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Generations pass..A discussion on the past four-five years of gaming.


Romier S
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Generations pass. To quote a little green guy in a swamp: “That is the way of things.” We are very close to the end of this generation of consoles. The Xbox 360 is looming right over the horizon. The Playstation 3 has been announced and games are already being revealed. Nintendo is closely guarding its Revolution, but we know it is happening. We certainly have a good deal of games left to be released this generation on the Playstation 2 and Gamecube. However, the Xbox is very near its end. Despite whatever Microsoft wants to say about it, they have all but moved onto 360 development and are certainly not too keen on looking back. The purpose of this thread is to discuss a few things about this generation and how it both revolutionized and took evolutionary steps for the industry. What trends did you like or dislike? Which games stood out for you amongst the hundreds that we got play in the past 4-5 years? How did certain games affect the development of other titles that came after?

 

I’m taking this opportunity to talk about the action genre and one game in particular that changed the way developers created action games this generation. That game is Devil May Cry. Curiously enough, I was working on an article for the site a few months ago entitled “Devil Must Cry” that discussed the sweeping influence the game had on the industry and how that influence is being felt even today. I abandoned work on it for one reason or another and here I am today resurrecting it. Regardless, it feels more apropos today more than ever being that we are on the verge of three new systems and a great deal of possibilities.

 

I’m not going to go through some tedious point by point history covering the development of Devil May Cry, but I will give a brief overview of how the game finally came to arrive in our greedy little hands. Most here know that the game started out as the next iteration of Resident Evil. Through a rather amusing set of circumstances (a bug which caused enemies to fly up into the air which the developers found amusing), Devil May Cry was born. Shinji Makami and company set out to make an action game like no other by focusing on a unique style of combat that integrated fixed cinematic camera views, gothic architecture, and a hero with a cavalier, almost rockstar-like attitude. The hype began to build, and it continued to boil until the demo for the game was finally released in Japan. It was met with positive response but not everything felt right. Though the action was solid, the game needed more depth and a change to its structure. The team went back to the drawing board and made numerous changes including an experienced based orb system (the orbs were originally used to only open doors) as well as making the game mission based instead of one large map to explore.

 

The game was finally released in the US in 2001 to resounding critical success. Gamers also fell in love with its unique brand of action. Dante was a bad ass demon hunter, Trish was the mysterious damsel in not-so-much distress, and Dante’s father apparently pissed someone off enough to put Dante into a very precarious position. The game played as you would imagine a 3D Castlevania would play. The combat was fast and furious, allowing Dante to use his pistols, Ebony and Ivory, along with a series of more powerful weapons including a sword that makes a rather dramatic entrance during the opening missions. The orb system gave Devil May Cry a very RPG like feel as it required the player to farm these valuable drops so they could upgrade Dante’s move set and reach new areas of the gothic castle where the action takes place. It was apparent in 2001 that Devil May Cry was an excellent action game, but it didn’t take long for it to become much, much more.

 

Thinking back over the past couple of years I have to wonder if Devil May Cry was actually good for the industry. It was certainly good for any gamer that sat down to play it and ended up enjoying its particular brand of action (i.e. me), but was it a good thing for those developers that tried to create an action game of thier own after its release? With the myriad of sub-par clones that followed the release of Devil May Cry, you had to wonder if all the creativity had been lost from the action genre. Had Capcom dried out the well? Had its team of designers literally blown the action genres load? After all, it was near impossible to read a review of an action game released after 2001 that didn’t have the words “much like Devil May Cry” or “Devil May Cry-ish” somewhere in their printed/published text. Was one game worth the dozens of imitators that didn’t have a chance in hell of measuring up?

 

Some would immediately disagree with this statement, but I would say that Devil May Cry truly revolutionized the way we think of 3D action games. It is as important to the action genre as Grand Theft Auto III is to the then blossoming (and now seemingly endless) “sandbox” style crime simulation games that are so popular today. For every imitator that came along, you had games like Otogi and it’s sequel that took the idea of Devil May Cry’s air combat system and kicked it up to a whole different level. You had games like Itagaki’s Ninja Gaiden that integrated the orb system and pushed the Xbox to new graphical heights. Fans of the series also recently saw the release of Devil May Cry 3 which single handedly brought the series back into the limelight after the disastrous Devil May Cry 2. A game that threatened to kill both the series popularity and its importance to this generation of consoles.

 

So was it worth it? My answer would be a resounding yes. The devil must cry indeed. Just out of sheer pride for what Capcom's game was able to accomplish, and how important its influence has been throughout the last four years. The next iteration of the series is already due for release on the Playstation 3, and Capcom will no doubt do its best to cash in on the popularity of Dante. How do you think Devil May Cry will affect future action games?

 

Thanks for reading and please feel free to add you thoughts on my little write up as well as offering your own opinion on whatever trends or games you want to comment on that deal with this generation of consoles.

Edited by Romier S
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DMC certainly did a lot to bring fantastic-impossible fighting physics to the American audience. It was timed right too as Hong Kong style choreographed fight scenes really began to capture the imagination of American audiences right after the release of The Matrix.

 

Which...kind of leads into a trend I watched as this current generation took hold. This generation really established gaming as an entertainment goliath and brought new perspectives to the market. Having an American company launch a successful console altered the face of gaming. Love 'em or hate 'em, Microsoft demanded attention and exposed masses of non-gamers to home console gaming. Microsoft brought video game discussion to places like home theater forums -a sure sign that new blood was enticed by the game industry. Game reviews are now common in mainstream media and game releases trump Hollywood film debuts.

 

A side trend that came out of Microsoft's entrance into the genre is the regional perspectives evident in game design. We've been exposed to Japanese and North American game designs for years but Microsoft's reliance on PC developers (generally from outside of Asia) along with early failures in Japan gave North American developers a level of exposure previously unmatched. The Xbox was their introduction to many new gamers.

 

We saw a style develop among North American games that was very different in many ways than typical Japanese games. Style differences had always been present but were magnified as the industry gained mainstream acceptance. Games like Devil May Cry typified the Japanese style with over the top drama and exaggerated everything contrasted Halo's "one man against them all" first-person American egofest.

 

Interesting that the sides are drawn so differently yet the next generation may bring the styles closer together. The growth of the North American gaming market dictates that Japanese developer consider the region when desiging a new game. Additionally, American developers continue to cite elements of Japanese culture and Japanese game design as major influences on their work. Games like God of War seem to blend styles from both sides of the Pacific. The global game developer should take note of its success as we enter the next gen.

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No Shock here. Xbox and Live

For me this generation was about xbox and live. Microsoft came out with a top of the line, online console gaming network which I was hoping to get from sony. I enjoy the occasional good single player game, but I really like playing in co-op online and against other people. I loved hosting and playing the Mech Assault and Wolfenstein Tournaments. Some of the best times on live. As for the xbox system itself I really enjoy that you can download new content, play custom soundtracks, chat and so on. Im really looking forward to see how the 360 has evolved from the first xbox/live

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Im really looking forward to see how the 360 has evolved from the first xbox/live

..and it needs to evolve in my opinion. Not only in the content services that if offers but in the variety of games it offers as well as the implementation of online support for it's titles. I'm a fan of Xbox Live. I've certainly said my fair share of kind things about the service, but at the same time there is a good deal more that could be done with the service. The user friendliness is certainly there, but the game experiences remain decidedly PC. Not to say that is a bad thing in any way, shape, or form but developers really need to start thinking outside the box when it comes to online titles for consoles. I was hoping that with the advent of console gaming we would have our expectations of what online gaming in general could be decidedly changed. Not only in the user friendly arena, but also in the type of game experiences that are offered.

 

I'm a big fan of cooperative games. I'm sure most here are aware of that. I really envision a future where I can play a game like Indigo Prophecy online with a friend. Perhaps I open the game up by killing an NPC, while my friend is investigating a murder on the other side of town and is called in to investigate my actions. What follows is a real game story coming alive on the internet with multiple friends taking part. These are the kinds of online experiences I want to see brought to fruition. Perhaps a fully online cooperative platformer ala Ratchet and Clank where Ratchet is played by one player and Clank by the other. Splinter Cell Chaos Theory dipped it's toe in these waters, and Doom 3 took some baby steps in providing this type of experience as well by bringing some development focus to it's cooperative modes. I'd like to see developers run with that and create games that intrigue me. I want to see more than just the latest shooter, racer, or online poker game hitting the market. Online console gaming needs an indentity, and how fantastic would it be to experience something like Final Fantasy or Silent Hill online with a friend? These are genres that have traditionally worked best on a console and I feel they are the most untapped resource in terms of providing compelling online content. I'm sure some would cite Final Fantasy XI or something of the like, but I'm not talking about the MMO genre. I'm talking about a real story being experienced. Ironically the closest I've come to such an experience is playing Guild Wars (a PC game) with the great crew here.

 

Regardless, these are my hopes for the future of online console gaming. A lofty and no doubt pricey (for the developers) future, but one that I hope I live to see.

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We saw a style develop among North American games that was very different in many ways than typical Japanese games. Style differences had always been present but were magnified as the industry gained mainstream acceptance. Games like Devil May Cry typified the Japanese style with over the top drama and exaggerated everything contrasted Halo's "one man against them all" first-person American egofest.

An excellent point Camp. The split in the development community was quite apparent this generation for sure. It became almost a contest to see what style of game was more superior. For example: The Knights of the Old Republic Western style of RPG? Or the traditional Japanese style RPG? The great part is that we did see innovation from both sides.

 

So many gamers today love to say that Japanese development has taken a nose dive over the past couple of years, but I think the prominence of Western/European development, along with a real paradigm shift in gamers taste has more to do with that perspective than anything. Japan has brought us some truly remarkable experiences this generation. We got to play wonderful titles like Rez, Katamari Damacy, Resident Evil 4, Jet Set Radio, Ico, Mark of Kri etc. etc. I could go no for another page.;)

 

Meanwhile the Western and European gaming community has really pushed itself into the limelight. Led primarily I would say by the success Grand Theft Auto and Halo. Also, we simply cannot ignore the behemoth (or the 800 pound gorilla if you will) that is EA. They acquisition of Criterion was big for them as they now have a premier racing title in Burnout that goes hand and hand with thier monster Need for Speed series. Madden is without question the most successful franchise to come out of this past generation. EA is essentially printing money everytime a copy is pressed. Love them or hate them, EA will continue to have a HUGE, HUGE presence next generation. Moreso than even now. I know EA bigwigs are far more content with letting the money roll in than ever entering the hardware market (something that will more than likely never happen), but I shudder to think what WOULD happen the day EA ever decides to make a console of it's own.:thud

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One of the things I liked most about this last generation is how the power of the gaming consoles really opened up the visual pallet for developers. Not only has this power given them the ability to make games more photo-realistic than anything that has come before, we've also seen a flux of games that use that power to create new and interesting visuals you couldn't see before. In particular, I love how cel-shading has become a popular tool to create a fun and unique visual style in games like The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Viewtiful Joe, and the upcoming Okami.

 

I realize that the power of a gaming console is usually gauged by how photo-realistic the images it produces can be. However, my hope is that in the years to come, unique visual styles in games like Psychonauts or Katamari Damacy can co-exist along side the likes of the latest installment Splinter Cell. This is a visual medium, and it would be a pity to see it limited to only producing images that sought to mimic reality rather than create a new one.

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OK this turned out longer than I anticipated. I'm in the non-Xbox loving minority here despite my owning one, so I guess I probably have a bit of a different outlook.

 

Sony:

 

I'm with futurevoid on the impact of Devil May Cry. I played the demo briefly and was hooked. I hadn't played an action game, or a platformer game, since the SNES era. 3D action or platforming didn't do it for me. DMC had fast paced frantic action that kept it from getting boring - and it was actually difficult. But minimized the tedious wander around factor with the short mission-based gameplay. And the orbs gave you a reason to actually kill stuff.

 

My other surprise favorite game of the era was Maximo: Ghosts to Glory. A spiritual successor to Ghosts n Goblins, it was finally a platformer that I could play and enjoy. The fact that you had to intelligently fight (like DMC) and pick and choose your powerups made it a bit more of an action game than the typical 3D platformer where you flail the button when you get near the bad guys to kill them (Jack and Daxter 1 I am looking at you).

 

Games I actually finished this generation:

 

1) Devil May Cry 1

2) Maximo: Ghosts to Glory

3) Final Fantasy X

4) Almost done with Star Ocean: Til the End of Time

 

That's basically it on my comments for the Sony front. For me, DMC & Maximo marked my return to genres I'd otherwise left behind in the 16-bit eta. Other than that it was the typical RPG goodness of the console that kept me playing it - oh, and Tekken Tag Tournament. In the first 3 years the console was out, I probably logged more hours playing Tekken than anything else :D

 

 

Nintendo:

 

I think the 3-way competition this generation tought Nintendo something. Something important that I think paves the way for the Revolution. It was: Keep innovating, keep improving your existing properties and franchises, and don't worry about who is #1. They don't need to. Nintendo continually makes a rather hefty profit from their handhelds, and the GC was ultimately profitable. Ignoring the monopoly that made the NES such a great system, I think their best generation was the SNES. For all the cries telling them they're done with, abandon hardware and go software like Sega, I think the Gamecube was their strongest console since the SNES.

 

Ignoring RPGs, for which I have an unnatural fetish for :D, the gamecube has probably my favorite variety of games this generation.

 

Super Smash Brothers Melee

Super Monkey Ball - now ported to the other consoles - thanks Sega! I doubt this game would have been chanced on the Xbox or PS2 first.

Mario Kart: Double Dash - despite the naysayers, I think this is the best Mario Kart since the SNES one

Metroid Prime - not much time to play it really, but quality

Zelda: Wind Waker - a game I thought I would hate but ended up liking a lot

Pikmin - again, not a lot of time spent with it, more time watching my wife play it

Warioware - great party game

 

Too bad for the disappointment that was Star Fox Assault :(

 

And the wavebird is the best damn thing to happen to gaming in ages, they showed that you CAN do a wireless controller right!

 

Microsoft:

OK, I came into the game late here. I'm no giant fan of the Xbox as you all may well know -except for the technical abilities and specs (and consistent 480p/5.1 support). For someone who still doesn't like FPS games on analog sticks (they are 300% better on a mouse, dammit), finds Halo 2 uninspired at best, and finds racing games as boring as real NASCAR (unless there is heavy weaponry involved), Microsoft found something to lure even a Microsoft hater into their camp - online fighting games.

Through their robust Xbox live community, some developers chanced making some online fighting games. Street Fighter Anniversary Online, Guilty Gear online, and the upcoming Samurai Showdown V, woot!

 

I'll pay $50 a year for online fighting games, Microsoft. Keep 'em coming.

 

 

I find myself so overwhelmed with quality games to play I don't even know where to go from here. I suspect I will sit out the next generation of gaming for a year or two - exempting perhaps the Nintendo Revolution if it is cheap enough. Why would I pay $400 for new-gen gaming of mostly sub-par games and just a few quality games...when I have Panzer Dragoon Orta, Phantom Dust, Disgaea, Dynasty Tactics 1&2, Dragon Quest 8, Maximo Army of Zin, Devil May Cry 3, Katamari Damacy, Metroid Prime, Zelda WW & Pikmin still laying around, begging for playtime? Not to mention my SNES & NES library and other consoles?

 

IMO the competition this gen and the expansion of gaming made this the best generation since the 16-bit era. It was funny to see RPG elements, namely great storytelling and leveling-ish mechanics make their way into the mainstream games. The only thing I don't like is the impact of Grand Theft Auto. I'm sure I will provoke some responses here. Too many games are picking up the "wander around wherever" dynamic - and few can pull it off. GTA barely managed to do so IMO - it's a fine line between freedom and boring, and most of games integrating that GTA trait can become quite tedious (Jak 2 I'm looking at you here as the #1 offender, I saw my wife complaining about wandering around the city).

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I must disagree regarding Devil May Cry, as I don't feel that it revolutionized anything. Its game design follows quite logically from 2D action games. Had Devil May Cry not been released, I'm fairly certain that 3D action games would have still progressed similarly. It is just a matter of Capcom being the first to properly execute a relatively obvious idea.

 

I would consider something like Mario 64 quite a bit more influential to its respective generation. Had it not been released, I imagine that there would be a much stronger tendency towards Rayman 2 style 3D platformers. Rayman 2 follows very logically from the gameplay established in 2D platformers, whereas Mario 64 is something new entirely. Like Devil May Cry, Rayman 2's execution of a concept was impeccable, but I don't think later games in the genre were derivative of it.

 

This begs the question: What then, is the 'Mario 64' of 3D action games? I don't think there is one. Various games have made minor innovations in their own respective areas, but I don't think any single game has shifted the genre away from its logical progression.

 

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To shift to a broader topic, my assessment of this generation as a whole is very positive. In fact, it's one of the greatest generations in my estimation, debatably even as good or better than the 16 bit era. The 32/64 bit era borders on wretched because the industry tried to forcefeed 3D gameplay before the hardware was ready for it. Very few games managed to combine the proper graphics engine, camera, and gameplay style. For the most part, the graphics are hideous. Try this experiment: Go through your 32/64 bit collection and see how many games you can still enjoy today. My guess is, the vast majority of them will be either 2D, or polygonal graphics with gameplay that is still essentially 2D.

 

The extra power of the current systems greatly increased the margin of error when trying to combine gameplay/graphics/camera. The games of this generation are inherently more playable than those of the last, and will age much more favorably. The graphics are now pretty, and a select few games could even be said to have artistic value.

 

Variety is excellent. Although some would argue that some genres are oversaturated, I encourage viewing this generation in the "big picture" context. The fact is, a large number of games were made overall, so it's not unusual that some genres are flooded. Rather than being crowded out, niche games appear to be blossoming. In fact, it could be said that companies actually underestimate demand for original offerings. Just look at what a copy of Rez goes for on Ebay.

 

In addition to being functionally sound (ie: good quality and variety of games), we've also seen online gaming implemented on consoles. As far as online gaming goes, I'd give Nintendo an F, Sony a D, and Microsoft a B+. In overall terms of how each system performed vs. what was expected, I'd give Microsoft an A, Sony a B+, and Nintendo a C-. Overall, that makes this generation quite strong.

 

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If I had to pick a weakness, I'd say it's in the lack of RPGs that will go on to be considered classics. The only ones I'd consider great are Knights of the Old Republic, Morrowind, Growlanser Generations, and Shadow Hearts 2. Unfortunately, I doubt any of them will be revered for decades in the same way that the Square classics are.

 

Knights of the Old Republic falls prey to the "yourself as the main character" syndrome. Granted, KOTOR has perhaps the best implementation of it I've ever seen, but I'd be lying if I said it didn't act to the detriment of the overall plot. The less than stellar sequal also tarnishes the original slightly.

 

Growlanser Generations is perhaps the best RPG nobody played. Its main failings lie in the fact that it will never get the recognition it deserves. Furthermore, while Growlanser 2 and 3 are in the collection, 1 has never been released in the States. Considering that the plots of the games are connected, it's quite damaging to the series to have the original game unavailable.

 

Morrowind....what can I say other than "There is a Problem With the Disc You are Using. It May be Dirty or Damaged"? Aside from the bugs, it also faces the very reasonable possibility of being 'biggered and bettered' when Oblivion releases. This is in sharp contrast to something like a Final Fantasy III, which will still be a gem no matter how many 'Final' fantasies come after it.

 

Shadow Hearts comes the closest. Ultimately though, the slightly flawed(but still good) gameplay and a few characters that are a bit too over the top will keep it off any All-Time-Great lists. To the credit of Shadow Hearts though, it really tells a fantastic story. The cutscenes are quite gripping and the execution is excellent. I would love to see a Xenogears remake from this team, as it's the only one in the business today that could do Xenogears justice. To see Fei, Elly, Citan, Bart, and the rest of the gang presented as compellingly as Shadow Hearts 2 presents its characters would be quite a treat. Based on the portrayal of Nicolai, I've no doubt that they could do villians like Krelian and Ramsus justice.

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As far as the best of the best goes, it's pretty cut and dry for me. There are a few games that totally rocked me. Lots of great games this generation, but only a few fantastic ones. However, I can't help but wonder if the difference is merely personal preference. For example, Disgaea wouldn't even make my top 100, but I imagine some would slot it at #1. Anyways, the 10 greatest games of the generation are:

 

10. Romance of the Three Kingdoms X

9. Ace Combat 4

8. Beyond Good and Evil

7. Katamari Damacy

6. Rez

5. Halo

4. Morrowind

3. Ninja Gaiden

2. Grand Theft Auto 3

1. Panzer Dragoon Orta

 

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The coming generation puzzles me somewhat. So far we have had a clear progression between generations. There was ugly 2D, followed by pretty 2D. There was ugly 3D, followed by pretty 3D. I think this newest generation will be the smallest incremental leap we've seen so far. I suppose it's "prettier" 3D, but it's not a night and day difference as it was before. There is a much larger difference between say....Dead or Alive on PS1 and Dead or Alive on Xbox, than there is between the Xbox and Xbox360 entries into the series.

 

To be honest, the worst of the PS3/Xbox360 games don't even look better than a Ninja Gaiden or similar caliber game. We're starting to get to the point where the amount of time spent creating character models and environments will have a much larger effect on graphic quality than engine efficiency and hardware power.

 

The most interesting possibility to me, is that this may be the last console that 2 out of the 3 participants produce. Sooner or later, someone who actually knows how to run a business will end up in a leadership position at Nintendo. Nintendo is not maximizing its return on investment by selling games to the shrinking subset of people who actually buy Nintendo consoles. Perhaps Japanese investors have different priorities than US investors, but something tells me Nintendo will see big changes in the next 5 years. Microsoft could also be out if it can't sustain a certain measure of profitability. Microsoft faces an uphill fight even if everything is executed perfectly, yet we're already seeing key mistakes being made.

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To shift to a broader topic' date=' my assessment of this generation as a whole is very positive. In fact, it's one of the greatest generations in my estimation, debatably even as good or better than the 16 bit era. The 32/64 bit era borders on wretched because the industry tried to forcefeed 3D gameplay before the hardware was ready for it. Very few games managed to combine the proper graphics engine, camera, and gameplay style. For the most part, the graphics are hideous. Try this experiment: Go through your 32/64 bit collection and see how many games you can still enjoy today. My guess is, the vast majority of them will be either 2D, or polygonal graphics with gameplay that is still essentially 2D

[/quote']

:tu

 

I can't stand PS1 3D. FF7 looks clunky. FF9 is tolerable, almost. Platformers are terrible.

Hmm a top 10 makes a good summary of the generation. :D

My Top 10 for this gen:

 

1) Devil May Cry PS2

2) Tekken Tag PS2

3) Soul Calibur DC

4) Maximo: Ghosts to Glory PS2

5) Dynasty Tactics PS2

6) Star Ocean Til the End of Time PS2

7) Mario Kart Double Dash GC

8) Super Monkey Ball 1 or 2 GC

9) Final Fantasy X PS2

10) to be determined...

 

Any title on this list may be upset by the imminent release of Dragon Warrior 8, most likely to become a VERY VERY top favorite game.

 

I have stack of PS2 games yet to play, including games like Growlanser, La Pucelle Tactics, Disgaea, SMT: Nocturne, etc. I have a feeling one of them belongs on this list. :D And I still haven't really played Panzer Dragoon Orta, and I've yet to buy Ninja Gaiden.

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I have stack of PS2 games yet to play, including games like Growlanser, La Pucelle Tactics, Disgaea, SMT: Nocturne, etc. I have a feeling one of them belongs on this list. And I still haven't really played Panzer Dragoon Orta, and I've yet to buy Ninja Gaiden.

These stack of games along with a great deal of life left in these consoles (at least IMHO) is a big reason why I'm somewhat sad to see this generation being bypassed after such a short time. The new consoles are quite impressive and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited about what the future holds, but I definitely think this move forward is premature.

 

I'll be back when work is a little less busy to comment on a few more things including Big Daddy's comments about Mario and DMC and some of the things Dave touched on above. Feel free to continue to jump around as far as topics are concerned. I definitely want this discussion to remain as organic as possible. There are so many things that have happened in the past four years that are worth talking about.

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IMHO, this generation of console hardware/software is as good as it gets. Sure, the next-gen consoles will be leaps and bounds ahead of the PS2/Xbox/GC in raw horsepower, etc. I'm sure the the next-gen games will be so pretty in all its hi-def goodness that it hurts. So why do I think the current generation will be known as the apex of the video game industry? Here's why:

 

1) Next-gen consoles will probably be too expensive -- Microsoft has already announced the price of $299 for a crippled Xbox 360 (without wireless controllers and 20GB HD). God knows how much a PS3 will cost with all the things Sony is claiming it can do. I'm sure the Revolution will be less but nowhere near what a GC costs now. This high price limits the market to hardcore gamers. The current generation didn't really start to take off in the mainstream market until the first console price drops. The current prices of the PS2 ($149), Xbox ($149), and GC ($99) are unbelievable values. It's going to be hard for the next-gen consoles to match up to that even with their added capabilities.

2) Next-gen games will probably be too expensive -- There's already talk of $60 and up for next-gen games. The president of Nintendo said that the increase in power of the next-gen consoles will require more time/money spent on developing games for it. Will smaller production houses even be able to afford to make next-gen games? Will the high cost of development kill experimental games (like Super Monkey Ball or Katamari) in favor of sure-fire hits like Madden? Will consumers be more leary of buying $60+ games they're on the fence about (resulting in less impulse buying)?

3) Next-gen games will probably be too complex -- I'm not talking about hardcore gamers, I'm talking about the mainstream. This is already somewhat of an issue on the current generation. The president of Nintendo has already laid it out there as a big issue (whether the Revolution will actually be able to resolve the issue is another matter). It's not just a matter of the number of buttons on the controller (so far, the next-gen console controllers seem to be on par in terms of buttons with the current controllers), it's the game design/mechanics as well. In the pursuit of bettering/evolving gaming, will games go too far and leave the mainstream completely behind?

4) Diminishing returns -- As I said in the opening paragraph, I don't think anyone doubts that the next-gen consoles will be better than the current ones. However, the real question is whether it's worth the price to upgrade. For hardcore gamers who have to have the latest and greatest, it probably is. For the mainstream consumer, who may be satisfied with the performance of the PS2/Xbox/GC, it's a case of diminishing returns and I suspect most will take a wait-and-see approach.

 

The power of the current consoles at these unbelievably low prices coupled with a huge library of amazing games (including everything from big production behemoths to low budget experiments), unique peripherals, online play, etc. makes me say this generation is as good as it's going to get!

 

Note: I reserve the right to completely retract my above statements and act like I never made them should the next generation take off like wildfire and make me look silly. No purchase necessary. Batteries not included. Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball.

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I'd say experimental games will not be killed off. If you look at Katamari, the graphics are extremely simplistic. I believe these 'high development costs' everyone talks about are not inherent to the new systems themselves. Cheap games can still be made, the graphical gap between them and the market leaders will just get larger. There seems to be somewhat of an attitude that because these new consoles can render skin-pores, every character model must have his/her skin-pores rendered. That is the attitude leading to higher costs. This talk of 'game prices going up' is just talk. There has been a huge downward pressure on game prices, especially when inflation is taken into account. IMO what we're going to see is a lot more variety in prices. A game with mostly inelastic demand such as GTA4 will fetch $59.99, but non-blockbusters will continue to be positioned anywhere between $19.99 and $49.99.

 

On 3), I doubt games will become more complex across the board since hardware power was not the limiting factor in the current generation. I have not yet seen a game type for the new consoles that could not have been done on the current ones.

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BDBB, if I may call you BDBB, those are good points. However, I think that the attitude you mentioned will be the prevailing one under which most, if not all, developers will operate. Why develop for the next-gen consoles if your game is going to look like something the current consoles is capable of (and which also has a much larger installed user base to sell it to)?

 

I think developers will be under enormous pressure to show-off the capabilities of the next-gen systems. People have to be convinced to fork over their hard-earned cash for the next-gen systems. I don't think releasing games that look/play like PS2/Xbox/GC games is going to cut it for the PS3/360/Revolution. Just watch, skin pores is going to be the new catch-phrase feature prominently listed on the back of the game case. Madden 360 now with officially licensed Skin Pores of the NFLPA! ;)

 

As far as games prices go, no doubt there will be a range of prices. But as we've seen with the DS and PSP game prices, they are definitely going up. I'm guessing that everything will shift upward in the next generation with the majority of A-list games at $59.99, B-list games between $39.99 and $49.99, and platinum/greatest hits games at $29.99 (basically, everything is $10 more than similar current generation games). [EDIT: As a reference, all Xbox 360 titles are listed at $59.99 on ebgames.com.]

 

As far as game complexity is concerned, I didn't mean to imply that it was somehow related to the horsepower of the consoles. I think it is related to the perception that the next generation consoles can't just be prettier versions of the previous generation but also must evolve in terms of game design/mechanics. While this doesn't necessarily mean that next-gen games WILL get more complex (they may take a different turn to address this issue), looking at games from each previous generation shows a pretty steady increase in the complexity of games. Is the price of this evolution the mainstream accessibility factor?

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My biggest gripe with this generation is that discounting graphics and sound, gaming and gameplay at best took an evolutionary (small) step rather than a revolutionary turn for all the consoles.

 

Each console had it's moments though

 

Xbox

-----

 

On the hardware end, MS deserves some sort of award or medal for the Xbox. The included HDD, ethernet port, and increased RAM really allowed games to spread their wings and jump out of 'wannabe PC' feel of console gaming. Not many games really seemed to take full advantage of that benfit, but there were some very notable exceptions:

 

Morrowind - The very fact that it was fully intact and playable on a console is a testament to what MS provided. Without the HDD, this conversion would have been impossible.

 

Ninja Gaiden - Besides the killer graphics, the hurricane packs was the purest taste of the Live honey MS had promised us. Halo 2 comes damn close, but for NG it was so unneccessary and over the top that it is a huge standout IMHO, Halo 2 awesome multiplayer was expected (and delivered!)

 

Panzer Dragoon Orta - And I thought Ninja Gaiden was a technical benchmark. Nuff said.

 

 

PS2

----

 

The 3rd party titles really made the PS2. I'm not going to go into why DMC and GTA 3+ are absolutely watershed events, you've read it 3 times in this thread already. Those titles spawned a ton of me-toos across all the consoles, but damn it if they don't deserve that level of flattery.

 

 

GC

---

 

GC effectively did three major things in my mind this gen:

 

1 - Showed that a 3 console race is both possible but potentially very profitable (for all 3.) I can't count how often I predicted GC's demise, I was dead wrong on that one.

 

2 - The wavebird set the standard for wireless controller forever. Anything less in the next gen will be met with scorn and disdain. Wavebird is by far the single best controller to own from this generation.

 

3 - If this was the pimp of the year competition, Nintendo wins hands down for milking every possible cent from their 'girls' (mario, samus, donkey kong, link, ...) I swear it wouldn't surprise me to see a GC title where you use all the characters to make a porn movie, these franchises are re-invented monthly at Nintendo HQ. And god bless them for it, I wouldn't be surprised to see Master Chief playing bongos on a competitor's machine next gen. The Nintendo zen masters have paved the way for Total Franchise Capitalization, and when you do it right it's fun as hell (Super Smash Bros!)

 

 

 

Anyway, we'll see what the next gen brings. I keep hoping for new games like Indigo Prophecy and Katamari, let's keep our fingers crossed that they keep rolling in.

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As far as games prices go, no doubt there will be a range of prices. But as we've seen with the DS and PSP game prices, they are definitely going up. I'm guessing that everything will shift upward in the next generation with the majority of A-list games at $59.99, B-list games between $39.99 and $49.99, and platinum/greatest hits games at $29.99 (basically, everything is $10 more than similar current generation games). [EDIT: As a reference, all Xbox 360 titles are listed at $59.99 on ebgames.com.]

 

I agree with most of what you say Masta. Another disturbing trend I fear is that games will ship with less content (albeit better looking), and then charge for additional content. This is what is rumored with TW2006, said to be shipping with a paltry 6 courses with more delivered as DLC later on for a fee. So the game will be $60, plus, say $5 per course if they are generous. This means to get the same number of courses in TW2005 (14) you'd end up paying $100. This is speculation, but I think for-pay DLC is the future and we will end up paying more for less.

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People have been worried about paying for DL content since the first Mech Assault one came out. I cant name one game on live that came out with so few maps or courses, and then charged for the first few downloadable ones.

 

Well, these thing don't, and really can't happen overnight. This current generation as a whole was never set-up with DLC in mind. It's not something you throw in at the last minute, it's something you plan for well in advance and only if you have the network in place.

 

Especially with the PS2 having no online infrastructure, the idea can't really get off the ground in the current gen. But with MS providing a proof-of-concept with Live, and the PS3 gearing up for some kind of similar service, I truly believe that it is inevitable that paying for DL content will become standard practice.

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Going back to what Camp was saying about a division between Eastern and Western game styles, I think the divide can be best seen in two similar, yet very different, franchises: Metal Gear Solid and Splinter Cell. Both games focus on stealth as a gameplay element, but that's about it.

 

Whereas the former built itself up as an over-the-top adventure with bits of science fiction, comic book action, and supreme melodrama, the latter chose to stick closer to reality, building on real world politics and probable scenarios. Splinter Cell doesn't feature outlandish villains with superpowers, nor will you find giant walking tanks ready to deliver nuclear warheads to millions of innocent civilians, nor will you discover that Sam Fisher was part of a cloning experiment to reproduce the perfect soldier. The game tries to justify everything as something that either does exist or could exist given enough time for technological advancement. In other words, Metal Gear Solid is decidedly Japanese in it's approach to gameplay and storytelling while Splinter Cell tries it's best to be a serious Western political thriller.

 

Anyway, I figured I'd just point that out.

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On the hardware end, MS deserves some sort of award or medal for the Xbox. The included HDD, ethernet port, and increased RAM really allowed games to spread their wings and jump out of 'wannabe PC' feel of console gaming. Not many games really seemed to take full advantage of that benfit, but there were some very notable exceptions

 

:tu I was probably one of the biggest critics of the Xbox console for a long time (too many FPS games, which are done better on a PC IMO). But the HDD, ethernet & xbox live made for some gaming you couldn't get anywhere else. That's why, in the end, I ended up with one. And if I ever decide to ditch Live I can mod the hell out of the xbox and play some translated SNES games on it. :D

 

 

 

3 - If this was the pimp of the year competition' date=' Nintendo wins hands down for milking every possible cent from their 'girls' (mario, samus, donkey kong, link, ...) I swear it wouldn't surprise me to see a GC title where you use all the characters to make a porn movie, these franchises are re-invented monthly at Nintendo HQ. [/quote']

 

:lmfao :tu Mariohumpspeach.gif

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BDBB, if I may call you BDBB, those are good points. However, I think that the attitude you mentioned will be the prevailing one under which most, if not all, developers will operate. Why develop for the next-gen consoles if your game is going to look like something the current consoles is capable of (and which also has a much larger installed user base to sell it to)?

 

If we brought this logic to its ultimate conclusion, Koei would have released Romance of the Three Kingdoms X on the SNES. At the start, companies won't be taking risks on next-gen games, but that's really no different than it has been historically. When the market can bear it, the more innovative games will come. I think that in saying most/all developers will operate a certain way, you're viewing what is nothing more than a normal cyclical phase as a permanent attitude shift. Just look at all the current gen games that are also being ported to the 360.

 

 

RE: Game Prices

 

There are 2 reasons I don't think the DS and PSP are indicative of overall pricing trends. The first is that they still suffer from 'new system syndrome'. Any time a new system releases, just the mere act of owning a game for that system is a novelty. I've noticed it with every single system I've bought. While I may have paid $49.99 for Xbox launch games, it's very rare that I pay that much for an Xbox game now. Killer Instinct on the N64 retailed for $79.99 at release, and some Genesis games were $100+. The industry talk of games being more expensive doesn't jive with being able to go into Circuit City and nab a stack of awesome games for $5 each. The industry can put any price it pleases on new games, but the market quickly self corrects.

 

The second reason is that devs had basically been making portable SNES games. Now they're making scaled back PS2 games, so it makes sense that portable and home console game prices are getting closer to each other.

 

Edit: Should add that yes, the next gen will suffer from "new system syndrome" as well, so games will be more expensive for a while. However, I expect prices to come down just as they have in every generation prior.

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If we brought this logic to its ultimate conclusion, Koei would have released Romance of the Three Kingdoms X on the SNES. At the start, companies won't be taking risks on next-gen games, but that's really no different than it has been historically. When the market can bear it, the more innovative games will come. I think that in saying most/all developers will operate a certain way, you're viewing what is nothing more than a normal cyclical phase as a permanent attitude shift. Just look at all the current gen games that are also being ported to the 360.

 

There are two major factors that make releasing Romance of the Three Kingdoms X on the SNES illogical for Koei. The SNES, while it may have had a large user base back in its heyday, was released two generations ago and I would imagine that the large majority of them are not connected or used (e.g. they are broken, collecting dust in the closet, etc.). Thus the installed user base of the SNES cannot compare to the installed user base of the PS2 (or even Xbox or GC). This, coupled with the higher cost to manufacture cartridges versus CD/DVDs, would make it illogical for Koei to develop Romance of the Three Kingdoms X for the SNES (as opposed to the PS2), even if the SNES was capable of it (I haven't played the game so I can't really comment on this). These two major factors won't come into play if the decision is between the current generation and the next generation as the installed user base of the current generation would not have deteriorated much, if at all, by the time the next generation comes and the manufacturing costs of current generation games will be the same as next generation games (discounting the higher cost of manufacturing Blu-ray discs for PS3 games that use it).

 

The reason I'm saying that most, if not all, developers will operate that way is because of the much higher predicted prices of the hardware and games. My theory is that the higher prices will limit the next generation consoles to a smaller (and more picky) audience, not just initially, but overall, than the current generation has. With a smaller base of customers, developers will NEED to hit home runs with sure-fire hits. Experimental games may be deemed to risky.

 

There are 2 reasons I don't think the DS and PSP are indicative of overall pricing trends. The first is that they still suffer from 'new system syndrome'. Any time a new system releases, just the mere act of owning a game for that system is a novelty. I've noticed it with every single system I've bought. While I may have paid $49.99 for Xbox launch games, it's very rare that I pay that much for an Xbox game now. Killer Instinct on the N64 retailed for $79.99 at release, and some Genesis games were $100+. The industry talk of games being more expensive doesn't jive with being able to go into Circuit City and nab a stack of awesome games for $5 each. The industry can put any price it pleases on new games, but the market quickly self corrects.

 

Those aren't new releases though. Those are old titles that CC is trying to clear from its inventory (to make room for more $49.99 and $39.99 new releases). Yes, if you wait long enough, most titles will be re-released as a Platinum/Greatest Hit at a great price or overstock might appear in a $5 bargain bin. Some stores may even release new A-list titles for less than the standard $49.99 price as a loss leader to get people to come into the store. I wouldn't doubt that this would happen for the next generation either. But I do think the standard prices for next generation games will be higher than the standard prices of current generation games (comparing apples to apples). That's what I mean when I say that next generation game prices will be higher. I'm sorry if this wasn't clear from my earlier posts.

 

The second reason is that devs had basically been making portable SNES games. Now they're making scaled back PS2 games, so it makes sense that portable and home console game prices are getting closer to each other.

 

This would seem to support my argument that the next generation games will have to be higher priced. If re-tread PS2 games on the PSP (which may re-use some of the assets/code/design from the PS2 version) are approaching PS2 game prices, why wouldn't next generation game prices be higher?

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I appreciate your critique of Koei releasing ROTTKX on the SNES as you've saved me the trouble of trying to prove what you established. If you recall, that example was an extension of the logic found in your statement here:

 

Why develop for the next-gen consoles if your game is going to look like something the current consoles is capable of (and which also has a much larger installed user base to sell it to)?

 

By the principles you established when discussing Koei's release strategy, you explain why niche games will eventually be made for the next-gen systems. I think we would be safe in making the assumption that at some point during the XBOX 360's life cycle, most original Xbox's will cease to be "connected or used". The new game buying install base you seem to be referencing will eventually be larger on the 360 regardless of the gross sales of each console.

 

When that point comes and it is time for niche games to make the system jump, it will be business as usual for the developers. I doubt we will be seeing skin pores in the next PS3 ROTTK game or the next PS3 Nippon Ichi S-RPG. For me to agree with your argument, you'd need to convince me of why the coming generation will be different(ie: why developers that only used a fraction of the PS2's power would suddenly be compelled to maximize the PS3). Only companies that actually render the skin pores are subject to drastically rising development costs.

 

My theory is that the higher prices will limit the next generation consoles to a smaller (and more picky) audience, not just initially, but overall, than the current generation has.

 

This interests me, perhaps your arguement is more complex than I was able to discern from your other statements. Basically what you're saying is that higher prices on blockbuster caliber games will limit the install base of a console, making it less friendly to niche games? I can't find much fault if that's the point you're trying to make. In other words, Katamari Damacy is prevented from coming to the PS3 not because it would cost too much to make, but rather because the high prices of GTA5 have limited the PS3's install base? Obviously we have no way to prove this will happen, or even conclude that it is 'more likely than not', but it definately seems 'forseeable' to me.

 

I don't think are positions on pricing are necessarily contradictory because we focus on 2 different things (list price vs. what is actually paid for a game). I agree with you that 'retail' prices are increasing. However, if current trends are any indication, these higher prices will simply be met with markdowns even more aggressive than what we're currently seeing. For the person who buys games at Electronics Boutique on release day, prices are increasing. For the person who buys his most hotly anticipated games at the weekly BB/CC sale and waits for other games to get price drops, prices will be relatively constant. I think in implying that there is a long wait in order to take advantage of price-drops, you overstate how these price drops actually take. Quite a few games drop substantially in price even 1-2 months after release.

 

This would seem to support my argument that the next generation games will have to be higher priced. If re-tread PS2 games on the PSP (which may re-use some of the assets/code/design from the PS2 version) are approaching PS2 game prices, why wouldn't next generation game prices be higher?

 

I said 'scaled-back' PS2 games, not 're-tread'. From what I've seen out of my PSP library so far, the PSP doesn't appear to be powerful enough to support direct reusing of PS2 game elements. It can still handle games of similar style/scope, but you can't just take Snake's character model from MGS2 and place it in Metal Gear Acid.

 

While the PSP is an exponential leap over the GBA, the new home consoles represent more of a linear progression over their predecessors. It makes sense then, that PSP costs would be rising faster than the norm. For further evidence, the DS offers a more linear leap over the GBA and prices have held constant. The vast majority of new DS and GBA games are clustered around the $29.99 and $34.99 price points. What we have seen is that the market self-corrected, as I claimed it would. Of the few brave DS games that attempted to enter the market at $39.99, most have been forced to drop to $29.99-$34.99.

 

I think in the coming generation, pricing strategy will play a much larger role in a game's success than it has in the past. Game prices used to be much more uniform, creating a 'safe' price that games could release at. With more variation in prices, the price/value proposition is much more overt. More than ever, companies will be forced to consider if their game is worth the asking price, rather than just rubber-stamping it with $49.99.

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