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Inside Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart on PS5: The Insomniac Technology Breakdown

Dec 24, 2020
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From Digital Foundry:

"Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart is one of the most impressive next-gen games yet - but just how does the game really put the PlayStation 5 hardware through its paces? John Linneman talks to Insomniac's Core Technology Director Mike Fitzgerald to get the full lowdown on the game."
 
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Portugeezer

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Tripolygon

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Some good tidbits highlighted by Mubrik


3:50: caring less about data size due to built in hardware compression
5:00: the whole memory is used for each level and data is pulled in as/when needed. (Think the whole level blueprint is in memory, assets are pulled in only when required)
11:10: Still some performance left on the table for SSD
11:40: can the engine handle loading data in so quickly is a legit question. Lol
13:40: RT is using checkerboard technique
15:15: headroom from optimizing for 60fps made the 30fps mode even better (guess devs should shoot for 60 more lol)
17:25: there are some areas they could 120fps, headroom for optimizing GPU side for 120 fps available, CPU is difficult.
19:50: development started with focus being a PS5 title
23:05: nefarious head was a huge pain to work RT on lol
24:40 Glass behind glass is a pain for devs using RT
28:00: cinematic uses same assets as game assets
29:10: hair strand system LOD fills in strand texture the closer the camera in, rivet tail if you zoom in 500 thousand to a million polygons.
40:00: a lot of the dialogues were prerecorded in the actors home
 
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The first discussion was how the developers used the PS5's SSD in the game design, here's a summary of the discussion but I recommend watching it.

  • The team was surprised at how fast the SSD was and the amount of ridiculous things it allowed during the developement
  • "It wasn't just we could issue requests faster to this drive but we can batch up our requests and it will manage and prioritise itself, we can think about prepping things in memory ready formats because they can be slapped right into the unified memory".
  • The concern moved on from the slow disk drives to how fast can their engine support this kind of bandwidth.
  • On PS4 they would make the data as small as they can so they could better effectice bandwidth reading from the disk but there was no concern like this with the PS5 thanks to the hardware decompression.
  • Switching between dimensions was reliant on the SSD and each level took up all the avaible space on RAM so memory was filled within under a second when switching and each level was retained at full quality level.
  • By pulling data straight from the drive, it allowed them to create more complex worlds and freed it up a lot of concern for the designers and giving them significantly freedom and creativity.
  • FInal remarks on the SSD "I'll just say that we have ways to go in terms of leveraging it completely, there is a lot of features and some performance on the table which where not comfortable leaving there and going foreward we'll be trying to get things of the disk even faster".
 

jroc74

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Some good tidbits highlighted by Mubrik


3:50: caring less about data size due to built in hardware compression
5:00: the whole memory is used for each level and data is pulled in as/when needed. (Think the whole level blueprint is in memory, assets are pulled in only when required)
11:10: Still some performance left on the table for SSD
11:40: can the engine handle loading data in so quickly is a legit question. Lol
13:40: RT is using checkerboard technique
15:15: headroom from optimizing for 60fps made the 30fps mode even better (guess devs should shoot for 60 more lol)
17:25: there are some areas they could 120fps, headroom for optimizing GPU side for 120 fps available, CPU is difficult.
19:50: development started with focus being a PS5 title
23:05: nefarious head was a huge pain to work RT on lol
24:40 Glass behind glass is a pain for devs using RT

The first discussion was how the developers used the PS5's SSD in the game design, here's a summary of the discussion but I recommend watching it.

  • The team was surprised at how fast the SSD was and the amount of ridiculous things it allowed during the developement
  • "It wasn't just we could issue requests faster to this drive but we can batch up our requests and it will manage and prioritise itself, we can think about prepping things in memory ready formats because they can be slapped right into the unified memory".
  • The concern moved on from the slow disk drives to how fast can their engine support this kind of bandwidth.
  • On PS4 they would make the data as small as they can so they could better effectice bandwidth reading from the disk but there was no concern like this with the PS5 thanks to the hardware decompression.
  • Switching between dimensions was reliant on the SSD and each level took up all the avaible space on RAM so memory was filled within under a second when switching and each level was retained at full quality level.
  • By pulling data straight from the drive, it allowed them to create more complex worlds and freed it up a lot of concern for the designers and giving them significantly freedom and creativity.
  • FInal remarks on the SSD "I'll just say that we have ways to go in terms of leveraging it completely, there is a lot of features and some performance on the table which where not comfortable leaving there and going foreward we'll be trying to get things of the disk even faster".
Amazing info was dropped in this video....

"if we knew storage wasnt gonna be a constraint...storage speed gives you some freedom to make some detailed stuff..."
 

jroc74

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I like how so many overlook Spider-Man Remastered, lol. That technically 3 games shipped. When you are doing so good one of your games gets forgotten.....

And all this during Covid....

Sounds like they were already used to doing remote work. Thats always a huge plus. Its also why I'm still working from home...and no one really asks when are we going back into the office anymore. I think technically we can. Even last year when I went to pick up my work badge ppl were in the building.
 

Md Ray

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Mike Fitzgerald said:
We can, you know, think about prepping things in memory-ready formats because then they can just be slapped right into the unified memory and be used immediately.
This quote reminded me of what Tim S was tweeting about last year:


So, the data stored in the storage device (SSD) is already in the native format that PS5's GPU can read as per Tim and IG's tech director, Mike. So the only step that's required is decompression (which is taken care of by dedicated HW decompressors, not CPU) when the data gets sent to the GPU memory. This is amazing and extremely efficient.
Mike Fitzgerald said:
Pretty quickly our constraint changed from "oh, we can't get the data off the drive fast enough" to "oh, our engine is too slow at processing this data we got off the drive" like we can't keep up with it.
Haha.
 
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ethomaz

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Interesting that the CPU is already a bootleneck this year while the GPU is fine… makes a bit of sense because 120fps needs way more CPU than GPU.

A lot of trouble to implement RT… early days yet… devs needs to learn and find solutions.
 

ethomaz

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Amazing info was dropped in this video....

"if we knew storage wasnt gonna be a constraint...storage speed gives you some freedom to make some detailed stuff..."
That something a lot talked before the gen start but a lot of guys didn’t believe.

Faster storage give the opportunity to devs increase the details of the screen… so the scene become indeed better graphically talking.
 

Md Ray

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Interesting that the CPU is already a bootleneck this year while the GPU is fine… makes a bit of sense because 120fps needs way more CPU than GPU.

A lot of trouble to implement RT… early days yet… devs needs to learn and find solutions.
Yeah, it makes sense. When Zen 2 launched, AMD were getting better at gaming perf but were still catching up with Intel's best at that time. While it's a dramatic improvement over Jaguar, there was still room for improvement. That's where Zen 3 comes in.

But I'd say Zen 2 is still very potent and will age just fine over time.

EDIT: ohh, he confirms they were able to run at 120fps too, on the GPU side. Nearly 3 months ago I said this in a different R&C thread:
Should even be possible to run at 120fps, IMO.
 
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ethomaz

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I like how so many overlook Spider-Man Remastered, lol. That technically 3 games shipped. When you are doing so good one of your games gets forgotten.....

And all this during Covid....

Sounds like they were already used to doing remote work. Thats always a huge plus. Its also why I'm still working from home...and no one really asks when are we going back into the office anymore. I think technically we can. Even last year when I went to pick up my work badge ppl were in the building.
I believe the company I works will fully embrace homework (it is cheaper for them) after pandemic and just have a small office for important meetings and some administration/marketing tasks.

They have already a program for full or mixed (3 days at home 2 days at office) before pandemic but the situation accelerated the adoption.
 
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elliot5

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VFXVeteran VFXVeteran they are using the same assets for cinematics and gameplay.

timestamped:

And if you listen to the quote, he mentions they use different texture mip levels and of course as the camera gets close the quality increases, and vice versa. You can see it with the tail fur, too. It's the same asset with smart technology seamlessly transitioning between the high and low quality pieces that make up the asset, depending on cinematic vs gameplay.

Was VFXVeteran claiming otherwise? That there were LITERALLY two separate assets? I think it's common knowledge that they're not going to render things at LOD0 when you're pulled so far back... even if it's the same 'asset'.
 

DeepEnigma

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And if you listen to the quote, he mentions they use different texture mip levels and of course as the camera gets close the quality increases, and vice versa. You can see it with the tail fur, too. It's the same asset with smart technology seamlessly transitioning between the high and low quality pieces that make up the asset, depending on cinematic vs gameplay.
Which is exactly what people were saying would happen “on the fly” and were laughed at for.
 

jroc74

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That something a lot talked before the gen start but a lot of guys didn’t believe.

Faster storage give the opportunity to devs increase the details of the screen… so the scene become indeed better graphically talking.
Yup, alot of ppl said this before the consoles launched.

What made me really appreciate this...was when someone posted a screenshot of those lil ass flies. For something that damn small, that you cant even kill or interact with, just flying around.... they are detailed as shit.

You cant really see it unless you do photo mode. They are that damn small.
 
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elliot5

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Which is exactly what people were saying would happen “on the fly” and were laughed at for.
well that's silly because we've been seeing the seamless transitions to cinematics from gameplay and back for a long time now. I've only said don't expect the same cinematic level quality from the marketing material in gameplay, because it literally won't be the exact same (though still looking good nonetheless).
 

Tripolygon

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Was VFXVeteran claiming otherwise? That there were LITERALLY two separate assets? I think it's common knowledge that they're not going to render things at LOD0 when you're pulled so far back... even if it's the same 'asset'.
You were claiming that
Photo mode lets you change lighting and post processing (in spider man especially). And the assets aren't the same as gameplay.
 

CurtBizzy

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The first discussion was how the developers used the PS5's SSD in the game design, here's a summary of the discussion but I recommend watching it.

  • The team was surprised at how fast the SSD was and the amount of ridiculous things it allowed during the developement
  • "It wasn't just we could issue requests faster to this drive but we can batch up our requests and it will manage and prioritise itself, we can think about prepping things in memory ready formats because they can be slapped right into the unified memory".
  • The concern moved on from the slow disk drives to how fast can their engine support this kind of bandwidth.
  • On PS4 they would make the data as small as they can so they could better effectice bandwidth reading from the disk but there was no concern like this with the PS5 thanks to the hardware decompression.
  • Switching between dimensions was reliant on the SSD and each level took up all the avaible space on RAM so memory was filled within under a second when switching and each level was retained at full quality level.
  • By pulling data straight from the drive, it allowed them to create more complex worlds and freed it up a lot of concern for the designers and giving them significantly freedom and creativity.
  • FInal remarks on the SSD "I'll just say that we have ways to go in terms of leveraging it completely, there is a lot of features and some performance on the table which where not comfortable leaving there and going foreward we'll be trying to get things of the disk even faster".
VFXVeteran VFXVeteran

 

DeepEnigma

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well that's silly because we've been seeing the seamless transitions to cinematics from gameplay and back for a long time now. I've only said don't expect the same cinematic level quality from the marketing material in gameplay, because it literally won't be the exact same (though still looking good nonetheless).
Of course it’s silly, yet people were still arguing against the zooming in and out of the character will change LOD seamlessly on the fly.

War never changes.
 
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Reindeer

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Not sure what the big is deal with Rifts that pull you into different parts of the same stage since that's been done in Portal and couple of other games a very very long time ago, lol. You certainly don't need SSD for that. Rifts into different levels is a different story though, that's impressive.
 
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jroc74

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Yeah, it makes sense. When Zen 2 launched, AMD were getting better at gaming perf but were still catching up with Intel's best at that time. While it's a dramatic improvement over Jaguar, there was still room for improvement. That's where Zen 3 comes in.

But I'd say Zen 2 is still very potent and will age just fine over time.

EDIT: ohh, he confirms they were able to run at 120fps too, on the GPU side. Nearly 3 months ago I said this in a different R&C thread:
60fps...with RT, and 120fps was possible in some areas....

wtf....
 

elliot5

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You were claiming that
Where's the lie? Zooming in in photo mode alters the state of the visuals of the assets, just like how zooming in on Rivet's tail brings in more fur. Everyone likes to bring up the fly that looks great when zoomed in in high detail. It's not at that level of detail outside of photo mode because the camera isn't as close. Same thing with cinematics.
 
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Md Ray

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60fps...with RT, and 120fps was possible in some areas....

wtf....
Yeah, something like at 1080p w/o RT it should have been possible to run at 120fps but due to what they're doing on the gameplay side of things, the CPU came in the way. But he kind of alludes that in the future titles with enough optimization they could pull it off.
 
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Heisenberg007

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This quote reminded me of what Tim S was tweeting about last year:


So, the data stored in the storage device (SSD) is already in the native format that PS5's GPU can read as per Tim and IG's tech director, Mike. So the only step that's required is decompression (which is taken care of by dedicated HW decompressors, not CPU) when the data gets sent to the GPU memory. This is amazing and extremely efficient.

Haha.
I completely forgot about this. Could this also be one of the reasons why PS5 games are smaller than PC/Xbox versions?
 
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Heisenberg007

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Not sure what the big is deal with Rifts that pull you into different parts of the stage since that's been done in Portal and couple of other games a very long time ago. Rifts into different levels all together is obviously impressive though.

1. Previously, it was done by putting all the data in RAM.
2. Now it's done by NOT putting all the data in RAM and just calling it from the SSD whenever it's needed.

Bottom line: RAM is freed, which is being used for higher-quality assets and movie-level graphics. When a new level or new assets are required (after a portal shift), the RAM drops everything, calls the data from SSD, which gets there and rendered in a second.
 

nowhat

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Thanks both Tripolygon Tripolygon and Three Jackdaws Three Jackdaws for the summaries - I'm not watching any of these DF videos (which is a shame) because I absolutely want to see everything myself for the first time whilst actually playing the game.
FWIW the footage shown is pretty much what you've (maybe) already seen in the trailers, so safe in that regard. And you can just listen to this as a podcast without video for that matter.
 
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jroc74

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Where's the lie? Zooming in in photo mode alters the state of the visuals of the assets, just like how zooming in on Rivet's tail brings in more fur. Everyone likes to bring up the fly that looks great when zoomed in in high detail. It's not at that level of detail outside of photo mode because the camera isn't as close. Same thing with cinematics.
....but the dev just said they arent switching assets....

Its not that its not that detailed, its that we cant see it because its so small. Yeah...when I zoom in and out you can see it getting clearer. Same thing happens in game tho, just not as pronounced.

I just loaded it back up now, and you can see it, just cant see it up close because its so small. You have to follow this tiny thing around, and hope you be in a spot that the camera gets close enough. The beginning of that planet is a good spot to check for this.

Also wanna say this is the first or one of the few PS5 games that skips the studio logo when starting the game. Miles is hot or miss, this has been really consistent so far.
 
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Md Ray

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1. Previously, it was done by putting all the data in RAM.
2. Now it's done by NOT putting all the data in RAM and just calling it from the SSD whenever it's needed.

Bottom line: RAM is freed, which is being used for higher-quality assets and movie-level graphics. When a new level or new assets are required (after a portal shift), the RAM drops everything, calls the data from SSD, which gets there and rendered in a second.
Precisely. And as they say, they're only scratching the surface of what the PS5 can do.
 

Mister Wolf

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1. Previously, it was done by putting all the data in RAM.
2. Now it's done by NOT putting all the data in RAM and just calling it from the SSD whenever it's needed.

Bottom line: RAM is freed, which is being used for higher-quality assets and movie-level graphics. When a new level or new assets are required (after a portal shift), the RAM drops everything, calls the data from SSD, which gets there and rendered in a second.

I wonder how much RAM would be needed to run R&C on PC accomplishing the same feats. The entire game in RAM? 3/4 of it with a standard SSD?
 

elliot5

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....but the dev just said they arent switching assets....

Its not that its not that detailed, its that we cant see it because its so small.

I just loaded it back up now, and you can see it, just cant see it up close because its so small.

Also wanna say this is the first or one of the few PS5 games that skips the studio logo when starting the game. Miles is hot or miss, this has been really consistent so far.
Because they aren't swapping assets like a duplicate or a separate model. It's the systems in place that's doing the swapping on the fly like texture mips and how much fur to render and whatnot. It's the same "asset" but it's semantics really because the quality is different. It's unnoticeable to the eye at the gameplay size... And that's the point. There's no point in rendering more than you have to.
 
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Tripolygon

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Where's the lie? Zooming in in photo mode alters the state of the visuals of the assets, just like how zooming in on Rivet's tail brings in more fur. Everyone likes to bring up the fly that looks great when zoomed in in high detail. It's not at that level of detail outside of photo mode because the camera isn't as close. Same thing with cinematics.
You were claiming those assets are separate from gameplay assets. As in they’re only used for cinematic and or photomode which they’re not. Those assets exist in the game as “one model” with varying level of detail based on how far it is from the camera. Each model has several LOD levels that change based on distance from the camera, if you are able to get close to a model while in gameplay you can see that higher detail LOD. What you are implying is that you can only see those detail in cinematic or photomode. Photo mode allows you to zoom in very close so you are able to see LOD 0 at any time. Gameplay view is pulled out so you can’t see LOD 0 easily without trying very hard. There are no separate Cinematic or Photomode assets, they are same assets in cinematic, photomode and gameplay.

Put another way. Objects in the back of the scene use lower detail models because they take up less pixels and they don’t add a lot of detail to the output image. Doesn’t mean the higher detail model doesn’t exist in gameplay. When you get closer to the model the higher detail model loads in as they take up more pixels and add a lot of detail to the scene.
Another factor that plays a big role is lighting. Cinematic lighting are used for cutscenes that shows off more detail than general scene lighting. Guerrilla Games for instance has decided to use the cinematic lighting for Alloy during gameplay which some people are complaining about because it makes Alloy standout from the scene during gameplay. Even though some games have been doing that for ages to a lesser degree.
 
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IntentionalPun

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I wonder how much RAM would be needed to run R&C on PC accomplishing the same feats. The entire game in RAM? 3/4 of it with a standard SSD?
We just don't know what I/O rate was needed, and PC you couldn't compress as much.

But I don't know why you think anywhere near 100/75% of the game would need to be loaded. Doesn't this game have numerous worlds/asset sets? Why would any more than ~2 of those asset sets be needed?