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Next Console Generation Defined By Software, Not Hardware

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the console-two-point-oh dept.

XBox (Games) 177

Fast Company recent spoke with Microsoft exec Shane Kim about Natal and the future of the Xbox 360. Kim said they're very interested in continuing to build out support for social networking and digital distribution, and he also made some interesting remarks about their long term plans. Quoting: "It really has much more to do with ... the innovation and longevity that will be created when Project Natal is added to that mix and the value and the entertainment options that we continue to expand on Xbox Live. The 'next generation' will be defined by software and services, not hardware. In the past we would always get this question: 'Hey, there's a new console launch every five years and you're coming up on that time for Xbox, right?' That's the old treadmill way of thinking. Before you had things that were very obvious, from a hardware standpoint — pushing more pixels, the move from 2-D to 3-D, 3-D to HD, etc. We got a very powerful piece of hardware in Xbox 360. I am confident that we have more headroom available, in terms of developers and creators figuring out how to get more out of the system. So I worry less about new hardware having to enable us to move to a different level of graphics. It's much more about the experiences that you are going to deliver."

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177 comments

fp (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28892531)

ladies, get your pussies ready!

Re:fp (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28893773)

You keep saying that I keep readying the pussy and nothing happens. My cat is getting quite annoyed with all the brushing.

As opposed to the current generation.. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28892535)

Where the console with the best hardware (PS3) is winning, and the under-specced Wii is in a distant third place.

Oh, wait.

Re:As opposed to the current generation.. (3, Insightful)

Goldberg's Pants (139800) | more than 4 years ago | (#28892547)

It's a nonsense comment. The software ALREADY defines the consoles. You can have the latest hardware in the world, but if you have no decent games, your system is a paper weight.

Microsoft really do know how to make something out of absolutely nothing don't they...

Re:As opposed to the current generation.. (2, Insightful)

DeadDecoy (877617) | more than 4 years ago | (#28892595)

I wouldn't say the several billion they invested to enter the market was nothing...
The problem with the PS3 is not that it doesn't have software but that it's software and features don't distinguish it enough from the cheaper competitor: Microsoft. The Wii OTOH did a couple of things right: target a broader audience, secure exclusive titles for their system, and set a lower price. Software is certainly a significant part of selling a console, but there are other contributing factors like price and accessibility.

Re:As opposed to the current generation.. (1)

Spit (23158) | more than 4 years ago | (#28893317)

Aside from game players, Wii is marketed to the same people who buy pilates and tai-bo DVDs and exercise bikes.

Re:As opposed to the current generation.. (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28894387)

People who are more attractive than you?

Re:As opposed to the current generation.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28894757)

Replying to remove mod. Hit flamebait instead of funny...

Re:As opposed to the current generation.. (0)

sam0vi (985269) | more than 4 years ago | (#28894589)

IThe problem with the PS3 is not that it doesn't have software but ...

Let me stop you right there. The reason why the PS3 is not dominating the market is completely software related. It's related to the fact that you can't pirate PS3 games (hooray DRM!!). The very same reason why they made it so big with their first console (pirating games for the original PlayStation was the greatest selling point of their platform) is the reason they are not dominating right now. I noticed this a while back while thinking about purchasing a new console. If you do the math, xbos360 and a few pirate games totally wins over the PS3 and 50+ euros per game.
Just my 2 cents.

Re:As opposed to the current generation.. (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28895447)

You're an idiot.

Re:As opposed to the current generation.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28892663)

We need a "-1, Missed The Point" modifier.

Re:As opposed to the current generation.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28892705)

Don't be ridiculous. I posted AC, so of course my comment will be modded -1 Flamebait (or Troll), and the responder who didn't bother reading the "Oh, wait" will be modded +5 Insightful.

Re:As opposed to the current generation.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28893213)

I posted that, stoopid AC !

Re:As opposed to the current generation.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28894039)

I am SpartACus !

Re:As opposed to the current generation.. (2, Interesting)

Patoski (121455) | more than 4 years ago | (#28892701)

It's a nonsense comment. The software ALREADY defines the consoles. You can have the latest hardware in the world, but if you have no decent games, your system is a paper weight.

Yes, software the console with the best software library wins (e.g. PS1, PS2, and Wii). And yes, none of the those consoles had the best hardware of their generation.

However, I think you're missing the new nugget of information here. The software playing field has been stretched and MS is relying on software other than games (which are mostly cross platform now) to be their key differentiator. We've already seen some of this, but it looks like we'll be seeing a lot more.

MS has wanted to be the home entertainment hub for about a decade now (WebTV, Media Center PCs, etc.) but has failed so far. It will be interesting to see how successful MS will be at pushing the Xbox into the center of our home entertainment centers. I also wonder how much more time MS has (maybe a one more generation?) before their shareholders revolt due to the 360 hemorrhaging cash over its lifetime.

Re:As opposed to the current generation.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28892897)

The Xbox department turned profitable in early 2008... Given that the first Xbox finished as a loss, that would mean the 360 would have to have had to recoup its losses AND the first xbox's for the department to turn profitable. The reason for the delay in turning profitable was due to the 2 billion dollar RROD investment. THIS IS OLD NEWS, please stop trying to get the 360fan boys, and ps3 fan boys going!

Re:As opposed to the current generation.. (1, Interesting)

Patoski (121455) | more than 4 years ago | (#28893211)

The Xbox department turned profitable in early 2008... Given that the first Xbox finished as a loss, that would mean the 360 would have to have had to recoup its losses AND the first xbox's for the department to turn profitable. The reason for the delay in turning profitable was due to the 2 billion dollar RROD investment.

I think investors are really only looking for a return on their investment for a single generation of hardware. I believe almost everyone overlooks the loss the first XBox took as the price of admission into the console market.

Also, blaming the RROD is pointless since initial execution has NEVER been MS' strong suit. MS constantly has these sorts of big issues when they ship major revisions of their product. Writing this incident off as a singular mistake ignores MS' long history of shipping initially buggy products.

On the other hand, the longer this console generations life cycle drags on, the more it plays into MS' hands. If nothing else MS is good at steadily improving their products over time (e.g. the old "don't buy MS software until SP2" rule of thumb).

Re:As opposed to the current generation.. (4, Insightful)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 4 years ago | (#28892797)

You know, the perfect example of this is the Gamecube and Wii.

The Wii is basically an overclocked gamecube with some new input devices. (oversimplification, but you get the idea)

Compare 2001 Gamecube games to 2008/2009 Wii games, and look at the difference in graphics quality. Twilight Princess is available on gamecube, and it puts earlier titles to shame.

So yes, I agree - software already defines the console.

Re:As opposed to the current generation.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28893365)

Twilight Princess looks like shit. It's hard to play a game when you can't even make out what objects are supposed to be because they are so low poly, low resolution and blurry.

Re:As opposed to the current generation.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28892839)

Posting AC not to undo moderation...

Yes, software is definitely where it's at! Just look at the Wii sales, despite its graphics that are lagging behind even the old xbox, and by a long shot. The 2nd best selliong console? The DS, which also doesn't have high end graphics. It comes down to having a lot of new, fun games. Not everyone is dying for the latest WW2-themed FPS in 1080p.

That beind said, I recently stumbled across a short "article" named why the wii will never get any better [hackmii.com]. That provides a lot of ingisht about the Wii's software stack. They better get their act together, or their sales of the next gen consoles will probably drop just like before the NES/famicom.

I'm buying a 360 soon, half because it's a DLNA player, and half because it supports newer games. The gamepads also work with our PCs as a bonus.

Re:As opposed to the current generation.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28894373)

The Playstation 2 is still the best selling console, with almost 3 times the total sales numbers as the Wii. I know the Nintendo fanboys like to ignore that, but with combined PS2, PS3 and PSP sales, Sony is in the lead.

Re:As opposed to the current generation.. (2, Insightful)

electrosoccertux (874415) | more than 4 years ago | (#28892805)

Aside from the Bluray I'd say the Xbox360 has better hardware. Having 3 dual threaded in order processors is infinitely better than one single threaded in order processor with 7 crippled DSPs strapped on. The graphics card on the PS3 is no better; had the PS3 come out when scheduled it would have been top of the line hardware, but having a 7800GT in the console was rather unimpressive given when it came out, IMHO...

The Cell was built to easily pump through HD media (they were planning it for handling their Bluray content) and was designed before ATI/Nvidia started decoding HD video on the card. It was not designed for games.

I don't really care though. Bluray will likely be to DVD what the CD was to the cassette-- there will be no need for a new video content format. Theater quality (or better) video with as many sound channels as you want? DVD was nice, but there was still room for improvement. Any new format from now on will likely go the way of the SACD or DVD-Audio....

Re:As opposed to the current generation.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28892971)

Calling the Cell SPEs "crippled DSPs" is absurd. Also, the GPU in the PS3 is not a 7800GT, it's a 7800GTX with considerably higher memory bandwidth.

Re:As opposed to the current generation.. (1)

XDirtypunkX (1290358) | more than 4 years ago | (#28893361)

If by considerably higher you mean lower. The 7800 GTX 256 (not the faster 512) had 38.4 gigs a second, vs the RSX's 22.4 gigs. Of course, the RSX can read from main memory at a good 15.5 gigs a second, in optimal circumstances when you're not relying on the 22.4 from the local memory. But even if the RSX could do both (full speed from main memory and local memory), 22.4 + 15.5 is only 37.9.

The Cell SPE's aren't crippled DSPs, they're regular DSPs and have a lot of trouble with things like branching or algorithms requiring scatter-gather across a large datastructure.

Re:As opposed to the current generation.. (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#28893017)

Right, software makes or breaks a console, but at the end of the day, previous generations have been defined by the hardware. As in, you'd say "Final fantasy 7 and 9 were two of the games I played most that generation." Graphically and otherwise, they were very different, but they were still the same generation because they were still on the same console. They're how everyone marked the progress in console videogames.

Microsoft isn't so hot to waste more money on developing a new console, partly because of the wii's success, they think they can make more money by making games aimed at a wider audience rather than advancing the hardware. It makes sense then that they are going to try to run in place while their PR machine claims it's actually moving forward.

I'm fine with the current generation (hardware) lasting longer, I'm in no rush to buy the next expensive console and might not bother. I know other people think that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, and want the next generation to hurry up, but I'd submit that these people should probably have switched to PCs years ago, that they should give me the money they'd waste on a new console, and that they should remember how boring a new console's library typically is during the launch year or two. So I'm okay with it, but this is pure spin on MS's part, trying to take something that is a disappointment to some people and trying to turn it into a positive for them. It's not really the next generation, if you're not putting out new generations of hardware, then there's no reason to be calling it a "generation."

Different genres (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#28894427)

I know other people think that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, and want the next generation to hurry up, but I'd submit that these people should probably have switched to PCs years ago

PCs and consoles have historically specialized in different genres of video games. PCs have more FPS and RTS because of their input method (keyboard and mouse); consoles have more single-screen multiplayer games because of their output method (larger screen that more people can see at once). So fans of console-style genres, like party games and fighting games, can't easily switch to PCs unless they want to stay in emulators all the time.

yeah, it's more about platforms these days (3, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#28893103)

In the really old days, a platform was almost synonymous with its hardware: when you wrote straight assembly on the Atari VCS and directly controlled the video interface, the hardware was your game platform. What you could or couldn't do on the platform was more or less defined but what you could or couldn't get its bizarre hardware to do. (There's an excellent recent book [amazon.com] that traces just how big an influence the Atari's odd hardware had on its game design, among other things.)

But that hasn't been true for a while. Sure, hardware is still an important part of the platform. But so are lots of other things. What's the programming model? What kind of SDK do you have? What libraries are there? How does the platform look to a programmer? What can they do with it easily and what's hard to do on it? Hardware is only one of the things from that perspective; unless you're programming on bare metal, what matters is the entire stack. The hardware could be so terrible or so great that it makes or breaks the entire stack. But I would suspect that of the things that can be an impediment to producing a good game on a particular platform, "the hardware just couldn't support what we wanted to do" is the bottleneck less and less often.

film izle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28893805)

www.filmvemp3.com yabancı film izle

Re:As opposed to the current generation.. (1)

Fluff the Tiger (700346) | more than 4 years ago | (#28894625)

Yes, the ps3 is obviously the best hardware, because there are so many games that look better on it compared to the 360. Wait a minute...

Re:As opposed to the current generation.. (4, Insightful)

Bakkster (1529253) | more than 4 years ago | (#28895557)

It's the PS3 exclusives, where the developers really dove into the system, where the PS3 excells. On cross-platform games the developer usually ports their code for the 360 over to the PS3, and it never gets that same level of polish.

The PS3 has more potential, but they ask a lot of their developers to utilize it, due to the Cell processor requiring different techniques to get the speed. More powerful, but at the cost of unfamiliarity.

So 'best' depends on the viewpoint. Sony has the most powerful hardware, but also the most difficult to develop for. Because of this, 'best' will always be a debate between the fans.

It's a PC. (5, Insightful)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 4 years ago | (#28892539)

Sounds like they're trying to turn the console into a locked-down PC.

Re:It's a PC. (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 4 years ago | (#28892563)

You're spot on, but about 8 years late. This was MS' goal ever since the XBox. A locked down PC that MS has complete control over is MS last chance at regaining some of its past monopolistic swagger. And before anyone brings up the Playstation, Sony is playing the same game. They're just a bit behind.

Re:It's a PC. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28895409)

Sony is playing the same game. They're just a bit behind.

Right, right. That's probably why the console is region free for games, supports all sorts of third party peripherals and devices and lets you install linux on it, huh?

Re:It's a PC. (1)

gbarules2999 (1440265) | more than 4 years ago | (#28895569)

And before anyone brings up the Playstation, Sony is playing the same game. They're just a bit behind.

The Linux support in the PlayStation 3 suggests that they want a PC that's not nearly as locked down as Microsoft's dream machine.

Re:It's a PC. (1)

dissy (172727) | more than 4 years ago | (#28893087)

Sounds like they're trying to turn the console into a locked-down PC.

Close. They tried with the original Xbox. With the 360, they did, and did it fairly well.

Re:It's a PC. (3, Insightful)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 4 years ago | (#28893383)

Sounds like they're trying to turn the console into a locked-down PC.

Close. They tried with the original Xbox. With the 360, they did, and did it fairly well.

except that part where they didn't, as evidenced by the billion xbox360 iso's floating around p2p networks.

Re:It's a PC. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28893777)

yup. in fact, its even easier now because its all firmware modding not solder

Re:It's a PC. (1)

no_junk (1541865) | more than 4 years ago | (#28893979)

Well they hacked the DVD player to run "bk-ups", but as far as I know there is no way to modify the console's firmware or make it run linux (not on the latest firmware version anyway). So the console is quite closed, you can't get it to play those quicktime files you are to lazy to transcode, you can only do what M$ alows. Also if you mod your dvd drive there is decent a risk of the console being banned from Xbox Live if you don't properly check your "bk-ups" before playing them.

This video explains the 360's security [youtube.com], and why it is hard to break.

Re:It's a PC. (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 4 years ago | (#28894007)

correction, there is no ECONOMICAL way to make it run linux.

it's quite hackable, its simply less expensive now to build a PC with the same capabilities from fresh components.

adjusting for inflation its much cheaper to do this than it was when the original xbox hit store shelves.

since hacking is mostly about utility, and expense is part of utility, there simply isnt the effort being put into it.

Re:It's a PC. (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#28894447)

its simply less expensive now to build a PC with the same capabilities [as an Xbox 360 Arcade console] from fresh components.

Including the ability to output composite video to an SDTV and component video to an HDTV? At $199 without a hard drive? If so, I'd like to see your exact parts list so I can take it to NewEgg tonight.

Re:It's a PC. (2, Interesting)

bdeclerc (129522) | more than 4 years ago | (#28895139)

I just bought a second hand portable that can do all that, and I bought it for 150...

Re:It's a PC. (1)

dontPanik (1296779) | more than 4 years ago | (#28894737)

Sounds like they're trying to turn the console into a locked-down PC

You could make the argument that any console is a locked-down PC. But with every generation they add new features to these bastardized PCs.

sounds like... (1)

R.Morton (1540993) | more than 4 years ago | (#28892571)

They have finally decided to use the console's hardware to until they find it's absolute limits, I mean they usually kill of game consoles before the console really is used to it's max potential. so for once some one is thinking smart build better software instead of a console and it is a tad cheaper than hardware R&D.

R.Morton

The technology doesn't exist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28892579)

The fact is they don't have a device that can handle the storage needs for next generation games. Even blue ray can't handle what would qualify as next generation. The technology simply doesn't exist to create something the consumer would see as a step forward and you can dance around it and try to re-frame the issue but this guy is paid to bullshit us and should be put on a list of corporate liars.

There is only so much you can do with software (0)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 4 years ago | (#28892629)

While replacing the Wii OS with XBox 360 graphics drivers looks attractive, lets remember that Wii's hardware limits the capabilities.
I cannot add v186.18 to nVidia 8600GT card and expect to play Crysis in Full glory. (Although i can fry it [faqs.org])
To extent it is possible, like the brain transplant Pioneer 10 had when it approached Jupiter and the one Voyager 2 had.
But not much.
If that were true, then we'd all be running Windows Vista on 80386 chip and playing Crysis and CoH:ToV parallelly.

Re:There is only so much you can do with software (1)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 4 years ago | (#28892743)

Let's also remember that people desire the "limited" Wii far more than the 360. Shane's point is that Gamers aren't just looking for "Crysis in full glory". They want creative ideas, like the Wii. And creativity doesn't happen with the predictability of hardware generations.

It's fitting, though, that Microsoft would decide to be Innovative by doing exactly what Nintendo did a few years ago.

Re:There is only so much you can do with software (1)

grumbel (592662) | more than 4 years ago | (#28893353)

Let's also remember that people desire the "limited" Wii far more than the 360.

Thats because the Wii is pretty alone in its market, while the 360 has the PS3 as competition. If you look at the numbers you see that there are ~52mil Wiis out, while ~55mil PS3+Xbox360, so hardcore gaming isn't exactly dieing, its every bit as successful as casual gaming.

And in terms of creativity I really would look at the Wii. Sure, the controller was innovative, but the games? Most are just cheaply made cash-cows and even the good ones are just sequels that more often then not wouldn't even need the Wiimote (Mario, MarioKart, SmashBros, Zelda).

Re:There is only so much you can do with software (1)

gbarules2999 (1440265) | more than 4 years ago | (#28895603)

The Wii is not innovative. The Wii was just marketed in a way that made you think it was. the games are all the same old shit but instead of turning an analog stick you tilt your wrist.

This Microsoft fellow has it wrong. The next console generation will be defined by the marketing team, not by hardware or software.

Re:There is only so much you can do with software (1)

Draek (916851) | more than 4 years ago | (#28893107)

But graphics can only be improved so much until you can no longer use it to market your game.

Left 4 Dead, for instance, still sells like hot cakes despite not looking anywhere near as good as Crysis in "full glory", and so does Counter Strike which even in the Source version looks worse than both.

Microsoft just realized what Nintendo already had (and Sony should have after the PS2): that there *is* such thing as "good enough", and that we've reached it already.

Re:There is only so much you can do with software (1)

donaldm (919619) | more than 4 years ago | (#28893813)

But graphics can only be improved so much until you can no longer use it to market your game.

By that I assume that the current 1080p (1920x1080) resolution is good enough for most people up to 60" screen sizes. To get better you would need to double that in both axis again and increase the maximum possible size of the screen which would require a much larger room. Not to say that can't be done but most people don't have a living room that suits a 100" plus screen.

Left 4 Dead, for instance, still sells like hot cakes despite not looking anywhere near as good as Crysis in "full glory", and so does Counter Strike which even in the Source version looks worse than both.

Most people's PC's monitors are less then 24" and many don't even support HP 1080p so even if you did have a larger PC screen with much higher resolution it is going to cost allot more since you will require a more expensive graphics card as well. My son has a full HD 24" 1080p quad core PC with a top (well two years ago) video card and Crysis does not even install even though he has a genuine Win XP OS. Solution pirate the game you have already paid for. Same again for "World in Conflict" and eventually you ask yourself why should I bother paying for a DRM game.

Microsoft just realized what Nintendo already had (and Sony should have after the PS2): that there *is* such thing as "good enough", and that we've reached it already.

Comparing a PS2 game to a PS3 game you can easily see the difference since the PS2 was designed for Standard Definition TV's while the PS3 was for HDTV. I have a backwards compatible PS3 and PS2 games on my HDTV look very good and are still very playable graphically because my PS3 can up-scale and smooth so "good enough" applies here. PS1 games even the good ones do tend to look grainy so they are not acceptable at least to me so there are now only a few PS1 games I would consider playing now so "good enough" does not apply here.

I have a Gamecube and while the games are playable and acceptable on my HDTV (37", 720p) you can pick the reduced graphics quality which does detract from the overall enjoyment of the game. I suppose "good enough" could apply here but I would prefer "just acceptable". So basically if you have a HDTV it is hard to play a game that is made for an SDTV unless that game can be up-scaled and smoothed properly. Unfortunately the larger the HDTV the worse the SDTV graphics looks even when up-scaled and smoothed although "barely acceptable" still comes to mind.

Like it or not HDTV will replace SDTV and people will want HDTV content hence the move to purchasing HDTV ready game machines such as the Xbox360 and the PS3 which together exceed the overall sales of the Wii although not by a huge amount yet.

If good enough was true in games we would all be playing pong and liking it :)

Re:There is only so much you can do with software (1)

ciderVisor (1318765) | more than 4 years ago | (#28894117)

If good enough was true in games we would all be playing pong and liking it :)

Hey, I play Pong and I like it, you insensitive clod !

Re:There is only so much you can do with software (1)

gbarules2999 (1440265) | more than 4 years ago | (#28895625)

The big difference is that any additional graphical additions will not add to the gameplay. Now that games have a ridiculous draw distance on this generation (which was really the last piece of the puzzle), there are very few technological advancements that would advance gameplay in any significant way. THIS is why we have "good enough" mentalities running around. The games can look nicer, but when playing the game, it's the same thing from five years ago, only shiner and more detailed.

Re:There is only so much you can do with software (1)

imakemusic (1164993) | more than 4 years ago | (#28893687)

You say it as if limiting capabilities is a bad thing. Hopefully it will force the developers to be more creative and we'll get some decent games instead of the same repackaged shite with slightly higher framerate/pixel count/level of detail.

Re:There is only so much you can do with software (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#28894441)

You say it as if limiting capabilities is a bad thing. Hopefully it will force the developers to be more creative and we'll get some decent games instead of the same repackaged shite with slightly higher framerate/pixel count/level of detail.

But if the limitations are sufficiently severe, some game designs just aren't possible. Consider even Nintendo's Animal Crossing: Wild World, a game with "kiddie" graphics. I'm working on a detailed explanation of why it couldn't have been made in the NES era [pineight.com].

Re:There is only so much you can do with software (1)

imakemusic (1164993) | more than 4 years ago | (#28894473)

That may be true but over the last few generations of consoles the majority of games have just been keeping up with the progression in power and not pushing the limits of what is available - rarely even bringing anything new to the table other than a nice lens flare or reflection...

Translation (1)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 4 years ago | (#28892637)

The 'next generation' will be defined by software and services, not hardware.

Translation:

The bean-counters upstairs told me they weren't going to throw another NN Billion dollars at hardware that hasn't yet made a return on investment.

Re:Translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28892691)

Alternate translation:

The Wii beat the pants off us despite having a fraction of our console's power, and after scrambling to figure out why, we think it has something to do with "games". We're still working on it.

Puhleeezzzzz (1)

mindbrane (1548037) | more than 4 years ago | (#28892643)

The software is lagging behind hardware on every PCish platform. So now the hardware is so far ahead some developer is talking about room to develop a new experience. How sad is that. Kids use their gaming boxes to gossip with one another while their gaming, that's the only recent real development. The games aren't going anywhere because all that's being added is more dynamic detail to the same old tired story lines. Go read the epic of Gilgamesh written about 3000 or so years ago, it's the same old story a fight for love and glory. There are new paths to be found for gamers but they're going to come from creative genius that delivers a new experience from a now, nearly formed matrix nested in the mature Internet. MS doesn't do creative, not ever, never; it's not just anathema to them, it's outside their event horizon.

Isn't this inevitable? (3, Insightful)

Max Romantschuk (132276) | more than 4 years ago | (#28892647)

As we achieve a given level of sophistication in any field and make technological limits virtually go away, the limiting factor is always going to be human creativity.

Take oil painting, for instance. We've had mostly all the colors we need for hundreds and hundreds of years. Yet, new and interesting art is still being created. When the development of paints were still in the early stages I'm sure people marveled at new colors like we today marvel at ever more photo realistic graphics. But once the initial excitement wears off what we're really left with is how good the game plays, how well written the story is, etc.

Games, like books, paintings, movies and so many other things before them, will not be defined by technological achievements in the coming centuries. The best games I've played to date aren't good because of tech, but great stories and immersive and imaginative environments. Grim Fandango is still the best game I've played to date story-wise, and while the replay value of an adventure game like that is sadly very low I'm very much looking forward to playing it again with my kids once they are old enough. It is worth noting that i played Grim Fandango as an adult, so the nostalgia factor is not dimming my senses much at least... ;)

Re:Isn't this inevitable? (1)

crazybit (918023) | more than 4 years ago | (#28892807)

Anyone who has ever watched an oil painting knows that, for hundreds of years, painters have had more "resolution and colors" than the highest multimedia/gaming equipment available. Painting with oil is an "analog" process that can't be compared with digital imaging. Until a "Mona Lisa" picture in our computer has the same detail and resolution than the original people will always demand better graphics/hardware.

Re:Isn't this inevitable? (3, Informative)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 4 years ago | (#28893377)

I just blew off some mod points to answer this. An oil painting has terrible resolution, get up close and you can only see dawbs of paint. Stand back and those dawbs of paint turn into tiny details that look almost photo realistic.

The skill of the artist is not to acurately paint what is in front of him, the skill is to trick the veiwers brain into seeing what artist wants them to see. The "high resolution" of the Mona Lisa when viewed from a few feet is simply your brain filling out the details that are not actually there when you examine the painting closely.

Re:Isn't this inevitable? (3, Interesting)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 4 years ago | (#28893553)

Ok. Then take a known, low-res source: A movie on DVD. Say, "The Matrix". 32 bit color, 720x480 resolution. Laughably low, right? I mean, that's WII-level specs!

And yet a well-done movie on DVD looks FAR better than a 1080p clip of gameplay on a PS3. Why? Because the modeling, animation, and physics are lagging FAR behind raw resolution.

Re:Isn't this inevitable? (1)

donaldm (919619) | more than 4 years ago | (#28893939)

The problem is that humans have physical limitations such as a hearing limit of approx 20kHz and with 1080p HDTV's you are reaching what the human eye can distinguish unless you are up close and if you are up close you very quickly get a headache. The only area that has potential is smell and touch and that raises some interesting problems. For touch, force feedback comes to mind although how much force begs the question. Smell? well imagine entering a game area that has a huge collection of zombies or a cave full of poison. I will leave the rest to your imagination :~)

Re:Isn't this inevitable? (2, Insightful)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 4 years ago | (#28892833)

I fully agree with you. I'm more impressed by advances in story telling tech, than fancy graphics. Mass Effect, for example.

Mind you, both never hurt.

In the past I was always more immersed in narrated games like Diablo II, than newer, more graphical games like Oblivion. Poor narration and amazing graphics (marred by the occasional horrible texture) really detracted from the experience, not to mention the totally unbalanced combat. I got much more pleasure out of earlier games.

Diablo II, Disciples II, Prince of Persia, Beyond Good & Evil, Psychonauts, Warcraft III; They have narration, solid gameplay, puzzles to solve(in some), and decent enough graphics not to detract from the experience.

Re:Isn't this inevitable? (1)

yoscar (1001460) | more than 4 years ago | (#28892951)

While I would like to agree with you, and the "best games" are in fact those who do manage to get the (interesting, wonderful) story across in an imaginative way, technology--in this case hardware--has lent a quite helpful hand at making games easier to immerse into. Take Crysis as an example. The story is laughable at best, the gameplay is simply the gathering of various gimmicks from other games into a single one, and to a certain degree it is truly just another generic first-person shooter. Its graphics, however, are still the best ones seen in a video game released so far, and it has been almost two years and few games have been able to rival it in terms of graphical impressiveness (Killzone 2 in the lightning and animation department, Uncharted in both animation and lushness, MGS4 in amount of particles on-screen at once, etc.) but none have surpassed it. Oh, crap, sorry. I seem to be derailing from my main point. When I first booted up Crysis, I could not believe my eyes. The videos I had seen beforehand did it no justice. I broke ever single tree and house in through the first two level, marveling at the amount of detail every time the tree slowly fell down. It was a wonderful sight indeed. Grabbing the enemies and looking at the amount of detail that went into creating the facial textures was amazing. I was completely immersed in the game, almost to the point of feeling physically hurt every time the character was shot. And this wasn't done thanks to the story, or gameplay mechanics (well, it was, actually), but because of the graphics. Hell, I was running it at a mix of medium-high settings and would sometimes turn it all the way to very high just to marvel at the slideshow. Again, I want to agree with you, but a push for graphics/technology is a complete necessity. id did wonders back in the 90s with the Dooms and Quakes, Valve with their Half-Lives and Crytek with Crysis. You may argue that storytelling is essential, and I have to admit that I am a sucker for the Metal Gear Solid series (note: MGS2 was compelling, despite what all the haters say) and the LucasArts games, but graphics, well executed properly in conjunction with the rest of the game, are as essential if not more important than anything else. In short, I hope that certain developers will still want to push beyond our current hardware's capabilities.

Re:Isn't this inevitable? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28894097)

I'm going to disagree with you here yoscar, as I much prefer a wonderful story and entertaining gameplay over graphics.

I had tried crysis and couldn't get through the game due to how boring the game was to play. It looked absolutely incredible yes - but it was just another linear FPS with exceptional graphics in the end. Felt more like a Doom or Quake engine demo then a game to me. This isn't to say that graphics aren't an important part of any game - they are - however they aren't the most important part in my opinion (not even close). Look at Dwarf Fortress, or Nethack for excellent games with poor graphics.

Heck - I fired up my old Commodore 64 the other day to play some Legacy of the Ancients and wow - that game was just as awesome to play through now as it was 20 years ago. I'm currently playing through Septerra Core, Ultima VII, and Anachronox and finding the stories in them to be incredible even if the graphics are somewhat lacking.

Re:Isn't this inevitable? (1)

dennison_uy (313760) | more than 4 years ago | (#28893587)

Sure, gameplay is very important but you have to admit - games with better graphics just sell better, although this does directly translate to a better game overall. In real world analogy, males (the target market) would most likely go for the more attractive female (e.g. a sexy blonde) than an average-looking one. This is also the reason why you see so many busty, sexy protagonists in games (e.g. Lara Croft). In the business perspective, it just makes sense to come up with better hardware to end up with better looking games.

Re:Isn't this inevitable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28895121)

Donkey Kong Country was not a better game than Super Mario World or Mario 3 despite having better graphics. What defines a better game is gameplay, not graphics. Your analogy is flawed because you assumed that the two women are equal in all aspects aside from looks. A better analogy would be a smart but average looking girl, versus a stupider, but better looking girl. The better looker would likely get more interest, but a lot of guys would've been happier with the smarter one.

Re:Isn't this inevitable? (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 4 years ago | (#28894171)

"The best games I've played to date aren't good because of tech, but great stories and immersive and imaginative environment"

I'm going to say that YES tech does matter since we're talking about game engines that define the SCOPE of an artists and level designers creativity, tech is just as much a part of the art. All good art you've ever seen, books, games, etc, require skill and technique and that is the essence of technology whether it is an artist or an engineer designing a game engine, or computer engineers designing next generation CPU's and GPU's which allow such creativity in the first place.

Go check out the water and atmospheric effects in Empire total war when doing ship battles, those are possible because of shader effects because of hardware advances which are all based on the tech. So yes, tech is just as important as all other aspects of a game regardless of whether the user is aware of it or not.

Microsoft is, after all, a software company (1)

Sc4Freak (1479423) | more than 4 years ago | (#28892727)

It makes sense that Microsoft would take this stance. They've already invested a lot of time an money on the Xbox 360 hardware. It took them this long to get the hardware right - I'm sure we all remember the RROD and related issues that plagued the early Xbox 360's.

Those are now sunk costs. It makes little sense to throw that investment away and create a new console with the latest and greatest hardware. Heck, the PS3's hardware may or may not be superior to the Xbox 360's, but the marketplace has proven that it's the software as the deciding factor, not the hardware. Despite the astounding number of hardware issues with the Xbox 360, it remains the most popular HD console this generation. Microsoft is a software company, and they want to keep doing what they do best: making software.

powerful piece of hardware? (5, Insightful)

crazybit (918023) | more than 4 years ago | (#28892755)

maybe it was "powerful" in 2005 when it was unveiled. But for today's standards, a Xenos graphics chip [wikipedia.org] is a joke. Xenos GPU was the precursor of the Radeon R600 processor [wikipedia.org], which was used up to Radeon HD 3400. You can get a Radeon HD 4650 [newegg.com] for under 50 bucks, and will totally obliterate Xbox's graphics capabilities.

Problem is gaming companies are making many titles "console only", or their PC ports are crappy emulation (like GTA4) - that leaves gamers with no choice but buying/using a console with outdated hardware.

Re:powerful piece of hardware? (5, Insightful)

BenevolentP (1220914) | more than 4 years ago | (#28893105)

I switched from exclusively PC gaming to exclusively console gaming about 5 years ago and never looked back. I could probably buy a house if i had saved the money i wasted in a hardware pissing contest i had with my friends ("doom looks so much smoother with my dx4/100. Oh, are these real instruments in the background? Have to buy a 200 Euro wavebank soundcard.") when i was younger.
Though i know high end PC hardware is cheaper now, i still enjoy not worrying if a game will work, if i really get the best/intended experience with my rig or if i rather should have waited a month to buy gfx card xy instead of xy+.
I have the same PC since about 5 years now, and will probably buy a new one when they become so small that you could accidentally inhale them.

Re:powerful piece of hardware? (1)

Krneki (1192201) | more than 4 years ago | (#28893329)

This is true, but PC gaming are the pinnacle of technology, this is why you pay so much for the hardware.

I'll stay with the PC, the main reason is that I don't like console games, they are too limited once you see what is possible on the PC.

Re:powerful piece of hardware? (1)

Spit (23158) | more than 4 years ago | (#28893159)

PC owners with better than Xenos hardware would be a small market; people aren't driven to upgrade and when they do it's usually just a baseline box, or increasingly a laptop. Only a hobbyist would really care about the differences between a nvidia 9500 and 9600. That and rampant piracy are why PC gaming is in the shitter.

Re:powerful piece of hardware? (3, Insightful)

Elshar (232380) | more than 4 years ago | (#28893527)

Piracy and high-end hardware isn't the problem with PC gaming today. The piracy part is caused mostly from two factors:

The Demos (When there are demos) released aren't very representative of the end product, and often misrepresent a game by only letting you play a small portion of it. Compare any demo these days to the "demo" for Wolfenstein 3D, Doom 1/2, or Quake. The first episode/group of levels was free, and served as a very good demo. You knew exactly what you were getting when you finally ponied up the money for the full version. Most game demos nowadays throw you halfway in the campaign somewhere and show you something which really has very little bearing on the actual game, but seems cool at first glance.

The other aspect is the shittacular DRM they're putting on games these days (Starforce, TAGES, etc) quite often cause serious problems when trying to actually play the game (Limited registrations, activations, etc). And that is driving people to get cracks for the games they bought, which gets them into the piracy scene (As they are the ones who release the cracks for the DRM).

The part of the high-end hardware has always been there, it always will be. There have always been developers pushing the graphics of the current-gen as far as they could and there have always been vendors trying to squeeze every ounce of performance out of their hardware. Mostly, the only problems have been at the driver layer and that seems to come and go in waves from vendor to vendor.

All things said, I'm both a console and PC gamer. I've got a newer rig I play games on, and I've got all the current-gen consoles, and I can honestly say I usually have more fun playing games on one of the three consoles rather than on the PC. The only exception might be first-person shooters. But I've never really liked playing FPS games with a gamepad/joystick.

Re:powerful piece of hardware? (1)

Saffaya (702234) | more than 4 years ago | (#28894123)

It seems that you are unaware of the advantage of having a standardized graphics subsystem.

This allows you to extract much more power from a given hardware (Console) than when you have to support different architectures (PC).

Which makes the direct comparison console gpu specs to PC gpu specs an incorrect move.

Re:powerful piece of hardware? (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 4 years ago | (#28895497)

I think that Microsoft is trying to get people to keep on buying the 360, even though many people might be thinking "I'll wait to see what they'll release next year". That's why they're so vocal that Natal will be entirely available to the current 360 as well.

The 360 and the PS3 aren't powerful enough for all games to run 1080p easily. Never mind 1080p/60, or 1080p/120 (for 3D displays).

Therefore they will both get an update, maybe a year later than the usual update cycle would suggest (i.e., 2012) because of the recession and also there's a lack of rumours. It won't be an earth-shattering change. PS3 may use a 32nm PowerXCell32 derivative with GT300+ graphics, 360 may use a six-eight core version of their current tri-core, with whatever AMD come out with graphics-wise next year. Note that these changes will be far more evolutionary, and may even only be enough to allow games to run in 1080p/120 on the PS4/"1080", which still running in 720p/60 on the PS3/360.

Or I could be entirely wrong... but I personally think that the current consoles are only 50% of what is needed for a long-term 1080p system, not the 100% that Sony and Microsoft would have us believe.

Hardware (5, Insightful)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 4 years ago | (#28892773)

Fast hardware lost this gen to the slowest (Wii). It lost last gen to the slowest (PS2). You can argue that two gens ago, the PS1 was slower than the N64, although that's less certain. Raw speed is most certainly not the most important component of success for a console.

I wouldn't say hardware was unimportant, though. The Wii won because of its hardware, clearly. But it needs to be looked at in terms of what the hardware actually brings to the buyer. Higher res? Who cares? Faster refresh? Doesn't matter. Better AI and gameplay? Well, that might help, but it's pretty clear that the 360's and PS3's improved processors aren't being used for that.

New methods of control, new interfaces, whole new styles of gameplay? Microphones, vibrations, sensors, speakers, and so forth... now, that will catch a customer's eye. That makes playing a game something new, instead of a slightly glossier but nearly indistinguishable version of an older game. New hardware is important, but the growth needs to branch out in new directions, instead of being this one-dimensional 'better graphics' mantra that the consoles have been pushing. Improvements in graphics are mattering less and less.

Re:Hardware (1)

TwoBit (515585) | more than 4 years ago | (#28893619)

>> It lost last gen to the slowest (PS2)

That's a deceiving misstatement. The only thing faster than the PS2 was the XBox, which came out far too late to have an effect on the PS2 market.

Also, in the current generation you can't really say that the PS3 is faster hardware than the XBox 360. The XBox has a faster CPU(s) and GPU, whereas the PS3 has only the SPUs (which are less accessible than CPU or GPU).

Re:Hardware (1)

donaldm (919619) | more than 4 years ago | (#28894299)

I wouldn't say hardware was unimportant, though. The Wii won because of its hardware, clearly. But it needs to be looked at in terms of what the hardware actually brings to the buyer. Higher res? Who cares? Faster refresh? Doesn't matter. Better AI and gameplay? Well, that might help, but it's pretty clear that the 360's and PS3's improved processors aren't being used for that.

The "Wii won"? You can only say that if it's true when the last PS3, Wii and Xbox360 ships. You can say that of their generation the PS1 followed by the PS2 definitely won even though the PS2 has not finished selling yet. Yes the Wii is leading compared to each Xbox and PS3 individually but combined since they are both HD consoles and powerful ones at that, they are selling more than the Wii by approx 3 million world wide. As for better AI well there are some Xbox and PS3 games that aren't that good but most are definitely better than what the Wii has.

As for microphones, vibrations and sensors well most of the current generation consoles are heading in that direction although the Xbox and the PS3 definitely have the advantage since they have already shown that they have the feasibility to do just that. As for sound, is 7.1 good enough? however that entails buying a decent sound system and I can assure you that is not cheap.

Improvements in graphics are mattering less and less.

If that was the case we would all be still playing pong and enjoying it. :)

Re:Hardware (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#28894581)

I don't know why the wii won consumers, but a critical factor in its overall success is that the consoles themselves were also profitable.

If you're not taking a loss on the hardware sales, you're not going to start making inane statements like "no new hardware" when your production costs finally come down enough that you aren't selling the units at a loss (on a marginal cost basis) any more.

Nintendo is going to update their hardware. It's just a matter of time really, since the wii was designed for that limited window where everyone didn't have HD sets yet. And whatever they design, it will be superior in every way to current offerings, by virtue of the steady improvements in electronics, and likely be profitable per-unit as well. All they really need to do is maintain goodwill on the wii, by not introducing new hardware "too soon." Failing any new offerings from upstarts or the existing competition, they just need to wait until enough people have HD sets and get tired of not having full-res games, such that they inevitably demand the wii's replacement or update.

Anyway, on that date or near it, does anyone really believe that Sony and MS aren't going to respond with new units as well?

"Software" in this context does not mean games. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28892845)

Everyone seems to be jumping at the word "software" meaning games here, and slapping a big "duh" at Microsoft. Microsoft is not talking about game's here. They're talking about the software on the console. The services it provides you. They're talking about Live/PSN. They're talking about the Guide/XMB, they're talking about Netflix streaming. They're talking about Games on Demand. They're talking about Last.FM. Regardless of your opinion's on Microsoft and innovation, even though the Xbox was more or less a gigantic flop, Microsoft is the one that defined what the Playstation 3 became. Microsoft pushed many extra services into the background of the console to provide a consistent and unified system for developers and gamers to use to improve their experience with it.

Oh, wait, disregard what I wrote. I forgot, nobody on Slashdot reads the fine article.

Long hardware generation (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 4 years ago | (#28892895)

Except for maybe nintendo, we are going to see this gen of hardware for the forseeable future, much longer then anyone thought at the start. Thats not necessarily a bad thing. The machines are all set up with their own digital money printing presses, the graphics are not THAT noticeably off from PC save for AA which can be glaring on consoles at times. I think PC game dev is significantly slowed because of this gen of consoles, with longtime PC proponents finally falling to them (Epic Games, im looking at you! No Gear of war 2 for PC is a shame

Re:Long hardware generation (1)

donaldm (919619) | more than 4 years ago | (#28894361)

I think PC game dev is significantly slowed because of this gen of consoles, with longtime PC proponents finally falling to them (Epic Games, im looking at you! No Gear of war 2 for PC is a shame

This is the dilemma that Microsoft faces now, do they push PC gaming over Xbox360 gaming. Push one over the other then they are dammed in the eyes of the other party so what Microsoft has done (gasp! to their credit) is have a common set of API's which enables games developed for PC's to be ported to the Xbox360 and vice versa. I am quite sure they know that there are dedicated PC gamers that will not touch a console, hence the balancing act.

Personally I think you will see Gears of War 2 ported to the PC but not for at least a year.

Stagnation? (3, Interesting)

Garrett Fox (970174) | more than 4 years ago | (#28893169)

I'm not sure whether to think of this development as a good thing. The obvious benefit for gamers is that they won't need to buy a whole new console so often. But the gaming industry seems to be hitting a technological wall, in that graphics are about as good as they need to be to look shiny and realistic. Same for gameplay complexity. There's a bigger difference between an Atari 2600 level of technology (as in "Adventure") and NES-level ("The Legend of Zelda"), than there is between NES-level and oh, PS1 level. That is, once you get to a halfway-decent tech level you can get recognizable graphics and gameplay that's not all that different from modern games'. "Final Fantasy X" could've been made for the NES if it'd had more raw storage space.

I've been thinking about whether AI could be a breakthrough technology that revolutionizes gaming, but after reading about game-specific AI I'm kind of shell-shocked. The kind of AI that people want for games tends to be remarkably stupid, mostly meant to dispense quests and die entertainingly. From what I understand of that impressive-looking recent demo about the AI-driven kid, 90% of that was fake, and didn't need to be real AI to impress an audience.

So, unless developers find new gameplay styles that really push the hardware, there's little point in advancing the hardware any farther. I don't much care whether my enemies splatter with true Newtonian realism when I frag them with a plasma rifle.

Re:Stagnation? (2, Interesting)

grumbel (592662) | more than 4 years ago | (#28893299)

But the gaming industry seems to be hitting a technological wall, in that graphics are about as good as they need to be to look shiny and realistic.

While graphics themselves look pretty damn good these days, their animation, behavior and physics more often then not are completly abysmal. The real world isn't build out of styrofoam and card board boxes, but video game worlds seem to be, as that seems to be the best current generation physics engines are able to do. So there is still quite a lot of stuff left that we can solve by throwing more computing power at the problem.

The problem with stagnation seems to be more an issue with marketing then with hardware, most games are still clones, sequels or prequels to last years games, because those are known quantities that sell, not because you can't do anything original with all that computing power.

Re:Stagnation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28893691)

Final Fantasy X on an NES? Just more raw storage space? I'm going to have to call bullshit on that one. Firstly, through the use of bank switching, the NES has limitless storage space. There's no technical reason you couldn't hook a 1TB hard drive to the cartridge slot with some (albeit sophisticated) glue logic.

I think you are greatly overestimating the graphics and sound capabilities of an NES over a.PS1.

I mean, you could make the argument of an NES over a Genesis, say. Since both use the same video hardware idea (tiling). Once you start talking about any kind of polygon rendering GPU though, I think that's a very fundamental diversion from the mid 1980s NES. The NES was designed in 1982 for chrissakes, it probably would have been on store shelves with an Atari logo in 83 if it were not for Atari's idiocy.

Are you high?

Re:Stagnation? (1)

Targon (17348) | more than 4 years ago | (#28893987)

Realistic? Not even close. It takes roughly 5 million polygons to fully render a human in full detail, and even the best GPU on the PC side of things isn't close to that. The problem is really that development is going to the lowest common denominator when it comes to multi-platform releases, so developers look at what is available, and code to make sure that in even the scenes where you have the greatest amount of activity in a game that there isn't enough of a slowdown to bother the player.

Then you have the PC side of cross-platform, and you have Intel holding things back because they have a large marketshare, yet are three generations behind AMD/ATI and NVIDIA. If Intel would just drop out of the graphics market, we would see a huge surge in graphics quality in 4-5 years(once the old Intel graphics were no longer an issue to consumers).

Remember, developers MUST code with the idea of supporting hardware from the past five years, as well as keeping an eye on where things will be at launch for their titles. Support things from too far back, and you encounter a lot of technical issues in supporting the old junk. Don't aim high enough, and the graphics won't seem good enough for those with a cutting edge system. With the transition to the next generation of consoles not TOO far away, developers need to guess just how good the graphics will be, so their objects will look good on the next generation hardware(easy port to the next generation).

When graphics in general have hit the point where we can put 200 different objects on the screen at once at 5 million polygons each, and still get 60+ frames per second, THEN the need for new and better graphics will finally end. Until then, there is a HUGE amount of improvement that can be done. I HATE the rendered people in games, because they look really plastic and fake. Rendered people with what I want to see in games should look so realistic, you have to REALLY look to even notice that live actors were not used.

Re:Stagnation? (1)

grumbel (592662) | more than 4 years ago | (#28894521)

It takes roughly 5 million polygons to fully render a human in full detail, and even the best GPU on the PC side of things isn't close to that.

You don't need to render 5 million polygons to get the same look as with 5 million polygons, if you throw normal mapping and geometry shader into the mix you can do it with a few thousand and thats quite doable with current day GPUs. Where things however fall apart is in behavior and animation, even 5 million polygons just gives you a a Realdoll, not an believable rendering of a human being. You can cheat your way out with motion capture and get something good looking, but that doesn't work to well in interactive gaming environments.

While more CPU and GPU power is of course still needed for more realistic scenarios, its not that we could solve the problem of creating them by just throwing more computing power at it, a lot of stuff that is needed to get a realistic looking and behaving humans is still pretty much a matter of research.

in other words: "no more used games market" (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 4 years ago | (#28893415)

'next generation' will be defined by software and services, not hardware

yeah, that's the ticket, online distribution with the exact same price point as physical distribution, but without that pesky "game stop" factor getting in the way.

A thought on the success of the Wii (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28893463)

It is obvious that games are a selling point, without them a gaming system isn't worth anything. Hope we can put that behind us now. Additional software might be a nice bonus, but is Playstation Home or Microsofts Avatars really a deal-breaker? I find them to be added value, but not essential. Shane Kim and time might prove me wrong on this one.

Being a Wii- and PS3-owner with a group of friends where the Xbox360 is as common I don't really undestand this flaming "nextgen-war".

The success of the Wii is not only the innovative controls, the price and the broader audience. Many of its games are geared towards the more social gamer. How many PS3 or Xbox360 titles allow you to sit with your friends TOGETHER in the same room and play? Yes, they have superior on-line multiplayer, but lack in what made the previous consoles so different from the PC gaming experience (where PC have had that kind of multiplayer before the PS3/Xbox360 came into the world). The "social" games on the PS3/Xbox360 are often the "peripheral-intensive" games (Rockband/Guitar Hero, Buzz/Scene it, Singstar, etc).

When I have a group of friends I prefer to play with the Wii, actually, many of the games on the Wii is much more fun when you have company. On the other hand, when I am alone, I prefer the PS3 (or the PC) and would most likely play on a 360 if I had one. For me these consoles are not mutually exclusive and when asked to recommend one to someone, I always try to get a feel for what kind of gamer they (or their kids) are.

Xbox 360 needs a hardware refresh. (2, Interesting)

MtViewGuy (197597) | more than 4 years ago | (#28894177)

While technically the Xbox 360 is a great console, the big problem with this console is the hardware leaves something to be desired in terms of noise and hardware reliability.

I'm hoping that within the next two years Microsoft will do a "hardware refresh" on the Xbox 360 with a new model that uses improved chip technology to lower the running temperature (hence less need for noisy cooling fans and to improve circuit board reliability) and to possibly offer Blu-ray disc support (especially now that Blu-ray technology licensing needs only one lower cost license, not multiple licenses like in the past).

Re:Xbox 360 needs a hardware refresh. (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 4 years ago | (#28894287)

It would be an excellent time for the BluRay drive too. Although the newest boxes run dead-cold (mine anyway) and the fan is quiet (but not really quiet enough) the DVD drive is way too noisy. I nice quiet BluRay drive would go a long way to making it the media center device they seem to have in mind. Now if only the media companies would stop gouging for BluRay movies.

next-gen (2, Insightful)

hellfish006 (1000936) | more than 4 years ago | (#28894513)

I'm more interested in what they are going to do for next-gen. It is quite obvious some sort of motion control or capture through a camera like device is going to be standard across the board. I love my Wii but its controls lack depth for certain genres that it should be absolutely destroying the PS3 and Xbox 360 on because of pure precision. I hope they find a way to fix that. Also, with all the services such as streaming movies, streaming radio, streaming tv shows, the PSN, XBLA, VC, WiiWare available this gen. Every console owner is going to expect that out of the box and then some. I am extremely excited to see what services are provided on the next-gen. I also think that whoever makes the best hybrid console/pc first is going to corner the market. Both are pushing towards a singularity Consoles are becoming more and more like PCs. And PCs are becoming less and less relevant for daily use as our cell phones and netbooks begin to replace them with mobility. I think traditional PCs will be a niche in 7 years and if you want to play PC games you will own a console that supports keyboard + mouse. The new console of the future will support email, web surfing, Office suites, etc. They are truly going to replace so many digital devices in our house hold. and anything else we want to do with computer will be done from our smart phones or netbooks that we can easily carry around. Its an exciting time to be a gamer. Never did I imagine this would happen when I was growing up with my power pad and duck hunt.

Inevitable, in retrospect (1)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 4 years ago | (#28894557)

Video games started out as pretty simple things that could be created and churned out by a single programmer over the course of a few weeks (and as ET The Extraterrestrial reminds us, that same man could also destroy the entire industry). At the same time and as hardware got stronger, programming team have gotten bigger, and the game creation budgets increased ever larger, all the while game prices have never really increased considerably - while the price of top-tier games has not considerably increased. Compare 60$ for a big name game like like the latest Madden, as opposed to 50$ for Centipede in 1983 - accounting for inflation, you could say it's even gone down.

So the current situations is that games cost more and more in assets, creative team salaries and marketing than ever, while the price per unit remains stable at best. How long can the industry afford to continue spending more and more developing a single game while the returns on the investment remains pretty much the same? I'd say the industry has reached its upper limit with the current generation, and will try to diversify software offerings rather than risk imploding on a higher tech console generation that could yield another industry destroying ET.

Is it any wonder that Microsoft and Sony want to push the life cycle of their current consoles to ten years instead of upgrading at the usual five?

Graphics, etc. (1)

ledow (319597) | more than 4 years ago | (#28894561)

It used to be that I looked at a screenshot / gameplay video partly for the quality of the images used in the game. Now I use it to exclusively spot:

- cutscenes (I've noticed many games whose screenshots are ONLY cutscenes - AVOID)
- gameplay elements
- what they *don't* do (Mmm... they never bash that quite obvious object on the wall because the physics don't apply to it)
- other problems.

The problem with consoles is that people who are fanatical about them compare only graphics / sound / 3D capabilities. I don't care about that. If I pay for a game, I don't want to be paying pretty pictures - I want to be buying gameplay. As someone else pointed out, the winner of any particular "console war" is rarely the one that has technically superior statistics. The Wii is undeniably underpowered - who cares?

I *stopped* buying consoles because they were so limited in their lifetime/upgrade potential. A modular console sounds like a great seller (buy the Wii 2 now and next year, we'll make the Wii 3 board fit alongside it inside the same casing!). But in terms of hardware, the specifications of any particular device are basically irrelevant. My Palm is significantly underpowered compared to my PC. As is my GP2X. But, they fit their purpose just fine and both have *excellent* software for the job they need to do (that's still improving all the time).

Nintendo know this - their games aren't extravagant, aren't necessarily wonderful and popular and original... but they *are* playable. Very playable. Playable enough to feel like it was worth paying for console+game at the end of your first month of owning it. Not many other consoles have that.

With the way us isp are acting digital distributio (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#28894849)

With the way us isp are acting digital distribution is still some ways off with the caps, slow speeds in some areas, and crap that some of them do.

new hardware? (1)

gintoki (1439845) | more than 4 years ago | (#28895083)

I highly doubt that they can pull off what has been mentioned above. Firstly, this kills off the used games market ( well...as long as you can rent games digitally it might not matter). I agree that releasing a more powerful console is not the answer. Personally, I would take the ps3 over the 360 any day. WAIT.......no fanboy comments yet. This is merely due to it serving my needs better. Lets look at the 360 first...it is a great console and the online aspect of it is awesome and is something that the ps3 can't even compare to. Lets counter this by making a note of all the foul-mouthed kids on xbox live with headsets. The ps3 doesn't have this problem as nobody ever has a headset and the online aspect for most games is tedious for the most part(except for burnout paradise). Also, the games on the ps3 appeal to me a lot more than those on the 360. The 360 does have great games but I have yet to play anything as compelling as uncharted. The sole reason I got a ps3 was because I wanted to play metal gear solid 4 and god of war 3 and thought that it would also serve as a blue-ray player. In the 16 months that I have owned the ps3 I have only bought 3 games (uncharted,MGS4, burnout). The rest just don't seem worth the money. This year and the next seems to be different as i see a few games that interest me (brutal legend, GOW 3,darksiders,fat princess,uncharted 2) People may argue that there are games like halo 3, gears of war, killzone 2, GTA IV etc but frankly I see nothing of interest in those games. Those are just generic games with violence as a hook. Now, lets look at the most underpowered of all those consoles: the DS. Every single year since 2005 I have found that the game I enjoyed the most each year has been on this handheld. Frankly, to me this is the best console ever made. Its portable and with a great battery life so whats not to like? Granted that 99% of the games released on the ds is pure unadulterated garbage....the remaining 1% makes all the difference and that is saying something.
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