PS3, Nintendo Wii, 360, Vista, DirectX 10 games, lots of good PC games, oh yea.
December 2006 I think we be remembered fondly for the convergence of true gaming nirvanna – for at least a short time.
There’s just so much there. It’s like when you’re a kid and you get up and see the stockings stuffed by Santa and presents under the tree? Where should we even start?
I’m jazzed about how cool the Nintendo Wii has turned out. The Xbox 360 seems to be more impressive over time with the HD-DVD add-on, the downloadable HD-movies, downloadable games, etc. Vista has turned out a lot better than it initially looked, the DirectX 10 support means even better games, and there’s a lot of cool PC games out now and more coming out.
It’s a great time to be a gamer. The best time I can remember since, well since getting Moon Patrol for my Atari 2600 many Christmases ago! ;)
Eh, I’m less then enthusiastic about the direction of the industry. I enjoy better looking games as much as the next bloke, but it seems like the industry is putting the cart before the horse. Improving graphics should be about finding new ways to convey the art to the user. Intsead, it seems like new graphics is about making the game shiny. Take Space Rangers 2. All those stars on the map made is look pretty, period, with out the latest Shader technology.
On the flip side, I’m really excitted about some indie projects, like this one: http://rpgvault.ign.com/articles/749/749013p1.html . Age of Decadence is basically a Fallout inspired RPG taking place in a low magic, post apocalyptic Roman inspired world. The gameplay focuses on multiple solutions to quests and faction conflict. Its the sort of game I’d wish the industry would make, but it just isn’t happening.
As for Christmas, I got myself a Gametap membership. Beyond Good and Evil, so far, really deserved the praise I heard for it. Some of the old Atari games aren’t nearly as good as I remember them, though. I think I might also get my brother a Gamecube. He’s not really a gamer, but he a bachelor who just moved into an apartment in Cleveland and really doesn’t have much to occupy his time.
Way too many people know that’s a problem for it to remain a problem for long, I think.
I also think that I shall bask rather more in the warm, warm glow of mid-2007 when there are good PS3 games coming out, the Halo 3 hype is revving up, and I am forced to use violence to get people off of Smash Brothers Brawl so I can get some sleep.
I think what we need more here is someone to go on about how graphics don’t make games better. Greatatlantic, there have been quite a few titles out this year that have had both really good, “shiny” graphics (that are ruining the industry!) but were also excellent games. Please stop with this fantasy either/or situation so many people seem so stuck on.
pretty much, also can I pre-emptively kill the whole Unreal Engine 3 is killing next gen gaming diversity thing?
Gears is out and looks (and plays) great. Crackdown and Mass Effect both look (and seem as though they might play) great (assuming you like the artistic style of the former) and are wildly different games.
Bask, but only after you’ve spent $300 for a Wii and an extra controller, $700 for a 360 + HD player + extra controller + Live subscription, $650 for a PS3 + extra controller, plus $100 for the Vista upgrade + whatever hardware upgrade you need to run Vista well.
Oh wait, now I don’t have any money to buy any games!
Let’s list improvements to the industry/games besides graphics, then. Take the graphics whore completely out of the equation. And hell, sound too (though sound has improved a ton over the years as well).
Games are much, much easier to use in general. No more futzing with and squeezing an extra 5 KB out of your UMB memory or worrying about allocating extended vs. expanded memory.
Drivers and updates are, in general, much easier to find and install. Hell, Pc gaming in general is the smoothest it’s ever been (although still frustrating compared to consoles).
Multiplayer games are a thousand times easier to set up and play. XBox LIVE, despite hiccups and oddities, is the model for multiplayer gaming. Look at how easy gaming in a group in games like WoW is. Clans and other groups like that are a big improvement for organization too.
Sandbox/open ended worlds are much, much more detailed, fleshed out, and unique.
The industry has learned with almost laser precision what is fun and what is not, we have informally studied this and are making the most addictive games in years.
We can simply do things with games now that we couldn’t do with games before. Computer processing power has given us much better reactive AI, lifelike opponents, and challenging games. See any modern RTS or good FPS (i.e. Company of Heroes, F.E.A.R.) for examples.
Old skool games like side scrollers, shumps, RPGs, and beer and pretzel strategy games are still around, and flourishing. Even long dead genres like space sims are making a comeback and even flight sims, at least on consoles, are showing up now and again (although in very light and non-hardcore forms).
On the whole, compared to 10, 20, 30 years ago, the technology to play games is getting better and better, and prices are not going up, and in most cases are cheaper (compare the price of your first computer to your latest purchase, or the price of a next-gen console).
I don’t really see December being the nirvanna time, maybe it’s the harbinger. Right now there’s a lot of new hardware out but nothing to play on it. The 360 has a few, but the PS3 is a barren wasteland and the Wii has Zelda plus a bunch of games that show it’ll take a while before developers really “get” the new control scheme.
On the PC, Microsoft may be bundling DX10 and trying to force people to upgrade to Vista, but that doesn’t mean Vista will actually do anything for gaming. It’s like Bluray, they market it as something that will improve gaming but in reality they’re using gaming support to sell Vista. If it isn’t a system requirement, Vista will not do anything to improve gaming.
If I had to guess, I’d say the real gaming nirvanna will start two years from now when developers start to really settle in to the new generation. Right now, the best games are still on the DS and PS2.