Spider-Man’s Windows Are Amazing

When you live in a giant city like New York, you stop noticing certain things. Spider-Man for the PS4 lets you swing 80 stories above the city, but it still takes time to indulge in little details that remind me of the life that happens all around that I usually tune out. One of my favourite details is the ability to actually see through windows. It sounds minor, but I found it mind blowing.

Previous Spider-Man games didn’t let you see inside buildings, drawing the blinds or just reflecting the city back at you. In the latest game, though, you can actually peek inside the buildings you’re swinging between. The first time I noticed bedrooms and offices full of furniture, I was floored.

Crawling along a building and checking it out up close reveals that the rooms’ decor appears to be 2D textures rather than 3D models, and many rooms have doors that lead nowhere or other illusion-breaking touches, but it’s still a neat trick that gives the effect of a lived-in space. Up close it can lose some of its lustre, but from far away, it’s really clever.

Being able to see through windows makes Spider-Man’s New York feel lived in and real. This highlights how amazing Spidey’s abilities really are by putting him in contrast to the everyday world where I can’t just swing from a skyscraper downtown to Harlem in a few minutes.


  • It does look quite impressive, but it has to be said: wouldn’t this be more graphically intensive than rendering a large puddle?

    May puddlegate never die.

    • Rendering flat textures or even basic 3D models with low resolution textures in an area that isn’t under scrutiny and they can get away with it is definitely not more intensive than real time reflections and water physics.

      But sure, continue talking like you know what you’re on about whilst taking the piss out of the people on the receiving end of your argument.

      • That’s not even mentioning the fact that none of the aforementioned materials inside the buildings if they can’t be reached won’t have physicality attached to them, which generally is one of the more intensive aspects of a game, just go back to 360 and PS3 games and see how clunky all of the hitboxes on objects are and you’ll see.

        Think like a, chain link fence, right, basically a fence originally back in early 3D days would have been just one big chunk of model and hit box, but as we’ve gotten better hardware we’ve been able to render it properly with hitbox gaps appropriately matching the holes in the linked chains.

        If you’ve ever seen a WatchDogs video that goes over bugs and issues it has, especially in regards to downgrading, it may have touched into that.

        So yeah, not having to render the physicality of the rooms would make it an easier venture.

      • Well, I did pose this as a question, so that people who did know more could answer.

        The thing is, the windows appear to have a real-time reflection to them. Hard to tell, of course, since I can’t switch the view 180deg. So these window reflections appear to be doing everything that a puddle reflection does, and they also have to render multiple rooms inside a building on top of that. I’m assuming that mip mapping and LOD techniques are in play, so that all reflections effectively use low resolution textures and basic models.

        Anyway, my post was me reflecting (‘scuse the pun) on this, and wondering about the possible reason.

        I reserve the right to take the piss out of anyone, and everyone. Including myself. Because I enjoy talking like I know what I’m on about.

        • The thing is, the windows appear to have a real-time reflection to them.

          They do not. Every window has the same generic cube-map reflected in it. Well, one of four generic cube-maps depending upon what altitude you are at. When you look around the reflections do not at all match what should be reflected. They look fine when you’re swinging past them at high speeds and only fail when you slow down and examine them.

          This is part of the reason why puddlegate was a thing. That early demo had it’s own plotted out cube-map for that small area so that reflections actually resembled the area they were in. The release version had a generic cube-map instead though, probably because creating accurate cube-maps for every reflective surface in the game would be too labour intensive. Having large puddles with mismatched reflections would look worse than the smaller puddles with “generic construction site interior reflections” in the finished game.

          Source on all this is the Digital Foundry analysis.

          • Thanks for the info. Of course Digital Foundry have come up with the goods! I just watched through their video now.

            Seems that the windowed interiors are just textured cubes, so very simple to render. Though I have to say, it was quite effective. I guess there’s a lot to be said for quality textures.

            There are dynamic elements to the window reflections, which are mentioned in the DF video. They showed an example of a truck driving down the street, and being reflected. So it’s not just generic cube maps. There are some additions.

            Well, that sates my curiosity.

  • Would have been cool if they had some unique interiors. Like eg:
    Alias Investigations could have had something unique to look like Jessica Jones’s apartment. Even if it was only something we could see from outside her window. That would have been cool.

    • Yeah I keep looking all around those unique buildings but all they have is a name really.

      I’ve only seen one unique interior so far that was in a trailing mission.

    • At Nelson and Murdock if you crawl up the wall and peer into the windows you can see an interior similar to that of Nelson and Murdock in the Daredevil Netflix series.

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