By benspyda 3 Comments
So where are we at?
Every 5 or so years in gaming there seems to be a huge leap. Just look at the transition between Atari 2600 games compared to NES or SNES games. Remember the jump to full on 3D graphics with the N64/PS1 and how cool that was. 3D graphics then became fine tuned in the ps2/xbox/gamecube era to something that wasn't just a blocky blur. Fast forward to the far flung future of 2005 and along came the "current" generation of consoles which brought us complex shading and bump mapping that blew my mind the first time I saw it in action. Along this road the PC maintained a lead in graphics technology and the continuous incremental advancement that it continues to do to this day. But what's next? If the next generation of consoles will be about as powerful as a high end PC is now, will it change much?
I feel we are still at some very incremental stage in computer graphics where every iteration just adds more shaders and triangles but still doesn't look a whole lot more interesting than 2007's Crysis. Yes video cards now are over 10X's more powerful than the 360 but they certainly don't look 10X better. Battlefield 3 maxed out looks very cool but it's really Dice's multiplayer style that is the real draw which really hasn't change much since Battlefield 2. We have yet to see any advancement in rendering technology that comes close to the jumps between vector graphics > Sprites > 3D graphics > DirectX/OpenGL.
Yes there have been attempts to reinvent the wheel. Kinect's/Wii's motion controls are a crazy new way to interact with technology and games, but what is it used for? Party games mostly. Sony's push to sell 3D tvs also effected gaming but in the end 3D, although a cool little feature, hurts your eyes after a short period of time and is very much a fading gimmick. If anything the best implementation of 3D is the 3DS, I can play that for 2-3 hours on max 3D just fine and it really makes a game like Ocarina of Time 3D look more impressive than anything new I've seen recently. Glasses free 3D really is the only way it can be enjoyed. Maybe motion controls and 3D will be better implemented in the future and change gaming forever but where it's at now I'm not that fussed about either.
The main reason the current generation was so significant is because along with a considerable boost in fidelity, came a console that was designed to be online. Achievements, multiplayer and DLC became a standard. Yes the original Xbox and PC gaming started the trend but Xbox Live on 360 really did nail it. The future will likely bring more social networking, digital downloads and multiplayer experiences but again it's only gonna be very incremental to what we already have (and have already had for a while now if you consider Steam).
So what's next? Will the next generation of consoles bring something new to the the table or will a slightly better coat of paint suffice?