I can't believe this is not a real forest but a game engine

If you're a hardcore gamer, you probably know Snowdrop, the new game engine used in the new Tom Clancy's The Division. I'm not, so I learned about Snowdrop through this new video just released for the Game Developers Conference 2014. It's unbelievable.

In the words of one of the artists who used it to create The Division, Snowdrop is a scripted engine to create worlds, one that it's so elegant, modular, easy and fun that using it feels like playing with Lego.

If you're anything like us, the first thing you'll notice are those trees. Stretching skyward in a lush forest, these barked behemoths are gorgeously detailed, with gentle moss clinging to the trunks, abundant pine needles draping downward, and fecund ferns dotting the ground.

That's great, but what really amazes me is that this engine—and other next-generation engines like it—is the closest thing yet to a real world simulation in which everything is parametric and everything interacts with everything else. From a dust particle affected by the heat of a light source to the paint of the a car affected by the snow, this actually feels like the real world.

Of course, it's not as complex as the real world is. We don't have the computing power yet to make that happen. But we will very soon. The people who created Snowdrop—Swedish developer Massive—and other developers are just paving the way for future reality simulations in which things will just happen like in real life. They have taken another step to create the alternate dimensions that one day will form a real life Matrix. Many of them.

Alternate realities in which you will be able to live, first with headsets similar to the Oculus Rift and later with who knows what. Holodecks? Direct computer-to-brain interfaces? Whatever it is, it will be so immersive that we will be able to forget about the real world.

Sounds crazy, but if the "real world" is just an interpretation by our senses and brain of a gazillion subatomic particles interacting with each other in space and time, what's the difference with something that makes your brain believe it's elsewhere?

I don't know about you, but I can't wait to see this happening.


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