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Model Dissonance

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Above: A seemingly normal Top-Down View.
Below: The tricks they had to pull to make it work.

"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."

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.

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.

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.


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    Action Adventure 
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • In The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, every single 3D model is made to lean backwards in order to mimic the effect of the Three-Quarters View in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, one Pro-Action Replay cheat code enables the player to hold a button to levitate. This can be done indefinitely (unless you crash the game). When climbing Dragon Roost Mountain, the player will pass through several doors that actually load new maps at the top of the mountain. Thus, if the player levitates up to the top of Dragon Roost Mountain from the overworld map, they'll find that the top of the Mountain isn't actually animated at all from above, and it's just a hollow, glitchy tube that allows the player to see all the way through to the ocean.
  • Whenever Solatorobo transitions into real-time cutscenes, objects like the background, robos, and airships are all fully-rendered 3D models. Characters are a different story, as they are all segmented sprites plastered onto flat textures and drawn with a pseudo-3D look. Even Red's in-game model isn't immune to this, as his on-foot model unloads whenever he mounts his mech as a half-rendered version of it exists as part of the DAHAK's model itself, being directly meshed into the robo's geometry.

    Environmental Narrative Game 

    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 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.
    • Mega Man's normal walking animation emulates that of his animation from the NES games. When viewed normally from the side, it looks alright. But when viewed from behind or in front of him, it looks really strange, almost puppet-like or robotically instead of a natural stride. Granted, it's likely intentional, in order to reference both his origins and how he's a robot, but it's still odd to look at.
  • 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).
  • A common practice in FPS games involving decapitation is, 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 prop spawned). Unreal, TimeSplitters and Team Fortress 2 are the most popular examples, the former especially since it's easy to slow down the scale of time through the console and watch the model's head shrink.
  • Another common practice in shooters, especially by Valve Software, is to simply not model the sides of the gun that aren't on-screen (usually the front and right sides) to help save on rendering stress. This is 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 iron sights or the like, you'll quickly notice how jank and "unfinished" the models can be.
  • First-person models in the Half-Life series also play around with the parts of your weapons that you do see. The barrel of the .357 Magnum in the first game is wider at the muzzle to give it an orthographic look. Meanwhile in Half-Life 2 the shotgun is stretched lengthwise to make it look less squashed, and the fine details of the AR2 are painted onto the texture in a way that only looks right from the intended perspective.
  • It was extremely common in shooters up to the late 2000s to have the weapon's viewmodel (i.e. what you see in first-person) include your character's hands and arms hard-baked into the model, which could cause cases of this when the arms holding the weapon models clearly don't match up with who you're playing as, perhaps most famously games like Counter-Strike where your guns are always depicted as held by a sleeveless arm with fingerless gloves over the hand (fitting only about half of the Terrorist models and none of the Counter-Terrorist ones) - ironically, this was a step up from some even earlier 3D shooters like Quake and GoldenEye, which instead didn't have hands on the weapons at all. Though there were a few surprisingly early games to model guns and arms separately, like Perfect Dark, this didn't really become common until another decade later.
  • 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.
  • For the Updated Re-release of Quake, Nightdive Studios increased the texture and model quality of almost all assets. Problem is, this doesn't extend to the third-party expansions Scourge of Armagon and Dissolution of Eternity. Especially in the latter, where the "new weapons" are just alternate ammo types for the regular arsenal and originally the difference was a few decals on the texture; now it's blatant that the alternate ammos are actually totally different weapons.

  • 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 cross-eyed 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 rendered, for ease of decapitation animations. They get around this putting on a head that's invisible to view directly but still casts a shadow. 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.
  • One particular shot in the movie Encanto has Mirabell's arms stretched out to get the desired effect, as revealed on animator Tony Bonilla's Twitter.
  • Dwelling places in TV dramas or sitcoms usually only exist as a cluster of disparate stage-sets, representing aspects of what would be a continuous structure in real life. Attempts to build virtual computer models of them as they would be in reality tend to founder for one reason or another. It has been noticed, for instance, that to fit everything that appears on TV into its actual displayed limitations (ie, the outer boundaries of the building shown in exterior shots), the apartment complex on the fourth floor of 1130 North Los Robles Avenue in The Big Bang Theory) it would need to be the interior of a Tardis. Other TV shows, such as Frasier's spacious (but not that spacious) Seattle apartment suffer the same contradictions. Computer modellers have repeatedly tried and failed.