Look at these rocks. They look so real. They look more real than real. But they're not. They were made on a computer.
These crunchy little beauties are the creation of graphic artist Rense de Boer. After working as a technical art director at Battlefield developer DICE for several years, de Boer told me in an email he wanted to explore the boundaries of real-time rendering. He struck out on his own to focus on "pushing our limitations, or at least take another approach at how we create content for games to see how far we can take it," he said.
It took him five days to photograph and capture the landscapes he wanted to render, and another several weeks to rebuild them in video game making tool Unreal Engine with a process called photogrammetry, which works by compiling a host of images taken from various angles and using them to create realistic depth. "Plants and trees are built leaf by leaf, giving it depth that is needed to ensure realism and create a more believable world," de Boer said.
Graphic card maker Nvidia provided de Boer with the GPUs that rendered these photorealistic rocks, two Geforce 1080 Tis, to be exact. De Boer called it an experiment to see what happens when he maxed out both software and hardware. "I am now developing a demo environment that shows a Nordic forest with high details to be explored in real time," he said. "The content that comes out of this will find its way back to merge and become a full game." It'll be part of a playable forest environment that de Boer said could be available on Steam at the end of the year.
Hell yeah, let's run around on some hyper-realistic rocks soon.