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A digital museum of video game levels (noclip.website)
368 points by jf 4 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 62 comments

The creator of this site made a really interesting video about the gravity fields in Super Mario Galaxy: https://youtu.be/QLH_0T_xv3I

Among other things I was surprised to learn that Mario's collision shape is a sphere rather than the more standard cylinder or capsule shape used for the player character in most games, which simplifies the physics when gravity changes direction. When you look at his character model the proportions make more sense once you know that they were designed to fill out a spherical shape. How many companies would change the character design of their most iconic franchise to make their physics engine simpler?

Having made several platform character games I knew this from having artists that didn't make a spherical character and having to try to deal with all the visual issues it causes. Would live to find artists that would consider their job serving the gameplay instead of just the graphics. They are usually at odds. Nintendo is one of the few companies that often choses gameplay over graphics and I don't just mean low-powered machines. They've talked about trying to make the maximum amount of their game worlds interactive and removing details because they'd break the illusion.

It’s crazy how often Nintendo is criticized by “hardcore” gamers for their hardware not having the latest and greatest silicon and game style when to them hardware is just a means to an end and games are about the experience not the visuals. I feel like some people just play games for the feel good of knowing they can run it at 300 fps. It really misses the point.

I posted these earlier about Shigeru Miyamoto, and just transcribed a highlight from one of the videos of his two GDC keynotes (but watch both keynotes in full -- every word is profound, and they bracket an amazing time in game development history: 1999-2007!):


I've seen some great talks by the amazing game designer, Shigeru Miyamoto.


In an earlier talk, he explained that he designed his games starting with how you physically interact with the controls you're holding in your hand, and then inwards into the computer, instead of the other way around like so many other people tend to do.

In a later talk, about the Wii, he explained that now he designs his games starting with the facial expressions of the people playing them, then to the physical experience that could evoke such an expression, then on into the computer that could conduct such an experience.

As an example, he showed a picture of a grandfather with his granddaughter sitting in his lap, playing a game, looking totally entranced and delighted at the game, and her grandfather looking at her, with just as entranced and delighted an expression as on his granddaughter's face, even if he didn't necessarily understand what the game itself was about. He got so much enjoyment out of just watching his granddaughter enjoying the game, that it was fun for him, too.

The Wii was so successful as a social party game, because the players themselves were more fun to watch than the game on the screen, because they make spectacles of themselves, which is much more entertaining to watch than the computer graphics. And you don't get bored waiting for your turn to play, because it's fun watching other people play.


I wrote this earlier on another forum but I'll repost it here:

I've seen Shigeru Miyamoto speak at several game developer conferences over the years. He's absolutely brilliant, a really nice guy, and there's so much to learn by studying his work and listening to him talk. Will Wright calls him the Stephen Spielberg of games.

At one of his earlier talks, he explained that he starts designing games by thinking about how you touch, manipulate and interact with the input device in the real world, instead of thinking about the software and models inside the virtual world of the computer first. The instantaneous response of Mario 64 and how you can run and jump around is a great example of that.

Shigeru Miyamoto GDC 1999 Keynote (Full): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LC2Pf5F2acI

At a later talk about how he designed the Wii, he said that he now starts designing games by thinking about what kind of expression he wants it to evoke on the player's faces, and how to make the players themselves entertain the other people in the room who aren't even playing the game themselves. That's why the Wii has so many great party games, like Wii Sports. Then he showed a video of a little girl sitting in her grandfather's lap playing a game -- http://youtu.be/SY3a4dCBQYs?t=12m29s , with a delighted expression on her face. The grandfather was delighted and entertained by watching his granddaughter enjoy the game.

This photo -- https://i.imgur.com/zSbOYbk.jpg -- perfectly illustrates exactly what he means!

Shigeru Miyamoto 2007 GDC Keynote - Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=En9OXg7lZoE

Shigeru Miyamoto 2007 GDC Keynote - Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jer1KCPTcdE

Shigeru Miyamoto 2007 GDC Keynote - Part 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SY3a4dCBQYs

>So let me move from the vision of Nintendo to the vision that I have always employed personally in my career as a game developer.

>In interviews, I'm often asked about specific elements of my games. Where did you get the idea for that character or that hardware? Why did you design that level in that way?

>And sometimes I can tell that the people who are asking these questions have spend a lot of time analyzing my games in very detailed fashion to search for the answers.

>But the riddle here is the harder they look at the individual parts of the game itself, the further away they get from determining that answer.

>The reason for this is that my initial focus and my primary focus throughout development is not these individual elements of the game.

>When I'm creating a game, what I always try to envision, it's what I always think about, is the core element of fun within the game.

>And to do that, I imagine one thing, and that's the face of the player, while he or she is experiencing the game.

>Not any individual part of the game itself.

>And what the players feel will be reflected on their faces. And as an entertainer, I want them to be entertained.

>I was remind of this recently, when we launched Nintendo DS in Japan, and first put the system out in public, for people to start playing.

>We asked some of those people if we could video tape them, and you can see some of these videos, the first time they're playing the DS, at a web site called MyFirstTouch.ds.

>So let's take a look at two cuts that impressed me most. Let's take a look.

>(Girl singing in joy.) So cute. That guy there is happy because his girlfriends are so excited.

>And of course this grandfather's happy that his granddaughter's having so much fun as well.

>And since this is a stylus, a touch pen, he's able to play the game too.

>So as you can see, not only is the person who's playing the game being entertained, but the people standing around watching are getting caught up in the excitement, and they're being entertained as well.

>And that made me very happy. That's the reaction that I always want.

Shigeru Miyamoto 2007 GDC Keynote - Part 4: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqBee2YlDPg

Shigeru Miyamoto 2007 GDC Keynote - Part 5: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WI3DB3tYiOw

Shigeru Miyamoto 2007 GDC Keynote - Part 6: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XvwYBSkzevw

Shigeru Miyamoto Keynote GDC 07 - Wife-o-meter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GMybmWHzfU

Amazing. I've been on a GDC binge lately (some highlights: Ultima Online, Breath of the Wild). Thanks for those links, looks like I have loads more content to watch x)

All of his videos are absolutely outstanding. Sadly there are not that many x)

Awesome! Might I recommend adding Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight? There's already an open source renderer available (https://github.com/stephanreiter/jkview) and you can see it, here, for example: https://www.massassi.net/levels/files/323.shtml (under the screenshots, see the 3d preview). It's got blurred textures on purpose (afraid of copyright issues), but it can render the original textures as well.

If someone would like to contribute a new game renderer, I am more than happy to mentor. At this time I am probably not likely to do this work myself though.

It would be great if someone wrote a book about open world video games. Or just video game worlds in general. Perhaps 100 games, three pages of pics and two pages of commentary for each one. Feels like someone should document all these virtual worlds since most people only have time to experience a few. Maybe it would work better as a wiki, or could start as such.

Richard Bartle, who co-created MUD1 (the first Multi User Dungeon) at the PDP-10 at Essex University in 1978, wrote a book called "Designing Virtual Worlds" in 2003, and has written more recent books with longer elaborate titles, like:

"MMOs from the Outside In: The Massively-Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games of Psychology, Law, Government, and Real Life"


"MMOs from the Inside Out: The History, Design, Fun, and Art of Massively-multiplayer Online Role-playing Games"

(He says the publisher added the subtitles, but "The original titles were MMOs FTW and MMOs WTF.")






Thanks for the recommendations, I've ordered Designing Virtual Worlds for holiday reading and the other two are on my wish list!

You might like "Virtual Cities: An Atlas & Exploration of Video Game Cities" too.

[0] https://www.game-cities.com/virtual-cities

This is well done.

Curious, do levels look better now, taking advantage of modern video cards, than their original, native platform ?

I'm looking at Kingdom Hearts, and it looks quite amazing for a PS2 game.

Yes; even a decade or more ago, games looked better because they could be rendered at a higher resolution. Especially PS1 or PS2 games like Gran Turismo looked great when rendered at a higher resolution. Here's a picture of Dragon Quest 'native PS2' versus higher emulated resolution: https://www.reddit.com/r/pcmasterrace/comments/2sc80x/psa_re...

One thing that is lagging will be the original texture resolution of the games. They look more crisp in that particular screenshot, but in some games there's just not enough information. However, a while ago someone used AI technology to upscale the 2d backgrounds of PS1 era Final Fantasy games, with great results: https://youtu.be/OaEgc46FNWE. I think this same technology can be used to - relatively quick / easy / dirty - remaster older games.

edit: or even fairly modern ones ones; FFXIV for example has pretty low resolution textures by default, which is especially obvious in e.g. outfits during cutscenes. There's tools out there to replace textures (its anti-cheat / tampering doesn't verify the assets), I wonder if someone's redone all the 'vanilla' textures like that.

The answer is, it depends!

Games that try for realism tend to hold up poorly as time goes on, but games that have a very congruent less than real art style, not just cartoony games but all kinds of different styles, can hold up a lot better.

As well, some game art was designed to be played on CRT monitors, or at lower resolution, which gives a very different experience when played on a modern screen with a high resolution. The bluring and less discrete nature of pixels on older devices lended a lot of affordances to artists working with lower resolutions.

Not to forget composite colour artifacting.


The FFX example stood out for me. It looked much smoother, less jagged edges from what I remember playing it on PS2. Although there was an HD remaster for PS4. I don't know which assets were used.

For those games I'm not sure but for PS1 games, most level visualizers don't emulate the non-perspective correct texture mapping so they look much better.


Further they often leave texture filtering on when the old console didn't have any.

Also of course older consoles ran lower-res

It looks great! However, is this legal?

Absolutely not, but maybe they won't bother going after it.

If redistributing assets were legal, then FOSS recreations of game engines would not tell you to insert the original disk for the art assets.

Why shouldn't it be? Screenshots have been shared for decades without any issues.

Screenshots are depictions of the user experience, this is a website collecting and transmitting asset data. Unless I didn't get a sarcasm or irony tag, I'm sure the difference is enough to give some nuance for why it wouldn't be immediately obvious.

That aside, this website is remarkably well done, and a really valuable collection. I can appreciate the historic value, and I hope the answer to the pertaining question is that there is some fair use grounds. I kinda doubt it though.

Relevant excerpt from the FAQ:


> Are you afraid of being taken down?

Less than you might think. Companies take down fan projects when they're competing with their in-house projects. I don't see noclip.website as competing with any game out there — it's more of a museum, not a game. The worlds on display are incredible and I hope they encourage you to go out and buy a copy of the game itself.

That said, I have enormous respect for the developers and dev teams and if I received a take-down request, I would honor it. It is their work on display, after all.

Developers are only able to make these fantastic worlds if we collectively support them. noclip would not exist without their hard work and dedication. To ensure that they remain healthy, please try to buy games instead of pirating them. I also put in extra effort to ensure that all assets available on this site cannot be used to pirate the game itself.

> Do you accept donations?

No. Use the money to buy some games instead.

Well, because a screenshot is just a picture of the original thing. This literally has the original and copyrighted level files, it's not a recreation by someone.

It's just the level assets for the most part and a camera to move around. You're not plopped into that level in media res style. I liken it to ripping the game's soundtrack. It's just a slice of the game, not the whole thing.

Where does this notion come from? You are seriously mistaken about how copyright works. Your example of ripping a game's soundtrack (and I assume distributing, as per the example we are discussing) is absolutely not OK.

Similarly, game assets tend to be copyrighted, and it doesn't really matter if you are "plopping into that level", or that it's "just the level assets". The copyright owners are entirely within their rights to request it be removed, and I'm sure would have a pretty good case if taken to court.

Inb4 anyone assumes that I dislike this project, or think it should be taken down, I can assure this isn't the case.

>>It's just the level assets for the most part

Yes, that's the copyrighted bit. It doesn't really matter how you use those assets, as long as you're doing that without the permission of the copyright holder, that's not allowed.

Again, I don't think this project will or should be in trouble due to this - just that as copyright law stands currently, this particular usage is not allowed.

So, a game's soundtrack would not be subject to a copyright notice?

Why should it be? Significant parts of copyrighted works are also protected by copyright.

wow, this is amazing. every once in a while i chip away at a project of mine to reverse engineer the playstation 2 game "007 agent under fire," because i have a lot of nostalgia for that game. maybe im just really bad at RE but i have found it incredibly difficult to make any progress.

some of the game data is not compressed. i was able to extract all of that in a single afternoon with a tool i wrote from scratch in C -- trivial stuff. but that was just audio and video files and other things -- the interesting data, maps and models, is compressed.

maybe i should have guessed which compression algorithm they are using and tried to decompress it with that. but i decided to start out by loading the games code into ghidra and finding the algorithms in there. while i have made a lot of progress, the task overwhelms me. its a sea of nonsense.

so then i tried to load the game up in an emulator and then get the uncompressed data from the virtual ps2 memory. that worked and i am able to edit the memory in real time. with that setup i tried just poking around, changing individual bytes, hoping that i would stumble across a vertex of something i was looking at. that worked actually. so as it stands i have vertex data but i still have to figure out the layout and then write something to extract that data and then translate into something i can use.

but this isnt ideal because there are some things that might have never been put into a level but are nonetheless on the disk. and there are other data that might be lost between the disk and memory.

i love zanarkand from FFX. i think its one of the most aesthetically pleasing settings in any videogame.


edit: wow, how did i not find this until now? looks like im not the only one having some trouble.


I'm hoping to have the FFX particle system (mostly) implemented soon, which will make a big difference. If you join the discord, I'd be happy to help give you some help with that process. Compression algorithms themselves are often standard, but the underlying data formats can be more involved.

The Zanarkand brings back so much memories I've spent hundreds of hours with

These level designs for FFX are SO TRICKY. I never realized just how carefully constructed for the camera each map was.

This is really cool!

I wonder how the author was able to load everything in a uniform interface and populate the levels with enemies. From my experience, dumped levels from retro video games can be in varying nonstandard formats that are largely incompatible with one another.

These results are beautiful.

edit: The README and repo [1] seem to show that this was a large effort.

[1] https://github.com/magcius/noclip.website

I'm the primary author. I don't load everything in a uniform interface, that would be a disaster for accuracy, so each game loads roughly from its raw data formats. That's why different games are at different levels of "completion", some have enemies and animations and lighting, some are very poor with just a "base" level model displayed.

This is amazing. TF2's ctf_2fort looks perfect to me. Great job.

This is incredibly cool!

Is there any way to get "mouse look" without having to hold the button down? On a trackpad this is not so nice, and intuitively I want to be able to control this like a normal 1st person videogame.

I believe you should be able to open DevTools and type "main.viewer.inputManager.releaseOnMouseUp = false" into the Console. Does that help at all?

Yeah it works! The sensitivity is pretty low - it would be cool to have a control for this in the GUI

You can change the sensitivity from here https://i.imgur.com/1go67wZ.png

Ah cool, I thought this was for directional velocity, not rotation

It appears my video card is not up to par for this website. Hmmmm.

EDIT: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/21916930/webgl-will-not-...

Disabling the Chrome blacklist worked.

This is beautiful, I visited Besaid Island again from FFX and a flood of memories came back to me. :D

sweet view of hyrule castle and death mountain:


This is more of a gallery than a museum. Where are the texts that explain the historical significance of each level chosen to be presented to visitors in the greater body of all video game levels, and the information who made them, as part of which tenure, inspired by what, etc?

It's pretty similar to an arts museum. I don't go to the Louvre to read the signs, but to look at the artwork. As they are ordered by console, there is some context regarding the period and cultural context. I think it is an fantastic idea to frame this as a museum. This website provides so much cultural value for free, it's a powerful demonstration of how the internet can be x-times more efficient than the offline world for cultural education/communication or whatever the purpose of art museums is.

Cool: I do. I, and thousands of classrooms of school kids, go to musea to learn about the things we're looking at, because musea are places where I, and everyone else, learn about things we don't learn about at home. They're not "just look at things detached from literally everything", they teach us things.

Musea contain the history of our planet in all its diverse subjects. Anthropology, art, video game levels (hi, Berlin's "Video game museum": you are 100% worth going to, to learn about the history and significance of video games both on their own and as societal force!), whatever you decided to dedicate a museum to: if there is no opportunity to learn, you're not a museum. You're just a gallery.

I'm perfectly fine with calling collections of digital records, curated as part of a coherent collection, made available online, and explaining the significance of the works on display, musea. There are plenty out there.

This is not that.

rather surprised i could load the entire Great Sea from Wind Waker and fly around with a decent fps.

The big restriction on that system was honestly memory, since the GameCube only had around 24MB of memory usable by the CPU. That's really what necessitated splitting up the Great Sea into chunks. Check the Chrome memory usage while that's loaded; guaranteed it'll be a bit higher.

Well nothing's simulated, it's essentially just an animated 3D model, right? Think about how complex scenes Blender can render in real-time.

It's pathfinding and AI that murder video game performance.

Some actors have simulations (e.g. Beedle's boat) but not too many right now. Compare to Super Mario Galaxy or the Source Engine games where there's even a bit of interactivity.

The most incredible example to me was pokemon snap! You could play a fun facsimile of the game

And all three islands of Liberty City from GTA III!

Even budget mobile phones are more powerful than the N64 was at the time, and this is native rendering of models, not emulation.

would love to see mario64

ah mario64 DS is there

deku tree's foliage is massive!

I really like being able to see Wii levels in high resolution. It's like they come to life in a way they didn't before.

I don't know, the geometry simplification and low resolution of textures make it painfully clear the games were intended to be rendered on SD TV's. The crowd texture in the Mario Kart circuit levels looks really ugly to me.

Some of the levels have different colors in my memory, maybe some games do some kind of color grading pass.

Then again, I've got at lot of respect for developers that got so many great game experiences out of that little white box ;)

I wish it worked on iOS

Go to advanced settings for Safari and enable WebGL 2.0.

Probably best to disable after you’re done using the site, as browsing with experimental features can be a security risk.

WebGL 2.0 will be enabled by default in Safari 15 (finally)!

This is so cool! From a level-design perspective, the Final Fantasy X maps are super illuminating.

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