The Next Generation – What Might Have Been

XBox and Playstation signs at Electronic Entertainment Expo

Now that the hype and clamour from E3 and the major console announcements has calmed down, now that companies have backed up claims, furiously back tracked on others and given sweet sweet glimpses of what might become, it is time to take stock. Now that the new age has dawned, what have we actually got to be excited about? Obviously, Battlefield 4 looks amazing, Call of Duty Ghosts is looking pretty special as well, and for those who really like the Kinect (I’m not one of them, see here for more ire on that subject) then life is looking pretty good right now. Lots of memory, lots of system power and lots of graphics, it all looks good. I have to be honest though, I kind of feel there has been a little bit of a lack of technical innovation and no genuine developmental step forwards to get excited about. So I have been doing some blue sky thinking and come up with a short list of ideas that it would have been nice to see with the birth of the new generation.Game Streaming

Sony and Microsoft can’t get enough of telling us that people love to stream movies and tv shows over their Xbox, with services like LoveFilm Instant and Netflix really revolutionising the way that we interact with media. Microsoft in particular would also prefer it if you didn’t buy pre-owned games, a train of thought they were hilariously stitched up on by Sony who gave all the signs they felt the same way, only to leave them hanging in front of the worlds media and furiously back tracking a month or so later. Why not blend those two trains of thought into one beautiful idea, and allow the streaming of games? Obviously, people don’t like to be told what to do and a move to exclusively streamed content would almost certainly be met with similar resistance as the family sharing idea, so here is my suggestion of what you do; Single player is sold on a disc, which you buy in a shop. You also pay a monthly fee (Xbox Live it’s your time to shine) which allows you to access online multiplayer gaming. When you get bored and trade in your game, you no longer have access to that content. Why bother I hear you ask? Why can’t I just pay for my multiplayer once and not have to pay out twice? Well what about this – why not also give access to a massive online library of 360, Xbox, and retro games that don’t require a disc and are all only available over the streaming service? That way you’re happy as you’re getting our money and we’re happy as we’ve got unlimited access to a massive catalogue of classic games without having to buy a spare book case to store them on.

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An Xbox One handheld Device

The compatibility and integration of the Vita with the PS4 is for me one of the biggest innovations that has been announced for the PS4, and opens up a lot of possibilities. And can I just point out that yes I am thinking beyond needing to go for a poo whilst you’re in the middle of a game; open your mind and think outside the cubicle. With this in mind, I find it a little disappointing that Microsoft haven’t had a similar idea. I mean, it’s not like they wouldn’t have the technology; they could quite easily come up with a touch screen or a shameless rip off of the Vita without too much effort. Or they could really push the envelope and come up with something different, and as well as allowing you to continue your Xbox One games on the handheld device build on what Battlefield 4 is doing and integrate some SmartGlass features that you could use in real time alongside your console gaming. What about a Champ Manager style formation screen to change formation mid-match in FIFA or Pro Evo? Or even a trackside camera stream of your Formula One, GT or Forza race? Or really push the hardware and use it as a top down view of a huge RPG battlefield, being able to move units around and seeing them move about the map in both top down and third person views. Come on guys, you’ve made a good start now show me the money!

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Lastly, what I will call ‘Real World Gaming’

Let me explain; if you’re like me and you sit and enjoy a grand prix, a bit of cricket or a football match, it gets you in the mood to play a bit yourself. Obviously I have no intention of getting out of my chair and doing anything more strenuous than sitting, so the Xbox goes on. I’ll fire up that particular race track or an exhibition match against whichever team has turned over Arsenal this week, and play it again. Would it not be a very interesting experience if I were able to finish watching the sporting event of my choosing, turn on my Xbox or PS4 and find an exact digital rendering of it waiting for me to replay? Real time tracking is very readily available technology, and I’m no developer but I imagine that it wouldn’t need to be a huge stride forward for AI that could be programed to follow that tracking. The clever bit would be for the AI to react to your inputs; instead of Theo Walcott running really fast then falling over, what would happen if he actually managed to put in a half decent cross instead? What if Kevin Pietersen walks out at Lords against a fired up Australia and goes on to a double century instead of throwing away his wicket for five? What if instead of Jenson Button slowly driving round Silverstone with the nosebleeds, he managed a storming drive through the field to win in front of the home fans, making Sebastien Vettel cry in the process? This is the chance to re-write history, to right sporting wrongs and to forsake reality for something altogether more satisfying. Classic scenarios are relatively common place in sports simulation games, so with the extra firepower why not do something a little bit more current?

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Ultimately these ideas are probably terrible and wildly impractical. There’s a reason that I’m a writer for zero1gaming and not a hugely wealthy genius swimming around in a Scrooge McDuck style bin full of money. Even so, I don’t think these ideas are hugely unrealistic; if I’d wanted to be stupid and blindly optimistic about it I’d have suggested bringing out Half Life 3. But thinking big is what these companies should be doing, and with any luck there’s something considerably more exciting waiting for us around the corner. Who knows, they might even have found a use for Kinect!

 

About Drew Pontikis
Drew Pontikis is an avid gamer and writer. A fan of racing sims and first person shooters, Drew is notable for talking almost exclusively using Futurama quotes.He's usually found in front of his Xbox or his laptop, follow him on Twitter as @drew060609 Gamertag: drewski060609