September 19, 2008
September 19, 2008
During his keynote address in Singapore, Crytek's Cevat Yerli outlined a history of game graphics, then told his audience at the Games Convention Asia that the next generation of their proprietary technology would be available for the next generation of console hardware in 2012.
While PC hardware is in contestant flux, the consoles give developers a fixed window of constraints. And because Crytek games use high-tone graphics engines, they must start designing for the future.
Which means the company is starting to estimate when the next-gen consoles will be on the market. "Sony knows, but they wouldn't tell us," said Yerli. "But our estimate is 2011, or 2012." He adds that he expects the next Xbox a year before the PS4.
Having estimated the console cycle, Crytek must now consider the technology inside the boxes, because the hardware will create new challenges.
"That knowledge should be used to differentiate your game from the competition," says Yerli, explaining why it's imperative to shift now, instead of saying 'I will get the last twenty-percent of performance from this graphics cycle.'
Yerli says that processors are on a collision course: GPUs are getting more towards general purpose computing, and CPUs are getting more towards parallel processing. "The GPUS and CPUS are on a collision course."
"With facts and trends," he continues, "you can make a most informed decision." For example, says Yerli, we know that until 2012 there's a fixed maximum resolution for gaming.
"The risk of 'uncanny valley' for content is increased. As the more realistic graphics become the animation may not adapt," Yerli says. "All the aspects of the content have to be grown together."
"Games will differentiate more and more in artistic style, physics, and AI, to be different," predicts Yerli. He also says that "Huge gains are possible in physics and AI."
Trends and facts give an inclination, and Yerli sees three possible futures, involving Point Based Rendering, Ray Tracing, or Rasterization.
"The future, in our terms, starts next year. Next year we start researching our 2012 engine," the Crytek founder told the audience.
"I believe in 2011 and beyond, you'll see very creative use of rendering methods," Yerli says. "It will develop a lot of styles."
Which might sound rather technical, but there are other ramifications. "Software rendering will become, again, a renaissance of programming. That will allow for a new style that will rival CGI."
Having reached those conclusions, Yerli states: "The action is simple. We are linking ourselves to the console cycle."
"Frankly we are linking ourselves to the PS4," he continues by saying that it's a "driving beacon" for his company, despite the fact that Sony hasn't given the company full details. "That's probably the most important information that our company is missing."
But there are risks to ignoring the future. Yerli returns to the idea that, the future, the look of the game will be crucial to it's sucess. "If you make the wrong call at the beginning, you'll find that you look similar to others...and you spent a lot of money to look like the others."
"The future is bright and challenging," ends Yerli. "The market is fine."