People Who Haven't Played Spider-Man Are Mad The Developers Took Out A Puddle

They say there’s no use crying over spilled milk, but what about spilled water? That, according to a contingent of Spider-Man fans, is worth a fuss of superheroic proportions.

The new Spider-Man game is mere days from leaping out of developer Insomniac’s imagination factory and into our living rooms, but even though it isn’t out yet, people are already crying foul over a supposed graphical “downgrade”.

It all began with a pair of screenshots from a scene where Spider-Man beats up a bunch of goons in a building that’s still under construction, much like the Spider-Man game was when the early trailer containing the scene came out last year.

Image: Spiydaman

You’ll notice that in the second shot, which is from 2018, there are vastly fewer puddles in the environment. This prompted players to investigate.

“What’s with the downgrade yet again?” one Twitter user asked Insomniac community director James Stevenson and creative director Bryan Intihar.

“It’s just a change in the puddle size, there’s no downgrade at all,” replied Insomniac from its official Twitter.

When another Twitter user said that Insomniac reduced the puddle’s size to cut down on resource usage and keep the frame rate up, Insomniac replied that the game has “plenty of other places with tons of puddles”.

Naturally, the whole exchange took nanoseconds to become a meme.

Outside of Twitter, people are taking this with grave seriousness. On the game’s subreddit, a graphics comparison post involving the puddles currently has over 24,000 upvotes. These fans are certain they’ve found the smoking gun, the thing that proves early Spider-Man trailers were a lie. They point to differences in environment textures, lighting, and the colours of Spider-Man’s costume, as well.

Community director Stevenson, however, insists that what people saw in 2017 is still what they’re getting.

“I am telling you, I talked to the technical and engineering and art staff, and looked at the live code of this from the final build. There was NO DOWNGRADE,” he replied to one user on Twitter.

Stevenson went on to explain that the 2017 shot is more compressed, which affects dark detail. In addition, the light source — that is, the sun — is in a different position in the 2018 shot, which changes shadows and dark details. If the sun is moved, he said, the whole game is affected.

It all hearkens back to 2015's Witcher 3 “downgrade” controversy, in which slight changes to a still amazing-looking game had a small but vocal contingent of power users up in arms because I guess they didn’t have anything else to do at the time.

In an interview that took place when the controversy was at its peak, CD Projekt visual effects artist José Teixeira discussed the issue.

“It’s very unfair to compare trailers and gameplay demos,” he said. “A trailer is a beautiful shot, right. A trailer is prepared, you take one location, you put the perfect lights, and the perfect camera angle, and it looks absolutely beautiful, and it’s captured at super high-definition, and then you post-process it and everything... But gameplay demos, that’s when you see the real game. That’s when you see what the real game looks like.”

It’s possible, in other words, for a game’s visuals to have changed only a little over time, but for trailers and gameplay to look different.

That said, games change while they’re in development. Regularly, in fact. This is why developers are often hesitant to share their work with the public before it’s done: Because even minor changes get shoved under a lens of undue scrutiny.

But we live in a world of constant promotion and pre-order incentives, so developers have to show games that aren’t done, and fans who’ve spent money feel ownership over not just the game they pre-purchased, but the development process itself. This often leads to misinformed outrage, developer harassment, and all that other fun stuff. It’s a busted system.

It is, to be fair, sometimes a bummer when a cool-looking level or feature doesn’t make it into the final version of a game, but that’s just the nature of the beast.


Comments

    Nice hyperbole.

    Gamers these days are a little bit fed up with being sold and marketed a product that they will never get. Why show insane graphics that the PS4 can't handle and get people to pre-order?

    Last edited 31/08/18 1:54 pm

      It's exactly that. It's easy to make fun of a few people complaining about a puddle but this industry has a massive problem of downgrading games on release.

        They're watchdogging! They're watchdogging!

      It's a puddle. There's a point where it's completely legitimate to complain about pulled features, but people are making complaints and judgements a) from SDR images, not HDR; b) without comparing against the final build of the game; and c) not considering things like time of day and other environmental shifts that affects shot-by-shot comparisons that people are making.

      Sure, if something like a singleplayer story or multiplayer gets cut after being billed up as a big advertisement, absolutely. But there's a point where the complaints get a little silly.

        Yep, it is a little silly honestly.

        CD Project spoke about this being the exact reason they didn't want to show off their game play, for fear that people would bash them over the head with it.

        When I was growing up, there were no "Pre-launch presentations". You didn't know what you were really going to get until the reviews came out and you got to look at some screen shots in a magazine.

        Either gamers *want* to be able to look behind the scenes at an unfinished product, in the process of being built.. or they don't.

          We're not getting behind the scenes look though, that's the big problem here.

          They're showing us vertical slices, small section off areas where they can crank everything up super high and unrealistic, in relation to the eventual output of the platform down the line. They're showing us these scripted, cinematic, sometimes pre-rendered previews that have been picked over with a fine tooth comb to make sure that we "blow our loads" upon viewing them, "I have to get that game, I have to get that game", that's what they want when we see it.

          Go look at most AAA games on Steam and go through the pictures on the store page, most likely they'll be photoshopped, even just for small things to ensure that there's no model clipping which is one of the most common graphical errors, commonly seen in FPS' with characters holding guns.

          Fuck, Kotaku themselves have done an article on this, it's called "bullshotting".

          When was the last time you saw a proper behind the scenes, meshes, wireframes, a character walking around a block environment? I think Battlefront had some videos with pre-release material, Unravel 2 at E3 had the brief moment where we saw a dev program menu and that alone made me smile like crazy because we never see honest stuff like that.

          Bullshit yourself all you want, confide between yourselves and believe whatever you want to believe, but don't let it come out and illegitimize any essence of confrontation when the makers of a product are trying to swindle you.

          Again, it's like you all learned nothing from Watch Dogs.

            You are being shown a video of an unreleased, unfinished product. You are going "behind the scenes", looking at something that is still in the process of being built. The fact that it "looks finished" is besides the point. Until the game has been launched, you are dealing with unknowns.

            You are being marketed to. That's what advertisers do. It's not like they're saying "We're selling you a spiderman game!" then shipping you a dodgy piece of accounting software. They are attempting to present the product in the best light possible. It is up to the consumer to decide to take that at face value or not.

            No one is holding a gun to anyone's head.

            If gamers are super concerned with the final state of the product, then by all means, they should wait for reviews and "lets play" videos before handing over their money.

            But complaining about "down graded" graphics, when the game is still in development is just ridiculous. Developers aren't going to change their process. All that will happen is that they'll stop showing off pre-release footage.

              It's still a bait and switch. Imagine buying a car because the ads showed wonderful paint and glorious leather upholstery and a woodgrained dash, then actually received it and it's a shit paint job with a different colour and cheap plastic finish. You'd be pissed. It's the same thing.

            It's a dammed if you do, dammed if you don't situation. Companies have to show off their games before they are finished, both for advertising and to gage level of interest/recruitment/planning. But because it is unfinished, things have to change, ambitions have to be hobbled and they need to release it. They can't predict the future, and they to flaunt their ambition in order to achieve it.

            Now some games do go grossly over the top (ff7, stalker) and should be penalised. But I really don't think puddle size is where we need to draw the line.

            Again, it's like you all learned nothing from Watch Dogs

            its like you havent learned about advertising, here in the real world. Your McDonald's is never going to look like the picture. Your game is never going to look like the pre launch stuff (because all games are a work in progress). Actors never look like they do on the big screen.

            So why do you expect any of them to? It is fundamental to life, not just games, advertising is looks glossy, hyper-real. When I saw Watch Dogs stuff I wasnt expecting it to look like those E3 videos, because I know, as an adult, waiting until you see the real thing is the only truth that matters. Thats how the game was THEN, a smart consumer waits to see how the game is NOW.

        I’m surprised at how many people are defending the anger over the puddle

        “A trailer is a beautiful shot, right. A trailer is prepared, you take one location, you put the perfect lights, and the perfect camera angle, and it looks absolutely beautiful, and it’s captured at super high-definition, and then you post-process it and everything...

        This is the problem. So many trailers get passed off as demos. It builds an expectation that the game will actually look and feel like that. Maybe there needs to be some rule that a trailer needs a disclaimer along the lines of "does not represent actual gameplay or what the game will look like".

        As for the whole "puddle" incident, maybe the devs should have just been forthcoming about exactly why they removed it. If it was for performance then fair enough. If it was an artistic choice also fair enough. Just explain why.

          It's really hard to buy the idea that what happened with the "puddle" was simply an artistic decision, while it is quite evident that everything looked way better before.
          Even a one eyed man could tell how much better it was before.
          I agree that these companies should be forced to pass a disclaimer like that one aforementioned.
          People should wise the f#@@ up and stop pre ordering products before they are even finished. The watchdog drama repeats once again! These studios will never ever admit any kind of downgrades, because doing so would be like shooting themselves in the head!

        A puddle is but one example that has been found, so far.

        If they have removed puddles that impacted performance you can be damn sure they've removed a metric shit tonne of other things too.

      here is an idea dont believe everything you see leading up to a games launch. they HAVE to show stuff, to advertise. Fundamental to games development is that things will change. Undoubtedly. Without question. That is just simple common sense.

      If they show poor quality stuff early, the game wont gain traction, if they show it running too well whiners will complain about downgrading. How do they win?!

      Hyperbole kettle meet pot...or something.

      It's a puddle. Calm down.

      If you've been gaming for longer than five minutes you know a trailer usually isn't a direct like-for-like pull from gameplay. It's marketing, every industry tries to present their product in the best light, and in the best puddle, where appropriate.

    Can you blame people for their lack of trust in the marketing of these things in a post No Man’s Sky world?
    We be burnt.

      Not at all. They shouldn't trust. It's business. If the risk of buying "sight unseen" is too great, then simply wait. Wait for the reviews. Wait for the lets plays.

      I'm surprised at the number of people who throw money at Kickstarter, then complain about the outcome.

      We're not friends with the companies trying to sell us stuff. They want our money. It's our job to make them work for it.

        The world only gets better when we demand more from the powers that be. Just ask women.
        And I just realised that I took to there from a digitised puddle.
        I love 2018 so much!

      you only got burned if you as a consumer were stupid enough to believe advertising and silly enough to preorder. the former is something you should never do with anything in the world being advertising. the later, is something all gamers should be smart enough to realise by now.

        I’m sorry you got downvotes dude. I feel both perspectives here are valid depending on what the individual’s experience has been.
        Me, I’m on the side of the fence that feels good marketing should reflect good humanity, BUT I also appreciate that a corporation has the right to create its own truth the same way a Dungeon Master sets the scene.
        I get conflicted about the whole thing.
        Mostly I just dig how he net has given power to the people to the extent we fuck with it.

    Stupid, stupid, stupid, people. Stop frigging complaining and just enjoy the games.

    Do people not realise that a year before games are released, they're not optimised and far from finished? Are you telling me that you'd prefer to play a game with stuttering and slow down, over a game with a puddle or two missing? Can't please a gamer, can you?

    Maybe these whingers should get into game design to figure out how reality works.

      Agreed. There's a serious case of entitlement going around and it's only going to burn the very people who claim to love video games in the first place.

      What's a developer to do? I guess they could completely stop showing off pre-launch footage. We used to live in that world. Hell, movies still live in that world. It's common place to put things in trailers that don't make it into the final cut of the movie.

      If you can't reconcile the idea that what you're seeing isn't a finished product. That what you're seeing isn't necessarily going to be exactly what you get in the final product, then don't look at previews. Wait until the reviews and "Lets Play" vids hit the net.

      I don't get the back lash either. Boggles the mind.

    Indicative of the vertical slice previewing we get.
    Thank you, though, games journalism for ensuring that there'll always be a defence for shilling your product with quality you know it isn't capable of realistically achieving and then blockading everyone who speaks out against the practice in some walled off "loser-city".

    How dare we not lie down and take it like the mindless consumers we are, no matter how you view the issue in specific here and it's significance, the response sets a bad precedent for how the community at large and gaming media treat the sceptic when it comes to all these triple A games "that can do no wrong".

    It's like Watch Dogs taught you nothing.

      Nobody's saying don't have healthy scepticism - see above - but things can be stretched to beyond the point of reason.

      But going back to your earlier point, how often have we told people not to pre-order games? We've published multiple stories about this every year. I don't think we could possibly say it enough.

      There's useful scepticism, and then there's a point where people have to acknowledge that they're not playing with all the cards on the table, is all I'm saying.

      But also: don't pre-order games.

      lol Talk about hyperbole.

      "How dare we not lie down and take" a puddle being removed? Really?

    *looks at those arguing about the downgrade*
    *looks at those arguing about puddlegate being silly*
    *looks at those on the fence about the game now*
    *looks at the constant warnings not to pre-order anything based on reveal trailers alone*

    I'm sure there's a link here, but for the life of me, I just can't see it.

      Look at them, they come to this place when they know they are not pure.

    I have no dog in this game but there's clearly a downgrade in graphics TM. The lighting looks worse and the shadows aren't as deep. https://i.imgur.com/KdeRDwo.jpg
    This just reeks of the author and quoted twitter participants side stepping the actual complaints and making a strawman to tear down.
    I mean, there's clearly a graphical downgrade between the E3 preview and the release. And that's not a surprise! Basically every game does this! It doesn't need to be defended!
    Hell, Breath of the Wild did it. Look at this shit https://i.imgur.com/uCP0cKR.jpg

    Haha, very "funny" puddle memes aside, this article doesn't smell right to me. It's okay if something you're looking forward to has a few minor flaws, we don't need to defend against every complaint.

      Yep, there is definitely a downgrade in the shading based on those screenshots. Particularly evident around the pallete against the wall. I personally understand why and I am not offended (I am a proffessional 3D artist) but to say there was no downgrade is disingenuous. Seriously, they should just be honest about it. Mkst people understand the compromise situation, why pretend that you haven't optimised your game to the benefit of the game and the player. It is part if the pricess, and to deny it is silly and garners further outrage.

        Arghh sorry spelling.
        *most
        *process
        and i missed a question mark
        Should not comment after friday work drinks.

      "Breath of the wild" was not downgraded, it was simply a change of lighting! ????
      People should get smarter and stop pre- ordering unfinished products!

        You can't tell me what we saw at E3 is the same as the end product.

    Anything shown off a year before release is not going to be identical to the finished product.
    Most development is done on high-end PCs and the initial trailer footage definitely would have been.
    They probably intended to keep all those puddles but got closer to release and after a bunch of optimisation found that that area still caused the frame rate to drop due to all the reflectivity.
    At that point any sane producer would tell the artists to just cut back on the puddles rather than have the programmers spend a lot more time trying to get it to run smoothly. It's a 20 minute job that'll have no gameplay ramifications and no risk factor vs a lot of graphics programmer time hoping they can keep a puddle.

    The initial trailer isn't deceptive, it's an estimate. And nobody should make purchasing decisions on such stuff a year before release.
    If it's days before release and they're showing off stuff that's cut in the final version that's a story (although I'd say cutting a puddle would still not be worth reporting), but this is just... fine.

      Yeah, that's an important thing too.
      The game still looks good! A minor graphical change isn't going to make or break the game.

      Totally agree with you.

      Though, to help everyone realise this, perhaps developers should plaster all public pre-release footage with a big red label saying "Game still in development. All details subject to change".

        Then repeat several times during the presentation "THIS IS NOT THE FINAL PRODUCT AND IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE!"

    While I am truthfully a little disappointed to see a slight downgrade in regards to the visuals and overall detail (which to be honest, doesn't really surprise me anymore), I'm still excited as absolute shit for this game.

    I would like to be Spider-Man pls.

    Oh for crying out loud.

    entitledgamers.txt

    People need to just realise that big companies (the publishers) lie to us all the time to sell us stuff! Don't believe them! Wait until things are released, reviews are out and make your own informed decision. Don't pre-order things based on a trailer!

      DON'T (clap) PRE-ORDER (clap) GAMES

        ....(clap)

        Sorry, felt like it needed that last clap.

        Or.. pre-order and accept the risks.
        I’ve backed some lemons (Spore...), but I didn’t rush to the internet to scream about it.

        No one held a gun to my head. I wanted the game day one, so I rolled the dice.

        I’m more concerned that these kinds of story further the narrative that gamers are all a bunch of super entitled, unreasonable fanatics. That isn’t the case and the media shouldn’t be giving air time to the vocal minority.

        But (clap) how else (clap) am I supposed to get (clap) pre-order bonuses?
        (Armpit fart)
        Also Kotaku ain’t the authority on gamers and what gamers should and should not do despite how large and in charge you all feel.

        I do agree, but there is a level of punishment to it if you are a collector that doesn’t preorder (Majora figure?).
        There’s even instances where you just flat out miss shit if you don’t preorder: I want the Off the Hook Splatoon amiibo. I preordered too late. Now there’s no stock.
        Mostly EB just sucks rectum is the problem, but just because Kotaku tells people not to do something doesn’t mean we’re gonna listen. If we did that’s we’d all be up in arms about Detroit Become Human being a mysoginistic title. Which is fucking stupid.

          Physical items like amiibo are not the same as games, virtual products with a supply of endless keys that developers can generate for as long as they want to sell or giveaway the game for free. And more and more physical copies of games are actually just codes.

          And sure, pre-order games if you want. Just know that you're doing publishers a favour, not yourself. We don't say don't pre-order because it's a command or because we believe you should follow an instruction. It's just good consumer advice. Up to you if you choose otherwise, but we're only doing our job by pointing it out.

          (we also had very many differing opinions on Detroit, from writers on both side of the pond, to be clear)

      I was hoping to get cake at the end of one particular game. So disappoint!

    People are entitled to feel annoyed by the constant bait and switch tatics of the industry in general. Yep i used the e word.

      no not when they arent old enough to understand what may of worked months ago, in a simpler build, is now no longer sustainable. Only a fool doesnt understand that things change, they have to. Gaming is simple (actual life is) dont believe anything in advertising. in case of games wait until the finished product is here. THAT is the truth. the real product. Not months old footage, that was true of the build then.

        They're working with years old consoles. They know what they are capable of. Only a fool doesn't acknowledge that bait and switch practices are prevalent in the gaming industry. No big deal, it's like the pictures of fast food burgers that don't represent the burger you buy, but shitting on people for finding annoying is a bit rich. Gotta keep these publishers as honest as possible I say.

          They know what they are capable of.

          every single game is different even ones that run off the same engine and because they are a few years devs continually have to push the environment to greater and greater extremes to get more modern tastes on kit that is older.

          While the ps4 landscape, in some sense, is a thoroughly known. All games have a different engine, different requirement, different styles of games etc etc.

          > Only a fool doesn't acknowledge that bait and switch practices are prevalent in the gaming industry

          sure there have been bait and switch practises but then there has also been necessary downgrades (well optimisations) done for the betterment of the user experiences. Do you know how, as a consumer, to know the difference? Its really simple... WAIT UNTIL THE GAME COMES OUT.

          Advertising is everywhere, every day we are bombarded with glossy images and promises. If you want to find the time (and micromanage) to get annoyed because your cheeseburger doesnt look like the picture. Go ahead. Where as I dont even remotely care if an advertising picture looks glossy, because they always do, everywhere, all around, every day. I dont need to get upset because a puddle doesnt look like a puddle anymore because, quite frankly, I am an adult and it is a puddle in a computer game and I not interesting in looking at it until it comes out. The devs of this game could have shown me the most impressive puddle ever created in a game but it would mean nothing to me until I have seen it on my tv, in my setting as a finished product.

          You cant expect devs to be honest, when it is just as much fault consumers believe their advertising based on year old vision.

            For sure man, all your points are really valid. I just think if people want to be annoyed, let them be annoyed. The internet has become so militant. Live and let live etc.

    Oh, and one more thing...has anyone watched the recent gameplay previews? The game looks phenomenal! Especially given it's running on 5 year old hardware.

    I can see two sides to this argument.

    On the one hand, yeah that's a clear visual downgrade to my eyes, and removing that puddle is almost certainly due to it being too expensive for the performance budget. I can see why some people are thinking the final release will be visually less ambitious than its initial showing.

    On the other hand - it's a fucking puddle, it doesn't affect gameplay in any way, and it was from a build previewed well in advance of the final release. It doesn't matter that much.

    God some people are so up their own a** its unbelievable. Anyone bitching about this is just self entitled AF.

    These people complaining about a puddle movement are probably the same people that claim they care about gameplay over graphics.

      The team could have given the option for the people who don't give a shit about graphics to play the game at 1080p 60fps, but they decided to go for graphics.
      Who are the ones to blame?
      Ambition backfires most of the time in the gaming industry.

        It's up to them artistically to do what ever they want. They made a concious decision to do 30 fps, to change a puddle, to lock have the resolution at a certain max. If there is a guarded secret that gets brought to light with actual evidence that backs up that we have been cat fished (ala watch dogs) then I'll retract any defence.

        I just dont believe in unfounded hyperbole over something so minute, I'm just a person who likes games.

    Hardly anything to get upset over but honestly, why is anyone surprised? This happens with every single "AAA" game.

    That was a really nice looking puddle though.

      I hope Insomniac add a patch to the game, allowing people the option to switch on big puddles. We demand our puddles, damnit!

        Bet you it's a Pro ONLY FEATURE!
        YEAAAAAH! #maximumpuddle

    Should've been # Watergate surely...?

    Downgrade vs optimisation.

    The question gamers should ask themselves, is what do they actually want. A game that runs smooth or a game to launch unoptimised and shaky just because some loser gamers cant seem to grasp one. simple. concept...

    Everything about games development is a work in progress. Everything you see or hear about it before launch is subject to change. They have to advertise their gamers, most times because their funding is highly dependant on it gaining traction. The more positive it is received the more faith the devs and other stakeholders have in funding it further.

    Some gamers need to grow up and understand there are ways to protect themselves. Dont preorder. Dont believe everything you hear. Wait for reviews. Etc. All of that. It is fundamental to the game industry, actual all advertising everywhere, things are always going to look more pretty in advertising than they really. Yes there are laws to protect us when that is taken to an extreme. But then their is ones own common sense to protect yourself on a simpler level.

    Use it.

    Stop whining about puddles and downgrades when you know that if the games launches with the graphics from an old build and it is not good to play or stable, you will be screaming for another reason. Thats why downgrad- sorry optimisation exists.

    Puddle to me isn't a big deal at all.
    People need to chill out and realise of course things get tweaked down just like pretty much every game before it.

    But greyson making a an article shitting on everyone who did care is a real misuse of power.
    He's twisting a lot of words and being sarcastic and a real condescending turd through the whole article.
    If it's such a mountain out of a molehill then why even grace it with an article?

      That's the thing though: those puddles are still in the game, but not in that particular scene. The tweet I linked earlier is a good example, but people are still hitting up the developers directly and saying they've taken quality out of the game, even though they've publicly stated that code base is still in the game.

      It's a bit reductive to say "well this doesn't matter so why talk about it". The point is this is what gamers are talking about, it's drawn a response and a discussion from the developer, and it's our responsibility to dive into that and parse what it means.

      What that means changes from article to article, obviously, but I'd disagree that this is making something out of nothing - the point here is to dissect the reaction, the way people have processed pre-release footage, and where the boundary lies between sensible scepticism and a lack of understanding about development and pre-release footage.

    Enhanced puddle DLC incoming.....????

    I'm still scarred from buying Dragon's Lair on the Spectrum 48K and it had screenshots from the Commodore 64 on the back cover...

    Did a bunch of comments in this get removed? I tried to reply to a post and it (and a bunch of others) are all missing 0_o

    I think people are just annoyed that the developers are being disingenuous. If they were more up front about the reasons I suspect a lot of people would be appeased. Sure you'd still see some who are outraged, but (hopefully) not as many. If it's for performance just say so.

    And I'd also like to see companies stop producing trailers that are set up to actually look like gameplay and don't do anything to say otherwise. Sure marketing is marketing, but if it's NOT indicative of real gameplay appearance and performance then come out and say so.

      Child posts are hidden if a parent post is deleted or in moderation. Maybe it is the "edited posts are held for moderation" bug, or a bunch of people flagged the top level post.

      Hopefully the posts will come back, because there's two replies to a post I made that I can't see.

    Dr Foster went to Gloucester,
    In a shower of rain,
    He stepped in a puddle,
    Right up to his middle,
    So the devs took it out and it was never seen again.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now