The lights are on
One of the gaming industry's preeminent minds took the stage for a speech at the D.I.C.E. summit today, and his talking points didn't disappoint technophiles.
A self-acknowledged tech geek who feels more comfortable speaking to programmers about topics like the Nyquist-Shannon sampling theorem than he does distilling his theories for general audiences, Sweeney is the brilliant mind behind the nearly ubiquitous Unreal Engine, which powers many current generation games. Like id Software's John Carmack, his influence is so great that hardware developers bring him into the conversation early on to benefit from his insight. For his "Technology and Gaming in the Next 20 Years" presentation, he casually walked us through some of his computations that lay out an aggressive pattern of technological growth for the gaming industry.
He started by talking about the limitations of human physiology, saying our eyes are the equivalent to a 30-megapixel camera and framerate becomes imperceptible to us beyond 72 frames per second. The highest resolution we need is 8000x4000 pixels, which is slightly better than the 7630x4320-pixel prototype television Sharp showed off at CES this year. The technology isn't here yet, but it's coming soon.
Computer graphics are the art of approximating that reality, and Sweeney thinks we'll see lifelike representations of everything from lighting, subsurface scattering, skin, smoke, and fog in the near future.
“Within our lifetimes, we will be able to push out enough computational power to simulate reality,” he said.
To reach the level where computers are
capable of producing truly lifelike approximations, Sweeney estimates
that we need roughly 2,000 times the computational power of today's
best graphics hardware. This level of processing power still doesn't
account for human thought, movement, speech, personality, or intent, so
there is still a lot of room to progress with artificial intelligence on top of the idealized graphics. Sweeney thinks we'll need a few more console generations to reach this level of fidelity.
He thinks the future is even more promising when you consider the potential of emerging technologies like gesture control, voice commands, persistent networks, cloud computing, augmented reality, and the sale of virtual goods. As we start to tap the potential of these technologies, Sweeney believes the platforms will start to consolidate.
“Only question is whether a game runs in your living room or in a
server,” he said. “It’s not going to change everything but it will make
things more convenient for gamers.... Our industry's brightest days are yet to come."
Sweeney will be inducted into the AIAS Hall of Fame tonight at the 15th Annual Interactive Achievement Awards hosted by Jay Mohr.
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Man this is awesome! I can't wait to see the Unreal Engine 4 and all of the potential it has in store. So many things to look forward to in the future. That and Tim Sweeny is a bamf.
No doubt in my mind it'll happen in my lifetime. I'm only sixteen. I'm sure by the time I'm a crotchety old man video games will have come an amazingly long way.
This concerns me.... if video games really do come this far in my lifetime. Does that mean the life that we know could become literally augmented reality.I'm concerned that everyone will create new life in these video games. When video games are for entertainment purposes. As cool as it would be to see real-life graphics it could cause issues with reality.
I think it is safe to say that we will indeed see this graphical fidelity in our time; however, having it playable for the general population is an entirely different story. I could see it manifest like the first iterations of 3D in this generation.
What a great look forward and as a gamer can't wait. But, I see this only escalating the arguments on the effects of violence in video games as it gets that realistic.
This is pretty cool, but It's scary to think technology is advancing so fast. We might be looking at a real life I, Robot event. lol
I can't wait for photo realistic games to come although I would love to see new art styles in video games.
Interesting article. Anyways with the progression of hardware (which is quite fast)I think we'll see this in the next 15-20 years, as someone sa alrwady said. What I'm worried about is if we'll have also a better gameplay, ok for the lifelike graphics, but it's the gameplay that makes a game unique and enjoyable. Let's see what will happen.
Well yeah...nothing new there.
I do think that this is fantastic and I'm all for tech advancement but it does beg the question of how real and the visual impact it'll have on gamers.
I mean, whenever someone says "Videogames are bad for you! They're Satan's toys and they'll make you kill people!" I just tend to ignore them because it's really silly; but if you think about games with over the top gore (FO3, for example), mixed with lifelike graphics it's gonna be pretty disturbing...of course the artstyle will dictate how they game looks and feels but I'm curious to see how the industry will handle that possible issue.
Great article and great presentation. I can definitely see this happening and hope it does, even though graphics haven't always been my main attraction to video games.
Unlimited Detail Engine coming soon!
we already have to deal with reality enough just give me crisper graphics and not muddy and blurry graphics up close. and ill be happy. as far as real life like graphics fall might as well say good bye to fantasy RPG's.