Destiny (of Video Games)

I've been telling my Mom about this new game called "Destiny" and how it's like a shooter and an open world combined, kinda like Borderlands combined with Call of Duty. She doesn't know what i'm talking about but apparently she was at least listening a little. She said: 

"I saw a commercial for that game you were talking about - wow the graphics on it were really amazing it was like it was real."

As she was talking I was thinking - well the graphics are pretty good but nothing that is new or different or that she hasn't seen in other games I've played - it was about half way through her description that I realized she was talking about the "Live Action" Trailer! haha. I was like - no, that is not the actual video game that is just a commercial they make to advertise it. It's real people dressed up like the people in the video game, it looks so real because it is real - and then enhanced even more!

Which is an honest mistake - it is a little misleading to make an advertisement for a video game and not show the actual game play. 

If you don't play video games you might not realize that there are, usually, about three different aspects to a game.

Menu or graphics. These are the icon for the game, the cover of the box it comes in, the posters to advertise it, the animations that show up when the game is loading and basically how the game looks before you actually start to play it.

This is an example of the StarCraft 2: Log in screen. The other menu's look similar and they let you choose which type or version of game you would like to play.

The next aspect of video games are their Transitional CGI or cut scenes.

These typically are nothing like how the game is actually played. They usually introduce the game to establish the story and are sprinkled in the game to help progress it and are shown when you advanced to specific points. They are also usually some of the most advanced CGI effects created for the game.

Those are examples of cut screens from StarCraft2.

Game Play:
When you are actually PLAYING the game things can look quite different. Below is how the actual game play for StarCraft 2 looks: You can see how different they are. The actual game is played as viewed from above as you build and control multiple units. So when they advertise a commercial for the game with the cgi - animations some people may think that that is actually how the game is played. It's not - they are just there for effect and you have no control over them. They are like mini-movies that sometimes play.

There is another type and it's a combination of cut-scene and actual game play. I'm not sure what it's technically called but it's when the computer itself takes control of the actual game playing elements - and controls where the camera is - but isn't a separate movie but uses the actual playable game graphics.

Above is the trailer for the Upcoming World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor expansion pack. You'll note that it's only showing the "Cinematic" movie elements to the game and not the actual game play. The game-play for WOW (World of Warcraft) mostly consists of running around with your chosen character. After you complete certain quests or go to certain places a cgi movie will play ( like in the trailer above). In other places the computer takes control and uses your character and changes the camera angle -which is usually in the same place and under the users control.


What's interesting about that stuff is that those once very distinctive and separate aspects to gaming - are beginning to blur. War Craft actually started off much like StarCraft 2 where the game was to build and control many units from above rather than a single character. It has evolved so far over the years so that the actual game play of Wow is starting to look like the cinematic quality of the older games.

The Minotaur/ bull Hero used to look like the little guy in the image below highlighted in blue called "Mogul Kahn" Then with WOW it was upgraded, along with the graphics to the character in the above gif to the left. Then WOW itself evolved along with graphics cards to look something more like the same character to the right. While they may not look much different at first glance - they are. The expressions on the face are actually made by individual muscles in the face, the hair moves more realistically and if you were to zoom in on them while in game - the detail would be much higher.

The easiest way to think about it is to imagine how Mario has evolved. Starting out being made out of about a dozen colored blocks to increasing in detail more and more with each subsequent generation. Then making bigger leaps with each new console and eventually turning and being rendered in"3D" and so on. 

Now imagine what's next for Mr. Mario? 

Maybe Mario isn't the best example because he is suppose to be highly stylized and cartoonish. There is only so far you can advance with that type of game and character design. For him to look too real - would defy the point.

How about Tomb Raider? 
With each iteration of Laura Croft she has become more and more life-like. Both in the level of detail of her actual rendered character - and how she moves and the actual physics that she interacts with. How her hair falls, how well her lips sync with her speech - and even how her boobs bounce.

The latest version of Laura Craft uses a real-life actress as a basis for her voice, her expressions, and movements. They put sensors on her and have her act out movements and a scene - and then transform those into the playable character.

A few years ago. 

 Modern Graphics

So getting back to the Destiny trailer I started with - that my Mom confused with the actual game play - which isn't even the actual cgi cut scenes in the game. In the next generations of games the graphical sophistication will not only approach visual reality but surpass it.

If we are able to create graphics that are indistinguishable from reality - how do we know what reality really is? If we can make a computer game that is so realistic that we believe, like a dream, that it is real - how do we know when we are playing?

How do we know - we aren't playing right now?

Future Graphics

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