Up For Debate - What will be the next big tech craze after ray tracing?

Written by Chad Norton on Sun, Dec 6, 2020 5:00 PM
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Ray tracing. It’s the big tech craze at the moment and is the driving factor behind this year’s next generation of consoles and graphics cards including the recently revealed RTX 30 series from Nvidia and the Radeon RX 6000 series from AMD. But whilst the technology is still finding its footing in the industry, what do you think will be the next big tech craze afterwards?

Increasing graphical fidelity is a natural evolution of video game graphics as we try to emulate the real world as much as possible. That is why ray tracing is such a big deal at the moment, because it is the next step in creating ultra realistic lighting; which is arguably one of the most important aspects of getting any computer image to look ‘realistic’.

Ray tracing is also making its way into a lot of the biggest games at the moment: Cyberpunk 2077 and Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War are some of the latest games to incorporate the tech, to name a few. Both have slightly different implementations of it, but the core technology remains the same.

But what could be the next big step forward? Will it be to do with graphics like better textures? Or better and more accurate animations including facial animations? Or maybe more hardware/performance-related things like AI upscaling or SSDs?

At the same time as ray tracing begins to lift off, we’ve already seen a slight shift towards using SSDs instead of traditional hard drives due to the next-gen consoles supporting them. SSDs generally don’t increase performance apart from faster loading screens, but they do help to stream textures faster and provide less texture ‘pop-in’.

Or maybe the next big tech craze will be AI? Things like DLSS from Nvidia or FidelityFX Super Resolution from AMD will be game changers in terms of increasing performance whilst retaining the same graphical quality, which is almost a requirement in most games with ray tracing implementations.

So once the amount of RT Cores and Ray Accelerators becomes the norm on graphics cards, maybe we’ll see an increased amount of Tensor/AI Cores to help with the upscaling tech?

What do you think? What could be the next big tech craze after ray tracing? Will it be another graphical enhancement like ray tracing? Or will it be more towards performance? Let’s debate!

How do you feel about ray tracing in terms of a graphical improvement?

How long do you think until ray tracing becomes a standard?

Do you think the next big tech craze will be to do with graphics or performance?

Our favourite comments:

Unreal Engine 5 will be the next big thing , as they proved on their last demo that even without RT you can acheive awsome results

ismaben2

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13:11 Dec-11-2020

Unreal Engine 5 will be the next big thing , as they proved on their last demo that even without RT you can acheive awsome results

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13:50 Dec-11-2020

It's definitely a worthy contender

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16:05 Dec-08-2020

4k 60 fps in VR is what I expect in the next few years. That's what I really want... and more good VR games would be nice

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21:57 Dec-07-2020

I don't think we are even close to being done with raytracing, I feel it still is next thing, except not in partial form we have it today, but in terms of fully raytraced environments. Also almost lossless upscaling will definitely become a thing. But it will need to be universally compatible, not just select titles. Because who cares what resolution stuff run at as long as visual result is same.

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21:40 Dec-07-2020

ray tracing could look great like in control (still there's some artifacts) or meh like in shadow of the tomb raider I don't know any game other than control that I would turn ray tracing on it

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13:00 Dec-07-2020

Better liquids, fire, and hair. Also a software that will allow devs to create life-like animations with a couple of clicks. This would be amazing for small studios and indie games.

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10:29 Dec-07-2020

I think the next one I'd like is to be able to talk to NPCs. You know, rather than playing Dragon Age and selecting from 3 options (angry, snarky, nice) you would actually have to do the conversation yourself.

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10:27 Dec-07-2020

AR development for game like yugioh or pokemon in something like google glass, i hate pokemon go lol

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10:06 Dec-07-2020

as for the next BIG tech i still belive it will be physics being taken to crazy levels wherein we see the realistic (for some games) (hyper Hollywood style for some games) procedural destruction being applied on an entire map and on every v

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10:01 Dec-07-2020

The only good thing about ray tracing is that it is extremely easy to implement and frees up development budget for areas I actually value like gameplay and story.
My prediction is that the next "tech craze" will follow the same route, something that would be easy to implement but right now costs too much computation power so we have to use alternatives, however I lack the imagination to think of something like that.

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09:36 Dec-07-2020

It has always been graphics graphics graphics. Sound design has always been pretty much on point, so I wouldn't expect any gimmics there, but who knows.
Graphically, I think UE5 is going to take the lead with movie-grade assets. Those will be able to give real life details in games. Pair that with high res textures, good lighting (and ray tracing) and good physics and I think you're close to replicating a real life scene, apart from NPCs.
Who knows, maybe very advanced NPC AI (Westworld vibes, anybody?) and body physics.

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09:59 Dec-07-2020

"Body physics" can get as realistic as they want, but they will still look wrong if I blow up a guy with a nade or a C4 and he just ragdolls out without dismemberment... Old games have that bit of extra realism, even though the graphics were way worse.

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18:47 Dec-08-2020

I like the ragdoll stuff. Even in a "realistic" game, it makes for a good laugh.

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19:24 Dec-08-2020

Oh, no doubt it is sometimes funny. But realistic? Pff... xD

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09:56 Dec-10-2020

The fact that there's just the ragdoll stuff is to minimize gore and potential cause of trauma (you know, if it looks super realistic). From what I was told, people complained about the gore from CoD WaW back in the day, it was the last game where you could shoot bodyparts off a body. After that, every CoD game was just ragdolls.
But with body physics, I mainly mean movement accordingly to the surroundings. The UE5 demo looked terrific, but the character wasn't good (not only was the model not movie grade, but the movements were close to a normal game)

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17:47 Dec-10-2020

As with everything - things should be optional. If some people are sensitive to it and don't mind the ragdolls - give them that. But if I want to play around with some realism - give me an option too. It's not unheard-of to have options for stuff like physics, destructability, etc.

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20:11 Dec-10-2020

so we need to have the soldier of fortune or ragdoll option.
I'm okay with that.

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01:25 Dec-07-2020

I'm calling it right now. Ray tracing will be standard in 2025.

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23:25 Dec-06-2020

With consoles launching right on time, it appears as though you could make the claim that Ray Traced Reflections and Shadows are the AAA standard.

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23:18 Dec-06-2020

photorealism

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22:33 Dec-06-2020

I wonder if AI could be used to simulate (animations and such) how objects behave in a game, so the developers wouldn't have to spend so much time on that.

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05:03 Dec-07-2020

They already have that. What we need is performance improvements since they use up so much resources to calculate.

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09:37 Dec-07-2020

Nothing wrong with AI made pre-baked animations. I think the real deal will be realtime AI animations that are always different (imagine reloading a weapon or a character running). That'd be interesting.

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01:08 Dec-08-2020

Ding ding ding
You hit the nail on the head.


On a serious note, it really would be cool if the running, weapon loading and holstering would be different each time.

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10:26 Dec-14-2020

I actually wonder if this will decrease game file sizes if all animations are real-time AI-based, however, I don't think animations take much storage space in the first place. It's always textures and audio files. Be it 4k textures or uncompressed audio. Raycevic made a good video about it, showing that some games start to split up the games in components, such as a 4k textures pack. If your pc can't use it, there's no need to waste 15GB on that.

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10:32 Dec-14-2020

PS: I only heard about it, but an ex-colleague of mine said that Rockstar worked together with another company to make the body physics of NPCs and characters and that they always react differently to what's happening around them (like how they stumble or get hit by a car and such). I'm not sure if it's real-time AI or if it's a lot of prebaked stuff. Nonetheless, it's super cool and interesting.

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01:26 Dec-16-2020

Didn't know that Rockstar was into that.
Thx for the info.
Appreciate it.

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21:38 Dec-06-2020

In the future, they need to add more polygons and higher resolution textures. Ray-tracing can help with realistic eyes. Also i want to see improvements to the animations.

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23:06 Dec-06-2020

Are textures resolutions and polygons not always increasing at a steady pace anyway?

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09:40 Dec-07-2020

I think unreal engine 5 is pretty much the end station regarding more polygons. Textures? Well, that'll increase with time, as GPUs will get hundreds of gigabytes in memory in the future. Lighting is still one of the most important things in games. Just check out Minecraft with and without shaders, it makes a huge difference in how good those 16x16 textures look.

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21:14 Dec-06-2020

Raytracing optimization lol

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20:56 Dec-06-2020

It might be wishful thinking but, mainstream VR. Low equipment cost + low PC requirement, no controllers (hands act like controllers), the headset becomes as thin as a pair of glasses, visual parity with traditional games, etc...

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09:43 Dec-07-2020

The hands as controllers thing would already be possible with the technology of today. It would only require the VR glasses to have a setup such as stererovision (two camera's which can be utilized to precisely measure depth at great detail), ToF sensors, or other 3D mapping technology. It would be cool if a company like Microsoft would already invest their resources there with the holo lens (I believe that they already did something like this, right?)

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20:50 Dec-06-2020

I'm going to be a downer and say that there won't be a big game changer ever again. We already have procedural worlds, ray tracing, and dynamic weather systems. Instead we will incrementally get better software that allows us to better simulated reality without us actually putting in the effort. We have almost all the building blocks needed right now, we just need the hardware to catch up to put all that simulated software in one neat package at a visually pleasing density to create realistic worlds. True procedural A.I. missions are meaningless though, as it distorts the creative canon storytelling of humans.

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21:07 Dec-06-2020

I take back what I said. There is one game changer left worth noting. The person above mentioned mainstream VR. It isn't the gaming industry that will gain a game changer. It will be the movie industry, which will use VR and computer software to render movies in a simulated three-dimensional space. There will always be a directors cut, but streaming services and movie disc players will simulate a world in real time, thus allowing movie watchers to become movie players and watch a story unfold at any angle they wish.

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22:15 Dec-06-2020

i watched a video on Path Tracing today and how that is far superior RT.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrF4k6wJ-do&ab_channel=AdoredTV

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09:49 Dec-07-2020

Imagine in 2025, new Nvidia GPUs with PT cores alongside RT cores.

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14:40 Dec-07-2020

after watching that vid, i think RT cores would replaced by PT cores

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20:37 Dec-06-2020

ARM will be next closest tech craze,
Apple launched SoCs (cpu+gpu) with 15W TDP destroying every Intel cpu in single-core performance and igpu performance,
probably won't take long until people realize they want the same from Microsoft's Windows devices

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21:51 Dec-06-2020

Imagine if any company could create X86 cpus how much better cpus and competition we could have.

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09:52 Dec-07-2020

We can only "hope" for China to do that, as only they have access to the x86 license besides Intel and AMD. I believe that we've seen an article here about their 8 core CPU, but it wasn't even getting near the performance of a threadripper at the time. I really hope that x86 will be replaced with ARM in the future. It seems like ARM is so capable, but has been kept in the mobile and embedded industry for so long, that we just think that they're SoCs for low power devices. Kudos to Apple for making the push (and that's where my kudos also end for Apple)

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11:22 Dec-07-2020

x86 by design and how it works, is not well scalable - that's why Intel and AMD have been struggling with barely 10% improvements every year, increasingly more difficult smaller manufacturing process etc.

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20:06 Dec-06-2020

I think the next big thing with be something to do with facial expressions looking realistic.

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09:25 Dec-07-2020

We already have the capability to do that. Facial mocap is one, used very well for narrative-driven games. On the likes of Cyberpunk onwards - we have AI-based solutions doing the heavy lifting now.

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