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Square Enix executive predicts “big leap” in graphics tech with next gen

Tuesday, 26th July 2011 03:53 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Square Enix’s worldwide technology director Julien Merceron has said the next generation of hardware will bring cinema technologies to consoles.

“I think that we’re still going to see a big leap in graphics. In terms of technology I think we’ll see developers taking advantage of physically-based rendering, physically-based lighting,” Merceron told VideoGamer at Develop.

“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.”

Merceron said if the games industry embraces these techniques, used in film and animation, it will allow cross-media sharing of assets, so tie-in games approach the quality of their source material.

The executive argued against the possibility that game have reached their graphical peak, saying more photo-realistic games will make continuing improvements in graphics more obvious to end users.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

Thanks, CVG.

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18 Comments

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  1. OlderGamer

    I just don’t see it. If games get more and become more, they will cost more. I don’t think anyone is willing to move forward with hardware that will retail for 800usd and play 100usd games.

    In my mind it isn’t a matter of can they find hardware that could be a leap and bound abouve current console levels, but can they afford to make it, sell it, and develop for it?

    I think graphics will improve, but more like a xbox one to xb360 type of thing. I ran Halo 2 in 720P on my xbox one, for example. Hal3 didn’t go so far beyond Halo2 that it made much of a difference. Graphicly speaking. And it sure didn’t revolutionize gameplay in any stretch of the imaginatio. Now if you were a PS2 only gamer back then, and then sat down with PS3 or xb360 for the first time, you may well have noticed a large jump in graphical quality.

    But were is the next big “wow, look at that” moment going to come from. We already play in HD. Already play online. I mean i just don’t see it. I don’t see th eneed for new hardware, tho I want some and am looking forward to it.

    I don’t think the platform holders save for Nintendo see it either. if they could use hardware to get a leg up over the competetion, we would already have the next gen. But there isn’t one. Simply said its a price point issue.

    IMO, of course.

    #1 3 years ago
  2. Phoenixblight

    “But were is the next big “wow, look at that” moment going to come from. We already play in HD. Already play online. I mean i just don’t see it. I don’t see th eneed for new hardware, tho I want some and am looking forward to it.”

    Actually you aren’t really playing in HD its upscaled to be played in HD but its not real HD its fake. Very few games actually are native 720p Think GOW3 and MGS 4 are the only ones that have pushed it.
    Next gen we will be true HD. If you would play Witcher 2 on Ultra High you will get a glimpse of what next gen consoles will push to look like. Though like I said before Graphics are not a seller what I would like to see is a chip within the new consoles that handle the AI specifically so we get an emergent system and the enemies are not heavily scripted very few games use it, Halo and Farcry have used it but its not totally an emergent system because the hardware can’t yet support it with the limited ram and the CPU. Anyways I could care less about the graphics I am fine with how games look now just improve upon the actual gameplay.

    #2 3 years ago
  3. Clupula

    It just makes sense for them to keep improving in graphics. The Wii was a hit with the Nintendo die-hards and the soccer moms, NOT the hardcore gamer. And what you have to remember, and I think Nintendo should pay attention especially to this: when you make a product popular, that popularity will only last a certain amount of time. Once that popularity dies down, you’re only left with the hardcore. If you’ve neglected them, then you have no audience.

    The next generation of systems, which will start with the PS4 and whatever the next X-box is called, will have to blow away the current gen, in order to attract the hardcore audience. I wouldn’t buy a PS4 that didn’t have graphics that looked greatly different from the PS3. Why don’t I just keep my PS3 then?

    Of course, graphics aren’t everything, and processing power is very important too. Basically, the new systems need to rival or surpass whatever the current highest PC specs are when they come out.

    That said, with how long it’s taken Squeenix to make Final Fantasy Versus XIII this gen, I can only imagine they’ll have to start working now to create a game for the gen AFTER next.

    #3 3 years ago
  4. osric90

    Want really, REALLY better graphics? Wait until 2020 or something. I can live with actual graphics for a long time.

    #4 3 years ago
  5. mojo

    the graphical assests can stay like they are now, i dont mind.
    What i want is native full HD resolution and 60 fps locked. For every single game.

    #5 3 years ago
  6. KrazyKraut

    better games, not better graphics plz. still paying 50 – 100 € for 32 bit games…

    #6 3 years ago
  7. GrimRita

    Developers and publishers cant even keep up with costs for the current gen and now talk of next-gen.

    Take a look at the PS3. A far superior machine to the 360 but apart from the odd developer, hardly anyone uses it as the ‘lead’ console.

    Great graphics, do not make a great game but where will the arguement end? 5 years into the cycle of the next gen, the same thing will be said again. Maybe its because the PC is storming ahead not only in terms of graphics but power – which is no surprise.

    And, will gamers pay higher prices for ‘better’ graphics – in todays climate, I doubt it

    #7 3 years ago
  8. YoungZer0

    PC better, blah, blah, blah, real HD, blah, blah, blah 1080p, blah, blah, blah AA, blah, blah, blah RAM + spelling and grammar errors.

    /Erthazus

    #8 3 years ago
  9. Overdos3

    Stupid Mr Merceron,

    When “next gen” consoles will do global illumination or get cinema technologie, pc will do raytracing :).

    #9 3 years ago
  10. Hybridpsycho

    “Developers and publishers cant even keep up with costs for the current gen and now talk of next-gen.”

    Why is this? I really haven’t heard anything about it, and as a “to-be” game-designer myself I really can’t see how making better looking games with todays posibilities “costs more”.
    It doesn’t, the reason that alot of games look like shit today (because they do in comparison to those who spend a litle time polishing the graphics) is ’cause people don’t care.
    Which is real bullcrap, give next gen in less than a year ’cause I prolly won’t be buying any PS3 games if it looks the same in 2 years.

    @1
    Man I hate how you list shitloads of stupid “facts” that you believe to be true, then call it “Your opinion”. When it’s all about facts and what actually changed.

    The graphic difference from XBOX/PS2 > 360/PS3 is astounding. Get a clue.

    #10 3 years ago
  11. Deacon

    So games cost more these days because people are lazy and don’t care?

    o_O

    #11 3 years ago
  12. Dr.Ghettoblaster

    “But were is the next big “wow, look at that” moment going to come from”

    God of War 3 was truly one of the few games this gen that gave me the above feeling.

    #12 3 years ago
  13. YoungZer0

    @10: Really? You can’t figure out how higher details, bigger resolution, better engines and such can cost more? Got a lot to learn.

    #13 3 years ago
  14. Aimless

    I think it’s a mistake to suggest there will be a huge difference between the cost of creating a game today and one for the next generation of consoles.

    First off most developers are used to creating HD content at this point, and that tends to mean creating far higher fidelity textures and models than will actually appear in a game. Besides which current assets aren’t really shown off at their best, tending to be undermined by LOD issues, a lack of texture filtering or antialiasing, etc; think about the God of War Collection, those are all PS2 assets.

    Secondly I don’t think the next generation will be as asset driven. The big difference between the current generation and last, besides HD, is the popularisation of shaders, whilst I believe the next big things going forward will be procedural systems. Advanced lighting, for instance, can radically alter the look of a game — check out this video to see some real-time techniques we can expect to see going forward — as can intelligent physics systems like Euphoria. Naturally the real boon of such things is that once those systems have been implemented into your engine their effects are, relatively speaking, ‘free’.

    #14 3 years ago
  15. OlderGamer

    Ok a couple of things here.

    First PB we are playing actualy HD games. Not to barrow too much from other members, but the PC delivers. Tho I do agree on console side, and that is what this thread is primarily about is less then full on HD in most cases. In truth I am ok with that personaly. I know you are too. We both know that great playing games > games that just look great. I know, everyone wants great looking games that play great too.

    Second: Hybridpyscho:

    “1
    Man I hate how you list shitloads of stupid “facts” that you believe to be true, then call it “Your opinion”. When it’s all about facts and what actually changed.

    The graphic difference from XBOX/PS2 > 360/PS3 is astounding. Get a clue.”

    Hate much?

    Ok listen, If I am making sure to label something as my own opinion, isn’t that the oposite of me calling them facts?

    The graphical difference between Halo 2 displayed in 720P on a Xbox on and Halo 3 displayed in 720P is minimal. I used to run my xbox on the same HD TV i use now. Most of the games on xbox ran at the low end 480P(thats what the Wii currently does), however more then a handful of the games ran higher. I am sure there was some tech trick and upscaling involved, much like todays consoles don’t often run 1080i/p at 60fps either.

    But to look at Halo2 in HD on xbox one and then look at Halo3 in HD on xbox360, you would be hard pressed to find a difference other then the way game was laid out. This brings me my next “clue”.

    Take your PS360 and run it in SD, now show me the difference between xbox one/Gamecube games. The PS2 was less powerful, that part btw, is not an opinion and you can label it fact. The PS2 was the lowest common denominator.

    I am not suggesting that across the board there isn’t a noticable difference. I am saying it wasn’t revolutionary. Higher textures/resolutions are the major differences graphicly speaking. That in and of itself is a nice step up. Next gen will be a nice step up. But it will not be PIXAR Studios level. It will not be Holodeck levels. It will not be mind blowing. Thats what my point was, incase you got lost in all my “stupid” facts I clearly listed as opinions.

    One last thought for everyone to consider.

    Sometimes things max out. Look at Rayman. Rayman on the Sega Saturn was a graphical benchmark, still one of the best looking 2D games ever made. Now look at Rayman origins heading out this gen. It too will be 2D and it too looks stunning. However it doesn’t look leaps and bounds abouve the first one graphicly. There is just a glass ceiling on what can be done, how many thing can be on the screen at once, how many things a gamer can interact with at once w/o it being complete chaos.

    The samething that has already happened to 2D games will happen to 3D games, in my opinion. I see 3D games doing a Rayman of sorts and I think we are very close to that now. You just run out of ways to improve a games graphics. We are at near photorealistic now. How will they make something look better then said something looks in real life? Will GT6 have a BMW that looks better in game then in real life?

    There are just limits. And the reason we don’t already have PIXAR Studios level graphics is because one of those limits is cost. Cost to develope and cost to buy.

    IMO, next gen will improve graphics. I expect to see higher resulotions paired with smoother framerates. But where I really hope to see improvements in nect gen games are not the graphics alone. I want improved AI. I want longer games. And I want games delivered to us at lower cost.

    I mean really, take a look at your current fav game, and ask yourself could you enjoy it more if it looked better? And how much better do you need it to look?

    #15 3 years ago
  16. Telepathic.Geometry

    I think that, just from a graphical point of view, the hardware need only support 1080p, 60FPS and have some built in hardware (MSAA and generous RAM or whatever) to ease the burden on the game devs.

    I mean if I think of the most graphically impressive games of this generation for me, they’re already turned up to 11. I don’t need much more, really.

    #16 3 years ago
  17. OlderGamer

    I agree TG, and thats what I think will happen.

    Smoother, sharper.

    #17 3 years ago
  18. Telepathic.Geometry

    Yeah. From now on, devs need to concentrate more on evolving genres, combining genres or abandoning genres altogether. That might be tough though. The cookie-cutter shooting genre is kind of damned, with the exceptional Vanquish and Bulletstorm both underperforming, despite being fresh feeling takes on the classic shoot-em-up. Shame.

    #18 3 years ago