At first glance, the easiest way to note the changes in gaming from the 80s to now would be in the quality of the visuals. We’ve moved from the jagged mazes of Pac-Man to the jaw-dropping realism of Battlefield 3. And while I’m not one to call myself a graphics dude, this certainly makes me happy in a variety of ways. I remember playing games on the PS1, seeing the cut scenes, and thinking that some day games will look like this. The crazy thing is, we blew that point out of the water as early as last generation in some cases.
But have we hit our graphical peak? And where else can gaming go? CEO of Epic Games Tim Sweeney has some ideas about that:
I really see two major milestones coming up for games in the very long-term future. Number one is achieving movie quality graphics and movie quality pixels on the screen, which mean no flicker in the visuals, no popping artifacts, no bulky character outlines on the screen at all. I see that actually occurring over the next ten years. I expect I’ll be actively programming at the time we’ve achieved full movie-quality graphics because that’s really just a matter of brute force computing power and clever algorithm. We know exactly how to do that.
He goes on to talk about the second major milestone being the human aspects of the game such as AI and other simulations. Perhaps I’m nitpicking a bit here, but it seems interesting that game makers are still so devoted to graphics. Granted, this is Epic we’re talking about, makers of one of the most gorgeous engines in gaming, but it still gives me pause.
With game development costs rising (and thus, the price of playing games) and development cycles lasting 4-5 years, it seems to me that the pursuit of movie-quality pixel art is actually one of the bigger issues in gaming. I feel like if anything, the games industry might need to take a step back now that they’ve hit a graphical zenith and figure out how to lower both of those items to something more manageable. I would contend that there is a slew of indie, lo-fi titles that show us graphics aren’t everything.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing on graphics or the pursuit of it. I’m just not certain it should be gaming’s number one priority in the years looking ahead. We’ve already hit a pretty astounding peak, and upping the brute force graphical power required for games seems like it’ll only make us take a step back every few years.
What are your thoughts on this? What do you think the major milestones of gaming should be in the years ahead?
Source – IGN