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Old 06-16-2009, 12:04 PM   #1
Rob Williams
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Default Next-Gen Consoles to Launch Sooner than Expected?

From our front-page news:
Throughout the history of video gaming, we've always been able to expect a new console "in a few years", and that rule of thumb has kept rather consistent. Since the turn of the century though, things have changed dramatically in the game console landscape, some for better, some for worse. Consoles are becoming more like computers with each new release, not to mention much, much more advanced.

Microsoft released their Xbox 360 in November of 2005, close to four years ago, and Sony and Nintendo followed-up with their current-gen consoles the following year, the PlayStation 3 and Wii, respectively. So the question must be begged, when will be seeing the next-gen consoles? If Yves Guillemot, CEO of Ubisoft's claim has merit, then we may very-well be seeing them earlier than originally expected.

The reason? Services like OnLive, which aim to deliver high-quality gaming to consumers through their network connection. This method completely removes any limitations that a home console would have, as the servers for the service would be able to keep current with updated hardware if desired. What that means is that the big three may end up releasing their consoles earlier than they would have liked, and something in me tells me that's going to be a bad thing. I don't think I need to explain why.

Beyond a potential early release, Guillemot also spoke about the potential development costs for the upcoming consoles. Whereas it costs between $20 - $30 million today to create a top-tier game, the next-generation of consoles could skyrocket that figure up to $60 million. The game companies will have two options there. Raise the prices of retail games (which isn't going to help piracy any, or make certain that the games they release are epic, so they'll sell far more in volume. It's actually kind of scary to picture what the console landscape is going to be like in the next-gen... hopefully all the changes will be good ones.


Next generation, estimates Guillemot, top tier games will likely average $60 million to make. The ramifications for that are unknown. It could mean higher retail prices or lower return on investment. Ubisoft hopes to supplement the cost by reusing assets in the film community (as it is currently doing with its game adaptation of James Cameron's "Avatar".)


Source: CNBC
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Old 06-17-2009, 08:55 AM   #2
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Why would next generation games cost so much more to make? Game development costs haven't doubled for the PC industry (that I know of), so what would make it double for the console industry?

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"The next generation is going to be so powerful that playing a game is going to be the equivalent of playing a CGI movie today," predicts Yves Guillemot, chairman and CEO of the publisher.
This has been said for years now... and we are still not there yet. Next generation consoles won't be, either. Today's newest graphics cards and processors make what's inside a console seem pretty weak, yet the most current videogames on the PC aren't yet reaching CGI quality.
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Old 06-17-2009, 12:39 PM   #3
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Technically, what we play today is better than the CGI movies back when they said our games of today would look like them then.

Think about it.

Edit: Here are some Examples.
Toy Story 1995
http://billsmovieemporium.files.word...y-movie-12.jpg

Gears of War (pretty recent.)
http://www.beefjack.com/wp-content/u...reenshot-6.jpg

Walle-E
http://www.doobybrain.com/wp-content...ox-sitting.jpg

We are not that far away.

As for the next gen consoles costing so much:

They will cost what they cost because the console developers will be over paying who ever it is they hire to design, advertise, and build the consoles. The will be over paying because the industry as a whole expects to be paid so much.

I for one wouldn't mind if my next console comes in a cheap looking tin box. But it won't, because for adding $10 to the cost of the console, they will charge me $60, all for a clear coat that makes it shine, and will scratch the first time I lay a Cd down on it. The Cd however will remain unscratched.
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Old 06-18-2009, 07:08 AM   #4
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I don't think Toy Story is a clear example, because it was never designed for "realism". Compare it to Bolt... Bolt is definitely a big improvement and much much more detailed, but it's still not designed for anything beyond semi- realism. Wall-E is a good one though. Still, we had Star Wars in 1977 and the effects and realism is good enough even then that it's still a TV staple. I'll have to dig up an original copy without the retouched special effects just so I can compare it now...

Gears of War looks good, but just eye a couple screenshots. It's still just more extremely intricately designed texture instead of any actual depth to many surfaces, namely the ground, ceiling, and what few walls remain. Things like those rocks they are hiding behind aren't quite right and there's no depth between them either. I won't care much while trying to stay alive, but for the other half of the game when not shooting things I'm walking around and just exploring it's going to stand out like a sore thumb.

I suppose I'm going off on a tangent... with games, realism is more than just looks. It's ground that deforms or shifts under your feet, ground and terrain that actually vaporizes, moves, or is affected during explosions, at least some walls and ceilings that can be removed to collapse things. It's crates or walls that you can hide behind only until they're shredded by a grenade, rocket, or minigun shooting at it

Treadmarks was one hell of a game not because it looked good (its graphics were decent at the time, but the tanks quite detailed) but because the entire map was deformable and moldable. Half the fun was using some of the weapons pickups to create tanktraps, lure someone over a ridge and right into one for you to pick off with your main turret, as obviously a tank can't shoot back while it's barrel is pointed down at the ground. Or dig yourself a tank-sized foxhole on a hilltop, allowing you to snipe tanks at incredible ranges in a 360 degree field of fire, but be almost untouchable even if they could figure out where you were in time to shoot back. And if for some reason ya couldn't get the right arc you need to hit a target? Shoot the ground a little and then you can. It even made missing your target worthwhile, because they'd often back up or drive into the rut your shell created just as they fired, completely wasting their shot back at you while you reloaded the next round and blew them to pieces. Of course the modding community made some exotic weapons for the game to carry it on, many weapons doing the inverse and actually creating terrain. That's pretty cool for a tank combat game developed 10 years ago, not to mention it was still "sandbox" gameplay without the actual box. Tanks could drive for eternity in any direction if they wanted to, the map would expand beyond it's initial point with more terrain until the person either returned to the main area, or was killed. The guy behind Treadmarks (Seumas McNally) was a genius, and I'm sure the game industry would be different today if he was still alive.

So much effort and expense is expended into making these incredibly "3D-appearing" 2D textures to slap onto the ground/walls/ceilings in most games that at some point I'm sure they're reaching dimenishing returns. There's some point where it'd just be easier and quicker to create a real, if shallow 3D object, scope out or mold on forms to it, and apply that principle to most maps. Here's a GoW screenshot that pretty well illustrates this: Link

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Originally Posted by madstork91
They will cost what they cost because the console developers will be over paying who ever it is they hire to design, advertise, and build the consoles. The will be over paying because the industry as a whole expects to be paid so much.
This is what I'm afraid of. They spend all these millions to design custom CPUs, custom GPUs, and custom physics/AI processing chips... yet why not just take the current generation processor/GPU, tweak it, and go with that? The Wii did exactly that, except they just used overclocked and shrunk parts from the Gamecube. Why not build a console on say, for example, the Core i7? Then when Intel shrinks it to 32nm, you have a pin/thermal/electrical compatible drop in replacement that's even cheaper. Hell, should I even point out the PS2 is still selling almost as many new consoles as the PS3 is squeaking out? The general thinking that a console is all about super-exotic or "above-PC" grade hardware just seems flat wrong from what I've seen and heard.
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Old 06-18-2009, 12:23 PM   #5
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You make a very good point.

The problem hinges around a central issue: Poly count. To which there are two sub categories.

Poly count for physics.
Poly count for graphics.

They are separate because you do not always use the same mesh for physics as you do the actual graphically rendered model. (some games use a two tri, single quad for stairs these days with a normal mapped dip. But if you look closely, in between steps you are not touching anything. that you actually see)

Physics is a difficult one because there are many different ways an approaches to calculate these kinds of things these days... But ever physics engine ultimately has a cap to how many tri's it can handle at any given moment. While these poly's do not have to be rendered, they are still taken into account in the over all engine, and from my experience, have more to do with the over all cap of an engine than a lot of other factors.

Poly's for graphical content are limited in two ways.
1) how many can the engine handle for rendering in a single frame?
2) How good are the texturing skills of the people making the models, do they really want to spend that much time on a model, are they getting paid enough... blah blah blah, it takes work.

A key reason that you will never see a modeler put hat much time and effort into something he is only getting paid to make for someone is that he will never be able to use it again.

If a modeler could improve upon earlier work for another project in a new project, you might see some vast improvements in the looks of things. But until things get a little more relaxed int hat area, sorry. You're going to see small improvements over time, and nothing more, because each time you see it, it is something that is built from scratch.

Vs. something like shrek, toystory, ice age, gear of war, halo, and many other series... they had base models that they improved each movie/game and it showed.

Pixar will always outdo a game house in this regard. Because pixar is an art house that happens to make movies. Not a movie studio that happens to be good at art.
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Old 06-18-2009, 01:23 PM   #6
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Some games (Valve especially *cough*) love to reuse things they created in previous games. They do so to such an extent that there's a significant drop in file sizes when downloading their games if you already have previous games from them installed. I don't remember what it was, they had even used some bits of of TF2 in L4D. Console franchises (I'm thinking all those sports games) are notorious for releasing a Sports 2007, then a Sports 2008, then a Sports 2009 game for almost every sports title/franchise. Even Rob was even commenting about this a few days ago. Game devs reuse the original engine and much of the previous work when doing this since the development costs are minimal and the large profit margin helps balance out the costs of the original game. Throw some shadow and fog here, some overblown HDR and bloom there, darken the areas so they don't have to focus as much on backgrounds or small details, do just a little tweaking to the objects, and throw a few new ones in with some new maps and voila.

PC sequels always do this, they rarely fork the game into a new engine with completely new content. And if it's just an expansion pack, then it's the exact same game just with a few new models, textures, and maps thrown into the pile. The current trend seems to be tossing two expansions out per actual new game or sequel... And I don't seem to hear it as much anymore, but game studios do still license out their game engines to smaller game devs to use in their games. With a single, unchanging console, I'd think they could reuse old game engines for far far more than just two or three games...

You're spot on about the graphics vs physics counts. That's getting a bit into the technical issues, but honestly "they" were promising the ability to offload physics onto unused/outdated GPUs... even a fraction of that power would be an insanely high difference versus what games currently make use of for physics work. There's no real excuse anymore, even the Core i7 shows that with it's 8 threads it can obliterate dual and quad CPU's in physics tests.

I guess my yapping comes down to that it won't be until they fix the inherent flaws in current game designs that I mentioned in my previous post, before I would ever consider it to be "realistic". And as you describe, they'd need some very large overhauls in current game design before that could happen.

Quote:
Pixar will always outdo a game house in this regard. Because pixar is an art house that happens to make movies. Not a movie studio that happens to be good at art.
It's a good point. I'm reading that Wall-E did have some live-action in it though, and wasn't completely CGI. The amount of depth they put into the work that went into that movie is simply amazing... it explains why the movie was so well done.
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