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The Next Gen consoles


Major Britten
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Now that Nintendo have shown off the Wii U alot of people have been disappointed with the graphical capabilities of the machine. One of the biggest questions though is if Microsoft release their next console within the next 2-3 years how will Nintendo's machine compare graphically? Wii U is more powerful than the 360/PS3, even if its not by a huge amount, but Im wondering just how much more powerful the next gen consoles will really be. Usually you can get a good idea on how good next gen games will look with PC games, but at the moment even the best PC games arent a huge leap above what on consoles now, even games developed specifically for PC with no console ports are certainly not a generation ahead of current consoles.

Another issue is cost. Even now, making a big franchise game on the current gen consoles still costs huge amounts of money and is always a risk, I think there have been more development studios going under this gen than any of the previous generations. So if there was a huge graphical jump with MS/Sonys next machines, how many developers would be willing to start from scratch and invest huge amounts of money to making games for a platform with an extremely small user base compared to the 80+ million people that own either a 360, PS3 or Wii U?

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Now that Nintendo have shown off the Wii U alot of people have been disappointed with the graphical capabilities of the machine. One of the biggest questions though is if Microsoft release their next console within the next 2-3 years how will Nintendo's machine compare graphically? Wii U is more powerful than the 360/PS3, even if its not by a huge amount, but Im wondering just how much more powerful the next gen consoles will really be. Usually you can get a good idea on how good next gen games will look with PC games, but at the moment even the best PC games arent a huge leap above what on consoles now, even games developed specifically for PC with no console ports are certainly not a generation ahead of current consoles.

Another issue is cost. Even now, making a big franchise game on the current gen consoles still costs huge amounts of money and is always a risk, I think there have been more development studios going under this gen than any of the previous generations. So if there was a huge graphical jump with MS/Sonys next machines, how many developers would be willing to start from scratch and invest huge amounts of money to making games for a platform with an extremely small user base compared to the 80+ million people that own either a 360, PS3 or Wii U?

Oh yes they are. Whats your forgetting is that PC owners are now running duel or tri-screen displays, not single screen. Thats the big thing for them (and ome indication what gaming will be like in super HD).

Check out the HD screenshots thread though.

Thats where consoles will be, albeit with a fuckton of added effects. In t'other threaed, that mech sim is a good example

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Oh yes they are.

They are and they aren't.

I mean they clearly run smoother and at a higher resolution and have effects and other stuff going on...but underneath all that there aren't real differences in how the games really look.

Go back to PS2 era stuff and you can see the difference, character models, textures, general complexity of the worlds are all significantly worse than what we have now, on top of the resolution downgrade.

I think some people are expecting a similar leap to the next generation...but if it happens any time soon, they won't be getting it. What they'll get is 1080p and a higher framerate and lots of nice effects on top of what games look like now.

And to be honest thats probably what Wii U will give us too.

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I imagine the next 360 will use a quad core CPU with a GPU based on the current ATI hardware (possibly dual core GPU) with either a gig or 1.5gb video ram.

Normally the consoles come out and make top-end PCs look ropey in comparison, but the PC has had such a long time to forge ahead that I'm not sure this will happen this time around. Would love to be proven wrong though, despite being somewhat Master Race I love it when the next round of consoles come out and blow away anything we've seen before.

The stuff you can do with a top-end PC now makes the current-gen consoles look utterly laughable in comparison. The only reason a lot of games look similar is because as we all know, consoles lead development now, and therefore you end up with the majority of PC games looking the same but running at double the framerate with better textures etc, like H_S_H_24 said. That's still enough for a comparison between the console and PC version of something like Far Cry 2 or Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood to be night and day though.

I expect what'll happen is the next round of consoles will be about on par with a highish-end PC, but developers will start developing with that power in mind, which the PCs are already equipped to handle. Right now you can get say, Fable 3 on PC, have it run at 400 frames a second in 1080p and crank the antialiasing up to ungodly levels. The next gen of consoles won't do this, they'll continue with the 30fps/2xAA pattern but have higher poly models and geometry, more expensive lighting effects and so on. Which is good for everyone*.

It means the PC players will get games which at a base level will tax/take advantage of their system rather than having to rely on insane framerates and antialiasing, or 3D/multiple monitors to feel justified in their purchases! 90% of current 'big' PC games are console games given loads of room to breathe with added AA, whereas the next-gen console ports will actually have higher baseline requirements and won't be able to run at insane framerates with lots of AA, in 3D across twelve monitors etc.

I don't mind development being driven by console at all, I think of my PC as a big Xbox a lot of the time rather than something opposed to one.

*Except Rubberjohnny

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One weird thing people think is that the next generation would be just like this one but prettier. It wouldn't be, we're seeing some fundamental shifts in the industry right now that would change how a future console would even work.

On example is shooters, since this generation began the social networking effect of Live and other games meant that people traditionally played one games multiplayer (Halo 2, Gears, CoD4, etc), and bought other shooters for playthroughs and short-term multiplayer before going back to the blockbusters. What we're seeing now is that people are buying small downloadable shooters for these "holdover" games between blockbusters. Look how many brought Section 8 over Brink, sure Brink wasn't great, but Section 8 wasn't much better, and to be honest, they didn't need to be - they were disposable holdover games before the next big blockbuster.

This is happening for shooters right now, but will soon start happening for other genres - racing games and so on (probably not sandbox games or rpgs, as those are a bit art-intensive for small teams to make).

As much as we've mocked Nintendo for failing to react to the rise of Apple, the 360 and PS3 have their own App Stores that are disrupting their markets: XBLA and PSN. This ties into comments by THQ post-Homefront that if a game isn't AAA it just can't make it anymore. And those blockbusters are getting ever more expensive (BF3 cost $300 million) and the number of companies that can afford to make them isn't getting any bigger.

By the time a new console rolls around, we could be seeing a tiny fraction of the games that are retail right now coming in a box, and the number of small downloadable F2P titles exploding.

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Definitely.

Except Nintendo

We keep hearing about a gulf between downloadable and AAA titles, I think this is only true in the boxed market, everyone else eventually will work out they can turn a profit by making their 'single A' game downloadable and a bit cheaper. Brink Vs Section 8 is a very good example. Brink would have been much better served as a multiplayer only downloadable title at the £20 mark, no time spent on singleplayer, bots, cutscenes etc.

I've been saying for ages that if you want to see the next-gen consoles, just look at a decent PC running Steam.

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I honestly don't know why I got negged for that post?

It's ironic that often the people arguing for a very high-graphical future are often making buying decisions that are moving the industry in the other direction.

When the vast majority of games become downloadable and a dozen or so annual franchises are the only ones that push the tech, what happens to the value proposition for including all of this power in the box? Does it make more economic sense to remove the expensive tech and the few massive selling blockbusters and focus on a mediocre tech platform that's still far beyond the actual needs of most games on it? I mean, as much as people like to point out how old consoles like the 360 and PS3 are seven years old in PC terms, these downloadable games use a fraction of that, putting them at some even older level.

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FFS, RubberJohnny. You get negged because you only ever post one thing.

This isn't a point I've made before though. It's not even similar!

Unless you count "not pushing for game graphics" to be similar, which is kind of hypocritical that everyone who does post about how they want graphics and so on doesn't get negged for posting their same opinion. Otherwise Morrius would be the most negged member.

I'm not sure why discussion on this topic is seemingly not allowed on this discussion forum.

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They won't overtake modern PC's unless there's a radical shift in GPU technology before then..

Modern gaming PC's have graphics processors that require chunky heat sink/fans and consuming (relatively) huge amounts of power.

That's not something you can easily squish into a little console box without it melting - 360 had enough problems so that this is going to be a huge priority in the build of the new XBox. Plus serious gaming rigs often have a whole second card in..

Where consoles do have the advantage is, they only need to aim for 1080p res, something most mid-range current PC cards should be able to do relatively easily..

Another big advantage is the minimal overheads of their OS compared to Windows.. meaning they need less RAM.

PC's are currently a little hamstrung by needing to pander to the 32-bit OS's.. Which means (for the next few years at least) apps/games can't be built requiring more than 3GB RAM.. Meaning that a 2GB bearing console might routinely have more memory available for use.. Especially if that's system RAM and not shared with the GFX hardware.. and given how much they've been able to squeeze out of <512mb (256/256) this time round..

CPU-wise it'll definitely be at least a quad core, but something with 2x or 3x as many actual processing threads as the 360's one..

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Theyll be able to do what PCs are doing currently. Theyll be able to do actual HD resolutions instead of this sub-hd crap that most multipaltform console games seem to run at. Then once the devs get used to the tech youll have that moment where the consoles make a leap ahead of PCs. Then the next gen of cpus/gpus will come to PC and PCs take the lead again. The cosmic ballet goes on.

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They are and they aren't.

I mean they clearly run smoother and at a higher resolution and have effects and other stuff going on...but underneath all that there aren't real differences in how the games really look.

Go back to PS2 era stuff and you can see the difference, character models, textures, general complexity of the worlds are all significantly worse than what we have now, on top of the resolution downgrade.

I think some people are expecting a similar leap to the next generation...but if it happens any time soon, they won't be getting it. What they'll get is 1080p and a higher framerate and lots of nice effects on top of what games look like now.

And to be honest thats probably what Wii U will give us too.

I thought that but people say the higher framerates won't be happening which means that EVERYTHING will be thrown at the graphics.

I think the important bit is the lighting and poly/scene detail.

GT5, Forza 4 and Kane and Lynch 2 showed what lighting effects can do potentially. Apply this lighting to even low poly models and scenes and you tend to get impressive results (see GT5).

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PC's are currently a little hamstrung by needing to pander to the 32-bit OS's.. Which means (for the next few years at least) apps/games can't be built requiring more than 3GB RAM..

PC games never use more than 2GB anyway, you hit 2gb and the game goes 'lol' and starts thrashing the pagefile. It's bloody annoying.

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This isn't a point I've made before though. It's not even similar!

Unless you count "not pushing for game graphics" to be similar, which is kind of hypocritical that everyone who does post about how they want graphics and so on doesn't get negged for posting their same opinion. Otherwise Morrius would be the most negged member.

I'm not sure why discussion on this topic is seemingly not allowed on this discussion forum.

I love that you separate the two, as if everyone who likes to see exciting new visuals has some vendetta against originality and you have to set them straight.

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Both Epic's Tim Sweeney (who is pretty much their John Carmack) and the real John Carmack agree that Next Generation consoles will need an order of magnitude more power at least, and as Moore's Law was still operational the last time I looked, the power will come as a by-product of that, the PC is already an order of magnitude more powerful than current generation consoles from Microsoft and Sony, and will be at that same point past Nintendo's Next Generation attempt within a year.

We sit down with Epic founder, CEO and technical director Tim Sweeney to discuss the latest advancements in Unreal Engine 3 and what it tells us about the next generation of hardware and the future of videogames themselves.

Epic's Tim Sweeney on the Samaritan tech demo, next-gen consoles and the future of videogamesgames™: How would the next generation of games consoles have to be built to run the sort of technology you’ve demoed with Samaritan?

Tim Sweeney: We only need what Moore’s law will readily provide. Compared to current-generation consoles, I’d much like to see roughly 8-12x more CPU performance, 10x higher GPU triangle and rasterizer throughput, and 20x more GPU computational (ALU) throughput. With that degree of leap, I’m confident we can ship next-generation games with graphics on par with the Samaritan real-time demo.

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Epic have more than a slight vested interest in a continued need for new graphics engines though. They must have made a fortune licensing UE3 this generation, if they can nudge the next-gen into the direction they want (as they sort of did with the 360 by bugging MS to put more RAM in it) they stand to win big once again. Epic have got their next-gen console engine ready to go by now I'd have thought, now they just need the next-gen consoles to be up to the job.

I really hope the next-gen looks like the samaritan demo, it positively oozed atmosphere despite Epic's best attempts to shove a cybermeathead into it. Imagine what could be done with it in the hands of more subtle or inventive artists.

Just in case you haven't seen it:

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Well John Carmack (on the GiantBomb interview) agrees with him, in so far as that if Microsoft or Sony want to convince people to upgrade to a new box, they will need to do one with at least an order of magnitude more power to show the benefits from doing so (or they'll need some sort of controller 'innovation' if they want to printmoney.gif without that), and as Moore's Law still applies, by the time they do crank one out, 10x more power will cost them the same as what their last boxes did (or less in Sony's case, no bleeding edge storage format/CPU birthing problems this time around).

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I can see the future now... Unreal Engine 4 Kinect games :lol:

Coupled with CryEngine 3/4 ones ;)

"Having basic Kinect support in the CryEngine is one thing, but I'm talking about really supporting it deeply. CryEngine is going to have deep support," Yerli commented.
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They are and they aren't.

I mean they clearly run smoother and at a higher resolution and have effects and other stuff going on...but underneath all that there aren't real differences in how the games really look.

Go back to PS2 era stuff and you can see the difference, character models, textures, general complexity of the worlds are all significantly worse than what we have now, on top of the resolution downgrade.

I think some people are expecting a similar leap to the next generation...but if it happens any time soon, they won't be getting it. What they'll get is 1080p and a higher framerate and lots of nice effects on top of what games look like now.

If you go back and read threads on here or comments and articles elsewhere on the internet, you'll find that exactly the same criticism was made repeatedly about the current gen. One could see the difference between a PS1 and a PS2 but going from PS2/Xbox to 360/PS3 was nothing but a resolution upgrade without any other benefit whatsoever. Who needs or even wants HD? It will never catch on! In fact, among the more ardent Nintendo fans you still have people arguing that exact point to this day and they will continue to do so until the Wii U comes out. Once the next-gen finally appears and catches up to current PCs (and the difference is vast, and has been fast for a few years now no matter what the OP mistakenly thinks - imagine how huge the gap will have become by the time the next-gen consoles launch in two or three years) we will see the same current-gen games in shinier clothes at launch and after a while developers will as always find new and unexpected ways to utilise that power beyond just more shininess. By which point we couldn't be happier with the new gen and all the goodness it brought us. And then once that generation is over and we're anxiously awaiting the PS5 in 2022, someone somewhere (hopefully here on rllmuk as I like this place a lot) will make a post about how you can see the difference if you went back to the 360 era stuff, that everything was significantly worse and that certain genres weren't even viable compared to what we have with NextBox and the PS4, and that he or she very much doubts whether we could realistically expect a similar leap in 2022. And somewhere along the sidelines will be the Nintendo fans protesting that graphics are fine as they are now and any increase in power will lead to less creativity.

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PC games never use more than 2GB anyway, you hit 2gb and the game goes 'lol' and starts thrashing the pagefile. It's bloody annoying.

In which case, if they do want to give a console a leg-up on PC gaming, having say 4GB of free RAM to play with could mean you'd be able to craft games that would struggle to run as well on a PC. Or even open up all sorts of new avenues - those point cloud geometry systems for example..

4gb of RAM can be had for what? £25? It's a relatively cheap option...

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