What will the "next level" of PC/gamebox games be?

As memory and processing power have expanded, so has the sophistication of digital games. First there were one-screen games with minimal graphics like Pong or Asteroids. Then full-color sprites like Donkey Kong. Scollling games were next, followed by the 3D first-person shooters like Wolfenstein. These were upgraded to true-3D environments, then polygons replaced sprites. On-line multiplayer modes were introduced, and of course animation has dramatically improved as well. So what is likely to be the next “quantum leap” in video games? Improved NPC intelligence? A fully interactive environment (in which every object is actually simulated in realtime)? Any other possibilities?

Fully independently-developing worlds. This has been what I’ve been looking forward to for years. A complete world - that is, a planet with continents and oceans and everything - that doesn’t revolve around you, the player. You can go anywhere and do anything, but time moves on without you.

Of course, this would require HUGE amounts of storage space and RAM and processing power to pull off, but I’m hoping it’s less than five years around the corner for the basic versions.

I’m looking forward to a time when the characters you control are (nearly, at least) indistinguishable from actors in a movie.

The whole ‘interactive physics’ thing is a bit of a fad lately, especially with rag-doll animations. Shame that so few games actually incorperate it into the gameplay. Hopefully Half-life 2 and Deus Ex 2 will solve this.

Following that point, how about a combination of physics and open-ended gameplay? See that bookcase? I want to push it over and use the wood to burn down an obsticle. I want to use a gas axe on a trailway track, weld together a massive trebuchet, and then take on the generic boss creature. I want to use demo packs to collapse a building on top of someone. (Speaking of which, when is the McGuyver game going to come out? :dubious:)

I sick and tired of the whole “hit the small widget 4 times to kill the boss” thing in FPS’s and would appreciate it they gave me the basic tools to make my own solutions. So far, the only open-ended gameplay involves stringing together randomly generated missions. Yes, I know lots of memory and massive amounts of parallel computing would be required, but I can dream, can’t I?

The current “big thing”, judging by the number of games that seem to be coming out with it, is cel shaded animation. Sure, it looks neat now, but I reckon we’ll be mighty sick of it before long. Assuming you’re not already.

Oddly enough, I’m hoping for exactly the opposite of what SPOOFE says- I couldn’t care less about massive, evolving worlds. I’d like to see interactive storytelling of truly high quality. I want games that have believable character arcs, clever plot twists, without feeling completely linear in the process (cough cough Final Fantasy X). Some games are edging towards this already- the new Xbox RPG, Knights of the Old Republic, tells a compelling Star Wars tale while bringing along all the extra richness in the universe that interactivity (and a 40 hour running time) allows for, without ever giving the feeling of “walking in a straight line between cutscenes” that so plagued FFX.

Regarding bosses, I’d like to just do away with them whenever possible. As an example, Halo has no bosses at all, but instead focuses on putting the player into different combat situations created by the combination of enemy force composition, weapons loadout, availability of friendly AI forces, and terrain. Therefore, while the beachhead battle on “The Silent Cartographer” may have the player facing the exact same number of enemy Elites and Grunts as a corridor fight on “Assault on the Control Room,” the experience is still markedly different. Tactics that will get you through the first situation will fail you utterly in the latter, and vice versa. The player may find him/herself hobbled by a lack of grenades, or a now-useless rocket launcher held over from a running battle with a tank earlier. Therefore, instead of having the player aim for overly-obvious “weak spots” on a single, hulking boss, the game forces him/her to analyze the specific situation, figure out a suitable solution, and then successfully execute it.

I wonder what advances in computer programming will allow. For instance as I understand it many game makers no longer need to develop an original engine, rather they pay someone else to use their already developed engine. The more things that can be purchased ready made will cut great amounts of time from development which will hopefully mean they can deliver more complex games which are delivered faster and cheaper.

So as programmers have to worry less and less about the program they can focus more and more on the story. And what I’d like to see is a FFXV which can be solved in any number of ways. Say your goal is to defeat this empire and how you do it is almost completely open. Although I’m pretty hard pressed to see how exactly that would work. But then I’m not paid the big bucks to try and make things better. i wish I was though.

Increased multiplayer support, with more people having access to broadband internet games that are solely for internet play will become the mayority. These games may have training modes that can run singer player but the main focus of the game will be competitive and cooperative play with other players. AI may improve but I doubt it will ever match the pleasure of playing against other humans. This future is already upon us, with games like planetside and the floods of everquest clones.

With this happening its only a matter of time before professional gaming becomes a serious sport, with competitions and world wide events attracting global attention. The next generation of EA sports games may involve you taking on the world in an real league of a simulated sport.

Errrr… that might be a wee bit too complex.

Yeah, I’m talking about cramming a 3-D CAD system with full physical modelling performing beam analysis, loadings and checking for material properties in real time.

I didn’t say it was going to be realistically programmed now; just something that might be fun :stuck_out_tongue:

As you can guess, I’ve been spoilt rotton by Serria’s Incredible Machine series.


About cel shading: download the demo for XIII. It is fabulous. The graphics are buttah-smooth.


Except we’ve already had those, for a while. They can hardly be the next “big thing”, now, can they?

I’m thinking of a game like Deus Ex. They obviously had to limit what they did, but it gave a great appearance of a world that moves and evolves along with the character. I’d like to see a game where time actually matters… if you wait too long to complete a quest, the opportunity passes. If you hang out too long somewhere getting experience points, you might miss out on a chance to buy a Badass Sword of Badassery. Etc. etc.

God, I hope not. Multiplayer is vastly overrated, in my opinion.

Here’s my $0.02.

I think the current revolution of massive multiplayer games will hit a technical wall: namely, bandwidth. There’s only so much data that can be transferred over existing infrastructure, it’s only so stable, and no amount of hardware upgrades or new go-faster video cards will change this. Sure, everyone is working to find ways to squeeze more out of the bandwidth available, but nobody wants to pay for it. I personally dismiss the MMO factor as the next big “thing.”

Physics models have become so commonplace that they are being sold as package deals, or bundled with modules, so lazy programmers can cram the whole physics engine into their game as-is. Once these engines have achieved a competent level of realism, they’ll hit a wall, too. There’s only so much Real Physics that the average game makes use of.

My guess: you’ll get a PCI card for your computer, for gamers, that’s CPU-assist AI. It might come with a package of hardware-built decision making routines that will increase the range and planning and strategy of your non-player opponents and reduce load on the central CPU. Create a self-contained software/hardware engine, modular in nature, where programmers can tweak a number of statistics for the game’s friends and foes – line-of-sight calculations, individual mob memory, etc – plug into the game, and let 'er rip. This will make possible the persistent worlds, and in the case of MMOs, could potentially off-load some of the heavy lifting into the client.

That’s my thought, anyway.


I’d say that windows should come with ‘direct physics’ or something of the type, the sort of 3d CAD system people were mentioning. make it super optimised and constantly worked on, maybe even make it something like videocards where its got its own CPU, it will be a major gameing accessory, allowing everything to have realistic physics and still allow programmers time to make games that are fun.

True enough. I guess it’s not so much that I’d like for it to “occur” as much as I’d like it to “occur more often.” :wink: There’s still too few games that manage to contain compelling stories while still being intelligent, fun games in their own right.

Now, here, we agree perfectly. :slight_smile: Give me a good single-player campaign over de_dust anyday.

Aha. I should tell you about my idea for a game-specific engine. I got the idea while playing GTA. I call it the “Badassery Engine”. It’s an additive to an existing game engine, but instead of providing the main thrust for game physics or AI, it tweaks things to happen in a really, really cool way.

An example: Say you’re playing Half-life, and you chuck a grenade at a soldier. The grenade goes off, and the soldier dies. Well, with the Badassery Engine, the solder will not simply die… he will be blasted into the air, crash into a support beam for a platform, snap it in half, and the contents of the platform above will come crashing down, causing a massive explosion from volatile materials and killing three more soldiers.

In short, the game will favor really cool things to happen for the benefit of the player. Events won’t be so random or chaotic… they will be directed to be insanely awesome. Say you’re playing GTA, and you see a FBI van driving towards you. Normally, they’ll probably just crash right into you and knock you through the air. Well, with the Badassery Engine, the van will swerve to avoid an obstacle, flip over, bounce into the air directly over the players’ head, smash into a building, explode, and cause the entire front face of the structure to come toppling down, with massive piles of debris and support columns falling down on either side of the player.

The Badassery Engine needs to be developed. Now.

In the near future, DirectX9 will allow games that have graphics that look as good as Finding Nemo or A Bug’s Life, but rendered in real time.

Not too far behind will be real-time ray tracing quality graphics, which in some cases will look like real life, or damned close to it.

Human characters will be modelled much better, like the characters in Final Fantasy.

All this is less than 5 years away. Some of it is less than a year away, and some of it is available now if you have the bucks for a top end video card and a high end computer.

Microsoft just announced that ATI has been chosen to provide the graphics cards for the next generation of the Xbox. You can expect that machine to have DirectX9, and the equivalent of the current fastest ATI graphics card, or maybe even a generation faster. The games for that should be fantastic.

Here’s a screenshot of “Doom 3” to give you an indication of the graphics quality of the next generation of games right around the corner:

Doom 3 screenshot

The next thing we need is a breakthrough in display technology. I want my 1024 x 768 24 bit color glasses, damnit. I want to lie in bed and play killer games on my handheld game machine. I want to put on my virtual glasses, lie on the couch, and virtually walk in to my internet hangout and see avatars of everyone else rendered in the quality of that Doom3 screenshot. So far, the glasses that are available use low-res LCD displays and aren’t that great. We need higher density displays so we can fit super high res with high contrast in the glasses, and they need to be about 200-300 bucks.

Sounds fantastic! I’m all for it. Somehow I doubt the hardware capable of creating such Badassery will be available soon, though. :frowning:

I dunno, Sam. I’m pretty happy with my monitor/keyboard (or TV/console controller) combo as it is. VR sounds all well and good on paper, but if my personal experience with it is any example, it’s not nearly as fun as, say, REZ.

Definitely agree that the graphics improvement to come will be tremendous (although I think you’re heading into the realm of hyperbole to suggest that we’ll see Finding Nemo rendered in real-time within the next half-decade ;)).

Nvidia has a demonstration of their new graphics card which has one of Pixar’s earlier short movies rendered in real time. I haven’t seen it, but apparently it’s pretty much indistinguishable from the original.

I don’t think we’re as far away as you think. Graphics cards are still improving along Moore’s law curve or better. That means in five years we’ll have maybe 8 times the graphics horsepower we have today.