GCA 2008: Crytek's Yerli on gaming graphics' future

Cofounder and president of Crysis studio discusses why style trumps looks, what tomorrow's games will look like, and why the next visual leap won't happen until 2012.

When it comes to graphical finesse, few games in recent times have matched the looks of developer Crytek's Crysis and the just-released Crysis Warhead. The German company has been at the bleeding edge of graphics with its Cry Engine, although the assumption that all Crytek games need uber-ninja PCs to run properly is something the company's been trying to shake. GameSpot AU caught up with Crytek president and cofounder Cevat Yerli at last week's Games Conference Asia 2008, with Yerli outlining his views on what the future will hold for game graphics. Yerli said that the next leap in graphics would come with the next generation of games consoles sometime after 2012, and that gamers shouldn't expect titles to look much better than they do now in the next few years to come.

Yerli says Crytek games don't need nuclear-powered PCs to run smoothly.

GameSpot AU: You say a US$600 PC can run Crysis Warhead. So you think it's a misconception that your company only makes games for high-end machines?

Cevat Yerli: There's a misconception about that for sure. Our intent was that Crysis actually scaled for the future. That inherently means when you play Crysis today, and try to maximise it out, then your game will run slow on PCs (unless you have a really high-end PC today). But even then you didn't need to spend that much--about US$1200 on a PC to play Crysis at very high settings on a system you optimised yourself.

The misconception was a backlash on us and our intent, which was benevolent in itself, which was to serve the gamer a game that can provide you now with a good experience and in one year or two years later, you can still play Crysis and it gets better. When I play a game, and then I play it a year later, the game gets old on me. The core gameplay is of course timeless, but the visuals get old. I wanted to make sure that [Crysis'] core gameplay and the visuals grow with you. So the intent was benevolent, but there was a backlash because people tried to max it out. In retrospect, I think it would have been better to not have very high settings available for Crysis, and have an expansion pack or patch to unlock very high settings later on down the track. That would have not made people scream that they could not max out.

It was difficult for us because people were saying you should make games for now and not the future. I disagree--I'm a gamer, and I will always prefer a game that grows with me.

GS AU: When will the next major upgrade in visuals happen?

CY: The next graphics breakthrough will come in 2011/12, especially because it will be linked to next-generation consoles. I think the PlayStation 4, or the Xbox 720, and the PC generation that equals that will see a renaissance kicking in that will allow us to effectively deliver visuals that will rival offline CGI productions right now. With that, you'll see a variety of visual styles and identities, as well as techniques used to make more creative images than we have seen today.

GS AU: So does that mean the games of today will be visually as good looking as we can expect to see for the next few years?

CY: For the next two to three years, for sure, yes. There will be some refinements here and there: We [are limited] by the PS3 and 360 hardware, but maybe on the PC we can scale some more. This will bridge the gap to some degree between current and next-gen on the PC without any new code. The possibilities we have are limited right now by the console generations.

GS AU: So what happens in the next three years? Where's the focus?

CY: You have to differentiate in physics, special effects and AI. And especially art style as a visual identity. If you want create an identity, you have to think what are my opportunities and the given constraints? How do I differentiate myself most? It might be sound. It might be physics. With physics and AI, there's still technical innovation possible. You can innovate with AI a lot, because it really doesn't cost that much CPU. Physics are the same--you can do a lot of physical improvements for any arbitrary game genre to actually make the immersion factor better. It's about being more believable in the future rather than being realistic. If you are believable, then people will enjoy your game more.

GS AU: So in the fight between style and realism, style should win out?

CY: Yes. Branding style is the first and foremost thing you should think about from a creative point of view.

GS AU: You've mentioned that the next-gen for Crytek starts in 2009? What does that mean?

CY: What that means is none of it will be visible in a commercial game. We may disclose it at conferences and start licensing beforehand and whatnot. What I mean is we won't see games ship until 2012, because for a next-gen game to ship then, we have to start developing in 2009/10. So we have to start the next-gen now. We are laying the groundwork by researching the fundamentals right now. So we'll start in 2009, probably start disclosing it at conferences in 2010, and 2012 will probably be when the first title ships.

GS AU: So what will games of 2012 look like?

The graphics of today will be as good as we can expect over the next few years, Yerli says.

CY: In realism, you may see another jump, but it won't be much more. You'll see much more reflections happening--that's an area that's underdeveloped in games. Reflections allow us to portray chrome, mirror, and glass in a more believable way. In an urban environment, reflections are the key ingredient in that shading, so you need a solution for that. You'll also see improvements in lighting. By 2012 you'll also have unique geometries and textures, and real-time reflections happening that will impact a lot of how you play a game. In style, it might be that games become the same quality as Pixar or DreamWorks productions--that means super-rich colours, high-end animations which stretch to accentuate motion, over-stylised shapes. We'll see much more diverse visual development than we're seeing in today. So by then, maybe five out of 10 games will be looking really different, whereas today eight out of 10 look very similar.

GS AU: Cevat Yerli, thanks for your time.

Written By

Randolph is the managing editor of GameSpot, and needs more time to play games.

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Discussion

98 comments
Caml10
Caml10

Make that Xbox 720 Crysis, Crytek said they wouldn't port it to current consoles, if at all.

taino1128
taino1128

I have to wait until 2012 for a Xbox 360 Crysis, damn

amycasey2
amycasey2

I waited a year to buy this game just for the reason he talks about. I didn't think my desktop could run it without looking like a slide show. For the record, I have a $500 Dell with a very modest AMD X2 5000 CPU, 2GB RAM with a XFX 8600 slightly overclocked. It runs Crysis at 20-40 fps at mid settings with no AA. The game looks amazing at mid settings, and with a new GPU, it'll look even better.

death5ter
death5ter

so much for graphical gaming prowess, they should focus on the gameplay somehow...

lobsterbushcrab
lobsterbushcrab

2012 pfffffft, has he looked at how fast technology is moving?

DamageIncM
DamageIncM

Of course Crytek themselves had the devices to run at the highest settings, they can easily use the best parts and if not just soup it up to get the best performance. As the goal was, they intended to create a great engine to be used for more than just a current game. So for more games in the couple of next years, without it getting too old. So they will have had to have the privileges to get it all to work or you can't just say "OK, there are extra high settings, we didn't try it, but just ship it.". It's in people's nature most of the time to push everything to "the best possible", which includes pushing games to their limits while getting angry if it doesn't work. Just lower and tweak the settings a bit until it works, that's what I'm like. And if it won't work, I know I'll have to wait until I have a better system.

yzfrider16
yzfrider16

Who wouldn't believe that a nearly 600 dollar rig couldn't play warhead? Warhead is better optimized than the original Cysis. My system when new was worth around a grand...(8800GTS 512, Core 2 E6750, 2 gig ram) but now if look hard enough, these parts are dirt cheap compared to what I payed for them. Now I could build this system for b/t 6 or 7 hundred. I play cysis using DX9 with the ultra high looking hacks. Plays great. And all Yerli meant is that it could be played on low or medium. 600 bucks? No problem.

Sid_Spartan
Sid_Spartan

Well considering the present graphics generation,i find the game's graphics superb.Its a common sense that to play next-gen games you need to have atleast a powerful GPU like Geforce 8800GT.There's no need to mumble if some1ne is trying to play crysis with Ge force less than 8 series.To play it at xtreme settings u need to have 9800GT or above.I agree with Yeril that the higher graphics games can be launched at present.

jackarus
jackarus

i was wondering, can the crew at crytek play crysis on very settings? because if they did, be awesome to see it run properly. and if they can't, how do they know it works?

50centrulezz
50centrulezz

I agree with champmanfan even though I played this game and liked it. Some games today just focus on grafix and nuthing else.

champmanfan
champmanfan

This smacks of desperation of them saying a $600 PC can play Crysis Warhead because only if you have a urber PC can you gain anything out of the game at decent settings to keep the games fps playable. If the casual gamer with the $600+ PC can play this then the lost revenue through people giving it a miss because of the bad scalability of Crysis, they will think this applies also to Crysis Warhead. Mud sticks. Come 2012 when its photo realistic, yeah, I'd love to give it a go. Maybe we'll only need a 16-core PC by then with a couple of GPUs doing 4 teraflops each (Ati's 4870 does 1.5 teraflops at present). But seriously, is that all gaming is about, photo realism? Look at this example from XFire's Home page of the most played games now with average gfx (from top to bottom): World of Warcraft, Call of Duty 2 Multiplayer, Counter-Strike: Source, Warcraft III - The Frozen Throne, etc... As they say, nice graphics, shame about the bad storyline, which is why I'm not buying this & waiting for FarCry2. Its less of a tech demo & more involved gameplay.

ChristianKiss
ChristianKiss

In a game, everything works together to build its quality: gameplay, sounds, replay value and, naturally, graphics. In my point of view, Cevat Yerli is completely right. He didn't forget to mention about the AI, which plays an important role no matter the game in question. By now, it's hard to imagine a visually better game than Crysis and its sequel. Although I ain't a big fan of Far Cry or Crysis, I respect Crytek as much I respect id Software and Blizzard. You know, QUALITY games.

CureForLiving
CureForLiving

Well good graphics are good, but gameplay always make a game good or bad, although terrible graphics are still off putting. Crysis could have been a lot better if they had spent less time on graphics and more on actual gameplay (including sandbox gameplay). At least in Warhead they're trying to improve on the gameplay.

PSdual_wielder
PSdual_wielder

What all of the industry is talking about right now makes the current generation a really intermediary period for games. Even though the time frame itself will still have the same 6 year period just like every other generation, the jump in dealing with graphics and the much larger amount of coding is just obscene for those guys to get used to. Maybe by the time this "next" generation comes around, everything will start to stable down like the movie industry now have.

irilthor
irilthor

i bought a 600 euro pc last week and i really have to turn the settings down alot (to blurry vision) to get it running smoothly... i will try again with my next pc i guess

Gamingcucumber
Gamingcucumber

Talk about thinking "inside the box". Literally making the game after the hardware and not the other way around.

Ult_iMate
Ult_iMate

aDhAmMe13 wrote: "but what's crysis without high-end smooth graphix??" that's right. Critek tried to replace mediocre gameplay and awful storyline with life-like graphics and life-like physics. On the other hand Bioshock and Portals offered fascinating and innovative gameplay. Also they looked great because of good graphical design. Actually a game doesn't need a high-end graphics to be interesting and good-looking. Take Sam & Max or Tension (Turgor) for instance.

aDhAmMe13
aDhAmMe13

but what's crysis without high-end smooth graphix?? i mean, c'mon! u either use it on a high-end pc or just don't...

Ult_iMate
Ult_iMate

Games are for creating virtual worlds that are only limited with creator's imagination. Virtual reality can be based on any rules you like - there should be no boundaries in creativity. And yet they still stuck with life-like graphics and life-like physics to make yet another first person shooter, where you have to point at a target and click it up to the death. With linear level design and 4 to 5 hours of gameplay. Total absence of imagination. How absolutely boring.

artofshreddin
artofshreddin

"PC will always be what pushes the boundaries of games and what they can do. Even console games are created on computers and then ported over (which always annoys me when it comes to console exclusives). But the new technology comes at a price. Everyone knows that consoles aren't toted for their graphics or anything, they are toted for their ease of use and guaranteed playability...no upgrades required. They are cheap and reliable while sacrificing technological prowess, whereas computers are expensive and unreliable but dominate in technology. As a total geek I will always be a PC man and can't way for the next generation of games." PC's are unreliable? I've not once had a problem with any of mine. If your overclocking your system to ridculous levesl w/o proper cooling that's the users own fault, not the pc's. I hate the comparisons good or bad of pc gaming/consoles. They have similarities and differences. But alot of pc gamers choose to game on their pc for a "better experience" perse'. For the mods, user made maps, etc... its completely different online community and personality than console gaming.. I like what crytek did by pushing the technology level with crysis, was an awesome game and ran fine on my 8800gt on high. like anyone would know very high is for upscaling to the future. unless u go very high and turn down certain optiosn. doom 3 did that too with ultra detail in case anyone forgets

Autolycus
Autolycus

Elann2008 Posted Sep 23, 2008 9:39 pm PT People have to understand that consoles are built with PC hardware. You just can't upgrade like a normal PC can. Console fanboys talking gibberish are pretty much biting the hand that feeds them. What do you think we use to make consoles? Rubber bands and popsicle sticks?---- Actually the consoles have always been vastly different then computers. True right now is closer then it was before, but you'd be hard pressed to find a computer system with the same chip as the Sega Saturn or Sega Dreamcast. They are not x86 processors and was pretty unique but similar to the PPC architecture. As for today's current systems you'd be hard pressed to find a Cell in a PC and the XENON processor in the 360 is a 1 off design. If I remember correctly the Wii has two full cores where as 360 and PS3 have trimmed down PROCESSORS meant to handle video games algorythms and instruction sets. These processors are designed specifically to hand floating point math, which is great for video games. I dont really know where I was going with this whole thing, but there are actually vast differences between desktop CPU's and what you'll find in a console. Thats why compilers are so important for cross platform capability.

sieg6529
sieg6529

The "benevolent intent" was horribly misguided. By the time the common PC is good enough to run Crysis on high settings, interest will be long gone. They released an elite game for elite gamers; they should just own up to it.

majidok
majidok

A funny and unprofessional thing to call the next Xbox "720" for a pro industry vet !

PS3_3DO
PS3_3DO

They should stop calling the next Xbox the 720.

agustbestur
agustbestur

LOL xbox 720 :D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D

tjdeep_2007
tjdeep_2007

warhead is running fine...with 8 series gpu's.

Poster_11
Poster_11

Yeah $600 but the game is on 800x600 and looks like half life one.

Elann2008
Elann2008

On topic, I like what he's doing for the future of Crytek. He sounds like a smart man that HAS and WILL take Crytek places. Thank you for pushing the graphical boundaries in gaming.

Elann2008
Elann2008

People have to understand that consoles are built with PC hardware. You just can't upgrade like a normal PC can. Console fanboys talking gibberish are pretty much biting the hand that feeds them. What do you think we use to make consoles? Rubber bands and popsicle sticks?

technowiz999
technowiz999

PC will always be what pushes the boundaries of games and what they can do. Even console games are created on computers and then ported over (which always annoys me when it comes to console exclusives). But the new technology comes at a price. Everyone knows that consoles aren't toted for their graphics or anything, they are toted for their ease of use and guaranteed playability...no upgrades required. They are cheap and reliable while sacrificing technological prowess, whereas computers are expensive and unreliable but dominate in technology. As a total geek I will always be a PC man and can't way for the next generation of games.

Zloth2
Zloth2

They aren't the first to future-proof a game. There was an RTS game about a decade ago (can't remember the name) that did that, too, and with similar results. Namely, people who don't read instructions or reviews screaming because their new(ish) PC can't run at max settings. Hmmm, my year and a half old PC is running Warhead fine on max settings. I wonder if Yurli has already put in some things into that game that will let is crank the settings up even more in about a year?

Great_Ragnarok
Great_Ragnarok

I like his way of thinking. a game that graphically grows with you is brilliant. hopefully they wont abondon it. new ideas need persuasion!

Hekynn
Hekynn

The graphics look awsome! Glad my rig can handle Crysis at high settings a little tweaked settings and boom running aroudn 45fps :D

11Mattinator11
11Mattinator11

I agree with Roger. First off, can you realistically expect to break into new generations of complete graphics and gameplay in such a short period of time, especially when Crysis, Crysis Warhead, and by default the CryEngine have so drastically increased the realism of games. Secondly, More development time means eventually better games and mechanics for the future. Would you rather have a somewhat next-gen game in 1 or 2 years that's broken so bad it's like you're playing an alpha build of something, or a game out in 4-6 years that completely deserves the description next-gen. Also Borka, wake up and smell the roses (or your 'beloved' Xbox burning from overuse). The CryEngine has done more for realistic graphic mechanics than any other modern game engine, even on the 360. Sure Unreal-3 was awesome, but that was a previous boom and was quickly equaled, if not exceeded. I'm not disputing that, but the CryEngine is here and now leading the way to a better tomorrow for games.

Roger_Smith
Roger_Smith

Go to bed BorkaBonum. I actually rather agree with what Cevat said. Look forward to the coming years to see what people will churn up.

BorkaBonum
BorkaBonum

Total bullsh*t. Crytek aren't really the guys providing the industry with technology, their engine just sucks and will never be used outside their own product(s). Epic had a tremendous influence on the entire market with their Unreal 3-technology for a reason and they are the pioneers truly combining technology with effeciency. And why in h@ll does kids keep calling the next Xbox for "Xbox 720" it doesn't make any sense at all. 360 is linked to the logo, but I think this is something incredibly hard to understand as it seems like Microsoft is doing 360 console generations at a time... Sigh.

GodOfSyn
GodOfSyn

autolycus, 4 years from now anything is possible, we have quad and soon 6 core procs out right now and 2 years ago duo was new, processing and gpu processing will evolve rapidly in the next 4 years, maybe not quite top high end pixar quality but i'm sure they will come near.

raahsnavj
raahsnavj

I think the important thing to note is while they could continue to push the graphical boundries, there are too many people that will give backlash for them doing it. As such, they would rather gradually increase the graphics as hardware staturation allows. The engines might already have all the power to do the work, but hiding the settings that only few can use is a better selling strategy than to produce the best that is allowed. I can do nothing more than agree with them that I am avoiding their PC games simply because I know my game isn't going to run great on maxed settings, and no one feels good running at medium or low thinking it could be so much more. This is one reason I don't PC game anymore actually, I always feel like I should throw more money down the PC sink-hole to have a better (though unnecessary experience). Where-as on a console, I buy, I play, I don't ever care about upgrading until next gen. As for the console comparison... It appears they would rather have PC's really evolve once the consoles appear to getting close to match, keeping PC's ahead of the curve of course, but not really catering to them for some reason (maybe the PC games 'slowly' dieing 'rumor')

DDR_Midian
DDR_Midian

I'm glad the Crytek guys understand that graphics aren't the be all and end all. Art direction/style is far more important. You could have a photo-realistic game with terrible art style and a cel-shaded game with awesome art style, and in the end the cel-shaded game would look better.

Autolycus
Autolycus

What you'll see in those pixar animations are low bump maps, and less reflection compared to realistic images. I've been a 3D Renderer for a fews years now and to get 1 jpeg image (1024x768) with photorealism, on a quad core machine, it takes 4 hours to create that 1 image, so don't ever expect the GPU's or CPU's to be able to handle all that real time, it simply wont happen, not even by 2012.

Merc816
Merc816

WOW! PC is flying in the best graphics with Crytek and the new consoles that going to work with.

Tyrael696
Tyrael696

This is the most interesting thing i have hear since a while and it will be truth. The videogames world is evolving too a new realistics world soon will see games where we can see the scratchs in the faces of the caracters. This new world will be very exciting and awsome.

somberfox
somberfox

See, I knew it. Computer hardware has been progressing so fast lately that it vastly surpassed what even the highest end games need and what engine technology is capable of. It'll be a long time before game technology catches up, if ever.

SplinterCellSC2
SplinterCellSC2

I tend to agree, for the most part, with Generic Dude; however, this could have been the same argument 5 years ago when the latest and greatest of video cards was released. I believe technology has no choice but to build upon itself...that is the nature of things. I feel graphics, physics; AI etc. will grow and continue to grow until there will be no way for the naked eye to decifer between what is real and what is CG. For example; the difference between the first generation digital cameras to the mutli-megapixel cameras they have now. Older cameras, it was easy to tell between digital from SLR. Today, you have to be a professional to tell the difference. Eventually, in stead of building graphics from wire frame and scratch, you will be able to manipulate libraries of real video and frames to get the desired result. This could be incorporated into a true VR experience for anyone wanting to play a game, visit a model home, check out the beach scene in an FP perspective. Total immersion. I am not talking about the action requiring a reaction then it plays a pre-recorded cut scene as the result; I am talking about real time action as if your movements and actions effect the environment you're in. The processing power of something like what I am envisioning is probably years off but trust me...it's coming.

hobotech64
hobotech64

Evolution can be really annoying for us low-end users. Thank god for Steam and GoodOldGames.

Generic_Dude
Generic_Dude

Yurli makes a number of great observations in this interview... firstly, and I think that we're very close to this point now, let alone 2012, that games will start to differentiate themselves with physics, AI and unique art direction as opposed to realism... we're getting to a point where games like Crysis are looking more like Hollywood productions and, say, the Ratchet and Clank games look like a Pixar movie. There's a point where you really can't expand on that anymore and you have to differentiate yourself in new and exciting ways.