Sunday, March 11, 2007


What makes a game Next Gen?

What makes a game worth that 60 dollar price tag?
It has to be a software leap. By definition is has to be the evolution of previous gen software.

Let's atomize a game to see what needs to evolve.

Texture Mapping - the bumps on a surface. It fools your eyes into thinking a 2D image is made of marble or skin. Current-gen games use normal mapping--basically making a Low Polygon character walk around in the skin of a High Polygon character. Parallax Mapping is the next level technique. It involves doppler effect of light. Textures look bigger closer, smaller farther. Only Crysis and Conan seem to support this extensively.

Light Sources: The problem with Parallax mapping is that it takes a lot of registers in your GPU to use properly. Registers that can be doing more light sources. More light sources, better graphics. You could probably fake it if you had to.

A.I - true AI isn't just a big chunk of If else statements. It should take user tactics, asign a template, respond, simulate, and repeat. Full A.I.

Procedural Assets - Using functions to create assets on the fly instead of pre-compiled. On the fly assets can be modded on the fly. Bullet holes can actually be bullet holes. Not just a 2d texture map repeated over and over again.

In conclusion, what does this mean for games?
A) Wank off to better looking breasts.
B) Multiple Light Sources. Better shadows.
C) AI, single player experience.
D) Procedural will let you create your own characters, buildings, vehicles. It also supposedly lets you generate your own actions by combining others (supposedly).

The hardware needs to be dual+ core Out of Order Cores for AI and a huge L1/L2 cache for procedural. The 360 has 1MB L2 but that's shared between all 3 cores. The PS3 has individual caches but it's non cached (slower) 256 KB with the main PPE with only 512KB L2. Either use a faster PPE with half a gig, or a slower Xenon with a shared Gigabyte. And the only saving point of the Wii in all of this is that it uses an Out of Order single processor but by Chris Hecker's(Will Wright team) admission, the Wii CP can't even lead in the AI department.

So the only truly next-gen platform is your upgradeable PC.

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