By Li Congbing, Deputy General Manager of R&D Efficiency Department at Tencent Interactive Entertainment
The gaming industry has seen a huge shift in recent years due to technological advances, and is one of the most valuable and robust markets today. It was valued at $229.16 billion in 2021, and is expected to reach $545.98 billion by 2028. Nowadays, a large part of the gaming universe happens in the virtual environment, and new online game formats are continually emerging, which you can play from anywhere in the world.
Creating the best gaming experience, however, is not the only main goal of game technology development – it is also the fundamental driving force behind the development of the digital reality integration industry. What’s more, various digitally simulated scenarios driven by game technology are playing a crucial part in promoting the comprehensive development of the digital economy. It raises questions: How exactly are game engines key for the progress of digital reality integration and how have they driven the development of a number of key technologies such as AI and cloud rendering? How is game technology the fundamental driving force behind creating some of the best experiences in digital reality integration, and how are these driving the digital transformation of various industries?
CREATING ‘SUPER DIGITAL SCENES’
The game engine is the foundation for creating ‘super digital scenes’. The digital content creation, physics simulation and realistic rendering technologies in game engines provide strong support for the twin of the real world. In addition to the capabilities of traditional digital content creation (DCC) tools, game engines provide various automatic and semi-automatic technologies and tools, such as procedural content generation (PCG) and photogrammetry-based 3D reconstruction, to accelerate digital content creation. PCG technology has been widely used in the game industry for more than five years and can greatly improve production efficiency in areas such as scene construction. Through PCG technology, a large-scale city scene containing complex structures such as roads, overpasses, buildings, and natural elements like vegetation can be created with the collaboration of technical artists and level designers.
Another important direction of digital content creation is utilising algorithms and deep learning techniques, which enable high-quality digital twins of real-world objects to be created more quickly. Game engine technology, utilising simulation methods combined with GPU acceleration algorithms and deep learning fitting algorithms, can better support high-performance, real-time physics simulation calculations, providing another layer of assurance for creating a realistic ‘super-digital scene.’ Rendering technology is another key aspect – the rendering capabilities of game engines are needed to bring ‘illuminatio’ into the digital scene, lighting up every point and surface in the ‘super digital scene’.
Game engines possess the industry’s most powerful real-time lighting and material rendering capabilities. Through techniques such as lightmapping, they can bring lighting and shadows of near-movie quality into the world, resulting in a realistic visual experience. In recent years, lighting and rendering technology has continued to advance rapidly. In the near future, we can expect rendering performance that is ‘indistinguishable from reality’ and even surpasses the real world.
DRIVING DIGITAL REALITY INTEGRATION
The rapid development of game technology has made it possible for us to explore ‘super digital scenes’, and it has provided an ideal foundation for the development of VR, AR, and XR industries driven by digital entertainment demands.
The game industry’s development has also placed higher demands on GPU computing power, which has directly promoted the advancement of deep learning technology. By combining game technology with AI, for example, we can simulate and explore autonomous driving scenarios and conduct a series of training and testing for autonomous driving in virtual environments, which are otherwise limited by objective conditions in real-life scenarios. This greatly accelerates the development of the autonomous driving industry. Furthermore, game technology has been widely applied in fields such as education, industrial design, and urban planning, promoting the accelerated development of these domains.
This brings me on to exploring how game technology is being used in the field of digital reality integration to develop and boost a number of industries. Tencent has recently announced its collaboration with China Southern airline Xiangyi Training to develop a new flight simulation visual system based on Tencent’s self-developed game engine technology, CrossEngine. The full-motion flight simulator is a piece of high-precision equipment in the aviation manufacturing field, capable of realistically simulating various flight attitudes, manoeuvres, and special emergency situations such as take-off and landing, providing pilots with the most authentic training experience.
The partnership represents a breakthrough in autonomous intellectual property rights in the field of civil aviation flight training, opening up more possibilities for the development of aviation technology and accelerating the technological progress in China’s civil aviation sector.
Furthermore, Tencent Games has also contributed to the ‘All-Sky Tracking Hunter Constellation’ project led by the Key Laboratory of Particle Astrophysics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The project draws upon planning algorithms accumulated from our expertise in game AI technology to track and observe the massive number of celestial bodies in different sky regions – something previous telescopes have been unable to do which has led to the loss of many important scientific discoveries.
Another exciting activation is the Digital Great Wall project – the first-ever application of cloud gaming technology in the preservation of human cultural heritage. Through Tencent’s cloud gaming technology, we provide users with the experience of exploring the majestic Great Wall in the virtual cloud, allowing the public to witness the digital marvel.
The development of game technology is not in isolation from other industries – it has always been mutually driven and developed in tandem with cutting-edge technologies, accumulating a series of unique technical capabilities. With the continuous progress of technology and our evolving understanding, games will undoubtedly integrate into more aspects of social development and everyday living, unleashing even greater technological power and richer value.