Halo 3: A lack of perspective

Saturday, November 18th, 2006

I’ve been looking at some screenshots from the upcoming Halo 3 (which, sadly, looks like more of the same as the other two games – maybe I’m wrong) and something has been worrying me. The same niggle occurs looking at a lot of images from games for the new generation of consoles.

Take a look at this shot, for example and see if you can spot it. (More shots here)

It’s far too detailed. It seems to be a case of ‘just because you can’ design. So the new processors mean we can have lots more detail, so why don’t we?

Take a look at the mountain in the background. Well, is it in the background? Or is it actually just a few metres away from the emplacement we’re supposed to be looking at.

Admittedly this is a shot from the pre-beta of the game, so maybe the problem will be sorted soon, but essentially what this boils down to is a lack of perspective, specifically ‘atmospheric perspective’. Even on a bright, dry, sunny day, the atmospheric conditions should cause objects in the distance to become blurred and more blue in hue. Even the ground to the bottom left of the image, close by, should not be as detailed as the ground nearest the camera.

There’s just too much detail in these shots and not enough realism. Which is ironic given that the boast of these new consoles is the increased realism.

4 comments on “Halo 3: A lack of perspective

  1. Conrad says:

    I’d say that it was due to the screenshot being from an early build, but I’ve seen plenty of other games that don’t factor in atmospheric effects as simple as haze.Ironically, I think the next-generation is responsible for the problem. As the console get more powerful, developers have been able to remove haze that was used to keep the framerate up. Now that everything’s much more powerful they think excess detail is possible.Still, I’d wait for the final project. Beta screenshots suck.

  2. Jonathan says:

    You’re right – showing that much detail is a great way of advertising processor power in a way that people can easily understand. Listening to people discussing games they often talk about ‘the graphics’ (the same was true in the 1980s when my friends and I used to look at the ZX Spectrum and the Commodore 64 on the way home from school).But haze is a simple way to improve gameplay. I’m thinking of World of Warcraft, for example, in which the scenery around you becomes gradually more visible, enhancing the sense of exploration – it also helps hide enemies.My favourite vames on the Xbox sre the Splinter Cell ones which depend on <>lack<> of detail for their gameplay.I hope Halo 3 becomes less detailed before it’s released.

  3. Craig Burgess says:

    Although I take your point about the lack of perspective and too much detail, I don’t think this has been done by accident, or because it’s an early build. It’s because gamers don’t really want realism.

    Sure, a gamer will profess that they yearn for realism, but then if they die after being shot once this is annoying, and hinders the game. The same thing goes for the haziness of perspective. If it goes hazy, people will be asking why has it gone hazy? Why is my TV blurred?

    It’s a catch 22 situation that must be extremely difficult to deal with as a game developer.

  4. Jonathan says:

    I’m not sure I agree. There’s only so much detail the brain can take in and while too much detail could be confusing, atmospheric perspective could aid concentration on the main action.
    People don’t go to the cinema and complain that something in the background is out of focus – it’s called ‘depth of field’ and is an important part of the cinematographer’s craft, as in photography and art.

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