There aren’t very many games today that, graphically, give one goose bumps. While movies like James Cameron’s Avatar or Peter Jackson‘s Lord of the Rings have graphical effects that appear absolutely real, many wonder if games will ever achieve that level of detail.
Now get ready for Project Offset. This little-known development team, owned by Intel, is building a game engine that may make you believe that the richness of reality in the virtual world is not so far away.
Videos posted on their website (see Resources) show a variety of graphics engine experiments. You will find video footage that ranges from the detailed facial expressions of an ogre to a meteor shower blasting through ancient stone pillars. Compared to contemporary movie CG, Offset’s footage doesn’t look all that impressive at first. But considering that these animated graphics were rendered in real time by a dynamic game engine, unlike animated frames that undergo lengthy rendering processes in a motion picture, the short clips are jaw-dropping.
The Offset engine isn’t the only one in the race to develop a visually rich real-time game graphics engine, but they’re the newest on the scene. Companies like CryTek, Epic, and ID Software have all been doing this for years, working steadily toward the photorealistic holy grail. Offset sets itself apart by accomplishing the most difficult lighting, shading, and graphics effects in very simple fashion. Their video clips show artists pulling together 3D elements like a jigsaw puzzle, making movie-level CG look as easy as following a recipe.
Offset has yet to officially announce a game title, but we are excited by the implications they bring to the virtual world.