DICE 2012: Tim Sweeney Talks About Future Graphics

My favorite DICE 2012 talk was given by Epic Games CEO and technical director Tim Sweeney. Titled “Technology and Gaming in the Next 20 Years”, the session focused on the future of videogame graphics. Considering Sweeney’s genius, I was greatly looking forward to what he had to say, but I was afraid that a lot of it would fly over my head. Instead, I was surprised by the great job he did at making high-tech concepts easy for idiots (i.e. me) to understand.

Sweeney kicked off the talk by introducing the mother of all graphics receptors: the human eye. From there he discussed how the human eye is the equivalent of a 30-megapixel camera. For tablet gaming, the most the eye needs is a resolution of 2,560 x 1,600. For console and PC gaming, the eye needs 8,000 x 4,000 at most. Using various data points, Sweeney talks about how quickly videogame graphics can get to those points.

I can’t recommend this session enough. It’s highly technical, but also easy to relate to and very enjoyable. I felt smarter just for hearing it. Give it a watch and please let me know what you think!

Author: RPadTV


  • Smartguy

    What is the basis of his timeline? (open ended I know since he doesn't explicitly say it)

    I don't think consoles will ever achieve this photorealism really. I'm not sure it's important for that crowd outside of justifying the purchase on a message board. Here's why: 10 year cycles. Take for example the Core 2 Duo which came out AFTER the current machines. These chips bundled with a discrete mid range card could out run the consoles then. Now we have new architecture in chip design 3 times removed that simply decimates a console in real time rendering. Speaking of the chips on the gfx card and the CPU itself.

    I just feel that if the market clamors for gfx over substance then the PC and mobile world will push out the stagnant console market sooner rather than later. Oddly enough I feel that MS can weather this storm better than most. They are already making Win8 able to run on x86 ISAs and ARM tubes. So it's not out of the realm of possibility that their next machine will be able to be ran virtually on PC hardware. The MS game store, the Kinect for PC and metro UI on anything the touch makes me think this.

    edit: didn't mean to run on a tangent there.

    • I would agree with you, but I don't think 10-year cycles will apply anymore. Cloud processing is progressing at a tremendous rate. Combine that with streaming and it's a whole different ballgame.

      • Smartguy

        So you are saying you think consoles will come out every 2 years or incorporate tech that will allow them to stream? I'm thinking that the tech will pass up consoles entirely.

      • After the next-gen consoles, I don't think there will be consoles at all in the traditional sense. Embedded platforms are a possible future — having a PlayStation or Xbox system that's part of a TV or cable box.

      • Smartguy

        I think the AppleTV model is more likely. Hardware embedded in the TV specific to a former console maker would be too risky.Sent from my iPhone 4

      • Not sure how it's risky. Processors in TVs are getting pretty capable and the heavy lifting would be cloud processed. Ideally, it would just be a software license. I'm not saying the Apple TV model won't happen. That's already happening with OnLive and others could follow. If it's something people will already have, like a television or a cable box, then embedding is more attractive than adding another box.

      • Smartguy

        Risky because entry is easier with a sub $100 box with plenty of embedded drm. Ideally other services/apps would be part of the new system. Personally I'm not upgrading my tv until it dies and I only turn it on during football season.Not saying it can't work but I don't foresee a system where the tv processor does any heavy lifting.Then you have customers like me who do not have a cable box. Besides the rent on those would go up a lot.Sent from my iPhone 4

      • lceman

        The more I think about it, the more I agree with this statement. With the Xbox integration of FIOS and (later) Comcast, I see that gaming consoles really are headed to be the go-to entertainment hub of your living room. The big questions now are "how?" and "when?"

        From a consumer's standpoint, the ideal situation would be that Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo all partner with local and national content providers and provide traditional TV channels through your console (preferably a-la-carte). This way, we would have REAL competition against cable and satellite providers.

        Realistically, however, I know that it is way more likely that the big three (or one or two of them) partner up with telecoms to provide their already expensive-ass service with additional fees tacked on for good measure (I'm looking at you, XBL gold subscription) only available if you are already an existing customer of that telecom with no crossover to customers in other regions (to prevent competition).

        (*sigh*) I really need to find a way to decode those incoming digital signals.


  • N8R

    I was waiting for Smartguy to comment first since I know he's anxious for the next gen graphics and I wanted to hear his thoughts first.

    Personally, I think that long before games get there, digital displays have to get there. Projected film has been there for almost a century now, but the digital side is still the new kid on the block (so to speak). Even if a 30 megapixel camera can capture it, we'd still need to display it as such. It will be a while until the average consumer can have this in their homes and before that, there's alot more money in selling people on all the crap in between.

    Example… My brother has a reputation for being the best drummer in the world, yet he can't get a major record deal. The reason being, if you're selling the best there is, why would anyone buy anything else especially at the same price? Why does shovelware even exist? Because there's a bigger profit.

    That said, even though we are on the road to making it possible, there's alot of money to be made on the lower scale first. So my hypothesis is that greed trumps quality any day of the week.

    Now, I may be wrong on what tech does and doesn't currently exist, but I will say that I have yet to see better graphics than the Sega Hologram arcade machine from back in the day.

  • Thundercracker

    thought this was an awesome article on kotaku about the future of gaming graphics