Reality Check: 3D Graphics Take On Hollywood

Plants, Trees, And Forests

With GeForce 256, transform and lighting functionality was moved over to the graphic chip.Before, these calculations were carried out by the CPU. The faster graphics cards were expected to increase the level of details and the number of 3D objects.

This complex leaf structure is calculated by the graphics card.

For a 3D game, you need more than one tree made up of real leaves, although even the most recent games still use tricks. To keep the computing effort as low as possible, only rough structures like tree trunks, thick branches or the basic framework of bushes are created as real objects. Grass, reeds, leaves and twigs are textures, painted wallpapers which simulate thick plant growth. This enables you to represent a thick forest, but neither leaves or twigs will react to touch—the player simply walks through unimpeded. If the game is less complex, these leaves and bushes don’t even provide a screen to hide the character from opponents, even though you are unable to look through the undergrowth.

Tree trunks and thick branches are 3D objects: grass, leaves and twigs are simulated wallpapers.

In older games, the forest is made up of a few arranged trees. Only as recently as Far Cry and Crysis was it possible to generate the impression of an impenetrable jungle with wild plant life and irregular structures. Oblivion can be upgraded with the Qarls Texture Pack, which makes the otherwise rather drab exteriors look thicker and richer. 3D games are still not able to reach the level of detail of nature; even Hollywood productions have better tricks. The left hand image shows digitally processed trees, you can see this in the slightly lighter colors.

The PC forest has improved considerably; Crysis shows irregular plant structures.

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  • Of course it can always get better. it just depends on how much of the power available to them the game designers want to use. For PC its harder though since they want the most sales and want to go from low to high end.

    Introducing MT in games would boost FPS allowing more and better eye candy.

    A good example is L4D from VALVe. Source is a 4 year old engine but some of the graphics in that game are close to Crysis which is amazing to be honest since Crysis was made with a much newer engine.

    It is also rumored to include MT capabilities. Will have to see.

    Once game designers stop worrying as much they will finalyl make better looking games. As you can see from Far Cry 2 though the PC looks to have much superior graphics for it. The 360 version looks a bit bland where as the PC version looks nice and gritty.
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  • Well, hopefully DirectX 11 helps in that regard, right?
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  • yaya dx 11... cant wait to spend another $100 on another OS and $500 for a new graphics setup which will then be incompatible with something therefore resulting in a whole new $1000+ system. who wouldn't want to?
    -1
  • V3NOMyaya dx 11... cant wait to spend another $100 on another OS and $500 for a new graphics setup which will then be incompatible with something therefore resulting in a whole new $1000+ system. who wouldn't want to?


    Shows how much you read up about DX11. It will be compatible on Vista and Windows 7 - so no need to update your OS. Unless you still use XP, which is your choice and you just need to live with the consequences.

    Yes you will need a new GPU - but if you are a serious gamer you probably buy one of those every 9-12 months anyway. and $500? for the very top end perhaps - but why not go for the equivalent of the 4870 when dx11 comes out - which is $250?
    -4
  • Thanks for the article.
    I hope to see realistic/possible samples of future(1-4 years) screenshots in another article.
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  • As a researcher in the field of computer graphics, I can safely say that we haven't seen the end of it. Yes, a lot of hope has to be put on faster hardware. And lets face it - light is a tricky business...you do not think about it, but the complexity of the processes involved that enable you your eyesight is enormous.

    Yet, every now and then a new algorithm is developed, which introduces more accuracy and less approximations, which runs faster and more optimal. It is not yet sure which idea will prevale (ray tracing or raster or something else), but it is sure that visible pixelization, coarse models, unrealistic lighting etc are going to be pretty much the past. When? Nobody can honestly answer this question...lets wait and see.
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  • safcmanfr


    actually it get better still, acording to all currently known info, direct3D 11 will be perfectly backward compatible with both vista and win7, but also the infrastructure of DX10 and DX10.1 GPU's will be able to support directX 11.

    see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DirectX#Direct3D_11
    ^and yes i do know that wiki isnt the great source, but it is as good as any.

    although the way the article is worded, it is made to sound as though some of the more subtle effect would require an upgrade. however the import part is GPGPU support accross both nvidia and ATi, and multithreading which will be supported.
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  • Quote:
    As a researcher in the field of computer graphics, I can safely say that we haven't seen the end of it. Yes, a lot of hope has to be put on faster hardware. And lets face it - light is a tricky business...you do not think about it, but the complexity of the processes involved that enable you your eyesight is enormous.


    Well it took evolution billions of years to perfect the human eye so I think we can cut you programmers a break ;-) so far most of the new games look great.

    I enjoy good looking games but the games need to have some substance to them as well. No one wants to play a crappy game no matter how good it looks.
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  • Either most of the illustrations also include a real photograph, or there is some incredible quality out there. In the illustration "Targeted use of light sources lighting up a grid structure," is the upper-right image, an outside view of a window with bars, a real photo? If not, let me know what game it is from and I will buy it.
    -4
  • Even with all those effects I'm still marvelled by the lack of realistic structures. I do have a gaming rig with sufficient power to play crysis and what not, but still I can't find a game where walls don't look unnaturally sharp edged.
    No matter how much soft shadow, af or aa is applied, it still manages to look like a building is simply 4 completely straight walls. Even when you blow something up in the newest crysis game you'll notice that a building is made up of incredibly straight sheets of wood or metal. Sure they've come a long way with foilage and stuff, but hollywood knows a great deal more about realistic structures than game developers seem to do.
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  • Multi threading is where its going but the question is is how many chips can you fit on a dye before it hits a wall
    -1
  • Quote "Either most of the illustrations also include a real photograph, or there is some incredible quality out there. In the illustration "Targeted use of light sources lighting up a grid structure," is the upper-right image, an outside view of a window with bars, a real photo? If not, let me know what game it is from and I will buy it."


    Sorry my fine feathered friend........That isn't from a game...It's a real pick.
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  • adamk890Multi threading is where its going but the question is is how many chips can you fit on a dye before it hits a wall

    Except that it's a die, not a dye, you're very much limited in your multithreading even when using huge processors with many cores. With the current system serveral cpu cores can't run graphics at once, so no matter how many cpu cores you have, you can't use more than one to run graphics. On a gpu the number and speed of shading processors obviously are a factor for speed, and more gpus give more processors, but that doesn't eliminate the need for serialization of processes. You can't render shadows for geometry that isn't computed yet, and you can't really always process a given thing in 800 tiny bits instead of 1 large bit. Where it is possible more processors will help, but that isn't always the case.

    So the question isn't how many cpu/gpu cores (or the number of pipelines in them etc) you can put on a single board, but rather how you can utilize all this power effectively.
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  • very nice and interesting article!

    question: ps3 and xbox, do they only support dx9c? that's why the graphics are lower than on pc (farcry2)?
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  • thanks for the article but water and fire are not elements water is consisted of two elements which are Oxygen and hydrogen.
    and fire has nothing to do with the word element,fire is the result of the contact between very hot surfaces or materials with the surrounding air.
    I think if nvidia had let gaming companies to release DX10.1 games like assassins creed the gamers would've been able to play a much more graphically sophisticated and intensive games with higher frame rates.
    for example my pal has got 9800GX2 and me got HD3870,we have compared our GPUS and he beat me in every single game but assassins creed which, my HD3870 with DX10.1 gets about 25 more FPS than his 9800GX2.
    sometimes the hardware is not everything.you see using DX10.1 with a hardware half as powerful as the one using DX10 and yet it gets much more higher FPS.
    so i think every one could imagine what could've happened to nvidia if crysis and all the other games had been DX10.1 .
    if you wanna make a movie-like games you need a very very powerful GPUs
    not 1.2 or 2.5 Tera flops but more than 100-200 tera flops to render the frames at the speed of light.
    -3
  • Heya,

    Great article, was enjoyable. Things have changed quite a bit and so quickly too! From the 80's into the 2000 era of games, things changed, but not nearly as fast and as forward as they have since 2000 to 2009 stuff. I expect the things to come in the next 2 or 3 years to be completely mind blowing.

    Very best,
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  • I just want to point out, JimmySmitty stated the Source engine is four years old" that is not technically correct as the engine is constantly being updated.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Source_engine

    Yeah it is Wiki and ya know what, 90% of the time or more it is correct.
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  • dx 11 is a waste of time 99% of all games are still dx9...
    -4
  • As long as the next generation of games don't try to over emphasize HDR, motion blur or field of view blur I'll be happy.

    Bright shiny rocks don't make sense. "God rays" everywhere you look don't make sense. My real life field of view works just fine, no need to augment it. Adding blur while moving doesn't make sense, as when I run in real life, my eyes adjust and focus on what I'm looking at.. no blur. But game makers seem to try to make the POV of the game more important than the POV of the player behind the glass, that's not immersion.
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  • I want a game that centers on nothing but God rays. That'd be awesome.
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