We are now a couple of years into the current generation of gaming consoles, and there are two things I’d like to see from them that we currently aren’t quite seeing…yet.
Star Wars: Battlefront released this week, and while the game itself is around the 75 mark on metacritic (at the time of this writing), many are touting it as the finest looking game of the current generation. I don’t think I could argue that point. From the videos I’ve seen, the game is aesthetically impressive.
When the current gen systems were announced, I wondered how games would evolve. Would we get more than particle effects? Would we get crazy moments with hundreds of onscreen baddies to fight? How would all this new tech bowl us over?
And while I can’t argue that games in general look crisper and cleaner on these current gen systems, I’m still waiting to see great leaps forward in two areas: hair physics and cloth physics.
I know, I know, this is the super nitpicky stuff, but it’s something I was thinking about, therefore now I’m putting it in front of your face for you to think about too.
I can not even begin to imagine how difficult it must be to program games. There are so many times I marvel at a game I’m playing when I stop to think it was all created by people. Said game didn’t just magically spring into existence. Delightful mortals used their combined skills to create it. It’s fascinating.
That being said, I can then only imagine how difficult it must be to program certain physics into games. We often see clipping and weird geometry issues, but what gets me most are when clothes will just freak out, or hair will be stock still while there is a tornado or something. It’s a minor thing, but it can ruin the sense of immersion.
I’ve had this on my mind as I play through Rise of the Tomb Raider. Lara looks great, and her facial animations have never looked better, but her hair. It’s like it can’t stop moving, no matter the occasion. I believe I’ve seen real people with real hair, and there are definitely times when their hair isn’t constantly in motion. However, Lara still has some of the best hair physics I’ve seen in a game to date. She also has perpetual motion hair, so I don’t know if that’s a step forward or a lateral one.
I’d love to see how hair physics are programmed so I have a better understanding of how things have to work together to achieve the desired effect. I do have a lot of respect for people who develop that technology. It’s remarkable and mysterious (to me).
The other thing is fabric physics. This one is more present in most games (e.g.: Destiny, Assassins Creed), and I wonder how further realism will be achieved. Above is an image of a cloak I have in Destiny. I love it, as it is shiny and puppy-themed, and the bottom is a fetching V shape.
Once when I was running around the tower, I noticed (when my agility was maxed, which causes these vapor trails to…well…trail you) the bottom showed that it was flat across, when in reality, it has the V shape. It was very odd. If you sit down on the ground while wearing a long cape, it often completely freaks out and starts clipping through the environment in a spazzy way. I was in a couple of raids when someone else on the fireteam would run past me, and their cape would glitch out all across my screen and look like they were in Xanadu or something.
Fabric physics must be difficult.
I would love to see where the technology goes in the next couple of years in these two areas. I think facial animations have come so far already (Until Dawn springs to mind), and I can’t wait to see where new and future tech takes us.
What areas of current gen technology would you like to see improved? What are you hoping to see?