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An analysis of that famous promotional picture

 
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AsaSK

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 25, 2017 11:00 pm    Post subject: An analysis of that famous promotional picture Reply with quote



Just about everybody with an interest in Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven will have seen the famous 'gangster' promotional shot. This picture, showing a mobster wielding a Thompson 1928, was created and released to gaming sites back in the year 2000. As is the case with pre-rendered game media to this day, the visual quality is notably higher than any screenshot of the final game. This detailed scene was constructed solely for this one image, and would never actually have to (or be able to) run on a domestic PC. The high-poly models, high-resolution textures and high-definition lighting on display were far beyond the graphical capabilities of the LS3D engine, and would most likely have choked any consumer PC back then, anyway. Dan Vavra cited in multiple interviews at the time that one of the main problems facing Mafia's production was optimisation, as the city was so big that even on the (then newly created) LS3D engine they were struggling to preserve quality without experiencing poor framerates (Lost Heaven was redesigned three times in an attempt to remedy this). On the other hand, modelling packages were capable of rendering beautiful-looking scenes even as far back as 1995 (thanks Mr. Rob!), so the above picture was almost certainly created & rendered in 3DS Max (Illusion Softworks' package of choice).


The foreground


Figure 1: The mobster, main focus of the image.

Particular attention has been paid to the quality of the mobster's face, clothes, Tommy Gun and rigged pose (see fig. 1). His model possesses the level of detail similar to the cutscene models of the final game, and the quality of the fedora and Thompson is even higher than that. The lighting on his face and gun in particular has been carefully rendered with shadows. The textures of his coat and hat do not appear in the final game, but the suit underneath appears identical to Tommy's. By the time the second press image was released a year later, this generic mobster had been replaced by one whose face is a little more familiar (see fig. 2).


Figure 2: Another pre-rendered promotional image, released in 2001.


The middle ground


Figure 3: The apartments & parked blue car.

Behind the man sits an alpha version of the blue Falconer, as well as some buildings (see fig. 3). At this stage in development, it was not known whether it would be possible to purchase the rights to the real names of the game's many cars. The Falconer itself casts a shadow onto the road, which has no other shadows or baked lightmaps. The nearest building, in front of which are some boxes (bednka01.4ds), is a custom model not found in the final game itself (though it is similar to 'newdum1.4ds'). The bottom portion is textured with 'vyloh27.bmp' and the top portion is a modified version of '%nd6fas.bmp', notably redder and with windows that were later taken out and replaced with holes. The other building is 'newdum4.4ds' and, judging by its scale, the building beside that is probably 'newdum5.4ds' ('made 3D' with a custom model comprised of the textures 'rimsach.bmp' & '@zade04b.bmp'). All of these textures are noticeably higher-resolution than their final-game counterparts, and would have been scaled down for the sake of performance and space (even with the lower-res textures in the final release, Mafia still shipped on three CDs and the texture archive 'A6.dta' was still one of the largest parts of the installation).


The background


Figure 4: The large buildings, clearly visible in the distance.

In the background (see fig. 4), the well-known Central Island/Downtown landmarks '4build121.4ds' & '9mrak1.4ds' can be seen. The first one differs from the final version, having a different texture and larger 'staggered' sections lower down the building. The second one also has a different texture, but its shape appears to have remained the same. The two buildings also appear to be a similar size, suggesting that one model was scaled up or the other scaled down for the purpose of this scene. The sky behind them is a rather pretty evening sky, not used in the final game. There is also an unidentifiable distant building at the end of the street, conveniently filling the gap between the man's arm and the edge of the image on the right, difficult to identify but possibly using the texture '%hofas.bmp' or '5okna29.bmp'.


Similarity to the tutorial

Because of the proximity of these buildings (both to the player and one another), this scene bares a striking resemblance to the tutorial level. I have wondered whether the single-street model created specifically for rigging this picture actually became the Tutorial. As mentioned earlier, the middle ground buildings are models named 'newdumxx' ('dum' being Czech for 'house'), while in the tutorial of the final release the buildings seen in front of the skyscrapers are models named 'dumxx'. I suspect that the 'newdum' models were new buildings created specifically for this image, and that Hoboken was originally made up of 'dum' models (hereon referred to as 'olddum' models) (see fig. 5). Then, it was later decided that these didn't work so well, and so they were swapped with the 'newdum' buildings of the scene that then became a small tutorial level.


Figure 5: Two isolated 'dum' models for comparison: an 'olddum' building on the left and a 'newdum' building on the right.

Additionally, not only is most of Hoboken 'newdum' buildings, but most of the tutorial level is 'olddum' buildings, as if they were swapped. By the time the game had reached beta in 2001, the tutorial was laid out as we know it today (see fig. 6).



Figure 6: A comparison of two beta screenshots from the tutorial with the same locations seen in the final release of the game.

There's no doubt that Mafia was well ahead of its time, and it's disappointing to imagine how many higher-quality models and textures might have survived if better PCs and greater-capacity storage media had existed fifteen years ago. However, despite the necessary evils of texture compression and lower-poly models, the game we got was phenomenal. Mafia will always be a shining example of what even a young group of developers can accomplish, thanks to the love and dedication of the Illusion Softworks team.


Figure 7: An image showing the original Illusion Softworks team in 1999, shortly after the release of Hidden & Dangerous. All of the people shown here worked on Mafia until its completion, and during development the number of employees rose to 26. The image below that is one of the earliest images of Mafia in existence, showing Central Island and running on the first Insanity engine (complete with H&D UI at the bottom). At this point, Mafia itself was essentially nothing more than a mod.
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spartaque12

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 26, 2017 11:03 am    Post subject: An analysis of that famous promotional picture Reply with quote

very nice article , i was glad 2 read
amazing how it was so sick back in 2001:
https://image.ibb.co/kmmmA6/fig2.png
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AMadeMan

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 26, 2017 2:40 pm    Post subject: An analysis of that famous promotional picture Reply with quote

Do you have any more pictures of Mafia back when it used the Insanity engine? I'm very intrigued by the sheer amount of differences compared to the final product like that picture of Central Island.
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 26, 2017 9:29 pm    Post subject: An analysis of that famous promotional picture Reply with quote

Where did you found that picture (gangster). Once I had such poster and since then I was not able to find it on the internet in a good resolution. Could you please send me a PM with website where you downloaded it?
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 26, 2017 10:23 pm    Post subject: Re: An analysis of that famous promotional picture Reply with quote

AMadeMan wrote:
Do you have any more pictures of Mafia back when it used the Insanity engine? I'm very intrigued by the sheer amount of differences compared to the final product like that picture of Central Island.


I'll sort them into albums and post the link here tomorrow. In the meantime, here's an older post I made showing the different stages of development and their different engines (Insanity, Insanity2 & LS3D).

Quote:
LS3D continued development in 2004, two years after the release of Mafia, and was given cloth and shooting mechanics, as well as early ragdoll and environment physics in preparation for Mafia 2, but then IS as we know it dissolved and the remaining members became a subsidiary of 2K (we all know how well that ended up working), and due to ability limitations the LS3D engine was scrapped and a new one was built from scratch.

The last build of the LS3D engine in 2004



Also, for information's sake, the video in German was Fourth-build Alpha gameplay, not Beta. I suspect this was literally just after they had switched over the using the LS3D engine, when the engine itself was in its infancy (you can see that the FOV, aiming mechanics and movement are different, but the rendering of the draw distance and physics look very similar to the final version).

The game went through several different builds and each one had various nuances that differed, but as far as I can define these were the main stages:

Pre-Alpha [H&D engine/Insanity, 1999]





First-build Alpha [Insanity2]









Second-build Alpha [Insanity2, 2000]



Alpha press release [H&D engine/Insanity2 or pre-rendered in 3DS Max, 2000]





Third-build Alpha [LS3D]











Beta [LS3D]









As stated above, each category had earlier and later stages where things were added or improved. Mafia's Alpha stages ran on modified builds of the H&D engine, while Beta used LS3D and was visually closer to the final product - this is with the exception of the 'transition period' build, where the final Alpha stage appears to have run on an early version of the LS3D engine.

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Hunter

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 11, 2017 6:05 am    Post subject: An analysis of that famous promotional picture Reply with quote

Notice how on the house textures we have broken windows, graffiti, and structural masonry bracing on the walls? Yeah, those pictures were taken of delerict ruins in 2001!

One of MAFIA's flaws...
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 11, 2017 3:10 pm    Post subject: Re: An analysis of that famous promotional picture Reply with quote

Hunter wrote:
Notice how on the house textures we have broken windows, graffiti, and structural masonry bracing on the walls? Yeah, those pictures were taken of delerict ruins in 2001!

One of MAFIA's flaws...


Yes that made me smile when I first noticed it, I guess that's why they were relegated to the Tutorial. After all, there are other areas of that mission that require the suspension of disbelief (like the pedestrians that drive around in circles, never getting anywhere Sticking out tongue).
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