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Another Glimpse at the Future of Video Game Graphics

First there was Square's new next-gen engine. Then Epic's Unreal Engine 4. Now we're getting another look at what the graphics of tomorrow may/will look like, thanks to the latest benchmark trailer from the folks at 3DMark.

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Used to, well, benchmark a system, 3DMark's clips are always big on effects and fancy visuals, so as to best tax the biggest and most powerful systems out there. This one, their latest, is designed to showcase " the world's first unified graphics benchmark allowing testing of DirectX 9, DirectX 10 and DirectX 11 capable hardware through the DirectX 11 API".

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It should look amazing. But it doesn't. It's hideous. So hideous it's almost counter-productive. Square's trailer showed that good art direction is as important in this trailers as the actual tech on display, but this clip looks like it was designed by a high school kid who though combining Journey and The Matrix would look totally rad.

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DISCUSSION

Thing is Square's trailer wasn't a tech demo, and it sure wasn't a benchmark test...it was a real-time cutscene. Stop making it sound like we should be comparing them.

Yeah, art direction is important, and the idea is that tech (graphics) is there to serve aesthetic...the Extra Credit guys did a whole video on it, and was great.

Tech demos though are not there to showcase art direction, they are there to primarily showcase the raw effects this new tech can produce. Art direction is just different implementations and combinations of those effects. The goal of the tech demo is to highlight the improvements of the tech specifically, by showing new fluid mechanics, lighting, physics, AI, etc. A benchmark is a test to run a variety of costly effects in one location, to stress test and gauge what your system can do.

The Samaritan and Agni's Philosophy videos weren't tech demos, the footage after where the developers showcased the different additions the tech like volumetric lighting, tessellation, new post-processing effects, SSS, etc. The Samaritan style videos were a further application of the tech to create a story, and show what a focused art direction could provide...but they're not demos to explain new tech features. However, actual games are the best examples of what the tech can do, as they include player interaction into the mix that does cost more resources to run than a cutscene.

This benchmark doesn't really showcase cloth simulation well though, for a character that seems to be designed for it.