Thursday, July 21, 2005

E3 Reactions

Originally Published May 19, 2005
I watched G4's live coverage last night. And I had some thoughts on the matter.

The PS3 and 360 really do have some great looking graphics. The Revolution is still up in the air, but guaranteed to look better than the cube.

From what I can tell, Sony's demo also included pre-rendered footage. And since they had no PS3 games on the floor, all you had to rely on was the demo footage. Particularly, the FF demo. There were some shots, though, where it seemed obvious that it was the actual game. I think it was Grand Turismo that looked the best. It really is starting to push the so-called "realistic" graphics, a term that has been used too liberally describing many games of the current generation.

360 actually had games on display, so G4 was bette r able to demonstrate it. At one point, they were interviewing one of the developers of the game "Full Auto" while showing the game, live, as Morgan Webb played it. The graphics looked a little better than the best games of this past generation. But what was nice about it was the game could support much more on screen action at a time, creating a much better sense of a dynamic environment.

Comparing the PS3 racer to this 360 racer, the PS3 racer wins, hands downs, graphically. But it's unfair to compare Grand Turismo to Full Auto, in a graphical context, since both games are designed for two different purposes. GT is a pure racing game. And they optimized the game for simple racing, and super high def car models. Full Auto, on the otherhand, is designed like a classic arcade game, with tons of action. The car is mounted with guns. And everything in the game can take damage. The trade off was less graphics for a much more interactive world. Which in its own way, makes the game look better.

As for the Revolution.... Well, the only disappointing thing about it, so far, is that they have kept their mouths shut. They did give us a teaser, letting us know that older games will be made available through downloads. I personally can't wait to play games like Punch-out!! from the NES, Super Metroid from the SNES, and Mario Kart 64 from the N64.

What I really haven't liked about Nintendo keeping mum is how the press has reacted. Since Ninty didn't tell them much of anything, many journalists and bloggers have started making stuff up about the Revolution. If you don't wash their back, they'll stab yours. Real professionaly/mature guys.

An another interesting thing Ninty claimed about the Revolution is that it will be 2-3 times more powerful than the Gamecube. Compare this with Microsoft's claim of a 15x and Sony's claim of a 35x increase in power over their predecessors. One or more of these companies are full of horseshit. Possibly even nintendo, since they often take the "under promise, over perform" method of pleasing their audience. Unfortunately, that strategy often gets obliterated by the awesome marketting of Sony and Microsoft, whom don't mind telling a fib or two. Comparing systems by their specs, is for the birds, anyways. I bet when all is said and done. the Revolution will be on par with at least the 360.

And the last thing I want to mention has more to do with the developer side of things. These systems have much more powerful. And consumers know it. They now expect the next gen of games to take advantage of this. With these upgrades in power means developers will need to hire better/more programmers, more artists, better voice actors, better studio engineers, etc.. etc... Games are going to cost a lot more money to produce. Nintendo mentioned how games are starting to push 8 digits to produce. One failure could destroy a company.

Nintendo is battling this by making the revolution as simple as possible to develop for. In fact, the dev kit for the Revolution is supposed to be much like a superset of the gamecube dev kit, so developers will already be somewhat familar designing for the new system. The PS3 on the otherhand, is an entirely new architecture, the cell processor. To fully take advantage of the cell, developers are going to have to spend an absurd amount of money to hire and train programmers. The cell isn't public yet, there are no self trained cell processor software engineers. All of this has to be done in house. Yes, sony still has a dev kit to make it easier for developers to code for their system. But this dev kit isn't going exploit the 35x increase in power the PS3 has to offer. And often, when working with so much power, coders get lazy, depending on the processor to make the program run faster rather than optimize it.


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