when will we have photo realism in graphics?

lifelike graphics

  • 1-3 years

    Votes: 6 11.5%
  • 4-6 years

    Votes: 8 15.4%
  • 7-10 years

    Votes: 16 30.8%
  • 11-15 years

    Votes: 5 9.6%
  • 15+ years

    Votes: 11 21.2%
  • never

    Votes: 6 11.5%

  • Total voters


Ex Member
Sep 12, 2004
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its getting extremely close now and the game sizes are rising and rising in GB (more for me to download :mad: :rotfl: )

but when will photo realism/life like graphics come among us?

IMO i think itll be around 5 years or so because if you look at ps3 graphics they are mind blowing and 2 years after the ps3's release pc will surpass it in graphics and about another 3 years after that again will be time for next gen of consoles and mind blowing graphics from pc's which adds up to about 5-6 years :)

The other day I was sitting outside and looked up to see some power cables. (they run them on posts in Japan, not underground like in the UK)

I focused on those cables and wondered at how they dont alias in real life.
Then later played HL2 and noticed how they do.

Texturing is also far from perfect. Real life surfaces have way too much detail for todays hardware to deal with.

A still photo can be made with all the necesary detail, but once it starts to move you get into all sorts of trouble.

I dont think we will have the necesary hardware to run a photo realistic game for a long time.
Its not remotely close. Its way off. Even top notch CGI creative hardware (which doesnt run realtime) cant fool my eye.

Perfect example is Neo in the 2nd Matrix film where he fight hundreds of Agent Smiths. How poor was the texturing on Neos coat!
I still think it's a way off but not that far. I went for 7-10 years as that's an age in technology terms! 10 years ago we'd just gone 3D and were playing untextured polygon games like Ridge Racer and Geoff Crammonds F1 GP. From a car in a racer having about 10 polygons, they now have over 100,000! From having a meg or 2 of memory we now have a gigabite as standard! Video cards have seen similar huge advancements and the results are there to see. Comparing Ridge Racer (which wowed us back in 1995) to PGR3 (which is wowing us now) the difference is massive. If computers advance again by a similar performance increase then we will be seeing some really amazing stuff in 10 years time. There will be some things (such as creating the illusion of life in a CGI face) which will be very hard to crack but i'd definately say that objects and environments will be photorealistic in 10 years time. Whether you will be able to tell a real person apart from a CGI person by then is more debatable.
i agree.

look at streets of rage and tekken 5 for instance

or maybe look at outrun original and look at gran turismo or the new outrun lol
Remember when shenmo (sp?) on the dreamcast and everyone said it looked real, then the ps2 came out and every year the games looked more real, but when you looked back at the previous games you think that looks pants.

Remember the first max payne and then the second, the goal post is always moving. I think you can make a city scape or even fully populated savana/jungle that would fool pretty much anyone with todays best hardware in real time, but when it comes to people its very very hard to fool, we know the subject to well and getting lighting effects to work properly with skin seems to be an imposibility for current technology. For example look at golum from LOTR, alot of people may say thats it they have cracked it, its as real as reality, altohugh I would say no, it is CGI. Maybe I belive its CGI because I know it is, in advance or maybe I know its CGI because i notice sutble details in the real world that no one has been able to implement yet.

For these reasons i think were a long way off the running man, you could fool me with pretty much any inanimate object and even animals (especialy furry ones) although probably only at a distance, as CGI has the problem of looking to perfect when you get down to the details. When it comes to anything with skin or relaistic human movement they are still way off.

offtopic, but the CGI on the first matrix film was believeable, it may not stand up in HD but it certainly still looks pretty perfect on a tv or less than HD pj, god knows what they did with the last two (but that probably refers to the entire films not just the effects)
I also think it's some way off. I picked 7-10 years but believe it's towards the latter than the earlier of that range.
Some of you said "Never" but havent given an explanation.

Care to comment on why you think we will never achieve photo realism?

I certainly think it will come true in movies soon enough, and eventually in games too

It wouldnt suprise me if the technology existed but simply wasnt viable as something to release to the public.

Its always about the money, so once the tech becomes cheap enough to start allowing us to buy it, thats when they will start to implement it.

I think "never" is unrealistic!
My best guess going of cpu / gpu scaling + articles on the subject my best guess is before 2020.

.... but it does depend on what you count as photo realism ... because a photo is as stated a fixed image, and can be expanded or blow up and still maintain a large amount of clarity.
I assume we are talking about as mentioned, moving around a landscape that looks 'real'
real in the sense that it could be you controlling someone else pointing a video camera at a scene.
It only has to be enough to fool you - nothing more.
Probably in the next 5 years or so we will be very close .... next 15 years to get it down to pat.
gazbarber said:
For example look at golum from LOTR, alot of people may say thats it they have cracked it, its as real as reality, altohugh I would say no, it is CGI. Maybe I belive its CGI because I know it is, in advance or maybe I know its CGI because i notice sutble details in the real world that no one has been able to implement yet.

I don't even think it's down to subtle stuff. personally I feel that very little of the Gollum CGI looked like the lighting for it matched the lighting of the live action footage.

In general though I still don't CGI cuts it as the centre of attention for living creatures 99% of the time at the moment. I think it's great for stuff like space craft or vehicles and for background stuff, but complex organic things just don't hold up.
If its not the sublte stuff what would you think is keeping CGI from being realistic?

I think never is not really a valid answer, as in time things may be modeled down to the almost atomic level and using real physics, the model (i.e. the virtual world created) would be virtualy identical to our own only in a computer, this would require super memory and processor power to do in realtime, although i'm sure some bright spark would come up with a cheat or two to bring the order of the calculations right down.
I voted 15+ years we are getting there, textureing has now moved to three fold (1xcolour, 1xdetail, 1xmap), volumetric effects are now the norm for a while especially lighting but are still relativley low-resolution because of hardware constraints. We've had inverse-kinetic full 3d models and that won't change for a while, the next step would be full skeletel & muscle modeling which when first implemented would be similar in the way we do volumetric lighting as opposed to the one day acheiveable full lighting. Then onto the current buzz word of physics in which we are still using hit/collision boxes as opposed to calculating proper surface collision.... blah blah I could go on forever, but one thing is certain, people will still play solitaire
Hang on...didn't we get to photo realism with the Spectrum ZX.....that paperboy looked mighty real to me lol
Maybe I'm missing the point of the OP here but (IMHO) whate needs to develop considerably in order for us to have a believable environment is animation - in particular human animation. Yes graphics have a long way to go before they are photo-realistic - but I think the fact the the humans in HL2 walk around like they have a big stick shoved up their backsides is alot more 'environment crushing' than the graphics.

With regard to graphics I voted for 4-6 years - games will continue to add the little bits of detail that make the environment believeable, i.e. detailed computer monitors, PCs that break open and reveal motherboards/graphics cards/PSU etc when you shoot them ( ;) ) and so forth.
gazbarber said:
If its not the sublte stuff what would you think is keeping CGI from being realistic?

It's like I said - stuff like with Gollum in the LOTR movies does not, to my eyes, look like he's in the same light as the other characters which immediately disrupts suspension of disbelief - not for one second do you have that moment of doubt of "is that CGI or someone in make-up"

Things like that are what trips up CGI characters (especially foreground characters) vehicles, vegetation etc. Background characters, vehciles, vegetation, buildings etc tend to fare better simply becuase they're not the main point of focus, so unless you were deliverately looking at background stuff you'd probably be pushed to notice.
cerebros said:
It's like I said - stuff like with Gollum in the LOTR movies does not, to my eyes, look like he's in the same light as the other characters which immediately disrupts suspension of disbelief - not for one second do you have that moment of doubt of "is that CGI or someone in make-up"

It seems we agree on this point, relasitic skin with correct reflections and relaistic motion/animation are what is lacking in my mind, we will be getting closer, but it'll take a while before everyone can be convinced/tricked.
The problem is we only seem to think how realistic something is when the creation is artificial ie Gollum. Yes I was bowled over at how good Gollum was produced, but then we have no other gollum creature on this planet to compare it to in real life. Thats why Gollum works so well as does all the CGI characters in Lord of the Rings - its all fictional. We have nothing to relate too.

Its only when you try to reproduce humans and animals, that is elements we see daily, that CGI as it stands now, falls apart.
I remember discussing an article with a colleague some time ago about the diminishing returns and counter-effects of increased photo-realism in video games. Although I couldn't find the original article, this one on MSN (http://slate.msn.com/id/2102086/) covers the point. Basically, it says that if something is clearly not human, i.e. a robot or character in a game, our brain is happy to forgive the false aspects and accept it. However once these created entities are 99% realistic it's the 1% that's wrong we mentally focus on and are apparently even repelled by it! Further reading elsewhere turned up at the time that one thing we humans have evolved particularly well is facial recognition and it takes a lot to put a CG face past a pair of human eyes and it to pass.

Photo-realistic racing games and flight sims, fair enough, but perhaps our first person shooters and third person action adventures should be focusing more on environmental realism than simply visual realism. I'll just be happy when I see a character run in a game without them appearing to just glide over the floor, or watch someone turn on the spot without moving their hips and feet instead of just rotating the whole model, or climb a set of stairs without hovering above the step model etc etc... It's not graphical fidelity that's important in my opinion - I reckon that we won't mind lesser quality graphics if games start to mimic the "feel" of reality if not the look of it.


I'd say we'll be able to do Gollum in real time on a PC in 8 to 10 years, and another 5 to 10 years beyond that we'll see something that could legitimately be described as "photorealistic".

I'm inclined to agree with previous posters that problems with animation are actually more significant than problems with rendering.

In one respect, though, games have an advantage over movies: in the game, everything is CGI. You therefore completely circumvent the problem of lighting on a CGI image not matching the live-action background - here, there isn't any live-action background, so the lighting will be entirely consistent.

My biggest problem with Gollum is actually not the lighting but the lack of mass. There are some scenes where they actually had Andy Serkis in the scene when it was filmed, digitally painted him out, and put Gollum in instead; that sometimes works very well indeed, for example in the scene where Gollum pulls Frodo out of the pool in the Dead Marshes - there's real substance to Gollum there. But in other scenes there's no physical interaction between Gollum and his environment: objects that he grabs hold of remain absolutely motionless, and his feet don't disturb a single leaf or twig on the ground.

Personally I think there's one thing that would add enormously to immersiveness in games, and that's a return to Virtual Reality technology. I don't care very much about stereoscopic 3D, and most post-VR technologies (e.g. shutter glasses) have (wrongly) focused on that aspect of it. The thing that would hugely add to immersion is to have a system with head-tracking, where both the graphics and the sound are updated dynamically according to the player's head movements.

It was this that never worked properly with the original VR systems (because of low frame-rate and lag - this was what led to motion sickness) but it's this that makes the difference between viewing an obviously flat image on a monitor and actually looking out of a window. No matter how realistic a scene is (even if it's stereoscopic), as soon as you move your head even the tiniest bit, there's no parallax, and that completely destroys the 3D illusion.
My benchmark would be final fantasy the spirits within. I saw that at the cinema and occasionally I would actually forget it was CGI.

Not fully photo real but definatley on the way.

When can you do that in real time from your pc/console. Maybe PS4 or 5.

So 6-10 years perhaps?

Again this is not 'real' but significantly beleivable for "willing suspension of disbelief".
Photo-realism in games doesn't mean much if it is still just on a flat screen. Holo-games with photo-realism, or a holo-deck with photo realism is what will cause totally immersion in games.

PS4, Xbox720 I feel is when we will see real photo-realism. About 2010 or there abouts.
final fantasy looks like a cartoon.

just compare final fantasy to metal gear solid lol
I think it will be very difficult to actually achieve the realism, that is being mentioned. Even if you look at other art forms, complete realism still has its limitations to the perception of the real world animate or inanimate (if that makes sense!).

Also as mentioned in the posts even if our technology did apply the photo simulations as we percieve as realistic. All the other factors gameplay etc would have to follow suit. Other wise it just turns out to be another great looking game but thats about it as are a predominent number of games today!!
hopefully never, it will ruin games.

the first movie on animatrix is extremely realistic looking the one with the girl fighting and getting her clothes slashed off

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