We’re still generations away from CG-like visuals

2 min read


This new generation of consoles is still waiting to hit its uncanny valley stride, with only a handful of games out now really questioning what we thought was possible visually in-game. We are, however, getting closer and closer to blurring the line between CG and in-game visuals, especially with so many games using in-engine rendering to produce these stellar set pieces. Despite that, it’s still going to take a while to eradicate the gap completely.

That’s according to ex Naughty Dog developer and Filmic Worlds’ founder, John Hable, who shared his thoughts on current-gen hardware in a recent interview. Hable seemed incredibly impressed by the achievements of the PS4 and Xbox One already, saying that they were a massive improvement over the previous generation (even if we aren’t seeing it in leaps and bounds just yet). He did, however, say that we’re still far away from CG-like gameplay.

“Honestly, it is hard to say. I think it will be a very long time. The current crop of consoles is much better than the previous generation, but the trailers are getting better too. If you really want to hit that level of quality then you need staggering triangle counts with really long shaders. Photoreal global illumination is very easy offline but very difficult in realtime.”

As you’d expect, rendering something once and then playing it back is nowhere near as taxing as trying to render it while running a game behind everything, which is why gameplay still lags far behind video. That’s obvious, but Hable said that we could start seeing the line blurred within a generation or two.

“I don’t have a good answer for you, but my guess would be longer than you think. One more console generation seems too quick. Maybe in two more generations? That would be PS6 and the 5th gen Xbox? And if we need to render in 4k then add another generation which puts us at PS7 and 6th gen Xbox. It’ll be a while.”

And while visuals then will be unimaginable, pre-rendered CG will also evolve as well. I don’t think there will ever be a time where gamepad and pre-rendered visuals will match up – surely because both are progressing at staggering rates. If you look at gameplay now, CG artists not even ten years ago wouldn’t really know how to do that in video.

That’s just the reality of to all, and I think we should just appreciate how immensely beautiful a lot of modern games are. Younger Sandy wouldn’t believe me even if I tried to explain it all now.

Last Updated: May 18, 2015

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