Friday, November 18, 2005

Beyond Polycount

Todays and even tomorrows games don't look very real and pumping up the polycount won't help. What games are laking graphical wise these days are three things in my eyes:

1) proper lighting, shadows are still the sharp ugly ones which we already had in the day of Starfox on the SNES, that just isn't very realistic, HDR helps quite a bit, but what is needed is some kind of realtime radiosity to get away from that odd-computer graphics look

2) motion, stil frames these days often look a lot better then the thing in motion, for the simple reason that animation is still a huge problem, motion capturing works fine for cutscenes, but in dynamic scenes it just doesn't look very good to always see the same prerecorded animation, beside from that it often is simply the wrong animation (classic example would be a player character walking against the wall, simply wouldn't work in reallife that way). Some kind of adaptive animation system is needed here, something that not only plays a prerecorded motion, but more or less simulates the human body.

3) information density, again not really a rendering thing, but what I mean with that is that the amount of 'information' that is presented in a game is nowwhere near reality. If I look around in a real room I might find shelfs full of books, all of which readable, cabinets full of cloths, all of them wearable, computers full of files, all of them browsable. In a game on the other side I might be able to find a table, a chair and a shelf with a few empty boxes, if there ever is a book in a game, I am happy when I can read a few pages of it, if at all. Same is true for games that play outside, GTA might give you a whole city, but each house is nothing more then a textured box, you can't walk into most of them, people that walk around on the streets are generated completly random and neither have goal or purpose. Sure, an artist probally will never close this information gap, but ProjectGutenberg might be able to fill the books with text and some kind of fractal algorithm should be able to build a wide varity of houses and rooms that are explorable, Elite did that a two decades ago and presented the player with a whole universe to explore, while it wasn't the most detailed universe, todays hardware should be able to accomplish quite a bit more.