'Gaia' Music Visualizer Makes the PS3 Hip
As many PS3 owners are now finding out, the latest PS3 firmware update (v2.10) included some almost hidden features. One of these features is a neat ‘Gaia‘ Music Visualizer (as demonstrated in the YouTube user-made clip above). The most amazing thing about this feature (to me) is that it all fits within the PS3′s limited flash rom. This took some extremely efficient coding to pull off.
The folks over at Gamasutra were equally impressed with Gaia, as they fired off a few questions to the developers behind Gaia‘s creation, Kyoto-based Q-Games. In that Q&A we learn that Q-Games originally shopped the Gaia project to Sony as the PS3′s boot sequence. Sony opted for Q-Games’ rather simplistic waving cloth background instead. In fact, the Gaia visualizer you see now on the PS3 is actually a slimmed down version, according to Q-Games’ chief of technology, James McLaren. With such limited resources given, how did Q-Games pull this off? McLaren explains:
“This representation of the earth is a 3D model with some shaders and SPU trickery going on. We tried to accurately model the earth’s atmosphere and have all the correct highlights on the oceans, etc. The texture data is sourced from the NASA Blue Marble project.”
“They have some data that they’ve patched together from hundreds of satellite passes over the earth, which is really top-notch quality, as you can see. We really owe NASA a debt of gratitude for the data, as without it we wouldn’t be able to produce something that looks this good.”
Looks good, indeed. In fact, the YouTube video above doesn’t really do the Gaia visualizer justice. You really need to see it in person on a big screen HDTV (Bob Marley optional).
Q-Games hopes to expand upon the Gaia visualizer in the future with hint of possibly adding user controls. Also mentioned was possibility of taking Gaia to the next level by exploiting the full Blue Marble dataset (obviously this would require use of the hard drive).