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Movie-quality games in 15 years, claims gaming veteran

Human behaviour, not computing power, is real hurdle

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Movie-quality videogame graphics will be possible within 10 to 15 years, an industry heavyweight has forecast.

Tim Sweeny, founder of videogame firm Epic Games, said issues including realistic in-game lighting and movie quality static scenes or motion are just a matter of brute computing power.

“We’re only about a factor of a thousand off from achieving all that in real-time without sacrifices”, Sweeny told website Gamasutra. “Probably 10 – 15 years for that stuff”.

However, he stressed that the real hurdles to movie-quality gaming centre on simulation of human intelligence and behaviour.

Why? Bones, mainly. Humans recognise facial animation in other humans using thousands of bones, but Sweeny said videogames only use tens of bones.

Although he described games like Half Life and Gears of War as state-of-the-art, he also said such titles are still “extraordinarily unrealistic compared to a human actor” in a film because of the “really fine nuances of human behaviour”.

So what’s the solution, more computational power? No, according to Sweeny, who added that even if we had infinitely fast computers now, we’d still be lacking the algorithms necessary to simulate the brain and nervous system in a computer. ®

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