Square Enix believes next-gen will usher in a huge graphical leap

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ome developers, like THQ, believe that graphics have currently hit a bit of a plateaux, and that the next gen will be more about service than shiny visuals. Julian Marceron, Square Enix’ worlwide technology director believes otherwise, and says that the next generation will bring new levels of graphic realism.

"I think that we’re still going to see a big leap in graphics," he said to VideoGamer. "In terms of technology I think we’ll see developers taking advantage of physically-based rendering, physically-based lighting. I think people will take advantage of global illumination, or at least some form approximation of global illumination, so that could have a significant impact on graphics quality. This is the sort of lighting effect that gets used in top-tier CGI films.

"It’s going to enable new forms of art direction, but it’s also going to enable deeper convergence between multiple media – being able to share more assets horizontally between movies, TV series and games," said Merceron. "This means that when you’re doing a cartoon, or when you’re doing an animated movie, you could think about an art direction for the game that could be far closer [than current tie-ins]. Obviously it won’t be the same, because the processing power won’t be there, but you can think about art directions being way closer. And you can think about assets being re-used."

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Games that aim for hyper-realism will benefit most, says Merceron.

"There’s a lot of room for improvement, and consumers will be able to see that in future graphics innovation techniques," he said. "Now, if you take most of the Pixar movies from the last five to six years… do you see a big difference between one that was released five years ago, and one that was released last year? I’m actually not sure we see a huge difference.But if you take a film like Avatar, there’s a huge leap in the graphics techniques that are being used and the level of realism. The conclusion I would draw from that is we might end up seeing the difference way more in realistic-looking games, rather than those trying to achieve a cartoony look. At some point, with all these games [that are] going for a cartoony look, consumers might get the feeling that it’s plateauing. But for games striving for a very realistic look, it’s going to be easy to see all the improvements, all the time."

AMD recently said that the next Xbox will provide graphics on par with James Cameron’s Avatar, something I don’t quite buy. Earlier this year, Epic Games showed its more realistic vision of what to expect from the next-gen of consoles.

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Source : Videogamer

Last Updated: July 26, 2011

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I’m old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time – they were capable of being masterpieces. I’m here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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