Exclusive Memory Breakdown – See Exactly How The Parts Of Xbox Live’s ‘Undertow’ Fit Together

How much space do the graphics of a game occupy?

What about the explosions? The fonts for all the languages for all the nations where it ships?

The theme song?

I’ve long wondered these things and recently found video game developers who were willing to break things down for me.

Satisfying me — and hopefully your — curiosity at long last are the Mustard brothers, Donald and Geremy, creators of this Wednesday’s Xbox Live Arcade twin-stick shooter “Undertow.”

They have provided Multiplayer an exclusive breakdown of how much room everything from the explosions to the theme song to Captain Nemo’s submarine occupy in their nearly 50 MB game (49832KB).

I think they wanted to show off, because their game packs a lot for being just a Live Arcade download: 15 levels single and co-op campaign, a storyline, 16-player multiplayer modes. How’d they cram it all in?

( Click here for a chart that reveals all. Dear gamer, I don’t think you’ve ever seen anything like it. )

And what exactly were the largest and smallest files in the game? They didn’t hold anything back.

Here’s some of the breakdown of what’s taking up space in “Undertow”:

  • Environment art (this includes the structural meshes and graphical textures for all the fish, rocks, seaweed and other art repeated throughout the levels; as opposed to “level” data which represents level-specific structure, lighting details, collision information and artificial intelligence pathways for any non-player-controlled characters) — 8028 KB.
  • Foreign languages (“Undertow” ships with nine language) — 383 KB.
  • Explosions (a subset of effects, which altogether comprise 10% of the game) — 759 KB.
  • Xbox data (icons for Achievements and programming to hook the game into the Xbox 360 system) — 545KB, or 1% of the game.

The single biggest file in “Undertow,” according to technical director Geremy Mustard, is the game’s theme song, which is 499KB, or 1% of the game. The second biggest is the font used for the optional Chinese version of the game’s text.

The smallest file is the seaweed which, as Geremy puts it, “undulates on the sea floor.” He said it “takes up 196 bytes (0.19KB), which is 0.00038% of the entire game size.”

Geremy said Captain Nemo’s submarine takes of 220KB. The human diver you play as at the beginning of the game is 60KB.

Not only was Geremy kind of enough to supply this data. He also asked himself an interview question. He offered the following: “How did we pack everything in Undertow into just 49 megabytes? Removal of unnecessary data, clever texture usage, drastic code optimizations, and careful planning got us most of the way there. Then we compressed everything, and then compressed it again!”

Look at that chart again. Is that how you thought the contents of a game are divided? We try not to bore you here at Multiplayer, but it certainly seems like this has been an educational post. Next up: we’ll be assigning homework.

Or maybe not.

“Undertow” will be available for download over XBox Live Arcade November 21.