Cevat Yerli, director of Crysis and CEO of Crytek, has warned developers that there won't be many advances in graphical technologies until 2012 - and so they must focus on physics and AI to distinguish themselves from the competition.
Crytek, best known for its super high-end graphics, is investing significant resources in the next generation of graphics technologies, but believes that there are 'limited' opportunities to distinguish your game in terms of graphics until the next generation of consoles comes along. Tellingly, Yerli footnoted that comment with: "Providing there is a next generation of consoles, of course, given the current economic climate."
The firm has linked itself to console release schedules, and so doesn't believe that there will be significant enough processing power to use new graphical representation systems - such as point-based rendering and raytracing - until the new generation arrives most likely in 2012 and 2013.
As such, Crytek has roadmapped the next version of CryENGINE to be released at that time - but has gone back to make its current engine completely scalable, so that games can be developed for the next generation on current machines. In fact, Crysis was so scalable that it's only now maxing out current high-end machines - something the company got a lot of flak for at the time of Crysis' original release.
"It was always my dream to develop a game that didn't go obsolete with hardware," said Yerli. "But people really didn't like that - they thought it was lazy of us to release a game that couldn't max out on contemporary machines."
But the next real opportunity for graphics programming, said Yerli, is when the machines have enough power to utilise the new techniques emerging.