Dr. Noh asks: What’s next?

COOL!

With the upcoming unveiling of Nintendo’s next console I inevitably ask, what’s in store next generation? What can Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony possibly do next? I have no idea what’s in store, but I can’t help but feel somewhat disenchanted with one advancement in particular: graphics.

In previous generations, I’ve been wowed and sold entirely on the impressive advancements in the field. I can remember seeing an SNES for the first time and feeling how obsolete the NES had become. The current generation, more than any other, has taught me that there’s more to consider.

The main issue I have with graphics is that I feel they’ve plateaued. Depending on the game, in game graphics have progressed to the point where they are nearly indistinguishable from the cinematic cutscenes. While this can be visually impressive, and make for a more seamless experience, gameplay can suffer. Some of the more extreme examples of this would be Metal Gear Solid 4 and Final Fantasy XIII, and their long cutscene runtimes. With the capability to utilize cinematic quality graphics, games have become even more cinematic in their presentation. I feel the push for gaming to become even more cinematic is ultimately a poor choice because as I’ve stated previously, film is a passive experience, where as gaming is (or at least should be) an interactive experience. I am ultimately more interested in how advancements in graphics can create more submersive and/or engaging experiences.

GO GET YOUR POPCORN!

 

Remove the text and it looks like a shot straight out of Transformers.

 

The other graphical push that I tend to be disappointed in is the push towards realism. Console graphical horsepower is not yet powerful enough to escape the dreadful uncanny valley. I’m not quite sure when we’ll be able to get out of the valley, but I don’t anticipate it happening next generation. Until we reach that point, I’d prefer that games that strive for realism add a bit of style to the mixture as well.

CREEPY LOOKING!

 

LOOKS BETTER. NOT SURE IF THIS IS A GUY OR GIRL. CAN NEVER BE TOO CAREFUL WITH FF CHARACTERS.

 

I could be wrong, but I don’t anticipate the graphical jump in the next generation to be quite as significant as in previous generations. Surely whatever advancements implemented will be noticeable, but I just can’t quite fathom how much more noticeable it will be. What do you think will happen?

  • http://padinga.com/members/thecrimsonking/ TheCrimsonKing

    With recent advances in cpu and gpu tech I’m wondering about the future too. Developers already use prefab designs and code that can automate enviromental features. If this can be applied to other areas of production and then some they could cut the time it takes to create visuals and focus more on gameplay and the rest of what you considered more important in games.
    I’ve been out of the game development process for a long time so I’m definitely talking outside my means here, but I feel like there will be a software and or hardware related revolution in what it takes to create realism (if that’s the goal) on screen. Whatever happens I’m looking forward to it.

  • http://padinga.com/members/laughingfish/ Andrew Allen

    I think the uncanny valley was pretty well beaten in the world of features with “Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” And then it was lost again in “Tron: Legacy.” We are by no means out of it yet, but I think we’re beginning to inch out.

  • http://padinga.com/members/ericrobbins/ Eric Robbins

    But beating the uncanny valley requires generous use of facial capture technology, which still takes a lot of time to get right. There are lots of techniques to capture, but none are what I would call simple, quick, or cheap, which makes them a difficult sell for game projects at the moment. We’ll get there, but it is going to take awhile before the process is streamlined. I will say that a source revealed to me that L.A. Noire is pushing other (theirs included) developers to take facial capture more seriously, which is amusing considering that L.A Noire’s capture, while impressive for a game, isn’t the greatest implementation.