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The Future of Gaming


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There are so many different trends, past and present, in gaming that it's interesting, to me, at least, to wonder which ones will fizzle out and which ones will become the new standards of gaming.

In today's gaming market, especially, there are TONS of different directions the future of gaming can go in. There is the world of online gaming, of course, which has steadily gained more followers since the first major advent of online gaming on consoles with the Dreamcast (I don't really count X-Band or anything like that as a major contribution to online gaming, since it was ignored by a lot of people).

Also, there is connectivity, which Nintendo is sticking with in lieu of online gaming. And handheld gaming is going through an evolution of sorts with Sony gearing up to release the PSP and with Nintendo working on the DS, though that isn't meant to be a direct competitor with the GBA SP.

My question is, what do you think will be the future of gaming and why? Which of these, or perhaps something I haven't mentioned, do you feel will become the #1 priority for just about everyone involved with gaming?
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Guest ScirosDarkblade
Well, for one I think there'll be a lot more "MMO" games in the future, since you can make almost ANY game online/multiplayer and only add to the experience (as long as it's done right, of course). This especially applies to portable gaming. As portable/handheld systems become more powerful and wireless internet becomes ubiquitous, I think it won't be out of the ordinary to see people playing, on their Gameboy Extremes (I made that up right now, so don't go looking for one), some sports game where every player is a real person somewhere in the world and the graphics are fantastic. With mobile phones trying to become gaming machines, I think we're obviously heading in that direction. It's just a question of how soon it'll take us to get there.

For the time being, console gaming will stay pretty much the same, except with online multiplayer becoming more and more common and better supported. Nintendo will eventually catch on to it as well, because I think it's pretty clear that "connectivity" in the sense of GBA to GCN and so forth is doing jack **** for the progress of gaming, or for adding to the gaming experience. It's a far less lucrative marketing ploy, and it will eventually take a backseat to other endeavors.
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[COLOR=Navy][SIZE=1]I think Blu Ray is the future of gaming right now. Blu Ray is a disk format rumored to be Sony's choice for the PS3 games format. The Blu Ray disks can hold 50GB of information which is huge compared to DVD's 4.7 GB. Logically games can be more then 10x larger. I doubt that companies will use this at first but eventually I think they will utalise every bit of space .
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[font=Georgia][color=blue]We can all dream, but I don't think people's wallets will be any fatter in the future. What I think you two are forgetting is the financial aspect of gaming: all this technology will have a price to go along with it. I mean, take a look at the PS2's ridiculous online offer: buy the system, buy the modem, buy the game, and buy a hard drive, [b][i]AND[/i][/b] pay to play the game online. No thank you...[/color][/font]

[font=Georgia][color=#0000ff]Additionally, online gaming is overrrated. It's a great idea, but until an acceptable speed becomes the standard (56k is still standard), there's no way online gaming can take off. Add this dilemma to the fact that you still have to pay to play a game you already bought for 50 bucks, and you've got a financially impractical future of gaming.[/color][/font]

[font=Georgia][color=#0000ff]I don't think online gaming is the future. There's so many other things to address until that time, such as a more intuitive control scheme for certain games thanks to the addition of another dimension. Maybe even a revolutionary controller, one that is nothing like the all-too similar controls of today![/color][/font]
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Guest ScirosDarkblade
Well I think that for online gaming to become widespread it does have to become less expensive. And internet speeds in general ARE increasing (yes, 56k is the current standard, but we're talking about the future of gaming, and that means faster internet). I don't mean that the only games around will be MMORPGs as we know them today, but I do think that as more and more households become internet "subscribers" it will make more sense for games to utilize that. There doesn't have to be any monthly fee or anything; just online gaming capability. You see it more and more every day, and I think that trend will continue.

And money isn't as big an issue as you might want to believe. The PS2, for all of its sub-par hardware, still outsells other consoles even though it's the most expensive. It's true that a monthly fee will drive away a lot of people, which is why I think it will eventually decrease.

My reply is a bit unorganized, because I'm just throwing stuff out there, but basically I envision a battle.net sort of thing existing for a lot more various games. People playing Mario Kart against each other online, Smash Bros. online, football/basketball/soccer/hockey online, co-op FPS and RPGs online, etc. And it of course won't be the main focus of many games, but it will be a feature.

X-box is certainly following the path I described. Just look at Ninja Gaiden and DOA Ultimate. Online play for the sake of online play. But it is still an attractive feature, and as it becomes more and more practical I see Sony and Nintendo doing the same with many games. Nintendo last of all, but if they will want to compete, they'll have no choice (and people may argue with me about this, but I think I'm right).

Oh, and about the controller thing, that is a good thing to talk about. I don't think that handheld controllers will change much on a fundamental level, because of 2 reasons:
1 -- it'll add an unnecessary learning curve to all games utilizing the controller, because people will have to get used to a completely different control scheme. I'd say that's a pretty damn good reason not to change the way conventional controllers are done.
2 -- there's not much that I can think of to improve controllers besides the details. I suppose it'd be cool to have a controller that uses all ten fingers (2 joysticks, top buttons, and 8 "trigger" buttons, 4 on each handle). And we may see something like that someday. But that won't change the WAY you control anything; it'll just be a controller with more buttons.

But mind you I'm talking about HANDHELD controllers. If you want to discuss VR-type stuff, or in other words interactive gloves or helmets or whatever, then I'd say that's definitely a direction controllers could go.
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[COLOR=Navy][SIZE=2]I think that gaming has huge future in online games. 10% of Xbox (500,000 people) users are subscribed to Xbox Live and 4%(780,000 people) PS2 users have the network adapter and the numbers just keep growing. I dont think that online gaming will ever be the hugest, most played area of gaming but I do think that it will eventually become something that most gamers do now that larger franchises are going online. Final Fantasy is already online and there is even a rumored section of the next GTA game that allows you to go online casual gamers will slowly drift online. If Nintendo ever has a online plan then younger gamers will drift online and it will soon become an everyday thing. [/SIZE] [/COLOR]
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[color=#707875]I think online gaming is definitely in the future of the industry in part. Certain companies are really determined to push the technology forward and it's starting to have an effect. At the moment though, online gaming makes for an industry sector that has a relatively low profit margin. And it hasn't taken off in the way that many had predicted (Square-Enix's PlayOnline network has fallen woefully short of their own in-house targets, for example).

I hear a lot about the idea that Nintendo isn't focusing on online gaming. And while that's true to an extent, it's easy to forget that Nintendo were involved with online-based gaming and entertainment years before Microsoft. So, Nintendo aren't "ignoring" online gaming, they're simply making sure that if they deliver online games, they do it without the current costs that are associated with online services. I think that's reasonable and they're certainly free to make that choice for themselves.

But I'm also glad that Microsoft [i]has [/i]pushed online gaming with Xbox Live. Even though it's not exactly a big money spinner right now, it does put Microsoft in the front seat in terms of the technology. And the Xbox Live service is easily the most painless available right now -- it's far easier to jump in with Xbox Live than it is to go out and buy all of the peripherals that are required for Sony's online ventures.

But online gaming is still only a small piece of the pie, I think. I don't think that the "future of gaming" as a whole rests on this technology. Right now, very few companies are really taking advantage of the Internet to do creative things. MMORPGs (I hate that silly acronym) are probably the only genre that really benefits from online technology in any substantial way. Generally speaking, online games just take the offline experience and add an online multiplayer component. So there's nothing fundamentally new there -- nothing that really [i]demands [/i]consumers' attention.

But online-based genres like MMORPG really do start to demand attention because they are entirely designed around online connectivity. For online gaming to take off in a major way, I think we need to see more genres like that -- new types of games that [i]require [/i]an online environment to deliver an experience to the end user.

I think it's interesting that right now there is very little discussion about graphics and hardware technology. And that's a good thing. It's true that we are now entering a period where there simply isn't much else to do in this arena. The next generation game consoles will be approaching pre-rendered FMV in terms of real-time game graphics. And the generation after that will no doubt get very close to photorealism and such.

Once we start hitting that visual ceiling, what else is there to do? It's no longer a question of competing over who has the best graphics. It becomes a question of who can deliver the most unique and fresh gameplay experiences. And also, in terms of graphics, I think it becomes a question of artistry and aesthetics, rather than raw technical prowess.

It's nice to see that we're hitting the ceiling, so to speak. Even now, there seems to be a bigger focus on things like complex A.I. and powerful in-game physics, as a way of drawing people to more "realistic games". Although these things alone do not make good quality games, it's nice that we're at least asking developers to focus on less superficial elements.

In terms of controllers and things like that...I really don't know. I don't think they really [i]need [/i]to change very much. I mean, we all have our different preferences with the current controllers out there, but I don't think anyone would suggest that any of the current controllers are really inadequate when it comes to game interaction. They all pretty much do the job.

The only way I can imagine this changing is maybe in the more distant future, if you were to start talking about holographics or something. There are actually some companies around the world who are already experimenting with holographics. One company had developed a glass sphere, which is filled with a type of gas. The gas acts as a three dimensional canvas, where lines and colours can be projected in a 3D space.

Although I don't think that this prototype is necessarily conducive to a fun gaming experience, it's certainly possible that these early rough prototypes will evolve into something far more elaborate and useful in the future. Who knows.

I personally think that VR could make some sort of comeback. I know that sounds silly, considering that just about all of the early VR stuff was total junk. But [i]why [/i]was it junk? It was junk because the display technology wasn't good enough and because the systems that were in place were far too bulky and counter-intuitive.

As visual display technology improves dramatically over time (smaller plasma screens and things of that nature), I think you can start talking about a type of VR that is much easier to use (and which provides a much richer visual experience). But I still think that's a way off.

There was a conclusion in the 1990's that VR was the wave of the future. But the technology just wasn't there to support it. I think the same could be true with online gaming for consoles. At least, it could be true over the next decade. But beyond that, who knows. It's all a question of whether or not the technology exists and whether or not applications can be made that can take advantage of it. And of course, it's also a matter of cost.[/color]
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