Is Displacement Mapping the Secret?

A lot of talk has hit the internet about Nintendo and displacement mapping over the last few days. From the article: “A recent patent filed at the US Patent Office, number 6,971,957, describes how Nintendo aims to utilize Displacement Mapping techniques to cut down on the processing power required to generated high quality models. Displacement Mapping is a technique where a high-quality mesh physically transforms (displaces) a lower-quality object. Using the technique, a displacement map can be placed over a mesh of only a few hundred polygons and still look as comparable to a model consisting over thousands, even millions, of polygons. What this means in effect is that by using displacement mapping, Revolution games could look as good as Xbox 360/PlayStation3 titles without the need for high-powered processors such as CELL.”

So is the “secret” Miyamoto hinted at found in displacement mapping? Though the Revolution very well may utilize the technology, I don’t think something so tech related is what the company would push hard. You be the judge though.

[Source: TVG, Falafelkid]


  1. Wherever I see this displacement mapping patent story, I see those screencaps from ZBrush. 3 questions:

    1. Doesn’t Zbrush use normal mapping?
    2. What’s the difference between normal mapping and displacement mapping, really?
    3. Finally, will the approx. 1 MB of texture space on the GPU be able to handle resolutions that will give as good a visual result as that Zbrush model?

  2. Still thinking the secret may be the price point (or, in a throw back to the olden days of gaming, perhaps the system will come bundled with two controllers and a game…a guy can dream can’t he?).

    This news seems a bit too techie for the layman, and so far Nintendo has been more vocal with “everyday” rumors and hints.

  3. (If true)It’s basically another buzz term to combat HD for the tech-heads, cept this one is apparent. The difference it makes can actually be showcased on any tv. I might not mind paying very little for such beautiful games.

  4. I have faith with the big N on game quality and innovation. I also hope that the price point is around the $200 location. I have no real desire on getting a XBOX 360 or PS3.

    I had a Playstation 1 and used a PS2, and was soooooo not impressed. I already has a PC that puts the XBOX & the XBOX 360 in the dirt.

    I don’t really see myself as a fanboi, as I prefer PC gaming over a Console anyday. I do prefer the Nintendo as they have never let me down before.

  5. I would be surprised to see Nintendo apply that technique. Although it requires less memory, it also requires more CPU processing power.
    I guess if applied wisely…

  6. I’m with neuroman, pc owns consoles for graphics and online. I’ve never had a Nintendo console break on me and as long as they keep making fun games I’ll buy their stuff.

  7. Who can tell if this is legit, but remember that the SNES with no 3D capabilities used Mode7 so who knows what kind of secrets this has and can pull off.

    The only thing that is for sure of the entire patent is that ATi has taken this patent out in Nintendo’s name.

    Displacement means that they have to process each graphic’s displacement instead of its polygons, it is entirely different as instead of using memory for all the polygons they process the displacements.

    It looks like my theory of IGN being full of sh*t turned out right 😉 Ah well, its not like anyone ever believed IGN, just is not credible.

    To those who dont know, IF this is discussing the displacement methods and it is used properly and the hardware is pushed for displacement and not normal rendering we have a good chance of graphics ACTUALLY being fairly even between the three systems.

  8. In regards to CPU speed questions, see Jotstiq:
    “Nintendo have filed two patents relating to displacement mapping, a technique for rendering detailed surfaces while keeping the polygon count low. One involves specialist hardware for vector operations, optimising the graphics hardware so that displacement mapping is computed efficiently; the other relates to reducing the strain on the CPU caused by rendering a 3D world in 2D.”

  9. While Nintendo may end up using displacement mapping, I’m almost entirely certain this wasn’t the “secret” Miyamoto was referring to. Does everyone keep forgetting that he said the secret involved the CONTROLLER and not the console or graphics?

  10. The Controller can also be used as a TV-remote. Just like ones given out to Japanese customers.
    That’s the secret.

  11. I’m pretty sure it going to be force-feedback & rumble shock. Remember it’s a controller secret, so is either that or that a regular controller addon for it will come with the rev for free.

  12. The unreal engine 3 already does this; mixing a high polygon and a low polygon model to produce a rich low polygon model.

    Don’t be paranoid about Nintendo being underpowered. If you get an XBox 360 or PS3 you are only using a 3rd of the systems power with a normal TV, the end result is you are paying 3 times more for the same graphics.

  13. Baah! This is no better than the other rumoured patents Nintendo apparently have, which includes that 3 point tracking thingy, cube mapping and a patent that gives you the impression that you are physically walking towards something. My hopes are limited on this. :-/

  14. He didn’t say that the secret involved the controller, he just mentioned that there was another secret after talking about the controller…

  15. is it me, or is everyone still ignoring the secrets that miyamoto did say was not going to be shown until next year. Someone needs to seriously take a good gander at that controller! look closely at the sides of it! take a look at any of the pics featured of the sides of the controller, and also, take a look at ign’s 3d model, they haven’t helped the nintendo community by their comments, but maybe that 3d render helps more than what people realize, there is a HUGE seam down the side of the controller, pointing to removeable “faceplates”, ie, different button configurations, for say, snes, or other uses, take a look and see for yourself!

  16. I should take a look then…

  17. Looks great. But is it portable technology — will only Nintendo games have it?

    My main concern with the Revo’s graphics is that it can do normal mapping — and therefore be able to run Unreal 3 Engine.

    If Revo can’t run the Unreal 3 engine, there’s no way developers will port games that use that engine.

  18. It looks like my theory of IGN being full of sh*t turned out right 😉 Ah well, its not like anyone ever believed IGN, just is not credible.


  19. Dont mind me Rollin, just that ALOT of people out there (even before this Nintendo information came out) have stated IGN is not credible.

    Take Matt for example, he SHOULDNT be employed under a Nintendo section but instead a Microsoft section. It is OBVIOUS what he prefers, he even went on TV and stated that Nintendo would be ripping people off for selling the system at 199.99 even though he DOESNT know the final specs worth shit.

    IGN is about as credible as Osoko Tanaka, end of story! (Unless the RARE and definatly shocking *the world will probably end* chance that Osoko Tanaka is legit at which point I guess they are even less credible)

  20. I believe IGN.

  21. I know you do ^^ you are entitled to believe whomever you wish, just as I am entitled to disbelieve.

    Besides, if youd actually checked my blog I explained how the specs ARE great, but the stuff Matt does (going on TV and calling it a ripoff) (not taking his chance to explain to people how effective it is) is what I dislike. The Sony and Microsoft sections are run by fans, Matt seems more interested in those 2 companies than Nintendo but he works on the Nintendo side.

    The specs arent what bugs me, the ONLY reason I hope they are wrong is so that Matt looks like an idiot and gets flamed for years to come. Honestly, the specs are awesome if people had half a brain to see it past numbers. (not insulting yo, the people who are “OH NOES THE SPECZ ARE T3H WEAKZ!”

  22. I missed whenever he sed that on TV. Explain.

    Actually when i 1st read this story i overlooked the fact that it’s a patent. I was thinking it was a rumor this whole time. I did some research today on the issue and it is a fantastic technology. Seriously, Rev could be even weaker than what IGN ses and still potentially make a fool of the other 2. I’m gonna throw a buncha eggs into the basket saying this applies to Rev. And if that happens, not only are Nintendo forward thinkers on the gameplay side, but with tech, too.

    HD…More like ADHD!

  23. Matt went on G4 and said if Revo was 199.99 that Nintendo is ripping us off, then to back his point up (not on TV, in the revo lobby, alot of good patent finds there so I check it out once in a while) he said the Micro isnt worth 100 dollars.

    because you know… making a profit is a dirty move! BAD NINTENDO YOU PROFIT MAKING BASTARDS! lol ^^

    If this turns out itll be so nice to insult EVERYONE who said we have shitty graphics and suck wont it? I mean, graphics that beat the Xbox 360 at half the price WITH a new control scheme? MS would be screwed.

  24. Micro aint worth 100. I guess he used the Micro as an analogy, which in that case makes a great point. DS is straightup with price and presentation; Micro is flashy on the outside, low-key on the inside. That sounds just like Revolution.

    I won’t insult anyone. I don’t even talk to such ppl. What i would do is lie back and bask in the glory of Planet Nintendo.

  25. Imagine if they used this technology on a portable system…..

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