what exactly is being “improved” when we see games graphically improving with time?
I understand that in a game world, we have different graphical features that come together to produce the visuals we see in a game, like lighting, textures, anti aliasing, etc. What I’m wondering is, when we see a company that comes out with the latest, visually mind blowing game in a series (lets take Uncharted as an example) what is involved in making the graphics nicer? What is setting, say Uncharted 4, apart from Uncharted 3? What’s happening under the hood that produces these improved graphics? Are the engineers at the company actually writing new equations or code to model reflections, water, shadows, and things differently? Is this just because hardware is becoming more powerful?
Sorry if the question is vaguely worded, it is tricky for me to nail given I am not of a technical background myself.