Naughty Dog Reveals The Tech Behind Uncharted 4: TAA’s PS4 GPU Usage, Deferred Lighting And More

At SIGGRAPH 2016, Naughty Dog reveals it all.

Posted By | On 05th, Aug. 2016 Under News | Follow This Author @GamingBoltTweet


Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is one of the best looking games of this generation. There is absolutely no doubt about that. However it’s always interesting to learn how Naughty Dog developed such an amazing looking game that almost looks like a movie. Fortunately, at SIGGRAPH 2016, various Naughty Dog developers gave a number of presentations which gave us a brief insight into how things came together to create a breathtaking experience.

One of the game’s standout visual aspects was its hair rendering and material shading technology, however Naughty Dog have been pretty silent about how they approached these two complex parameters in the game’s visual design. Yibing Jiang who is a Senior Shading Artist at Naughty Dog revealed new details behind how they approached this fantastic but overly complex graphical behavior. Jiang revealed that they started working on the shading pipeline back in 2012 when they knew the PlayStation 4 was on its way. They were excited to work on a next-gen console that will help them to ship a game that would look like a movie.

Very early on in development, they realized that everything needs to be physically based. This included the character’s hair, the clothes they wear and character materials. However this was easier said than done as the team had to assess each individual material (such as different types of clothes, their individual materials etc). They could have easily scanned fabrics however this resulted into an increase in texture memory but they instead opted for tileable details and a fabric reflectance model. Tackling the hair rendering was an even more difficult affair as Naughty Dog had to consider a number of parameters from back lit to self shadows along with volumetric shadows for each strand.

In another talk given by Ke Xu who is a game programmer at Naughty Dog spoke about the advantages of temporal AA which we have written a lot about in our Uncharted 4 and DOOM analysis. The presentation focused on how the developers used TAA under different environmental conditions and materials. However it must be noted that TAA introduces ghosting effects (something which we saw a ton of in Quantum Break). Naughty Dog tried to fix it and although the results are pretty good, some sort of shimmering is still observed when the camera pans really fast. The developer also highlighted that shader utilizatsion was only 0.8 ms of clock cycle on the GPU.

One of the highlights of Uncharted 4  was its lighting system. Given that the game took place across a variety of locations across varying times in day/night, Naughty Dog had to implement a solution that will read several screen space properties across particles, decals and indirect maps. Graphics engineer Ramy El Garawany explained Uncharted 4’s cube-map specular occlusion technique, which is based on the solid angle of intersecting cones. Garawany also explained how they plan to improve it in the future, possible for upcoming games (The Last of Us 2, anyone?)

And finally in a presentation titled, Rendering Rapids, graphics programmer Carlos Gonzalez-Ochoa revealed that Naughty Dog have a separate engine just to render the water effects we saw in the oceans and seas in Uncharted 4. The presentations explained how the effects are rather inexpensive to compute and how the new system treats water motion according to geometry.

Sources: Realtime Rendering, Slide 1, Slide 2, Slide 3, Slide 4.

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  • Wolfman Jack

    This is by far the best game I evered played on any console. I believe Naughty Dog company is the best gaming company across the board, this game broke many barriers for me and blown away with how movie like game can be brought to a gaming console experience. EA/DICE company should take lessons from Naughty Dog when making a true Star Wars game like Battlefront and future games. I look forward to purchasing more games made by Naughty Dog, these people know how to make awesome games!!!

    • AndrewLB

      While the game had excellent graphics for console, it was still a very linear game full of scripted events that play through exactly the same no matter what, and because of this its replay value suffers greatly.
      Aside from that, the gameplay was not anything special and the pacing in the first half of the game was downright horrible.

      Also, another thing i found interesting is how all the review sites intentionally separated the terrible multiplayer from the main game as if they were two separate products. But the fact is the multiplayer was a 5/10 at best and that score should have factored in. You can’t claim a game is 10/10 when the multiplayer that is part of the game was crap.

    • J.j. Barrington

      Troll harder.

      That’s what the genre is supposed to be about. It isn’t about variety in the story. It’s telling a very specific story.

      The only time linearity is an issue is when Xbox fanboys like you are trying desperately to criticize something not on your console.

      You shouldn’t even have bothered commenting, if all you hard to say was that crap.

    • Nintengods

      The stench of damage control from Barrington’s pants is evident. $ony $hills wish Unchatred was mentioned in the same breath as Metroid or Zelda.

      And they admitted they downgraded the game from it’s initial reveal as well. SAD!

    • Wolfman Jack

      I haven’t played the multiplayer mode and honestly I don’t intent to. I honestly can’t comment about it, I’m not a huge fan of multiplayer games, however this again for me is the best story mode game I’ve played on any console. I own both Xbox 360 & PS4 and by far Uncharted 4 is the best game I’ve played. Great experience with obviously awesome graphics. Naughty Dog also makes another crazy awesome story mode game “The Last Of Us” for PS4 that’s right up Uncharted 4 ally. These two games are a MUST have if you’re a PS4 owner.

    • d0x360

      I thought the game was gorgeous despite them adding effects to cut scenes that aren’t in actual gameplay.

      My main issue with the entire series but especially part 4 is pacing. It felt like 80% walking or climbing around listening to dialog and about 20% fighting and puzzles. Also the puzzles were uninspired. I solved most of them by just mashing buttons

  • Nintengods

    Managing to hit a Silky smooth 24FPS


    • riccy

      are you mentally challenged?

  • Tomaterrrx

    This is one of the best looking games ever! Trying to imagine the Neo version of this game. This beats some of the best looking PC games as well (on a 1080p display, anyway).

    • Nintengods

      No it doesn’t. PC gets 60FPS and not 24FPS like this.

      Also, the Neo version won’t be 60FPS. Tragic.

    • Tomaterrrx

      This doesn’t run with 34fps dips. Consistent 30fps through the whole playthrough on digital foundry. And you don’t know the neo won’t do 60fps. Hasn’t even been released yet.

    • Nintengods

      The specs are already leaked. It won’t do 60FPS on Uncharted 4. Just like how Naughty Frauds lied about the reveal trailer.

    • Tomaterrrx

      Specs are leaked, not confirmed. Without optimization PS4 wouldn’t be able do Uncharted 4 at 20fps. If ND can optimize as well as they did for PS4, Neo should be able to run U4 fine at 60fps.

      ‘Naughty Frauds’ Grow up, man.

    • Nintengods

      Nope. Overclocked Jaguar Core is locked in. Only 30FPS like No Man’s Sky

      Naughty Frauds confirmed.

    • Tomaterrrx

      Sony hasn’t confirmed any specs. It’s all rumors. And yes, it is rumored to use the eight core Jaguar CPU but it is rumored to be clocked a little higher. Also, the GPU is rumored to have 2.3x Boost in teraflops. And it is rumored to have 25% bandwidth. Even if it doesn’t do 60fps, Naughty Dog could decide to add even more detail and improved graphics into the Neo version of Uncharted.

    • Nintengods

      Miniscule boost in PC gaming terms. No 60FPS. Only jump from medium to high settings on an already downgraded game

      Naughty Frauds

    • Tomaterrrx

      That isn’t a minuscule boost. A 2.3x boost in the GPU is a big upgrade. And as I said before these are rumors .

    • Nintengods

      Tiny boost. Embarrassing. NX will delete it.

    • Tomaterrrx

      If you believe rumors so much, then this is gonna hurt. NX has a mobile GPU which is not even as fast as the original PS4. Defend it all you want but NX will never be as fast as Neo.

  • Nathan Mayàtt

    Uncharted 4’s story is exhilarating, and the multiplayer is fantastic. You just can’t get enough of either one.

  • Malcefium

    I just want to know how much of the GPU was used. Lol

    • d0x360


    • Malcefium


    • d0x360

      I was joking I have no idea but chances are its under nearly 100% load for most of the game.

      When it comes to console games they tend to push them as hard as they possibly can in games like uncharted, both GPU and CPU

  • d0x360

    The only non gameplay complaint I had was the visual quality dropped outside of cutscenes

    It still looked great but the hair lighting was gone and the geometry was simplified….alot.

    Still it’s amazing what they managed to pull off with so little power. Kudos to them

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