Red Dead Rock Star Crunch Redemption

RND/ consider a red dead rock star crunch redemption [1]

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Red Dead Rock Star Crunch Redemption

– In which discussions of Red Dead Redemption from merely techical standpoints sound like sheer machine-like insanity – a pair of shrunken horse testicles squeezed by the ever grasping hands of the aaa games industry:

“The year is 1899 the turn of the century the natural world is slowly being consumed by the more industrial the streets are caked and sued but the countryside well it’s beautiful its vast and it’s a technical feat it’s also the first world Rockstar Games has built from the ground up for current generation platforms Red Dead Redemption 2 offers that unique vision of open-world design you expect from Rockstar it’s a fascinating production which demonstrates what’s possible given such a lengthy development cycle huge amounts of money and a super talented team it’s a game that feels decidedly different from other open world titles released this generation almost as if it were built in isolation the team is focused on visual flourishes the type that you might not expect to see in such a large game the question is then how has rockstars game engine evolved since grand theft auto 5 what visual features have impressed us the most and how did Rockstar tackle the challenges faced in building this type of environment on this first part of our analysis on Red Dead Redemption 2 we hope to answer these questions and more we’re examining all the features on display in Red Dead 2 here in part 1 while part 2 will highlight the differences between different console releases so join me on this journey through rockstars most visually ambitious and technically impressive game to date this is Red Dead Redemption 2 [Music] [Music] Rockstar Games as we know today built its reputation on creating vast open worlds at a time when only a handful of developers had even attempted such a feat under the name DMA design this talented crew built Grand Theft Auto 3 using Criterion’s renderware technology the team had managed to solve the data streaming problem necessary to deliver a seamless environment and it was a huge success which helped define the PST generation but when it came time for the next generation of consoles a new set of tools and technology was devised it was known as the Rockstar advanced game engine for more than a decade now rage has powered nearly all of rockstars big releases and has continued to evolve ever since yet we haven’t received a brand new game based on this engine since grand theft auto 5 a game originally designed for previous generation consoles thus we were eager to see what the team could accomplish with the additional horsepower of current generation machines there are of course familiar elements here but Rockstar has taken this opportunity to push its technical and presentation skills to a new level before we dive in we should note that all footage featured in this video has been captured on Xbox one X and we selected this version for good reason you see prior to release reports suggested that this version would operate at a native 4k we were skeptical but in the end these reports are accurate Red Dead – operates at a full native 4k resolution on Xbox 1x making this one of the most visually ambitious games to do so but resolution is only one aspect of image quality in the pursuit of improving image quality Rockstar has implemented several key visual features in this latest version of rage for starters a proper temporal anti-aliasing been included here with the long draw distance and a lot of gritty detail on display this is a must when it comes to reducing shimmering the taa solution here is somewhat aggressive and it does result in a softer overall image but the results are more cohesive with everything from open fields of grass to find texture detail and beards blending nicely into each and every scene if you pause one frame after a cut however were provided a better idea of how the raw image would fare without temporal anti-aliasing now technically speaking gta5 on the PC did include Nvidia’s TxAA feature which has a temporal component but this was not available on consoles and in fact many PC users were not able to use it at all rockstars new solution then is an effective replacement available for each and every platform Red Dead 2 also introduces per object motion blur for perhaps the first time in Rockstar Games history it’s a subtle effect here but one that increases the sense of fluidity lacking in other open world games such as Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and The Witcher 3 but this is just the lens through which the game is viewed and that world is the game’s defining visual feature in building any open-world game a development team will inevitably face many challenges when it comes to creating something that is both visually attractive yet highly playable from our perspective the best open worlds offer a mix between a large sense of scale with vast swaths of terrain stretching out into the distance combined with a high volume of granular detail a rich simulation and realistically rendered characters so how does Rockstar tackle these problems then let’s start by examining the world and its rendering features a world such as this is composed of many pieces open terrain dense forests pack cities tall mountains and vast skies and it’s with this last one that I’d like to begin the men’s skies play a huge role in building the atmosphere and defining the landscapes in Red Dead Redemption too in recent times developers have made advances in sky rendering moving away from flat billboards and textures into more volumetric solutions and that’s exactly what we’re looking at here volumetric cloud rendering designed to simulate variable cloud patterns with realistic lighting the sky system in Red Dead supports a full time of day change plus variable weather and cloud types sunlight realistically penetrates and scatters through the soft cloud bodies when it rains or snows light penetration is suitably reduced simulating darker thicker clouds that occur alongside inclement weather in the right conditions even rainbows can manifest across the sky with little information available on how this system has been implemented however we can only hypothesize how it was achieved based on our observations we’d say we’re looking at a solution similar to horizon zero dawn which basically involves ray marching through variable 2d and 3d noise textures guerilla games keeps the rendering cost low by updating clouds every 16 frames and reconstructing from this data and I believe a similar method is employed here in Red Dead 2 despite this the team has managed to implement a wide range of cloud types at variable speed clouds crawl smoothly across the sky with minimal visible artifacts there’s a huge variation to possible cloud formations as well lending the game a greater sense of variety across its vast skies what I like most about rockstars implementation however is how incoming storms are handled the sky gradually darkens as the wind simulation becomes stronger all while the surface below exhibits an eerie glow it’s a remarkably evocative implementation so how does it compare with rockstars previous works well GTA 5 is an interesting one the clouds are derived from a purlin noise pattern mapped over a large dome encircling the game world this enables a wide variation in cloud patterns but it lacks the three dimensionality you get with the volumetric system in red dead to the clouds simply move along the surface of the dome so it’s fair to say then that sky rendering is a success but it’s just the beginning light pouring from the sky above naturally will cast shadows and these are of a quality rarely seen in console open world games cascaded shadow maps appear to be utilized as they were in GTA v but Rockstar has developed a clever new solution to simulate contact hardening what does this mean you asked well basically shadows near the object casting them will appear sharper gradually becoming more diffuse at greater distances check this out Arthur’s shadow is well defined here right sharper towards his feet with a slight blur as it trails off the shadow of the leaves from the nearby tree however are far more diffuse the distance from leaf to ground is much greater than Arthur’s head to ground thus the leaf shadows lose definition even more surprising shadow definition varies based on cloud cover it’s basically a matter of drawing direct or indirect shadows when in direct sunlight the shadow penumbra is well defined while an overcast day produces more diffuse shadows instead a nice touch this also kind of suggests that the two types of shadows are rendered concurrently perhaps the game can combine the two to enable the appearance of contact hardened shadows and more diffuse shadows with an indirect lighting either way shadow maps are always sampled with a dither pattern designed to smooth out edges while distant a few shadows often make use of a bokeh like pattern to simulate light dispersal [Music] at sundown individual light sources such as torches gas lights and bonfires can even produce appropriate real-time shadows stretching softly into the distance all of this is to say that the team has clearly paid close attention to how shadows behave in this type of environment and have found creative methods for simulating this behavior it’s an attention to detail we’ve rarely seen in console games let alone one with an open world of this complexity this is then enhanced by a robust set of atmospheric effects which play a huge role in defining the visual identity of Red Dead – this includes local fog volumes volumetric light shafts plus water reflection and refraction during the day fog volumes are used to greatly boost atmosphere with light seemingly scattering throughout the air in a realistic manner the placement and intensity can vary based on weather conditions and location on the map but the effect is highly convincing them unless there’s a real sense of thickness to the air when appropriate at night it becomes even more apparent with smaller local fog volumes used to create a rather hazy atmosphere surrounding dynamic lights if we had to guess rock stars using camera frustum aligned 3d textures a technique dice described in detail during a 2015 presentation titled physically based and unified volumetric rendering the idea is that artists can use this feature to place individual Fraxel volumes where needed want a place of volumetric effect around a dynamic light at night you can do it or perhaps a larger volume across a misty field at the crack of dawn it’s possible there are so many potential use cases here and the art team has put it to full use the way sunlight can interact with these volumes and produce beautiful crepuscular rays also impresses especially at dusk or dawn when sunlight slices across the scenery in dramatic fashion [Music] what’s interesting here is that both effects are simulated to some degree in Grand Theft Auto 5 but in a more limited fashion there is a sort of height fog volume use in the game visible across open landscapes but it lacks the precision and flexibility of the Red Dead solution it would seem crepuscular rays are also featured but limited to screen space in most cases or rendered using textures water plays a role in defining the world as well and there’s a variety of techniques in play here used to pull it off firstly water reflections are handled using a mix of screen space reflections and a lower resolution reflection texture generated from select bits of scenery the world features a mix of rivers and larger bodies with variable roughness thus reflections exhibit variable definition the overall effect works well but the SSR elements exhibit the typical artifacts along the edge of the screen a limitation of the technique a refraction map is also generated and this is responsible for water caustics and the color of water below the surface the weather effects are also handled nicely in the game raindrops appear to be lit in screen space similar to Batman Arkham Knight while materials appear suitably wet after it’s been raining for a little while puddles form in time with water droplets appearing across the surface during the rainstorm while mud becomes more prevalent and thick all these atmospheric style effects are designed to work with the game’s time of day system which features a full day to night cycle as for other rockstar titles this requires roughly 36 to 40 minutes or so to complete a full rotation which should give you an idea of the time required to create a proper time-lapse video the variable cloud system weather patterns and dynamic time of day systems all work in tandem to create a dynamic believable world to explore then there’s the building blocks used to create the environment itself Rockstar is known for creating large memorable worlds and Red Dead 2 is no exception with the additional memory included in modern consoles Rockstar can increase the amount of model and texture variety beyond previous games after all even the current gen version of GTA 5 is still derived from a PlayStation 3 slash 360 era title one of the most important elements to get right with a game like this is the sense of scale Red Dead 2 features many wide-open fields which stretch far off into the distance for this to work in a convincing manner however lot management is critical the original Red Dead manages to make this work by centering on a dusty dry valley with a limited amount of foliage Red Dead 2 however takes place in a far more fertile region which increases the challenge inherent and defeating object pappan at its core the game appears to work similarly to previous rage titles basically it’s all about managing the transition between distant and near field details this has done using lower polygon meshes for his distant areas of the world while loading higher detail assets as the player approaches thanks to the additional memory available this time however distant objects do exhibit significantly more detail than what we saw in Grand Theft Auto 5 that said if you look carefully into the distance you can see the point where the game transitions between these various levels but it does appear that the artists have poured a lot of time and effort into building something that appears nearly seamless during traversal everything of course relies on streaming streaming and memory management is always tricky in an open-world game and Rockstar has managed to minimize or eliminate performance spikes typically associated with these operations there’s little to no hitching during high-speed traversal and never a sense that the game is struggling to draw the world around you again GTA 5 utilizes some of these techniques but as it takes place in and around in urban environment the challenges are perhaps greater thus even on the PC pappan appears more evident though to be fair there are no helicopters in Red Dead 2 so the game never needs to worry about those aerial views the design of the environment itself is also fascinating Rockstar has built the world with a lot of visible landmarks designed to ease navigation trying to find your initial campsite well just look for the forested area next to these massive rocky spires in the center of the map you can also follow train tracks around to various towns or simply walk along the coastline the design of the vistas is very deliberate and after a couple of hours I found that I could navigate the world smoothly without relying on the map at all even better if you do get lost you can toggle the mini-map at any time by holding down on the d-pad and pressing the associated face button this is a fantastic addition which eliminates the need to bring up an options menu when you want to adjust your HUD settings you can also just tap down once to see the map briefly I found myself playing most of the game with the mini-map disabled but in those instances when I needed a little bit of assistance in figuring out where to go it’s nice that you can bring it up very easily now it’s easy to hand wave all this away but it’s clear that a lot of time and effort has been poured into very carefully thinking about world design and the user interface that allows you to navigate it it’s very important for immersion and traversal a strong open world should feel open yet easy to learn and read dead 2 does manage to succeed in this area of course these open vistas are just one element of world building near-field detail is equally important if not more so Red Dead 2 marks rockstars first full furay into physically based rendering which has become increasingly popular this generation PBR of course seeks to more accurately simulate the interaction of light across material surfaces taking things such as surface roughness into account as Red Dead takes place in the late 1800s however modern shiny materials are relatively uncommon thus the shift of PBR enables a subtle realism that greatly enhances the presentation the game is packed with natural materials which is especially evident when exploring areas such as sound Annie this booming port town is rich in stone wood and metal and the juxtaposition of these materials leads to suitably realistic results the potent combination of realistic PBR materials with a high quality pre-calculated global illumination solution and fog volumes helps build a very Kohi of overall image and while bright sunny days are certainly beautiful to behold it’s these darker scenes that are often more striking the indirect lighting is simply beautiful and the team manages to simulate the appearance of natural light bouncing across each scene this is perhaps the greatest improvement over gta5 its origins as a ps3 / 360 title are evident in its materials which are not physically correct nor is the lighting itself as robust there is also a lot of geometrically dense structures filling the environment especially here in town building facades exhibit an impressive amount of detail with high resolution textures rounded arches and carefully carved edges this is complemented by a copious volume of self shadowed parallax occlusion maps Red Dead uses this technique for a wide variety of surfaces including stonework patches of mud and dirt brick walls used in building construction and even roof shingles which is something you may not even see one of the best examples of this approach in action are these train tracks the gravel around the train tracks uses palm of course but so do the wooden planks on which the track rails are affixed so rather than rendering a bunch of extra geometry here it’s just a texture which helps save on rendering resources outside the city environments foliage is used in large volumes trees bushes and grass are placed liberally across the landscape the core assets themselves are of a very high resolution and there appears to be a large number of bespoke assets which solves a potential issue with repeating patterns and large fields or forests ambient shattering is realistic and subtle across plant life light penetrates leaves and grass realistically and the density of everything feels just right move into a dense forest then and there’s a wide variety of tree assets placed throughout which combined with local fog volumes really helps boost the game’s atmosphere plants and branches also feature Bend points which collide with character models giving the impression of foliage reacting to the player as you stroll through it in addition a deformation system is featured in the game and applied to snow and mud the resulting trails persist a great distance from the player making it possible to double back in your progress if you desire look closely and you’ll even spot puddles forming within trails as well the snow makes for an interesting gta5 comparison since both games begin with a snowy sequence the introduction of deformation and a new material system greatly increases the realism inherent in Red Dead 2 when compared to GTA 5 it simply appears more natural and less static other objects can break as well ride through the cemetery on your horse for instance and his weight can break through some of the smaller gravestones another detail that stands out light penetrating through cloth notice how the sun is shining through this tent here you can see shadows from the other side as well as illumination and the same type of cloth it glows at nighttime as well with a fire placed on the other side of it for how about this scene the top of the hat casts a shadow which can be seen through the illuminated brim and what we’re talking about the Hat perhaps it’s time to discuss character detail in general Red Dead 2 is a story driven game and includes plenty of cutscenes showcasing characters and close-ups texture detail is relatively high throughout hair and beards are nicely modeled and in fact they grow over time requiring your character to shave unless of course you’d prefer a huge beard and then we have things like subsurface scattering which is applied to skin in both cutscenes and during gameplay this allows sunlight to penetrate the skin surface realistically the clothing itself is of course rather detailed and varied with realistic textures for leather fur and cloth beyond that a lot of work has been poured into animation and physics simulation as you stroll around on foot your tools and clothing bounced around realistically with each step animated normal maps are used to simulate cloth folding and twisting as you walk and the same technique is applied to your horse as well you can see your horses muscles contort realistically while galloping across the landscape and if you stop and examine the horse you can even see him breathe as his chest fills up with air from each breath inverse kinematics are applied to character movement as well allowing them to properly connect with the ground regardless of incline notice how Arthur sort of shifts his weight as he walks up the hill and then shifts it differently when walking back down and if you fall from a rather high point like this your character even roles realistically down the hill another great looking moment in terms of animation so this guy here is attacking the preacher right so I walk up to engage him and I pull my gun as he starts walking towards me though I fumble with my gun and I miss notice the way he sort of jerks his head when I fire off a shot and then immediately runs in to grab me throw my gun to the ground and start a fistfight it’s all just so fluid and smooth something you’ll see a lot throughout this game now of course if I had been a better aim you might have this happen instead I took him down straightaway and avoided the whole thing but of course someone else saw me and they started to run away to tell the police basically and then you need to chase him down and either take him out or let him go with the stern warning this is barely what you would consider a mission it’s a small little side thing that happens in the game but it’s the fluidity of the animation and just the way everything that plays out that really stuck out to me that’s not to say it’s perfect in instances like this when you’re sort of locked into an objective if you wonder a little bit too far outside of the defined mission zone you get this I think a warning would have worked better than a simple Auto fail but still moving back to the discussion everything is just superb Lee animated in general basically with genuine weight behind each and every step and punch and writing across the world on horseback looks genuinely realistic greatly exceeding the sometimes awkward animation in games like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey specifically on animals it kinda reminds me somewhat of Shadow of the Colossus in fact which despite its age is high praise then of course this is the first-person point of view this feature was first implemented in Grand Theft Auto 5 when ported over two current generation platforms and it’s a great addition here essentially first-person mode plays somewhat differently with a higher walking speed in adjustable FOV and lots of nicely crafted first-person animations it’s a surprisingly immersive way to play the game thanks to its gentle camera Bob and can be enabled at any time by cycling through the different camera options you can even engage a cinematic camera by holding the back or touch pad buttons briefly this here’s an ultra-wide presentation with dynamic cameras which shift around so at this point I think the video has gone on for quite some time so let’s recap a little red did two offers one of the most detailed worlds we’ve seen yet on consoles with a higher than expected resolution on Xbox one X but of course we play a lot of games here on DF and more and more developers at reaching remarkable heights in terms of visual quality there have been some truly spectacular looking games released just this year alone yet there’s a level of immersion in cohesion here in Red Dead 2 that really took me by surprise Rockstar has always excelled in building a beautiful world I mean it’s fair to say that the original Red Dead still holds up in this regard but the sequel really does push things forward for games as a whole it’s a beautiful game it should be evident by this point that Red Dead 2 is a significant step up over rockstars previous game GTA 5 and it should be since it was built from the ground up for the current generation of machines but still the early trailers didn’t completely sell viewers on just how much of an improvement it really would be rockstars engine is in a great place now and we’re curious to see what comes next but in the here now Red Dead Redemption 2 showcases rage at its best from it’s amazing depiction of a massive world it’s great new material system and it’s smooth animations it’s all very impressive and that’s not even going into things like the memorable dynamic musical score which was created just for the game and fades in and out seamlessly based on the action or the excellent use of surround sound audio and support for HDR which by the way features a limited HDR configuration screen that does fall a little short of some other recent games though the end results are still visually pleasing so it looks awesome but thus far we’ve only focused on the visual feature set you’re probably wondering well how does it actually run and what does it play like on other consoles well fear not dear viewer part 2 of our look at Red Dead Redemption 2 is also available on our Channel right now and this one focuses in on the multi-platform experience Richard and I discussed these details at great length so be sure to check it out if you haven’t already as for this video though I hope you enjoyed this exploration of red dead twos presentation and if you did enjoy it be sure to give us a like subscribe ring the notification bell up there and of course follow us over on Twitter and we’ll see you in part 2 where we’ll also entirely and deliberately avoid mentioning the importance of worker organization in the inherently exploitative games industry”

Reference Link

  1. Dan Houser Interview

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