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Gaming Technology - What Next??
Gaming technology seems to have progressed quite a lot recently, certainly this year has witnessed some impressive game engines being released. I think both graphics and physics are getting to a stage where they are generally very convincing (although there's a long way still to go).

So where do people think the next progressions are to be had?? Will technological progression stay in the same traditional area of improving graphics, or will developers start to focus on other areas given that good looking game engines are pretty much standard now??

And, for that matter, where do you think gaming technology SHOULD progress to next??
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AI And Mirrors 
I got to think about AI due to this scenario in Hitman 3:

Notice I am hiding in the bathroom stall, and there are guards ahead of me. They didn't know I was in the stall, yet you can see that they can see me. The problem is, the AI wasn't written to see the player or other people reflected in mirrors.

This should be done in Hitman 4 (among other games), it would make things that much more interesting/challenging. 
Good point there phait! 
New Engines Etc 
While it will pretty much always be graphics that are the most noticeable improvement in each new batch of game engines, there is work going into other areas to make things more realistic, currently its physics and animation (hl2, etc) but we need more.

1) A.I ffs! Go stalker show them how it is! Phaits example is a classic one, A.I compared to where everything else is these days is just fucking shit! Its one area where HL2 fell down I think, the A.I just felt the same as in HL1 with maybe a few tweaks to understand the physics objects. It could have been so much better. What if combine actually threw grenades to try and dislodge piles of stuff to fall on you (unscripted) and actually pick up and throw objects at you, block passageways with debris etc. But no they stand there and shoot while YOU do all that. A.I really needs to understand the purpose of everything in the game world and be able to take advantage of that in a clever way. Its the next logical step (mirrors included!).

2) Animation, its gotten much better in last year or so, ragdolls and inverse IK make the character movements much more realistic, but its the basic character movements and actions that still need work. They still move very "digitally" if u know what I mean, always moving in straight lines, if u move into something they will just kind of "strafe" out of your way. What if u could actually barge past someone, what if when someone is hiding behind objects they actually take up a posture that fits the object they are hiding behind. This is actually a culmination of animation and physics I geuss. Also, while ragdoll deaths can be quite realistic most of the time, they just have no personality. I do miss the days of animated deaths, where people would spasm on the ground, or die holding their necks etc. This needs to be brought back and conjunction with ragdoll. so say, an animation is played in the arms of something flailing around while the rest of the body is ragdoll if u see what I mean.

3) Freeform worlds. Engines can do it now, developers should fucking use it. "on rails" shooters should start fading away and freeform worlds will be getting bigger. See Operation Flashpoint, Stalker, etc. 
Nice One Daz. 
3 good points there. 
IK As A Technique 
makes it easier for the animator to organize the bones of his model and move them about as such, but it doesn't necessarily mean that what the player will see in game is any better.

Realistic axial restraints coupled with a more accurate physics simulation of actions/reactions at a per pixel level of accuracy (instead of the good old bounding box) is what we are seeing as applied in HL2, Doom3, etc.. 
Except It Can Mean Exactly That 
In Doom 3 for example, an IK solver is used to ensure that a characters feet don't float above the ground, but conform to the terrain. This isn't perfect, but it is an example of procedural technology addressing the fake appearance of game animations. 
I dont see #2 happening any time soon -
thats really tricky to make model movement that acts according to both the pre-made animations and world geometry.
Now it feels like prefect moment to mention handless Gordon Freeman that drives the vehicles and moves barrels by the mean of TheForce (� LucasArts)

I like how you say 'see stalker', when its not out yet.

"On-rails" shooters have its appeal too. Not everyone wants to play big open-world game. And making such game good quality is a lot of work not every dev can afford. 
Yeah, I Left That Part Out 
so as not to muddy the point.

IK is typically used in modeler to rig a model that is, again, typically not dependent upon a particular engine to function (so you can use the same model in Quake, Q3A, Unreal Tournement with minimal changes). In engines with built in skelatal animations, this is less true. 
I Was Referring To 
what Blackdog said, about the characters legs etc conforming to terrain for a more realistic pose. You can see this in Farcry but im not sure if other games use it... Actually I think the spider bots in Doom 3 use it, bleh u know, sorry for confusion :) 
Ah, It's My Fault 
for splitting hairs that did not need to be split. 600 years in a Franciscan order arguing about how many angels can dance on a pin can do that to a man. 
had feet adjusting to terrain in some occasions...

...i recall a point when some debris was flung at alex and she lifted her leg to prop her foot ontop of it while she fired her pistol back. It was a nice detail that helped the believability. 
Isn't That IK? 
it's a basic thing that has been in a few games for a long time. Hell, even Zelda: Ocarina of time uses it on the N64 (unless it's just the GC port that has it). Links feet always touch the floor.

I don't understand why more modern games don't have it.

It would be nice if characters looked more natural walking up stairs in more games though. 
It can also be used for doing little shuffle steps and moving a character accurately, which is a pain to do with normal animations.

Daz, I've read that Max Payne did some stuff with combining animation and ragdolls - the example was someone hit with an explosion would play a windmilling animation on their arms while the rest of them was ragdolled. Also, Havok is pushing this kind of stuff as a big feature now, so it's likely more games will have it. 
I was having this discussion with Lunaran in #tf until he accused me of being a pessimist and told me to get a job :(

Anyway, my thoughts were that I don't think that games are going to be graphically innovative for a while now, so the important thing is to use the technology we have in the most resourceful manner possible.

For example, games should use the current engines in entirely new ways (like Anachronox did with Q2's engine) instead of just cosmetic facelifts (like Quake 4 is doing with Doom 3's engine)

FPS especially will get stale very quickly if we just have games built on D3 and UT2Kwhatever without any sort of new gameplay or creative ways of using the engines/technologies offered.

Also, the trend of making things more realistic has been going on for the past 10 years, and Phait made a good point -- that no matter how realistic games get graphically, we'll always have little things like he mentioned that sort of ruin the sense of immersion in a realistic world. I think this trend is hitting a wall as games get to the point of being almost photo-realistic, and I think because of that, there will be a surge towards surrealism and more artistic uses instead of just a straight recreation.

To give you an example of being resourceful with the current engines, I want to bring up HL2. HL2's physics system is quite good (though not perfect). It was used minimally in terms of gameplay in HL2, but I think a mod team, or even someone else licensing the Havok engine could really come up with some interesting uses for it. Perhaps we could even have entire games based around solving physics puzzles -- coop games online where you need to work as a team to anchor things down or launch things using planks and see-saws or whatever.

Pope said he liked my metaphor when I was talking about this in #tf, so I'll give it again here.

The current state of games is analogous to the way Native Americans and European settlers of America used the buffalo, and nature in general:

Mod teams and developers who create an entirely new game from existing engines are like the Native Americans.

The Natives would kill the bufallo, eat the edible parts, make coats from the fur, tools from the bones, slippers from the testicles, (ok I'm getting silly but you get the idea) and just generally used the world around them as resourcefully as possible.

The big companies who are just looking to pump new content out ASAP, and uninspired mod teams who think a few new textures will suffice are like the Europeans.

The European settlers just killed the bufallo and ate it, and probably sold the fur to buy whiskey.

So even if graphic technology slows down for a while, we still have some really complex engines and current technologies to use. The problem is we need more people to be like the Native Americans, and less to be like the Europeans. 
I think it worth mentioning that the main problem with the European settlers is that generally they didn't eat the buffalo they killed: the animals were skinned, the pelts shipped east and the carcasses left to rot.

Not that I'm arguing with your point. 
OK Cheers Mike 
(PS if you ever derail a thread like that again I will hunt you down and skin you
Stop being such a pessimist.

Also, get a job you hippy. 
Iv read some woes that we even need to stop the hardware race for a while and fully use what gfx technology we have now.
But that wont happen, and consoles will take over 
Oh, and HL2 is great example.
Basically, quake engine with added features to make it cool and modern and nice looking.

Some call it 'hacks', but who cares -
game looks good, and runs smooth on pos machines. 
Interesting post, well up to the buffalo bit whcih lost me really.

But I also agree with speedy, HL2 is a good example of evolving tech that gets used well. 
Good post, I agree with you. 
Good post, I agree with you. 
Worst post evar, someone close this thread. 
Good post, I agree with you.


So, uhhh and stuff :} Well, I've been playing a lot of 3rd person action games on the Xbox over the last few weeks, and it's really struck me just how much more cinematic these games try to be, in terms of the number of scripted sequences/cinematics etc, compared to the FPS stuff I've been brought up on. I guess that makes sense, as it seems more logical that an "interactive movie" would adopt a 3rd person perspective. So, yeah...actually I don't really have a point here and I guess this isn't really a comment on gaming tech, so I'll shut up now :} 
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