Nextbox rumors..

MannishBoy wrote:
Playing [BF3] on both 360 and PC is a bit of an eye opener.

I think we're reaching the point where 360 games look like a joke compared to their PC equivalents. And frankly, it's holding back gaming as a whole when games need to be designed to work across systems, some antiquated, some not.

AnimeJ wrote:
Until we hit a point where the 360 is pushing its' limits similar to PS2 last gen, I don't know that there's any real incentive for MS to really pour money into R&D for a new system.

I've felt this way too, and it wasn't until really the last six months I'd say where we've finally hit this point. We're actually seeing games that are clearly being held back by the hardware but manage to stand on fantastic gameplay in spite of the limitations, such as Dark Souls, Battlefield 3, and Dragon's Dogma. Some games aren't even running at 720p, much less 1080p. Some run at lower resolutions and are scaled up (Call of Duty has done this several times).

I think it's time, a new X-Box/PS3 generation would be welcome.

The thing that's always in the back of my mind when I think about the 'poor console graphics' thing is "are people not buying those games because of it?" and I think the answer is no, they're still buying the games.

ChrisLTD wrote:
And frankly, it's holding back gaming as a whole when games need to be designed to work across systems, some antiquated, some not.

Have you not just defined the problem with PC gaming in a nutshell there? The problem with "PC gaming" is it is, in fact, multiple systems, with a wide variety of hardware.

As for the graphics on the 360, I'm just not a graphics-intensive person. I'm sure I would appreciate ME3, Skyrim, Saints Row the Third, and other games I've bought in the last year a bit more with better graphics, but it's just not that big of a deal, as the gameplay aspect has been good enough to override everything else.

Scratched wrote:
The thing that's always in the back of my mind when I think about the 'poor console graphics' thing is "are people not buying those games because of it?" and I think the answer is no, they're still buying the games.

Actually, not as much. Total game sales are down year over year. April 2012 was 32% lower than April 2011. Software was down 42%.

ChrisLTD wrote:
MannishBoy wrote:
Playing [BF3] on both 360 and PC is a bit of an eye opener.

I think we're reaching the point where 360 games look like a joke compared to their PC equivalents. And frankly, it's holding back gaming as a whole when games need to be designed to work across systems, some antiquated, some not.

Here's the thing. It's only holding back gaming if you're a bleeding-edge PC gamer. As a console jockey, it ain't holding back gaming for me one whit. In fact, I'm reveling in the fact that I don't need to be dropping $$$ on new hardware.

Scratched wrote:
The thing that's always in the back of my mind when I think about the 'poor console graphics' thing is "are people not buying those games because of it?" and I think the answer is no, they're still buying the games.

Bingo. Skyrim looks bloody lovely on my 360 and my 5 year old 720p cheapass TV, thankyouverymuch.

Jonman wrote:
ChrisLTD wrote:
MannishBoy wrote:
Playing [BF3] on both 360 and PC is a bit of an eye opener.

I think we're reaching the point where 360 games look like a joke compared to their PC equivalents. And frankly, it's holding back gaming as a whole when games need to be designed to work across systems, some antiquated, some not.

Here's the thing. It's only holding back gaming if you're a bleeding-edge PC gamer. As a console jockey, it ain't holding back gaming for me one whit. In fact, I'm reveling in the fact that I don't need to be dropping $$$ on new hardware.

It's affecting game play directly at this point. There are features that consoles cannot support due to the limited hardware. It's not just graphics.

And it's not bleeding edge. A mid range PC or even a decent modern laptop now well outclasses the current consoles.

Nobody's saying that you have to buy a new console to continue to game. I'm sure current gen consoles still have a year or so after release to get some decent games due to their installed bases being what they are.

I don't really know why we're debating. It's pretty much announced via all the job postings, games announced for next gen systems, etc that both MS and Sony will release new consoles in 2013.

Scratched wrote:
The thing that's always in the back of my mind when I think about the 'poor console graphics' thing is "are people not buying those games because of it?" and I think the answer is no, they're still buying the games.

If the only limitation is graphical quality, no, it's not going to kill a sale for me.

But there really are games that try to take advantage of the graphical detail by going beyond just making it prettier.

Dark Souls: the graphics are as much about crafting a moody, atmospheric world that extends quite a distance, and the lighting (both meaning the actual lighting engine and physics, as well as the style of the lighting) is a significant part of the game's appeal. The game looks great as it is, but the current generation of systems can't quite handle the engine to perform smoothly. It's not so bad I can't overlook it, but it's frustrating at times.

Dragon's Dogma: initially, the most obvious graphical limitation is that the game features some awfully low-res textures throughout. That I can deal with. Where the game suffers is that in crafting such a vast, seamless (mostly) gameworld, and trying to push the lighting and shadows as far as possible to build more immersion and make it a more natural environment, they too are pushing the hardware pretty damn far. Framerate suffers as a result (just as with Dark Souls), and they'd be hard-pressed to make the game less graphically detailed.

Note that in both cases, I'm paying more attention to the immersiveness of the games than strictly going on graphics-whoring analysis (i.e. I'm ignoring whether textures are 1024*1024 or 2048*2048 or whatever, or how many polys the models are, etc). You may argue that the lighting isn't that important either, but if you've played these games you'd realize how wrong you are. The lighting is a key to building both atmosphere AND tension, because the developers use the limitations of the lighting and shadows against you to craft believable ambushes (in Dark Souls in particular) or enemy behaviors (someone's recent comment about the wolves darting in and out of the edge of the light cast by a bonfire in Dragon's Dogma).

There are things games can do with better hardware that they can't do with today's hardware (Dead Rising never would've been possible before this generation; hell, look at how well the Wii port of that turned out if you don't believe me).

MannishBoy wrote:
It's affecting game play directly at this point. There are features that consoles cannot support due to the limited hardware. It's not just graphics.

Exactly. Limited computing power means less people/objects in the world as well as less sophisticated physics and AI.

MilkmanDanimal wrote:
Have you not just defined the problem with PC gaming in a nutshell there? The problem with "PC gaming" is it is, in fact, multiple systems, with a wide variety of hardware.

Yes, but the baseline standard moves every year as old computers are replaced with newer more powerful models. For instance, games that require Windows 7 can count on vastly more powerful machines than those that can run Windows XP.

MannishBoy wrote:
I can't really think of any PS3 exclusives that are really system sellers on a large scale, though. Their strong-ish exclusives all don't really sell in huge numbers. I think we're past the point where stuff like GT, Killzone, LBP, Uncharted, etc will sell a console. On the other hand, somehow the Kinect does. Not sure how, as software sales don't look too strong from the top 10 lists.

When I think of Sony, I think of them shoving all kinds of games into a blunderbuss and then firing into a crowded room. They may not have one title that will grab a large number of players, but they got a lot of titles capable of grabbing a wide variety. They don't have any system sellers like Final Fantasy 7 or Halo, but those are few and far between anyway.

As it stands currently, I feel like Sony is making it easier for the Playstation to have games for family (LittleBigPlanet, ModNation Racers, Sorcery, Sly Cooper) as well as adults (Uncharted, inFamous, Resistance, Killzone).

I do think the 360 has a lot of Arcade exclusives, but I wouldn't think they're system sellers, either. I think what sells 360s is momentum and overall ecosystem. I think the value of the ecosystem (with it's apps) can be seen on the international level, where they sell less. They've got a lot less functionality in apps outside of the US, and I think that puts the PS3 in a much more competitive position. Worldwide installed base is pretty close because of this.

I really wish I was more aware of stuff like this.

Jonman wrote:
ChrisLTD wrote:
MannishBoy wrote:
Playing [BF3] on both 360 and PC is a bit of an eye opener.

I think we're reaching the point where 360 games look like a joke compared to their PC equivalents. And frankly, it's holding back gaming as a whole when games need to be designed to work across systems, some antiquated, some not.

Here's the thing. It's only holding back gaming if you're a bleeding-edge PC gamer. As a console jockey, it ain't holding back gaming for me one whit. In fact, I'm reveling in the fact that I don't need to be dropping $$$ on new hardware.

Here here! This is like that bastard GameInformer guy writing about he hates his Wii because Xenoblade deserves to be on a higher end system.

To that I say f*ck You Game Informer guy, because Xenoblade is f*cking beautiful, and if the Squenix developers making Final Fantasy 13 and on are to be believed a game of that sheer size and beauty is impossible in the realm of 1080p high resomolution texture budgets.

So f*ck the bleeding edge. If you stopped giving a damn about graphics you'd have more processing power available for A.I. and number of enemies on screen, theoretically (depends on the processors, the multi-threading, how much is being handled by the graphics card, and all kinds of high-level sh*t).

Thing is, I still remember seeing the E3 videos for Kameo: Elements of Power, where they showcased the sheer number of enemies on screen in a game that didn't have the best graphics, but who gives a f*ck because it had a beautiful art style.

Seriously, f*ck the bleeding edge.

ccesarano wrote:
So f*ck the bleeding edge. If you stopped giving a damn about graphics you'd have more processing power available for A.I. and number of enemies on screen, theoretically (depends on the processors, the multi-threading, how much is being handled by the graphics card, and all kinds of high-level sh*t).

Thing is, I still remember seeing the E3 videos for Kameo: Elements of Power, where they showcased the sheer number of enemies on screen in a game that didn't have the best graphics, but who gives a f*ck because it had a beautiful art style.

Seriously, f*ck the bleeding edge.

You know, I've reconsidered. We should all still be gaming on Atari 2600's. f*ck the bleeding edge.

ccesarano wrote:
Thing is, I still remember seeing the E3 videos for Kameo: Elements of Power, where they showcased the sheer number of enemies on screen in a game that didn't have the best graphics, but who gives a f*ck because it had a beautiful art style.

To go back to the BF3 example, it's more than just players on the battlefield that matters. It's the players plus the vehicles plus tracking all the real time destructibility plus tracking all the world effects like smoke, lighting (annoying flashlights on guns), physics, etc. Those things are partially graphics, but they are also dynamic in game play terms. And the current consoles just can't keep up with all that with a larger number of players.

Can fun games still be made on current class hardware? Sure, but when people start complaining that they want truly new experiences, they're running up against hardware limitations to make a lot of these types of game play upgrades. And as I posted above, software sales are dropping quite obviously these days, so new consoles are coming.

MannishBoy wrote:
To go back to the BF3 example, it's more than just players on the battlefield that matters. It's the players plus the vehicles plus tracking all the real time destructibility plus tracking all the world effects like smoke, lighting (annoying flashlights on guns), physics, etc. Those things are partially graphics, but they are also dynamic in game play terms. And the current consoles just can't keep up with all that with a larger number of players.

And those things are handled by different chips in the machine. For example, turning down how much you tax the graphics card doesn't necessarily mean you have more CPU cycles for AI.

I don't really think it's a "bleeding edge" issue when my phone has as much RAM as an Xbox 360.

There's a middle ground here between "current consoles are holding back gaming" and "f*ck the bleeding edge."

No, graphics aren't everything. The wealth of genuinely brilliant games on the DS and PSP (or the explosion of marvelous lo-fi indie gems on the PC) proves that you can create brilliant, compelling games with hardware far less capable than even the Wii. The DS is only marginally more capable than the N64, but it's been home to some of the best games of the last few years.

However, beefier hardware can bring better design to the table and not just more graphical bling. Even with really low poly models, you couldn't have been able to build Mario Galaxy for the DS, and as someone mentioned upthread, Dead Rising is the kind of game that just couldn't exist on lower-powered consoles (unless you made everyone 2D sprites, I suppose).

So I say bring on the next generation of consoles! So that developers on my handheld can start indulging in some seriously awesome design work.

Also I believe pretty graphics are easier to market than most gameplay features. What are people going to remember from the 30s ad on TV, the claim of 5 zillion advanced AIs or some cool looking clip?

ccesarano wrote:

Here here!

I believe you mean, "Hear, hear!"

You may carry on copulating with the Game Informer guy and the bleeding edge now.

I think an upgraded hardware system that will allow Microsoft to upgrade the Xbox OS to work in tandem with Windows 8 and both WP7 and WP8 phones will help drive sales. It will be a much more nimble media server. Kinect will be intergrated and have a better hardware solution that will drive some innovation. And yes, it will allow games to come closer to their PC brothers in feature sets.

The consoles are coming, and Microsoft seems to be in the best postion to take advantage of it. As more and more folks abandon cable in order to get their TV from the interent, the Xbox is becoming a perfect hub. The XBL marketplace will span phones (if Microsoft can get some penetration into the market with what I think is the best smartphone OS), PC's and their game console.

I have no idea if Microsoft is thinking that big, or if they will do much, but the opportunity is right there. They are fighting Apple more than Sony and Nintendo at this point. Someone will create the perfect media hub, and Microsoft has an advantage via the Xbox unless they let Apple define it first.

That's why they aren't going to sit around and sell 360's for another two years.

Jayhawker wrote:
I think an upgraded hardware system that will allow Microsoft to upgrade the Xbox OS to work in tandem with Windows 8 and both WP7 and WP8 phones will help drive sales. It will be a much more nimble media server. Kinect will be intergrated and have a better hardware solution that will drive some innovation. And yes, it will allow games to come closer to their PC brothers in feature sets.

An upgradeable console defeats the strength of consoles. People like consoles because you don't have to mess with upgrades and compatibility matrices.

Maybe someone will figure out a way to make upgrades painless, but as soon as you have to introduce the equivalent of "minimum requirements" stuff gets real dicey with consumers.

Otherwise, making a console closer to a PC is really going in the wrong direction (even though we're already on this track with all the media center functionality, patches, and firmware updates). Unless you're thinking of something more like a smartphone model where you trade in your system every two years for a new model...

shoptroll wrote:
Jayhawker wrote:
I think an upgraded hardware system that will allow Microsoft to upgrade the Xbox OS to work in tandem with Windows 8 and both WP7 and WP8 phones will help drive sales. It will be a much more nimble media server. Kinect will be intergrated and have a better hardware solution that will drive some innovation. And yes, it will allow games to come closer to their PC brothers in feature sets.

An upgradeable console defeats the strength of consoles. People like consoles because you don't have to mess with upgrades and compatibility matrices.

I think you misread that. He said an upgraded hardware system, not an upgradeable hardware system. And once you get past the current limitations of memory, etc, you will give yourself a lot more upgradeablility via software than you have now.

Not that they haven't done wonders, but the fact is the current dashboard and party systems are straining to do what they do. Sluggish, etc.

I don't mean a console that can be upgraded like that. I mean that the new console will be an upgrade from the 360, which will allow it to do those things. It will be the HTPC for everyone that doesn't want to monkey around with computers. The goal would be more plug and play.

There is a chance that Microsoft is floating the cell phone model for their next gen, but I don't think we will see that yet. I think the Nextbox will be good to go for 5-6 years. I think the 2-year agreement deal is just a way to drive more users into the XBL environment.

Gotcha. I'm a dirty skimmer

I would be really surprised if they're not going full-throttle HTPC with the next one. That's been the main focus lately with the updates so that seems like the logical next step, and dominance of the living room has been a long sought after goal for MS. Plus, the rumor mill is constantly salivating over a Siri-powered Apple TV so it seems like it would be MS's best interest to beat them to market or with a cheaper set-top-box/HTPC alternative.

shoptroll wrote:
Plus, the rumor mill is constantly salivating over a Siri-powered Apple TV so it seems like it would be MS's best interest to beat them to market or with a cheaper set-top-box/HTPC alternative.

At this point, the Kinect is basically a mic for us to use voice commands in the dashboard and when watching Netflix. I've been super impressed with the voice driven search for Bing on my WP7 phone. I don't use it so much on the Xbox.

But I think you are dead on that Microsoft wants to beat Apple and Siri to the living room.

DP

The thing is, why would it need to be a hardware upgrade? The 360 is hardly a slouch, with fairly good hardware in there for many kinds of non-gaming usage. A continuing software upgrade schedule I can see for compatibility with other devices. Keep doing minor revisions to keep up with efficiency and things like HDMI specs, and I can see the 360 doing well for a while.

I think the key is that you have to keep up the impression in customers minds that the product is 'up to date' and up to the task rather than be a powerhouse, and for the 360 there's many different tasks besides gaming. This is why the low-power successor seems like a viable rumour to me as a path (but not the only path) they could take.

ClockworkHouse wrote:
The DS is only marginally more capable than the N64, but it's been home to some of the best games of the last few years.

??

Only for someone who likes those type of games maybe.

ranalin wrote:
ClockworkHouse wrote:
The DS is only marginally more capable than the N64, but it's been home to some of the best games of the last few years.

??

Only for someone who likes those type of games maybe.

Wow.

"Those types of games." Have you considered liking better games, Clockwork?

Gravey wrote:
ranalin wrote:
ClockworkHouse wrote:
The DS is only marginally more capable than the N64, but it's been home to some of the best games of the last few years.

??

Only for someone who likes those type of games maybe.

Wow.

"Those types of games." Have you considered liking better games, Clockwork?

I didn't realize that was an option.

I've been ready for a new Xbox for awhile now. It's not so much that the graphics are well behind a modern PC's, it's the frame rate issues. I recently played Enslaved and there were some VERY choppy sections. Even Gears of War 2 had some chop. A couple Max Payne 3 reviews also mentioned frame rate issues. I would think that 1080P at 60fps would be very doable even with GPU's from a couple years ago.

I also hope the new Xbox supports a wider range of file formats when streaming from a home server. Seems like my PS3 can play more files than my Xbox.

BigKid66 wrote:
I also hope the new Xbox supports a wider range of file formats when streaming from a home server. Seems like my PS3 can play more files than my Xbox.

Microsoft really tried pushing some proprietary formats for a while (helllo, wma!), but I do think their pretty obvious attempts to be a home media hub mean they'll be as open as possible; there is far more value in accepting many kinds of media than there is in hoping you get people to use your own.