The Evolution of Video Game Graphics
Let's take a look at the evolution of video game graphics over the past 20 years
Even I am no hardcore gamer I still like to play a video game once in a while. This
hobby is what brought me into CGI/VFX in the first place. When I bought an Asus
motherboard lately, I got Doom 4 for free. I know the Quake series from Quake 1, played
the original Doom and Doom 3 (though not excessive) so I decided to give this game a
try. Not that I bought the board for the game, in fact, when I wouldn't have got the
game for 'free' I even wouldn't think about buying it. Not because I expect a bad game
or something, the plain fact that I didn't play a competitive shooter for years is the
reason and that I lost my interest in that kind of games over the time.
Nonetheless when the game arrived I was excited and I started the steam download
immediately. As this isn't a game review, I'll get straight to the point this article is
about: The first thing that catched my attention was the graphics! Not that it is
something that I haven't seen before, in fact there are many games with visuals that can
compete, but looking back at games like the mentioned Quake 1 this really is a lot of
progress. And this is just 20 years of time. Quake 1 was released in 1996 and the
difference is just astonishing. With this in mind and looking back on quite a 'gaming
career' I decided to search the basement for CD's and DVD's and write an article about
the evolution of video game graphics.
I found some real treasures, although I hoped to find some of my other classics, but
they seem to be really well hidden... However, I found enough to write about and to have
a good comparison. Important to mention is, that I only took first-person-shooters as
this will guarantee the best comparison of development. Looking at, for example, an open
world game and compare it to a first-person-shooter is not going to work well. There is
much more to render at the same time and an open world needs more resources than a
closed level. On the other hand you can place much more details into small levels,
that's why a first-person-shooter from the same generation will usually look much better
than an open world game. To get a good overview over the evolution of video game graphics we
will be looking at the following games:
Quake - released in 1996
Unreal Tournament - released in 1999
Battlefield 1942 - released in 2002
Medal of Honor Pacific Assault - released in 2004
Crysis 1 - released in 2007
Bioshock - released in 2007
Battlefield 3 - released in 2011
Bioshock Infinite - released in 2013
Doom 4 - released in 2016
Unreal Tournament 4 - pre-alpha in 2016
Building a Workstation for VFX, 3D Modeling and Video Editing
A small guide to System Building
Whether you are an VFX Artist, Video Editor or 3D Modeler, the thing you will need for your everyday work the most is your workstation.
Every artist who also wants to freelance will be depending on his workstation every day. Maybe more than in any other industry, content creators will know one rule: time is money.
Especially when it comes to rendertimes. Assuming most artists only have one machine, the problem is very clear: you wont be able to work while your system is rendering. So the faster the better.
But fast hardware comes at a price, and not everyone can or is willing to pay a huge amount for his system.
This article is meant to be a little guideline for people who have an older system and want an upgrade to save time and to earn a little bit more money or have more time for other projects that way.
If you are an artist who wants the best service and fast exchange of hardware in case of a hardware defect, I mean if you really are a fulltime artist who can't afford to wait some days for a replacement you might be better off looking for a prebuild workstation by Dell, HP or Lenovo.
This would guarantee the best possible service but also has it's cons. This workstations usually come at a higher price, when upgrading hardware you are forced to look at your manufacturers range and you are not allowed to do any repairing by yourself, otherwise your product warranty will expire.
Although this prebuild workstations with excellent service are prefered by many professionals I myself am also a bit of a hardware enthusiast and so this article will be focused on custom build PC's.
This also means nothing for the Mac users here I'm afraid.
Let's take a look at what you will need for your workstation first. Depending on what you are actually planing to do with your PC, the possibilities seem to be endless.
In the end the core parts stay the same, so everyone will at least need:
CPU + Cooler
Storage (HDD, SSD)
A Case obviously
This are the main components. Lets start with the CPU.
Freebie - High Res Countryside Backplates
Free High Resolution Backplates
So there wasn't an update for a long time for different reasons, but I hope this one will be of great use for you. Here is a free set of highres backplates for your personal use.
This pack contains four different backplates taken at the countryside. All images have a resolution of 3840 x 2160 px.
I really hope you like them, there will be more of this kind of downloads in near future, so stay tuned. Download of the free backplates is only available in a pack, there is no seperate download available.
Pack contains: 4 different free backplates
Resolution: 3840 x 2160 px
Click on read more to get to the download.
Free VFX Course by Allan McKay
Allan McKay gives you a free VFX course
Today I came across a really great VFX Video Course made by Allan Mckay. It is based on God of War's "Ash" FX Pipeline.
In this course you will get over 10 hours of completly free High-End Training with videos in HD quality and also a live FX Class. Allan will also provide the scene files, actual production scripts, shaders and lots more. It really is a whole production pipeline which will take an actual FX shot and of course will walk through from the start to the finish. As this course is using industry standart tools like 3DS Max, FumeFX 3.5, V-Ray, X-Mesh and Thinking particles 6 you can enjoy a really special gift which will help you to understand the production of visual effects in general surely a bit more.
You will learn the complete process for making an object turn into ashes, all the workflow is there, to show you how to do effects like this. Creating advanced shaders, rendering techniques, compositing, dynamics, all in one, good understandable, fully free course. Even if you are not using the applications mentioned above, you will still learn a lot and in the end understand the whole process, making it possible to use the tools within your production pipeline to create an effect like the one in this course.
If you are interested in this great course, be sure to visit the site as fast as possible, because this will only be available until the 17th May. So you only have two more days left. Don't miss this great opportunity.
Blender - almost half a million downloads per month
Blender growing fast
The open source tool blender already has a big and steady growing community for years. This piece of Software which, being open source, is available completly for free, already has it's place in the 3d community.
Not only hobbists and freelancers are working with blender, but even some big studios use this software. Be it only as a supplement, or as the main package. Not only the modeling tools are really handy to work with, but blender also has lots more to offer. For example Cycles - a build in GPU Render, which can obtain fotorealistic results in a short amoung of rendertime. But this are only some of the benefits of Blender.
The fact usernumbers are growing shows a lately published download statistic. It says the software is downloaded almost half a million times a month. That is only from the official source, downloaded intallers from other mirror aren't counted. Being open source, blender can be download from many other sites.
Autodesk announced 3ds Max 2016
Autodesk 3DSMax 2016 announced
Not only Maya 2016 was announced by Autodesk lately, but also their second big player 3ds Max 2016 was shown at the NAB. It seems this release got much love from Autodesk, because it comes with some big improvements and new features.
One of the biggest is, without a doubt, the Max Creation Graph. It is simmilar to Softimage ICE. A node based content and tool creation kit which was requested and awaited by many max users. This tool allows users to create own plugins by themselves in an easy way. It's just like plugin nodes together and getting nice results. Well, surely it isn't that simple but it seems simple enough to have much potential to be used widely. Users can pack their own tools and share them with others. That's surely making 3ds Max 2016 an even more powerful tool then ever before. Sharing own plugins will make the community grow even further.
But not only the Max Creation Graph is new in this release, it has a lot more useful stuff to offer. One thing which is good to know is, that 3ds Max 2016 wont come in two versions anymore. Until the 2015 release costumers could choose between 3ds Max and 3ds Max Design. Both now come together in the same package and one can be chosen during the installation.
Autodesk announced Maya 2016
Autodesk Maya 2016 announced
For everyone using Autodesk Maya there is good news! Autodesk just uploaded some videos to youtube showing enhancements and new features. It seems the 2016 version is getting some big improvements. Especially the new BiFrost features and xgen enhencements are looking really interesting.
But first things first... Mayas look got polished. In fact it's a whole user interface overhaul. The icons are redesigned and now scalable based on the resolution of the device. More so, the menu structure got reorganized. Long term users will have to adjust a bit, but overall the reorganization looks like an improvement.
Mayas new scultping tools are designed to work with basic shapes. Sculpting tools? Yes! Maya now got a set of sculpting tools which allow to sculpt within the application. They aren't really meant to replace sculpting programs, but to allow user to sculpt little details within Maya. The brush based tools feature volume and surface falloff as well as stamp images, sculpting UVs and also support for vector displacement maps.
One thing which really shines in that release, is the Hypershade. Autodesk added some nice features here. Now you got a material viewer within the Hypershade in which you can choose from different types of geometrie and also choose different render engines to preview your material. This is a really nice feature when working on materials and will make the work more enjoyable. In the node editor it's possible to adjust the materials properties in an easy way. Also the Hypershade is now highly customizable.
Nvidia presents Voxel Global Illumination in Unreal Engine 4
Voxel Global Illumination in Unreal Engine 4
Did you know that Nvidias new GPU's, GeForce GTX 970 and GeForce GTX 980 already supports VXGI? You don't know what VXGI is? Well, it's a new lightning technologie which can make games look way more realistic. VXGI stands for Voxel Global Illumination and is developed by Nvidia. What this really means for gamers and developers now is presented in some Graphicdemos, especially in one made by "Byzantos".
VXGI was announced in Fall 2014. This technologie is exclusive for Nvidia GPU's with the Maxwell-Chipset, namely GeForce GTX 970, 980 and of course the high priced Titan X.
Working on voxel basis, games now aren't only depending on prerendered and simulated lightsources, but actually allows a real time lighting system. This means every obejcts can stray and illuminate light in real time. A good example would be a piece of metal which is highly lighted. This piece will stray the light and also act like a lightning source itself. Nvidia VXGI allows to make games look more realistic then ever before.
Freebie - High Res Texture Pack
Free High Resolution Texture Pack
Here is a free texture pack for you. All these textures where photographed in styria, austria. It is a mixed collection of different kinds, mostly stone and concrede textures. All of these are not seemless and unpolished, so you have to do some work of your own to use them.
Every texture has a resolution of 2592px x 1944px, so they are pretty high res. Download the textures all one by one or just download the whole archive which contains all 12 textures. Textures were taken with a Canon Powershot G5, a bit outdated, but still does a good job.
Freebie - Character Base Mesh
Free Low Poly Character Base Mesh
This is a low-poly character base mesh I modeled a while ago. It is a perfect base for more advanced designs. It comes as an .obj file, so you can use it in whatever application you want.
Due to the low poly count of just 894 faces, this mesh is the perfect base for well designed game characters which will fit in any game engine like unreal engine 4 or unity.
This character base mesh fits in every sculpting application of your choice. Make displacement maps of your own and give it a characteristic look!
Polycount: 894 faces
Perfect for any game engine
Ready for sculpting