Spider-Man “PuddleGate” Downgrade Controversy is a clear example of misinformation and overreaction

Fans are eager to play Spider-Man on PS4 next month on September 7 but Insomniac Games’ upcoming web-crawling adventure is currently facing a very foolish dispute.

A word I didn’t imagine reading today was PuddleGate, name of the apparent Spider-Man Downgrade Controversy.

Let me get you up to speed. Earlier today a Reddit post to the super popular r/gaming subreddit rekindled a debate that has been on-going for a few weeks but has now reached the maintstream. Currently at almost 26k Karma (it’s a lot folks), Reddit users commenting think that Spider-Man has gone through a downgrade from its E3 showcase to the new near-launch trailers and gameplays.

The image sparking the debate is below:

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The image above shows Spidey looking over goons in the Kingpin level, notice the lack of puddles in the “Release” shot.

Let’s talk about Puddles

Insomniac clarified the situation more than week before the Reddit post went live in a tweet:

The above tweet is unsurprisingly not mentioned in the Reddit thread, or maybe I wasn’t able to find it.

The highest upvoted post in the thread is the typical RTX On/Off joke that you find on every comparison since NVIDIA revealed their new RTX series of graphics cards. Assumptions are in full swing, just check out some interesting quotes from the thread:

I think people assume you are using your comment as a joke. I actually fully agree that this is the difference between ray tracing being on, and ray tracing being off. I would imagine they ray traced the E3 trailer for obvious reasons, and the console release wont include it.

The above was followed by this gem of a reply:

Does ray tracing alter pools of water as well?

I also wanted to add this notable quote from a Twitter reply I came across earlier:

Well we all know the Playstation can’t handle it. Insomniac was thinking about building it on the One and got carried away so they had to dial it back for the PS4

Reddit has it all figured out folks, pack your bags and go home.
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On the topic of just the puddles, ignoring the “look” of the game for a second, the lack of puddles in that scene could just be an artistic decision. I mean Insomniac has been active on Twitter addressing this issue, puddles are present in the game guys.

Insomniac Community Director James Stevenson also commented on the missing water and puddles issue.

What people need to realize is that the game is in development, things change in development all the time. Debating over missing water and puddles is just plain stupid.

Discussions like these is why CDProjektRed were so hesitant at showing Cyberpunk 2077 to the public. Here are some snippets from the secret message they posted along with the gameplay a few days back:

…we think we owe you a few words of explanation on why we’re showing you this gameplay now. Some time after industry professionals and media saw it at E3 and Gamescom.

Each time we discussed the idea of showing the game to you (and we discussed this idea a lot), we were ending up in this ‘we’re not 100% sure’ limbo. Why? Because (for most people), when a game dev shows gemeplay footage from their game, It means that this is how the game is going to look or play like It’s not the case here. Cyberpunk 2077 is deep in development We haw a lot of design ideas, a lot of mechanics are being playtested, but we don’t know what we’ll end up with at launch. This makes publishing videos like what you Just saw risky — we don’t want gamers saying ‘but In that previous video that gun was shooting differently’, or ‘why did you change the interface?’ Change is Inherent to video game development and there’s a ton of things being modified each day. Our fear was (and kind of still is) that you’ll think what you past saw is how Cyberpunk 2077 will look like 1:1.

Developers being hesitant to show off their games isn’t a trend I want continued.

A downgrade in graphics

Moving on from puddles (finally), people have also been claiming that Spider-Man’s suit textures aren’t as detailed as before. There’s also the claim about downgrades to lighting and shadows.

The image being cited is this:

spider-man-downgrade-1

Now anyone with a bit of knowledge with how games work will know that these two scenes are under completely different lighting, rendering them useless for a comparison. This is a problem we often face with our own graphic comparisons trying to replicate situations that provided a 1:1 comparison.

There’s also the fact that both of the above shots are from a moving video. Also do note that they’re, from what I can tell, not even direct feed screenshots, so please avoid using compressed screenshots for comparisons as you can’t tell how compressed they are. One image could be compressed 1:8 while the other could be 1:4, obviously the latter would look better in a comparison if used in a vein similar to the image above even if the direct feed shot favored the prior.

spider-man-downgrade-3

Above is another example I wanted to discuss and nails in my point about compression and the need for direct feed screenshots and videos for comparisons. Above is from E3 and the shot below is from the recent trailer. Now check out this video of a less compressed scene from the final game:

In the final game his eyes don’t move in that scene as evident by the trailer, so do tell, does the video look more like the E3 shot or the release?

Now the image below from mohnix is what I really found interesting, it’s the image that created the whole complication, but now with the Release version having a blue filter and slightly different lighting. Time to put this to rest?

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Quickly going over his costume now, below is a good quality screenshot from the final build:

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All the texture details that people claimed were missing are present.

Spider-Man PS4 actually got an Upgrade

All games should look better on release than when they are shown off, its the basic expectation. Movies look better, music sounds better, so why not games? It doesn’t happen most of the time, but with Spider-Man it did, just look at the gallery below:

Do you like GIFs? I like GIFs, look at this GIF:

street2jpepc

One more for the road!

Someone got a new phone:

This situation calls for a great quote by CD Projekt visual effects artist José Teixeira who was addressing the Witcher 3’s downgrade controversy back in 2015:

It’s very unfair to compare trailers and gameplay demos,

A trailer is a beautiful shot, right. A trailer is prepared, you take one location, you put the perfect lights, and the perfect camera angle, and it looks absolutely beautiful, and it’s captured at super high-definition, and then you post-process it and everything… But gameplay demos, that’s when you see the real game. That’s when you see what the real game looks like.

Long read yeah, but what do you think about the situation? Let us know in the comments and don’t mention puddles to be ever again.

Spider-Man releases September 7, 2018 exclusively for the PS4.

Danial Arshad Khan

Founder of GearNuke.
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