Sony: We intentionally slow GOWIII’s action [UPDATE 2]

In an excellent and in-depth interview given by Mark DeSanto at I. Eat. Games, Sony Santa Monica’s senior producer Steve Caterson has revealed that the team deliberately slows God of War III’s action for cinematic effect. Though this concept sounds a little odd at first, the team has built the game’s technology around making such changes in framerate as smooth as possible. Make sure you read the context of this quotaiton before jumping on Caterson’s back.

As we already know, God of War III’s framerate runs variably between 30 and 60 frames-per-second with v-sync enabled to stop tearing. Caterson confirms this, further explaining the advantages of a variable framerate:

It’s interesting; God of War 2 had some tearing going on with it, but with GoW3 there shouldn’t be any tearing at all and the variable frame rate helps us out with that. We’ve also got some good code in place–that you can’t tell is working–which helps to make sure frame rate drops are gracefully executed. By graceful I mean that you won’t see any tearing.

In some respects—and I know I’m going to get shredded on the boards for saying this—we intentionally slow things down. We want to show you what’s going on in some scenes. A good example is this one huge creature who grabs Kratos and, if we showed that at speed, you would just never even see him. So we say, ‘ok slow the camera down, zoom in—there he is! Doesn’t he look cool?!’ and then we ramp the speed back up and put you back into the action. It’s a pacing thing.

Also, there are some small pauses in the combat that some people though were slowdown because there were so many guys on screen but it’s intentionally there because it makes the hits feel more impactful.

Such a concept doesn’t sound like as much of a cop-out when we understand that movies play at 24 frames-per-second. Personally I’d pin Caterson’s explanation to only a part of the team’s reasoning for a variable framerate, with the scale of the game’s graphics stopping the team from achieving a locked 60fps.

Make sure to read the rest of the interview over at I. Eat. Games.

[UPDATE] – Sony Santa Monica’s director of technology, Tim Moss, has corrected the above quotation (and our interpretation) by explaining that although the team does slow down the action in God of War III, this is not the same as the framerate dropping:

“We slow timestep so 1 sec of game lasts >1 sec for dramatic effect. NOT the same as slowing the framerate,” Tim Moss tweets.

[UPDATE 2] – Jason de Heras, combat designer on God of War 3, has kindly forwarded an article written by original God of War combat designer Derek Daniels that neatly explains the use of both slowdown and hit pause, which is featured in games from Street Fighter to God of War. If you want to learn more about the dramatic advantages of using these techniques in video games please visit Derek Daniel’s blog post.

Readers Comments (21)

  1. The game running smoothly, at any framerate, is all I really care about. I can’t to play this, I’ll be spending a good amount of time playing this over Spring Break.

  2. Nothing wrong with a bit of variable-framerate-induced slow-motion.

  3. Mmmh, MGS4 did something similiar didn’t it?. I guess it’s a good thing if it helps make the game actually better xD.

    Besides, not many people can tell the difference between 30 fps and 60 fps UNLESS that’s a fighting game. . . . . .You know those street fighter people?, totally crazy, lol.

  4. there’s a lot of motion blur in this game from what I’ve seen

  5. wtf

  6. Moocows111111 March 1, 2010 @ 19:27

    It doesn’t matter, if the Framerate is over 24 frames then I’m fine with it, No one can tell the difference between 60 and 30 anyways since we are all not robots. Besides the slow downs give a more cinematic feel to the game =)

  7. The frame rate dropping isnt the end of the world as long as its done carefully and not a huge drop..which they have stated it does…but I can tell the difference between games running in 30 frames and 60…TBH I dont mind either and both play fine…what I cant stand are big drops in frames. I would rather play locked 30 frames than a total mess. Ive played the Demo of GOW and it all seemed fine to me 🙂

  8. meh, its not too big of a deal….itd be nice if they found a way PAST this problem tho

  9. “Hit Pause” has been in the God of War games since the beginning. It’s a fundamental technique to make hits feel “meatier.” You can read more about here from one of the original God of War combat designers, Derek Daniels.

  10. “feel meatier”?

  11. i was a little bit worried about that statement, felt like he was trying to cover up for glitches, slow down and stuff…. but an updated to the article made every sense and now i am relived, so bring on Kratos

  12. worldwide charts ps3 has 18 in the top 50….xbox only has 12. aa’aa’and..

    Motorstorm 3
    Twisted Metal 4
    Ace combat 7
    The mark of kri
    Uncharted 3
    Resistance 3
    Killzone 3
    God of war 3
    Gran turismo 5
    Grand theft auto 5
    syphon filter 5
    The last guardian
    infamous 2

    all exclusive…even ssx an ea game?!!! real news , better believe im not joking either

  13. It was kind of obvious they just meant time, not framerate. They are just slowing the play speed.

  14. yeah….thats what i thought….as long as the flow is stil brutal and gory im all good

  15. Good to know, but who cares when a game looks like this?

  16. The framerate will stay above 30fps but the speed of the game will just slow down to show off cinematic moments which I think it awesome.

  17. very impressive with those kind of set pieces which is gameplay can stay above 30 frames a second.

  18. wow dude uncharted 3 grand theft auto 5 take it easy man

  19. Santa Monica knows what they’re doing. I’m not going to criticize them on anything because I know whatever they do will make the game even more awesome.

    One problem I have with Bayonetta (as great as the game is) is that the combos were really cool and crazy, but you can never see what’s going on. Button mashing at its finest, but I’d like a game to be a little more than button mashing these days, and I’m expecting God of War III to deliver on that.

  20. Moocows111111 March 2, 2010 @ 16:17

    @ Sony Junkie “It was kind of obvious they just meant time, not framerate. They are just slowing the play speed.”

    They are also slowing down the frame rate depending on how many “baddies” are on the screen, or how intense it is. Because 60 Fps is pretty hard to hold up, If there was like 20 + dudes then the framerate would be 30 and if there is like 5 guys then it would be surely 60 fps . (Heard this in an interview with one of the producers, Anyone correct me if I’m wrong)

  21. What’s wrong with a little slow-mo as an effect?

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