The current console cycle (regrettable dictator of modern game graphics – hey, can we rebel using Twitter?) kicked off more than five years ago, and, well, it's seen better days. Our PCs, meanwhile, are like hulking pro athletes running around in the little leagues, easily rendering everything at ultra high spec while yawning and disinterestedly flipping through an old magazine. There's simply no sport in it. Fortunately, id Software's resident mega-brain John Carmack has our backs. At this point, though, even he may have hit a wall.
“I have done a fair amount of research work this year to help clarify our next generation directions, but so far they have mostly been negative results – I know we won’t be rendering with a triangle intersection ray tracer on the next gen, for instance,” he said on the Bethesda Blog.
“I have a couple more research projects to undertake in the coming year, but the technical work I am most excited about doesn’t have anything to do with graphics, but instead with the data management and work flow through the development process.”
He did, however, add that today's games look “incredible.” Even so, we think we'll manage to contain ourselves over the data management and work flow solutions. It'll be tough, but we'll find a way.
All told, we're of two minds about this graphical standstill. On one hand, it's going to become much tougher for publishers to solely sell games based on “OMG skin textures so detailed that you can see the pores from space!” More creativity is never a bad thing. On the other hand, we like shiny things. It seems, then, that we have reached an impasse.