Epic: Photo-Realistic Graphics Still 10-15 Years out of Reach

Nathan Grayson

If, ten years ago, you’d told us that graphics would eventually look as nice as they do now, we wouldn’t have believed you. But that’s mostly because you’re not Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney. That guy – he knows his stuff. So carve a bunch of obtrusive red Xs across every calendar day between May 27, 2019 and May 27, 2024, because according to Sweeney, that’s (approximately) when we’re gonna see photo-realistic videogame graphics .

“We're only about a factor of a thousand off from achieving all that in real-time without sacrifices. So we'll certainly see that happen in our lifetimes; it's just a result of Moore's Law. Probably 10-15 years for that stuff, which isn't far at all. Which is scary -- we'll be able to saturate our visual systems with realistic graphics at that point,” he told Gamasutra.

But that’s only half of the equation. Sweeney also noted that visuals as we know them go far beyond immaculate wall textures and sizzling explosions. People matter too – and even with all the computing power in the world, that particular Rubik’s Cube won’t soon be solved.

“It's anything that requires simulating human intelligence or behavior: animation, character movement, interaction with characters, and conversations with characters. They're really cheesy in games now,” he explained.

“And unfortunately, all of that's not just a matter of computational power, because if we had infinitely fast computers now, we still wouldn't be able to solve that, because we just don't have the algorithms; we don't know how the brain works or how to simulate it.”

Still though – 10 or 15 years. We actually plan on being alive at that point! Now then, other industries, it’s time for you to fulfill your respective ends of the bargain. Hoverboards, jetpacks, and tight-fitting spandex suits, we expect to see you front-and-center when we christen Neo Future Earth in about a decade. We can’t start the show without you!

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