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Bizarre size screw-ups in games

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It must be a tough job being a videogame artist. Tight deadlines, long hours, trying to replicate intricate concept art within strict technological limitations... and of course those pesky laws of real life. You see, for some reason people have this crazy notion that cars are smaller than houses. Yeah, what's all that about? We say to hell with it - these games certainly did.

MotorStorm: Pacific Rift
The original Motostorm did a great job of making a convincingly large game world to zip about in. The rocks looked huge, yet the lorries still looked like lorries. Sadly, the new game's scale looks a bit off. Look - this is surely an RC racing game:

 

So what's making the cars look so small? Could it be because that scaffolding is as thick as a wheel's diameter? Or that the graffiti is as big as a lorry? Or that there are steps with a handrail that's way above the audience's height? Or the way that giant tree is at least 30m high yet forks right down at ground level like the object model's been pushed into the ground to make the canopy appear bigger? It's all kinds of wrong.

OutRun: 8-bit version
It's common practice to give the player's car more detail than the computer-controlled cars in racing games, as you'll see them for much longer and they're usually closer to the screen. But to make it physically bigger by half again?

Last time we checked, Ferrari Testarossas weren't taller than VW Beetles. Although seeing as this Ferrari-alike is an unlicensed likeness, it doesn't have to be like a real Ferrari at all. Still, at least this solves the problem of sportscars having little boot space:

Road Rash
Graphical issues like this were everywhere in the late 1980s and early 1990s as developers tried to scale sprites on hardware that couldn't really manage it. Trying to make a Game Boy run Road Rash was a very bad idea (although the 3D effect multi-scrolling sky was amazing). Need a 'for instance'?

Omigod! It's giant biker and his ant rider minion! This isn't a clever screenshot taken on a jump - the bike ahead really is on the same plane as that lamp post.

Things got a little better on Game Boy Color. But not much.


Above: Get on a motorbike and you'll be taller than a house

Let's go back to the present. How about some Killzone 2?

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35 comments

  • ELpork - February 12, 2009 6:15 p.m.

    SHROOOOOM!!!
  • SkinnyJr - February 12, 2009 10:13 p.m.

    I did feel a little short in KZ2
  • Spike_the_Dogg - February 13, 2009 1:56 a.m.

    I noticed it also in Metroid Prime Hunters when two samus' could stand next to each other and look up at each other. It was wierd
  • gutlessVADER - February 13, 2009 1:58 a.m.

    pretty strange
  • iKOemos - February 13, 2009 3:17 a.m.

    In almost every FPS u seem to play as a midget.
  • Romination - February 13, 2009 3:58 a.m.

    WHAT?!? KILLZONE 2 HAS PARFECT HIEGHT!! FAIL!!! Yeah, yeah, there's a jackass like me every killzone reference...that road rash picture made me laugh. anyone else like those jump boots from Mario?
  • rollaire - February 13, 2009 6:34 p.m.

    LOL, I just love the punch buggy in the Ferrari! Priceless! RT www.anon-tools.us.tc
  • 60Hertz - February 13, 2009 7:14 p.m.

    i mean really we can go on ripping MOVIES apart about laws of physics, and nature... i really don't get the point of this article other than to show how much smarter the author is than the developer except, interestingly enough, it seems like he's never actually made a game... i'm tired of this type of journalism.
  • Yellowhat17 - February 13, 2009 7:30 p.m.

    The same issue was in the original FarCry also.
  • Yellowhat17 - February 13, 2009 7:32 p.m.

    @60hertz Either you're a Killzone fan boy, or you're just humorless. It doesn't REALLY matter, it's just something that bugs us.
  • darthspongebob7 - February 13, 2009 11:33 p.m.

    i dont think anybody cares
  • GoldenMe - February 14, 2009 2:23 a.m.

    Justin + This article = WIN. And it's also has a "hate on 60hertz for being a prick/fanboy" comment page.
  • DasavageJ - February 14, 2009 7:52 p.m.

    HAHA nice article GR. I noticed this too, especially in FPS games. I believe its because although your character model are the correct height in comparison to the rest of the game, when the developers put change the camera they make it at the guns height for general ease of aiming purposes. Still a great article though.
  • Rosso172 - February 14, 2009 8:56 p.m.

    Where is CoD4 on this list? Lay down next to a dead body and there ya go =]
  • ReaperOfDarkness - February 15, 2009 4:34 a.m.

    I have experience in CAD (computer aided design) programs (like AutoCAD for example) and i can tell you these are amateur mistakes unless they were technically unavoidable (not in this day and age though). Its pretty funny to see this as it shows how Technical drafters and game design Modelers or animators really need to meet together. These scale issues are beginner issues for drafters so you can tell modelers and animators need some technical know how and scaling or technical visualization skills to enhance their skills. I cant wait to show my friend at school in the drafting program and see what he thinks hehe.
  • camo510 - February 16, 2009 5:19 p.m.

    that 60hertz guy wasnt being a fanboy.. he never mentioned any game.
  • SandroTheMaster - June 11, 2009 8 p.m.

    Strategy games usually can't have the luxury of depicting a correct scale. Specially true in Warcraft 3, Starcraft and even Sins of a Solar Empire, which actually gives a huge sense of scale, still have relatively midgets as planets and stars compared to the (albeit acknowledgedly enormous, but not that much) ships (lack of moons is also a bit of a downer). Civilization and the Total Wars series are even more representative, but I must agree that in-battle, Total War is a bit fucked up in scale. Gigantic trees aside, simple houses have doors the size of five men on top of each other... Come to think about it, Supreme Commander is the only Strategy games with a somewhat accurate scale, if not only because the units are already gigantic robots and tanks already to scale with the buildings and mountains.
  • BodyDamage - February 12, 2009 5:57 p.m.

    that KZ2 entry is very interesting.
  • Montag - February 12, 2009 6:04 p.m.

    I've got a girlfriend so I don't have to shout first!! Seriously I thought that about Far Cry 2, it bugged me for ages
  • MUSH-RUME - February 12, 2009 6:27 p.m.

    Another example is Turok:Evolution (if any one has played it) cos u seem about 1 ft off the ground.

Showing 1-20 of 35 comments

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