Deus Ex Human Revolution EP30:LAN Party

By Shamus
on Mar 2, 2012
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning


Link (YouTube)

My first time through the game, I didn’t bother talking to Taggert. I just snuck into his room, zapped his guards, and swiped the info off of his computer. The second time, I confronted him. I was so shocked when I saw the “crowd”. Let’s have a look at Taggert’s audience here:

dehr_audience_small.jpg

Eleven people. Taggert’s personal guard is probably double that. I realize that console can’t handle an auditorium of people. (Heck, it would take a good bit of work to get looking right with a decent framerate on the PC.) But this is just sad. I’m sure there was a better way to do this.

What I would have done:

I’ve filled a fake auditorium with models before. It’s an interesting challenge. The first task is to make a single model that’s just a row of theater-style seat backs. No seats. There can be a single armrest at the end of the row, but no other armrests. People are so used to seeing theater seats that they will simply assume those details are present. It might sound really crappy, but I’ve done it, and it’s amazing how much detail the eye will fill in.

Make a a few low-poly models of a people in the sitting position. Again, they don’t need to be sitting on anything. Leave off their feet, and reduce everything below waist level to the most primitive geometry. The faces can be comparable to the complexity of the 2001 Deus Ex models: A wedge nose on a mostly smooth face. Make a few texture variants of the male and female versions. These will not be animated. At this level of simplicity, the models shouldn’t cause any more of a performance hit than the dumpsters, cars, or trash cans that litter the streets. Scatter these people so that most of them are sitting near the edges, and the empty seats are far from the aisle.

Now, make the aisle seats into real seats with real moving models sitting in them. Adjust the lights so that the cheap models are mostly in darkness. Add an impassible wall to keep Jensen from attempting to enter the rows.

This should make a very plausible crowd. If done right, you can have a room that gives the impression of a large crowd but really isn’t more than fifty low-detail mannequins and a dozen true animated characters. I’m pretty confident this engine can handle a load like that without any stuttering. (Some of the outdoor vistas are more polygon-heavy, and have a greater texture diversity, by my reckoning.)

Yes, this means that if Jensen starts shooting, most of the crowd won’t react. I think I’d rather have the crowd look plausible for everyone than make it more interactive for the nutter who wants to machine gun an entire theater. This game is already pretty bad about giving feedback for that sort of thing, and I’d rather have it look right than have the leader of Humanity Front give a lecture to 11 people having a LAN party.

Of course, my way is more work, and I think a lot of the low-poly “smoke & mirrors” tricks have been lost over the last few years.

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202020205There are now 85 comments. Almost a hundred!

From the Archives:

  1. Wandring says:

    There is a simple explanation for the lack of an audience… In the future nobody can be bothered to get off their butts and go listen to speakers. The most political engagement they get is when yell at their T.V.s and computer monitors from the comfort of their homes.

    Wait that’s not the future… People do that now! :O

    It makes me mad enough to go nowhere and yell at the internet! :P

    • Alex the Too Old says:

      That reminds me of a fake commercial from this episode of SNL (sorry, can’t provide a clip, every tiny little morsel of SNL has been purged from the non-paywalled Internet) for a device that you could send to a funeral instead of yourself, that could be placed in a seat where it would wail the name of the deceased as if you were there crying for them.

      Instead of studio audiences at TV shows, you could have an arrangement like the Think Tanks in the “Old World Blues” DLC of Fallout New Vegas where you just set up a bunch of videoconference connections. Kind of like Viddler, but with the same expectations as a studio audience – you have to pay to get in, and if you just troll or attention-whore rather than being a good audience member, you get kicked and somebody else who paid a reduced price for a “standby” ticket takes your place. Needs work, but I think it has potential.

      Such an arrangement would certainly make more sense than Taggert’s tiny studio audience, both thematically and technologically.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      While its true that many people today would rather watch it at home,press conferences can still have a ton of reporters there.

  2. Pete says:

    Usually Id wait before I watch the whole video but I feel this is important to point out: that riot-making sniper package in the vent shaft is there from the beginning of the game. Its in fact a cancelled set-up for the protest that was apparently happening in front of the LIMB clinic before Zeke and co. raided the Sarif manufacturing plant and stole the spotlight.

  3. Eärlindor says:

    I actually wandered around the building for a while trying to avoid Taggart’s henchman before I realized I could just walk into the conference room. I felt… rather silly.

    EDIT: Concerning the the auditorium — your idea is good, but I was thinking about the size of the room would have to be. I mean, this is an actual building in the level’s environment with hallways, vents, streets outside, etc. Wouldn’t making the auditorium larger greatly impact the the building’s (and by extension city hub’s) level design as a whole?

    I have no experience in this field at all, so I don’t know. I’m genuinely curious.

    • Shamus says:

      This game is made with the Unreal Engine, so each zone (loading screen area) is geometrically separate. You could have the inside of the convention center wrap around and occupy the space where the LIMB clinic would be and it wouldn’t hurt anything. (Except the sense of immersion of people with a good sense of direction.)

    • guy says:

      I am pretty sure the setup they’ve got would support things that were larger on the inside. All the building interiors appear to have loading done when you enter, even ones without an explicit loading screen.

      Ninjas! :shakefist:

      • Piflik says:

        When you start thinking with Portals, you don’t even need loading screens. One of the comments in Portal 2 mentioned this. When Valve first started designing their levels, they didn’t bother building rooms that fit together, they just built them far apart and connected them with portals.The finished levels do fit mostly, but there is still one level with an invisible portal connecting two rooms that normally would not fit next to each other…now Eidos most probably didn’t used this, but it’s interesting nonetheless…

        • littlefinger says:

          I’ve never actually figured out which room they were talking about, do you have any idea?

          • Indy says:

            I know that in the first room, while it gets torn apart graphically you’re in another geometric replica that’s safe. However, leaving this area, I believe you transition to the real level and that is the one that uses a portal.

          • It’s near the end of the game, where you’re running from Wheatley, and a massive box crashes through the walkway you’re on. You have to portal up, through the floor, then drop down and there are some broken turrets that try to ambush you.
            The inside of the box is completely separate to the outside, presumably to make things easier on the physics engine

        • Last time I designed a classic “dungeon” (which was a long time ago) for a tabletop FRPG, I realized that it really didn’t need a map because the relationship between rooms was arbitrary. I designed the individual rooms, in some cases with a room map, and just hand-waved the corridors and whatnot. They could wander around how they wanted to, when they opened the next door they opened it was to the room I’d written up.

          • Adam says:

            My players map each dungeon out obsessively on graph paper. It wouldn’t take long for them to start taking notice. Might make for a fun reveal if I run a game where the laws of physics don’t necessarily always apply.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      This building is also in the corner of the map,so you never even see it from the outside(except for small glimpses of its front).

  4. Keredis says:

    As near as I could tell, the small audience was deliberate. It was entirely media people. That way, they could put whatever spin they wanted on it, and not have to worry about a security threat at the same time.

    • tengokujin says:

      Even in modern press conferences, very rarely do you have an actual audience bigger than ~30 people (at least from what I’ve seen), and the those 30 are entirely media.

      • Raygereio says:

        Thing is that the game didn’t set this up as just a simple press statement.
        Simple logic: If it was, then why hold that in this convention centre? Taggart could have done that from his own facilities instead of renting this place.

        I could be wrong as it’s been a while since I played the game, but I recall feeling it was supposed to be a big conference about augmentation in this convention centre, sort of like a one of the big converences in real-life about international topics (think G20, global warming, etc).

        • Shamus says:

          Yes, this is exactly the vibe I got as well.

          • Thomas says:

            I mean they had ordinary citizens milling around in the lobby, as though they couldn’t fit into the room or everything else had gone into the room and they’d refused because they were pro-aug

        • ? says:

          It seems that convention centre is surrounded by riots. It might be that he is now trapped with no safe way out of it, so he improvises press conference on the spot (he still is too politically invested to miss the chance to take a swing at Sarif). If it was G20-like meeting, other attendees might be less invested in Illuminati plot against Sarif and more concerned about possibility of facing rabid mob of poor people to show up. Or maybe they are busy making their own press statements somewhere else in the facility.

        • swimon1 says:

          While it makes little sense it also feels wrong (which I’d argue is more important). This is played up as being a super important speech for Taggart and it’s supposed to be a really ballsy move by Jensen to just start talking.

          Both of these gets devalued when you see the size of the crowd. It’s supposed to be a world changing super important speech about everything this game is supposedly about… But only 10 or so people bothered to show up? And Jensen interrupting Taggart? Big deal, speaking in front of a crowd is not that hard if the crowd is that small (well not to most people). On an intellectual level I can see a speech being important despite there only being a few people there and since there are cameras I can see how this could still get really embarrassing for Jensen but having an audience that small just sucks all the drama out of the situation.

          I guess this would be fine if they did it to make some point. Maybe something about how the internet has removed the need for actual presence or how the few rule the masses through the use of media or something. I don’t think the game made any of these points tho seeing as there’s a riot outside (crushing potential point nr1) and the fact that there are very few there isn’t really emphasised (say if the room were 3 times as big but just as few people, then there being few would look like a point being made). Since neither of these or any other point seem to be made this just looks underwhelming. Like after struggling for 2 years as a musician you get to open for Metallica only to find out after you finished your songs that only 12 people showed up to this concert, the realisation of “this was not nearly as important as I thought it was” rushes in quick.

      • Mr Guy says:

        And yet, if this is a pure press conference, then his reaction to Jensen is completely insane.

        Jensen doesn’t have a microphone. If the only “real” audience is the audience watching on TV, then THEY CANNOT HEAR JENSEN! Or his accusations. Or anything he might be threatening.

        Taggert could have (and should have) just blown Jensen off and waited for the myriad bouncers to show up and escort him out. Worst case–Jensen gets violent, and he gets the “Augmented Serif Thug Attacks Activist!” headline. What does he have to gain by inviting the lunatic who crashed the door of his press conference up on stage to have a philosophical argument?

        Imagine Dick Cheney (why not?) giving a canned speech to a group of reporters. Then some guy bursts through security and started shouting from the back of the room “You fabricated the Iraq evidence and I have what I claim is proof!” Then Cheney invites him up on stage and hands him a microphone so they can discuss it. On live TV. And then Cheney says “You know, you’ve made some really interesting points. I’m going to pause my press conference for a minute so I can discuss this in more depth with you backstage.”

        The ONLY reason Taggert acknowledging Jensen in any way makes the slightest bit of sense is if there’s a huge live crowd that can both see and hear Jensen. The only reason to be afraid (WHATEVER Jensen says) is if a bunch of people actually heard it. And the only people who hear Jensen are the ones in the room.

  5. Phoenix says:

    The ingame excuse is that the conference is ending. So one can presume that all the people in other areas where pressed in there at the main speech.

    Obviously the game is less crowded everywhere as it could be, it avoids crowds for the sake of the engine (or whatever the reason is).

    • Raygereio says:

      That excuse doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. I mean, this is William Taggart; he’s a bit of a big deal when it comes to the augmentation-debate in this setting.

      That’s like if you were to hold a conference about cosmology over a weekend and you schedule in Stephen Hawking around monday morning and have the poor guy’s speech be interupted by the cleaning crew asking him if he could get a move on so that they can do their job.

      • Gamer says:

        Plus, the guy seems to be incredibly vain. The odds are that he’d be flippant if anybody up and left in the middle of the speech.

      • Irridium says:

        I always thought that the reason there wasn’t much people was because a riot just happened, and people would want to make sure their loved ones/homes are ok. And a big riot that just happened could mean they turned it into a media-only affair, instead of a huge “come one come all” thing, to be able to protect Taggart better.

        Would also exlain the large amount of guards. A very recent riot is a good reason to increase security.

    • Indy says:

      Yeah, I thought it said his main speech was over and this was his question time. His words as you enter the room would suggest as much.

  6. You could probably get away with even fewer polygons, or even a 2D image, if you had Jensen walk onto a stage directly rather than through an audience. The edge of the stage would provide a natural invisible wall to keep the player out of the “audience” area, and you could keep the player from focusing too closely on the audience by slamming him with a light source (spotlight or bright stage lights) if he turned to face it. At the very least you could use this approach to get away with a sprite-style audience, but if you were clever you might be able to make it work with a single image.

    • Indy says:

      I’m against 2D sprites in games. I suppose you could get away with it if they were hard to see and stationary. Unlike this example. I never want to see something like that in any game.

      • Jordan says:

        That would look find if they were just running in the right direction instead of reverse moonwalking away.

      • Varriety says:

        I never noticed them, mostly because I was too busy staring at a Reaper taking on a dreadnought. Now, they shouldn’t, as Jordan said, be reverse moonwalking away, but 2D sprites that far away isn’t that big of a deal for me.

    • Michael says:

      Honestly, the game already uses 2D “matte painting” backgrounds in a couple places already. The portal to hell in the last episode, for instance. With proper staging, this should have been possible here as well.

  7. guy says:

    So, I’m pretty sure the reason that Jensen doesn’t get thrown out of the press conference is that it is presumably live, and throwing out a high-ranking member of Sarif industries without first refuting his statements would be a distinct embarrassment for Taggart. He has to convince his audience that he’s winning the debate before he can politically afford to throw Jensen out. Now, a certain AI could probably handle that, but there’s something of a problem with that.

    And this is actually critically important to the conspiracy, if Taggart suffered a bad enough credibility hit then the upcoming stage of their plan would fall apart.

  8. Factoid says:

    If Hitman: Blood Money can have a crowded mardigras street packed with nice-looking characters, I feel like DE:HR should be able to fill an auditorium with mostly stationary people.

    I’m pretty sure the trick that Hitman used was to make the crowd models repeat frequently, but scattered enough you couldn’t tell. There might be 30 of the same person on the screen all performing the same animation at once, but they’re spread around so much you can’t really notice. You can semi-interact with them, but you can’t interrupt their animations, you can only nudge their x/y positions by running into them.

    • Eruanno says:

      That was my first thought, too. That part of Hitman: Blood Money had a LOT of characters (or the illusion thereof) and I’m still impressed by it.

      Other games of mention could be the Assassin’s Creed series, which has a lot of crowds messing around in the streets with (fairly) detailed models.

      • Paul Spooner says:

        Not every game design issue needs to be a technology one. It could have been any number of things.
        Another plausible reason for the match-box auditorium is that the guy who was working on it slacked off and they had to make a substitute at the last minute.
        Or they wanted to emphasize the fakeness of the tv audience.
        Or the exclusivity of the event.
        Or the lack of interest in the actual “confrence”, despite the hoopla with the riot.

  9. bout the “crowd”, this is hardly different from say press conferences at the white house. Except more hightech.

    The stage/PA is just to make the TV broadcast seem “bigger”.
    Also I suspect that the majority (or all?) of the reporters are influenced by the illuminati in some way.

    It’s a real press conference (it’s very rare for more than a dozen or two reporters to show up to such), so it feels as fake as the ones you see at political press conferences in the real world. Very “staged” in a way.

    And it makes you wonder how much of it is aired unedited, or what the reporters are writing down (or how much they are writing).
    I also assume that Eliza is monitoring/controlling things in a subtle way too.

    • Gamer says:

      This is true. Real world press conferences only have a few reporters from each of the main channels. Since Picus is the only major news network, there would probably be even fewer people.

      Even in live events, there is alot of stage production and theatrics. Even late night talk show studios are surprisingly small and only contain enough room for 50 or so people. Like they say, fake it until you make it.

  10. Packie says:

    Yeah, this part was weird for me too.

    Though, I remember how Mass Effect 2 solved this problem. The Omega Nightclub gave the illusion of a densely populated club by placing card-board cutouts in extremely dark areas in the in-accessible second floor. If you look closely, the models look 2D and cheap for a AAA game but if you just pass by them you’ll hardly notice ’em. Small touch but was impressed with it.

  11. Zak McKracken says:

    alright, I haven’t played the game, but from the screenshot, I’d say that those people are not an audience but part of the recording/broadcasting crew…

    • Gamer says:

      That would be plausible were it not for the fact that Sarif had tickets to the conference. Unless this whole thing was a plot to discredit Sarif.

      It which case, only Picus recording staff being there wouldn’t be surprising. Renting the stage could’ve been a spot of theater.

  12. MatthewH says:

    All right, I’ll confess that I didn’t connect Zeke and Isaiah. Though I did like something about Sandoval.

    Throughout the game to this point I’d been downloading e-mails and such -but unless they obviously had passwords and passcodes in them, I didn’t read them. I figured I was trying to be stealthy and there’s no reason to read now where I might get caught any moment. When we returned to Detroit, I went to Jensen’s office and spent an hour reading everything I’d downloaded since the FEMA warehouse.

    And there in the e-mails was the e-mail from IS about the inability to remove the implants. I felt like I’d been duped (legitimately). But I never bought that Megan was dead because I figure you don’t punch someone and pick up the unconcious form if you intend to kill them and incinerate them later.

    Also, I think Taggert here has that superiority complex so common to the Illuminati that he can’t let Jensen be thrown out. In the same way that he says Jensen has to “defeat” him, he has to defeat Jensen.

    And yet I still didn’t peg him as Illuminati.

  13. Andy_Panthro says:

    My favourite part of that conversation with Taggart is the way he turns to talk to the camera, rather than directing his answers entirely at you (except if you make him mad, or whatever).

    It really made it feel like he tried to use you as an example for his thoughts on augmented people. Of course, if you fail the conversation battle, he does get the last word in, and it annoyed me so much that it’s the only part I reloaded to make sure I got the “right” outcome.

    • SyrusRayne says:

      I was immensely happy I got through this conversation without reloading. I even refused to use the CASIE aug, for the exact reason Rutskarn mentioned. I’m fine with using it as a means for an end in completing a mission or whatever, but with Taggart… Well, it’s the difference between plugging someone between the eyes from range with a sniper rifle, and beating them to death with your bare hands. Both get the job done, but the second one is much more personal. I mean, I imagine it is. I don’t actually know!

      *Shifty eyes*

      Seriously though, no other conversation system has ever made me want to do that. I’ll savescum until I get the ‘right’ option, most of the time. I don’t recall doing that at all, in DX:HR.

  14. Friend of Dragons says:

    Oh my god, Adam, a bomb!

  15. Irridium says:

    I had no idea you could just walk in and have a boss conversation with him.

  16. Gamer says:

    Hey, Josh! Don’t think we didn’t notice the massive fall damage you took after jumping off the sniper perch. You know, a parachute or something might help. I mean, it’s only 2 Praxis Points….

    …Y’know. Since you have FIVE OF THEM!!!

  17. Daemian Lucifer says:

    They didnt even have to resort to such trickery.Since this already started with a cutscene,why not show a bit of the crowd when you enter,then show a bunch of people leaving to one side of your field of vision.Then when you finally get control,you see a bunch of empty seats,and a few people doing some stuff on computers and phones.

  18. george says:

    I never got the bomb sidequest…

  19. modus0 says:

    All I have to say after this episode is: Ladders, the new Elevator!

  20. Dante says:

    Cobo Hall looks nothing like that convention center.

  21. Ambitious Sloth says:

    I’m almost impressed Josh didn’t get the bug I got where after my private conversation with Taggart the game forgot I was allowed into that area and all of the guards noticed me an started attacking.

    Talk about undercutting your argument.

  22. X2Eliah says:

    Over my three playthroughs, I never even knew this conversation was possible. :[ I always snuck in Taggart’s private quarters becuase it felt the more logical thing to do.

    Also… About that bomb quest, afaik it has an ‘achievement’ called something like “taking care of a warrior priest in the sewers”, and it never ever got unlocked, even though I finished that quest properly and fully. Was there some special approach you ahd to take to deal with this – did you maybe have to speak to that guy or something?

    • Thomas says:

      You get an achievement for disarming the bomb in a unique way…

      But your achievement sounds like it’s talking about another sidequest that you get in Hengsha 2, from a guy in the Limb clinic

      • Sagretti says:

        Yep, Warrior Priest is in Hengsha 2. There’s a doctor at the LIMB clinic to the left of the counter, I believe, that gives the side-quest. Pretty nice little side quest, too, with another good example of the dark side of augments.

        As for the bomb in Detroit, the achievement is for guessing the code to defuse it and not hacking it. The amazing code that nobody will ever guess is 0000.

  23. Irridium says:

    Actually, I think it was originally meant to be broadcasted to a huge live crowd, but since riots broke out, they probably just scrapped that and did a small media conference. Since most people would probably want to make sure their loved ones/homes were ok, and right after a riot tensions would be high, and putting a huge amount of people in a small space right after a riot wouldn’t be the best idea.

    • Thomas says:

      Yeah actually that makes a lot of sense, but in that case what they should have done is have a huge room with almost no-one in it (and not had those pro-aug people in the lobby, instead a couple of dejected isolated people)

      It might conflict with the idea of the Illuminati starting the riot though

  24. Sumanai says:

    The maintenance person that is “fixing” the escalator isn’t using a drill. It’s a soldering gun. Assuming he was feeding solder and actually touched the electric board, he would still be using it wrong. Luckily for whoever has to fix things after him, he’s just using it to scrape the panel.

    I would’ve called him a mechanic, but he clearly doesn’t know what he is doing.

  25. Jokerman says:

    Lame Terminator reference is lame.

  26. Jokerman says:

    Makes me really appreciate this…

    http://www.mobygames.com/images/shots/l/435599-hitman-blood-money-xbox-360-screenshot-contract-during-mardi.jpg

    Done made in 2006….and came out on 360 and the ps2! I played the ps2 version and the crowd was fully intact like in the 360 and pc. Amazing really..

      • Jay says:

        Yeah, Dead Rising (1), Ninety-Nine Nights, and Dynasty Warriors Large Integer had crowds of 100s to 1000s on current generation consoles years ago. The consoles can handle it; the developers are just skimping.

        • Shamus says:

          Keep in mind that Eidos was using a licensed engine. (Unreal Engine 3) Different Engines are built for different purposes and with different assumptions about what they will be used for. While crowds ARE possible, they’re not easy, and they can’t be easily patched in onto an existing engine. It wouldn’t be worth it for just one scene.

          It’s not really “skimping”. It could have required a major effort to get that sort of functionality into the game.

          • Jokerman says:

            The reason i said Hitman is because of this, nowhere else in the game do they use a level wide crowd of 100s (possibly 1000’s, im not sure).

            Plus that game and much more intelligent AI running in the background than the likes of Dead Rising or Dynasty Warriors

  27. Zero T. Katama says:

    You know, I always wondered if they intentionally made Taggart look like the Senator from the first X-Men movie.

  28. Venalitor says:

    I feel a little ashamed of watching this let’s play before actually playing the game.
    One thing more. The in-game voices are easier to understand and harder to drown out than the commentary. Even without subs I can understand perfectly what the characters are saying to each other in conversation, but there are places where I can’t make out what spoiler warning says.

  29. Jarenth says:

    So, fun fact: Like Irridium and X2Eliah earlier, I totally missed out on this conversation. Didn’t even know it was a thing. I just walked in, floundered around for a bit, spent five minutes talking to the janitor next to Elevator Repair Guy (love his accent), somehow found myself in Taggart’s back room, gassed out all the guards, read an email, and I was off.

    I feel a little upset, now.

    This does explain why Taggart was so chummy with me in the endgame, though. I assume the game assumes you’ve done the conversation, at least in some way, so Taggart was acting like we’d met and spoken before… but my only recollection of talking to him was that one short bit in Sarif’s office.

  30. John the Savage says:

    Anybody else remember the audience in Metal Gear Solid 2? Good times.

  31. RCN says:

    Yay! My access to this site is back!

    Lets see how long it lasts this time…

  32. wererogue says:

    Wait… was that an endorsement for invisible walls?
    My world is turned upside down!

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