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angular graphics
Banned
(02-14-2013, 07:53 PM)
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Apologies for creating a new thread.

But..

The one thing that made me excited about Aliens: Colonial Marines was its supposed lighting tech. People seem to have completely forgotten about it and either don't realize what's missing in the final game compared to the demo videos or aren't as (negatively) surprised as I am that the game's visuals ended up being so bland.

Just a look at this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6lGXD...wa5BAg&index=8

So let's remember what Pitchford said and showed, shall we?

http://www.1up.com/previews/e3-alien...arines-preview

The game's still powered by Unreal, but its rendering engine is a brand-new renderer that Gearbox has created. "It's exclusive to Marines," continues Pitchford. "It's a real-time dynamic lighting, dynamic shadow system. When you see the images in this game you're going to realize how alive everything is. The way the lights move in the environment -- it affects everything in real-time. Nothing is baked in."

The lighting and shadow shadow system is impressive and has to be a necessary component for the game to capture the feeling from the films. The renderer was on full-power towards the end of the demo when the marines were forced into a last stand situation. The power gets cut off, the Aliens invade, red emergency lights flicker to life, and pulse rifles start firing away at the moving shadows. It really captures the feeling of a film that has inspired other game developers for years.

The renderer even has a name: http://www.gamespot.com/aliens-colon...eview-6318046/

The sundered colony made full use of the game's Red Ring engine, easily rendering creepy lighting and shadows touted as influenced by Dead Space.

And we even know who built it: http://www.destructoid.com/aliens-co...g-225194.phtml

When presenting Aliens: Colonial Marines to a room full of writers, one thing Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford wanted to boast about was a technique he called "deferred rendering." According to Gearbox's most charming mouth, this is the "next generation" of lighting that developers will be bigging up in the next few years.

"We have this guy, we call him The Zoner, Sean Cavanagh," Pitchford told me in a following interview. "He said, 'Dude, because of the nature of this franchise, I can rationalize the effort, time, money, and some pretty fucking hardcore brains, to build this engine now. He's never been wrong. He built the original tools for Half-Life that did all the baked-in lighting. That was all compiled with Zoner's tools. Everyone's going to do [this lighting], he wanted to do it now, and see if he could do it on these existing platforms.

"It's pretty cool. You want the most realistic lighting possible, but machines are slow and only have so much computational power, so what you do is you bake the lighting in advance. The way Gears of War looks so amazing is that most of the lighting is rendered ahead of time. It's baked onto the surfaces, which is awesome if the lighting stays in the same places and nothing moves, but when the light or something in the environment changes, it breaks it."

According to Pitchford, deferred rendering makes lighting more flexible, delivering the same kind of atmosphere as Gears of War in a way that isn't pre-packaged.

"The next generation wants to get over that trade-off by doing the lighting simulation last after all the physical objects are in place. Not only do you need to add the lighting last, it needs to be a better lighting than it was when we pre-baked it. Zoner found a way of doing it. On Xbox 360 and PS3, we get about 90% of the way there. It obviously looks a lot better when you're playing it on PC, but it turns out the consoles are powerful enough, and all the software's optimal enough because we're so late in the life cycle, to where he found a way and we're fucking doing it.

"It's pretty exciting for us. When you hear some of the big guys talk about their next generation lighting, you're going to hear about deferred rendering a lot. It's very possible that Aliens: Colonial Marines is the first commercial product to ship with deferred lighting."

I can't say I know much about the technical side of things. I know real-time lighting itself is nothing new, but I do know that, regardless of how "next-gen" the tech actually is, the lighting in Colonial Marines does look bloody fantastic. I'd say that's a score for this deferred rendering malarky, be it a marketing term or not.

Screenshots: http://www.geforce.co.uk/whats-new/a...lonial-marines











Gotta love the lighting. It doesn't look like Unreal. It indeed looks like dynamic, lighting. Of course the screenshots might be downsampled from very high resolutions, and post-processed with photoshop to improve them, but overall they look nothing like the final game.

So what happened? I have some theories:

1) Console builds were lagging behind / they might have overestimated the "90% of the PC quality" lighting of the console builds.

Pitchford said:

"Everyone's going to do [this lighting], he wanted to do it now, and see if he could do it on these existing platforms." "On Xbox 360 and PS3, we get about 90% of the way there. It obviously looks a lot better when you're playing it on PC, but it turns out the consoles are powerful enough"

But are they?

http://www.reddit.com/r/LV426/commen..._at_the_final/

About 5 of those 9 months went to shipping BL2. In that time, TimeGate managed to scrap together 85% of the campaign, but once Borderlands 2 shipped and GBX turned its attention to Pecan, it became pretty apparent that what had been made was in a pretty horrid state. Campaign didn't make much sense, the boss fights weren't implemented, PS3 was way over memory, etcetcetc.

This wouldn't be the first time we've heard of a similar story. For example Crytek had to eventually remove GI from the console builds of Crysis 2, when they found out "it still had visible issues/artefacts which we ran out of time to address".

2) As of April 2012 the lighting engine was only 45% completed

http://www.polycount.com/forum/showp...&postcount=182
http://se.linkedin.com/pub/ryan-hawkins/24/a69/604

TimeGate Studios (June 2011 - April 2012)
Title: Aliens Colonial Marines (Xbox360/PS3/PC)

Not the greatest screenshots in the world but its what I could get at the time when I left the project. The lighting engine was only 45% done for the project and it really made it hard to get good cubemaps and gi on the environments. Hopefully I can get my hands on the game soon and get better screens. For now this is all I have also on ACM a lot of the game art asset wise was outsourced to Shanghai so nothing you can do to really point fingers. Also keep in mind the game was in development for 6 years so when a lot of us polycounters joined the project the game was still filled with 6 year old assets that we had no time to fix or replace.

3) After Borderlands 2 shipped in September 2012, Gearbox went into "panic mode/scrap everything we don't have time to properly make"

GBX was pretty unhappy with TG's work, and some of Campaign maps were just completely redesigned from scratch. There were some last minute feature requests, most notably female marines, and the general consensus among GBX devs was that there was no way this game was going to be good by ship. There just wasn't enough time.

Considering that SEGA was pretty close to taking legal action against GBX, asking for an extension wasn't an option, and so Pecan crash-landed through certification and shipping. Features that were planned were oversimplified, or shoved in
(a good example of this are challenges, which are in an incredibly illogical order). Issues that didn't cause 100% blockers were generally ignored, with the exception of absolutely horrible problems. This isn't because GBX didn't care, mind you. At a certain point, they couldn't risk changing ANYTHING that might cause them to fail certification or break some other system. And so, the product you see is what you get.

Last edited by angular graphics; 02-15-2013 at 08:18 PM.
gofreak
GAF's Bob Woodward
(02-14-2013, 07:56 PM)
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"It's pretty exciting for us. When you hear some of the big guys talk about their next generation lighting, you're going to hear about deferred rendering a lot. It's very possible that Aliens: Colonial Marines is the first commercial product to ship with deferred lighting."

A comment like that ought to have set alarm bells ringing.
angular graphics
Banned
(02-14-2013, 07:57 PM)
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Originally Posted by gofreak

A comment like that ought to have set alarm bells ringing.

Yeah, that's Pitchford's usual BS XD
blugbox
Junior Member
(02-14-2013, 07:59 PM)
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Thanks! Can't wait to read this for lunch today at work! I always wondered what happened with the lighting as I remember it looking much better early on.
cyberheater
PS4 PS4 PS4 PS4 PS4 PS4 PS4 PS4 PS4 PS4 PS4 PS4 PS4 PS4 PS4 PS4 PS4 XBOX PS4 PS4
(02-14-2013, 08:06 PM)
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The 8gb patch will sort all this out.
Joe Shlabotnik
Member
(02-14-2013, 08:15 PM)
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Originally Posted by cyberheater

The 8gb patch will sort all this out.

Also, for convenience, it will be available on disc at local retailers listed as "Aliens: Colonial Marines 2".
angular graphics
Banned
(02-15-2013, 09:31 AM)
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GAF hates my threads confirmed :(
volturnus
Banned
(02-15-2013, 09:41 AM)
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SEGA should still take legal action against them for all this.
Eideka
Banned
(02-15-2013, 10:58 AM)
Good thread, I know what you feel OP. I was expecting great things from this game graphics wise and now look at what we've got...
Jackpot
Member
(02-15-2013, 11:53 AM)
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I hope in the inevitable post-mortems someone asks gearbox what happened to this.
BassForever
Member
(02-15-2013, 11:56 AM)
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Originally Posted by angular graphics

GAF hates my threads confirmed :(

You needed to post this before 55k and NPD came out
Psychotext
Member
(02-15-2013, 12:15 PM)
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For a minute I thought they were going to use the excuse that their lighting engine was so awesome that it was killing consoles and they had to dial it back.

Stupid thread title. :D
flkk
Junior Member
(02-15-2013, 12:23 PM)
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The polycount post you linked appears to have been deleted: http://www.polycount.com/forum/showp...&postcount=182

But google still hast it cached: http://webcache.googleusercontent.co...&ct=clnk&gl=uk
erpg
GAF parliamentarian
(02-15-2013, 12:25 PM)
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Done with Pitchford. I felt slighted way back when with broken Halo PC promises, but this is some unforgivable bullshit.
liquidtmd
(02-15-2013, 12:26 PM)
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Aliens threads. Wat u doin. Alien threads...stahp
Rez
(02-15-2013, 12:29 PM)
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Super fascinating, thanks for compiling this.
JoeFenix
Member
(02-15-2013, 12:33 PM)
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Randy Pitchford always came off like a Snake Oil salesmen to me.

I remember seeing an interview with him where he said he used to be a magician or a performer, makes so much sense. Divert attention and sell people on illusions.

This company is so fucking shady!
angular graphics
Banned
(02-15-2013, 12:37 PM)
angular graphics's Avatar

Originally Posted by flkk

The polycount post you linked appears to have been deleted: http://www.polycount.com/forum/showp...&postcount=182

But google still hast it cached: http://webcache.googleusercontent.co...&ct=clnk&gl=uk

His WIP Aliens shots deleted as well. Oh well :P
FourMyle
Member
(02-15-2013, 12:39 PM)
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What a complete clusterfuck. That deferred lighting engine did indeed look great, but the game itself never looked very fun.
Mael
Member
(02-15-2013, 12:43 PM)
angular graphics, you thread is really good (I don't even have any interest in the game GOOD or BAD but that's still interesting).
to go along with your comparison can you update the OP with screens from the actual products for people who stumbled there and have no idea how it looks now?
dark10x
60 fps 60 fps 60 fps 60 fps 30 fps 60 fps 60 fps 30 fps
(02-15-2013, 12:46 PM)
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He made that deferred lighting comment just one year ago? Really? What a joke.
haikira
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(02-15-2013, 12:46 PM)
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OP could do with this.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3z2qVebxlUo

Great video for showing the difference of what was shown before and what we actually got. Make sure you watch it with annotations on, as they made a mistake with some of the tags in the video and fixed them with the youtube annotations.

Interesting info you put together though angular. Thanks.
FourMyle
Member
(02-15-2013, 12:50 PM)
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Originally Posted by haikira

OP could do with this.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3z2qVebxlUo

Great video for showing the difference of what was shown before and what we actually got. Make sure you watch it with annotations on, as they made a mistake with some of the tags in the video and fixed them with the youtube annotations.

Interesting info you put together though angular. Thanks.

Holy shit. This is amazing, thanks. That lighting in the Demo was unreal. I hope lighting like that becomes the norm for next gen.
Jim Sterling
the Lil B of videogaming
(02-15-2013, 12:52 PM)
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I am embarrassed by that Randy Pitchford interview. I always liked Pitchford, and I'm a very public Aliens fan. I ostensibly had him lie directly to my face.

Although I'd already planned to refuse all paid publisher preview events after the Doritos Carnival (and missed out on meeting Swery65 because of it!), this sorry spectacle killed my desire to pretty much do any previews, ever. I'm done with E3 -- at least for the time being -- and I'll be damn careful around PAX. Stuff like this, just outright lying with your game, is easy to do and hard to remain accountable for. This, I've learned.

I'm at least glad Gearbox has stayed on the hook for this one.

Deferred lighting? It was a deferred friggin' game -- put off, shelved, so Gearbox could work on things it found more important.
RionaaM
Member
(02-15-2013, 12:53 PM)
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They had 6 years. SIX fucking years. And it still wasn't enough for them.

It doesn't matter if Gearbox didn't really develop it, they just didn't give a damn about the game.

Of course they couldn't ask for another extension: Sega wouldn't want to have a Duke Nukem Forever under their name, would they? And for the record, I liked DNF. Though given the state this game was in, they may as well have given Gearbox a couple of months more, it definitely couldn't have been worse than what's happening now, with the game being destroyed by gaming media and gamers/customers alike.
angular graphics
Banned
(02-15-2013, 12:57 PM)
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Originally Posted by haikira

OP could do with this.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3z2qVebxlUo

Great video for showing the difference of what was shown before and what we actually got. Make sure you watch it with annotations on, as they made a mistake with some of the tags in the video and fixed them with the youtube annotations.

Interesting info you put together though angular. Thanks.

I'm referring to it in the OP. Of course perhaps not everyone has seen it so that's a good suggestion. They have posted a video where they have corrected the demo/final labels. I'll update the OP later, since I'm on my phone now.

Thank you all!
Lord Phol
Member
(02-15-2013, 01:06 PM)
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Originally Posted by haikira

OP could do with this.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3z2qVebxlUo

Great video for showing the difference of what was shown before and what we actually got. Make sure you watch it with annotations on, as they made a mistake with some of the tags in the video and fixed them with the youtube annotations.

Interesting info you put together though angular. Thanks.

Wow, good lightning really goes along way in improving the atmosphere and feel of the game, that's like night and day. Makes me hopeful for the things we will see next gen.
LOCK
Member
(02-15-2013, 01:16 PM)
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This is so depressing, seeing what the game could be.

If I was Sega, I would take legal action. Gearbox misled many people.
Droog
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(02-15-2013, 02:27 PM)
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Originally Posted by Jim Sterling

I am embarrassed by that Randy Pitchford interview. I always liked Pitchford, and I'm a very public Aliens fan. I ostensibly had him lie directly to my face.

Although I'd already planned to refuse all paid publisher preview events after the Doritos Carnival (and missed out on meeting Swery65 because of it!), this sorry spectacle killed my desire to pretty much do any previews, ever. I'm done with E3 -- at least for the time being -- and I'll be damn careful around PAX. Stuff like this, just outright lying with your game, is easy to do and hard to remain accountable for. This, I've learned.

I'm at least glad Gearbox has stayed on the hook for this one.

Deferred lighting? It was a deferred friggin' game -- put off, shelved, so Gearbox could work on things it found more important.

I'm honestly wondering if GBX will ever comment on the Aliens debacle, probably not though. It'll just be quietly swept under the carpet I imagine. Randy hasn't mentioned Aliens once on twitter since it launched this week which is very indicative. He's usually very vocal about BL2.

P.S. Welcome Jim! Liked your A-LIE-NS video this week!
antitrop
does not much care for
anti-shooter bias
(02-15-2013, 03:35 PM)
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Originally Posted by Droog

I'm honestly wondering if GBX will ever comment on the Aliens debacle, probably not though. It'll just be quietly swept under the carpet I imagine. Randy hasn't mentioned Aliens once on twitter since it launched this week which is very indicative. He's usually very vocal about BL2.

P.S. Welcome Jim! Liked your A-LIE-NS video this week!

From Pitchford's comments on Twitter, it seems more like he's waiting for the death threats to blow over before trying to have a reasonable discourse about the game.

Or at least he better be, he's got some 'splaining to do.
Haunted
(02-15-2013, 03:40 PM)
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Good OP, really shows why people are so skeptical about games with development troubles, you never know what you're going to get.


The game should never have been released in this state, although if it was the only other option compared to straight-out cancelling it... *sigh* Such a huge shame.
Messofanego
Member
(02-15-2013, 03:50 PM)
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Great OP, that's some fine detective work. A polycounter is a pretty cool nickname.

Any more details on Sean Cavanagh?
JJD
Member
(02-15-2013, 04:20 PM)
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So the lighting isn't dynamic even on PC? I just assumed they were missing only from the console versions. Wow.
Lactose_Intolerant
Member
(02-15-2013, 04:29 PM)
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edit: I'll be less negative. Good amount of info here.

I'm hoping we get a postmortem in a month or 2.
jorgeton
Member
(02-15-2013, 04:33 PM)
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This game is a disaster through and through. I imagine it's more fun reading about how Gearbox dropped the ball than playing through it.
Killer
guilty
(02-15-2013, 04:37 PM)
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Thanks for the info. Gearbox will live and die on Borderlands.
Vossler
Member
(02-15-2013, 04:40 PM)
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Never understood why this game was so hyped up....looked like it was bullshots from the get go.
Hachimaki
Member
(02-15-2013, 04:53 PM)
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Watch the video that haikira posted.

I was impressed with the demo, but the final product... My god.
The Mana Legend
Banned
(02-15-2013, 04:54 PM)
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Originally Posted by LOCK

This is so depressing, seeing what the game could be.

If I was Sega, I would take legal action. Gearbox misled many people.

People keep telling Sega to take legal action because the demo misled people, which is dumb. Bullshots and bullvideos are part of the industry. Sega does them. Everybody does them.

I guarantee Sega knew that the game was going to turn out this way. They didn't just sit around waiting for it to be finish. I'm pretty sure Sega must have visited them a few times or at least had several updates sent to them regularly. So as long as Gearbox didn't show Sega a bunch of bullshots and videos of their own, Sega knew exactly what was going on.

Now about the outsourcing and Gearbox supposedly spending the money on other things, sure. But I doubt they'd really have evidence of Gearbox spending money on other titles.
Relaxed Muscle
Member
(02-15-2013, 04:56 PM)
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Originally Posted by Vossler

Never understood why this game was so hyped up....looked like it was bullshots from the get go.

There were videos, live demos backing up the bullshots and I don't think the lightning was really that far from current consoles, we saw some incredible things on current gen.
ilnadmy
Member
(02-15-2013, 05:01 PM)
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Man I can't believe Pitchford got away with all the lies he was spewing. That's a great OP, very informative.
mackattk
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(02-15-2013, 05:03 PM)
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Originally Posted by RionaaM

They had 6 years. SIX fucking years. And it still wasn't enough for them.

Company mismanagement is a huge problem. I see it everyday at the place of my work.

Boss: "We need an extension on Project A"
Client: "Fine, will an extra month work with you?"
Boss: "Sure"

Boss to employees: "We got an extra month on Project A. That is a load off of our back and we can breathe a little. With the extra time given on Project A, we need to focus on Project B and C and get back to A when we have time."
SJRB
Member
(02-15-2013, 05:05 PM)
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Fucking Gearbox, man. Those screenshots break my heart.
Boerseun
Banned
(02-15-2013, 08:41 PM)
This is how I understand the situation:

1. The demo is pre-rendered, Pitchford claims it's in-game footage.
2. Sega funded development of Aliens: Colonial Marines for six years (I've also heard seven).
3. Gearbox use the above funds to (allegedly) produce Borderlands 1 & 2 and Duke Nukem Forever, instead of working on Aliens.
4. Gearbox outsource the work they were supposed to be doing on Aliens to three smaller studios.
5. In 2012, Sega finally get impatient and demand answers.
6. Gearbox ask for and get a final nine month extension.
7. Five of these nine months are used to finish Borderlands 2.
8. Gearbox finally take a look at Aliens and discover the game isn't anywhere near release quality.
9. They scrap everything that still needs to be implemented and do the bare minimum of testing.
10. Ship ahoy!

Please correct me if I'm wrong.

This drama has been quite complicated and I simply do not have the time to read through every single post on the matter.
Last edited by Boerseun; 02-15-2013 at 08:59 PM.
thumb
Member
(02-15-2013, 08:45 PM)
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Originally Posted by Boerseun

This is how I understand the situation:

1. The demo is pre-rendered, Pitchford claims it's in-game footage.
2. Sega funded development of Aliens: Colonial Marines for six years (I've also heard seven).
3. Gearbox use the above funds to (allegedly) produce Borderlands 1 & 2 and Duke Nukem Forever, instead of working on Aliens.
4. Gearbox outsource the work they were supposed to be doing on Aliens to three smaller studios.
5. In 2012, Sega finally get impatient and demand answers.
6. Gearbox ask for and get a final nine month extension.
7. Five of these nine months are used to finish Borderlands 2.
8. Gearbox finally take a look at Aliens and discover the game isn't anywhere near release quality.
9. They scrap everything that still need to be implemented and do the bare minimum of testing.
10. Ship ahoy!

Please correct me if I'm wrong.

This drama has been quite complicated and I simply do not have the time to read through every single post on the matter.

It's point 3 that I have never seen mentioned from any purported "insiders". My understanding is that point 3 is an inference, not a claim that has been made.
Boerseun
Banned
(02-15-2013, 08:52 PM)

Originally Posted by thumb

It's point 3 that I have never seen mentioned from any purported "insiders". My understanding is that point 3 is an inference, not a claim that has been made.

Every GAF thread on the game has had people making this claim.

I agree with what you're saying though. Until someone in the know confirms it, it remains speculation (hence the allegedly).
Fudgepuppy
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(02-15-2013, 11:20 PM)
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Originally Posted by thumb

It's point 3 that I have never seen mentioned from any purported "insiders". My understanding is that point 3 is an inference, not a claim that has been made.

It's simple math.

Gearbox has circa 180 employees, yet most of those worked on three other projects during the 6-year period during which Sega was paying them.

If it's true that they were circa 20 people working on Pecan, and then shipping off the rest of it to Timegate, that's very few people working on a contracted "AAA-game". There's no way Sega gave them the budget of 20-people. They probably paid them thinking 60% of GBX would work on Aliens.

You can't really prove this, but considering they published Borderlands 1 & 2 in the same time it took them to announce and release CM, it's obvious they where spending resources elsewhere.
FACE
I'M STILL CASTILLE
(02-15-2013, 11:38 PM)
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"It's pretty exciting for us. When you hear some of the big guys talk about their next generation lighting, you're going to hear about deferred rendering a lot. It's very possible that Aliens: Colonial Marines is the first commercial product to ship with deferred lighting."

Metro 2033 shipped in 2010.
aegies
Member
(02-15-2013, 11:48 PM)
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Originally Posted by FACE

"It's pretty exciting for us. When you hear some of the big guys talk about their next generation lighting, you're going to hear about deferred rendering a lot. It's very possible that Aliens: Colonial Marines is the first commercial product to ship with deferred lighting."

Metro 2033 shipped in 2010.

Uncharted and Dead Space say hello.
FACE
I'M STILL CASTILLE
(02-15-2013, 11:55 PM)
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Originally Posted by aegies

Uncharted and Dead Space say hello.

So, games from 2007/08 already did deferred rendering and this 2013 game doesn't. Damn!

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