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Epic: Photo-Realistic Graphics 10-15 Years Away

| 26 May 2009 17:36
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Games are only 10-15 years away from truly realistic graphics, says Epic's Tim Sweeney, but making games look real isn't enough. They have to feel real, too.

Assuming you aren't already in your twilight years or haven't contracted pig flu, you'll probably live to see graphics in games achieve genuine photo-realism, according to Epic Games' Tim Sweeney.

"We'll certainly see that happen in our lifetimes," Sweeney, who said true realism is "only about a factor of a thousand away," remarked. "It's just a result of Moore's Law. Probably 10-15 years or that stuff, which isn't far at all. Which is scary."

Scary in the sense that we'll be able to generate virtual people who actually look like people, inevitably paving the way for the destruction of the human race by Cylons/Terminators/etc, right? Well, not entirely. As Sweeney sees it, even if games look completely real, they're not necessarily going to feel that way.

Things that require "simulating human intelligence or behavior" like animation, conversations and more, are "really cheesy" in games right now, and it's going to be some time before technology can convincingly replicate the intricacies of the human body. "We simulate character facial animation using tens of bones and facial controls, but in the body, you have thousands," Sweeney said. "It turns out we've evolved to recognize those things with extraordinary detail, so we're far short of being able to simulate that."

Sweeney said that even if we had infinitely powerful computers, we'd still run into problems since "we don't know how the brain works or how to simulate it." Before truly realistic graphics can exist, he explained, developers would have to "simulate the brain and nervous system" on a computer. Now that sounds a little bit more like the end of the human race than Gears of War with super realistic graphics.

[Via Gamasutra]

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