Shawn Sullivan takes a look at our perspective of the next generation of video games. A "Top Ten" list of sorts, covering some of the most important aspects for games of the future.
After reading Kosta's great editorial on the console war from a software perspective, I got to thinking about what us, as gamers, were going to be looking for in our next-generation games, and what developers are going to be doing with the games. Now, mind you, my likes and dislikes may sway this editorial, but I am trying to look at the big picture.
Ten Things That Will Be Popular In The Next-Generation
*In No Particular Order
Since all three systems are going to offer superior graphics, and with each system trying to out do each other just like always, there should be some amazing graphics. Look at the differences in SNES and N64 games, in fact, just look at the differences between Super Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie. Obviously, we have come a long way. I can't even imagine what the graphics are going to look on the next Nintendo. With the developers working on a far superior system, your wildest dreams can come to life. Seriously, just think about Soul Calibur. Now, this game looks awesome, and we are talking about first-generation Dreamcast. Wait until third-generation N2000. The power of the N2000 is going to be incredible, blowing away everything we've ever thought to be great.
2. Frame Rate
With the serious graphic power we are talking about, frame rate is going to be a huge priority. Don't think it won't be a problem with such powerful machines. The more you push the limits of a system, the harder it is going to be for a system to work and hence the frame rate will suffer. I think gamers are tired of frame rate slowdown, as proven by Turok 2: Seeds of Evil. Developers are slowly starting to realize this and frame rate will play a huge part of the next-generation. Games like QBC2000 will be unacceptable.
Games that take a long time to beat seam to be popular. I'm not talking about a harder level of difficulty for the games, or impossible to beat games like we had for the NES, but just games that take a long time to beat. Take Super Mario 64 for example. It wasn't necessarily a hard game, but it took a while to get all those stars. Now imagine if there had been 30 worlds. That's a game worthy of your money.
Create-A-Track, Create-A-Team, Create-A-Fighter, Create-A-Game. Players like to use their imaginations. Nintendo already realizes this, shown by the 64DD. Mario Paint and a F-Zero X track editor are two of the launching titles for the 64DD. Nintendo realizes that people have their own ideas. Racers like Penny Racers and McGrath '98 profited only from their track editors. Fighter Maker had an okay fighting engine, but it had an awesome create-a-fighter mode. I expect Create-A-_______ to become a standard for fighting, racing, sport, and strategy games, more so than it even is right now. Maybe that will even creep over into platformers, RPG's, and action games.
Lots and lots of options. Being able to make the game flow the way you want it to. Lots of controller setups, lots of color changes. This fad has become increasingly popular. For some reason we just really enjoy being able to make the blue fighter green. Perfect Dark's GB Camera compatibility was a great idea. The fact that the Atlantis will be compatible with the N2000 is more proof. Options will not be an option in a good game.
6. The Internet
I am the only video game playing individual in my household. What I would have given for the Internet to have been around for the early systems. There was the X-Band, but that was so risky. I think only children are going to jump at the chance to play someone via the Internet on their video game system. When your friends can't come over, play against someone else's friend on-line. It's hard to tell if surfing the web will actually be popular on your video game system, but I think playing other people on-line will be a huge hit.
7. New Ideas
An obvious one. Gamers don't want to play N64 games on their Dolphin, they want to play new games. Developers that can come up with great new ideas will profit well. Figuring out ways to manipulate the system and bring it to new heights with new ideas, thinking of stuff that no one else can think of. If the developers can stay on their toes, they can stay on top.
8. New Genres
Basically along the same line as new ideas. An example an a new genre is survival horror. Capcom created an entirely new genre with Resident Evil, and it came to be one of the most successful PSX games. Gamers seem to respond well to change. I expect some really crazy games to come out for the next-generation systems, just because developers are going to be trying so hard to create something original.
Anyone who has played Parasite Eve knows what I am talking about. Developers like putting movies in games, and we like it because it fills in the holes in the plot. A game just makes more sense with movies in it. Already on the PSX almost every game has at least a little FMV or such. Maybe games like Parasite Eve will be more common, or just movies in strategic places like in FF7 and 8.
10. Loading Time
Admit it, it's one of the reasons you bought a N64, no loading time. (Well, at least not until games like Quake 2 and Shadow Man) After playing you N64 for hours, having to sit through loading time seems almost unbearable. Don't think it is not an important factor. If a game comes out for the N2000 and PSX2, almost exactly the same, except the N2000 one with no loading time, and the PSX2 one with loading time, which one are you going to buy? The N2000 one. Being able to cut down on loading time is a must.
In the end, I have only scratched the surface. You might say "Shawn, what about gameplay, WHAT ABOUT SOUND??!!" Calm down happy sailor, I have to save room for a sequel. Until then, think about everything I've said, then e-mail me with your own suggestions. If I like them, I'll include them in my next installment, of course giving you credit.