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Saturday June 4, 2005 9:13 am

Future Eye Candy and Game Play Goodies of the PS3, Xbox 360 and Revolution

Gears of War

This week I had a discussion about the impending PS3, Xbox 360 and Nintendo Revolution where I emphasized over and over again “We play the games not the specs sheet”. Having gotten that mantra out of the way there are some fascinating possibilities that this massive shift in computing and graphical power would bring to the video game world.

I can’t wait for full destructive environments where you can write your name on the wall with a machine gun and then come back to it a week later and it will still be there. What the next generation could do is include real time physical destruction simulation where simulated physical elements could break and snap. Imagine the lobby gun battle in The Matrix where the walls were blowing up. Imagine being able to shoot a ring shaped hole in any wall with a laser then being able to kick out the middle piece.

I want to see real time inverse kinetics for everything so the feet of the characters will automatically position themselves to the ground and if you cut off a ninjas arm it will affect how the decrease in mass will affect his movements.

We might see shared game play environments so that if you go over to your friends secret lair and knock over his garbage cans he will notice the change the next time he plays his game by syncing over the Internet.

There might be AI that learns from observing game play like Virtua Fighter 4 that could flesh out online profiles so that preferred weapons would be remembered automatically. We might finally see a fair AI that is not so predictable and illogical. They might finally make the henchmen that would realize that his friends have been sniped when they rounded a corner towards the player so they would take a different path or go get help. The off line games might have an AI that learns from a users unique game play habits so it can adjust to constantly push the player.

There is going to be massive customization of online characters way beyond picking items from a list. We might see custom textures and geometry that is automatically traded P2P between players. This could go hand in hand with online distribution of user created game content such as items, levels, cars, special moves, wrestlers, you name it. There could have voice matching animations in network voice chat so the mouths on your virtual guys might move to sort of match what you are saying.

There are going to be huge immersive worlds that go on and on and remember the actions of previous games. Think about levels that are the size of the entire state of California. Online games could be scheduled using email and IM to set up online game matches between players. We are going to see graphical bliss with real time advanced motion blur, ray tracing quality shadows and lighting.

There are going to be changes in user interface to take advantage of the difference aspect ratios and resolutions between a HDTV and normal TV.

I am sure that things will be very good, but there will be a temptation to deliver games that are pure eye candy that will not be innovative or creative. But I am sure that there will be tons of games that blow away anything that we have seen in graphics and game play.

- Jacob Metcalf

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