on Apr 29, 2011
Here we are, about four hours into the game and we’ve hit Mr. House already. I know we give Josh a lot of crap for doing all of the rummage sale stuff, but we’re actually moving through this game at a good pace.
Just think, if we had done the Manny Vargas quest and gone to REPCON, we would STILL BE THERE.
Thinking more about the way the strip is set up, I’m not sure why they decided to wall it off like that. Freeside is much larger than either half of the strip, and I suspect you could fit the whole strip into memory with some careful planning.
The problem is that in situations like this, you’re up against a lot of different budgets:
- Maximum amount of animated characters you can handle at once, because it will clog the CPU.
- Maximum amount of texture* data, over which the graphics card will be full and then everything slows to a standstill.
- Maximum amount of general 3d stuff and scenery you can have on hand before collision detection and physics start to bog down.
- Maximum amount of stuff you want to try to pull off a DVD (remember the game might be played on a console) at once without the load times becoming torturous.
- Maximum amount of stuff you want in-view, because rendering more will cause tangible and abrupt framerate drops.
I can’t say for sure that Obsidian was well and truly up against one or more of those limits when they made the strip, but in comparing the strip to the rest of the game, and comparing this game to what other Xbox 360 titles have accomplished, it does seem like it should have been do-able. Personally, I would have been glad to give up a bit of texture resolution or a couple of nameless NPC’s if we could have been rid of that damned wall cutting the strip in half.
* Bethesda was always bad about texture sizes. 256×256 it a very small texture by today’s standards. 4096×4096 is gigantic, and should only be used for large objects where the player will be able to get very close. (A texture that size will eat 64 megabytes of graphics memory, all by itself.) Texture sizes go in powers of 2: 256, 512, 1024, 2048, 4096, 8192, etc. In Oblivion, there were all sorts of cases where a large texture (I forget what “large” was back then) would be used on a small clutter object or on some bit of scenery that was normally only viewed at a distance. I don’t know if Obsidian continued this trend.
Shamus Young is an old-school OpenGL programmer, author, and composer. He runs this site and if anything is broken you should probably blame him.