Real-time graphics and AI in games not getting better? Gameplay is getting boring?


Hands up if you want to see the Star Trek holodeck in your lifetime?

I noticed a worrying trend that we are accepting the lack of improvement in the technology for real-time graphics in games? I’ve also played many game campaigns, where the AI is just plain dumb.

The recent announcement by NVIDIA at CES of their hand-held gaming device and mobile GPUs which use graphics that my PC could do 8 years ago, doesn’t excite me? Consoles and mobiles are holding back graphics development, do you agree? Dx 11.1 and above will only work on Windows 8? Doh! Surely that will hamper PC graphics?

There is hope on the horizon in the Oculus Rift. But games on it, like Doom 3, are recycling old graphics technology? I was curious to learn if there are technological issues with real-time ray tracing on GPUs, so I wrote a real-time ray trace 3D engine. I’ve uploaded a video to YouTube here. Yes, it is possible and if graphic card manufacturers just incorporated a little silicon for a few ray trace features, they’d be a revolution.

I think the games market and its graphics technology is overly market/money driven and there are not enough cooler smaller projects that want to do cool stuff. Just how many sequels can we take?

I think game companies need a rethink on developing better AI and better graphics to take advantage of upcoming immersive VR platforms in goggles and helmets products. Or we are just going to accept a lot more FPSs in surround vision/sound and not much else. I like FPSs but not all the time!

So are you happy with the slowing down of real-time PC graphics technology development? Are we too accepting of game sequels? Are game companies and publishers too big and too lazy, and not doing enough new innovative games? What do you think?

Just someone who wants to see the Star Trek holodeck for real one day,


I think that Nvidia/ATI’s default business model keeps them from innovating with new features like real-time hardware raytracing.

They make a fortune in the market just from making new raster graphics chipsets that are 5 - 10% faster than the last one.

There is no real financial incentive for them to jump to a new, untested paradigm like real-time raytraced games.

I like your raytrace engine demo. The objects/materials could be more interesting, and the scene bigger and more complicated.

But it shows nicely that realtime raytracing is feasible.

Have you tried approaching Intel/AMD/Nvidia with your raytrace engine?

If it performs well - the video suggests that it does - maybe they might show some interest in hardware-accelerating it?

What I would do if I were you would be to create some realtime raytracing demos that are more interesting and complex, visually, than the one you put up online.

Myself and probably other people will want to see something like a small game level rendered with your tech, before we go “wow, this would be great for games”.

It doesn’t have to be brilliantly lit or textured. It just needs to show that your engine can handle more detail than a few objects sitting on a table.

You could also approach game-engine makers like CryEngine, Unreal Engine, Unity and so on, to see if they might be interested in incorporating some realtime raytracing tech into their engines.

I assume that raster graphics and raytracing can be mixed in a hybrid engine?

I.e. you only raytrace stuff that really needs it - reflections, refractions and so on…

Keep working on your engine and demos.

Even if Nvidia/ATI and so on ignore it, your engine will probably find a place in another alternative use.

Could be realtime architectural visualisation. Or simulators used to train doctors or pilots.

My advice: Keep doing what you are doing. Eventually, some company somewhere will agree to license and use it.

Good luck with your work!


I think you are bringing up too many issues, many of which are not connected. I am total agreement on AI, though. I have seen better AI in old 2D Castle Wolfenstein games. I just don’t think there is enough incentive, and possibly not enough time, programming wise, to do great AI in games. No one is likely to see it since they will just be blowing the AI character away so quickly anyway.

As for graphics, I can’t imagine how anyone could look at last year’s E3 demos, with titles like Last of Us and (now I am forgetting all their names) that one where you can control cellphone transmissions and do surveillance, or the stuff from Re6 or the future Final Fantasy and think graphics aren’t improving in leaps and bounds. True, if you look at the jump in the last ten years, it pales compared to the jump the ten years before it, but that is to be expected. There must be diminishing returns as the graphics get better.

What else is there left to do? Motion blur, DOF, even faked GI all appear in some game somewhere. Looking at CryEngine demos I think the only thing left to achieve would be pushing hundreds of millions of polygon ZBrush monsters around in real time.

As for games getting boring and sequels, that is another issue entirely. I think we know well why that happens. The same reason it is easier to make a Transformers 3 than an Inception. When you spend that much money, and games are spending like films these days, you can take any risk. You need a proven property, a proven game engine and a built in audience. You just have to have it.


Honestly, I think you’re imagining this lack of improvement. Compare games from five years ago to games today, and tell me they haven’t improved at all.


Graphically the games are awesome, physics-ly the games are awesome (NHL, NFL, all shooter) the physics are much improved as far as object interaction, sound- OMG the sounds are FAR improved beyond yesteryear, and story wise, well IMO story/REAL CONTENT is where the ball has been DROPPED! Real content is what I mean regarding not buying a new map or new clothing, accessories etc but additions that improve upon the game drastically- NEW story.

The storyline has mostly been sequels, prequels and relaunches which is getting old.

Also there are too many games like other games- thus OVER SATURATION which IMO is why ppl get bored even with such beautifully created games.

Few games standout completely.


i just saw this microsoft video of something called IllumniRoom which isn’t anywhere close to the holodeck but more like an extension of your tv.

According to Microsoft’s research arm, the IllumniRoom “uses the appearance and the geometry of the room (captured by Kinect) to adapt the projected visuals in real-time without any need to custom pre-process the graphics.” Researchers also promise that along with casting light around the TV, the IllumniRoom will eventually be able to “induce apparent motion” in the screen’s surroundings.


This is in the heart of the problem. None of the fancy graphics and great AI will ever get people immersed to the game if there is not enough grasp. Even in the mid 90’s with some apparently photorealistic games many of the more symbolic representations were more fun because of the story. People are too much ignoring our capability to imagine the missing parts.

Some times it even hurts to have too much details or too good representation and no room for person to imagine. I attribute this to many of the failures between arguments if some book is better than a movie. Given that this is highly subjective issue, and is very situational. Person who have read a book may have imagined things in a many times more realistic manner than any FX studio can ever produce.

How many of us have seen a dream that felt so real? There you go.

Now try to compete with that on graphics. Our mind is a wicked thing and a lot of its potential is not properly utilized in the movies, games and whatnot. Stupidifying playerbase is very big phenomena these days. Conveying a story in symbolic representation of artificial visual cues, namely textual format of spoken language, have been source of many very immersive mind travels. Realistic representation of computer generated worlds have also done this, but how much can be attributed to CG or story. That I leave you to wonder…

Realistic graphics is getting way too much attention than it should. Im not saying it is not nice. Im just saying that it is not the holy grail of entertainment.

What comes to AI. Among good story personally I really liked the apparent intelligence of the half-Life soldiers in the battles. Wether it was only my imagination in combination to the story that made me think they are intelligent, but anyway the end result was that I felt them being seriously trying to kill me instead of being scripts or piece of code. Never really analysed that further but something was done right there for me.


I have stopped playing single player or co-op campaigns a long time ago. I am so sick of just mowing down endless hordes of robotic enemies that do the same thing over and over. AI really needs a kick in the pants.

I need to play against humans, most dangerous prey.


Im suffering from the same problem. I can not play single player games much these days because of not having intelligent beings among me or against me. I really really love gaming but the single player aspect really has suffered in many genres. Exceptions exist though, but its far too rare.


Advancements in AI interest me infinitely more than graphics. I wouldn’t say there haven’t been improvements, in fact I’d say there’s been an immense amount of advancement in AI. Unfortunately in open world games such as Skyrim, the flaws in ai are painfully evident.

Seeing that world is stunning, but then the second npc’s do something non-nonsensical or silly I’m pulled right out of my immersion. (and they do very often.) I’m reminded of the un-armed monk I was supposed to escort to a temple, and when bandits attacked us with swords and bows and full armor he ran at them with his fists in the air yelling taunts. Yes, very hilarious to see, but pretty dumb…


If there was a thorough story of the monks mental problems and instability or just plain religious background to justify its behaviour you would have forgiven… Its just the monks nature :wink:

Or maybe not! Lets see if I can pull off an example. Maybe Baldurs Gate and Minsc? Or any other nutcase doing some things that just collide with common sense. With proper charachter development you can pull off quite many things and people will just accept it.


If their intention had been for the monk to be crazy then sure, I’d accept it. But it was clearly just the fact that every npc was programmed to turn aggressive towards things that attack them.


That’s why I like single player games like ICO and Shadow of the Colossus. The point of it is not about mowing down enemies and, in fact, enemies are few and far between. The princess AI, the girl you have to rescue in ICO, was not bad and they did a good job of making you really want to help her. In Colossus, the size difference between you and the monster, making you like a bug running around on a person pretty much, makes it so it doesn’t much matter what they do. It’s like the monter IS the level, rather than an enemy in it.

I haven’t felt the need to play an FPS since Doom II.


While I love multiplayer too, I think you may be missing a few gems. There are games out there with great storytelling, tactics and interesting AI. Dishonoured is an excellent example of this.


To me games are either about story - and you can make a parallel to movies- and entertaining or competition mechanics in the case of multiplayer and less about graphics. The rise of the Indy games brought a ton of titles that due to either cost/time effectiveness or conscious choice are only slightly better graphically than the classics from the 80’s/90’s and they sell a lot. On the AAA side, things are going the other way, trying to achieve more and more realism in characters and environments, using hollywood style budgets and actors, screenwriters and sometimes the gameplay feels like the less cared part. Fortunately there are great exceptions (like the mentioned Dishonored, i.e.). In sum, while its awesome to have that famous guy doing the voice of your character extremely well done and detailed on super HD, high end graphics, while going around an accurate replica of NY, if it doesn’t captivate the player, shooting a bird through a slingshot into pigs on falling blocks can become more entertaining.


I keep hearing great things about Dishonored, I need some time to try it.
There are exceptions for me, Like Skyrim. Even though the AI is ridiculously stupid and unrealistic, I will still play it.

An example of what I can’t stand anymore: I played a co-op mission of Battlefield 3 with a friend where we were in a attack helicopter providing air support over a village. We were in the air for 15-20 minutes free to roam and do anything we pleased, it was just like shooting fish in a barrel. They just keep coming like cattle to a slaughter.
Where on multiplayer you are a beast if you are in the air 5 minutes, and you are constantly getting hit or dodging anti air fire.


Dishonored is incredible. It’s the most original and innovative game I’ve played in years. I’ve actually finished the entire game three times, playing it completely differently each time - the level design is astonishing, providing so many ways to move through it. The artwork is stunning as well, really painterly with a great colour palette. The gameplay also changes quite a bit depending on how violent you are, which is interesting. I won’t spoil it by posting more info but it’s definitely a game you’ll want to play through at least twice. You’ll see why.

I love Skyrim too. It’s a mindless grind but for some reason I keep going back to it. I guess I like the world.

An example of what I can’t stand anymore: I played a co-op mission of Battlefield 3 with a friend where we were in a attack helicopter providing air support over a village. We were in the air for 15-20 minutes free to roam and do anything we pleased, it was just like shooting fish in a barrel. They just keep coming like cattle to a slaughter.
Where on multiplayer you are a beast if you are in the air 5 minutes, and you are constantly getting hit or dodging anti air fire.

I remember that mission. But honestly, who buys Battlefield for the campaign? It’s first and foremost a multiplayer game (the best military multiplayer shooter, in my opinion). I’ve always played the campaign just for lolz.


Well I’ve had a few dreams that felt absolutely real, usually after a late curry and beer. Wow that combination has often woken me up screaming from a bad dream!


Remember that one, but also how frustrating it was to do it on a random server pairing without people/me crashing the chopper 3009x before getting the hang of it :slight_smile:


I like a nice mix of single and multiplayer games and prefer them separate but some get it right with both, at least to a degree (halo 4, sports games kinda, and starcraft II)! I dont like buying a multiplayer game to be forced through the single player mode to get the unlocks.

Dishonored was very good, original and creative
New Tombraider had promise but they had to add multiplayer

only single and multiplayer games that have both i am looking forward to are Aliens Colonial Marines and Starcraft II expansion. (maybe i missed something)

My fav multiplayers currently are Counterstrike Global Offensive and NHL 13 on xbox.

Fav single player recently was prob dishonored.