DID MICROSOFT GO WRONG SOMEWHERE?

E3 Kicked off recently and the AAA game companies have been wowing audiences with the latest, greatest trailers for their upcoming titles. Watching the plethora of new videos released over the last few days left me with a interesting question. Did Microsoft go wrong somewhere?

Screen shot from Ashen


Looking at the available trailers, it seems that both the titles, and the graphic quality of said titles, for the Xbox are lagging extremely far behind that of the Playstation 4. I have not been seriously into games for some time now, except for the promise held by game engines to help indie creators realize their dreams, but I always thought the Xbox and the PS4 were in the same league when it comes to processing power and graphics abilities. If the trailers from the most recent E3 are any indication, this is not the case.

Days Gone on the PS4


It certainly appears, at least, that the PS4 is showcasing games pushing a lot more polygons and with much more in depth rendering and shading technology. I would think that a lot of games, these days, would be using Unreal Engine 4, or CryEngine, if they're still in business, both of which can produce stunningly realistic images at high resolutions. What appears in the actual games on Xbox, though, looks nothing like what I have been seeing in demos.

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WHERE TECH IS GOING



I came across this tech demo from Square Enix, based on Final Fantasy XV. According to Hajime Tabata from their business division, they are pushing the envelope of real time 3D with the help of Microsoft (Windows 10 and DirectX 12) and NVidia (GeForce GTX). They are supposedly moving 63 million polygons with 8K resolution texture maps. On top of that, they are doing hair without the use of transparency maps, but actual geometry with specialized shaders to give the appearance we see in the video.

In the past we would see tech demos like this and though the claims that they were realtime might have been true, all of that amazing imagery would be impossible when an actual game needed to run, with enemies, A.I., physics and so on. Today that is no longer the case. We are finally at a stage where the actual game can be seamless with the most realistic cut scenes therein. At last year’s E3, many companies had demos for the Playstation 4 in which a realistically rendered cut scene would transition directly into gameplay without any cuts or fades.

WHat does this mean for the indie today? If you wanted to do realistic 3D animation, you have tools like Unity 5 and Unreal 4, game engines that are accessible to even artists. Of course you can also use them to make a game, which is a very valuable way to deliver a story and IP these days. You can also, however, use them just to do a movie, which both engines have shown in their demo materials. This technology is only going to get better, although it is hard to imagine how much better it could get.

The next step will be content libraries, full of models, textures, motions and more, to make it even easier for the artist to get amazing images on the screen quickly. You will be able to focus on getting your story told. The time has never been better for the indie to do their project.

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