What does it mean to be Next-gen?

console generation triangle counts

This image made the rounds a while back, but looking at it again today got me thinking.  The PS4’s release marks another improvement to console gaming visuals, but for the most part none of the games are truly revolutionary.  Yeah, there are lots of fun games and the games do look good — but the advancement in visuals isn’t astonishing enough to say we are really living in the ‘next generation.’

Graev mentioned to me this evening how many of the consoles still only allow 14-18 players in multiplayer matches, and almost all do not allow cross-platform play.  I started thinking about where the next generation of consoles will go when the visual improvements aren’t big enough to hype those as the selling points, and the cost/utility curve finally catches up.  60+ FPS and a bazillion triangles can only go so far, right?

I want to see the next generation focus on the online experience.  Revolutionize the way we game together.  Expand on what it means for a game to be multiplayer.  Remove the barriers keeping us from becoming one giant gaming community.  Graphics and gameplay will naturally improve.

Both Graev and I feel the console community at large is confused about what it means to be always online.  Despite the retraction from most of the big hardware devs, many of these games ARE heavily influenced by online components.  So many of them have their own account systems now with tons of additional features, and whether you realize it or not if you have your console connected to the internet, your games are utilizing it.

I’ve joked prophesied about every franchise sliding toward being MMO.  I think it’s going to continue in that direction.  Seriously, just take a look at what Bungie is doing.  I think five years from now we’ll all be looking at an impending next-gen of 100% online consoles and games.

  • The problem is most probably the quality increase rate.

    Just see how easily you can now play a ten year old game (wow for example), as opposed to how UNIMAGINABLE it would be in 2003 to play a 1994 game. At least for most people (maybe you and me are not in that category but we need to account for the majority of gamers in the situation above).

    What did change radically is the resolution but after some point in 2003 (i think) that 1680×1050 became standard for pc, we now have merely the increase to 1920×1200 which is not even close to the previous rate of change (from 640×480 to 1280×1024 initially and then to widescreen 1680×1050), while the pixel depth quality definitely did not change that much ( i would argue that it reflects the resolution change but with a higher curve).

    It is obvious that we are at a transition phase where all the industry has focused almost exclusively on either mobile platforms and tablets (that includes hardware manufacturers and software developers, i think the latest pc cpu architecture was Core i7 dating back several YEARS), or pushing web technologies further ( the main focus here is from software vendors) where we most certainly will start seeing some cool things at some point but at the moment WebGL/Three.js and the like is at least BEFORE infancy.

  • 1) I agree that visuals just aren’t enough anymore. When we were making huge leaps and bounds in graphics it was enough to move consoles, but now we’re only seeing incremental changes and small differences. I still can’t tell the difference between a DVD and a Blue-ray. Your game needs to bring something else besides shiny pixels to stand out.

    2) Despite enjoying online games, I really *really* do not want everything to go online. At the end of the day I still adore a wonderfully crafted single player experience, and we continually see these games under threat. Great single player games are having tons of resources devoted to a completely separate multi-player mode that’s a complete waste. So-called “Social features” annoy you with silly achievements for you and your friends.

    For example, a few great single player games I’ve enjoyed over the past while: Skyrim, Dishonored, Bioshock Infinite, and The Last of Us. I loved all those games are wonderfully crafted single player experiences. There is a place for such a game, and I don’t think it’s going anywhere.

  • “I’ve joked prophesied about every franchise sliding toward being MMO.”

    Even if not an MMO, everything will be stuffed with ‘online features’ as a direct response to piracy. The phase after that is games only available by streaming.

  • I think 5G wirless will have to come about to allow for this. Right now, 4G is fast enough to compete with wired connections, but it’s more expensive, and data capacity limited. 5G wireless doesn’t necessarily need to be significantly faster the way 4G wireless is compared to 3G wireless.

    5G has to lower the cost of wireless data, remove the caps on monthly usage or make them so high they’re irrelevant, and handle heavy local loading (sporting events with 100,000 people in the same 10 acres of space needs to be made a non-issue). Once those 3 things are resolved, there’ll be no need to be wired in, and folks can afford to go “online all the time”. In my mind, that’s the shoe that must drop to allow for the next generation of gaming to fully embrace constant connectivity.

  • One side note – going from 6000 to 60,000 in that picture does not even seem all that worth it…the other ones were large improvements, this one isn’t…

  • I personally can’t wait for consoles to no longer be the part holding the graphics department back. I just imagine games like Battlefield 4 that could have so much more if there wasn’t a baseline set at a console level.

    I don’t blame console gamers for this or anything, but when my GPU is more powerful than a console, I want games that can truly use that, that need it.

    Maybe console folk will get into these new tiny computers soon, like the one Valve is making? (Steambox or something?) That might get game devs all on the same page. We’ll see.

  • That image is totally false too.

    They took the 6k poly and sub-divided rather than take the 60k poly model then decimated (6,000 / 600). Sub-divided models on the whole are just smoothing, which is not added detail (which is what catches the eye). The quad (2x triangles) is split into 4 quads and the middle points are averaged. There is a quite a long post on reddit by a guy who did allot of character modelling in Killzone on why the image is completely retarded thing to show people when trying to compare things. It’s like trying to take a 800×600 image and blowing it up to 1600×1200 and adding a blur, that’s not increased quality that’s just increasing the file size for little gain. If you are truely interested in the different between a 60k and 6k ‘sculpted’ model then I can do one and post it, I’m sure people will take a look and see the massive difference compared to this half arsed and basically ‘fake’ picture. As someone who does 3D art it’s almost in

    Take a 60k (or like most ‘this gen’) models than decimate and bake a normal map for it and you wont see hardly any difference. In fact most character models are baked down (by baked I mean you transfer all the detail from polygons into the normal texture map) from millions down to 30-60k models and you will hardly be able to tell the difference. The only true difference is in the silhouette even then it’s tough. That was the point of this generations tech leap over the ps2, not having the need to have massive poly counts to make it look good. 60k characters are pretty much the norm now (uncharted, last of us and even games such as Call of duty you will see character poly counts of 30-60k, hell even the first person weapon from Ghosts are around 15-20k), this is not even looking at the new iterations of consoles.

    This gen (360/ps3) compared to the next gen is all about memory and texture memory. What PC users have been experiencing for the last 5+ years is much much higher resolutions in textures, higher on screen poly counts and post processing.

    There hasn’t been a massive technological push (like ps2 to ps3 with normal/bump and cavity maps), so it’s just more of everything and higher resolutions.

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