Friday, September 29, 2017

Colossi Sizes (Real World)

Until recently, I was completely satisfied with my conclusions of the colossi sizes as I had carefully measured them with my memory editor in real time 'in-game'. But it seems there are two scales to contend with, the 'in-game' measurable models, and the 'actual' real world sizes based on a single sentence by Ueda from the official art book.

See (in-game) sizes video here:

I had based all of my videos and blog posts on these in-game measurements, however back in December 2016 I received an email from Kris Vandernbroek, the admin of the Shadow of the Colossus wiki, an amazingly detailed and comprehensive wiki devoted to the game.
See here:

Kris mentioned an important detail that I seemed to have missed from the official art book (this section had luckily been translated into English by my good friend and collaborator 'Giltterberri' : )

In the interview section at the back of the official art book, Ueda (when asked about Phalanx) states: 'Its nickname was “The Snake”. It’s the biggest of all the Colossi, around 200 meters long. I wanted there to be a Colossi you would defeat by jumping from your horse. In the beginning, you’d defeat it by cutting a muscle within an opening that contained its weak point'.

So Ueda states that Phalanx was 'around 200m' long. This differs dramatically from my 'in-game' measurements of 146m long. So now I had to re-evaluate all of my measurements based on this one one sentence from the creator of the game... I had a lot of problems with this, as I had been so careful in my measurements, checking and re-checking them many times over! We both couldn't be right... could we? So there was something else going on here.

Wander looking down from the nose of Phalanx - before activation (146m high)

Wander at the tail tip of Phalanx - before activation

So it appears the 'actual' size of the colossi are 38% larger than the in-game dimensions. There could be a variety of reasons for this, but the most obvious is perhaps there was a memory limit as to how large they could make the 3D colossi models using the PS2 architecture? It's all about scale; that is, if everything is scaled by a certain percentage but is at the same proportion, there's no way to tell how large or small a character model is in the game. The only way I could tell was by using a memory editor.

In-game Phalanx (146m) compared to the larger 200m long Phalanx

Of course, this may all be unnecessary as perhaps Phalanx was once much larger in an earlier build of the game and later the devs decided to reduce its size? But even if that is the case, it's stated by Ueda in the official art book as being around 200m long, so we have to take that as canon. But I'm happy with the compromise of two sets of sizes, those in-game and what you could call 'real world' sizes. 

So based on this new information, does that mean the forbidden lands and all it contains would also need to be scaled up by 38%? This would enlarge the map squares that were previously 600m x 600m to a size of 828m x 828m. Kyle Shubel (the US localisation producer for Shadow of the Colossus) once said in a Playstation 2 forum post: 'There are 52 areas on the game map, each are over 600m x 600m, you may have to ride across 2-9 of these to get to the next colossus.' But it seems a large jump from 600m to 828m in my opinion, even though he stated they were 'over 600m' squared. There's also the problem that he got both of the other facts wrong... There are only 39 playable squares on the map, and the furthest you have to travel to reach a colossus in the game is 5 maps squares, not 9.

So I have recalculated all of the colossi and characters based on this new scale. Note: This fixes the 'dwarf Wander problem', as now Wander is 1.7m high - a normal human size, but at the same time it increases Agro's size into a colossal sized horse! 2.5m high, larger than any horse known ever to exist (see further below).

So here we see that Valus has been enlarged in height from 16m to 22m. This is its actual real world scale height, not the 'in-game' height. See my previous 'Colossi Sizes' blog post for the in-game measurements here:

Wander is no longer a dwarf at this scale, but rather a regular sized young man. He was previously only 1.25m high, now he is 1.7m high, which is a normal human sized height, not that of a Hobbit xD.

But now Agro has been enlarged to an oversized colossal horse! A horse larger than any ever known to have existed. According to the Guinness book of World Records, a horse known as 'Big Jake' is the tallest horse ever, with a height of 2.1m high, but Agro is 40cm higher than Big Jake!

Big Jake - the largest horse in the world!

You can see how large Agro is when Wander is standing next to her

The scaled up 'real world' Malus towers over the Statue of Liberty, whereas before it was only 2m higher, now Malus is 20m higher than the iconic statue! A real colossus!

I know it would be easier if I could show the previous 'in-game' scales compared to the 'real world' scales, but I think that would just become confusing for the reader. The best way to compare them would be to have both of my 'Colossi Sizes' blog posts opened in separate browser windows, then compare them side by side. Note: I hope this doesn't confuse anyone, as I'm quite happy with my original 'in-game' measurements. But I thought I would showcase this discrepancy just to keep faith with what Ueda stated.

I think most fans will be happier with these dimensions as they increase the size of the colossi to truly monumental scales, however the only sizes ever published have been taken from my measurements which at first were only guesses based on how high I thought Wander might be and, in turn were added to the SotC wiki. I turns out my initial guess was spot on (1.7m high), so I think this is as close as we can get to the true sizes of the colossi, Wander, Mono and Agro and the other characters we see in the game.

So what do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts on this matter. Which scale do you think is the right one? The measurable 'in-game' scale, or the one based on Ueda's 200m long Phalanx? Could both be correct or not?

Monday, September 4, 2017

Fruits in the Forbidden Lands

We have all travelled around the forbidden lands in search of fruit at one time or another. It may be that you had beaten the game and time trials and wanted to gather up all the fruit shown on the map, or you just wanted more health in order to fight the colossi? In the PS3 version there is a trophy awarded for this task called 'Cornucopia', which means a symbol of plenty, or an abundant supply of good things, usually featured in a goat's horn overflowing with flowers, fruit and corn, hence the name.


In any case, it involves a long journey around the lands seeking out those special trees with magical fruit ; ) You get to see vast areas of the map you would have missed if you had just visited each colossus in turn, and it's quite satisfying when you have completed the task and see that all the fruit icons have disappeared from the world map.

So here I have quantified all the fruit in the forbidden lands so we can see how many pieces of fruit exist per fruit tree, and how much fruit you can gather in each map square. You start the game with 100 health points, and although you can't see this value unless you use a memory editor, it allows me to see how many health points you earn for each piece of fruit taken. 

I had originally thought that some fruit types might provide more (or less) health points than others, but I learned a long time ago that each piece of fruit gives the same number of health points, which turns out to be 5 (five). You do not get any grip points from eating fruit, this is obtained by harvesting the white-tailed lizards throughout the lands, but unfortunately you only get a single grip point per tail.

Note: There are eight different types of fruit to obtain in the game and these can be found either individually on a particular tree, or sometimes two different fruit types exist side by side (on individual trees) - see chart below:

Map of fruit trees from the art book

Map of fruit trees in game

You can see from the two maps above that they have separated the fruit tree icons in the art book to make them easier to see. There are 33 fruit icons on the map and each icon can represent up to 6 pieces of fruit. So let's look at each piece of fruit up close. The following images also show the top and bottom views.

Fruit_A - this is the most common fruit found in the forbidden lands

Fruit_B - a rockmelon type of fruit?

Fruit_C - a pink banana?

Fruit_D - a pineapple type fruit

Fruit_E - a pear type fruit with two pieces

Fruit G - Three pieces per batch - resembles Jackfruit

Thanks to an 'unknown' user, I was introduced to the Jackfruit which resembles fruit G and H quite well, although it's native to south India, not Japan. I had expected that all the fruits we see may have been native to Japan, but I guess any fruit that sparked the developers interest could be from anywhere in the world? But the Jackfruit is significant in two aspects, 1) it resembles the G and H fruit, and 2) its seeds are almost identical to Fruit_A and Fruit_K. 

A species of the fig, mulberry and the breadfruit family

A jackfruit tree from India - its branches are bursting with fruit!

Fruit H - Same as Fruit_G - but only two pieces per batch

Fruit_K - same as Fruit_A but with three pieces instead of one

Note: Fruit_K is the fruit we find in the secret garden that reduces Wander's health instead of increasing it, more about this later. It appears to resemble the seeds taken from the Jackfruit! Notice how similar the seeds are to Fruit_A and Fruit_K.

A Jackfruit with its orange seeds exposed

Individual seeds of the Jackfruit - closely resemble Fruit A and K

Fruit_F (Watermelon - the Missing Fruit)
This is the only fruit that is still in the program code for Shadow of the Colossus but doesn't appear in the game, perhaps a leftover from Ico? You can see from looking at the two models from both games that they are identical, just with different lighting effects.

Watermelon model from Shadow of the Colossus

Watermelon model from Ico

I recently got in touch with a very clever player named 'Wisi', which by some programming magic, managed to actually make the watermelon model appear in Shadow of the Colossus! He did this by replacing one of the existing fruit models with the watermelon model, so when the game was played you would see watermelons hanging from the fruit tree instead of the previous fruit - simply amazing that he could pull this off ; )

So I made a video about this curious effect which also includes the watermelons in Ico:

The Other Missing Fruit
Featured in the video above, I briefly mention that there are two 'missing' fruits that may still be accessible in the game's program code. These are the I and J fruits, I only mention them as the fruit models in Shadow of the Colossus are labelled in alphabetical order, from A to H , then for no reason, it jumps to Fruit_K (the secret garden fruit). Perhaps there is no mystery here, just a decision by the programmers to add an extra fruit later in development, and for whatever reason, they labelled this last fruit as 'Fruit_K'.
Fruit I and J are missing from the sequence

But these two missing fruits have peaked my interest, so I'll endeavour to try and find them in the program code (perhaps with the help of my new friend and genius hacker 'Wisi' ; ) But don't get your hopes up, in reality there's most likely no secret fruit, and these two letters were bypassed for reasons unknown. Proof of this is by using the 'SotC viewer', which allows you to view and extract all the models from the game.

Fruit models as seen in the SotC viewer - notice I & J are missing

However, the watermelon fruit (Fruit_F) was found by searching for the name 'watermelon', so perhaps if we knew the names of these other two pieces of fruit we might have something to search for?

Climbing Fruit Trees
All the larger fruit trees in the forbidden lands have climbable moss growing up their trunks. Wander need only jump and grab onto this moss to climb up, much like the moss he uses to climb up the east side of the temple, or the ledges at the first colossus.

Wander climbing a fruit tree

Wander at the top of a fruit tree - Fruit_B can be seen from this vantage point

Sometimes it's hard to see the fruit from ground level and as much as you run around looking up at the branches of a fruit tree, that last piece of fruit can elude you! I'm sure many players have experienced this - I know I have ; ) You can tell by looking at your game map that a fruit tree icon still exists, this means there is still a piece (or pieces) of fruit yet to discover. So it's a good idea to climb the tree and have a look around. In most cases, that last hidden piece of fruit will reveal itself.

Chart of All Fruit Pieces
Below is a chart I made which shows the map square, fruit type and number of pieces of fruit in that map square. You can see that up to three fruit types can be represented in one map square, all on individual trees. One rule I have found is that only one type of fruit exists on each individual fruit tree, that is, you will never find a single fruit tree with two different types of fruit hanging from its branches.

Note: When you see the same map square label repeated (i.e. C1, C1) this means there are two individual fruit trees in that quadrant. For instance E3 has four individual fruit trees where you can gather up fruit.

Fruit chart showing number of fruit per map square 

To make things a little clearer, I have made a map showing all the fruit types plus the number of pieces in each map square (see below). So according to my count, there are 126 pieces of fruit in the forbidden lands (not including the secret garden fruits). As mentioned above, each piece gives you 5 health points so that works out to be 630 health points you can obtain just from gathering all the fruit in the lands. In the PS2 version, this will make Wander's health bar nearly fill the bottom of the screen, but in the updated PS3 version, they reduced the length of the full health bar to about two thirds of the screen.

Full health bar in the PS3 version

Map showing all fruit types and numbers

You will notice on this map a small red circle in C3, this is the only area in the forbidden lands that have fruit trees which are devoid of fruit! Why these trees are different to the others is a mystery, they appear to be the same type of fruit trees we see all throughout the lands, they even have the climbable moss growing up their trunks, but there is no fruit to be found here?

C3 - Six fruit trees next to the fish filled pond - notice Agro is feeding

No fruit to shoot down here?

The one thing I noticed about this area is that Agro seems to feed a lot more than usual. That is, here Agro will stroll away from Wander, but when she returns she will immediately start to feed on the grass, over and over again. Not sure if it means anything... it was just something I noticed while standing here.

Agro seems to feed more in this area?

I made a short video about this:

I really love this little area btw. It's nestled between the pond and some grass covered hills that surround it, like a little hidden, verdant oasis ; ) One of my favourite areas in the game! Note: Agro never acts like this in the other areas of the game map, she will only feed near the small ponds scattered around the forbidden lands. So perhaps, Agro's AI sees this large lake as a pond and reacts like she does at other smaller ponds? Otherwise, there is no obvious reason why she feeds here more than other areas.

A little further away is a 7th tree... still no fruit!

Fruit in the Secret Garden
This fruit is unique from all the other fruit we find in the forbidden lands... for one thing, it's the only fruit that does not show up on the fruit tree map. As mentioned above, each piece of fruit taken in the forbidden lands gives you 5 points of health, but in this mysterious secret area high up on the temple, the fruit is 'forbidden'. Here we are reminded on the Genesis story from the Bible, where Adam and Eve lived in a garden paradise, but were warned not to eat the forbidden fruit of knowledge or be banished. Wander has no such warning, and if he has the huge grip meter that allows him to climb up this enormous edifice and reach the garden, his first instinct is to shoot down yet more fruit! 

Forbidden fruit in the secret garden (PAL version)

Another very different aspect of this fruit is that it affects both your health and grip points at the same time, and as we all know, has a negative effect when consumed. That is, this fruit takes away from your hard earned health and grip meters. In fact the effect is doubled! Each piece of fruit taken in the garden reduces Wander's health and grip meters by 10 points each.  

Ueda states in the official art book that 'Within the garden grow 37 pieces of fruit that decrease your max health and grip meters. Though they seem to have a deeper meaning, collecting them doesn’t change the story or the ending. If you return to the ground and save after eating one, you’ll be sure to regret it, so be careful'.

This statement is completely wrong! Far be it for me to go against what the creator says... so perhaps Glitterberri (our resident translator) got it wrong? But I don't think so, as her work is impeccable, she knows how to translate Japanese into English with ease... this must be an error on the part of Ueda or Team Ico - the first of its kind as far as I know! There are actually 48 pieces of fruit in the secret garden! I've tested this in the NTSC (US) version, the PAL (European) version as well as the pre-release (Preview) version... all have 48 pieces of fruit in the secret garden.

This can't be a coincidence! The number 48 is very significant to this game and its history, representing the original number of colossi Ueda planned when the game was first conceived. Later they cut the number in half to 24, but in the end even this number was reduced, eight colossi were discarded due to problems getting them working the way Ueda envisioned and other technical issues, so they ended up with 16.

Quantifying the Secret Garden Fruit
Back in July 2010, I had the crazy idea that the number of fruit you ate in the forbidden lands from the fruit trees might relate (inversely) to how much your health and grip values reduce when you ate the forbidden fruit in the secret garden. That is to say, depending on how high your grip and health values were when you entered the garden, how many pieces of forbidden fruit would it take to bring you back to normal - that is, the value you started out at the beginning of the game?

Forbidden fruit in the secret garden (NTSC version)

So I came up with these tables to show the exact health and grip values you would need to reduce Wander's health back to 100 (the value you start the game with). Here are the results:

Game 1 values

Note: You can see in the 'Notes' column how many pieces of forbidden fruit you must eat in order to reduce your health and grip values back to 100 (starting values). Depending on how high your health and grip values are, you can work out how much forbidden fruit you must ingest to return to the normal human state by counting the number of pieces you take.

Game 2 values

Game 3 values

Game 4 values

If you have played through four games in normal or hard mode (doesn't matter which), you will return to normal (human mode) by eating all 48 pieces of forbidden fruit. The last piece of forbidden fruit you eat ends up at #13 Phalanx in game 4. So this got me thinking, could this be some kind of 'long con' secret the developers had put into the game? That is, you would have to play through the game normally 4 times (without collecting any fruit in the forbidden lands - just killing colossi) > then climb up to the garden >  then eat all the 48 forbidden fruits?

Forbidden fruit in the secret garden (Preview version)

This takes us to Phalanx in game 4... the only colossus that has a temple with the same symbols we find on the Shrine of Worship, the huge stone bridge, and the Entrance temple that adjoins it. All three structures are connected, the temple, bridge and Entrance temple... no other area in the forbidden lands features these symbols, except the ruined temple at #13's arena (Phalanx).

Temple at #13 has the same symbols as the Shrine of Worship, bridge & Entrance

At the time I thought I was really onto something here! There must be a connection between the Shrine of Worship/Bridge/Entrance temple to this lonely southern outpost (Phalanx temple)... Phalanx's temple seems to be really old, perhaps centuries older than the other ruins found in the forbidden lands. It is heavily eroded and much of its original structure is now missing - now just dust swirling around the southern desert.

Southern temple may have looked like this eons ago!

So I tested my theory! I played through the game 4 times to reach the #12th colossus (Pelagia) > I defeated it, then conveniently, the 'after #12' cutscene occurs, where you see Emon and his loyal soldiers approach the Entrance temple from afar... 'Only a little more to go' Emon says. This gave me hope! There was a cutscene that delineated the previous colossi I had defeated (in 4 games) based on the 48 forbidden fruits I had gathered in the secret garden! Perhaps something amazing would now reveal itself, like a new cutscene, or the 17th colossus? 

So I then climbed up to the secret garden and reduced Wander's health back to 100 (starting value), then made my way back to the #13th colossus to see if anything was different. But no matter what I did, or how hard I tried, the level played out exactly the same way as it always had. Wander (or Agro) would stand on the stone platform, triggering Phalanx to rise up majestically from the desert sands.

Phalanx frozen in mid flight during its intro cutscene

Oh well... at least I tried to see if something impossible might be possible in this enigmatic game ; ) As always, it turns out that our grandiose ideas are reduced by Ueda's subtracting design concepts, the basis of all his games. So sad... if I was a game developer, I would put as many hidden secrets into the game as possible - even those that would take hackers (like me) years to find! Perhaps by encrypting the code so that no hacker could understand what the program code was doing?