What Uncharted 4′s million polygon characters will look like

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You might have already read about a Naughty Dog job listing for a character artist responsible for “making million poly models game ready” for a “next-gen” game, and if so you probably got pretty excited. A million polygons is a lot, right? It’s certainly more than the ~30,000 poly models used in Uncharted 3. Is this evidence of Uncharted on PS4? Or a simple misunderstanding? Let’s investigate.

The responsibilities of Naughty Dog’s new character artist are as follows:

• This digital sculptor will be responsible for making million poly models game ready, and support highest-res characters for renderings

• This individual will create clean, deformable and efficient models, extract normal maps from high-res version and sculpt morph targets for use within a Maya/ZBrush pipeline

In addition, they’ll need experience with “normal map extraction of human models for next-gen games.” We’re not just doing a bit of free recruitment consultancy for Naughty Dog here – that description points to position working on a next-gen title featuring million-polygon chracter models – Uncharted 4 on PS4.

But there’s more to it than meets the eye, as we found out when we caught up with 3D World’s technical editor Rob Redman: “The PS3 almost definitely couldn’t handle [million-poly models], especially not while running lights, normal mapping, anti-aliasing and the geometry for other characters and environments.”

“It just doesn’t have the memory available. Or the graphics processing power,” Rob elaborates. But that isn’t as clear an indication of a PS4 project as is seems, as Rob explains: “almost every game character these days starts of as a high resolution model with tens of millions of polygons.”

“These are then baked into a set of texture files, either displacement or normal maps, that give the lower res model the look of the fully detailed.”

So just because someone’s working on creating million-poly models, that doesn’t neccessarily mean they’ll show up in the game in such high detail. Perhaps Naughty Dog were already in million-poly territory with Uncharted 3 before scaling it down? Let’s take a look at the development shots from a little behind-the-scenes blog Naughty Dog posted:

 

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