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Is it me or has PC games hit graphics parity?

Dec 28, 2001
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Well?

As I'm a (casual) PC-tech-nerd, I like to read up on what kind of tech the newfangled GPUs are capable of nowadays - but the focus of the review appears to be transitioning from the ol' "can it display the game well (lighting, AA, shadows)" to more of the "how can it display the game (3D, multi-display)?"

Think about it - from the hardware side, as much as we gripe (and it's a legitimate point, IMO) about monitor resolutions becoming more and more standardized to a lower (HDTV-level) resolution, it means less work has to be performed by each GPU.

From the software side, well; I think we've hit parity there too: I mean, look at games made by the Unreal 3 Engine and the Cryengine 3 - both very pretty to look at, and I'm fairly excited to see what idTech 5 has to offer in terms of Rage and all that gaming goodness . . . but then again, people are still playing Modern Warfare 2, Team Fortress 2, Left 4 Dead, etc. and they're games using (or derived from) tech almost a decade old!

Same thing from the CPU side - Intel is routinely bringing out new refreshes every 6 months, and AMD is following suit as well - actually their release schedules appear staggered so that they're coming out with something new every 3 months!

And bear with me here, I'm typing this on a laptop which is a couple cycles old (a little over a year) but it boggles the mind - technology is advancing at a pace that, when I read about it, the software end is lagging behind - and I can vividly remember when the software demanded the hardware to be upgraded (I remember reading about discrete GPUs becoming the-item to get all thanks to quake).

And so, dear PC gamers, is the question: when there really isn't software that can use the newest and greatest hardware out there, what function does the hardware serve?
 

magomago

Lifer
Sep 28, 2002
10,973
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ps4 and xbox720 will push the limits once more. Right now many pc gamess are basically "made for ps3 and xbox, but now in higher resolutions and potentially larger textures". Once the common denominator improves, so will the other stuff
 

Arg Clin

Senior member
Oct 24, 2010
416
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And bear with me here, I'm typing this on a laptop which is a couple cycles old (a little over a year) but it boggles the mind - technology is advancing at a pace that, when I read about it, the software end is lagging behind - and I can vividly remember when the software demanded the hardware to be upgraded (I remember reading about discrete GPUs becoming the-item to get all thanks to quake).
There are still some titles that will give even state of the art gpu's a run for their money, like Metro2033 and Crysis.

As magomago pointed out, the current console tech level is the common denominator.
 
Aug 11, 2008
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One good thing is that my five year old comp can still run most games at lower resolutions and moderate settings. What I dislike is that it seems the system requirements, particularly for the CPU, keep getting higher without any improvement in graphics or gameplay (Black Ops for instance).
 

Texashiker

Lifer
Dec 18, 2010
18,812
192
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Is it me or has PC games hit graphics parity?
Its not the games per say, its the game engines. Developers are using games engines that are 6, 7,, or more years old.

Duke nukem forever is using the unreal engine, but the old version. The latest build of the unreal engine from 2009 supports DirectX 11 Windows Vista / 7.

The valve source engine only supports Dx9, and its getting close to 7 years old.

Even though amd, ati/nvidia, and microsoft have made the technology available, it seems that game developers have been slow to follow suite.

So what if the latest video cards and windows 7 support dx11, when the developers are using game engines that are 6 and 7 years old
 

maniacalpha1-1

Diamond Member
Feb 7, 2010
3,562
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I think graphics are sufficient that I would like to see game developers work on other things for improvements. Like player counts in Battlefield 3.
 

Tom

Lifer
Oct 9, 1999
13,294
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ps4 and xbox720 will push the limits once more. Right now many pc gamess are basically "made for ps3 and xbox, but now in higher resolutions and potentially larger textures". Once the common denominator improves, so will the other stuff
I dont think they will. Computer graphics hardware already can do 1080p with plenty of bells and whistles, and that's as far as graphics on new consoles will go.
 

Tom

Lifer
Oct 9, 1999
13,294
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The economics doesnt support pushing graphics much farther unless there's a revolution in game development costs.
 

blastingcap

Diamond Member
Sep 16, 2010
6,656
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There are still some titles that will give even state of the art gpu's a run for their money, like Metro2033 and Crysis.

As magomago pointed out, the current console tech level is the common denominator.
Diminishing returns. double the graphics horsepower, get graphics that look 10% better? Ok so I am exaggerating a bit, but the point remains... I agree with OP. We need something to shake up the stagnant graphics we've seen for the last few years. And I don't mean 3D, either. Heck I would even settle for the exact same graphics but far better AI.
 

BladeVenom

Lifer
Jun 2, 2005
13,541
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ps4 and xbox720 will push the limits once more. Right now many pc gamess are basically "made for ps3 and xbox, but now in higher resolutions and potentially larger textures". Once the common denominator improves, so will the other stuff
I don't know. MS and Sony lost huge amounts of money the first few years of the 360 and PS3. I don't think they are going to push the technology much next generation. Sure the next generation will help, but I doubt it will be as close to PC gaming as last generation.
 

NoSoup4You

Golden Member
Feb 12, 2007
1,253
6
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Animation and lighting are the two frontiers still lagging. Great lighting can mask average texture work and mediocre polygon counts. Fluid, seamless animation can sell it to the player, it really helps with immersion.
 

JumBie

Golden Member
May 2, 2011
1,645
1
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Animation and lighting are the two frontiers still lagging. Great lighting can mask average texture work and mediocre polygon counts. Fluid, seamless animation can sell it to the player, it really helps with immersion.
I agree with this statement.
 

rgallant

Golden Member
Apr 14, 2007
1,361
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-any PC game reviews with crap game engines\crippled controls should be capped at the max. ratings of 70 as the reviewers are doing a console rating not a PC rating.
-devs are getting a free ride for the PC ports[auto minus 30%] as far as PC game reviews are concern.

-oh look I can't move because of this 6" plant by my foot -minus 30% off the rating.
-"for better color - adjust your TV set -minus 20%.
-dumb AI because of crippled mem. cap -minus 40%
-50 foot map view -minus 80%
-most ratings would\should be in the neg. range.

-instead the ports get high ratings by PC reviewers if you can jump\look down the sights of a weapon\bad guys get killed as long as the weapon is facing in their general direction\tattoo's on the arm or face\C4\something that looks like blood-guts \dead bodies that don't disappear until you turn your head.\have T-shirts @ under $50.00.
 

Karstein

Senior member
Mar 31, 2011
392
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There is still improvement to be made in the sluggishness of newer engines too - with so much going on graphically, responsiveness and accuracy have been left behind a little. I'm hoping developers are able to catch up as a result of this current console-induced plateau.
 
Oct 27, 2007
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OP must be stupid if he thinks software isn't currently limited by hardware. The vast majority of work on 3D game engines goes into optimization and developing non-physically based methods of making things look real.
 
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Arg Clin

Senior member
Oct 24, 2010
416
0
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Diminishing returns. double the graphics horsepower, get graphics that look 10% better? Ok so I am exaggerating a bit, but the point remains... I agree with OP. We need something to shake up the stagnant graphics we've seen for the last few years. And I don't mean 3D, either. Heck I would even settle for the exact same graphics but far better AI.
I'm no expert on this, but I see no reason to assume that the horsepower-to-IQ (however that is defined) scaling would be linear.

I fully agree though - we need something to shake up graphics - but I'm not really an optimist. As long as the majority of gamers are satisfied with being fed obsolete hardware and the graphics it is capable of (consoles) there's hardly much driving force for improvement.
 

BoberFett

Lifer
Oct 9, 1999
37,587
9
81
I'd rather see improvements in physics. Things like permanently destructible environments and realistic collision. Sure the physics hardware and libaries are around, but hardly standard fare.
 

mingsoup

Golden Member
May 17, 2006
1,295
2
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Personally I'm completely fine without the days of graphics over optimization. I'd much rather have a fun well optimized game playable on 2 year old hardware than Crysis 5. It feels! like gaming on PC has gotten more attainable as the last generation of consoles have entered year 5/6. I'm completely fine with that (barring the low res textures, one point of consoles that really irk me) If I have to have 3x580's just to play a game, I'm not going to play that game. Sure you can turn down settings, but what fun is playing a new game on low settings? Optimized high settings.

Innovations like physics, player counts, and flat out quality, should take precedent over graphics. What about developing strong modding utilities?
 
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Childs

Lifer
Jul 9, 2000
11,450
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When games can do open world cities on the scale of the one in Blade Runner, with an animation system like whats coming in BF3, real time lighting, physics, sound, all at 1080p60, then I'd say hardware isn't important. No where close to being there though.

Software is way behind hardware, it just seems like it isn't because the software is kinda crap. You could have the equivilant of Quad 590 thats under $200, yet the software would be the same, and perform about as well as a 560. Hyperbole for sure, but until the guys who can make engines make them with a PC first mentality, there is little incentive to push the envelope hardware wise. Software guys seem content to have console level tech, so there you go.
 

zerocool84

Lifer
Nov 11, 2004
36,049
469
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I don't know. MS and Sony lost huge amounts of money the first few years of the 360 and PS3. I don't think they are going to push the technology much next generation. Sure the next generation will help, but I doubt it will be as close to PC gaming as last generation.
That's how they work, they lose money upfront but make it all back with licensing fees, online store, etc. Nothing new and expect them to do it again.
 

blastingcap

Diamond Member
Sep 16, 2010
6,656
5
76
That's how they work, they lose money upfront but make it all back with licensing fees, online store, etc. Nothing new and expect them to do it again.
Yup. Give away the razor, sell the (highly profitable) razor blades.
 

kamikazekyle

Senior member
Feb 23, 2007
538
0
0
Yup. Give away the razor, sell the (highly profitable) razor blades.
That's why I use DE saftey razors ;P

Anyway, more on topic.

I bounce back and forth on the issue and why I believe that we seem to be somewhat stagnant when it comes to technical feature sets on games nowadays. On one hand, I do believe that the current generation of consoles is limiting developers, especially now that porting seems to have become easier between the consoles and the PC. There's not much incentive for a big publisher to spend a bunch of money porting a game to the PC with marked improvements. They can simply release the same game without even an option for a custom graphics setting and it'll still sell.

On the other hand, I think that we're approaching "good enough" for graphics. Improvements certainly can be made and I want them to -- especially in lighting and animation. But, it'll become a lot harder from a developer perspective (and probably more expensive) to get the type of changes that we got going from Duke 3D to Quake, and then from Quake to Quake 2. GPUs were getting faster by leaps and bounds and with increased memory, and it was easy to pump the textures and poly counts to utilize the hardware. Now, with already high poly counts and good textures (for the most part) to get such leaps in image quality, we're not only going to have to have something different than simply faster GPUs, but also entirely new techniques.

In the near term, doing something like improving upon existing lighting methods can help improve IQ without changing the whole "more shaders! more herz!" mentatily of GPUs. Physics is another method in which games can increase graphical appeal and immersion utilizing current tech. In the long term, however, I think both hardware and software designs have to evolve rather than simply increase speed and poly counts. We still have some of these advances, but they're utilized peacemeal if at all.

On a similar note, WTF happened to good AI? So many games nowadays just seem to be braindead. FPSes especially. "Yarg, I stand in place and shoot you!" If you're lucky, you'll get an enemy that'll use a premanufactured half-height wall for cover. I liked FEAR's AI: you're behind a box or a full wall, so they toss a grenade off to one side, forcing you to run out the other side only to have an ambush set up.

For a while we seemed to have some good AI coming along, but it was actually hampered by hardware with limited CPU speeds. Now that we have these 4 core processors with 8 hyperthreaded cores, you're lucky to see a game that uses two, let alone four.

Ok, I think I just went on an old man rant there, so I'm going to go back to my porch.
 

BladeVenom

Lifer
Jun 2, 2005
13,541
16
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That's how they work, they lose money upfront but make it all back with licensing fees, online store, etc. Nothing new and expect them to do it again.
Sure they may have expected to lose money the first year, and maybe the second year, but the last two financial years, Sony's game/networked division is still losing huge amounts of money. They lost 87.4 billion yen for 2009, and lost 83.1 billion yen for 2010. http://www.sony.net/SonyInfo/IR/financial/ar/8ido18000003dlbx-att/8ido18000003dldo.pdf

So when are they going to actually make money on it?

The Xbox was never profitable, and the 360 lost so much money the first couple of years, I doubt they will make it back.

On the other hand the Wii was sold for a profit from day one, and Nintendo had been making billions in profit.

So do you think they are going to continue next generation to lose billions at the start in hopes they might make it back, or do you think they will lean more towards the Nintendo route and try to make money starting from the first year of a new console. Even if they don't plan on making money the first year, I can't see them wanting to lose as much at the start of the next generation as they lost at the beginning of this generation.
 
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QuantumPion

Diamond Member
Jun 27, 2005
6,017
1
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This:

Diminishing returns. double the graphics horsepower, get graphics that look 10% better? Ok so I am exaggerating a bit, but the point remains...
and this:

On the other hand, I think that we're approaching "good enough" for graphics. Improvements certainly can be made and I want them to -- especially in lighting and animation. But, it'll become a lot harder from a developer perspective (and probably more expensive) to get the type of changes that we got going from Duke 3D to Quake, and then from Quake to Quake 2.
Also I'd add that we are at the peak of the uncanny valley - where games look about as pretty as they can while still looking like games. Attempts at making them look even more realistic and we go down into the valley part where it is photorealistic but "not quite right".

diminishing returns + exponential costs + peak of uncanny valley = plateau in graphics.
 

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