So impressive is the image-based lighting used in Forza Motorsport 4 that it will pave the way for all future video games to look better, Turn 10 studio creative director Dan Greenawalt revealed at gamescom last week.
Greenawalt couldn't say enough good things about the IBL which is a technique taken straight out of Hollywood.
"So I'm going to take you to the Alps. This is an original track we debuted at E3, and this track was designed for two reasons: one, we went on location to the Alps and we captured some of the most amazing driving roads, but also we have a new lighting engine in Forza Motorsport 4. We hired guys from Pixar, we hired guys from Hollywood, to help us develop a lighting engine more similar to what we see in Toy Story 3 and Cars 2. Now, there are a couple of other games that are experimenting with this, and I think in the next 10 years this will become the norm, as Hollywood techniques make their way into gaming, but what this allows us to do is have a game that runs at 60 frames per second, with cutting-edge physics, and cutting-edge AI, but also, the cars are perfectly seated in the gaming environment.
"Because, in most games - including Forza 3 - you have a lighting engine for the car, and a lighting engine for the environment, and you tune them so they look as similar as possible. But whenever you get into extremes, like snow and extra rock - these extreme contrast spaces, or organics right next to architecture - it starts falling apart, because you can't tune it so it works in both cases. But with IBL, the car just works. No matter where we go. So we built the track that make that system really shine. We have all these draw distances, with snow, rock and architecture - that would have been impossible in Forza 3. But with IBL it just works. It just works great. That made all the tracks look better - Laguna Seca, Silverstone - they all look better."
He later added: "We also share techniques, so we work with the guys from epic, from 343, we work with the guys from Bungie and we trade secrets. So it means you've got multiple development communities - all with really smart, clever people –saying 'Hey, have you ever tried to use your shaders in this way?' because we're all working on the same platform. So you know what's going to happen? All of our techniques are going to be shared with everybody else, and all the games in the next few years are going look better after this, but they're also going to keep learning things that will make us better."
Forza 4 will be released October 14.