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I am only just dipping my toe in the water of game development, so forgive my ignorance if you will:

Regarding console AAA titles with massive open-world settings: How do all of the art assets and game data fit on a double-layer Blu-ray Disc with around 55GB of available space?

I have a game idea that would utilize street data from Open Street Maps, but the single file for the world's street data seems to large to fit, much less anything else like code or art. Is the secret here compression, or just that 55GB is typically not a concern because games aren't using file sets as large as the entire world's road maps?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You would definitely not require the entire world's worth of street information for a game. You can limit your scope to some areas or make a world to scale. Think of all the terrain you would need to manually check/design/decorate and make interesting to the player? \$\endgroup\$ – rlam12 Feb 23 '17 at 13:27
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I'm sure there are any number of approaches, these are some of them:

  • Compression: reduce the space need on the disc at the cost of retrieval+decompression later which costs cpu usage and time
  • Download as needed: get the data you need as you need it and cache/discard data that is no longer needed. Requires some kind of server infrastructure, but it may already exist and be available for your application.
  • Pre-process: Take the original data and strip out anything you don't actually need for the game itself, which might pose some problems if the game isn't totally complete/planned out and so you end with a full disc and needing some additional data/metadata.

There is also always the option to go with lower quality assets (art, music) and less sophisticated code/AI. The core game/mechanic may not require that level of detail or accuracy to approximate realism and still be fun/playable. It sounds like you need to flesh out the idea somewhat and figure out exactly what is contained within the Open Street Map data. The reason is that you need to know exactly what data the game will require and if there is anything you can just straight out omit. Such an inquiry might also prove to show that the scope of the game is just too broad and should be simplified regardless.

It's almost certainly a balancing act in the end, you may actually have to immerse yourself in such a project to know beyond a doubt whether it's viable. You can also just shove the requirement at at the player and hope for the best. Most people don't balk at a 10GB game these days because their hard disks are very large. I remember that Neverwinter Nights 1 was ~4GB of disk space back when my hard drive was only 80GB. That's 1/20 or 5% of the total disk. Obviously that didn't keep people from playing it. On the other hand Team Fortress 2 takes up 18.4GB of my hard drive except that my current hard disk is a 1TB drive so it's only 20/1000 or 2% of the disk space.

I am giving PC numbers, but the PC/console difference seems less and less every year. In any case the point is that there's some hardware use target and they develop toward it intentionally, probably even more so on a console. A game requiring 7 DVDs seems rather insane to me, but if the players will buy it and play it. The fact of a captive audience that needs a game to play on their console seems relevant here.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is a good overview of possible techniques; you should probably also mention procedural generation. \$\endgroup\$ – Maximus Minimus Feb 23 '17 at 13:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is a great answer- thank you! I like the idea of stripping the road data down before use based on only what the game needs, which would likely be a wireframe really. I'd be unsure until I actually accomplished that but I'm betting that would reduce the file size considerably. If it wasn't enough, I suppose almost every disc-based console title these days has a day-one-update download which could bring in some additional needed assets if it came down to it? \$\endgroup\$ – JimSocks Feb 24 '17 at 13:31
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Many games get bought on the internet. Stuff like the Call of Duty Infinite Warfare and Modern Warfare bundle simply won't fit on a CD (They take up together around 200Gb), or the new version of GTA 5 (that was 60 GB), which did have a physical version, but it required 7 DVDs to fit, which is unacceptable if you're playing.

That said, there are ways to get data without having it on your hard-drive/Disc. Put the street information on a server and make the game request it from there in smaller chunks. If this isn't available for you, then try to compress it.

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Does your game really need all the data of Open Street Maps at the same time? When your player is only playing in a small area in North Bolivia, then your game likely doesn't need the map data from South Cameroon. That means you might want to consider to ship your game without map data (maybe except for a low-detail world map to allow the player to navigate to the location they want to play in) and then download the required map data from the Internet whenever the player enters a new map area.

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