Wednesday, March 12, 2008

a natural slow-down for graphics tech?

Tipa said something interesting in this thread about PC gaming and graphics, as inspired by Tim Sweeney's ridiculous comments.

"Games requiring high-end graphics demand high-end gamers keep upgrading their systems, spurring the need for even better graphics cards, which means more games must take advantage of them in order to return the investment; and more processor is needed, requiring more development in processors and the supporting software to make them work.


She's absolutely right that gaming has long been the driving force behind most PC hardware innovation. Without gaming, PCs would have developed akin to calculators, simple and small machines that perform just a handful of tasks and remain basically the same from decade to decade. Major advances would have been seen in laboratories, not in households.

But I'm wondering...

Last week, I watched a great video interview with Dennis Dyack of Silicon Knights. He spoke about the basic premise of Too Human, the moral and pragmatic questions surrounding technology, and mentioned how we in the post-industrial era place technology on such a high pedestal. We put tremendous faith in it as a solution to our problems and desires.

Perhaps, in our admiration for computing technology in the past 20-30 years, we've mistaken the rate of progress we're used to as sustainable. Perhaps Moore's Law is actually just the steep beginning of a curve which is soon to level out. The computer industry might still be only in its infancy, and the next stage of slower growth is nearing.

Or maybe we're nearing something similar to the Uncanny Valley, a point at which equal innovation produces less thrilling results. The jump from Halo graphics to Crysis graphics is not nearly as impressive as the jump from 2-D to 3-D environments.

We've been thinking that hardware progress will continue as it has forever, but we will eventually find ourselves in a situation where the systems we have are so adequate for our needs that progress is no longer a priority. Eventually, more people will be interested in fully exploring utilization of our present resources than expanding our resources.

My thoughts on this aren't clear in my own mind, so it's come out muddled. But can you see what I'm essentially getting at?

1 comment:

  1. You're right about the jump from 2D-> 3D being more impressive than the jump from 3D -> better 3D. At some point, you're not going to be able to get any better, and at some point, it's going to be "good enough."


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