Will current-gen graphics eventually be nostalgic?

I disagree that there's no difference between games of 10 years ago and games of today.

 

I mean, last year I played through the original FEAR for the first time in a while (which is very graphically similar to Doom 3) and my goodness, the graphics are dated. They have a certain "shitty CGI cartoon from the late 90s" vibe.

 

In a similar vein, I can tell Call of Duty 4 came out 10 years ago, because its lighting engine is really really bad. NPCs are weirdly lit, as if from below, and level architecture is surprisingly simplistic.

 

When 00s games shine the most is when they have good texturing. All the graphical whizbangery in the world can't do shit if your textures are low-res. This is why STALKER still looks good, as does Half-Life 2 -- even though those textures are comparatively low-resolution now, in aggregate they still paint a good image in motion. Good lighting is also extremely important. Deus Ex Mankind Divided was leaps and bounds over Human Revolution despite the only 5-year-age difference because it had a much better lighting system and much higher-resolution texturing.

 

I don't think anyone will be nostalgic for the look of games made after 2004. There was a magic era between 1998 and 2003 where graphics capabilities were making leaps and bounds every year but even as resolutions and polygons increased and graphical features became more commonplace they all had similar looks.

 

I'd say we've probably hit the plateau in the last 5 years. There's only so much you can do with consumer-grade GPUs, and sooner or later there just won't be enough room for all the transistors they need.

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We should be more concerned about is the end of Moore's Law and then the nostalgia factor of current gen graphics.

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7 hours ago, everennui said:

What about the mood? I think since the SNES and probably earlier, people have thought, "how can it get any better than this." that effects your worldview, and remembering these games brings your sentiment back to an earlier time.

 

Only that at the time, a SNES would not compare favorably to a more powerful 2D arcade system like the Neo Geo or the Taito F3 hardware, and of course it was totally incomparable to 3D arcade games like Daytona USA.

 

Even with Doom out on the PC,  it was very obvious the arcade machines -2D or 3D- were superior to what you could achieve at home. Today, this kind of difference is much smaller, if not non-existent: same CPUs, same GPUs everywhere, and a highly competitive upgrades market.

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On 20.9.2017 at 9:05 AM, GoatLord said:

However, we're currently smack in the middle of uncanny valley, where the level of detail is nothing short of astounding, be it individual blades of self-shadowing grass, water that reflects and animates realistically, or characters that emote convincingly. Despite this, there are still lots of artifacts that reveal the facade—the angularity of polygons, pop-in, normal maps with too much specular highlight, clipping, static geometry, the use of sprites for particles, etc. I would say this paints us a unique and specific picture of what real-time CG is like nowadays.

 

So the question is: In 10 or 20 years, will this be a nostalgic look? Will graphics advance so much by the 2030s that current-gen visuals will look quaint, and thus be emulated in "retro" themed games? Or is this a transition that will be forgotten in favor of higher-end, less glitchy CG?

I'm not so sure if the graphics of PC-games will improve by a huge margin in the next 20-30 years or not, because if hardware issues were taken out of the equation entirely, what we might end up with is a situation in which the limitless possibilities for detail eventually face the limitations of what humans are able to afford or create.

 

If you were to detail everything to the highest possible degree in pursuit of making something look real at every possible level, the amount of work required to do so would also be nigh infinite, even at the smallest instance that a player would be able to perceive. Not only is the human perception massively flawed due to inherent human limitations (we can not "see" a lot of things in full detail at once, our brain filters and prioritizes all the time), and the limitations we have when expressing ourselves to a high level of detail (when someone asks you how your day was, you don't tell every little detail, you tell a condensed version of what was "meaningful").

 

So, you can certainly make things look better to some extent, but there will still be limitations anyway. I am more leaning towards the idea that in some way we've already reached a plateau, but maybe not so much one that is rooted on the limitations of modern hardware exclusively, but I definitely can see things becoming less prone to glitches in the future.

Edited by Nine Inch Heels

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We've reached the point where it's hard to tell the difference between Reality and Videogame graphics, Character models can have up to 15k tris allowing for extra detail, But it's still not quite there, I'd say when PC Gaming makes a big jump in terms of perfomance we may see a change (Probably when Photorealistic videogames become a thing).

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19 minutes ago, dmg_64 said:

(Probably when Photorealistic videogames become a thing).

Personally, I don't think we'll ever achieve that. Even the CGI in movies don't look photorealistic, no matter how hard they try, and those things are hyper detailed. It's surprisingly easy to distinguish from real and fake.

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Those weren't real abs? Damn you, Nicolas Cage.

 

But to be fair, they're small stuff. If there is a whole scene being rendered that doesn't look like CGI, that's what I'm interested in.

 

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FWIW, I once read that a minimum of 100M (yes, that's millions) polygons are necessary for recreating the illusion of reality. And that's per scene,/frame, not per second. So 15k per character really sounds puny in comparison.

 

Granted, that 100M figure was from a 90s article about virtual reality, so perhaps it was a bit of an overestimate.

 

Early 3D graphics (starting from PSX/N64 era and onwards, not untextured polygons or wireframe) just look bad today, not quaint. In fact, to be brutally honest they didn't even look good in the day, only the novelty of fully textured 3D with (equally fugly ) filtering kept them going, as small incremental enhancements got them to, say, CoD or Doom 3 levels, after which IMO they pretty much plateaued.

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I was saying that these few tris were enough to create good Real looking scenes, compared to say 700 tris from generations ago, It depends on how every asset on the scene looks with the rest, kinda difficult to tell If the following scene is a game if it weren't for the "Gamey" elements and without reading the title.

 

 

Edited by dmg_64
forgot to add "and"

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4 hours ago, Maes said:

Early 3D graphics (starting from PSX/N64 era and onwards, not untextured polygons or wireframe) just look bad today, not quaint. In fact, to be brutally honest they didn't even look good in the day, only the novelty of fully textured 3D with (equally fugly ) filtering kept them going, as small incremental enhancements got them to, say, CoD or Doom 3 levels, after which IMO they pretty much plateaued.

This is down to personal opinion, which means I'm gonna have to say I don't agree. I like the low-fi, low-poly look. I especially like the PSX look, which eschewed texture filtering. (There's a tradeoff in lack of z-buffer and perspective correction, but whatever.) I find it nostalgic.

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1 hour ago, dethtoll said:

This is down to personal opinion, which means I'm gonna have to say I don't agree. I like the low-fi, low-poly look. I especially like the PSX look, which eschewed texture filtering. (There's a tradeoff in lack of z-buffer and perspective correction, but whatever.) I find it nostalgic.

You do have a point about personal opinion, however it is also a fact that nobody has tried to emulate the early 3D look yet, as opposed to e.g. attempts to emulate the look of 2D 16-bit or 8-bit games ("pixel art" etc.)

 

Perhaps because making a low-poly model today means just being lazy/unskilled with a 3D modelling program, and it would really be hard to "sell" a low-quality model as "retro 3D", unless you go VERY far back (I'm talking the untextured polygon kind of "far back", which would really only work for a very abstract or peculiar kind of game anyway).

Edited by Maes

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13 hours ago, Maes said:

You do have a point about personal opinion, however it is also a fact that nobody has tried to emulate the early 3D look yet, as opposed to e.g. attempts to emulate the look of 2D 16-bit or 8-bit games ("pixel art" etc.)

http://store.steampowered.com/app/519860/DUSK/

 

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Heh, I guess there's a first time for everything. It remains to be seen how it will be received.

 

Of course, with FPS there's always the design choice of trading polygons for gameplay speed and number of enemies. The overall look of the game is like putting e.g. Unreal on maximum settings after the OpenGL patch. Low detail, but hi-res and clean-looking.

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Aren't graphics only the outside wrapping for the game anyway? Do you want to play Chess? or Tetris? maybe you'd rather play No Man's Sky? or maybe a game that crashes for no reason every 5 minutes because gosh dangit, those 5 minutes are damn nice. Retro 3d graphics bring to mind the low poly character models in FF7, which are just textured with flat color gradients to simulate shading. You see this in a lot of PSX and N64 games, or the SNES games with the 3d chip. The best games will ideally have visuals that fully suit the needs of the gameplay. Take a game like Okami on Ps2, that game will always look a certain way because of the "art style" chosen, and if you like to play it as well, hey that's pretty cool.

 

 

Edited by reflex17

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@dmg_64 That is mighty impressive. The most photorealistic thing that could've fooled me there was the bed sheets, but other than that, everything else gives off that peculiar 3D model look I'm accustomed to.

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Like I said, It looks Real (to me at least) but it's not quite there yet for some reason I can't get my hands on, Probably the phone on that table on the left looks like it doesn't belong to the scene or .. I don't know something feels out of the place.

Edited by dmg_64
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1 hour ago, dmg_64 said:

Like I said, It looks Real (to me at least) but it's not quite there yet for some reason I can't get my hands on, Probably the phone on that table on the left looks like it doesn't belong to the scene or .. I don't know something feels out of the place.

This might have an answer for you.

 

 

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2 hours ago, dmg_64 said:

Like I said, It looks Real (to me at least) but it's not quite there yet for some reason I can't get my hands on, Probably the phone on that table on the left looks like it doesn't belong to the scene or .. I don't know something feels out of the place.

I wonder how much of it comes down to detail, since it's clear someone spent a lot of time building up the entire apartment. But I noticed the lack of any people in the game; they're probably the most difficult element.

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They're usually the easiest to tell if they're fake or not because they look like they're made of plastic, It's either they haven't nailed the correct material for the skin yet or the inaccurate lighting butchered the details.

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Even since the days of Toy Story (the first feature-length CGI movie), I remember reading in the creator's interviews that they "struggled to get some real-life dirt and grittiness in there", because "computers produce too clean images".

 

As to why the apartment looks uncanny...well...just observe any of your nearby objects, their surface, texture, etc., even your clothes. And then move them...think that 100M polygons is still an overestimate? Plus nothing looks perfect, clean etc. IRL, unlike e.g. real-estate commercials. Real houses have dust, dust bunnies, pieces of lint, hair etc., the paint on the walls is not perfect, the grout between the tiles is not perfect etc.

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Even with that it still looks like it's made of plastic.

Edited by dmg_64

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An image of that level of detail would be convincing if it was only meant to be displayed at standard TV resolution (480i) maybe even just VHS resolution (240i, effective). Anything above that and you really need to work on minute details. E.g. in that dirty construction site/yard in the pic above, where are the individual pieces of gravel/rocks in the mud? The natural rock is probably the weakest part of the scene, as it looks quite low-res.

 

Though, to be fair, the mud and the weathering on the concrete look quite realistic (at least if you imagine viewing them through an old, SD television). However the crates are pure "uncanny valley": too clean, and the lighting looks...well...too Hollywood, if anything.

 

To further the "low resolution" argument, this is a photo of an actual construction yard in King's Cross, London, UK ([url=http://www.constructionphotography.com/Details.aspx?ID=25853&TypeID=1]link[/ur]):

 

A052-01228_Construction_site_yard_Kings_

 

The scene looks somewhat surreal due to the lighting, the photography etc. and it looks like it would totally be doable in CGI or even in real-time as part of a game, but it's a real pic of a real place nonetheless. The CGI scene above has the same level of detail, more or less, but more resolution, which just makes its limitations evident.

 

A higher resolution pic of a construction yard by night, with people and equipment:

 

VIA-Rail-tracks-being-reinstated-over-th

 

Even if it's quite blurry, it's still way more detailed than the CGI scene above. Elements such as fences, vegetation, rubble, gravel, sand, messy cables etc. are all equally detailed and important to a scene IRL.

Edited by Maes
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The Rock is likely Retopologized, details have been baked into Normal maps, Bump maps, AOs, dirt is the easiest to create because it's somewhat shiny naturally, I Imagine this scene would look even less realistic if we turn down the chromatic aberration.

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