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How good can graphics realistically get?

post #1 of 5
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I would like to know from people what they think the upper limit to computer graphics will be. I think there will be an upper limit because of 3 things. 1) The limit of technology, 2) the limit of the creative process, and 3) the limit of our perception.

I will start with the first thing:

By the year 2020, it is thought by some people that Moore's Law will reach its limit with 5 nanometers. If you look at consumer grade graphics cards right now, the Nvidias and AMDs use 28 nm fabrication processes. Compare that to only 10 years ago when they used 110 nm fab processes. Today's die have shrunk (shrinked? shrank?) 25.45% of their size from 10 years ago. So it is easy to see how we are coming to the limit of the silicon semiconductor. I have heard some things regarding the use of carbon fibers and bacteria, but I am not too educated on that subject and maybe someone can clear that up in a reply. It will not be too long before consumer grade graphics cards reach their limit.

Point 2:

The average development time for video games is between 2 and 4 years. I have no source to back this up, but I think this is a relatively accurate number considering that it usually takes 2-3 years for a sequel of a movie or game to come out. In that time, 1 person (or 1 studio) can only do so much design, artwork, programming, coding, testing, and other processes that are equally as important but I am forgetting. Unless a studio hires many more people, there are only so many polygons and lines of code that a studio can produce in that time frame. If they hire more and more teams, then I feel that the price for games will grow because of the extra talent required. If this happens, then the market might suffer as a result.

Point 3:

When Tron Legacy came out, if you remember the first part when young Jeff Bridges was talking to Sam, they used amazing CGI to make that happen. But, you could still kind of tell that it was CGI if you looked close enough. It has been 5 years since they produced that movie (it came out in 2010 but I believe the CGI portions were completely finished in 2009). If they were to remake that facial model now, I do not think that many people, including myself, would really be able to notice the CGI. The same thing can be said for Avatar. If they used 2014 technology for making Avatar instead of 2008 technology, they would probably have a bit more realism.

Video games do not need to reach that level before people stop holding graphics in high reverence. The graphics only need to be good enough for people to not notice when something is obviously CGI. For example, with the new Arkham Knight coming out, which I am personally very excited for, the Batmobile will use 160 MB of RAM by itself. That is unheard of in any video game, no matter how good the graphics are. Think of the best graphics you have ever seen in any PC game, and I bet you there is not one model that is the same size as the Batmobile will be that uses 160 MB RAM. And the thing is that we know the Batmobile is CGI. But, that doesn't matter because it looks so detailed. If you sit there and zoom in with your TV, I am guessing that the Batmobile will have a few jagged lines here or there and maybe a small fragment of a texture out of place. But when you are immersed in the game, you just see the awesomeness of the textures. This is true with every game that gets you into it. Graphics give us diminishing returns. And I know that 10 years ago we thought that Half Life 2 had the best graphics around, but they didn't look semi-photo realistic like they will look in the next 5 years.

So for these 3 reasons, I am convinced that we are going to reach a plateau of graphical yummyness at some point in the future.
Edited by Thready - 4/4/14 at 10:48am
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post #2 of 5
It really doesn't have a limit. Think about it in terms of tessellation. In the real world, we have molecules, then atoms, then quarks, and not much smaller that differentiates matter. In a sense, each atom is a single 3D-polygon, which has it's own properties and laws, just like every other atom. In the computer simulation we will someday reach the point of each atom being rendered and have an almost perfect simulation. The catch is that unlike the real world, there is no limit to the scale at which you can create things.
If you took a 12x scope in any game and stared at the ground, you would be staring at a fairly grainy texture. IRL the limit is the plank length 1.616*10^-35 meters, which you could consider the lower limit for a side of a polygon to be. In computer simulation we can render to distances smaller than that.
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post #3 of 5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Legonut View Post

It really doesn't have a limit. Think about it in terms of tessellation. In the real world, we have molecules, then atoms, then quarks, and not much smaller that differentiates matter. In a sense, each atom is a single 3D-polygon, which has it's own properties and laws, just like every other atom. In the computer simulation we will someday reach the point of each atom being rendered and have an almost perfect simulation. The catch is that unlike the real world, there is no limit to the scale at which you can create things.
If you took a 12x scope in any game and stared at the ground, you would be staring at a fairly grainy texture. IRL the limit is the plank length 1.616*10^-35 meters, which you could consider the lower limit for a side of a polygon to be. In computer simulation we can render to distances smaller than that.

How does this have to do with game graphics? I can see this being on a super computer, but we are reaching a point where the human eye will not be able to tell the difference and since games take 2-3 years to develop, nobody is going to be able to make such small polygons?
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post #4 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thready View Post

How does this have to do with game graphics? I can see this being on a super computer, but we are reaching a point where the human eye will not be able to tell the difference and since games take 2-3 years to develop, nobody is going to be able to make such small polygons?

He's refering to voxels not polygons..

Your question is kind of odd. "How good can graphics realistically get?" well no one really has an answer with out a crystal ball. But i think most of us would agree there is no limit.

people can make better games in 2 years. Software can get easier to use, code can get easier to write, art if needed could be data based and made years in advance, etc...
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post #5 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thready View Post

3) the limit of our perception.

the answer to your question is in the question itself. biggrin.gif
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