How the viral bodycam game tricked us into thinking it was real

It’s Difficult For Small Game Developers To Make An Impact In 2023, But unrecorded, A bodycam-style first-person shooter developed by French game studio Drama took the internet by storm last week. The first gameplay demo looked impossibly realistic, so much so that there were hundreds of heated opinions calling the trailer fake.

Not so, as proven by in-engine footage shown by one of the developers. But it’s still hard to believe how real it is unrecorded It seems, and there is a very good reason for it.

hide flaws

You can see the demo posted by the programmer and co-director unrecorded Alexander Spindler, above. If it weren’t for some choppy animation, it would be easy to think this was actual footage. Certainly this notion has come with a lot of onlookers.

According to the developer of the second game, it’s the perspective that makes the difference, paranormal tales, The bodycam-style horror game is slated for a 2023 release. “Footage from a bodycam perspective has become more prevalent over the years … This has given us as developers a lot more material to hunt around in order to find the right position and, in fact, how the camera is moving.”

We’re building a hyper-realistic bodycam horror game in Unreal Engine 5.

You have to find your lost dog in the dense black forest.

— Paranormal Tales – Wishlist on Steam (@DontPlayPT) April 19, 2023

It’s doing a lot of the heavy lifting Unrecorded. The only other time we see this type of bodycam footage is when it’s real. And especially in the U.>S, the public has seen a lot of it.

Speed ​​is one area, but the quality of footage from bodycams also plays a role. developer of paranormal tales explained, “We’re trying to be reminiscent of the video quality you’d see from a real body camera, which means a layer of textured noise from a lower quality sensor and a bit of fish-eye to give the shot wider ”

It seems unrecorded Took that sentiment to the extreme. There’s a steep fish-eye and a ton of blooms around the brightest parts of the scene. Whenever you see the sky, it gets completely washed out in white, which accounts for the limited dynamic range of real bodycams.

A warehouse scene in Unrecorded.

Above all, though, what sells unrecorded There are encoding artifacts. it’s important to remember unrecorded went viral on Twitter, a platform notorious for low-quality videos. it doubles when made unrecorded Look far more realistic, as it is already trying to emulate a low-quality camera. If you download the high-quality demo, it becomes pretty obvious that this is a game and not a real recording.

Even if you can see flaws in high-quality footage, there’s an art to freezing a game down to more accurately simulate real life. This only works if you have high-quality assets and lighting, though, which is where Unreal Engine 5 comes into play.

unreal engine 5 difference

Lumens in Unreal Engine 5.

We haven’t seen a lot of Unreal Engine 5 games yet, but I’ve already Covered its potential in the past. Lumen is a big reason why the new engine is so impressive, and I suspect it’s at the heart of photorealism. Unrecorded.

If you’re unfamiliar, Lumen is a software-based ray tracing solution. Generally, software-based ray tracing is far inferior to ray tracing running on dedicated accelerators available on graphics cards, but Lumen was created to make software ray tracing more efficient. It combines ray tracing with more traditional lighting techniques, and does so in a highly efficient way. That’s why Fortnite Can run at 60 frames per second (fps) on current-gen consoles with Lumen.

I have contacted its developer unrecorded For the sake of clarity, but I’d be shocked if the game wasn’t taking advantage of Lumens somehow. And that light makes a difference. High-quality assets are easier to find with Unreal Engine – a developer even claims the demo was made with assets from the unreal market – so it comes down to the lighting and camera to sell the realism of a scene.

According to paranormal tales team, a narrow focus on photorealism may pay off. “We’ve relied heavily on the features available in the engine from the start and are learning how to get the most out of them. We’ve spent a great deal of time getting to grips with real light profiles and replicating them in lumens, resulting in a result that looks more physically true.

A creepy scene in Paranormal Tales.

The team also pointed to the lack of AI and the “constrained environment” as key to maintaining the performance with such high visual fidelity. we don’t have much to go unrecorded, But in the first trailer, it doesn’t look like the game has a huge scope.

In addition to providing better tools for achieving photorealism, the team behind paranormal tales says that Unreal Engine 5 has been a “change of the guard” compared to the previous version. “Things that have been problematic in our experience have been thrown out wholesale and replaced with simpler and more structurally sound alternatives.”

With “technical debt cut off”, the new engine seems particularly well suited for getting games up and running quickly. paranormal tales The team says only time will tell if the additions stand up to years of iteration, but for the time being, Unreal Engine 5 seems better suited for production than later iterations of Unreal Engine 4.

when realism matters

between paranormal tales And unrecorded, It’s clear that a new wave of developers is tapping into a perspective that leads to more photorealistic results. It’s an exciting time for PC graphics, as games begin to enter an uncanny valley of realism, but there’s also an obvious concern. And unrecorded Put it on full display.

A trained eye can still see when a game is a game, but unrecorded Looks just good enough that, with a heavy layer of Twitter compression, it was able to trick legions of gamers into erroneously believing it was real footage. I don’t need to tell you how problematic this can be, especially considering the subject matter Unrecorded.

There’s been a lot of discussion on that topic, and the developer has posted a faq Trying to clarify my stand. It’s true that this level of realism can be problematic, but none of it seems to stem from reality. unrecorded Development Team.

It shouldn’t detract from the work smaller studios are doing to achieve a higher level of photorealism. With a lackluster, mean engine offering tools like Lumen to developers, a unique perspective, and a strong market for high-quality assets, we’re seeing a huge leap forward in how realistic games can look.

This article is part of ReSpec – an ongoing biweekly column featuring discussion, advice and in-depth reporting on the technology behind PC gaming.

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