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Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Next-Gen Hardware: A Bizarre Reflection

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Next-Gen Hardware: A Bizarre Reflection

"The Bizarre Creations technical director, Walter, gives us his opinion on the upcoming console releases.

Put your thinking caps on and get ready for a crash course in advanced programming practices - as well as the new techniques necessary for utilising a new generation of hardware.

Walter, Technical DirectorIts platform transition time again - that period that keeps game development fresh and exciting! We have all the rules & limitations we're accustomed to working with changed as the new generation of game's consoles hit the scene. As I'm sure you're aware, the two big players this time around are Microsoft's Xbox 360, and Sony's PlayStation 3. The 360 will see a 2005 release date, whilst the PS3 is rumoured to be available in Spring 2006 (although typically these dates will change).

"Software development is like a gas, it quickly expands to fill the available space". The question is: how much 'space' do these new machines give us? How different will they be to each other, and to previous generations?

This next generation of consoles crosses several important thresholds. This is the 3rd 'mainstream' generation of console 3d hardware, but what should be possible visually this time round will be backed up with more in the way of processing and believability behind the scenes. Less of what's there will be facades; the styles of game to which photorealism can be applied will be expanded (pending spiralling production costs).

Whilst the Microsoft & Sony marketing machines are keen to point out the superiorities of their individual consoles, it's worth pointing out their similarities. Both get 90% of their claimed processing power from their Graphics Processing Unit. Both use GPU's based on the same base direct-x9, shader 3.0 functionality, but somewhat extended in ATI's case. This is much more similarity than existed between the Xbox and PS2, as both are patterned around the common DX, shader 3 feature-set (the GameCube was somewhere in between the two). Whatever their differences, this will make cross-platform graphical content development easier." [more]

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