I came across this tech demo from Square Enix, based on Final Fantasy XV. According to Hajime Tabata from their business division, they are pushing the envelope of real time 3D with the help of Microsoft (Windows 10 and DirectX 12) and NVidia (GeForce GTX). They are supposedly moving 63 million polygons with 8K resolution texture maps. On top of that, they are doing hair without the use of transparency maps, but actual geometry with specialized shaders to give the appearance we see in the video.

In the past we would see tech demos like this and though the claims that they were realtime might have been true, all of that amazing imagery would be impossible when an actual game needed to run, with enemies, A.I., physics and so on. Today that is no longer the case. We are finally at a stage where the actual game can be seamless with the most realistic cut scenes therein. At last year’s E3, many companies had demos for the Playstation 4 in which a realistically rendered cut scene would transition directly into gameplay without any cuts or fades.

WHat does this mean for the indie today? If you wanted to do realistic 3D animation, you have tools like Unity 5 and Unreal 4, game engines that are accessible to even artists. Of course you can also use them to make a game, which is a very valuable way to deliver a story and IP these days. You can also, however, use them just to do a movie, which both engines have shown in their demo materials. This technology is only going to get better, although it is hard to imagine how much better it could get.

The next step will be content libraries, full of models, textures, motions and more, to make it even easier for the artist to get amazing images on the screen quickly. You will be able to focus on getting your story told. The time has never been better for the indie to do their project.