inFAMOUS: Second Son's Characters are 120,000 Polygons; 11 Million Rendered Regularly by the Engine

We already talked about Adian Bentley’s inFAMOUS: Second Son Engine Postmortem talk at the Games Developers Conference, but a new version of the slides published today had some additional ones that included some very interesting information about the impressive rendering capabilities of the game’s engine.

  • The engine streams environment blocks on a 100 meters grid. Each block loads 33 MiB (Mebibytes, basically a techie version of a megabyte) of data including everything (physics, scripts, AI and particle). Below you can see a visual representation of those blocks.
  • Only 10 blocks are displayed at any given time. An extra 7 are loaded but not rendered to help with I/O (input/output speed) from the hard disk.
  • 4 blocks are rendered with 48 MiB high resolution texture packs that are streamed separately.
  • Each object has between 1 and 3 LODs (levels of detail based on distance) for near to mid distances.
  • FAR LOD uses baked imposters.
  • The engine regularly draws over 11 million polygons for the whole scene.
  • There are many instances per block, with over three million instance vertices per block.
  • In the worst case the player can move 20 meters per seconds before overtaking the speed at which the world can be rendered.

In the picture above you can see how the streaming of the environmental assets works. The green squares are the blocks that are loaded and rendered, the yellow ones are loaded in memory, but not rendered yet. The little green squares on the lower right indicate blocks where high resolution textures are loaded.

  • Each character has between 300-500 separate bones, many of which for the face, cloth and hands.
  • Characters have 120.000 polygons, but NPCs have more LODs (lower detail models displayed when far away from the camera) for performance reasons.
  • They take 28 MiB of data, most of which are textures.
  • There are thousands of animation clips, and facial animation during cutscenes is done separately for each vertex.
  • Vertex animation is done with three bits per vertex, while wrinkles are procedural.

Those are definitely impressive numbers, and the results definitely show in the game, making inFAMOUS: Second Son one of the most beautiful next generation games on the shelves. Considering that Sucker Punch managed to achieve this kind of results at the very beginning of a generation, it’s hard not to be excited about what they’ll do next.

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Giuseppe Nelva

Hailing from sunny (not as much as people think) Italy and long standing gamer since the age of Mattel Intellivision and Sinclair ZX Spectrum. Definitely a multi-platform gamer, he still holds the old dear PC nearest to his heart, while not disregarding any console on the market. RPGs (of any nationality) and MMORPGs are his daily bread, but he enjoys almost every other genre, prominently racing simulators, action and sandbox games. He is also one of the few surviving fans of the flight simulator genre on Earth.

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