Over at LockerGnome’s new YouTube channel, Questions to Answer, Gnomie Peter asks: “What will be the new features of Xbox 720 and PS4?”
Predicting the future is seldom an easy gig, even when you’re a brainiac like Brandon. Still, we don’t like to shy away from at least taking a crack at pondering the “what ifs” on the road of technology ahead of us, so Brandon decided to field the question. Here’s what he had to say about it (video follows).
“The obvious next step in console gaming is making the optical disk drive optional. We’re certainly seeing that Steam and Electronic Arts Origin are making downloadable games the norm for PC and Mac. And for the most part, I can’t tell you the last time I actually bought a physical copy of a PC game. I’ve just been downloading them via Steam. I haven’t tried Electronic Arts Origin, but I could see that I would use it. Xbox has been doing this with Xbox Live Arcade, and it’s been doing this with a lot of the classic games. For the Xbox, this makes a lot of sense because its games all come on shiny disks, so they’re only up to nine gigs — which is big, granted, but you can get a 240 gig hard drive for your Xbox, so you can have 24 games sitting on your Xbox at any given moment. And really, when was the last time you needed to pick between 24 games?
“The problem I see with this initially is that [some people, like my parents] don’t have broadband. It’s a 400 K connection, and that was a step up from two years ago when they only had dialup. So downloading a ten gig game, or a multi-disk game, would be an adventure! It would take days to download the game. So I just don’t see this as being the only way of getting the games, but I think that people who have broadband may be able to opt out of having the shiny disk drive.
“Another thing I think we’re going to see in console gaming is more emphasis on stereoscopic 3D. I don’t really like playing games in stereo, but that seems to be the trend that we’re moving towards. There are tricks that you can do with hardware [where] you don’t have to do as much work as most of the games are doing today. Today, you have to render a left eye and a right eye, and so you either have to cut the resolution in half, or you have to cut the frame rate in half. But there are tricks that could be done so that you use what’s called the Z-buffer in 3D [which approximates] how far away an object is in order to calculate the depth of the object. And while you wouldn’t get the amount of ocular occlusion that you’d get from actually doing the two-eye calculations, you could probably get about 98% of the way to the 3D feel, and you could do it with no cost to the frame rates, which would be a very big step up from what we’ve got now when you play Call of Duty in 3D — it kind of lags. It isn’t as smooth as it could be, and the resolution is cut in half, which is not the most fun, because the game doesn’t run at 1080p already — it runs at some some lower resolution (I don’t know the number off the top of my head).
“I also expect that we’re going to see a lot more integration with Comcast, and RCN, and AT&T U-verse and other television platforms just because set top boxes aren’t sexy right now, but game consoles and Blu-ray players are. So if you’re going to build a box that’s going to be a Blu-ray player and have Internet connectivity, it might as well just be your television box.
“So that’s kind of what I think the next step in platform gaming is.”
If you have a question of your own, you should upload it to us! And we know there’s a heat wave gripping a lot of places, but do us all a favor and please dress appropriately. We’re very modest geeks.