Batman Arkham Origins: Over-Analysis Part 4

By Shamus Posted Monday Dec 16, 2013

Filed under: Batman 54 comments

Yes, we’re still talking about Batman. Remember that it’s not a horrible game, I’m just magnifying its flaws. In fact, I’m not even sure this next bit is criticism or not. There’s something off with the art, and I don’t know if the art is of lower quality, if they shifted the art style, or if I’m just picking up on old existing problems because I’m looking at the game more closely.

I leave the final judgement on this up to the reader. Let’s talk about…

Art Style


Really good artists are hard to find. If the style your concept art calls for is (for example) “slightly Frank Miller-ish comic-book with a dash of Bladerunner”, then you need a team of accomplished artists to pull it off. Art teams these days are big, and the larger the team gets the harder it is to get enough people that can nail a really specific point on the stylistic spectrum. It’s even harder when you consider that most artists are youngsters who are paid crap. (I’m not suggesting this is the case with WBGM. I know nothing about the inner workings of the company.)

But while stylistic nuances are hard to get right, just about all the artists at least have technical proficiency. They might not be able to create “an Arabian Nights-themed techno-fortress of the future”, but if they know how to use their tools they should at least be able to make basic real-world stuff.

This is probably why so many games are ending up in the photorealism rut. While Rocksteady gave the first two Arkham games a slightly comic style, I think WBGM has moved closer to reality for Origins. Compare Bane:

Arkham City bane.
Arkham City bane.

Arkham Origins bane.
Arkham Origins bane.

I could be wrong here. As I’ve stressed elsewhere, I Am Not An Artist and I have an amateur’s eye when it comes to appraising game art. Worse, it’s hard to get an apples-to-apples comparison, because the Origins Bane is a younger and smaller version of the character, back before his drug abuse turned him into the Pink Hulk. But this isn’t just about his physique. Note the color vibrancy, texture detail, model complexity, and character proportions.

I’m thinking that this is a shift away from the more unreal comic aesthetic to the washed-out grimdark realism we see in more grounded games. This is important because the shift makes the eye expect more realism from everything else. Nobody would mind or even notice if Mario sat down in a double-sized novelty chair, but if Sam Fisher did that he would look like a doofus. Art style isn’t just about tone or color, it also sets the tolerances and expectations of reality in the minds of the audience. Don’t promise more realism that your artists plan to deliver. If your gameworld is made of nonsense vents and sewer levels, then don’t choose an art style that screams out “THIS IS REALITY”.

Perhaps because of this, I’ve been noticing a lot of scale problems with the scenery. I know this is supposed to be a “younger, more inexperienced Batman”, but unless he’s six years old then a lot of stuff is too dang big:

I guess this is how the city builds the doors of their sewer tunnels? They have handles at chin height and a window about three feet higher than the 6 foot, 4 inch (193cm) Batman.
I guess this is how the city builds the doors of their sewer tunnels? They have handles at chin height and a window about three feet higher than the 6 foot, 4 inch (193cm) Batman.

This door is a lot smaller than the previous one, but still way too large. The funny part is that when you walk through this door you emerge from the previous one.
This door is a lot smaller than the previous one, but still way too large. The funny part is that when you walk through this door you emerge from the previous one.

Some doorways are normal, and some of them are gigantic doors like the ones above. Were the earlier games like this? I poked around Arkham City and Arkham Asylum looking for badly scaled stuff and I didn’t find any, although I admit I didn’t play all the way through both games just to audit the art. Is Origins the only game with scale problems? Or has the art always been like this, but I didn’t notice until the change in art style?

Other examples:

Are those really supposed to be poker chips? They’re the size of coasters!
Are those really supposed to be poker chips? They’re the size of coasters!

Does Batman have a keyboard the size of his arm so he can type while wearing his Bat-gloves, or is this keyboard just scaled improperly?
Does Batman have a keyboard the size of his arm so he can type while wearing his Bat-gloves, or is this keyboard just scaled improperly?

I don’t know. I can’t condemn the art team outright. After all, I think they did a great job on…

New Old Gotham

In Arkham City (the game) Old Gotham (the place) was renamed to Arkham City (the prison) but in Arkham Origins (the prequel) it’s still called Old Gotham.
In Arkham City (the game) Old Gotham (the place) was renamed to Arkham City (the prison) but in Arkham Origins (the prequel) it’s still called Old Gotham.

Arkham City gave us a slightly goofy set-up: At some point Old Gotham was flooded and ruined. And then it was turned into a huge open-air coed prison-city by way of a ridiculous conspiracy that isn’t even worth analyzing. (They left the specifics and details as vague as possible, which was certainly for the best. Justifying all of that at once would bury the player in exposition.)

But then we came to Arkham Origins. WBGM couldn’t just dump the open world stuff and drag the game back into the titular asylum. They couldn’t re-use the same setup. And trying to go bigger and include all of Gotham would be insane. And no matter what they did, setting it in a public place would introduce a ton of risks and problems, since that would also necessitate the need for civilians and street traffic. They had their hands full just getting up to speed on what they had already. The last thing they needed was a bunch of new technology challenges.

This is the gameworld of Arkham City. The red restricted zone blocks line of sight between the two halves. (The dark tunnels that go through the restricted zone are actually subway tunnels.)
This is the gameworld of Arkham City. The red restricted zone blocks line of sight between the two halves. (The dark tunnels that go through the restricted zone are actually subway tunnels.)

It’s worth noting that Arkham City was a bit of a cheat, map-wise. There was a literal wall around the city, and a gigantic no-access zone right in the center. The outer wall let them depict Gotham city proper using nothing more than a skybox, and the restricted zone in the center was a huge help with polygon culling. The walls of the restricted zone were taller than the buildings, which meant that it was impossible to see the east side of the city when you were on the west side, and vice versa. This solves a bunch of loading and rendering headaches. I know Rockstar makes it look easy, but open-world cities are still a major challenge – particularly if your protagonist can fly OVER buildings. If they can get over buildings then you can run into situations where you have to draw basically everything and you can’t count on some buildings blocking the view of others.

So WBGM was faced with the problem where they needed a city at least as large as the previous game, plus they couldn’t use massive vertical walls to keep the player in and control polygon count. Given these constraints, I think what we have in Arkham Origins is about as good as you could hope for and a lot better than I would have expected.

This is the map for Arkham Origins. It covers the same space as Arkham City, only now we don’t have handy prison walls all over the place to limit our view. Note also that this is only half the city. A bunch of new stuff is available to the south. Sheldon Park in the center is right where the Restricted Zone was in the previous game.
This is the map for Arkham Origins. It covers the same space as Arkham City, only now we don’t have handy prison walls all over the place to limit our view. Note also that this is only half the city. A bunch of new stuff is available to the south. Sheldon Park in the center is right where the Restricted Zone was in the previous game.

We can still see a few seams between the old and new. If you play Origins you’ll notice that there are some buildings Batman can’t go over. These are certainly there to replace the old prison wall concept. While they’re a little annoying (and hard for players to understand) they’re less obnoxious than the restricted zone in the center of Arkham City.

What we have in Origins is a revitalized version of Old Gotham. We get to see the city that would eventually become a prison, and we get to see it lit up and in use instead of crumbling into the ocean. The city now has sidewalks and street lights and all sorts of street-level detail that was hidden beneath the flood in Arkham City. Yes, the “snowstorm” is a bit of a cheat to avoid having street traffic and it’s ridiculous that the city seems to be inhabited entirely by criminals, but still. WBGM made a bigger game than Rocksteady, they made it without the handy “prison city” conceit, they did it using technology that was new to them, and they finished the job without getting caught in development hell.

I think WBGM has topped the previous team here. I’m impressed, although I’m REALLY curious what they’re planning for the next game. This is the third time the series has painted itself into a corner, setting-wise. Assuming that giving us open-world access to all of Gotham is too expensive and complicated, where can they go now?


From The Archives:

54 thoughts on “Batman Arkham Origins: Over-Analysis Part 4

  1. Benjamin Hilton says:

    Gahh! I want to read this…but Aunty Paladin is so entertaining..Curses. I will be back!

    Also I’m still at work, and trying to juggle multiple levels of skeeving off is difficult.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Im listening to the aunty as Im reading this.Also playing some space rangers 2.

    2. Rutskarn says:

      I’m reading this as I come off my shift from Aunty. Sleep time!

    3. qwksndmonster says:

      I wish I could watch Aunty Paladin but my internet is terrible and I can’t stream it.

  2. Brandon says:

    I have to agree, I feel like they did an excellent job with the map in Arkham Origins, outside of a few wonky bits. I think there’s one building that I always seemed to fly into and want to go through that I couldn’t ever get on top of. Some electrical company? It was annoying as heck because it seemed like every path through the city crossed through it, and there was no clear “This is a good, quick pathway through or around this obstacle”

    The bridge was a cool setpiece the first couple of times I crossed it, and during the mission where it features it was a lot of fun to traverse, but after a while of going back and forth across it I started abusing the fast travel system every time my objective was on the other side. It just took a little bit too long to traverse normally and there was no shortcut through it that I could find.

    1. Eruanno says:

      Ha, as soon as I started reading “that one building” I thought “is it the electrical building?” because I too kept flying into that bloody thing and never found a good path around it. Grrr.

    2. Dreadjaws says:

      Yeah, I hate that building. Is the big one right next to Sheldon Park. I think there’s a small tunnel/corridor to go through it at the bottom, but don’t quote me on it (it might actually be in another nearby building and I’m getting things confused). In any case, it’s a perfectly missable place in such a gigantic building.

  3. Tychoxi says:

    I thank you for keeping us metric system users in mind!

    Maybe they should ditch Gotham for a while. I’m no Bat-expert, but I’m sure there’s some foreign land built deeply into the Batman mythos.

    1. Amarsir says:

      Well one of the problems with that is that if they take “Arkham” out of the title they lose the sequel carry-over. It becomes “another Batman game” and not clearly “a continuation of that Batman game you really liked”.

      1. ScrubNinja says:

        Moving the games outside Arkham Asylum anymore doesn’t mean you have to change the series name. There’s good precedent. For example, Saints Row hasn’t occurred in the titular neighborhood for two whole games now.

        “Arkham World” is still unused. Or they could call it “Metropolis Arkham,” or “Arkham Abroad,” or just take a page from Valve and call it “Arkham Episode 4”. A few fanboys will gripe if the name isn’t technically accurate, but people will still recognize the series.

        1. Thomas says:

          I’m very much in favour of them keeping the Arkham name but ditching all justification for it (I think Arkham Origins is already a step in that direction because it doesn’t take place in a prison right?)

          Limiting the possibilities of a franchise is a good way to wear everyone out (I partly blame the overworld plotty stuff for why Ubisoft are struggling to keep a series feel fresh that can be set in any time or place). If every Arkham game was going to be ‘Batman trapped in X exotic prison location fighting criminal disaster of the course of one day’, then it’s going to lose it’s touch. They need to transition to something more episodic and flexible

          1. Thomas says:

            Although actually, it’s a new console generation and they have the groundwork now, so I think the next game should be in Gotham, but with civilians and traffic etc. It would be interesting to get that to feel Batman-like

            1. Craig says:

              I think it’d be quite fun to have civilians and a “urban myth” meter that depletes as Batman is seen by the general populace and caught on camera phones and security cameras.

        2. syal says:

          Two things come to mind:

          1. There may be precedent, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect narrative immersion. Saints Row doesn’t really care about immersion so it’s not a problem, but from what I’m hearing the Arkham games are more heavily plot and tone focused and losing the connection between the title and the storyline is a(nother)step away from cohesion.

          2. To “have a row” is effectively “to have a fight”, so even if the games don’t take place in Saints Row anymore, if the Saints are fighting someone the title still applies.

          But if they’re making a sequel next time, ‘Arkham Aftermath’ would probably work fine.

          1. Thomas says:

            Row as in have a fight is pronounced R-ow! though, and Saints Row is most definitely row as in make-with-the-oars. I really don’t think that can hold up as a justification or connection.

            Arkham Origins has originally specifically acknowledged Arkham as a brand name and not a prison thing right? It’s just in Gotham normal. I don’t think it’s going to cause any immersion problems, it’s not even as bad as Assassins Creed suddenly breaking the numbers, colons thing they had going on. (So ACIV: Black Flag is the spin-off of an ACIV that didn’t happen? :P)

            1. syal says:

              Arkham Origins has originally specifically acknowledged Arkham as a brand name and not a prison thing right?

              The title implies it’s about what the city was like before Arkham became prominent. It’s not in Arkham, but it’s still semi-related to Arkham.

              Saints Row is most definitely row as in make-with-the-oars.

              Well sure, according to Marketing. You can’t trust those guys, they’ll say anything to sell stuff.

              1. Neil D says:

                There is a more direct link. It’s the events of this game, and the increasing occurrence of major criminal insanity in Gotham City in general that pave the way for the (re-)opening of Arkham Asylum. It’s mentioned a couple of times along the way, and culminates in the mention of setting Sharp up as warden. But it’s such a minor background part of the game that it seems bizarre to connect it to the title of the game.

      2. Dreadjaws says:

        Not really, this is called “Arkham Origins” and there’s nothing even related to Arkham in the game. There’s mention of the Asylum at the end, but that’s it. Arkham Asylum and City were literally the name of the places were the games were set, but this game is set in Gotham.

        They could easily call it “Arkham Redemption” or “Arkham Ponies” and it’d be just as accurate.

        1. Arkham Ponies! Yes, the Batman does a My Little Pony crossover, rescuing Pinky Pie from . . . whatever kind of stuff those ponies need rescuing from . . . Kind of like this:

  4. Alan says:

    L.A. Noire showed that you can do a full city open-world game while keeping it interesting. And I think it’s safe to assume that Arkham Four will not bother supporting the Xbox 360 and PS3, so they’ll have craptons more memory, more storage, far faster video cards, and data can come off a hard drive, which while slow is still a huge win over optical media. That does leave the challenges of filling the city with interesting stuff (although maybe it’s okay to have large sections with nothing “special” if travel is fast and entertaining), and the sheer workload of creating all of those building models and textures. Careful duplication, procedural generation, or some combination may be the answer.

    Me, I’m hoping the next generation of hardware means the techniques in id Tech 5/Rage become even more practical, eliminating the dual problems of obvious texture fade, and relatively low texture resolutions.

    1. Alan says:

      The internets inform me that LA Noire is about 8 square miles. So, I guess we can do a full city, provided it’s a small city. :-) I choose to continue believing.

      1. sofawall says:

        Shamus mentioned this, but you can really cut down on the number of polygons on screen when the player can’t leave the ground. LA Noire, as far as I am aware, does not have the protagonist freely flying over buildings.

      2. Naota says:

        To be fair, the time, effort, and budgetary concerns of creating the city in LA Noire created a toxic work environment and ultimately sunk the entire production crew. Worse, that was the price paid for an unreal amount of content that 90% of the game’s players never saw, due to game design that actually pushed players away from exploring it. It is horrifying how much time and effort went into that sandbox that most players never even saw a fraction of.

        I don’t doubt that comprehensive sandbox cities are something we’re capable of having, but they’re only actually worth the resources if they’re absolutely central to the game itself. In any story-driven experience, for instance, I would much rather have a number of large, open-ended, immaculately designed and polished levels with good flow than a big sandbox leaning on duplicated assets, simplified pathways, and procedural generation to prop it up.

        In other words, for an immersive narrative experience, give me Deus Ex: HR and Dishonored over GTA or LA Noire any day.

        I adore exploring, but there has to be something substantive for me to find, and most sandbox games even this generation struggle to do this. That’s not a technological limitation – it’s a human one. Making a sandbox even as full of points of mechanical and/or narrative interest as a Thief level is basically impossible even to an Ubisoft-sized team.

  5. ScrubNinja says:

    Assuming that giving us open-world access to all of Gotham is too expensive and complicated

    Why assume that? We’ve got other open world games with very large complicated maps. The map for GTA 5 supposedly covers hundreds of square miles. Even Saints Row 3, with engine technology that’s a few years old now, has a whole city that we can free roam in aircraft. So creating the map does not seem prohibitive.

    They’d have to include faster modes of travel, but that’s a great excuse to include the Batmobile and the Batcopter and the Batwing as more than just cutscene plot devices.

    1. Shamus says:

      GTA has a budget far, far in excess of any Arkham game. In fact, I’d bet GTA 5 itself cost more than every Arkham game combined.

      Also, while it’s possible to do open-world stuff, that doesn’t mean the current Arkham team or toolset is tuned for it. If they have to start over with a new engine, then all bets are off.

      I could be wrong of course, but my assumption is a reasonable one.

      1. Dreadjaws says:

        What about the open world Spider-Man games? I don’t think they have the budget of GTA, but they have the city of New York created and functional, and most of the travel is done by swinging and jumping on top of buildings.

        And just like the GTA games, the cities are sprawled with cars, citizens and such. Spider-Man 3 even had a huge underground sewer that was loaded along with the city.

        Granted, the feel of these games is different (Batman is more of an over-the-shoulder perspective than third person, but he looks third-person when gliding), so a Batman game might feel strange in a purely open-world setting, and the current engine/toolset might not work properly in a giant open world, but I don’t think it’s necessarily impossible.

        1. mhoff12358 says:

          I haven’t played any of the spiderman games in quite a while. but iirc they did a lot to keep the buildings very simplistic, mostly just rectangular prisms with a texture slapped on. This made drawing them very simple, whereas in the Arkham games a lot of the buildings are much more detailed and interesting so drawing more of them would be way harder. The solution to this would be to hide this detail when drawing them farther away, but this leads to some not so nice looking pop ins.

          1. Eruanno says:

            From my very (VERY) limited understanding of the Unreal engine, it is not very good for open world games. It likes to load an area into memory and then later dump it out and replace it with a new one. Compare that to the Skyrim engine that is built for open world-stuff to constantly stream in new things and push out old stuff you’re not seeing anymore.

            NOTE: I am not a game developer, this is only what I’ve picked up from reading interviews from game developers. I don’t even remember where I read it. So this might in fact be terrible advice, please take it with a grain of salt.

      2. Tizzy says:

        Given that the first game in the series was “Asylum”, I agree that it’s a safe bet that the engine was not designed with free-roaming in a large city in mind. Trying to retrofit it for such a purpose sounds nightmarish; probably easier to start from scratch.

  6. Guildenstern says:

    While I can’t point out any particular instance of the top of my head, the previous Arkhams did seem to have a few scaling oddities here and there, but as you say, it was less of a big deal due to the slightly more comic-inspired nature of the art. Though ultimately the differences between the two strike me as being fairly minimal.

    As for setting, I’d like to see the arkham games continue to expand, and bringing in more DC properties seems like a good way to do that. Metropolis doesn’t really fit Bats’ style, but maybe a story arc in Bludhaven could be interesting with enough justification to draw Batman there. It would provide a similar enough feel and tone for a Batman backdrop and there’s a ton of stuff you could do character-wise with Batman and Nightwing, which would would be a nice break from the co-dependent Batman and Joker stories we’ve had thus far. More of the Bat family and their stories seems like a reasonable direction to take things, and if Supes and a few others can show up for a short mission objective or two to give hints to a larger world in future installments then all the better.

  7. Stephen says:

    I wonder if the size discrepancies are due to weirdness with the third person camera? The level designers I know always want to build interiors taller and objects a little bigger when the camera won’t be in FPS mode, both to keep the camera from clipping into the ceiling and because you’ll be further away from it than if you were in FPS.

    That is, it’s possible that their artists weren’t as comfortable with the camera or something about it got changed such that they felt like they had to exaggerate sizes vs. what Rocksteady did in their games.

    1. Naota says:

      I was going to say this very thing. Myself and all the level designers I’ve met are taught to design interior spaces to larger scales when working with a third person camera, because there’s an unavoidable conflict when the floating camera point must either slide along a wall (effectively zooming in or skewing to one side) or pass right through it (existing outside the wall, looking through the models’ back faces).

      Most games elect to keep the camera inside the world, so small spaces with doors, walls, or ceilings too close together can be a nightmare for playability as the camera navigates them all during the action. Hence, giant rooms, car-width hallways, and lofty ceilings.

      Once the scale of a room goes off, it becomes increasingly more difficult to scale the things within it to a size that looks believable. A batman-sized door looks weird and out of place in a hulk-sized bathroom. You’re constantly seeking a compromise between seeming far too small for the surrounding environment and far too big relative to the player.

  8. Dreadjaws says:

    I definitely noticed the scaling problems. I felt several times like the city was built by giants.

    My real gripe was the very noticeable excess of invisible walls, and, in contrast, the astounding lack of grappable surfaces. In the previous games, whenever you couldn’t grapple somewhere, there was an excuse. Here, there are many places in which you could easily grapple, but the game simply doesn’t give you the option.

    Also, the number of doors that look completely different from the inside that from the outside is atrocious. It’s like the people who designed the interiors is not the same that designed the city. I never paid much attention to this in the previous games, but here it’s patently obvious that the buildings are much bigger on the inside than on the outside. And size is not the only way the geometry of the buildings doesn’t correspond with what we see outside.

  9. Merkel says:

    Dear Batman, how do you type with bat gauntlets on?

    1. Batman says:

      Massive custom-built keyboards.

      1. MichaelGC says:

        Been playing a bit of City, and I found a keyboard in the steel mill which was almost as big. And the doors all tend to loom somewhat, even if there’s nothing quite so ridiculous as the chin-handle (so far…). So perhaps it’s indeed something of a tendency for the series – and possibly with Origins it’s along the lines Shamus has mentioned before: once you notice something off about a game (or whatever) there can be a bit of a domino or snowball effect.

        1. MichaelGC says:

          Oops. Sorry about that.

  10. MrGuy says:

    Assuming that giving us open-world access to all of Gotham is too expensive and complicated, where can they go now?

    Steelport, clearly.

    1. 4th Dimension says:

      Okay, that kind of crossover might be really interesting, and you could play both sides: Puckish rogue criminals the Saints/and authoritarian no nonsense Batman.

  11. Tizzy says:

    I have to wonder about the scale issue. Sometimes, I wonder if the grossly exaggerated size of certain objects is not simply done for the player’s benefit: if all objects were really to scale, you’d spend your time squinting to try and see what everything is. Blame the consoles, I guess, since I find myself squinting qt the screen more and more even since I turned into a console gamer (or old; take your pick).

    I guess you could compare this to Holywood using obviously-dated technology as plot devices in their movies to avoid confusing the audience: using a USB drive would be OK in a movie today, but 10 years ago they would have replaced it by a floppy disk; the item had already gone the way of the dodo then, but it had an easily understood significance to the audience.

    1. Ciennas says:

      Well, that explains why the UNSC Issues FOF-ID tags the size of clipboards.

      but…. for Arkham, couldn’t they have just had Detective Vision light up the relevant object like Left4Dead does?

      1. Tizzy says:

        Re: detective vision, I’m not sure it would help. I don’t know, for instance, that the poker chips in the screenshots are relevant to the game at all. But even if they’re not, you’d want to make sure that players understand that chips is what they are.

    2. Naota says:

      You’ve pretty much nailed it.

      Objects this size are commonly scaled up in games because of display fidelity and the way the human brain parses detail. The smaller the object, the more likely a player is to completely fail to notice or recognize it even if it is visible on screen. As games get more detailed and visually “noisy”, objects blend into that noise more and more.

      Those poker chips were probably scaled up so that you could tell what they were from 10-15 metres away while using a third person camera – they just stand out because the artist scaled only them and took it too far.

      A prime example of this is grenades. Video game grenades are enormous and covered in smoke and sparks because they’re so important to gameplay that they can’t afford to be overlooked. At a realistic size they’ll stop registering as what they are a few metres away from the player, especially since they’re in motion. Unthinkingly realistic-sized grenades are often the explanation for those bad-feeling FPS’s where you can never tell what blew you up or from where.

      1. Naota says:

        For reference, an actual military grenade.

        Imagine trying to keep track of a small, dark object like this as it bounces and rolls around an environment which you can only see 55-90 degrees of. Even sitting on the ground right in your way it would often be difficult to notice it there.

  12. Giant doors are a particular annoyance for me. It’s far worse in MMOs. The doors in guildwars are HUGE and while you can kind of justify it by saying “well they have to accommodate the largest of the player races” even then they’re way too big. It’s the same in every mmo i’ve played, and a lot of the single player fantasy games too. Once you start seeing it, you never stop.

    1. Thomas says:

      Rooms so big that you can’t see the other wall on a foggy day is yet another reason my thoughts of ‘This MMO has a cool-setting I can’t wait to explore this world’ only ever lead to disappointment. (CoughtTheOldRepublicAgainCough)

    2. MichaelGC says:

      I wonder how the dwarvish builders of the Mines of Moria justified their giant doors! (Let alone their massive great hallways devoid of any apparent purpose…) Maybe dwarfs were much much taller in Durin’s Day…

      That site which lists thematic conventions in popular culture (you know the one! – I won’t link to it for fear of shredding everyone’s productivity) has it about right:

      Some people feel a need to make huge doors just to be dramatic. Sometimes there is a real reason behind making a door so large, but more often, there isn’t.

      1. Paul Spooner says:

        There’s some evidence that the dwarves are a kind of “macro-engineering” race. You see a lot of ruined equipment in the movies, and Tolkien is always talking about their skill with stone and metal in the books. Traditionally, both stone-working and metal-working industries have employed the largest equipment ever, rivaled only by the shipping industry. All of that adds up to dwarves building giant machines and needing to move them around, thus huge doors.

        In-world justifications aside, I’m fairly certain the actual reasons that internal architecture in MMOs is so large has to do with the third person camera. MMOs nearly always have a character progression aspect, so they use a third person view so that you can always be looking at “yourself” and be reminded how awesome you look (or, more likely, how lousy your gear is and how much more grinding you need to do). They also usually require some awareness of your environment, which a traditional first-person view lacks, having no peripheral vision.

        However, the third person camera results in a problem, as any realistically sized room would feel cramped when viewed from twenty feet away and twenty feet up. It also makes it difficult to “drive” your character around normal sized furniture and through normal sized gaps, especially since nearly all MMO systems have a deliciously naif collision detection system. This all adds up to huge rooms with furniture spaced far apart and lots of room to “maneuver”. And then, since the furniture is so far apart, and the rooms are so large, the artists up-size the props and doors.

        It’s all very sensible, given conventional game design assumptions. Personally, I think it would be better to have compressed “peripheral” render windows on either side of a normal FPS view, and nix the third person camera entirely, but no one asks me about these things.

  13. Duoae says:

    I’d love for the next game in this series to either be about Batman training his charges (Batgirl/Robin – though I can’t remember if in this continuity, Batgirl just goes straight to being Oracle) and his obvious needed character development to be able to do that… or actually be about one of the sidekicks – Batgirl/Nightwing etc. playing a storyline where Batman is supposedly killed (later it was a ruse that only he knew about) or captured.

    I also really want them to develop the detective and crime scene modes as these are really where the game can stand to be developed more. I think that, minor tweaking aside, the fighting mechanics are perfect and shouldn’t be added to or complicated any further.

    They could even get away from the current naming convention like Tomb Raider and a very few other series did. Something like (for the two story examples above):

    Arkham: Father of Justice
    Arkham: Deliverance

    1. MichaelGC says:

      Batman in a banjo duel with (say) the Riddler sounds cool! Would he use a bat-banjo? A batjo? (I imagine few of the whippersnappers will catch the movie reference. I remember when this were all fields…)

      Completely agree that a massive venom-shot to the crime scene mechanics is the way forward. Whilst those sections were fun enough, I guess, gameplaywise all they actually involved was holding a button for a period of time. Occasionally you would be required to travel a short distance before holding the button for a period of time. So, what we basically have here are “slowtime events!”

      That all said, I imagine properly developing this aspect of the game would be extraordinarily difficult in all sorts of ways. But, if this bunch or the previous bunch (or perhaps an entirely new bunch) could pull it off, that would be brilliant. (Maybe they could hire some of the LA Noire devs…)

  14. Jeff says:

    ” If they can get over buildings then you can run into situations where you have to draw basically everything and you can't count on some buildings blocking the view of others.”

    I wonder how Saints Row 4 does it. You can pretty much climb and fly everywhere, and everything is pretty detailed. You can even smash lots of random fences and trashcans when you land, along with any civilians and police wandering around.

  15. Batfan says:

    Notice that the giant clock gear walls and gateway around Wonder Tower serve this purpose too?

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