How much more can we fit in that box?
There's no way to fight the fact that file sizes for games are massively increasing as we get much more substantial resolutions. However, some exciting tech over at Microsoft could see that change with the arrival of Xbox series X.
Small files, bigger games
Most of us will never have heard of Microsoft Game Stack previously, but that's the name of the tech in place that could have huge results on the games that are coming in the next-gen. The general manager of an evolving Microsoft division, James Gwetzman, explained to a team of expert journalists what he and his team are working on behind the scenes for next-gen gaming. Head over to VentureBeat to take a peek at a transcript of what Gwetzman had to say. One of the journalists at the roundtable spoke about the fact that an AI technology exists to perfect blurry textures in some older games, and how that same tech could be applied to modern-day games.
Gwetzman states, "One of the studios inside Microsoft has been experimenting with using [machine learning] models for asset generation," and added, "It's working scarily well. To the point where we're looking at shipping really low-res textures and having ML models uprez the textures in real-time. You can't tell the difference between the hand-authored high-res texture and the machine-scaled-up low-res texture, to the point that you may as well ship the low-res texture and let the machine do it."
Gwetzman is specifically relating the above statement to the machine, and his response above was to a question surrounding PS5 and Xbox Series X game development, editing those small blurry textures and transforming them into crisp, clear images as we play a game.
Gwertzman went on to say, "The download is way smaller, but there's no appreciable difference in game quality," and added, "Think of it more like a magical compression technology. That's really magical. It takes a huge R&D budget. I look at things like that and say - either this is the next hard thing to compete on, hiring data scientists for a game studio, or it's a product opportunity. We could be providing technologies like this to everyone to level the playing field again."
For this machine learning model to get full support, video game artists would still be required to design the standard bunch of assets for each game's own style. Once they do this, the game developers could take those textures and shrink them down to allow for smaller downloads, and then the machine learning model would restore them while the game is played.
Photorealistic styling "adds tons of data." which is where the process could be best utilized, Gwetzman said. Much like any unconfirmed tech release, there's no guarantee this will be seen through to the Xbox Series X launch. However, it would be a pleasant surprise if download sizes were shrunk for the next-generation.