Epic Says That One Moment In Its PS5 Tech Demo Wasn’t To Hide Loading

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Epic Says That One Moment In Its PS5 Tech Demo Wasn’t To Hide Loading
Gif: Epic Games

One part of Epic’s new Unreal Engine 5 tech demo that stuck out to me was when the protagonist inches through a narrow passage to enter a cave. It’s the kind of thing I’ve seen hundreds of times this console generation and learned to associate with games buying time while a new section is being loaded in the background. Epic says that wasn’t the case here.

The tech demo was running on PS5 development hardware, and ever since the console was revealed last year, Sony has been touting how its new super fast SSD will drastically shorten load times. The fact that demo still showed someone trying to squish herself between a literal rock and a hard place seemed ominous. According to Epic though, that part of the demo wasn’t stalling. It was a creative choice meant to show-off the new game engine.

“The actual goal of that part was to force the player camera to be really close to the wall to show how much detail there is in the scene,” a spokesperson for Epic told Kotaku in an email. “We were not trying to hide any loading but actually show good looking assets in close-up.”

One of the talking points for UE5 is how much more detailed games can look thanks to its new Nanite tech, which makes it possible to render millions of triangles each with 8K textures attached. In other words the rocks looked real good and Epic wanted to give people a few seconds to appreciate them.

Special projects technical director at Epic, Jeff Farris, elaborated on Twitter saying that the close-up was also meant to show off the new tech’s audio capabilities. In it, the noises created as the protagonist grunts, grabs the rock face, and shimmies through sound different and like they’re emanating from a particular place in the environment. Who knows how well actual next-gen games will be able to make use of these effects, but in the demo they’re extremely convincing.

The Epic spokesperson said a previous version of the demo script pointed out that none of this was a trick meant to hide load times, but those lines were cut in the final edit.

Comments

  • Let’s not try to deny reality here. The tech demo might not have needed a hidden load screen at that point, but when people actually make REAL games in the engine, they’re abso-fucking-lutely going to use this technique and it makes sense for them to show what this brave, incrementally new world can look like in the process of prettying up that old staple.

  • did anyone apart from the author actually watch this and think it was a loading point? maybe i dont have enough perspective since im not a console gamer, but i never once thought it was a loading screen and laughed at the ridiculousness of this article when i saw it.

    • I hadn’t even watched the video until now… But given that Epic released a statement to clarify, it’s actually painfully obvious more than just the author thought it was the case.

      Techniques to hide loading are used in PC games also, a game being on console has absolutely nothing to do with it.

    • Anyone with a passing familiarity around game design and how they hide load screens would have suspected it, yes.

      • im actually quite familiar with game development and no, this is not a common or even ideal technique for hiding a loading screen. hiding loading screens even on slow console hardware is not even required since the world can be streamed in on the fly without the player noticing.

        • I may not be a game developer (though my brother is), but I have good powers of observation.

          For example, Shadow of the Tomb Raider on a PS4. If I manage to really optimise getting past a mudpit, (stuck right in the middle of a path and cannot be avoided), the game will briefly pause and I will see a “Loading Data” message on the screen.

          Seems to me that the mudpit was used to hide a load screen, and it was … mostly effective, and certainly necessary. Otherwise I’d be staring at that “Loading Data” message for a hell of a lot longer.

        • It’s an incredibly common technique. Mass Effect 1 had it back in 2007. More recently, there’s God of War, Uncharted, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, Tomb Raider. It’s very, very common in game development, and it’s also an ideal technique as it doesn’t break immersion. It IS required on slow console hardware, and that’s why many console games use the technique.

          • 5 games out of 10000+ in that time frame? ill admit im unfamiliar with the playstation games you listed, though very familiar with mass effect 1 and the elevators are more a relic of the past than an ideal technique to hide a loading screen. the engine and the hardware were relatively new, if the developers had more time they wouldnt exist.
            your claim it doesnt break immersion? are you sure? level streaming that is seamless with no indication to the player is less immersive than a 2 minute elevator ride? or a forced taking control from the player to play an in engine cutscene?
            please.

  • That’s not a load point, they’re using a portal inbetween the larger caves (as moving the sun in one did not affect the other) to avoid loading.

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