What are the possibilities when it comes to the next generation of consoles? To answer that question I think we should look at the current generation of consoles, for clues to what game developers will have to work with regarding game engines.
With this generation of consoles, we have seen games with great graphics and we think “wow that’s as good as it’s going to get.” We also think that a developer really got a lot out of certain consoles and then comes the sequel to the same game 2 years later, from the same developer and the developer statement is something like “we’ve found new tricks to get more performance out of the console.”
Let’s get into the tricks that get more performance out of these multi-core consoles. When the original developer kits for the Xbox 360 came out, multi-thread engines were relatively new, the process of writing code for a multi-core CPU was considered a daunting task.
Writing code for a multi core CPU was considered difficult at the time, the reason was due to the fact that to take advantage of the dual core processor it required adjustments of both the operating system and existing application software.
Developers knew that once you wrap your mind around distributing the workload through multiple cores, versus a single core CPU, more gaming applications could be completed in a clock cycle.
Now what does this have to do with the next generation? It’s the games of course, one of the reason games are looking better and better, as this generation moves forward, is the ability of the developers, and the third party development kits, coming to grip with multi-core coding, HDRR, per pixel lighting, dynamic shadows, and making Direct x capitates that are not supposed to be possible with these current consoles GPUs.
The main reason these current consoles have been able to last this long was because of the amount of theoretical power that the companies claimed was possible.
They have come pretty close to hitting the mark, so when the next generation comes around the tremendous power that I believe the new consoles will have should not be as intimidating as when the PS3 and the Xbox 360 came out.
What this means is that game developers do not have to completely change their way of thinking just to create the new game engine of tomorrow, meaning that developer tools will be multi-core ready from the ground up, developers can now look at DirectX 11 and incorporate all of the cool features such as tessellation, and shader model 5.0.
The game engines today are really amazing, when I saw Gears of War 1 and Project Gotham Racing on the Xbox 360 for the first time I was stunned, what will the next gen look like, will we see CGI cut-scene leveled details in real time gameplay?
We may have no idea what next gen console hardware will look like, except for the Wii-U, but we do have an idea of what hardware might be in place for the architecture. First we can pretty much bank on a multi-core CPU with multi-threading capabilities; it seems that ATI will be in charge of creating the GPUs on Sony’s ,Microsoft’s, and Nintendo’s next consoles and if Nintendo is using two gigs of RAM we can gather that both Sony and Microsoft’s next console will have at least two gigs or more.