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Full Geo-Mod enabled Saints Row is “literally impossible” in this gen, says Volition

Monday, 12th August 2013 13:04 GMT By Dave Cook

Saints Row 4 senior producer Jim Boone has explained to VG247 why it would be literally impossible to create a fully Geo-Mod enabled edition of the sandbox game – complete with all the destruction of the team’s Red Faction series – on current-gen formats.

Speaking with VG247′s Sam Clay, Boone explained, “We’ve talked about it so many times yeah, and the problem is it’s just not feasible with the engine. It’s one of those things where, unless you really dig into it you’ll find all the gory details that the fidelity that you have to do, to do a building and have it come apart – say Red Faction: Guerrilla [or] Red Faction: Armageddon – that system of Geo-Mod 2.0 where you’re doing really exotic, large buildings, the technology behind that is so amazing and also so restrictive at the same time, that the problem is that the density of buildings you can do with that engine literally couldn’t come close to being done to represent the kind of cities we do in Saints Row.

“And so if you’re familiar with Red Faction: Guerrilla or Armageddon, you’ll notice we don’t have a tremendous density of structures – talking about very large structures – and that’s because we push these platform to the nth degree just to be able to do those buildings in the way that we’re doing them, in order for them to break apart in the way that we do.

“So what that means is that technically, it’s literally impossible to apply that tech in the same way that we’ve done it to that kind of density that you would expect from a Saints Row game. We talked about it a lot like, ‘Is there something we’re just missing? Is there some other way of doing it?’ and there’s just no way we’d be able to do it in the way that we’d want to.”

We then asked Boon if – given the arrival of next-gen consoles – a destructible city might be possible, given the advanced clout of new PC tech, PS4 and Xbox One.

He replied, “We haven’t talked at length about it but here’s my suspicion – and this is me talking, rather than anything … programmers would explain it far better than I would I’m sure. My concern is that, it would suddenly make this much more possible – whether it’s totally possible, I suspect it probably would but I’m not certain – but here’s the issue: we would still have to make compromises to the graphic fidelity by still sharding it up and making it so they can break apart and all these pieces.

“My suspicion is that if you looked at another game coming out that didn’t have that technology, that their buildings would look so superior to ours, the gamers would still look at it and say, ‘Wow, what’s wrong with Saints Row, why does it look so horrible? I know the buildings come apart but you know.’

“It’s tough to communicate, and we always had that problem even on Red Faction, that there’s no easy way to clearly communicate that yeah, the graphics may not be as amazing as these other cutting-edge games, but look at the engine. Look at all these things things it does. It’s just when you’re looking at a screenshot, or when you’re looking at a trailer you just kind of look at it and it’s like, ‘Nah, it doesn’t look as good as some of these other games that are out there’.

“There’s a reason for it but at the end of the day I don’t think gamers necessarily care. It’s just, My suspicion is that if they saw a Saints Row game that didn’t look nearly as good as the competition that’s out there, that they would just feel bad and say, ‘What the hell’s happened to Volition? What the hell’s wrong with that? The city just looks awful compared to what I’m seeing in these other games because of the destruction.

“With the kind of competition that’s out there I think, I suspect it would almost be impossible to do it and still remain competitive visually.”

Would you like to see a fully-destructible edition of Saints Row? Let us know below.

Saints Row 4 hits PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 on August 20 in North America, and August 23 across Europe.

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9 Comments

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  1. Christopher Jack

    Something I’d like to see happen next gen. True sandbox environment, literally enter every single building there is & destroy every single piece of them a portion at a time.

    #1 11 months ago
  2. YodaCracker

    I find this quote funny:

    ““My suspicion is that if you looked at another game coming out that didn’t have that technology, that their buildings would look so superior to ours, the gamers would still look at it and say, ‘Wow, what’s wrong with Saints Row, why does it look so horrible? I know the buildings come apart but you know.’”

    Other open world games already look FAR superior to Saints Row, and it doesn’t even have building destruction. Just look at GTA V (or even the 5-year old GTA IV). The level of detail in the world is light years ahead of any Saints Row game. SR’s buildings look like flat, cardboard cutouts in comparison.

    “‘What the hell’s happened to Volition? What the hell’s wrong with that? The city just looks awful compared to what I’m seeing in these other games because of the destruction.”

    Haha, you can cut out the last 4 words of that quote and that’s something I would already say.

    #2 11 months ago
  3. DSB

    I honestly think most gamers like systems more than they like grafix. One is pleasing to look at, the other is actually fun to play with.

    Maybe I’m wrong. In which case I fucking hate you guys.

    #3 11 months ago
  4. backup

    hahaha they just proved PC gamers are pirates

    PC just has the hardware not games

    #4 11 months ago
  5. SlayerGT

    Red Faction: Guerrilla is one of my favorite games this gen, and Red Faction: Armageddon is one of my most disappointing.

    #5 11 months ago
  6. SlayerGT

    @3 Right? Minecraft says hello. I honestly don’t understand why more devs haven’t noticed this.

    #6 11 months ago
  7. TheWulf

    @2

    The issue there is that the issue exists in magnitudes. Whilst GTA IV does look better than Saints Row, most games which are designed with linear levels in mind are so much more detailed and so superior in regards to their aesthetics and art design that it makes GTA IV look and feel outdated by comparison, because the technologies used in open world games are also inherently limited in the same ways that a game with destructible scenery would be.

    This is because you can get away with trickery in linear levels that you can’t if you have an open world where people can see where you’re cutting corners. So you have to show utterly superfluous details that otherwise you’d be able to skip, and this is all stuff that the graphics hardware needs to render. So whilst Saints Row may look somewhat worse than GTA IV, GTA IV also looks repugnant when compared to a game with linear levels.

    So, here’s the thing: If you’re going to have limitations on graphics anyway, do you concentrate on having some kind of sexual fetish for realism and trying to pull what limited fidelity you can out of it in an already doomed effort? Or do you say ‘to hell with that’ and concentrate on making the game fun?

    In my opinion, LEGO Batman 2 and Saints Row are both far superior to GTA IV because I’m not stopping to stare at the walls because I’m having fun. I’d be so bored in GTA IV with all of its realism and sub par gameplay (because of the realism fetish) that I’d actually stop to look at things, and then I’d realise how much worse than a linear game they actually look. If I’m actually having fun, I stop to examine the environment less.

    So this comes down to the age old question: Would one prefer a lot of fun and a marginal drop in fidelity, or would one prefer a game with some fidelity (though less than a linear game), but completely devoid of fun?

    That’s the thing.

    Yeah, Saints Row: The Third looks worse, but it plays oh so, so much better. So much better.

    It’s kind of like comparing Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project to Super Mario Bros. 3, isn’t it? Sure, Manhattan Project has some fidelity, though not as much as other games, but which is the better game is abundantly obvious. I’ll take the fun game over the one that has ambitions for fidelity that cannot be achieved.

    #7 11 months ago
  8. TheWulf

    @4

    “Haha! They just proved PS3 gamers are pirates!

    PS3 just has the hardware but not the games.”

    Fixed that for you! :p

    #8 11 months ago
  9. Christopher Jack

    @8, Until *it crosses the line & gets *itself banned, it’s best to not pay any attention to *it.

    I also don’t find there to be much of anything real in GTA. Sure IV took a boring, gritty approach but V looks like it’s bringing back that San Andreas vibe.

    #9 11 months ago