Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney says that games will look “absolutely photo-realistic within the next 10 years,” but he warns that truly realistic graphics will only serve to highlight gaming’s other flaws, such as dumb AI and facial capture animation that still crosses the line into the “Uncanny Valley.”
Sweeney, whose company produces the Unreal 4 Engine that many next-gen games run on, says that games will, at first glance at least, be “indistinguishable from reality.” While Sweeney is optimistic about future graphics technology, he warns that prettier textures and higher polygon counts will only serve as a short-term distraction from gaming technology’s real deficiencies. “”That just moves the challenge of graphics to the problems we don’t know how to solve,” said Sweeney. “”Like simulating human intelligence, animation, speech, lip-syncing. There are still a lot areas that will require ongoing research for probably the rest of our lives before we come close to approaching reality.”
Sweeney also discussed the Unreal 4 Engine and the massive shake-up he expects the next-gen shift to create. “We’ve always recognized that the industry is in a state of constant change, and those that react fastest are the survivors,” Sweeney told the audience. “”It means that now, increasingly, we can think about building one game and shipping it on every platform that’s appropriate.” Sweeney said instead of focusing on a single console as they did in the current generation, most of Epic’s future titles will be released a variety of platforms, including consoles, PC’s, mobile phones and tablets, and even web browsers.
As with every generational shift, developers are still coming to terms with the new technology available to them and it’ll take them awhile before they can tap into the full power of the new consoles and new game engines. Sweeney said he doesn’t expect to see games that make full use of Unreal 4’s capabilities until the end of next year.
Sweeney also mentioned that Epic currently has three games in development: the online Fortnight for PC, an unannounced triple A action game for consoles, and a smaller project that’s being developed with a team of only three people don’t doubt Sweeney when he says that games will be photo-realistic within a decade, and I also agree with him that high fidelity graphics are merely a distraction from other elements that break players’ suspension of disbelief, like AI or animation. I know that achieving “realistic” graphics has been one of the goals of the gaming industry ever since it began, but I hope that developers don’t forget the import of style in gaming’s photo-realistic future: “realistic” looking games like Battlefield and L.A. Noire are cool, but it would be a shame if more stylized titles in the vein of Okami or Wind Waker became forgotten as developers rush towards realism.
Source: Game Industry Online