By Tim Frederick | Aug 08, 2012 01:26 AM EDT
Industrial Light and Magic is one of the leading visual effects companies in the world, so when members of ILM speak about the future of graphics technology in gaming, it certainly bears listening to, especially when they make bold predictions that graphics in gaming will be indistinguishable from reality in 10 years.
That's exactly the prediction offered forth by ILM visual effects supervisor Kim Libreri during a recent interview with CVG, in which he stated: "We're getting to the point right now [with real-time rendered graphics] where we're matching the quality of an animated movie [from] seven or eight years ago, and another ten years from now, it's just going to be indistinguishable from reality."
Any long time gamer will take predictions like this with a grain of salt; the fact is we've been hearing this same story for many years: that gaming would shortly reach an "end-point", where graphics technology would effectively be maxed out, and could not get any better.
Certainly graphics in high-end games are better and more realistic than ever before, that goes without saying. But does that mean we're actually any closer to that end-point now than we were 10 years ago? Is there an actual end-point that can even be reached?
Perhaps graphics technology in and of itself can reach a point of photo-realism, but the fact is there is a lot more to generating realism and avoiding the Uncanny Valley effect than just graphics. Chief among them is animation and artificial intelligence, which it would appear to me is infinitely more difficult to perfectly emulate than graphics.
Until all of these elements are working together in concert to create a scene or game that is 'indistinguishable from reality' from start to finish, you don't have anything of the sort. You just have pretty looking graphics that could fool you into thinking they're real...until they actually start moving and doing unrealistic things. It may look like a duck, but if it walks, talks (or squawks), and acts like something computer generated, then no illusion that it's a duck is going to hold, and it will in fact be very distinguishable from reality.
Where do you see gaming in 10 years? Will we be enjoying graphics that have reached the end-point of complete realism? And if so, will animation and A.I be able to keep up, and not otherwise desecrate that graphical realism? Give us a comment-box-realistic comment below.
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