10 Ways Video Games Blew Your Mind (Without You Even Realising)

Celebrating the little things.

x-men origins wolverine
Raven Software

An absolutely insane amount of effort goes into developing a video game. From character animation, to environment design, to AI programming, there seems to be no end to the work involved.

However, it's the finer details which truly add to a player's immersion in the virtual world they're exploring. We've touched upon these easy-to-miss details before, such as Arthur Morgan's ear cartilage in Red Dead Redemption II or the racial bias of Mafia III's cops.

But what about the instances where these details are on full display, yet how they work remains a mystery?

When entire systems, engines and programming languages have been implemented - or even invented - to improve our gaming experience, without anyone ever drawing attention to them? These miracles of programming, never truly intended to be front and centre, are sadly, and frequently, overlooked.

So let's pay tribute to the wizards working behind the scenes to improve our games without shouting it from the rooftops. Some things might not seem all that incredible at face value, but trust us - they're worth highlighting.

10. Groundbreaking Water Effects - Halo 3

x-men origins wolverine
Xbox Game Studios

Convincing simulation of water has always posed a challenge to game developers, and its execution is something of a badge of honour. While most devs settled on flat planes with animated textures for many years, it was Bungie's work on Halo 3 that raised the bar.

Rather than flat planes, which looked fine from higher angles but less impressive when closer to eye level, Bungie implemented a new system where the water was composed from a mesh which would realistically ripple and distort.

Said mesh was also heavily customisable, and could be edited to accurately reflect the body of water depicted - from babbling brooks to endless oceans. On top of that, these meshes could also have parameters "painted" onto them, in order to simulate effects such as the change in the water's resistance when it hit an obstacle such as a rock jutting above its surface.

The engineer who designed Halo 3's water system was so impressed by what Bungie was doing, that during development they created a new and improved version in order to give the environment artists even more freedom.

Just about any video game water we have seen since can be traced back to Halo 3.


Neo-noir enjoyer, lover of the 1990s Lucasarts adventure games and detractor of just about everything else. An insufferable, over-opinionated pillock.