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PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2005 6:19 pm 
Wired article on nexgen consoles

The next generation is looking interesting for a few different reasons. All 3 are using the same Power instruction set. Two of them are using graphics chips from the same company. At least two of them are also using Multi-core versions of the Power chips.

Xbox has been stated to have a 3 core chip with all 3 cores sharing the same memory and cache. This is similar to traditional SMP systems, except that 3 is a rather odd number for an SMP system. They have to be doing something different. Preliminary specs

Nintendo really doesn't have many specs available for their system. Of the three it seems to be the most secretive. We know that it uses an ATI GPU and a Power CPU. We know it will play gamecube games. Past that we don't really have much information.

Sony PS3 has a 9-core chip with a single core having direct access to the cache and using main memory. The other 8 cores have indirect access to main memory and have their own local memory for their respective programs. They're supposedly miniature Power cores with capabilities similar to the older PowerPCs used in the early powermacs. The primary core is more modern and will probably have multiple pipelines etc.

Depending on the capabilities of the secondary 2 cores on the Xbox compared to the limited SPE cores on the PS3, it could be a pretty even matchup on graphics. the PS3 has a definite advantage over at least the Xbox, because the Xbox will be using a mere dual-layer 7gb DVD compared to PS3's 50gb Bluray disc. Xbox will have the advantage people are claiming that Sony used last time. It will be first to market of the generation. If you recall though. The first system in this generation was not the PS2, but the Dreamcast...

Back to the original article for a moment.

Quote:
"I think they will define a new standard," said Marco Spitoni, senior lead artist at Milestone, an Italian game studio. "I'm afraid many developers will not be able to make these updates, to make these leaps to next-gen consoles because of technological limitations and financial limitations."

Peter Hajba, a developer from Finland's Remedy Entertainment, agreed.

"I think content teams for them need to be huge," Hajba said. "The budgets for them need to be huge, so (I think) fewer and fewer games may be going to come out."


Hmm. An interesting point. I think we've seen the opposite though. Far more games have come out for the PS than the SNES before it. And it seems that even more games are coming out for the PS2. Especially toward the end of life for each console.

One thing about the 2 of the new systems though. They are both shooting for an easier API. Sony learned its lesson last time and is embracing existing PC API's and extending them for their own purpose. Xbox has been refining its API for awhile and is upgrading it to Direct X 10.

PS2 and Xbox level games are quite acceptable to most people. The key to the new systems is that they make that level of graphics childsplay. Someone did a demonstration where they took a number of old Atari 2600 games and reimplemented them in PyGame in under 8 hours each with one developer where they took months to make on the old systems. Games that look as good as our current generation would be much easier to make. No more low level tweaking with the vector processors needed. Lots of unused capacity so you can work with higher level languages and constructs. Content is easier because the PS3 supports more standard formats like the Nvidia CG format for high level graphical effects. The extra capacity laying about could mean that one team could develop an engine or library that could be reused by other teams more easily than in the current generation. The engines can be more abstract.

Making the top-notch titles that squeeze every shred of graphics power out of the systems will take more money and people, sure. But does every title need to be top-notch? Especially when it'll get to the point where the improvements are so small as to be unnoticable to most people.


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PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2005 4:07 pm 
As an addon to this, I've recently been playing a game called Phantom Brave from Nippon Ichi Software. I believe they're a fairly small company and they seem to be following this concept. Their games are fairly simple graphically but rich in gameplay. They could probably be made easily on a PS1 with larger development team and more time. Yet they're great games and have had solid sales even in the US. They've released 3 games for PS2 already, and are working on a 4th.

Here's hoping for a lo-fi game revolution on the nexgen consoles with the smaller dev houses. :D


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PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2005 6:36 pm 
[url=http://biz.gamedaily.com/features.asp?article_id=9718&section=interview&email=]
Epic Megagames Mark Rein[/url] touches on some of the points I was making about the costs of next gen games and how more powerful tools affects it.


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PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2005 10:05 pm 
I wonder how having all those cores and chipsets will affect the usability of the system. I did a paper back in grade 12 about the history of video games, and saw that this has been done before; in the Sega Saturn. Instead of just one 32-bit chip like the PS1, it used 2 16-bit chips on two separate motherboards. For this reason, it was able to render 2d graphics perfectly, but 3d graphics were nearly impossible. Not to mention that the insides were so complicated that it was more likely to break down. Yes, technology has eveolved a lot since then, but I kinda wonder if having the more complicated electronics might be the PS3's downfall.

I also wonder about the price of the price of the PS3. I've also done a research paper on the Bluewave technology, which uses a blue laser to read and write information on the disc. Because a blue laser has a much shorter wavelength, you can pack more information onto the disc. This technology is brand spanking new. It was only discovered how to create a blue laser within the last 5 years. I can surely see how this is going to be the next evolution in digital media (we're all gonna have to buy the White Album again :roll: ), but I wonder if Sony might be putting it out too soon. Either the PS3 will cost a ton of money, or they will lose a tone of money on the systems right from the getgo since they'll have to keep the price low to compete (good thing Sony has deep pockets).


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 05, 2005 4:24 pm 
What I like most about the nextgen consoles is that most of the games are set to be released for the PC as well. Which helps a lot, considering I can't afford a console.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2005 5:15 pm 
Maveric wrote:
I wonder how having all those cores and chipsets will affect the usability of the system. I did a paper back in grade 12 about the history of video games, and saw that this has been done before; in the Sega Saturn. Instead of just one 32-bit chip like the PS1, it used 2 16-bit chips on two separate motherboards. For this reason, it was able to render 2d graphics perfectly, but 3d graphics were nearly impossible. Not to mention that the insides were so complicated that it was more likely to break down. Yes, technology has eveolved a lot since then, but I kinda wonder if having the more complicated electronics might be the PS3's downfall.


The PS2 already has a system very much like the PS3 only much more complex to program. The PS2 has the main 32 bit CPU with 128bit extensions and 2 vector units setup in a pipeline that terminates at the GPU. The 8 SPEs on the PS3 are similar to the vector units, only much more powerful and easier to program. The bus between them is setup so they can quickly throw info around between them, IIRC, so they can act in a similar manner to the PS2 vector units and work as a multi stage processing system.

The saturn's downfall probably isn't that it had 2 processors, but that the processors were insufficiently powerful. 2 16 bits processors do not get you a 32 bit processor. They get you a 16 bit processor that can do two things at once.

I'm still waiting to see if PS2 support is done via adding a PS2 SoC to the motherboard, or by emulation. They already have the PS2 condensed down to a single die for the PStwo, so it shouldn't be too hard to just drop it into the system and use it to run PS2 and PS1 games in much the same way that they dropped a PS1 SoC into the PS2.

Also, the Xbox 360 has a similar processor to cell, only it's symetric instead of asymetric. It's as yet unclear if it gets 3 cores via actually having 3 cores on the chip, or if they're pulling some sort of hyperthreaded multipipeline trick to get more performance and calling it a 3 core chip.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 10, 2005 12:21 am 
You know, I have a feeling that the new generation of consoles isn't going to be as successful as the current one. Look at it this way: The 8-bit systems (NES and Sega Master System) were the first to be able to run reasonably in-depth games, with large worlds to explore, a wide variety of things to do, etc. The problem was, they didn't look very good. Sure, they were leaps and bounds beyond the abstract collections of blocks that represented the player/enemies/etc. in the previous generation (dominated by the Atari VCS/2600,) but you still really had to use your imagination if you wanted to see what the developers meant for you to see. Still, it was the best we had at the time so we made do. Then came the 16-bit generation, the Sega Genesis and Super NES, and suddenly we were able to play games that looked good. For the first time ever on a home console, things looked like the things they were supposed to look like.

Of course, the console makers didn't stop there. Unfortunately, they didn't really know how to proceed. Sure, there were other consoles like the Neo-Geo, 3DO and Sega Saturn that were all more capable than the 16-bit systems, but nobody really cared. They already had systems that could make games look good, the fact that these new systems made them a bit better didn't really matter. Then Sony came around with the Playstation, the first home console to devote its focus mainly toward 3D graphics. Suddely, everyone got interested again. This was something new. This was something that the SNES and Genesis could not do (at least not well enough to speak of) so they went out and bought the system in droves. The problem was, of course, that even the Playstation had a lot of trouble rendering large 3D scenes. It worked well for games where the graphics primarily consisted of 3D characters on 2D backgrounds or vice versa, but when you tried to play a full 3D game like Soul Reaver of Medal of Honor, the limitations really started to show themselves. Characters were blocky, draw distances were exceedingly short, and texture maps showed numerous glitches. Sure, the games were still playable. Still fun, even, but the player still had to use his/her imagination a fair bit to see what the developers wanted him/her to see.

Then we've got the current generation of consoles, who are able to do 3D and do it well. They're to the Playstation what the SNES and Genesis were to the 8-bit consoles. Sure, if you look closely you can still see the seams where one polygon ends and the next begins, but in general things look like the things they're supposed to look like. So now we've got a new crop of consoles coming out, and while they may technically be as big a leap beyond the current generation as the current generation was beyond the Playstation, I have a feeling that people aren't going to be terribly enthusiastic about them. Sure, the games will look better than what we've got now, but what we've got now still looks pretty good. The new consoles don't really have anything that the current ones lack, and I think that that'll be a significant problem for the console makers in the next few years.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 10, 2005 2:30 pm 
You're wrong: the new generation of consoles will have awesome processing power, which will allow the games to have much, much more in-depth development, and physics engines and all the other wonderful things in games which are not strictly graphics-oriented. And that is a very good thing.

Maybe we'll finally be seeing actual cockpits in racing games... :)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2005 8:05 pm 
Drooling Iguana wrote:
You know, I have a feeling that the new generation of consoles isn't going to be as successful as the current one. Look at it this way: The 8-bit systems (NES and Sega Master System) were the first to be able to run reasonably in-depth games, with large worlds to explore, a wide variety of things to do, etc. The problem was, they didn't look very good. Sure, they were leaps and bounds beyond the abstract collections of blocks that represented the player/enemies/etc. in the previous generation (dominated by the Atari VCS/2600,) but you still really had to use your imagination if you wanted to see what the developers meant for you to see. Still, it was the best we had at the time so we made do. Then came the 16-bit generation, the Sega Genesis and Super NES, and suddenly we were able to play games that looked good. For the first time ever on a home console, things looked like the things they were supposed to look like.


Interesting theory, but really if you line them up it would make more sense this way:
Code:
2600 1977         NES 1985          SNES 1991
PS1 1995          PS2 2000          PS3 2006


The PS2 is better, but it's still not exactly what the developers want the world to be. To use one developer's ideas, the PS2, everything was still a set. A very pretty set, but just a set. With the PS3 he's planning on really creating virtual worlds.

The question is, what will we do with the PS4?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jul 14, 2005 3:29 pm 
Kazriko wrote:
The question is, what will we do with the PS4?


Smell-O-Vision? ;-)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jul 16, 2005 1:35 am 
One important point you might recall though is that the SNES was far from the perfect 2d machine. It had alot of special chips and a great deal of powerful 2d layering, blitting, etc features, but it was seriously lacking in one thing. Resolution. Most SNES games were around 320x240 with the occasional submenu or overworld screen at 512x480 or so. There was still alot of room for 2d improvement after the SNES died, but we didn't see much of it except on a few PC games like Abuse, Diablo2, and Starcraft.

There may still be life after the PS3 for 3d games. It just depends on if the next big thing in gaming comes along, or if everyone sticks to 3d.

Something silly like Smellovision likely wouldn't be enough to be considered a whole new medium like 2d->3d was. It'd be more like the Eyetoy or dance pad... True 3d or holographic graphics would be a big step though. Wheither it happens in the PS4/Xbox720 generation, PS5/Xbox1080/Nintendo 3rd Reich, or whatever is still a matter of wild speculation.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2005 5:47 pm 
MrNexx wrote:
Kazriko wrote:
The question is, what will we do with the PS4?


Smell-O-Vision? ;-)

Stereoscopic displays. *TRUE* 3d.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2005 10:51 pm 
MineFelinePossesseth wrote:
MrNexx wrote:
Kazriko wrote:
The question is, what will we do with the PS4?


Smell-O-Vision? ;-)

Stereoscopic displays. *TRUE* 3d.


nod, but the PS3 may have that, dual HDMI outputs, ya know. And PCs have had eyeswapping 3d for awhile too, just not mainstreamed and it was kind of a fad in the late 90's.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2005 10:27 am 
Kazriko wrote:
MineFelinePossesseth wrote:
MrNexx wrote:
Kazriko wrote:
The question is, what will we do with the PS4?


Smell-O-Vision? ;-)

Stereoscopic displays. *TRUE* 3d.


nod, but the PS3 may have that, dual HDMI outputs, ya know. And PCs have had eyeswapping 3d for awhile too, just not mainstreamed and it was kind of a fad in the late 90's.

Yes, but the ones you can buy for PCs now all seem to give crappy refresh rates and awful framerates. Also, they don't tend to have any motion sensor feedback to the videogame. Ideally, there should be graphics systems build specifically for stereoscopic displays (i.e. dual GPUs and full rate refresh for each eye) and feedback from the stereoscopic headset to the videogame - the player should be able to look around and have this motion translated into the movements of their ingame avatar.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2005 5:29 pm 
I'm still waiting for holographics.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2005 2:16 am 
MineFelinePossesseth wrote:
Yes, but the ones you can buy for PCs now all seem to give crappy refresh rates and awful framerates. Also, they don't tend to have any motion sensor feedback to the videogame. Ideally, there should be graphics systems build specifically for stereoscopic displays (i.e. dual GPUs and full rate refresh for each eye) and feedback from the stereoscopic headset to the videogame - the player should be able to look around and have this motion translated into the movements of their ingame avatar.


There was at least one that had the displays mounted right in the headset. it was only 320x200 though per eye though.

Like I said though, It was a big fad back in the late 90's. Everyone was sure that in 5 years we were going to have VR Everything. It's ~8 years later and VR is almost nowhere to be found. It was a combination of Too expensive, insufficient video quality, poor framerates, and even the best ones gave you migranes when you used them. Sony came out with a headset that would do this, but it had big HUGE warnings on the page "May cause permanent eye damage"

Pretty much scared everyone off, right there. http://www.eurogamer.net/article.php?article_id=46651

Here's a fairly comprehensive list of different VR headsets that people have thrown out on the market. http://www.stereo3d.com/hmd.htm


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