The games industry’s fantasy of film-quality graphics could be achieved in less than ten years, the founder of Epic Games has said.
Tim Sweeney believes Hollywood visuals are one of two crucial objectives in the future of triple-A studios, the other being new frontiers in artificial intelligence and character dialogue.
“I really see two major milestones coming up for games in the very long-term future,” Sweeney told IGN.
“Number one is achieving movie quality graphics and movie quality pixels on the screen, which means no flicker in the visuals, no popping artefacts, no bulky character outlines on the screen at all.
“I see that actually occurring over the next ten years,” he added.
Current restraints on mass-market CPUs are curbing progress in this area, Sweeney said, though he appeared confident that home computing power will accelerate fast.
“I expect I'll be actively programming at the time we've achieved full movie-quality graphics because that's really just a matter of brute force computing power and clever algorithms. We know exactly how to do that.”
Sweeney has also claimed that Unreal Engine 4 – Epic Games’ next-generation games tech – “will probably launch around 2014”.
He also explained that presenting human emotions in games, and the mix of technologies that drive this, could be markedly improved this decade.
“Simulation of gameplay characters, artificial intelligence, character dialogue and all of these other things aren't really problems of brute force computing,” he said.
“They require increasingly sophisticated algorithms and simulation of human intelligence. I have no idea when those problems will be solved. I'm quite sure they won't be solved in the next ten years.
“They may not even be solved in my lifetime, but those are all problems that require understanding how the human brain works and trying to simulate that with varying degrees of accuracy.
“We've seen very, very little progress in these areas over the past few decades so it leaves me very sceptical about our prospects for breakthroughs in the immediate future.”