A digital museum of video game levels

297 points1
modeless9 hours ago

The creator of this site made a really interesting video about the gravity fields in Super Mario Galaxy:

Among other things I was surprised to learn that Mario's collision shape is a sphere rather than the more standard cylinder or capsule shape used for the player character in most games, which simplifies the physics when gravity changes direction. When you look at his character model the proportions make more sense once you know that they were designed to fill out a spherical shape. How many companies would change the character design of their most iconic franchise to make their physics engine simpler?

greggman38 hours ago

Having made several platform character games I knew this from having artists that didn't make a spherical character and having to try to deal with all the visual issues it causes. Would live to find artists that would consider their job serving the gameplay instead of just the graphics. They are usually at odds. Nintendo is one of the few companies that often choses gameplay over graphics and I don't just mean low-powered machines. They've talked about trying to make the maximum amount of their game worlds interactive and removing details because they'd break the illusion.

DonHopkins2 hours ago

I posted these earlier about Shigeru Miyamoto, and just transcribed a highlight from one of the videos of his two GDC keynotes (but watch both keynotes in full -- every word is profound, and they bracket an amazing time in game development history: 1999-2007!):

I've seen some great talks by the amazing game designer, Shigeru Miyamoto.

In an earlier talk, he explained that he designed his games starting with how you physically interact with the controls you're holding in your hand, and then inwards into the computer, instead of the other way around like so many other people tend to do.

In a later talk, about the Wii, he explained that now he designs his games starting with the facial expressions of the people playing them, then to the physical experience that could evoke such an expression, then on into the computer that could conduct such an experience.

As an example, he showed a picture of a grandfather with his granddaughter sitting in his lap, playing a game, looking totally entranced and delighted at the game, and her grandfather looking at her, with just as entranced and delighted an expression as on his granddaughter's face, even if he didn't necessarily understand what the game itself was about. He got so much enjoyment out of just watching his granddaughter enjoying the game, that it was fun for him, too.

The Wii was so successful as a social party game, because the players themselves were more fun to watch than the game on the screen, because they make spectacles of themselves, which is much more entertaining to watch than the computer graphics. And you don't get bored waiting for your turn to play, because it's fun watching other people play.

I wrote this earlier on another forum but I'll repost it here:

I've seen Shigeru Miyamoto speak at several game developer conferences over the years. He's absolutely brilliant, a really nice guy, and there's so much to learn by studying his work and listening to him talk. Will Wright calls him the Stephen Spielberg of games.

At one of his earlier talks, he explained that he starts designing games by thinking about how you touch, manipulate and interact with the input device in the real world, instead of thinking about the software and models inside the virtual world of the computer first. The instantaneous response of Mario 64 and how you can run and jump around is a great example of that.

Shigeru Miyamoto GDC 1999 Keynote (Full):

At a later talk about how he designed the Wii, he said that he now starts designing games by thinking about what kind of expression he wants it to evoke on the player's faces, and how to make the players themselves entertain the other people in the room who aren't even playing the game themselves. That's why the Wii has so many great party games, like Wii Sports. Then he showed a video of a little girl sitting in her grandfather's lap playing a game -- , with a delighted expression on her face. The grandfather was delighted and entertained by watching his granddaughter enjoy the game.

This photo -- -- perfectly illustrates exactly what he means!

Shigeru Miyamoto 2007 GDC Keynote - Part 1:

Shigeru Miyamoto 2007 GDC Keynote - Part 2:

Shigeru Miyamoto 2007 GDC Keynote - Part 3:

>So let me move from the vision of Nintendo to the vision that I have always employed personally in my career as a game developer.

>In interviews, I'm often asked about specific elements of my games. Where did you get the idea for that character or that hardware? Why did you design that level in that way?

>And sometimes I can tell that the people who are asking these questions have spend a lot of time analyzing my games in very detailed fashion to search for the answers.

>But the riddle here is the harder they look at the individual parts of the game itself, the further away they get from determining that answer.

>The reason for this is that my initial focus and my primary focus throughout development is not these individual elements of the game.

>When I'm creating a game, what I always try to envision, it's what I always think about, is the core element of fun within the game.

>And to do that, I imagine one thing, and that's the face of the player, while he or she is experiencing the game.

>Not any individual part of the game itself.

>And what the players feel will be reflected on their faces. And as an entertainer, I want them to be entertained.

>I was remind of this recently, when we launched Nintendo DS in Japan, and first put the system out in public, for people to start playing.

>We asked some of those people if we could video tape them, and you can see some of these videos, the first time they're playing the DS, at a web site called MyFirstTouch.ds.

>So let's take a look at two cuts that impressed me most. Let's take a look.

>(Girl singing in joy.) So cute. That guy there is happy because his girlfriends are so excited.

>And of course this grandfather's happy that his granddaughter's having so much fun as well.

>And since this is a stylus, a touch pen, he's able to play the game too.

>So as you can see, not only is the person who's playing the game being entertained, but the people standing around watching are getting caught up in the excitement, and they're being entertained as well.

>And that made me very happy. That's the reaction that I always want.

Shigeru Miyamoto 2007 GDC Keynote - Part 4:

Shigeru Miyamoto 2007 GDC Keynote - Part 5:

Shigeru Miyamoto 2007 GDC Keynote - Part 6:

Shigeru Miyamoto Keynote GDC 07 - Wife-o-meter:

andrepd13 minutes ago

Amazing. I've been on a GDC binge lately (some highlights: Ultima Online, Breath of the Wild). Thanks for those links, looks like I have loads more content to watch x)

andrepd18 minutes ago

All of his videos are absolutely outstanding. Sadly there are not that many x)

Tycho4 hours ago

It would be great if someone wrote a book about open world video games. Or just video game worlds in general. Perhaps 100 games, three pages of pics and two pages of commentary for each one. Feels like someone should document all these virtual worlds since most people only have time to experience a few. Maybe it would work better as a wiki, or could start as such.

DonHopkins2 hours ago

Richard Bartle, who co-created MUD1 (the first Multi User Dungeon) at the PDP-10 at Essex University in 1978, wrote a book called "Designing Virtual Worlds" in 2003, and has written more recent books with longer elaborate titles, like:

"MMOs from the Outside In: The Massively-Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games of Psychology, Law, Government, and Real Life"


"MMOs from the Inside Out: The History, Design, Fun, and Art of Massively-multiplayer Online Role-playing Games"

(He says the publisher added the subtitles, but "The original titles were MMOs FTW and MMOs WTF.")

Cthulhu_2 hours ago

Thanks for the recommendations, I've ordered Designing Virtual Worlds for holiday reading and the other two are on my wish list!

saberworks11 hours ago

Awesome! Might I recommend adding Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight? There's already an open source renderer available ( and you can see it, here, for example: (under the screenshots, see the 3d preview). It's got blurred textures on purpose (afraid of copyright issues), but it can render the original textures as well.

Jasper_9 hours ago

If someone would like to contribute a new game renderer, I am more than happy to mentor. At this time I am probably not likely to do this work myself though.

IG_Semmelweiss11 hours ago

This is well done.

Curious, do levels look better now, taking advantage of modern video cards, than their original, native platform ?

I'm looking at Kingdom Hearts, and it looks quite amazing for a PS2 game.

Cthulhu_2 hours ago

Yes; even a decade or more ago, games looked better because they could be rendered at a higher resolution. Especially PS1 or PS2 games like Gran Turismo looked great when rendered at a higher resolution. Here's a picture of Dragon Quest 'native PS2' versus higher emulated resolution:

One thing that is lagging will be the original texture resolution of the games. They look more crisp in that particular screenshot, but in some games there's just not enough information. However, a while ago someone used AI technology to upscale the 2d backgrounds of PS1 era Final Fantasy games, with great results: I think this same technology can be used to - relatively quick / easy / dirty - remaster older games.

edit: or even fairly modern ones ones; FFXIV for example has pretty low resolution textures by default, which is especially obvious in e.g. outfits during cutscenes. There's tools out there to replace textures (its anti-cheat / tampering doesn't verify the assets), I wonder if someone's redone all the 'vanilla' textures like that.

ehnto9 hours ago

The answer is, it depends!

Games that try for realism tend to hold up poorly as time goes on, but games that have a very congruent less than real art style, not just cartoony games but all kinds of different styles, can hold up a lot better.

As well, some game art was designed to be played on CRT monitors, or at lower resolution, which gives a very different experience when played on a modern screen with a high resolution. The bluring and less discrete nature of pixels on older devices lended a lot of affordances to artists working with lower resolutions.

Akronymus4 hours ago

Not to forget composite colour artifacting.

vbsteven7 hours ago

The FFX example stood out for me. It looked much smoother, less jagged edges from what I remember playing it on PS2. Although there was an HD remaster for PS4. I don't know which assets were used.

greggman38 hours ago

For those games I'm not sure but for PS1 games, most level visualizers don't emulate the non-perspective correct texture mapping so they look much better.

Further they often leave texture filtering on when the old console didn't have any.

Also of course older consoles ran lower-res

jhvkjhk6 hours ago

It looks great! However, is this legal?

npteljes2 hours ago

Absolutely not, but maybe they won't bother going after it.

If redistributing assets were legal, then FOSS recreations of game engines would not tell you to insert the original disk for the art assets.

vaylian5 hours ago

Why shouldn't it be? Screenshots have been shared for decades without any issues.

okamiueru4 hours ago

Screenshots are depictions of the user experience, this is a website collecting and transmitting asset data. Unless I didn't get a sarcasm or irony tag, I'm sure the difference is enough to give some nuance for why it wouldn't be immediately obvious.

That aside, this website is remarkably well done, and a really valuable collection. I can appreciate the historic value, and I hope the answer to the pertaining question is that there is some fair use grounds. I kinda doubt it though.

Relevant excerpt from the FAQ:


> Are you afraid of being taken down?

Less than you might think. Companies take down fan projects when they're competing with their in-house projects. I don't see as competing with any game out there — it's more of a museum, not a game. The worlds on display are incredible and I hope they encourage you to go out and buy a copy of the game itself.

That said, I have enormous respect for the developers and dev teams and if I received a take-down request, I would honor it. It is their work on display, after all.

Developers are only able to make these fantastic worlds if we collectively support them. noclip would not exist without their hard work and dedication. To ensure that they remain healthy, please try to buy games instead of pirating them. I also put in extra effort to ensure that all assets available on this site cannot be used to pirate the game itself.

> Do you accept donations?

No. Use the money to buy some games instead.

gambiting4 hours ago

Well, because a screenshot is just a picture of the original thing. This literally has the original and copyrighted level files, it's not a recreation by someone.

JohnWhigham2 hours ago

It's just the level assets for the most part and a camera to move around. You're not plopped into that level in media res style. I liken it to ripping the game's soundtrack. It's just a slice of the game, not the whole thing.

okamiueru2 hours ago
gambiting1 hour ago

>>It's just the level assets for the most part

Yes, that's the copyrighted bit. It doesn't really matter how you use those assets, as long as you're doing that without the permission of the copyright holder, that's not allowed.

Again, I don't think this project will or should be in trouble due to this - just that as copyright law stands currently, this particular usage is not allowed.

npteljes2 hours ago

So, a game's soundtrack would not be subject to a copyright notice?

npteljes2 hours ago

Why should it be? Significant parts of copyrighted works are also protected by copyright.

RocketSyntax3 hours ago

sweet view of hyrule castle and death mountain:;ShareData=AEK}r...

skee_0x445911 hours ago

wow, this is amazing. every once in a while i chip away at a project of mine to reverse engineer the playstation 2 game "007 agent under fire," because i have a lot of nostalgia for that game. maybe im just really bad at RE but i have found it incredibly difficult to make any progress.

some of the game data is not compressed. i was able to extract all of that in a single afternoon with a tool i wrote from scratch in C -- trivial stuff. but that was just audio and video files and other things -- the interesting data, maps and models, is compressed.

maybe i should have guessed which compression algorithm they are using and tried to decompress it with that. but i decided to start out by loading the games code into ghidra and finding the algorithms in there. while i have made a lot of progress, the task overwhelms me. its a sea of nonsense.

so then i tried to load the game up in an emulator and then get the uncompressed data from the virtual ps2 memory. that worked and i am able to edit the memory in real time. with that setup i tried just poking around, changing individual bytes, hoping that i would stumble across a vertex of something i was looking at. that worked actually. so as it stands i have vertex data but i still have to figure out the layout and then write something to extract that data and then translate into something i can use.

but this isnt ideal because there are some things that might have never been put into a level but are nonetheless on the disk. and there are other data that might be lost between the disk and memory.

i love zanarkand from FFX. i think its one of the most aesthetically pleasing settings in any videogame.;ShareData=AMwnv9fi/38AMV_9u4...

edit: wow, how did i not find this until now? looks like im not the only one having some trouble.

pfedak7 hours ago

I'm hoping to have the FFX particle system (mostly) implemented soon, which will make a big difference. If you join the discord, I'd be happy to help give you some help with that process. Compression algorithms themselves are often standard, but the underlying data formats can be more involved.

deathemperor11 hours ago

The Zanarkand brings back so much memories I've spent hundreds of hours with

vippy9 hours ago

These level designs for FFX are SO TRICKY. I never realized just how carefully constructed for the camera each map was.

skohan8 hours ago

This is incredibly cool!

Is there any way to get "mouse look" without having to hold the button down? On a trackpad this is not so nice, and intuitively I want to be able to control this like a normal 1st person videogame.

Jasper_8 hours ago

I believe you should be able to open DevTools and type "main.viewer.inputManager.releaseOnMouseUp = false" into the Console. Does that help at all?

skohan8 hours ago

Yeah it works! The sensitivity is pretty low - it would be cool to have a control for this in the GUI

Vel0cityX5 hours ago

You can change the sensitivity from here

skohan4 hours ago

Ah cool, I thought this was for directional velocity, not rotation

adamredwoods11 hours ago

It appears my video card is not up to par for this website. Hmmmm.


Disabling the Chrome blacklist worked.

gwbas1c1 hour ago

I really like being able to see Wii levels in high resolution. It's like they come to life in a way they didn't before.

bzzzt36 minutes ago

I don't know, the geometry simplification and low resolution of textures make it painfully clear the games were intended to be rendered on SD TV's. The crowd texture in the Mario Kart circuit levels looks really ugly to me.

Some of the levels have different colors in my memory, maybe some games do some kind of color grading pass.

Then again, I've got at lot of respect for developers that got so many great game experiences out of that little white box ;)

RocketSyntax3 hours ago

deku tree's foliage is massive!

Guest816 hours ago

rather surprised i could load the entire Great Sea from Wind Waker and fly around with a decent fps.

Jasper_1 hour ago

The big restriction on that system was honestly memory, since the GameCube only had around 24MB of memory usable by the CPU. That's really what necessitated splitting up the Great Sea into chunks. Check the Chrome memory usage while that's loaded; guaranteed it'll be a bit higher.

Cthulhu_2 hours ago

Even budget mobile phones are more powerful than the N64 was at the time, and this is native rendering of models, not emulation.

hypertele-Xii3 hours ago

Well nothing's simulated, it's essentially just an animated 3D model, right? Think about how complex scenes Blender can render in real-time.

It's pathfinding and AI that murder video game performance.

Jasper_1 hour ago

Some actors have simulations (e.g. Beedle's boat) but not too many right now. Compare to Super Mario Galaxy or the Source Engine games where there's even a bit of interactivity.

panzerklein5 hours ago

And all three islands of Liberty City from GTA III!

RocketSyntax3 hours ago

would love to see mario64

RocketSyntax3 hours ago

ah mario64 DS is there

echelon12 hours ago

This is really cool!

I wonder how the author was able to load everything in a uniform interface and populate the levels with enemies. From my experience, dumped levels from retro video games can be in varying nonstandard formats that are largely incompatible with one another.

These results are beautiful.

edit: The README and repo [1] seem to show that this was a large effort.


Jasper_12 hours ago

I'm the primary author. I don't load everything in a uniform interface, that would be a disaster for accuracy, so each game loads roughly from its raw data formats. That's why different games are at different levels of "completion", some have enemies and animations and lighting, some are very poor with just a "base" level model displayed.

Matheus287 hours ago

This is amazing. TF2's ctf_2fort looks perfect to me. Great job.

sergiotapia9 hours ago

This is beautiful, I visited Besaid Island again from FFX and a flood of memories came back to me. :D

pmarreck7 hours ago

I wish it worked on iOS

tehnub6 hours ago

Go to advanced settings for Safari and enable WebGL 2.0.

Probably best to disable after you’re done using the site, as browsing with experimental features can be a security risk.

vippy12 hours ago

This is so cool! From a level-design perspective, the Final Fantasy X maps are super illuminating.

00ngz11 hours ago

i got that double jab nigga

when that hoe, kamala, gone suck my nut nigga?

biggayal12 hours ago


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