Wii

Who Turned Out the Lights?

by David Trammell - September 24, 2008, 1:06 pm PDT
Total comments: 35

I just looked at every Corruption review linked on Game Rankings and not one reviewer mentioned that dynamic lighting was excised from the game. Many reviewers praised the game's lighting in general, apparently referring to the bloom lighting, particle effects, a few random shadows and psuedo-specular highlights (which to be fair, do come together quite nicely to distract from the lack of dynamic lights).

If you're not familiar with the technical jargon, let me make the difference between the presence and lack of dynamic lighting perfectly clear. In the original Metroid Prime, every single shot fired from your arm cannon shed light on the world. Some weapons (the wave beam or charged shots for example) shed more light than others, but they all did something. When the power went out in the labs of Phendrena, you could actually navigate by the purple light of your Wave Beam shots as opposed to using the Thermal Visor. In Echoes the dynamic lights were a bit more subdued for regular shots, but still quite noticeable for charged shots. I'm not sure if that was an artistic decision or one designed to let Retro ramp up the graphics in other areas, but it probably contributed to our failure to notice the lack of dynamic lighting in Corruption.

I honestly couldn't quite believe that Corruption had no dynamic lighting when I first noticed it. I loaded a few different save files and visited every world to see if I could find any dynamic lighting. Finally, upon starting a new game, I noticed just a bit of dynamic lighting in the opening cinema. There is a pulsing blue light on the left side of the screen in a brief scene featuring Dark Samus. There was also a light in the next scene illuminating Samus' Zero Suit as she awakens from hibernation, but that was the last I saw before the gameplay begins. In the next main scene, there is a conspicuous lack of lighting from the glowing thrusters on Samus' gunship as it flies by a Federation cruiser, just as there is no lighting any time the ship takes off or lands during gameplay (although the gunship casts a fake shadow). I didn't delve further, but I wouldn't be surprised if there is a touch of lighting in controlled situations (morph ball tunnels) and other cut-scenes, but lack of lighting from Samus' beam weapons is rather glaring.

To be fair, although dynamic lights are nice, the GameCube (and Wii) implementation can get messy since lighting is only calculated at triangular vertices and then interpolated across the triangles. This looks quite alright when triangles are small (such as the ones that make up Samus and her Gunship), but it can look pretty bad for some of the big triangles that make up the game world. You can see what I mean in the original Prime by performing various tests. If you shoot the middle of a big triangle, then very little lighting occurs. If you shoot the corner if a big triangle, the lighting will extend across the whole thing (fading as it gets to the unlit vertices).

Perhaps Retro thought retaining the vertex lighting would do more harm than good to the game's image since games on competing consoles almost invariably feature per pixel lighting these days. Admittedly Corruption does have a squeaky clean look that vertex lighting would have sometimes marred.

In any case, now that I have noticed exactly what was tickling the unconscious part of my optical lobe, I can't fail to notice what's missing, and I have to say I don't like it one bit. Even though it was messy sometimes, the dynamic lights of the original Prime add animation and vibrancy to the game world that Corruption is missing.

I wonder if any significant number of people out there will care about this. I wonder if any game reviewers will feel embarrassed for failing to notice (for my part, I'm inclined to start consulting a technical check list when I review games from now on). I wonder if anyone at Retro would be willing to comment. We shall see.

Talkback

I think you forfeit any right to complain about this by taking 13 months to notice it.

vuduSeptember 24, 2008

Well, I found it interesting.  :)

I'll admit I didn't notice the lack of dynamic lighting, but then again I don't pay much attention to graphical details like that (I rarely notice shadows either).

shammackSeptember 24, 2008

It is strange that it was taken out, but I can't say I noticed/care.

Quote from: Rize

I wonder if any game reviewers will feel embarrassed for failing to notice (for my part, I'm inclined to start consulting a technical check list when I review games from now on).

Please don't do this.  We don't need any more Matt Casamassinas.

RizeDavid Trammell, Staff AlumnusSeptember 24, 2008

Quote from: insanolord

I think you forfeit any right to complain about this by taking 13 months to notice it.

Catchy, but I disagree.  The game will always exist as it was 13 months ago, so it's perfectly valid to revisit it and criticize it as necessary.

NinGurl69 *hugglesSeptember 24, 2008

I'm currently evaluating the effort to load the game again and check the validity of the poast's claim.

Nick DiMolaNick DiMola, Staff AlumnusSeptember 24, 2008

Very interesting. To be honest I never even noticed. I clearly remember dynamic lighting in Prime 1 and 2, but I think Prime 3 rarely had situations where it would've made much of a difference. I'm sure now that you've pointed it out I'll always notice it.

RizeDavid Trammell, Staff AlumnusSeptember 24, 2008

Quote from: shammack

It is strange that it was taken out, but I can't say I noticed/care.

Quote from: Rize

I wonder if any game reviewers will feel embarrassed for failing to notice (for my part, I'm inclined to start consulting a technical check list when I review games from now on).

Please don't do this.  We don't need any more Matt Casamassinas.

A list doesn't mean you need to reiterate every item on the list in every review, it just prevents you from failing to consider something when writing a review.

Mr. Jack: define much of a difference?  To the gameplay, sure that's true.  To the graphics and atmosphere, it's actually a pretty glaring hole once you realize it's missing.

As I wrote in the blog posting, I noticed something wasn't quite right all along, but it took me until now to pin down what it was.

Nick DiMolaNick DiMola, Staff AlumnusSeptember 24, 2008

I guess I mean in terms of environments. I don't recall too many totally dark ones in Prime 3 whereas 1 and 2 were full of them. As a result I don't think I ever picked up on its omission in 3. Of course, I am taking this all from memory at this point and it has been a good year since I even touched the game.

RizeDavid Trammell, Staff AlumnusSeptember 24, 2008

No there aren't a lot of totally dark areas because that would reveal the lack of dynamic lighting.  They intentionally avoided them I'm sure.  The darkest things get are on the Pirate Home World, and that's the planet on which I noticed the lack of dynamic lighting.

Rize clearly hates Nintendo. Also, the PS3 has dynamic lighting!

:-)

But seriously, this was a very interesting post. I'll definately be loading up all three Prime games and experimenting with different shots. I remember that the Plasma Beam and Wave Beam resulted in the most interesting lighting effects in the first game. In Echoes, the Light Beam was just a white Plasma Beam but it didn't paint as pretty a picture. I wouldn't be surprised if the Dark Beam didn't emit any lighting effects at all, seeing as it's dark energy.

What I find interesting is that the Wii is able to run Prime and Echoes with the dynamic lighting intact, so why remove it from Corruption? The graphics in general weren't THAT much better in Corruption that sacrifices would have to be made...my opinion only.

RizeDavid Trammell, Staff AlumnusSeptember 25, 2008

Well, corruption runs in wide screen mode, it has more polygons on screen and it has some effects going that echoes and the original didn't have (a ton of "bloom" lighting) for example.  It's possible they couldn't enable the dynamic lights without hurting the frame rate (which they pretty much had to keep at a rock solid 60 fps to match their previous work).

Still you would think they could do some dynamic lights.  I wonder if it wasn't simply an artistic decision to mostly avoid the dynamic lights due to the inferior quality of vertex lighting.

Fascinating work, Dave.  I too always noticed something different about Corruption's visuals, but I probably would have never figured out the answer.  I still think it's a beautiful game and plan to play through it again as soon as I have time.

It makes you wonder if, despite their similar hardware, there are some things that GameCube does better than Wii.

thatguySeptember 25, 2008

Quote from: Silks

It makes you wonder if, despite their similar hardware, there are some things that GameCube does better than Wii.

Seriously?  Are you seriously asking this?  The Wii can play every single GameCube game, with the exception of the ones that need a peripheral that cannot attach.  I don't mean to sound critical, but the Wii can do absolutely everything the GameCube can, and more.  There's no doubt about that.  No doubt about that, because the Wii can perfectly play every GameCube game.

Really?

RizeDavid Trammell, Staff AlumnusSeptember 25, 2008

Quote from: Silks

It makes you wonder if, despite their similar hardware, there are some things that GameCube does better than Wii.

I don't think the Wii contains a copy of the Cube's chips for backwards compatibility (the way the PS2 contained the entire PS1 chip set to provide accurate emulation).  I think the Wii is simply an extension of the GameCube architecture rather than a separate architecture piggy backing on the Cube's design.  In other words, the Wii, at the very least, should be able to access the same hardware lighting the Cube had. 

It's possible that the lighting hardware was not extended beyond the Cube's capabilities which could make it unbalanced and difficult to use in games that have far more polygons than GameCube games.  This is complete speculation unfortunately.  I'm not aware that Nintendo ever revealed the Wii's capabilities as they did with the GameCube (which could do "8 hardware lights" according to Wikipedia).

RizeDavid Trammell, Staff AlumnusSeptember 25, 2008

Quote from: Jonnyboy117

Fascinating work, Dave.  I too always noticed something different about Corruption's visuals, but I probably would have never figured out the answer.  I still think it's a beautiful game and plan to play through it again as soon as I have time.

Thanks.  I definitely plan to continue my play through so that I can more fully appreciate the differences.  Then I may well go back and play the original and soak up the dynamically lit goodness!  And get used to the original controls again.  I was surprised to find they felt a bit clunky after playing Prime 3.  Until then, I always thought of them as flawless (and perhaps for a controller they are).

NinGurl69 *hugglesSeptember 25, 2008

Let's just say Rize jumped the gun on this one:  MP3C has dynamic lighting, and plenty of it.

Dynamic lighting is present:

- Whenever you enter MORPH BALL MODE
- Whenever you detonate a MORPH BALL BOMB
- Whenever you use the POWER BEAM
- Whenever you use the CHARGE BEAM
- Whenever you enter MORPH BALL MODE
- Whenever you use the PLASMA BEAM
- Whenever you use the CHARGED PLASMA BEAM
- Whenever you strike an obvious flat surface using the Wall Jump
- Whenver enemies die in a quick, fiery explosion
- Whenever you enter MORPH BALL MODE

^ all that accounts for the same junk that Prime 1&2 had and accounts for the MAJORITY OF PRIME 3, seeing it takes quite a while to get that precious Green Beam.

The dynamic lighting is much less noticeable in the game since most of the rooms are well-lit by default, especially when there's an object present that's merely an excuse to include so much bloom lighting.

What's messing with Rize's head is the Greeny/Nova Beam itself, which apparently doesn't emit light at all.  I don't know why Retro decided that, and the rest of you probably don't either.  Unless, they're trying to make the point that the Nova Beam is concentrated, directed energy that lacks random "exothermalating" properties, much like lasers that don't largely don't emit light/energy away from its axis of travel until the beam strikes a surfaces and reflects to our eyes.  Power Beam is like little light bulbs and Plasma Beam is like fiery spl**ge, so there's some sense in them emitting light, but I guess the Nova Beam is marketly different and we happen to see it at all cuz it's a video game with powerful new-generation graphics.

If the only save file he loaded up was his near-end-game file, then sure he's not going to see any lighting from the Nova Beam.  The rest of the game is fine.

DeguelloJeff Shirley, Staff AlumnusSeptember 25, 2008

It'll be interesting to see Pro's post rebutted.  If possible.

I wonder how heavy goalposts are.

NinGurl69 *hugglesSeptember 25, 2008

OH LOL I TAKE IT BACK!

NOVA BEAM DOES PRODUCE LIGHTING!

Bill AurionSeptember 25, 2008

High-five, guys!

thatguySeptember 25, 2008

Go Team Venture?

NinGurl69 *hugglesSeptember 25, 2008

"The dynamic lighting is much less noticeable in the game since most of the rooms are well-lit by default, especially when there's an object present that's merely an excuse to include so much bloom lighting."

To supplement that and revise the latter useless paragraph, the intensely bright green color and high-speed particles of the Nova Beam pretty much outshine the subtle triangular lighted surfaces that's easier to see thru tiny Power Beam pellets.  The Nova Beam shots also travel faster, so the lighting is present for a much shorter duration.

RizeDavid Trammell, Staff AlumnusSeptember 25, 2008

Quote from: NinGurl69

Let's just say Rize jumped the gun on this one:  MP3C has dynamic lighting, and plenty of it.

Dynamic lighting is present:
- Whenever you use the PLASMA BEAM
- Whenever you use the CHARGED PLASMA BEAM

What's messing with Rize's head is the Greeny/Nova Beam itself, which apparently doesn't emit light at all.  I don't know why Retro decided that, and the rest of you probably don't either.  Unless, they're trying to make the point that the Nova Beam is concentrated, directed energy that lacks random "exothermalating" properties, much like lasers that don't largely don't emit light/energy away from its axis of travel until the beam strikes a surfaces and reflects to our eyes.  Power Beam is like little light bulbs and Plasma Beam is like fiery spl**ge, so there's some sense in them emitting light, but I guess the Nova Beam is marketly different and we happen to see it at all cuz it's a video game with powerful new-generation graphics.

If the only save file he loaded up was his near-end-game file, then sure he's not going to see any lighting from the Nova Beam.  The rest of the game is fine.

I have no end game safe file currently.  The file I loaded his on the Pirate home world with the Plasma Beam.  I tested there, and I went to several different worlds (Bryyo, Elysia and the Federation Cruiser during a new game).

I carefully observed the world geometry in several places and just retested again in for your benefit.  Either my Wii is broken, my copy of Prime 3 is different than yours or something is fooling you.

Let me ask you this, if you go underneath Samus Gunship and shoot bullets past the ship, do you see the bullets lighting up the underneath of the gunship as they travel away?  This should be easily noticeable with a charged shot.  I don't see a single drop of light.

I also tested bombs and morph ball mode.  Bombs make a big pretty explosion with a giant glowing halo effect, but that's not dynamic lighting that's just a glowing texture.

RizeDavid Trammell, Staff AlumnusSeptember 25, 2008

Ok, you're somewhat right, but I wouldn't get too excited:

First let me refer you to this part of my blog posting:  "I didn't delve further, but I wouldn't be surprised if there is a touch of lighting in controlled situations (morph ball tunnels) and other cut-scenes, but lack of lighting from Samus' beam weapons is rather glaring."

Upon further inspection, in the absolute darkest places in the game, sometimes, some surfaces will light up a little if you use morph ball bombs.



Once you've discovered which surfaces light up a little, you *might* get them to make the tiniest flash by using your gun (or if they're too big, you might not).  I finally noticed some light when I used a bomb under the gunship.  The bombs actually produce some decent light, only if you're in a very dark place.  Compare this to previous Prime games however, where all kinds of thing create far more light even in places with existing lights.  Everything I wrote is still essentially true, except any near absolute statements (which I try to avoid).

It does shed light (no pun intended) on Retro's reasoning though.

By reigning in the lighting so tightly, they prevent any vertex lighting artifacts and they keep the frame rate high.  The only problem is that, at least in regard to beam weaponry, they've reigned it in so tightly I thought it was gone completely.  Charged shots look no brighter than normal shots which don't look bright at all.  The only thing I've gotten to light significantly with the plasma beam (and even then it aint much) is the dark pylons on Samus' gunship.  And that was only after I discovered it was amenable to lighting through use of the morph ball bombs.

Are there some good YouTube videos we can look at for comparison?  That would be helpful.

Quote from: Rize

Once you've discovered which surfaces light up a little, you *might* get them to make the tiniest flash by using your gun (or if they're too big, you might not).

By reigning in the lighting so tightly, they prevent any vertex lighting artifacts and they keep the frame rate high.

Given the former sentence, the framerate conclusion doesn't make a lot of sense.  It sounds more like a stylistic choice, but I have not played Prime 3, so I can't comment further.

Quote from: Bill

High-five, guys!

This isn't a competition.  Grow up.

NinGurl69 *hugglesSeptember 25, 2008

"Corruption has virtually no dynamic lighting."

There's a virtually absolute statement.  And it doesn't hold up.

"I also tested bombs and morph ball mode.  Bombs make a big pretty explosion with a giant glowing halo effect, but that's not dynamic lighting that's just a glowing texture."

The "dynamic lighting" in the previous Prime games were just glowing triangles, that lit up and travelled along with some source, whether it's a standard Power Beam pellet or a rolling Morph Ball.  They lit up per triangle, not exclusively the texture.  The different speeds produce different impressions, but it's the same principle effect among all 3 games.  We're dealing with the same GameCube tech in all 3 games, afterall.  The same technique is emphasized for flashlight lighting in Resident Evil 4 and Eternal Darkness.  The lighting appearance looks more appealing and gradual when there's an abundance of triangles, traditionally on main characters (Prime 2, REmake, RE4).

Prime3 just has clearly different aesthetic priorities.  Beam Weapon lighting may have been a big deal in the first Prime in the first year of GameCube's life, but it's old news.  Bloom is the new baby, and dynamic triangle gimmicks have been de-emphasized.  Sanctuary Fortress in Prime2 comprised a good 1/3 of the game, and the majority of Prime3 became a techno-wonderland (as opposed to earthy-organic), with many surfaces blooming just for the sake of blooming.  Additionally, Prime3 surfaces don't light up unless the "source" is close enough -- in Prime1&2, everything seemed to want to light up anyway, otherwise you just didn't see other eye candy alternatives applied, just reliable dull surfaces.

I'm also under the suspicion that bloom lighting isn't "compatible" with the glowing triangle method, and bloom will have priority.  The bloom on a surface can be sufficiently bright, and I won't see them lit by Beam Weapons at all -- no superposition, no combined color values to produce greater brightness intensity.

Prime3 has no depth-of-field blurring.
StarFox Adventures > Metroid Prime 3


What's missing in Prime3 isn't the dynamic lighting, it's those dark earthy/organic environments that we spent so much time in the previous games that helped highlight the lighting.  WE ALSO DON'T HAVE A WATER STAGE.



"Are there some good YouTube videos we can look at for comparison?  That would be helpful."

No.

KDR_11kSeptember 25, 2008

Meh, this thread was tl;dr

NinGurl69 *hugglesSeptember 25, 2008

Wise choice.

vuduSeptember 25, 2008

Quote from: Silks

Are there some good SSV videos we can look at for comparison?  That would be helpful.

Fixed for Pro.

RizeDavid Trammell, Staff AlumnusSeptember 25, 2008

Quote from: NinGurl69

"Corruption has virtually no dynamic lighting."

There's a virtually absolute statement.  And it doesn't hold up.

I realize that now don't I. 

Unfortunately the site is set up currently so that I can't edit my own blog post once it's posted.  So I'll either have to request an update to the blog post which will take some time.  I'll happily admit that I was slightly wrong and that you were the one that set me straight.  Instead, of Prime 3 having "virtually no dynamic lighting", it should be "...practically no dynamic lighting, excepting morph ball bombs and a few other odds and ends.  In particular, beams do pretty much nothing now..."  Or whatever.

Quote:

The "dynamic lighting" in the previous Prime games were just glowing triangles, that lit up and travelled along with some source, whether it's a standard Power Beam pellet or a rolling Morph Ball.  They lit up per triangle, not exclusively the texture.  The different speeds produce different impressions, but it's the same principle effect among all 3 games.  We're dealing with the same GameCube tech in all 3 games, afterall.  The same technique is emphasized for flashlight lighting in Resident Evil 4 and Eternal Darkness.  The lighting appearance looks more appealing and gradual when there's an abundance of triangles, traditionally on main characters (Prime 2, REmake, RE4).

And that's all the dynamic lighting is in Prime 3, except there's a lot less of it.  By the way, bloom lighting isn't dynamic lighting, it's just an overly saturated texture that pulses a little bit.  It doesn't cast light on its surrounding (barring additional programming which Prime 3 doesn't have).

Quote:

Prime3 just has clearly different aesthetic priorities.  Beam Weapon lighting may have been a big deal in the first Prime in the first year of GameCube's life, but it's old news.  Bloom is the new baby, and dynamic triangle gimmicks have been de-emphasized.  Sanctuary Fortress in Prime2 comprised a good 1/3 of the game, and the majority of Prime3 became a techno-wonderland (as opposed to earthy-organic), with many surfaces blooming just for the sake of blooming.  Additionally, Prime3 surfaces don't light up unless the "source" is close enough -- in Prime1&2, everything seemed to want to light up anyway, otherwise you just didn't see other eye candy alternatives applied, just reliable dull surfaces.

Clearly it does.  Another possible reason for practically eliminating dynamic lights from beam weapons is that it might have made the visuals too "busy" making aiming more difficult (particularly now that free aiming is an option).  That doesn't mean I have to like the new aesthetic priority.

Quote:

I'm also under the suspicion that bloom lighting isn't "compatible" with the glowing triangle method, and bloom will have priority.  The bloom on a surface can be sufficiently bright, and I won't see them lit by Beam Weapons at all -- no superposition, no combined color values to produce greater brightness intensity.

This is not true at all.  They're perfectly compatible with one another, except Retro may have chosen to deliberately eliminate dynamic vertex lighting in certain areas for aesthetic or performance reasons.

By the way, this isn't a competition.  It's a blog post.

MarioSeptember 26, 2008

Great thread.

Quote from: Jonnyboy117

Quote from: Bill

High-five, guys!

This isn't a competition.  Grow up.

It's a parody.

When you do a shit, you can't just change your mind and eat it back.

StogiSeptember 26, 2008

God, I love reading a serious Pro post. They are always so insightful.

Hey gang, I just thought I'd remind everyone that anything offensive (in the eyes of the moderators)--such as acting like a troll--is subject to the rules.

Pro, Rize, and a few other people are having a serious discussion with valid points that add to the conversation. Rize isn't out to "get" anyone, and there's no need for personal attacks, gloating, or any other similar behavior. You can agree with Pro without talking trash. Also, with few exceptions, people are allowed to be mistaken, mislead, or otherwise wrong without it being held against them indefinitely.

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