The future of gaming tech is lighting not resolution says Quantic Dreams’ David Cage

Detroit: Become Human
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If you’ve had the pleasure (is that the right word?) of playing Detroit: Become Human, or just had a gander at some gameplay, you’ll be all too aware it’s quite the looker. It’s a game which appears to be pushing the PS4 to its very limits, and it’s surely going to look frankly insane once it lands on PC in the autumn. 

For all the criticisms around the ropey storytelling with its sledgehammer themes, Detroit is an absolute feast for the eyes from start to frankly hilarious finish. Developer Quantic Dreams knows about top-notch visual tech; they’ve even got more than 50 engineers working on their proprietary game engine.

Quantic Dreams president David Cage has weighed on the future of visual sumptuousness during an interview with Gamespot, talking up the imminent potential for photorealism. The battleground will not be one of pixels or polygons though; Cage believes the future of graphics tech will be all about the lighting.

“Game after game, you know that technology evolves and new platforms arrive, and you want to boost the realism further,” said Cage. “And we were talking about photorealism for years in the industry, and game after game, we are trying to get closer. And I think Detroit looked better than Beyond, Beyond looks better than Heavy Rain, etc., etc. So I think the next game we will try to push the envelope.”

Quantic Dreams’ next title can be multiplatform, of course, after the studio parted ways with Sony earlier this year. They’re off the leash now, so to speak, and it sounds as if they’re going to go pretty wild in terms of forging ahead with new tech.

“I think that lighting is going to be a key thing,” Cage goes on to say. “There is this new technology called “ray tracing” that we talk a lot about these days. I think this is going to be interesting because it will allow us to improve reflections, lighting, shadows. And I think that’s a big deal. 

“For years the amount of polygons you could display was key, then it became the shaders and then textures, and now I think it’s all about the lighting, and the more subtle and nuanced the lighting will be, the better the image will be. I don’t think it’s going to be a war about resolution; I know that people talk about 8K these days and blah blah blah. I don’t think this is the real next battle. I would rather put the focus on lighting. Lighting, lighting, lighting.”

This tallies up nicely with what Nvidia’s Morgan McGuire said this week. He believes ray-tracing will become all-pervasive by 2023. By that, he means every graphics card which ships will come with the capacity for ray-traced rendering. Going one step further, he believes the first AAA game to require a ray-tracing GPU will launch in 2023.