Six Tech Improvements I'd Like to See in Next Gen Games

After reading an article from another site discussing what that person would like to see from next gen, it got me thinking of some things I personally would like to see when the next gen tech rolls around. Bear in mind, I am completely content with the current gen and I feel there is still a lot of life and untapped potential. But then I'm not the "typical" gamer.

I realize in this day and age of Twitter that people's attention spans are not what they used to be. And as we near the sixth and seventh year (respectfully) for Sony's and Microsoft's consoles, this generation has already been given its stay of execution past the usual healthy five-year lifespan. But I digress, the current generation still has plenty of games–both already released and upcoming–that I have no inclination to "rush" the next gen.

Be that as it may, it's always exciting to imagine what lies in store in the future. So with that in mind I present my humble list for your reading pleasure.

· Realistic A.I. – We’ve come a long way since the ghosts of Pac-Man, yet for the most part the A.I. in games are rather daft. Whether it’s pathfinding issues or just nonsensical behavior, we still have a ways to go before we can confidently call A.I. “good.” What I would like to see in next gen games is more realistic A.I. This means if you’re playing a stealth game and only one enemy sees you that means only one enemy sees you, and it doesn’t share this “hive mind” mentality where once an enemy spots you nowevery enemy in the entire level knows where you are and they make a bee-line to your position. Even if you run and hide to a new location the enemies still know where you are. That’s idiotic and unrealistic. The Hitman games are the most egregious offenders in this regard (and in my own personal experience). So developers, please, make the enemies more realistic.

· Better Physics – I know this is going to sound petty, but it really bugs me when you shoot a wall and the bullet holes disappear. You just unload on a wall, or even try writing your name in bullet holes only to get so far before they start disappearing. That being said, all games that include killing should include ragdoll physics, but not the silly, absurd kind that when you walk through the body it gets caught in your feet and you end up dragging it behind you (I’m looking at you, Demon’s Souls and Gears of War). It’s as if the instant you kill them the bodies become weightless and have no mass. All games that utilize ragdoll physics should have the proper effects when they are interacted with after they become ragdolls; this means bodies still retain their sense of mass and can't just be flung about like a plastic bag caught in a tornado.

· More Destructible Environments – Or how about this one: Don’t you just love it when some objects in a game are affected by your actions while others are completely indestructible? I don’t know about you, but for me that really heightens the immersion factor. NOT! You’re going along breaking crates, boxes, barrels, the occasional door, but somehow an ordinary couch can withstand a direct hit from a rocket launcher; something here is amiss. The Battlefield games are a good step forward in destructible environments; not to mention the Red Faction and Mercenaries series. If you’re developing an open-world game then destructible environments should be mandatory, end of discussion.

· Better Facial Animations/Accurate Lip-synching – We’re slowly getting there with the facial animations, but for God’s sake there should be no excuse for sloppy lip-synching in this day and age. When it comes to the face, the eyes are the most neglected animation on characters. Very few games really nail this animation to the point where the characters feel real (the Uncharted series comes to mind as far as getting it right). Nothing kills the mood more than a character trying to act emotional than dead-eye syndrom; the syndrom where the characters have this creepy stare with glassy eyes. Eye animation should be nuanced and subtle to come across as realistic. And lip-synching should totally match up, no excuse.

· Multi-language Support – One of the biggest selling points during the HD format war (you know, Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD) was the space available on each format. Blu-ray subsequently won this battle, yet games don’t really seem to be taking advantage of all this disc real estate. Why is that? Games that are developed in Japan and feature accomplished Japanese voice actors should automatically include the native track as an option in games that make their way to the Western world. I realize this may come as a shock, but some people don’t mind reading sub-titles. I know reading is a lost art today, but there are still people that appreciate hearing the native language and the performances that come with it. And it’s not a matter of cost since keeping the native language of the game is cheaper than having to hire an entire English speaking cast to re-read all the lines again.

· Dead Bodies That Don't Disappear – C'mon. If a game from 2001 can do it (Halo) then every game should do it.

That seems to be all I can think of right now. I’m interested to hear what everyone else would like to see.

11 Comments
13 Comments
Posted by Ujio

After reading an article from another site discussing what that person would like to see from next gen, it got me thinking of some things I personally would like to see when the next gen tech rolls around. Bear in mind, I am completely content with the current gen and I feel there is still a lot of life and untapped potential. But then I'm not the "typical" gamer.

I realize in this day and age of Twitter that people's attention spans are not what they used to be. And as we near the sixth and seventh year (respectfully) for Sony's and Microsoft's consoles, this generation has already been given its stay of execution past the usual healthy five-year lifespan. But I digress, the current generation still has plenty of games–both already released and upcoming–that I have no inclination to "rush" the next gen.

Be that as it may, it's always exciting to imagine what lies in store in the future. So with that in mind I present my humble list for your reading pleasure.

· Realistic A.I. – We’ve come a long way since the ghosts of Pac-Man, yet for the most part the A.I. in games are rather daft. Whether it’s pathfinding issues or just nonsensical behavior, we still have a ways to go before we can confidently call A.I. “good.” What I would like to see in next gen games is more realistic A.I. This means if you’re playing a stealth game and only one enemy sees you that means only one enemy sees you, and it doesn’t share this “hive mind” mentality where once an enemy spots you nowevery enemy in the entire level knows where you are and they make a bee-line to your position. Even if you run and hide to a new location the enemies still know where you are. That’s idiotic and unrealistic. The Hitman games are the most egregious offenders in this regard (and in my own personal experience). So developers, please, make the enemies more realistic.

· Better Physics – I know this is going to sound petty, but it really bugs me when you shoot a wall and the bullet holes disappear. You just unload on a wall, or even try writing your name in bullet holes only to get so far before they start disappearing. That being said, all games that include killing should include ragdoll physics, but not the silly, absurd kind that when you walk through the body it gets caught in your feet and you end up dragging it behind you (I’m looking at you, Demon’s Souls and Gears of War). It’s as if the instant you kill them the bodies become weightless and have no mass. All games that utilize ragdoll physics should have the proper effects when they are interacted with after they become ragdolls; this means bodies still retain their sense of mass and can't just be flung about like a plastic bag caught in a tornado.

· More Destructible Environments – Or how about this one: Don’t you just love it when some objects in a game are affected by your actions while others are completely indestructible? I don’t know about you, but for me that really heightens the immersion factor. NOT! You’re going along breaking crates, boxes, barrels, the occasional door, but somehow an ordinary couch can withstand a direct hit from a rocket launcher; something here is amiss. The Battlefield games are a good step forward in destructible environments; not to mention the Red Faction and Mercenaries series. If you’re developing an open-world game then destructible environments should be mandatory, end of discussion.

· Better Facial Animations/Accurate Lip-synching – We’re slowly getting there with the facial animations, but for God’s sake there should be no excuse for sloppy lip-synching in this day and age. When it comes to the face, the eyes are the most neglected animation on characters. Very few games really nail this animation to the point where the characters feel real (the Uncharted series comes to mind as far as getting it right). Nothing kills the mood more than a character trying to act emotional than dead-eye syndrom; the syndrom where the characters have this creepy stare with glassy eyes. Eye animation should be nuanced and subtle to come across as realistic. And lip-synching should totally match up, no excuse.

· Multi-language Support – One of the biggest selling points during the HD format war (you know, Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD) was the space available on each format. Blu-ray subsequently won this battle, yet games don’t really seem to be taking advantage of all this disc real estate. Why is that? Games that are developed in Japan and feature accomplished Japanese voice actors should automatically include the native track as an option in games that make their way to the Western world. I realize this may come as a shock, but some people don’t mind reading sub-titles. I know reading is a lost art today, but there are still people that appreciate hearing the native language and the performances that come with it. And it’s not a matter of cost since keeping the native language of the game is cheaper than having to hire an entire English speaking cast to re-read all the lines again.

· Dead Bodies That Don't Disappear – C'mon. If a game from 2001 can do it (Halo) then every game should do it.

That seems to be all I can think of right now. I’m interested to hear what everyone else would like to see.

Edited by Khann

Yay, someone that understands more powerful hardware doesn't only mean more shinies.

Animation in general is something I expect to see a massive improvement on in the next generation. I'm hoping that is somewhere middleware companies will continue to improve as well, to ease costs of development.

Similar to your destructible environments point, I'd like to see more lively worlds in general. Enough of open world games having 20 odd people in a massive city.

Can't think of much more at the moment, but there is so much more that can come from the next generation than higher-res textures.

Posted by Three0neFive

@Khann said:

I'm hoping that is somewhere middleware companies will continue to improve as well, to ease costs of development.

Speedtree in everything! Speedtree for things that aren't even trees!

SPEEDTREE: THE GAME

Edited by MordeaniisChaos

I don't really like the way this is written, but I can agree with most of it.

Bullet holes are because of memory and framerate, not anything to do with physics. That said, it is cool to ratchet that up super high in TF2 and play as Heavy. Bullet holes everywhere! Still, that won't happen, just like LOD won't disappear, and that's fine. Next generation will probably give more space for those bullet holes, but I'd rather have better damage decals than more of them. Use some paralax mapping or something:

Also, I'd like to see better environments. For example, grass being denser, and actually being more than a texture. Flower is a good example of how I'd love grass to look some day, or at least close to that.

Posted by Khann

@MordeaniisChaos: Outerra certainly has some pretty nice looking grass.

Posted by doobie

would you be prepaired to pay extra for games that have these improvements or would you expect developers to just suffer the extra developement costs

Posted by MordeaniisChaos

@Khann said:

@MordeaniisChaos: Outerra certainly has some pretty nice looking grass.

It does indeed. But I don't expect to see such nice grass in many games next gen, sadly. Seems like the sort of thing that would be ignored, despite my great desire for more detailed plant life in general. It just enhances the visual quality of a scene so damn much to have grass that actually looks like grass.

Posted by JordanK85

Better A.I. is what I look forward to the most. In fact I'd give up all the potential progression in every other area and some of the progression already made just to have smart, interesting A.I. I've gotten bored with games that rely on giving enemies more resources, health, and power to make them challenging. How about making an enemy more difficult by making it more resourceful or cunning?

Posted by Khann

@doobie said:

would you be prepaired to pay extra for games that have these improvements or would you expect developers to just suffer the extra developement costs

You assume that these things would cost more. Middleware can ease this cost pretty significantly.

Posted by doobie

@Khann said:

@doobie said:

would you be prepaired to pay extra for games that have these improvements or would you expect developers to just suffer the extra developement costs

You assume that these things would cost more. Middleware can ease this cost pretty significantly.

well your clearly more of an expert on this subject than myself. i just assumed that these 'improvements' would require more developement and thus more costs.

Posted by Khann

I am far from an expert.

Posted by RedCream

Isn't AI behavior only related how they are programmed rather than the hardware involved?