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Irrational On Making Bioshock Infinite's Visuals Shine

Some developers can simply do more with any given engine.

The original Bioshock looked incredible and it used the aging Unreal Engine 2.5 of the time. So how did the guys at Irrational pull off such a convincing, top-quality visual presentation? Well, Chris Kline speaks in-depth about the subject over at Irrational's forums, and as it turns out, the team created various elements on their own (like the water). Now, with Bioshock Infinite using Unreal Engine 3, you can bet the designers will once again take an aging engine and tweak it; make it do fantastic things above and beyond the call of duty. Wrote Kline:

"Right from the outset we realized that this was going to be a monumental undertaking on the tech side, but decided it was a challenge that we simply had to take on in order to give gamers the kind of quality experience they've come to expect from Irrational Games and BioShock."

He goes on to say that Irrational considered using Unreal Engine 2.5 again, but it was simply "too underpowered and unwieldy for the depth and complexity of the gameplay and narrative we had planned." So, they moved up to the Unreal Engine 3, which has its fair share of detractors these days. But Kline says the team is working hard to bypass any shortcomings; the new lighting system should be amazing, and they'll also implement a "custom sound propagation system (so voice properly echo down corridors and around buildings) and a dynamic wind audio system that reinforces the dynamic weather in the world."

Yes indeed, perhaps there's no such thing as small, underpowered engines, but only small, under-talented developers. Just watch this gameplay sample and try not to be impressed. This game is going to be incredible.

Related Game(s): Bioshock Infinite

Tags: bioshock, bioshock infinite, unreal engine, ue3

11/3/2010 9:11:19 PM Ben Dutka

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Comments (27 posts)

Jawknee
Wednesday, November 03, 2010 @ 9:44:57 PM
Reply

Bioshock games have been the only games i have played using Unreal that were actually done well on the technical side. There use of Unreal has been the best i have seen. They seem to know how to get the engine running with minimal to no tearing, texture loading, pop in, etc.

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hellish_devil
Wednesday, November 03, 2010 @ 10:07:46 PM

Batman: Arkham Asylum was also good.

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Jawknee
Wednesday, November 03, 2010 @ 10:17:01 PM

Yea Batman was pretty good. I still noticed some Unreal nastiness with Batman though. Everything looked like wax. Also had losts of texture loading and some tearing while the Bioshock games had minimal texture loading and zero tearing.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, November 03, 2010 @ 10:17:52 PM

Side by sides showed the PS3 version to be washed out too.

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Temjin001
Wednesday, November 03, 2010 @ 10:50:59 PM

it's also worth mentioning Batman on 360 had 2x anti-aliasing. Not majorly noticeable due to darker settings. But always a plus to have.

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Temjin001
Wednesday, November 03, 2010 @ 11:09:23 PM

*don't worry PS3 I got your back*

But the PS3 version of Batman has better quality FMV (thank you blu-ray!) and you can play as the Joker. And let's not forget the Dual Shock 3!

;)

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Alienange
Wednesday, November 03, 2010 @ 9:50:37 PM
Reply

You're absolutely right. The game looks fantastic. I'm much more excited about Infinite than I was over BS2. Glad to see some devs are focusing on narrative and gameplay over which engine they have.

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Qubex
Wednesday, November 03, 2010 @ 11:58:25 PM

Yhea, believe that Infinite should be better. Irrational will no doubt do a good job with the tech. It does show that even if a developer is using "middle-ware" architecture, with some work and tweaking, they make it into something special...

Let us see how it all works and what the result will be...

Q!

"play.experience.enjoy"

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SixSpeedKing
Wednesday, November 03, 2010 @ 9:52:34 PM
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I knew you'd be first to comment on this Jawknee. :) But I definitely agree that they know what they are doing when using this engine. I am anxiously awaiting this game, I loved the first and second Bioshock. This looks like it will be even better then both.

Last edited by SixSpeedKing on 11/3/2010 9:57:21 PM

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BikerSaint
Wednesday, November 03, 2010 @ 10:06:15 PM
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As Jawknee said above, it looks like Irrational's about the only ones who know how to scrape off all that waxy build-up that always seems to cling to the Unreal engine

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, November 03, 2010 @ 10:17:21 PM
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Yeah those other dudes did a great job on Bio1 (Don't have 2) but I'm glad to hear they are at least using the up-to-date version. It looks like they might have even found a way to tone down the plastic. Good to hear about the sound too. It was really weird how people nowhere near you spoke right into your ear.

What has Irrational made before?

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Geobaldi
Wednesday, November 03, 2010 @ 11:02:17 PM

Irrational has some pretty good games to their credit, and every one of them has been successful. SWAT, Freedom Force, Tribes, Bioshock of course, and one of the best games ever, System Shock 2.

I also like the interview that the President of Irrational and lead designer of Bioshock Infinite Ken Levine, gave to Kotaku where he said, "The PC is the place where great game developers are born, even-and maybe especially-where great console game developers are born. Halo, Mass Effect, Call of Du...PC developers first."

And, "here's something you can take the bank: If you want to know the future of gaming, buy a PC. And pay attention. Because above all, that thing on your desk is a crystal ball."

Seeing as how I play more PC games than console games, it was nice to have a lead developer of a pretty well respected studio give props to the PC since a lot of developers are just porting over their games to it now.

Last edited by Geobaldi on 11/3/2010 11:05:14 PM

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, November 03, 2010 @ 11:35:40 PM

Unfortunately, PC devs aren't so great at porting their games to consoles. Bioshock seems to be in the minority though, and I'm looking forward to Infinite.

*Facepalm* Okay I had no idea Irrational used to be 2K. Consider me slightly out of the loop as I only got Bio recently.

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Temjin001
Thursday, November 04, 2010 @ 1:18:29 AM

I'm surprised World that you think the first Bioshock was handled so well on PS3. Compared to Batman, Bioshock was a much lesser quality conversion.

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___________
Thursday, November 04, 2010 @ 2:09:12 AM

tis the other way around actually, developers are very good at porting PC games to consoles.
but they SUCK at getting console games up to speed on PCs, or what we PC gamers like to call "consoleized" or gimped maybe a better word.
come on i did not spend four freaking grand on my PC so it can play freaking console games!!!!!!!!!!

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, November 04, 2010 @ 3:04:48 AM

I never looked at the comparisons for Bioshock, while I typically think an FPS should have the best graphics possible I got Bioshock for the story. Which is a testament to its RPG elements.

And Ben said it was damn close so that was good enough.

_____ When I talk about PC games coming to consoles, you can't ever say they look as good on a console with a straight face.

Last edited by WorldEndsWithMe on 11/4/2010 3:07:57 AM

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___________
Thursday, November 04, 2010 @ 7:23:09 AM

of course they dont look as good as consoles, but thats not the point!
a 4 thousand dollar machiene they should look a dam site better!
point being crysis is more or less the best looking game to ever release, and its four freaking years old!
time for a change, its time for a game to come out and show us what tri 480s can give us!
the gap from console games to PC games use to be as big as the gap from ps1 games to ps2 games.
what the hell happened!

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Hezzron
Wednesday, November 03, 2010 @ 11:07:56 PM
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The first two were really good, but I'm glad they're changing the setting and taking it out of the water for the next installment. It's going to be a breath of fresh air.

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BikerSaint
Thursday, November 04, 2010 @ 4:22:28 PM

Hezzron, Nice pun!

1 thumbs up!

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Temjin001
Thursday, November 04, 2010 @ 1:21:31 AM
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I think I read somewhere that this new game is using a deferred lighting renderer similar to games like infamous and KZ2.
Basically that means huge amounts of light sources. With a good chance of decreased alpha-transparencies all around--a good thing for multi-plats on PS3.


Last edited by Temjin001 on 11/4/2010 1:21:38 AM

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Lawless SXE
Thursday, November 04, 2010 @ 1:47:24 AM
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Okay, so they completely retooled certain aspects of the Unreal Engine for Bioshock, and they're doing it again for Infinite? That is awesome. And this game really does look gorgeous, and huge. Seriously, the scope is magnificent.

I'm just wondering... we've had Bioshock, whixh was underwater, we're getting Bioshock: Infinite, which is in the air. So, does that meant the third Irrational Bioshock will be lunar? Off-topic, I know, but that would be all sorts of awesome.
Peace.

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___________
Thursday, November 04, 2010 @ 2:06:33 AM
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its not tweaking it, its more or less rewriting your own code!
tis what gearbox have done with DNF, is what remedy had to do with batman AA.
i wish developers would stop using the UE3, its a aging dinosaur!
i could understand if it was the only engine out there you could license, but its not, cry engine 3 anyone?
which, i mean, come on its no freaking comparison!!!!!!!!!!

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Amazingskillz
Thursday, November 04, 2010 @ 9:02:22 AM
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Hearing that they will use the somewhat dated Unreal 3 engine is a disappointment.

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Nynja
Thursday, November 04, 2010 @ 9:08:55 AM
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Watched the video... and I tried... Didn't work. I'm highly impressed.

This games is looking like lots of fun.

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alcrowley
Thursday, November 04, 2010 @ 9:41:53 AM
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I remember playing the first one on my crappy PC with the graphics set to low, and was still impressed with the quality. The water on the game still one of the best ones I ever seen.

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BeezleDrop
Thursday, November 04, 2010 @ 10:26:42 AM
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Yeah, but as stated and observed the Unreal Engine when utilized properly can yield excellent results. The gameplay video for this game is stunning, I am glad you get to be a human again, for me it immerses one a bit more and inspires a certain connection, plus with the new Telekineses Plasmid you can pick up someones gun out of their hands turn it around and shoot them in the face, how awesome is that?

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Amazingskillz
Thursday, November 04, 2010 @ 10:33:57 AM
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This will be a day one purchase for me. BShock 1&2 were fantastic and different.

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