No one can foretell the future. This is a part of being human. I can’t say for certain what’s coming next, even though as I type this, I’m in the middle of a very predictable workday. But the key words in that last sentence are “for certain”. I’m pretty sure I’ll keep typing this for a while. But I could have a heart attack. Or perhaps someone’ll show up ask…ing for help. Or I could spontaneously transmutate into a penis monster. Anything is literally possible.
It’s important to bear this in mind in life. A lot of things we worry about will never come to pass. The “Mayan apocalypse” is a good example. Anyone who’s bothered to read something on the subject knows it’s bunk. I’m also not worried about Skynet or zombies. But I’m willing to admit they’re all possible. Computers COULD attain intelligence on their own. Medical science COULD find a way to re-animate a corpse. And the world COULD end come December. But all of these scenarios are incredibly unlikely.
So, all anyone can offer, no matter what so-called “psychics” would tell you, is their best guess. I’m guessing the sun will rise tomorrow. I’m guessing the air will still be breathable. And I’m guessing you’re wondering what the point of all this is.
It’s intensely personal – yes, more personal than what I discussed last time. Let’s just say that I have a rather serious problem. It can be fixed, but it’ll cost way more than I can afford. Unfortunately, it’s becoming increasingly more necessary to fix, and my income’s not getting any higher. My mom’s willing to help me out, financially, so maybe this will be doable, but I can’t help but wonder what they’ll be sacrificing to help me – or if I’ll ever be able to repay them.
So, you see, what’s going to happen tomorrow is very much on my mind right now. It could get better, it could get worse. I can’t guess. I don’t know.
I read an article on the internet speculating about the next video game console generation just a few minutes ago, and it got me thinking – do we even need a new generation? Games look remarkably lifelike already – how much better can graphics get? I mean, I can kind of understand a new Wii – though the name Wii U is just as dumb as Wii was. And I even kind of understand a new Xbox – it can only read 8-gigabyte DVD’s, and that’s gotta be limiting at this point.
But why on Earth are they talking about a PS4? The PS3 is a powerhouse in almost every respect, still capable of pumping out beautiful, realistic high-definition visuals, and the blu-ray discs can hold 42 GB of data – over 5 times the space that Xbox games have to work with.
And then, my inner computer geek kicks in. Oh, who am I kidding, my outer computer geek kicks in. And I realize that the problem might not be processing power or disc size. There are a lot more things that go into a computer that can limit it – because that’s what game systems are, computers with proprietary operating systems and unique input devices.
RAM is a problem. I didn’t know this until today, but the PS3 has just 512MB of RAM. So does the Xbox 360. My computer has 8 times as much. And that little amount of RAM means that the games can only have so much going on at once – levels can only be so big, there can only be so many enemies nearby – and the better the graphics, the worse it gets.
And there are a lot of new inventions that would benefit gaming, but can’t be implemented, for whatever reason, in current consoles. Digital distribution is huge for PC’s – as far as I’m concerned, Steam is one of the best things to happen to computer gaming in a VERY long time, but it isn’t working for consoles so much, largely due to two factors: limited hard drive space and flawed business models. Xbox Live could learn much from Steam, but even if they did, gamers could only have so many games available to play at once with the default 4 GB hard drive. Even the ‘expanded’ 320 GB hard drive is still only about a third of the size of the hard drive on my computer.
Cloud gaming is also getting bigger, though I don’t know whether it’ll have any place in the next console generation. Services like OnLive use broadband internet to run games from OnLive’s server, streaming the player’s controller inputs to the server, and streaming the video of the result of those inputs back to the player. It’s entirely possible that one or more of the big three could go this route, but I don’t think it’s too likely.
Backwards compatibility is a huge question mark right now. Gamers want it, and the big three know this, but this generation was a MASSIVE disappointment in this area. Xbox 360’s backwards compatibility was bizarrely limited for no adequately explained reason, and the PS3 removed backwards compatibility with PS2 games entirely and even PS1 emulation isn’t as good as the PS2’s. Nintendo’s the only company that didn’t spectacularly drop the ball. So, are we even going to see backward compatibility in the new generation? I have no idea, but probably not from Sony and Microsoft. God forbid they do something that benefits the consumer.
In the end, though, as I said, I cannot say with any certainty what’s to come, but I will make some predictions anyway. The new machines will purport to be bigger, better, badder, and there will be good things and bad things about them. Gaming will continue to evolve in interesting ways, and we’ll see some interesting things tried. Some will succeed, some will fail.
It’s all just a guess. Where will tomorrow lead? The only way to find out is to get there.
I’ll see you there.