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Opinion Analysis Review Graphics Analysis : Demon's Souls Remake

Apr 20, 2015
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Been playing this for a couple days and I must say this is my first "next gen looking" title. Very beautiful at times. Definitely a noticable step up from last gen. And I'm talking about the performance mode here, didn't even bother to take a look at the 30fps mode. Makes me optimistic for the coming years, at least with regards to Sonys 1st party output. Now I'm getting curious to know how Hellblade 2 looks.
 

Airbus Jr

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" I've reached out to Bluepoint's CEO with no response on the matter. For now, it doesn't really matter."

Bluepoint to VFX :


 

abel empire

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Here it is folks! My graphics analysis of the most popular visual showcase exclusive for the PS5! I’ve taken extra time to fully analyze what is going on in Demon Souls and noted some rendering implementations that hasn’t been seen before in a long time. If I have missed something in my analysis because I haven't seen the whole game please forgive me! I'm very early in the game and just wanted to get my thoughts out.

It’s no surprise that a lot of PS5 fans love the remake of Demon Souls for it’s visuals and rightly so. Demon Souls is one of the best showcases of stunning visuals of any platform to date. But how did they enhance an older game made on the PS3, to look so good as to literally be labeled one of the best looking games this new generation? Well, let’s delve into what works and what doesn’t work. Let’s explore the secrets of Bluepoints’ approach to graphical fidelity and some of the setbacks that they had to compromise on.

Texturing:

This is where most of the rendering budget went for Demon Souls. BluePoint scrapped all the old textures and completely recreated the pipeline with so much detail, you will be hard-pressed to find this kind of fidelity in any current gen game (or next-gen for that matter). I see 8k textures here throughout and they brought back one of the oldest and most expensive techniques to texturing – Parallax/Relief Occlusion Mapping. This expensive technique scans the texture map and figures out based on height what particular texel should be rendered instead of the base height at the location in texture space. It’s a very expensive calculation as it requires stepping through the texture space and using the view vector to find the correct height. This gives an automatic self-shadowing based on the parallax texture map. The results are stunning.

Here is a small diagram of the technique:


If texel A is what a normal texture lookup would be given the view vector V, we offset that texel based on a height value and index a different location B for what the user would see. This 'parallax' provides very convincing results.

Here is a picture of the old Crysis on the PC that used it:


Notice how the texture map itself (the color) is very low resolution. Bluepoint rectified this by throwing in 8k normal maps and 8k texture maps ON TOP of the parallax mapping - displaying stunning detail! And all of this without counting tessellation!




Notice the detail of normal mapping on top of the POM

Here is another clip from a different angle. I simply could not get the view that makes it break down. It is MUCH more accurate than the new technique found in a lot of games which will break down rather quickly when changing the angle.



Lighting (Projective Textures, Contact Shadows, Shadow Casting Local Light sources):

Another strong rendering implementation in this game is the lighting. While it doesn't have dynamic-time-of-day or have much of the complexity of some other open-world games, it does a reasonably great job in using dynamic local lights, "flashlight" GI bounce (taken from Naughty Dog's GI bounce technique) projective textures, contact shadows and good shadow casting local light sources. I like that they used projective texturing for the talisman on the characters belt.


I can only count some games that use this technique but once again, Bluepoint went texture crazy and used it even in their lighting

Projective textures work by projecting the texture map onto the light source in order to get uniquely shaped shadows.



Demon Souls also uses contact shadows to help out when screenspace ambient occlusion isn't accurate enough to capture small objects.


Notice the sides of the steps and the cracks and crevices of the stairs here.

Here is another shot at it on the sides of the wall:




It doesn't work all the time however. When you have a light source (like his belt) illumination an area, it will make it disappear. Notice also the rocks closer to his feet. They look like they are floating in space without the contact shadows in full effect.



PBR Shaders (Metal, Skin, Cloth, Marble, Hair):

Demon Souls uses the well used PBR shaders we have all come to love. The metals look great and very realistic for armor and the cloth looks good as well. The marble and stone being a material with POM and high resolution textures brings out exceptional quality in this game!


Demon Souls has a very good hair shader compared to most games today. It's not film quality but it at least has more than 1 lobe for computation. I'm counting 2 lobes with a diffuse contribution. The more lobes, the better the approximation.


Let's talk about some of the drawbacks and/or sacrifices Demon Soul's had to make in the shading pipeline. It's implementation of skin is not using any sort of subsurface scattering on the NPCs. With most games implementing at least some form of subsurface scattering, it's a bit surprising that Bluepoint didn't go for a better shader. I wonder if resources were limited.

Here is a screenshot of the smithy and a sideshot of his skin. It looks completely like diffuse shading.



Here is a video of me trying to get some kind of light propagation on the skin and it just looks like normal diffuse shading. SSS is expensive and it was probably either too costly for what they had already been doing or maybe the shader wasn't ready.


FX (Water, Fire, Smoke)

Demon Souls uses a horrible water shader. It's just flat out ugly. They seemed to have made it as a complete mirror surface looking like liquid mercury with no layers colors of light scattering underneath and the animation of the water is the old school "sine-wave" animated texture. Again, I don't know if they ran out of rendering budget or just don't have a good water shader in-house. Maybe this was intentional as I haven't gone through the entire game. It is very possible that there is water elsewhere that does have the kind of light propagation and fresnel effect I'm looking for.

Here is a clip of the water in the Nexus:



The fire shader is pretty good but it could use more art direction on the fire. Fire is extremely difficult to implement properly in a game and I'm 99% unsatisfied with most games' fire. Ironically, Ghost of Tsushima has excellent fire effects. That goes to show that artists talent really matters when the rendering budget is small. Their smoke, however looks pretty darn good. I love how it is also illuminated by local light sources and gives the atmosphere a very broody one.






Finally, Demon Souls is a great step in the right direction starting out of the gate for the next-generation PS5. The team went bonkers on the texturing pipeline and pretty much exhausted the rendering budget on getting excellent detail along with good PBR shaders and incredible animation and reasonably good lighting for a closed world RPG. I love how they use shadows to convey a dark and moody atmosphere and making the local light sources dynamic, along with projective texturing and contact shadows for the lighting leaves no stone unturned for some of the more lame lighting techniques that ignore shadowing. It can't be stressed enough that lighting needs shadows. You can't have one without the other.

I'll leave with this. One of the topics of argument is whether Demon Souls uses the SSD to stream the high res 8k textures in per frame. I don't think this is the case. Why? Because despite having incredible detail, the same textures are used over and over again. It is very possible that they cached those textures for a particular level and keep them in VRAM for all the instances of the same texture. I don't see much variety on a per-level basis like other games that use multiple different textures palattes and color schemes. I've reached out to Bluepoint's CEO with no response on the matter. For now, it doesn't really matter. The game is a beautiful exclusive that every Sony gamer should be proud of.
DIgital foundry already did the tech interview with the devs and it isnt using cheap parralax occlusion mapping its using actual tesselated geometry and developers said it uses the ssd to stream data before you turn corners. Those are actual polygons.
HERes the full interview

 
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onesvenus

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just some examples of disparity before having PS5 and after.
I guess he come around full circle from denial, anger... and finally acceptance (y)
But it doesn't, does it?
All the techniques described in the opening post are existing techniques that have been used in multiple games which now have been masterfully used in the remake. This does not take any accomplishments on BluePoint's part because saying it doesn't bring anything new to the table doesn't mean it doesn't look good
 

onesvenus

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I see 8k textures here throughout and they brought back one of the oldest and most expensive techniques to texturing – Parallax/Relief Occlusion Mapping.
Can you provide an example of POM breaking the illusion? What's seen in your videos can also be a product of being actual geometry instead.
My brother has the copy I bought si I can't check
 

VFXVeteran

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whats your opinion on the texture detail in 30fps vs 60fps mode?
I think that's the only difference in visual quality. They probably went with 4k textures - which is what I see in most 3rd person games...some 2k. Even if the FPS would be higher than 60FPS, they'd probably lock it to 60FPS anyway.
 
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VFXVeteran

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Facinating post. Outside of the texturing, how many of these techniques were used to make it seem familiar to the original?
I would have to take a look at the original to tell. I don't want to guess when I don't have the game in front of me.
Did the ps3 version use parallax mapping?
I very seriously doubt they used POM on the PS3.
 
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ethomaz

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I don’t think SSD is used to load textures all the time... it is more to reach 2-3s loadings.

The texture are on memory and it just stream new one when it is not in memory anymore.

For example when you die late in the level the textures are all different from what you will restart the level so that time SSD magic works loading all the new textures for a fast loading in 2-3 seconds.

Now the level itself textures will be loading whatever you progress and keep on memory the one still being reused.
 
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ethomaz

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DIgital foundry already did the tech interview with the devs and it isnt using cheap parralax occlusion mapping its using actual tesselated geometry and developers said it uses the ssd to stream data before you turn corners. Those are actual polygons.
HERes the full interview

Yeap devs gladly answered a lot of questions already so we don’t need to guess just looking at the game.
 
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Zeroing

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This obsession with over analyzing every detail in a video game is getting ridiculous. The point is, the game looks really good.
 
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SlimeGooGoo

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Not that it matters because an awesome game is an awesome game, but why are people so sure it's AAA? Bluepoint is a smallish team working on multiple projects
I still don't get why people get triggered when I say it's not AAA. You can even take Playstation games such as Uncharted and God of War and notice there's miles of difference in visual quality and consistency in comparison.

So tired of reposting.



 
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...

I'll leave with this. One of the topics of argument is whether Demon Souls uses the SSD to stream the high res 8k textures in per frame. I don't think this is the case. Why? Because despite having incredible detail, the same textures are used over and over again. It is very possible that they cached those textures for a particular level and keep them in VRAM for all the instances of the same texture. I don't see much variety on a per-level basis like other games that use multiple different textures palattes and color schemes. I've reached out to Bluepoint's CEO with no response on the matter. For now, it doesn't really matter. The game is a beautiful exclusive that every Sony gamer should be proud of.
No, they stream the data dynamically just before needed ("right as you turn the corner"). Here a transcript of some of the interview with DF (about Demon's souls on PS5, not a theoretical interview like you previously and oddly wrote).
SSD talk beings at 14:45

DF said:
But I can imagine one thing you are probably taking advantage, seems we haven't seen it yet, the super fast SSD, the compression system. Can you talk about how you used it in Demon's souls (and the benefits...)? I think a lot of people are curious about this.
Bluepoint said:
Yeh, I think the day we turned on the fast loading coming out from the SSD it was they day we changed the dev (?slides?) how many interactions we can do in the game....yeh I have being very impressed by the loading...not difficult to implement...free wins
DF said:
I imagine you also save time on CPU side, compression, decompression can be offloaded...that sounds very beneficial
Bluepoint said:
For Shadow of the colossus on PS4...compress the textures then on the CPU side decompress and transfer via memcopy... On PS5 all of that is taken care by hardware. for us it doesn't look like we compress anything at all. Actually it would impossible to do on software cause we loading 3/4 GB/s compressed so the power needed to decompress all of that you need a hardware solution you can't do it via software it just not fast enough.
From 18:41 data is dynamically streamed in and out right as you turn the corner (details + textures), need less data all the times and they can up the details and textures of each areas thanks to PS5 SSD.
DF said:
How this impact game design. In this case we remaking the games. How does it impact on the game design? Game on PS3 had hub and levels... Does it allow the game to be more seamless on PS5?
Bluepoint said:
It absolutely affects the amount of data were are able to push... even when we load the world Boletarian, that world is chunked up into a whole bunches of little pieces that we basically stream in and out as you move through the world. Everything is dynamically streamed in along with the textures. On PS4... On the PS5 we can be more aggressive loading stuff right as you turn the corner and not half-way the hallway [like on PS4] before we get there...we need less stuff in memory at all times and we can take the area we are pushing and we can up the details and up the textures because they can come right in time before the players gets there...

 
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VFXVeteran

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The devs said to Digital Foundry that when viewing the geometric mesh it is so dense that they can't see the polygons. It is not just the texture resolution that is high, but the overall complexity, in a similar way to the Unreal Engine 5 demo.


I don't think there is tessellation that is sub-pixel size like in the UE5 demo. If that were the case, they wouldn't bother with POM at all.
 

VFXVeteran

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No, they stream the data dynamically just before needed ("right as you turn the corner"). Here a transcript of some of the interview with DF (about Demon's souls on PS5, not a theoretical interview like you previously and oddly wrote).
SSD talk beings at 14:45





From 18:41 data is dynamically streamed in and out right as you turn the corner (details + textures), need less data all the times and they can up the details and textures of each areas thanks to PS5 SSD.



I know this was a point of contention and still is... but I stand by my impressions that this game doesn't seem like it's using technology like UE5. I have tried to reach out to BP concerning clarification and haven't heard anything from them. Maybe I can reach out to DF to see if they can contact them to clarify. I just don't interpret that interview comment the way some people here think. If I'm wrong, so be it. Like I said, it's really no big deal. The game still looks great with or without the Nanite-like tech.
 

Mmnow

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I still don't get why people get triggered when I say it's not AAA. You can even take Playstation games such as Uncharted and God of War and notice there's miles of difference in visual quality and consistency in comparison.
The same reason Miles Morales was the first true next-gen exclusive only possible with the power of the SSD... Right up until it wasn't. The same reason Outriders stopped being AAA the second it ended up on Gamepass.

Stupid labels are less stupid if you can use them for point scoring, apparently. But I'm with you, Demon's Souls probably isn't AAA. It wasn't AAA the first time around.

That doesn't make it any less a near-perfect game.
 

Rudius

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I don't think there is tessellation that is sub-pixel size like in the UE5 demo. If that were the case, they wouldn't bother with POM at all.
Not sub-pixel size, but like a step in that direction. They say the triangles are small enough that they can't see them. It's in the interview I posted, perhaps someone can share the exact minute.
 

VFXVeteran

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Not sub-pixel size, but like a step in that direction. They say the triangles are small enough that they can't see them. It's in the interview I posted, perhaps someone can share the exact minute.
Here's another thing to consider. Epic took 6yrs to implement Nanite. There was not even a design for the PS5 at that point. How can Bluepoint games develop a similar technique in a short amount of time (maybe 1 year) in their engine? Why would they not market the game with those features like EpicGames did? Lastly, what exactly in the game can someone point to that has this highly tessellated geometry? Remember, this technique is only viable on static geometry. So all the deforming assets in the game can't use it. If we know it has POM, then what assets would have it that isn't using POM?
 
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RJMacready73

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Excellent read chap, cheers for putting in the effort just a pity that A: I have neither the time nor patience for this type of game and B: You can't get a fucking PS5 for love nor money
 
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Reality Czar

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Wow what a write up! Very thrilled to have OP as a contributor on this site.

Also I really love DeS. It’s just an incredible experience.
 
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Rudius

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Here's another thing to consider. Epic took 6yrs to implement Nanite. There was not even a design for the PS5 at that point. How can Bluepoint games develop a similar technique in a short amount of time (maybe 1 year) in their engine? Why would they not market the game with those features like EpicGames did? Lastly, what exactly in the game can someone point to that has this highly tessellated geometry? Remember, this technique is only viable on static geometry. So all the deforming assets in the game can't use it. If we know it has POM, then what assets would have it that isn't using POM?
I've found the part where he says it, at 6 minutes.

MARCO: "Tessellation is a big one as well. That's where a lot of the geometric detail you see on screen comes from" […] "When you turn a wireframe view of what you are seeing, a lot of times you can't really tell you are looking at a wireframe. It's quite impressive"

JOHN: "So just look like a grid of pixels perhaps?"

MARCO "Pretty much, yeah. Once you turn it on it's a dynamic tessellating system, so things as they get close to the camera they tesselate more, yeah it's a pretty dense wireframe. On previous generations of consoles you would look at a wireframe like that and send it back to the artist, tell them to optimize content, but nah, on the PS5 you can actually do a lot of stuff."

I'm not a native English speaker, so pardon any errors on my part.
 
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Tomeru

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I still don't get why people get triggered when I say it's not AAA. You can even take Playstation games such as Uncharted and God of War and notice there's miles of difference in visual quality and consistency in comparison.


So tired of reposting.



I'm sorry I asked, it was fucking hilarious













ly weak.
 
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Mr Moose

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No, they stream the data dynamically just before needed ("right as you turn the corner"). Here a transcript of some of the interview with DF (about Demon's souls on PS5, not a theoretical interview like you previously and oddly wrote).
SSD talk beings at 14:45





From 18:41 data is dynamically streamed in and out right as you turn the corner (details + textures), need less data all the times and they can up the details and textures of each areas thanks to PS5 SSD.



Is that frustum/occlusion culling like in CoD and Horizon Zero Dawn?
 
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Is that frustum/occlusion culling like in CoD and Horizon Zero Dawn?
No. the frustum of HZD doesn't require the data to be loaded into memory. On PS4 it's already on memory but the world is being rendered on the fly when you turn, but you need the data into main memory.

On Demon's souls they don't even have the data on memory. They load the data, from the SSD, just before it's needed directly into vram and ready to be used, for instance just before the next area / corridor right at a corner just before it should be visible.

That's only possible on PS5 because you need high bandwidth + very low latency + bypassing CPU (otherwise you'd get nastly streaming hiccup seen notably in Xbox games, but also Playstation games like in Cyberpunk).

That video is the most important interview we had for next-gen gaming. What they do here has never being done before (with less memory they display more stuff than before, tons of textures and polygons) and they do almost exactly what Cerny described his SSD could be useful.

This is what Epic described about PS5. They system requires the data that is directly loaded into Vram (and 100% ready to use by the GPU) by totally bypassing the CPU and also by saving bandwidth because usually decompressing by the CPU requires some laborious work by main ram + CPU.
 
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VFXVeteran

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Bu bu buuut "they've exhausted their rendering budget with tExTuReS!11!!"
I challenge you or anyone in this thread that is convinced they are using a technique similar to UE5 demo to point it out in the game. I will look at it. It's literally wasted rendering resources to have that kind of tessellation and have POM/Normal mapping at the same time. It makes no sense. And at a native 4k too when UE5 demo couldn't even push 4k in their demo.


"No baking of normal maps, no authored LODs..."
 
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Rea

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Great analysis, there is alot more happening in the later areas, nexus is not a graphical showcase of this game.
Good luck and have fun playing this game.
 

Gods&Monsters

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In my defense. The overall game is still in tact. But I can see being too harsh without having the game myself. From now on, I'll only judge a game that I have in my person.
That's great. Do you still believe that Flight Simulator looks more impressive?

I remember you really went off on me when I said I wasn't impressed by that plane flying in the sky even if the technology behind it is very advanced on paper.
 
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Demons Souls looks like a last gen game on steroids. Looks great but just scratching the surface of what’s possible.

must have been quite difficult to get this game out for launch, kudos to Bluepoint
 

VFXVeteran

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That's great. Do you still believe that Flight Simulator looks more impressive?

I remember you really went off on me when I said I wasn't impressed by that plane flying in the sky even if the technology behind it is very advanced on paper.
FS2020 is on another level technically from what has been shown currently. I thought about a writeup on it but it would take way too long with videos and explanations as to why it is far ahead of the competition. Maybe one day.
 
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Zeroing

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Understanding the work and techniques needed to achieve those visuals makes me appreciate it more.
Don't be so negative.
I was not being negative, just pointing out that every time there's a thread like this, it ends with some people fighting.
 

regawdless

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I was not being negative, just pointing out that every time there's a thread like this, it ends with some people fighting.

Has been pretty civil and nice so far. Outside of you degrading the enthusiasm of the people here for the technical details by calling it "obsessive".

If you don't appreciate such a deep dive, there's no need for a degrading drive by post.

Let's not go down this path, we don't want this thread to end up with some people fighting 😂
 
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Zeroing

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Has been pretty civil and nice so far. Outside of you degrading the enthusiasm of the people here for the technical details by calling it "obsessive".

If you don't appreciate such a deep dive, there's no need for a degrading drive by post.

Let's not go down this path, we don't want this thread to end up with some people fighting 😂
What? degrading? ok. I am leaving.
 
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abel empire

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I don’t think SSD is used to load textures all the time... it is more to reach 2-3s loadings.

The texture are on memory and it just stream new one when it is not in memory anymore.

For example when you die late in the level the textures are all different from what you will restart the level so that time SSD magic works loading all the new textures for a fast loading in 2-3 seconds.

Now the level itself textures will be loading whatever you progress and keep on memory the one still being reused.
Go look at the interview they stream 3gb of texture right as u turn a corner
 
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I challenge you or anyone in this thread that is convinced they are using a technique similar to UE5 demo to point it out in the game. I will look at it. It's literally wasted rendering resources to have that kind of tessellation and have POM/Normal mapping at the same time. It makes no sense. And at a native 4k too when UE5 demo couldn't even push 4k in their demo.


"No baking of normal maps, no authored LODs..."

Not what I said at all. Read the post that I quoted in relation to the DF video then go and watch the DEVELOPERS speaking about THEIR game.
 
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Man, people really can't let go of past transgressions and just appreciate a quality post for what it is. This is part of a larger problem with the forum and, generally speaking, society today.

I challenge you or anyone in this thread that is convinced they are using a technique similar to UE5 demo to point it out in the game. I will look at it. It's literally wasted rendering resources to have that kind of tessellation and have POM/Normal mapping at the same time. It makes no sense. And at a native 4k too when UE5 demo couldn't even push 4k in their demo.
I think you're definitely correct in that POM is being used. I would argue, however, that POM isn't being used everywhere and the tessellation is being used on certain assets where they can get the most visual bang-for-buck. So, in those cases, it would be either POM or tessellation, but not both at the same time. Like you said, it would be a giant waste of rendering resources. I really urge you to go check out Shrine of Storms (world 4) and take a look at the brickwork. Try switching between Performance and Cinematic mode to see how an increase in resolution results in an increase in tessellated geometry.

What follows below is from a post I made a while back comparing Performance mode and Cinematic mode. You can find the original post here.

Take a look at the "Results" tab and use the slider to try to see the comparisons I'm making:

Alternatively, open up the JSFiddle in a separate tab and go fullscreen (F11 on Chrome): JSFiddle

Maybe it's because I sit so close to my screen (55" display and I sit about 3-4ft away) or that my entire first playthrough was in Cinematic mode, but here are the things that stick out to me when comparing to Performance mode...
  • Tessellation - A lot of the materials in Demon's Souls make use of tessellation. I notice less deformation on things like the brick wall to the left (you can literally see how the bricks change by moving the slider back and forth) and the pebbles near the player's feet. This aspect alone causes for a big jump in polygons/geometric detail on screen when switching to Cinematic mode.
  • Ambient Occlussion - By the very nature of having more geometric detail and deformation with increased tessellation, you have a lot more corners or edges where two objects intersect. This results in an increased application of AO. The brickwork on the left wall and ground in front of the player have more detailed shading.
  • Specular Highlights - For the similar reasons that we see an increase in ambient occlusion, you have a lot more fine-grained detail in specular highlights because additional surface normals generated through tessellation. I can notice this especially in shine from the brick wall to the left and the wood on the broken wagon to the right. You can actually see individual cracks in the wood on the broken wagon at noticeable increase in resolution.
  • Texture Details - Because of the bump in texture resolution, certain details are lot more crisp/sharp. In particular, you can notice the ridges and cracks in the Vanguard's horns, increased clarity on the leather work of the arrow quiver, sharper detail on the sword guard and handle, more defined chainmail links, the bricks on the tower in the distance on the right and higher resolution particles (smoke, fire, soul form vapor, etc.).
  • Film-grain - I know this setting is pretty subjective, but I happen to like the way it makes shadows/lighting look a lot more diffuse (especially when adding in volumetrics). In Performance mode I can notice a decrease in resolution when looking at things like the clouds behind the Vanguard, the noisy edges on distant background objects like the flags and brickwork, how fog/smoke looks less grainy, etc. I imagine that other screen-space/postprocessing effects are affected by how the increase in resolution causes an increase in samples.
A lot of these things are on the screen pretty much constantly. I can see why some might think these are subtle differences individually, but when you throw them altogether it's hard to ignore. The result is that Performance makes for a less detailed image across the board. Then again, on a fast moving screen I'm not sure if you would notice these things. This is where it all comes down to personal preference. If you're focused entirely on the action, then Performance mode is the way to go. If you're like me and you like slowly making your way through the level while stopping every couple of minutes to take in the scenery or mess around with Photo Mode, Cinematic mode is for you.

I would give you more examples, but these posts take a lot of time and effort to create. I can see why there aren't many people out there trying to produce the same content as NXGamer and Digital Foundry.
 
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On another note...

JuxtaposeJS is neat tool for making side-by-side image comparisons and it really helps with graphics discussion. The folks running NeoGAF should really consider adding it the Approved Sites for embedded media. It's open source, too. I dropped it in a JSFiddle to get in my post, but native support on this site would be ideal.
 

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Man, people really can't let go of past transgressions and just appreciate a quality post for what it is. This is part of a larger problem with the forum and, generally speaking, society today.


I think you're definitely correct in that POM is being used. I would argue, however, that POM isn't being used everywhere and the tessellation is being used on certain assets where they can get the most visual bang-for-buck. So, in those cases, it would be either POM or tessellation, but not both at the same time. Like you said, it would be a giant waste of rendering resources. I really urge you to go check out Shrine of Storms (world 4) and take a look at the brickwork. Try switching between Performance and Cinematic mode to see how an increase in resolution results in an increase in tessellated geometry.

What follows below is from a post I made a while back comparing Performance mode and Cinematic mode. You can find the original post here.

Take a look at the "Results" tab and use the slider to try to see the comparisons I'm making:

Alternatively, open up the JSFiddle in a separate tab and go fullscreen (F11 on Chrome): JSFiddle

Maybe it's because I sit so close to my screen (55" display and I sit about 3-4ft away) or that my entire first playthrough was in Cinematic mode, but here are the things that stick out to me when comparing to Performance mode...
  • Tessellation - A lot of the materials in Demon's Souls make use of tessellation. I notice less deformation on things like the brick wall to the left (you can literally see how the bricks change by moving the slider back and forth) and the pebbles near the player's feet. This aspect alone causes for a big jump in polygons/geometric detail on screen when switching to Cinematic mode.
  • Ambient Occlussion - By the very nature of having more geometric detail and deformation with increased tessellation, you have a lot more corners or edges where two objects intersect. This results in an increased application of AO. The brickwork on the left wall and ground in front of the player have more detailed shading.
  • Specular Highlights - For the similar reasons that we see an increase in ambient occlusion, you have a lot more fine-grained detail in specular highlights because additional surface normals generated through tessellation. I can notice this especially in shine from the brick wall to the left and the wood on the broken wagon to the right. You can actually see individual cracks in the wood on the broken wagon at noticeable increase in resolution.
  • Texture Details - Because of the bump in texture resolution, certain details are lot more crisp/sharp. In particular, you can notice the ridges and cracks in the Vanguard's horns, increased clarity on the leather work of the arrow quiver, sharper detail on the sword guard and handle, more defined chainmail links, the bricks on the tower in the distance on the right and higher resolution particles (smoke, fire, soul form vapor, etc.).
  • Film-grain - I know this setting is pretty subjective, but I happen to like the way it makes shadows/lighting look a lot more diffuse (especially when adding in volumetrics). In Performance mode I can notice a decrease in resolution when looking at things like the clouds behind the Vanguard, the noisy edges on distant background objects like the flags and brickwork, how fog/smoke looks less grainy, etc. I imagine that other screen-space/postprocessing effects are affected by how the increase in resolution causes an increase in samples.
A lot of these things are on the screen pretty much constantly. I can see why some might think these are subtle differences individually, but when you throw them altogether it's hard to ignore. The result is that Performance makes for a less detailed image across the board. Then again, on a fast moving screen I'm not sure if you would notice these things. This is where it all comes down to personal preference. If you're focused entirely on the action, then Performance mode is the way to go. If you're like me and you like slowly making your way through the level while stopping every couple of minutes to take in the scenery or mess around with Photo Mode, Cinematic mode is for you.

I would give you more examples, but these posts take a lot of time and effort to create. I can see why there aren't many people out there trying to produce the same content as NXGamer and Digital Foundry.
Thanks for this. I will check it out.

I'll try to reach that world today if I find the time.

For the record, I never said DS didn't have tessellation. There are many games that have tessellation and normal mapping ( to take care of the fine grained details ) at the same time. My argument was having the UE5 demo type of tessellation where they absolutely require the SSD to stream in high-poly geometry and 8k texture assets. I don't mean to take away from Bluepoint, but I seriously doubt they would have that system in place before the guys at Epic. Moreover, they would have highlighted it just like every other studio that brags about what they did different than other studios. We got a huge taste of that, for example, with Cyberpunk's RayTracing Nvidia video that showed off Area lighting (which is a big deal going forward). The guys that made Metro did the same thing with their RT GI solution.

In any case, thanks for the support man. It means a lot!
 
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