“We went 11 for 11 that night,” Joe Letteri says of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King’s clean sweep (the highest in history) at the 2004 Academy Awards. Return of the King’s final Oscar haul tied it with Ben-Hur and Titanic for most Academy Awards won by a single film. Among the awards was the statue for Best Visual Effects, accepted by Letteri, Jim Rygiel, Randall William Cook, and Alex Funke. Letteri, currently the director of Weta Digital, spoke to Polygon in celebration of the 15th anniversary of the film’s big night at the Oscars. Here, he breaks down five of the greatest creatures that made the leap from page to screen. Oliphaunts “We started with drawings from [illustrator and lead concept artist] Alan Lee, as did most of the creature designs, and really just took it from there. They’re based on elephants, of course, so there was a lot of study for that, and especially for Return of the King, because they have so much battle … [Read more...] about How Weta pulled off (and won Oscars for) Return of the King’s 5 major beasts
Battlefield 5 texture pop in
Battlefield 5 has shipped on PC, accompanied by our first look at a revolution in gaming graphics - real-time ray tracing via Nvidia's new RTX line of GPUs. It's a watershed moment in many ways and a phenomenal technological achievement - not just from the RTX hardware that makes it possible, but also from the engineers at DICE who committed to ray tracing in all of its shiny, real-time reflection glory. But alongside the revolution in visuals is the reality of the implementation - this is an alpha patch running on first-gen hardware. Real-time ray tracing remains massively expensive from a computational perspective, performance isn't completely ideal - but this is emergent tech, optimisations are coming, and having spoken to DICE directly, we know what kind of strategies the developer is pursuing to push frame-rates higher.In fact, at the end of our analysis piece, you'll find our in-depth interview with DICE rendering engineer Yasin Uludağ, who has been working with colleague … [Read more...] about Battlefield 5’s RTX ray tracing tested: is this the next level in gaming graphics?
Is battle royale a good fit for Treyarch's iteration of the Call of Duty engine? Black Ops 4's latest beta provides answers. An early demo of the new Blackout mode rolled out last week, revealing that the developer is aiming to deliver a very similar style of game, but targeting a 60fps update in a world where Xbox One has struggled to achieve smooth performance in PUBG. At its core, Blackout follows the same beats of play; up to 100 combatants fly across the map, skydive down, scavenge for weapons and armour, and then duke it out to be the last man standing as the field of play narrows. We're in familiar territory then - but what makes Treyarch's effort stand out?Well, unlike the Unreal Engine 4 backbone of PUBG and Fortnite, Blackout mode is a fascinating technical experiment for the Call of Duty series. It shows how the studio's renderer and netcode scales beyond Black Ops 4's usual online deathmatch games. Player counts of 5v5 are the focus there, taking place across far smaller … [Read more...] about How well does Call of Duty’s tech handle the battle royale challenge?
Battlefield 5 builds on the Frostbite technology in some exciting ways, and this week's beta gives us our first look at how the new DICE game presents and performs on console hardware. In the wake of the recent Battlefield 1 Xbox One X update, can the developer follow up that excellent rendering showcase with another solid work-out for the Scorpio Engine - and just how closely can PS4 Pro match it?Content-wise, what we get in the beta is fairly straightforward. There's a conquest mode supporting up to 64 players - giving us a full stress test of the engine and netcode - across the canals of Rotterdam and the snowy slopes of Narvik. But while each map looks beautiful in its own way, it's hard to shake the sense this is still early, unoptimised code - as you'll soon see.Map design is the real highlight here. These two beautifully designed areas build on Frostbite's ability to push tessellated detail on buildings, many of which are destructible with the right vehicle. Parallax occlusion … [Read more...] about Stress-testing the Battlefield 5 beta on Xbox One X and PS4 Pro
Conceptually, Kingdom Come Deliverance is an intriguing proposition. What if the Elder Scrolls formula were transplanted across to a real-world location, steeped in history? And what if Skyrim's less than state-of-the-art technological underpinnings were replaced with one of the most powerful game engines on the market? As the debut project from Czech developer Warhorse Studios, this ambitious, crowdfunded RPG uses the CryEngine technology - as seen in the likes of Ryse, Prey and Homefront the Revolution - but with a Skyrim-style canvas of terrain to explore. From beautiful, dense woodlands to idyllic early 15th century European villages, there's a grounded, almost photorealistic look to the world in many areas. The big difference next to a game like Skyrim though, is the swapping out of fantasy elements for a more historical setting. Dragons and magic are out, and the focus here is on a brutal power struggle in the Kingdom of Bohemia. It would be remiss of us not point out the … [Read more...] about Can Kingdom Come Deliverance’s tech deliver its ambitious vision?