was one of the early improvements for Dawn of War. It's actually an important strategic resource for the Necrons now. (Who can use a special ability to resurrect a field of their own dead.)

It's a setting I believe you can turn on or off, though I think it's always on for Necrons.

Re:Total War. (3, Funny)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 7 years ago | (#17633006)

> Persistent corpses was one of the early improvements for Dawn of
> War. It's actually an important strategic resource for the Necrons now.

Persistent corpses are an important strategic resource for the Neocons now, too.

Hah! Beat you to it!

Re:Total War. (1)

forkazoo (138186) | more than 7 years ago | (#17632426)

AFAIK, the Total War sequence of games has no problem tracking dead bodies, and there may be thousands of them!

Certainly Rome:Total War leaves the dead on the battlefield, even if they are simplified. Even missiles, such as arrows are tracked into the ground and only disappear after a while.

I fail to see the problem with letting the dead pile up, they're just objects like everything else.....

Total War doesn't let you build any units during combat, so it always knows that if it can draw the start of the battle, it can hang onto all the corpses. The only technological problem comes when you can build during combat, like in most RTS games. If you have your barracks pumping out grunts to send to the front lines, you could get a stalemate condition with potentially unlimited corpses to keep track of. That's always rough with finite memory. So, even with the new super powered consoles, some games will have to continue to have disappearing corpses.

Hopefully, modern RTS games will have the corpses rot beautifully and be absorbed into the ground to become resource deposits, or something, rather than just disappearing. I think it would be interesting to have a strategic element to scavenging battlefields. You see it somewhat with necromancer type units, but I mean just looting the corpses for raw materials.

Re:Total War. (2)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 7 years ago | (#17633356)

Another reason Total Annihilation was ahead of its time -- the "corpses" of your giant robots were burned out hulks on the battlefield, which could then be mined for metal. They also provided blocking areas, too. And if they took enough damage, they turned into a small debris field that no longer blocked, but could still be mined, although for a much reduced amount of metal. Trees could be mined for energy, but if the forest caught on fire and burned, the burned stalks could only be mined for much less energy.

Yeah, it was sweet to be able to use elevation to your advantage for hiding or shooting farther. The lame POS that was Warcraft III allowed this, but on all the maps, I only ever found one spot where I could use the elevation to my advantage such that my tower would shoot farther than a god damned meatwagon, at least on the hardest mode.

Re:Total War. (1)

skorch (906936) | more than 7 years ago | (#17632706)

This works specifically in the Total War series because every battle already has all the units it will ever display for that battle already rendered when it starts. There is an upper limit to the number of troops you and any number of other armies can bring to a fight (notice you can only have about 20 or so full units of troops in a single army, maxing the number of soldiers you can field at any one time out at around 1500). Once they're all on the battle field, they're already costing all the system resources they're going to for that battle. So leaving the bodies piled on the field is fine (and one of my favorite details about the games), because it's not costing anything extra. I'm pretty impressed with the ammount of optimization they put in to get that many moving and fully animated objects on screen at once, but I've seen the upper limit that my own gaming rig can handle (1 army defending a city against 3 simultaneous invading mongolian horde armies, all at about 1000 soldiers each).

This doesn't work so well for other RTS's, where you can generate new units directly on the battle field. As you do that, even if there is some sort of unit-cap instituted, then eventually you're going to have some terrible framerate issues as the persistent bodies pile up each time you recruit new units to replace your fallen ones.

It's nice that this will be less and less of an issue in games though, because disappearing bodies, even if generally accepted, always seems just unusual or unrealistic for whatever reason.

Protection (1, Interesting)

plopez (54068) | more than 7 years ago | (#17631762)

Now you can stack up corpses and use them as cover while you fire. Just like in a real war! I can see Leningrad and Stalingrad scenarios where you could build barricades with frozen corpses.

Too bad we don't have smell-a-vision, the smell of burnt and decaying human flesh would lend that extra realism to the game.

Though if that's what you want, you could just volunteer for Iraq or Afghanistan.

All-in-all I find the topic rather morbid.

Re:Protection (1)

'nother poster (700681) | more than 7 years ago | (#17632386)

Isn't the idea behind video games that they be plesant and apealing? I don't know too many people that would plunk down their cash for "SlaughterFest VI (tm) with realistic putrescient odors!"

Not even the few sickos I know.

Puff of Smoke (1)

Buddy_DoQ (922706) | more than 7 years ago | (#17631772)

These technical limitations led to one of my favorite video game effects, where enemies explode and disappear in a puff of smoke after being 'dealt with' by the player. Certainly doesn't work for say, HL2/GoW style games, but effective and very cool when it does. The Windwaker is by far my favorite implementation of this, followed by Super Mario, where the baddies just fall off the screen, down into some unseen pit of doom.

Re:Puff of Smoke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17632038)

The reasons behind dead bodies disappearing are not only technical, at least in Japan.
This is actually a requirement if you want your game to be rated by the equivalent of
the ESRB here.

Re:Puff of Smoke (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 7 years ago | (#17633430)

Serious Sam II had a "flowers" option where monsters exploded with a spray of flowers instead of blood. No doubt it was activated permanently and cynically for countries such as that, to prove the point.

Doom II (1)

Godai (104143) | more than 7 years ago | (#17631792)

I could have sworn in Doom II that monster corpses didn't vanish. I have memories of some of those balls-to-the-wall firefests that ended with me low on health and frazzled looking out over a field dead brown imps.

Or am I misremembering?

Kerrect! (2, Funny)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 7 years ago | (#17631898)

try playing the level 30 of doom with monster respawn in god IDDQD mode.... in about 10-20 minutes it will crash.. too much information..

In doom 2, the bodies MOVED! (1)

Prien715 (251944) | more than 7 years ago | (#17631970)

My favorite part of doom 2 was whenever I turned around, the corpses always had their feet facing me. Moving behind my back, sneaky undead....

Re:In doom 2, the bodies MOVED! (1)

necro2607 (771790) | more than 7 years ago | (#17632920)

Yeah, the game used sprites for monsters/items as opposed to 3d models, so they only drew one "dead" state graphic for each monster.. Which led to breaking the whole "suspension of disbelief" situation when the supposedly lifeless shotgun-blast-ridden corpses around you were magically rotating to face you at all times... :)

Re:Doom II (1)

n1hilist (997601) | more than 7 years ago | (#17632162)

I remember having Doom 2 deathmatches with a mod or a command (I can't recall, this was years ago) that increased the amount of dead players.

We set this amount to 999 or something, after about 30 minutes it was too much, you could barely see the ground on some of the smaller levels!

Re:Doom II (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 7 years ago | (#17633478)

The original Quake CTF mod had an option to eject a pack of ammo, where it would spin on the ground like a regular pack you stumbled across. It was intended to be used in clan matches for players to restock the defenders guarding the base with ammo not available in or near the base. But you could eject empty bags, too, and after about 30 or so, even the best video cards back then slowed to a few FPS or worse. A quick (as much as possible given the scenario) run through them picked them all up and fixed things.

Re:Doom II (1)

n1hilist (997601) | more than 7 years ago | (#17633588)

Aww man, you're making me cry here, I miss those days.

Quake? (1)

TDyl (862130) | more than 7 years ago | (#17631856)

I think it was Quake where I'd keep killing until performance died, then used a clear garbage console command to remove the corpses. I'd like a similar command IRL but to remove jerks in the town centre.

Re:Quake? (1)

necro2607 (771790) | more than 7 years ago | (#17632980)

Hey, playing on my old 120mhz machine, performance died the moment I started a new game! ;)

Re:Quake? (1)

TDyl (862130) | more than 7 years ago | (#17633410)

Yeah - I'd forgotten that side of it, oh how memory let's us down with age. It used to take a fair while to coax a match into a decent semblance of rapidly moving frames.

HackQuake (1)

necro2607 (771790) | more than 7 years ago | (#17634094)

Yeah, even worse, Quake wasn't released for Mac until 1997 or 1998 or something.

Before its official release for Mac (after being ported by MacSoft), all we had was an illegal source port compiled by some guy[s] who supposedly stole the source code (from Crackdotcom if I recall correctly) for the game and tweaked & recompiled for Mac OS (I can't verify the accuracy of this story unfortunately, but I vividly remember discussing it with various people on Hotline [] , THE way to get warez for Mac OS in the late 90s)...

Anyway, it was unstable as hell, and the particle/light effects were REALLY laggy. I had to get modified rocket/grenade models that removed the particle effects so the game wouldn't slow to a crawl whenever someone fired a rocket.

For historical purposes, the illegal source port was generally referred to as "HackQuake" and was basically a direct port from the DOS/Win95 version, with no Mac OS specific user settings at all, other than any under-the-hood stuff that allowed the engine to run properly on Mac OS. There was no support for 3d acceleration either, of course. Either way, it was the only way for Mac users to get their Quake on. Fortunately it connected to all the Windows dedicated servers with no problem (other than some crashes of course), and I can tell you the Mac underground kicked some Windows-user ass well before we even had a commerical release of the game.

Man, I didn't mean to write such a long post but I thought some people might find it interesting. :)

Not a problem anymore (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17631890)

Disappearing bodies is not much of a problem anymore, because fewer games (especially those that emphasize realism) have infinite enemies. If a game does have infinite enemies it must have disappearing bodies or someone is going to spend ten hours killing enemies to make it crash, just because they can. More powerful hardware can certainly increase the number of bodies the game is capable of displaying, but can't ever eliminate the limits.

Let's play Doom again. (2, Interesting)

kabocox (199019) | more than 7 years ago | (#17631906)

With the advent of the newest generation of consoles, Totilo explains, we now have the luxury of corpses as far as the eye can see.

Any one remember playing the original doom and getting to that one map where it was you and a massive room full of demons? I cheated to get through it. Now we can have hills of demon corpses. O.K. They most likely mean human corpses, but that's the least interesting to me. Unless they are thinking about decomposing corpses and how long it takes which could be very interesting game play in where a massive battle field that isn't cleaned up spreads disease and what ever troops are around that battle field end up dead.

Another thought would be revisiting the same areas/maps where previous battles were fought and the dead piling up over the generations the map has been used. Think of the dead becoming just part of the background or that they you have to bury them or burn them to prevent disease and end up making a new map if played several times.

Re:Let's play Doom again. (1)

Chabil Ha' (875116) | more than 7 years ago | (#17632338)

What and have it *really* be "Knee Deep In the Dead [] "?

realism (1)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 7 years ago | (#17631966)

I'm waiting for the simulated typhus and bulbonic plague epidemics now.

Commander Keen.. (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#17631998)

Tom Hall, Commander Keen's designer, made it a priority that kids see the consequences of their actions. Killing those evil little robots left their corpses rusting on the platform.

...corpses as far as the eye can see... (2, Interesting)

iggy_mon (737886) | more than 7 years ago | (#17632054)

but will they render 400,000 dead? []

Estimated number of deaths in the conflict have ranged from 50,000 (World Health Organization, September 2004) to 450,000 (Dr. Eric Reeves, 28 April 2006). Most NGOs use 400,000, a figure from the Coalition for International Justice that has since been cited by the United Nations.

i'd rather they didn't lay around. it's nice to see the payoff for good play but this is supposed to be a game not an experiment in psychology (i'm guessing here, maybe it is :-)

dont worry dude, (1)

JeanBaptiste (537955) | more than 7 years ago | (#17632402)

in the game of 'Real Life' the corpses only stay around for a limited time, just as in the article discussed. It can take a while, depending on the climate, and on other player characters, but corpses are generally removed one way or another.

Not really a recent thing (2)

Jerf (17166) | more than 7 years ago | (#17632142)

We've had this capability for a while. And I don't even mean "I've seen it in other games"... I really mean that we could have been doing this for a while.

The problem is that even as consoles improve by a factor of 10, game designers/programmers/whoever decides the features try to improve the graphics by a factor of 11. Witness the PS3 games that have framerate troubles... forget console fanboyism, forget everything like that, that is nothing more and nothing less than bad judgment by the game developer and biting off more than they could chew.

Forget about the extra power to display corpses... despite our gaming rigs having more power than I would ever have dreamed of in my childhood, we still have games that can't keep up 30fps. I'd rather see more attention payed to that than corpse retention.

Yeah That's Always Bugged Me... (2, Insightful)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 7 years ago | (#17632316)

In a lot of games where the corpse IS left around none of your enemies ever seem to take note of it. Oblivion made a halfhearted attempt to for town guards but it didn't seem like any of the monsters in the game would ever notice their tribe/packmate lying there in a pool of his own blood. Likewise in WoW a patrolling mob will walk right over the corpse of one his (presumably) friends without even blinking.

I'm all for stacking the dead up chest high in the game but if you're going to do it then you should also make the in-game characters react with horror or whatever's in-character for them.

Re:Yeah That's Always Bugged Me... (1)

Jim Hall (2985) | more than 7 years ago | (#17632846)

In 'Thief' and 'Thief 2', if you left a body on the floor and a guard found it, they'd react by coming to look for you. And they'd look hard - not like when they heard you make a noise, and they'd give up after a minute or so, thinking they'd heard a mousefart or something. No, if they saw a body, the jig was pretty much up.

Re:Yeah That's Always Bugged Me... (1)

bcmm (768152) | more than 7 years ago | (#17633160)

I always thought that was a major issue for the stealth-based parts of Deus Ex. Guards would simply ignore them and go about their patrols, whereas if they saw the player they would sound the alarm. It also irritated me that one could throw unconscious people into water, and they would remain unconscious rather than dead.

The best handling of NPC reaction to dead bodies has got to be the Hitman series. They stop dead as if shocked, then run and hide, shout to alert guards, or start glancing around nervously with a gun drawn, depending on character. Altogether the actions of players are done very convincingly (occasional glitches, such as stopping and staring at Mr 47, aside), giving an impressions that they are genuinely a bit panicked by the situation rather than just coldly trying to escape or find the perpetrator.

Re:Yeah That's Always Bugged Me... (2, Interesting)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 7 years ago | (#17633644)

Worse than that, you can attack a group of three monsters on patrol (e.g. the goody goody centaurs near the tauren lands), quick-slaughter one and run away before the remaining 2 can kill you. Run far enough and they give up and return to what they were doing, and where, which means they march back to where they were on their patrol point and continue.

So you see the idiotic spectacle of supposedly intelligent and goody two-shoes creatures reassembling on top of the corpse of their now dead companion, and ignoring him and continuing on with their patrol. Not aborting the patrol and returning to base because 1. they're under attack and 2. they need to report, which is the entire point of the patrol given they don't have walkie talkies.

Stupid. But CoH is no better with you attacking bad guys in bases while their buddies stand 30 feet away and do nothing, even though they clearly see and hear the fight.

Why are there no "hard" online games? Yeah, I know the market for competent people is mighty small compared to that of bumbling buffoons, but some of use want an MMORPG equivalent to Serious Sam on Serious mode.

corpses as game elements (1)

ivar (31153) | more than 7 years ago | (#17632650)

It's been done before - the old school game Centipede [] used corpses as key game elements. So much so in fact, that a large part of the game was corpse management.

Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance (1)

sottitron (923868) | more than 7 years ago | (#17632804)

The first game I noticed this in was BG DA. I remember being impressed at the time... Even when you save the game, and return, your enemies lie slain where you left them.

I'm waiting for a game where you... (1)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 7 years ago | (#17632872)

...survive at sea by making a raft of bloated bodies like in Rome [] or Watchmen [] .

Good thing there're no graphics in Slash'EM (1)

Bambi Dee (611786) | more than 7 years ago | (#17633126)

When you can carry, wield, throw, sacrifice, eat, partly eat and refrigerate corpses, when you can turn them to statues or feed them to your pets or put them in tin cans and lob those at your enemies as well, and when it matters whether or not you're wearing gloves, and when rotting corpses can give you food poisoning or turn you to slime (among more beneficial effects), and when mold and fungi grow on them and you can observe vampires drink their blood...

...then the present will finally catch up with roguelikes in one area.

PS: Yes, I know there's Vulture's [] , and all those tile modes. But really, how can you tell what anything is that way? :}

Tantive IV (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17633148)

Leia's ship in SW: Battlefront 2 is where I most wish bodies came into play.

This wasn't what I had in mind with ragdolls (4, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 7 years ago | (#17633312)

I'm responsible for some of this. Here's the first ragdoll falling downstairs [] , from 1997. Yes, that's how that cliche started. I'd written the first ragdoll system that really worked right, so it was time to make demos. The first try had six-legged bugs dropping through a funnel, which is tough technically but not very interesting. Then there was the big mecha toss [] , to show that we did heavy objects right. (Most game physics systems still get that wrong. The physically animated objects all move like they're very light. We call this the "boink problem". There's a cube/square law in contact handling that's not captured by the impulse/constraint systems.) So I was looking for a hard case that exercised the system and was way beyond what anybody else could do back then. The fall down a circular staircase was it. It's a tough multiple-collisions problem with friction against multiple surfaces, and contact computed against the polygonal geometry, not some oversimplified model. Every step and every stair railing is an individual object; the feet can slip through the space between the railings.

After we did that, everybody did ragdolls falling downstairs. It got to be a cliche, like caustics on shiny logos. One vendor in the early 2000s had a waterfall of bodies falling downstairs as a GDC demo.

Our original plan was that this was a step to physically-based character animation, where the chararacters really balanced and moved because their feet had friction with the ground. My eventual goal was real martial arts moves, where the throws really were throws. But the industry went off in a different direction - motion capture with interpolation. This provides a reasonably good look without having to solve all the control problems of robotics. The companies trying to solve the hard problem went bust, even after some systems that worked, so that didn't seem to be a direction worth pursuing.

So what did we get from game physics engines? Dead bodies. As CPUs got faster and the algorithms improved, lots of dead bodies. Then, "infinitely destructible environments". Disappointing.

The good ol' days... (1)

lpangelrob (714473) | more than 7 years ago | (#17633668)

Why, when I played videogames, all the enemies I killed either got smashed flat and disappeared, or flipped upside down and fell off the bottom of the screen. Young whippersnappers making things complicated...

It really does change the feel... (2, Interesting)

localman (111171) | more than 7 years ago | (#17633778)

I remember a couple of hacks in Unreal Tournament that allowed you to keep bodies (and body parts) around as long as you wanted, as well as to keep blood stains, bullet holes, and powder burns on the walls and objects as long as you liked. Friends and I would crank them all the way up and play a small-room deathmatch. It actually made me queasy at points. By the end of the round the place looked like a slaughterhouse in hell. It was pretty damn disturbing.

And, uh, I loved it :)

There was still a technical limitation though, if you set it to keep them permanently and played a long round, your performance would degrade considerably over time.


Dead bodies in WoW (1)

Shadowruni (929010) | more than 7 years ago | (#17633808)

All I can say is that watching the dead in Stormwind and Ironforge last weekend as Krull rained hell and bodies was by FAR the most hard-core thing I've seen in a long time....

Even the old Castle Wolfenstein kept the corpses (1)

MillenneumMan (932804) | more than 7 years ago | (#17634122)

I can remember being unable to move out of a corner after a particularly busy gunfight because the bodies were piled so high around me.

Resource usage of dead bodies. (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 7 years ago | (#17634214)

Having the bodies last forever would easily use memory and other system resources.

Nemesis the Warlock anyone? (1)

RaymondInFinland (103909) | more than 7 years ago | (#17634306)

Nemesis the Warlock (at least the Commodore 64 version) left the dead bodies of slain enemies on the screen until you completed the level. They were even integrated into the gameplay because some levels had you make a bridge out of bodies to reach the other side of some platforms...

Nemesis the Warlock (1)

necronom426 (755113) | more than 7 years ago | (#17634332)

Nemesis the Warlock on the C64 used to leave all the dead bodies on the screen. You could stand on them all and "build" piles to avoid the attacking baddies.
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