The graphical and technical leapfrogging that happens with each successive console generation is set to soon have much smaller frogs, says BioWare’s director of art and animation Neil Thompson.
Speaking in an interview with OXM, he said that the next generation won’t present the same graphical leap as we’ve seen in previous generations; and he says this with a fair bit of confidence, adding that he has “…to be careful here as there are non-disclosure agreements involved!”
“Clearly we still hammer up against the limitations of the hardware on a daily basis and if you push those parameters back, as I’m sure the next-gen will do, we’ll hit them again,” he began. “I think the main thing is that the industry doesn’t get itself into a corner where it becomes economically unviable to make a game.
“The last technology iteration caught folks by surprise – especially the number of people you needed and the skillset jump to do the work that people expected. In the last generation the perception was that it was going to be a ten times improvement over the previous generation.
“For the next generation there will be quite a big leap, but it won’t be as obvious,” Thompson assures. “People will do things in a cleverer fashion – and I have to be careful here as there are non-disclosure agreements involved! I think they’ll be better prepared, shall we say – but we can’t see a ten-fold team increase again as the budgets would just be ridiculous.
“You’d have to sell 20-30 million copies before you broke even.”
It’ll be far too expensive for developers to really take advantage of hardware using their own resources, and we’ll see even more middleware – like Unreal engine, Frostbite 2.0, CryEngine and the like – in the next generation.
What I expect for the next generation of consoles, as we’ve stated before, is more of a focus on services and heightened experiences (like Illumiroom and the Occulus Rift), though console gamers will be treated to genuine 1080p games running at 60fps with more in the way of detail, higher textures and physics and effects, along with better anti-aliasing – while PC gamers can maintain that smug air of superiority that comes with being the master race.
And honestly? I’m ok with that.