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The Size Of Video Games

We all heard about MGS4 taking up a full 50GB Blu-Ray disc. Whether it be Microsoft, Nintendo, Sega, Sony, ect. fans alike.

What everyone wants to know is why? Why in the world does a game at this point and time take up over 50GB!? There are games out there will supurb quality like Oblivion that easily work in a 8GB or so disc. Well, its actually not that complicated.

First, lets talk about High Definition. When it comes to HD, its not just the picture we are talking about. Its also the quality of sound and how many speakers can the sound emit from. Sound in HD is alot bigger then what you think. When we play a movie, game, or music thats in 5.1 - 7.1 sound, it works don't it? Whether it be on a DVD, HDDVD, Blu-Ray, hard drive, whatever the case may be - there is always some kind of compression that took place. Now, whether or not MGS4 has completely uncompressed audio is above and beyond what I know. But, its a major factor. Sound in full 7.1 is rather large especially when it comes to video games. And if the game is gonna be impressive, then I personally would work on sound the most. Alot of gamers are what we call "audiophiles" and they take their sound very seriously. I know I do. Before I break away from sound, lets not forget that when it comes to games - its not 1 big audio track. Its 1,000s and 1,000s of multiple sounds being played at ones. When you go to reload in a game whether it be Call of Duty, Halo, or Battlefield - you're listing up to at least 4-5 separate sound files being played! There are separate sound files for the clip being released, the magazine being pulled away, another magazine being pulled out, being put back in, and then the gun being ****ed into loaded position.

Now, lets talk about cutscenes. Easiest ways to explain this is to explain the different types of cutscenes in a game that are most common. These are ingame and pre-rendered (or FMVs). Back in the day, if you played a game like Final Fantasy VII, most cutscenes where the graphics looked extremely impressive like the opening to the game where Aeris walks out into the street.... this is known as pre-rendered. These cutscenes are just video files on the disc that play like a movie. They would normally take up as little as a sound file to as big has 1/2 the disc in total depending on how long and again - the quality of sound was in the videos. These are called FMVs by some people. Normally, especially when it came to PSX games - if you wanted these games on your computer it was as simple as popping the disc in and copy+pasting the videos onto your desktop or using a single program to extract them.

The second type of cutscenes are ingame cutscenes. These cutscenes use the video game's graphics engine to render the entire cutscene. Its simple really and allows easy transition from a fight to a discussion. These do NOT take up space on a disc. They use the same textures as if you were playing the game. The only space a cutscene thats ingame rendered that is taken up would be sound (again), motion, and props. Thats not all though, how do we know if a game is pre-rendered or ingame even when the cutscenes look alike?! Well, that all depends on the game engine. Games like RE4 believe it or not were all FMVs. That's correct. I used to be apart of an RE fanbase and I donated every cutscene possible in RE4 by simply putting the disc in my hard drive and using a program to extract the videos.

Now when we talk current next-gen games - 3/4 of the game is all ingame for the most part when it comes to cutscenes. The opening and ending(s) may not be ingame. MGS4 is all ingame rendered which means only sound, motion, and props will be take up space. Now, cutscene sound is most likely the likely source of alot of space taken up on a disc when the game has alot of cutscenes. Which MGS is known for.

The next thing, and probably the last is the textures. Textures are, incase you didnt know, is everything you look at when you're in a game. Without textures in a game - everything would be either in completely white, wire frames, or just sticks/balls. Textures are the largest thing when it comes to recent games PS2 and above. This is because there usually is SO many textures. More then 1 texture applies to every object in the game, especially entities like characters. But these are also the most compressed of them all. Devs compressed textures as much as possible which then reduce quality greatly. MGS4 will still have compressed textures, as does every other game in the universe. Games would be around 100GB+ right now if they weren't compressed. Knowtice how we're slowly getting there.

If you look at the entire picture and want to know what is the biggest thing(s) in a game when it comes to the size of it. I would have to say either sound or textures depending on how well the game looks graphically. If it looks amazing, then I'd say textures. If it's not so good, then I'd say sound. If it looks amazing but is long - I'd say sound because textures get reused alot. Whenever I character says a sentence (or phrase) - that is most likely a single sound file of its own. So when it comes down the MGS4 - you can't say its the cutscenes or the fact that the devs are not "trying". It's the sound and the textures both. Im expecting, from everything Ive heard and collected so far, at LEAST 100+ hours of gameplay and/or replay. There will most likely be tons of cutscenes but when you look at the cutscene concept - it all points toward sound. And if the game doesn't reuse similar textures in different areas or levels - then its the textures.

I hope you are more informed with all being said and done. If you have any more questions or comments about this - then go ahead and fire away.

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