I think we’ve almost reached a saturation point in graphics. When you look, even in movies you can still see things that just don’t look real, mainly because they’re still using a simple bitmap overlay on top of a vector-based item, being able to add more shininess to it, even a second or third luma layer can be added to look textured when close, but it’s still bitmap overlays on top of a vector/raytraced-based graphic to make the texture of something. The amount that goes into making each vector-based item/person/thing becomes more each time, every year.
Then there’s lens properties and the imperfections of lenses that never gets emulated. It’s always a impossibly perfect lens, and usually things that are close and things that are far are always in focus, unlike a real camera in real life. That’s even a giveaway of something being computer animated in a movie–the focus points between the real things and the computer generated things don’t quite match up–the computer part always looks either clearer or blurrier. I bet as soon as they get that down for moviemaking, it will start to be applied in games as well and will become a part of all new graphics engines.
Did anyone ever see “The Gate to the Mind’s Eye”? It was a compilation of several animators, most of them somewhat clipped together but some were fully intact, with Thomas Dolby doing the soundtrack. There was one in the last 1/4 of it (I had the laserdisc of it) that consisted mostly of animations of space stations (ones that create gravity through rotation), giant rotating space greenhouses, and a number of other things–graphics that could be done easily in a game now.
The more time goes on the more it becomes apparant that the reason why nothing seems impressive is because we’re actually doing the same things with graphics, over and over again. Yeay, we can do it just a little bit better every year… but it’s still doing the same thing with them.
In the 80’s, video games were new, and some really abstract game concepts were being put out left and right. (some of the best music was on a C64 simply because they had all these physical limits and they wanted to push those limits as much as they could) Well in gaming, people have lost that desire to make something new because they have no reason to push the limits except in “realism”. People have gotten George Lucas syndrome! They’ll say things like, “If we had the technology we have now back in the 80’s, we would have made much better games. They were so archaic.” instead of looking at them for some of the strange quirky abstract elements that they had. People don’t do that sort of thing with games anymore.
Most games used to be based on “Hey, we found this cool-looking thingy when we do THIS in assembler. I wonder if we can make it do this. Cool. Hey, what if we do THIS. Hey, we could probably make a game from that, wouldn’t it be cool, we could…etc.etc…”
Now it’s all “been there, done that.”
But we haven’t been there, we haven’t done that. There are many ways we can use the limitations of gaming engines to make a game from. There are many things we can do with the graphics engines we already have that could seem like something completely different.
Why aren’t games messing with alternate gravity fields? Alternate surfaces and alternate densities of air/water/gasses/materials? Games where you’re trying to do something before serious warpage occurrs. Physics that are not possible in this reality. More games that feature places that are bigger on the inside than the outside, and even might lead you back to the place where you entered the place that was bigger than it was on the outside (like the game Foresaken)–figuring out 3d mazes that have a lot of that type of phenomenon going on. There are just so many things we could be doing with the graphics engines we have. It makes me want to learn programming so much–I have so many ideas for game concepts that would probably blow people’s minds, and most aren’t even violent, though some of course are.
I guess I’m complaining about the gaming industry the way I complain about the music industry–but I guess what I complain about has happened with ALL of the entertainment industry, games, music, movies, even live theater.
There has to be an explosion coming soon–an explosion of ideas from all around. I think it’s people feeling less and less able to be expressive, and it’s showing in everything we’re doing. I don’t know, maybe it’s something different entirely, but something has to be causing it–it’s like a blockage, and when something dislodges the scenario it’s going to be messy free-flying creation everywhere.