How Far Can Game Graphics Go Before Finally Hitting A Wall?
Video game graphics have come a long way from the days of Pong, but they still have some way to go before they reach photorealism.
The last 15 or so years game graphics have made a huge improvement. A big example would be Cod. If you look at the very first Call of Duty game you would be very surprised at how far we’ve come.
There is an obvious difference. When I first played Call of Duty in 2003 I thought the graphics were amazing. Now when I look back my perspective is completely different.
A lot believe we have already hit that wall. With games like-
- Far Cry 5 (2018)
- Doom (2017)
- Gears of War 4 (2016)
- Halo 5: Guardians (2015)
- Quake: Champions (2017-?)
- Mortal Kombat X (2015)
If you look back to the earlier versions of all of these games the improvement is astonishing.
Omar Mejias Morales says
“We are already in a plateau. There hasn’t been a real jump in graphics that can wow us (think going from the SNES to the PlayStation or PlayStation to Dreamcast/PS2). Now all that we strive for is to make what we have more stable (framerate/resolution) but we already reached a point where we can’t be really blown away anymore.
I believe that the next step in video game evolution is interaction. Been able to do more things in a game and do those actions naturally. For example, can you imagine an RPG where you could interact with 100% of things (even mundane ones) and make permanent changes on the game world based on your actions while keeping the main story alive (AI adapting)? Our current computational power/cost of it still doesn’t permit it, but in the future, it will.”
His opinion is backed by several others believing that graphics can’t get much better.
Is that really where game graphics stop?
This is an image from 2017 Resident Evil 7.
It’s great, right? Let’s look closer!
Hum, well. It’s ok for a game, I guess.
Now, look at RenderMan kitchen scene, by artist.
Let’s look closer!
Wow, right? Pretty real.
Check out how the light bounces on the objects and then on other objects nearby, filling up the environment. Look the reflections, specular, shadows.
That’s an example of a great CG image, and how video games could be someday.
And why is not like that yet, you ask? Well. A lightning calculation is not easy, ok? To get this level of photorealism the computers have to trace all the interactions of the light particles through the ambient, bouncing and reflecting in everything, being absorbed, refracted, reflected, losing energy, etc. These calculations take some time, as expected.
With better equipment, more things could be achieved…
Such as Artificial intelligence. It can take over the graphic design process from human experts, which is about 2–3 years away I’d say. Here’s a comparison showing how much better this new approach can be in rendering graphics:-
FIFA 18, player faces of Ronaldo, Morata, and Ozil.
Same faces rendered by an AI algorithm.
This is the big reason I believe we haven’t hit a wall. With the invention of VR and 3D games, there is tons of room for improvement.
“A lot of people are saying we are already hitting the wall, but that is far from the truth. Now I wonder what you really mean by graphics because what most people use the name graphic for is everything from texture to light etc. I assume in my answer we are talking about everything that makes the game “look good”.
As some people have answered you can’t see a very huge difference between games from 2005 to today. An example is Ivanov Moreno answer the question where he posted pictures from Far Cry 1 and Far Cry 5. I admit the graphics of the games do look slightly similar. If we compare the difference between those games to a game from 1995 to 2005. Because the difference can be seen as drastic as it was in the early years a lot of people here believes we have come to a holt. Now the biggest difference between 1995 and 2005 was 3D.
The reason it does not look like video graphics change drastically nowadays is because of the switch to 3D. And the implication 3D has on game development. Creating a 3D world is hard. Actually, it is impossible with our current tech. We can’t create a true 3D world today even with our supercomputers we would have a really hard time creating it.”
But of course,
you can only go so far before even the best of PCs are brought to their knees. So even if we haven’t hit a wall, before better Hardware is created, or a solution to a better game creating the system we are a little stuck in place.
If you examine video games closer, you will see that most of the environment is just an illusion. Detail exists on a scale that the player can perceive and appreciate during normal gameplay but if you stop and look, things are not what they seem to like. Grass and other foliage is just a series of 2D sprites or planes. Things in the distance, outside the player’s reach are 2D backdrops. Objects that are non-essential to story progression have no properties like physics. Particle effects like smoke or sparks are usually flat textured planes to save on processing power (although this is quickly changing with a lot of games using physics-based particle effects).
I can imagine a game where you might see a fully-detailed insect on each individually rendered blade of grass. Next to that, a stone building with every crack, bump, and texture of each brick visible. The person living inside would have every strand of hair as its own model, and every part of their face detailed down to microscopic levels.
I don’t think this is impossible and I’m sure one day pass my time it will get to this point. Maybe then will we hit that wall.
If you like this content go check out one of my other posts: How Much Money Does Fortnite Really Make?