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Model Dissonance

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"It kinda takes the Crash Team Racing approach of getting originally high detailed models of recognizable characters and COMPLETELY BASTARDIZING them in order to fit everything in the game to make it run at 60 FPS, and I'm really glad they did that for the sake of the fast gameplay, but it also means that Nathan Drake looks like if Gerard Butler were made of cheese."
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Sometimes, when they're having trouble getting it to look perfect or need to save time, a game's designer or animator might fudge a 3D model. A First-Person Shooter character might not have a proper character model, fast movement might use smears or a partially hidden character might have their model adjusted to make the visible parts stand out more. Scenery which is only viewed from one angle might be flat, even in 3D games (these are known as "Billboard Sprites"; see Sprite/Polygon Mix), and objects the player is meant to see but not interact with might lack their proper animations or logic scripting.

Sometimes this stuff is sort of the real-time 3D equivalent to the Conservation of Detail: if the player doesn't see it, don't waste memory and processing power on it. It's what lets a game run without melting your computer- if you've got a laggy game that looks great, they dropped the ball here. However, if you end up seeing it (by accident or through cheats) Hilarity Ensues.

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With characters, skeleton rigs and mesh deformations get processed first- then the engine figures out what's on screen. That chews up processing power, so it makes sense to skip them if the Player Character is mostly seen from the first person perspective (as long as their arms and legs look right!). Parts of a world the player is nowhere near might be subject to "backface culling"note ; taken to the extreme, the game might be told to never render objects the player shouldn't be near (like the inside of a mountain, or a building that has its interior stored as a separate level). You as the player will probably care more about the 5 FPS a dynamic spine rig would cost you than whether the bottom of the shirt looks a little funny in the two frames when you can sort of see it.

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This can also be used for aesthetic reasons or to implement something that wasn't intended to be in the game. An animation might look a bit better if the character goes a bit Off-Model for a frame or two. If a Game Engine only allows text boxes to be generated by NPCs, and the designers only want one or two readable signs in the entire game, it's easier to place an invisible NPC in front of a sign than to waste time adding signs to the engine proper. Objects in an FPS might be made larger, so they look right to the player, or animations that appear from off camera might only show the parts the player can see.

Often results in Obscured Special Effects. Compare Behind the Black (when something hidden from the player's perspective should be obvious to the characters), Cheated Angle (when a specific feature is always seen at the same angle), First-Person Ghost (when an FPS character doesn't have a character model), and Hitbox Dissonance (when models and sprites don't match the mechanics). If these become visible in game it can cause Special Effects Failure.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Action Adventure 

    Environmental Narrative Game 
  • Firewatch averts First-Person Ghost by showing your hands and body, but looking at the player model in third person reveals over-sized hands and under-sized legs to improve perspective.

    Fighting Game 
  • Super Smash Bros.:
    • When Wario uses his Chomp move, the top halves of affected characters are shrunken to fit inside his mouth. This is especially noticeable if Wario is made invisible somehow.
    • If a a fighter is inside the clay pot on the Garden of Hope stage while the Pikmin rebuild it, they become trapped inside, with their model shrinking to avoid clipping issues. A glitch (since fixed) can cause them to get stuck like this.
  • Dragon Ball Fighter Z uses this to the extreme. In addition to deforming the faces and using character-specific lighting to replicate the look of the anime and coloured manga panels, parts of the body will be shrunk, squashed and enlarged to make for more dynamic animations in tandem with the camera, as shown here.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle uses a lot of crazy squashes, stretches, and other deformations on its character models together with dynamic camera angles to replicate the iconic poses from the source manga in 3D.

    First Person Shooter 
  • Overwatch has smear animation in several places, which leads to memetic images when characters are frozen mid animation (for example, Cassidy when he's in the middle of a roll).
  • In Team Fortress 2, when characters' heads explode or are removed, they actually shrink away into their necks (covered up with a gore effect and with a separate severed head object spawned if needed).
  • Another common practice in shooters, especially by Valve Software, is to simply not model the side of the gun that wasn't on-screen to help save on framerate. This was mostly fine for games like Half-Life and Counter-Strike, but if you take the models into something like Garry's Mod and use those models for scripted weapons that have customization or ironsights or the like, you'll quickly notice how jank and "unfinished" the models can be.
  • Mirror's Edge shows your body to help with immersion but features strange animations in third person (such as swaying violently at the waist when balancing). The animations were entirely made for the first person perspective, which means things don't really sync up well for the unintended switch.

    Platformer 
  • Most objects in LittleBigPlanet don't have a back, because the game is a 2½D platformer. You can, however, use a glitch to twist objects around, revealing this.
  • By porting Sonic Adventure 2's cutscenes to Sonic Adventure 2: Preview, and using the debug cutscene viewer, one can find that a lot of characters don't look like they should when the camera is not focused on them. Such gems include Amy missing almost her entire body not once but twice throughout the whole game, Shadow having quite a few derpy eye moments, and Sonic's model growing into existence after he uses Chaos Control to get out of the capsule.
  • In Super Mario 64, when Mario is drowning in quicksand, his head expands (unseen to the player) so the top is visible. Otherwise, Mario's cap wouldn't be visible as he makes a Last Grasp at Life. Inversely, when Mario drowns in Super Mario Galaxy, his head actually shrinks down below the surface to not be in the way for Mario to do a Last Grasp at Life.
  • Super Mario Bros. saved memory by making clouds and bushes the same object, but rendered different colours. Similarly, the Goomba was crammed in under space constraints and has a single sprite with no animation whatsoever, just mirroring itself to create the illusion of walking.
  • Portal 2 does this with the level geometry. During development, the level designers created a new engine object (linked_portal_door) which allowed any two flat planes to be connected without needing any sort of spatial consistency. While most of the game was tweaked to fit together logically, there are a couple of spots in the finished product where this cheat is still used, such as a room that's noticeably Bigger on the Inside. Source engine modders naturally had a field day.

    Racing Game 
  • In Mario Kart DS, most of the taller racers besides Waluigi (whose legs protrude from the karts) have either no legs, or stumps where their legs would be. Normally this would be fine since everyone is stuck in a kart and you could pass it off as their lower body entering into the kart, but there are a few vehicles with very shallow seating arrangements, such as Waluigi's Zipper, Dry Bones' Banisher, or R.O.B.'S ROB-LGS. Once you get a gold trophy in every Mirror Mode cup, you unlock the ability to race with every character in every kart, enabling you to seat racers in vehicles like the Zipper and see that they no longer have legs.

    Real Time Strategy 
  • In Warcraft III the Acolyte and Sludge Monster units have their skins stored on the same file, so changing one will change the other. As the Acolyte sees a lot more use than the sludge monster, this can cause considerable surprise if the skin is switched using the editor.

    Role Playing Game 

    Survival Horror 
  • The Killers of Dead by Daylight always have their right hand sticking in front of them from the player's first-person POV so their weapon is in frame, even though it doesn't match the pose taken by their third-person model. A bug showed this dissonance when their third person model at the start of a match (the only time the player sees this in-game save for moris) was positioned according to their first-person model.
  • The main character in Outlast has no head on his model, even though the rest of him is for ease of decapitation animations. They get around this by him having an invisible head that still gets picked up by shadows. You can actually see the neck hole in the cutscene where he climbs into a dumbwaiter.

    Non-Game Examples 
  • Discussed in some of the examples of this Cracked article.
  • One commonly circulated image reveals that in the OP for JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Battle Tendency, Caesar Zeppeli's arm is unrealistically stretched to achieve a pose for a shot.
  • When Elsa is Letting Her Hair Down during "Let It Go" in Frozen (2013), her braid actually phases through her arm. The animators admitted that they cheated since there was no other way to pull off the motion without breaking her model; the specific camera angle and movement makes it nearly seamless unless you're specifically looking for it.
  • Discussed in the author's notes of a page in Concerned. In the fifth panel of page 119, overlapping with Cheated Angle, Frohman is actually floating at a 45 degree angle to get the right angle for the shot.
  • When Woody first sits up on his own at the beginning of Toy Story, his fingers briefly clip through his face. This one isn't cheating so much as an oversight due to the animation techniques used being in their infancy.
  • The size and number of balloons on Carl's house in Up varies depending on the shot. Close-up shots have more balloons than far ones, but far shots exaggerate the size of the balloons (see here for an example). This is done for visual clarity; if the size and number of balloons were consistent in every shot, they'd either become an indistinguishable blur of color from a distance, or impossibly large up close.

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