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I have watch several gameplays from upcoming titles for ps4 and xbox one and I must admit that they are breath taking.

Of course with new hardware, models will have more polygons and higher texture resolution but that is obvious tip of iceberg. So my question is :Are there any complete new techniques, algorithms, shaders broadly used in next gen, already known on paper but not used in current gen because of limitation of hardware or this is all same but more complex,less generic or made for in-house use(unknown for public) to provide better visual result for specified engine.

From my observation:

  • Realistic particles,fluids (papers?)
  • Geometry shaders (examples?)

What I expected to see but was not shown:

  • Fracturing
  • Generic destruction of buildings and cars!

Is this still to compute heavy for large scale scenes?

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Fractures and destructible objects must be abounding. Techniques for fluids are mostly implemented even by current gen engine creators. Animation is already using physics to blend different artistically designed gaits/movements. All of these simply require more computing power to fit within a respectable 30fps bound. Geometry shaders are not necessarily used for tesselation and might not offer the edge. Perhaps you should have mentioned illumination as a key part of your question series. That really makes a huge difference. –  teodron Jun 12 '13 at 9:56
    
Some people might find this question to broad or subjective. But in my personal opinion those questions are important and fit this side besides technical and programming related questions. –  danijar Jun 12 '13 at 10:38
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When watching such videos, always keep in mind that you are seeing a press demo, not actual in-game footage. You can expect a lot of cheating, from small fibs like replaying precalculating physics and giving the appearance that they are procedurally generated in real-time to outright video manipulation. Before you judge the look of a game, wait until you've seen footage recorded by actual players. –  Philipp Jun 12 '13 at 13:15
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closed as not a real question by Nicol Bolas, Maik Semder, Sean Middleditch, Byte56, Trevor Powell Jun 13 '13 at 0:39

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3 Answers

Are there any complete new techniques, algorithms, shaders broadly used in next gen, already known on paper but not used in current gen because of limitation of hardware or this is all same but more complex,less generic or made for in-house use(unknown for public) to provide better visual result for specified engine.

Mostly all about lighting models which required more capable shader engines and more GPU memory/bandwidth.

There are various other useful techniques like computer shader, tessellation, etc., but most of the "realistic wow" is all about lighting.

Improved texture fidelity also helps a lot. The 256/512M available on older console hardware was nowhere near enough compared to the PC.

What I expected to see but was not shown:

Fracturing Generic destruction of buildings and cars! Is this still to compute heavy for large scale scenes?

Yes. These require complicated physics models and data-definitions. Some last-gen games like Force Unleashed did some "real" deformable physics but only in limited/specific circumstances, e.g. the doors you could "force bend" open.

Modeling the destruction of a building even semi-realistically using just physics for example would require physically modeling the structure and interior of the building as well as its outside "veneer." We're talking a huge increase in content creation time and cost. Destruction can be faked a bit more easily by creating pre-broken versions of assets and then using physics to just move about the pieces, but this both looks wrong for most non-simple objects (it's done for rocks and trees and the like in many games, but not buildings or cars or complex objects) and is still a huge time/money sink compared to just not having destructible terrain.

Games are all smoke and mirrors. The world simulation you see is faked to every extent possible. There's a limit to how "realistic" games are going to get any time soon.

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Yep, I think HDR and physically-based shading are a lot more widespread and better this generation. It's not that those couldn't be done last generation, but that the approximations and hacky tricks are being upgraded to better approximations and less hacky tricks now. :) Plus, we can afford to have more textures, e.g. both specular intensity and gloss maps instead of just one of the two, plus more complex layered materials, etc. –  Nathan Reed Jun 12 '13 at 18:18
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From what I've seen so far, I'd add:

  • Cloth simulation
  • Sub-surface scattering
  • Volumetric lighting and particles
  • Procedural character animation alá Euphoria ?
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The actual question in the post is about whether the listed techniques (or other new ones) are too expensive; this does not address that because these techniques do exist in implementation already. –  Josh Petrie Jun 12 '13 at 15:19
    
@JoshPetrie The question title implies another question, than he actually asked in the text. Therefore this answer isn't that wrong. –  danijar Jun 12 '13 at 17:16
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Well there are multiple techniques that increase realism:

  • Better Lighting (dynamic and pre rendered in light maps etc.)
  • More polygons usually through tessellation
  • Modern Post-process effects (take a look here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=seWKj2c9-qk)
  • Detail - more polygons - high res. textures etc
  • Animations

These are the most effective effects IMHO.

Next-Gen games try everything in order to gain better performance, so instead of calculating lighting per pixel they make lighting effects in post processes like YEBIS 2. pre-rendering is another way to gain performance

P.S: Don't forget that most trailers said at the beginning "in-engine footage" and that's clearly not the same as "in-game footage".

EDIT:

Generic destruction of buildings and cars!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqQiZUvLTAk

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The biggest difference between "in-game footage" and "in-engine footage" is that the latter is allowed to use completely predefined animated movements, with no waiting for player input, or possibility of physics glitches. In Killzone 2, The Playable Game, there was no button to lock your body's rotation so that your character's head alone could lazily gaze up at the vista around you in a semi-realistic motion - or a button to motion soldiers forward, then transition to reloading your weapon. –  Katana314 Jun 12 '13 at 14:11
    
The actual question in the post is about whether the listed techniques (or other new ones) are too expensive; this does not address that because these techniques do exist in implementation already. –  Josh Petrie Jun 12 '13 at 15:19
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