Archive for July, 2005
The little shiny discs that your PS3 will gobble up can be CDs, DVDs, or BDs. BD? Blu-ray Discs. And there’s somewhat of a format war going on between HD-DVD (backed by Toshiba and others) and Blu-ray (backed by Sony and more others). Disney, MGM, and Columbia/Tristar back Blu-ray. Universal, Paramount, and Warner Brothers back HD-DVD. And now Fox has joined the Blu-ray camp officially. There have been hints that they may go this way, Sony is sure to be happy that Fox has made it official. It’s a good thing for Blu-ray, and therefore a good thing for the PS3.
Valve boss Gabe Newell gets right into it. “Technologically, I think every game developer should be terrified of the next generation of processors. Your existing code, you can just throw it away. It’s not going to be helpful in creating next generation game titles.”
Bold words, maybe just a tiny bit sensationalistic. There’s lots of code programers can keep for the next generation, but Mr. Newell is trying to make a point. The next generation of consoles will rely heavily on multi-threaded programming. The consoles will be able to execute more than one thing at the same time (not to be confused with multi-tasking, whereby the processor just switches between all the applications really quickly). And programming for a processor that can execute several processing threads at once is a very tricky task. Problems include getting the threads to communicate, getting them not to wait on each other (deadlock), and managing them. Mr. Newell says “Really good engineers are going to be much more valuable and engineers who used to be valuable writing game code in the previous generation may end up becoming thorns in the side of key programmers who can write multi-core game code.”
But you know, the main core of the PS3′s Cell is a powerful PowerPC based processor. The Xbox 360 has three of them. The Revolution has two. And the graphics chips in these consoles are very powerful. There’s nothing to stop developers from using just one core and ignoring all the others. Doing this, the games will still be a lot better technically than anything on the market today. So my guess is that this is how most developers will start. Create some cool games that don’t even begin to tap the full potential of the hardware. As they get familiar with the hardware, they’ll start using it more.
Usually, as a console progesses towards maturity, the games get better and better. That’ll happen again with this generation, but probably to a larger degree because there’s so much more to learn and use.
So hats off to Mr. Newell for trying to scare developers, but I don’t think they’re cowering in any corners.
I just found out that my redirect for receiving e-mails from the contact page hasn’t been working. So if you tried to contact me I wasn’t snubbing you – I apologize! It’s working now, so I promise to reply to any contacts made from now on!!!
If no AV cables are included, you’ll have to buy something like Microsoft’s HD AV Pack, which currently goes for about $20 at Amazon. If the 360 alone ends up selling for $299 like many people think, your cost would end up being $319. Lots of people complained about Sony’s multitap (me included), and how Sony was gouging game players. Much the same thing will happen to the 360 if Microsoft doesn’t include any AV cables in the 360 box.
Only it’ll be worse.
If I didn’t buy the multitap, when I brought my PS2 home I could still play it. Now, if I were to buy a 360 without the AV cables, I’d bring home an expensive lawn ornament. So I hate to nip this train of thought in the bud right now, but I think I have to. Microsoft will include AV cables. They just have to. They’d be shooting themselves in the foot if they didn’t. And while Microsoft is a lot of things, stupid ain’t on that list.
Ah, poor Microsoft. They are so used to making money hand over fist and here’s their Home & Entertainment division, losing $179 million in the last quarter. (The Home & Entertainment division includes the Xbox.)
Asked when Microsoft will expect to make money on the Xbox 360, Stephen McGill replied “We’re thinking long term.” (Mr. McGill is head of UK marketing for the console.)
So money keeps getting stuffed into the Xbox funnel, waiting for something special to dribble out the bottom.
But the dribble is coming. Oh yes, it’s coming. And Sony better be prepared.