Shovelling Sh*t. Where are the games?

I recently watched a video from Gamespot’s Danny O’Dwyer talking about how he’s wondering where all the good games are. And I kind of agreed with him on this point. Where are they?

Usually when a new generation of platform drops, the publishers are quick to push out awesome games to get our money before we spend it on some other game. The same goes for PC where Steam has become the proverbial dumping ground for games that we’re not really sure why they’re there. Almost like the Google Play store but with worse games.

But lets not get ahead of ourselves. For me the best games I’ve played on Xbox One was by far Shadow of Mordor, Halo Master Chief Collection and Sunset Overdrive. Forza is a staple that I’ll enjoy no matter what. The best game I’ve played on PlayStation was Velocity 2X. All these games would have been awesome if they were on both platforms so I’m not talking about which platform it launched on.

Instead we were set up with games like The Order, Driveclub, remasters everywhere and some of the dullest and unimaginative indie games you can’t imagine even if you tried. All of a sudden it became the norm for studios to slap a fresh coat of paint on old and arguably loved franchises and call it a day. Where are the fresh ideas people?

Then you have the community which in all due respect needs a kick in the butt. They focus on which platform is better and which runs the game at 9 frames a second faster instead of realizing they’re being flooded with crap. And they lap it up. PC gamers aren’t much different. The most popular games on PC is MOBA games and Free to Play. Goat Simulator is more popular on Twitch than most other AAA games which actually had a story.

This Youtuber (BrokenGamezHD) complains about there not being any proper multiplayer games out there. And I agree. But there might be two sides to this, there might be a lot of multiplayer games, but the community and players suck or there just aren’t any good fun multiplayer experiences. For me the best multiplayer experience are when you play with your actual friends. Halo 5 Multiplayer beta was my favourite game so far this generation. And that says a lot.

The industry is basically taking the piss and we the gamers are too pre-occupied by  insulting each other because fanboi.

Now I’m looking forward to games like The Witcher 3, Quantum Break and Halo 5. But with an industry like what we’ve seen the past couple of months, I’m kind of sceptical. Will The Witcher be a broken mess with a bad story? Will Halo rinse and repeat a dead cow? Will Quantum Break be delayed until 2016?

Uncharted 4 being delayed just took the piss out of PlayStation gamers who’ve been waiting anxiously for that one game that will blow their minds. But now I’m not so sure, a game being delayed is not a good sign. Will they rush to meet the deadline for Holiday 2016? Will they cut corners while Monolithic Sony stands over them demanding the game?

We’ll have to wait and see. But right now, this gaming industry sucks. And don’t believe the idiots who say we’ve never had so many games to play because 90% of them are utter dog shit being shoved into our Fancy Feast and we’re too stupid to realize. E3 2015 should be a good measuring stick to see what we can expect the next twelve months. Mass Effect, FallOut and Dead Space are all on my radar. But I have a nagging suspicion it will be filled to the brim with bread simulators and a game about a Octopus or tons of stupid Virtual Reality games that will set you back hundreds and leave you feeling like an idiot who fell for the hype again a la Kinect.

Yeah, that’s next generation for you. Our desperation is showing.

 

DirectX 12. Something we all should be excited about.

The console war is heating up with fans on both sides getting increasingly frustrated that the other platform refuses to die. We all know that will never happen. Recently Microsoft hosted the Windows 10 consumer event and showed several cool new features that will be coming this fall. Windows 10 will be launching on PC, Tablet, Phone and Xbox to some extent.

One of the most heated topics that is being discussed to death by both sides of the fence is the Direct X 12 update. Pundits have called it something of a misnomer, to outright calling it a gimmick that will do nothing for PC gaming or the Xbox. Other developers have publicly stated (outside of the NDA agreements) that what they’ve seen and experienced it completely revolutionary. Phil Spencer famously misquoted by some said that the Xbox One will see some benefit but the hardware will not change.

Let’s take all of this into perspective. Whether or not you’re a fan of the ‘other’ console brand be it Nintendo or Sony, or you’re a PC hardcore gaming enthusiast you should be happy that the evolution of programming API’s and tools are accelerating. I find it personally bizarre how people will publicly condemn anyone who feels excited about this.

DirectX 12 will improve efficiency for CPU bound games and will improve access to the GPU by allowing more than one core to communicate with the CPU/GPU. Previously only one core managed to communicate at a time and DirectX 11 was quite power hungry based on Intel’s presentation? I myself prefer that power consumption be brought down in all consoles. As per example, one can take a very graphically intensive game on the PS4 and you will hear the console fans spinning profusely to cool the system down and I hope they find a way to improve the cooling system or any API improvements Sony brings to the PS4 will be severely hampered by the lack of proper cooling in the system.

Microsoft on the other hand have taken a beating over the design of the Xbox because they took cooling to the extreme and built a larger cooling system in making the device bigger. I’m not pretending that they could have made a better design other than the minimalist box design they have now, but choosing to ensure the device stays cool at all times is of upmost importance. Taking AC Unity on the Xbox One and leaving it running for hours while thousands of NPC’s are running around the device does not sound any louder than what it does while in the menu for example.

DirectX 12 will improve upon the power consumption and access to the multi-core system for developers will improve. Will it impact games dramatically? No, I don’t think we will see graphics that outshines a PC with about $4000 worth of components in there. Phil famously said there will be no dramatic change, and I agree. Will games look better, of course? Will lighting and framerates improve? Of course they will. But to pretend that there will be no change because Phil said ‘no dramatic change’ is an oxymoron.

PC gaming however will have a smaller benefit than that of the Xbox. Why? Because historically developers have not optimized games to run as good on the lowest common denominator as on the best. Game performance and graphics have always been up to the player. Do you want better graphics at a lower framerate? Or do you want a higher framerate with lower resolution? These are the options open to gamers on PC and DirectX 12 will not change that. Yes the PC will use less power, but the onus lies with the player to decide what type of experience they want out of their PC. With console devices the experience and optimization lies solely with the developer and they need to ensure that the game runs at optimal capacity. Unless you’re Konami.

At the Windows 10 event Phil Spencer showed a FutureMark benchmark tool running both DirectX12 and DirectX11 on screen with complexity increasing. DirectX12 showed massive improvements in framerates while the difficulty kept increasing over time. That is what DirectX does, it allows the system to efficiently improve framerates while doing double the work (50%). Of course it depends on your hardware. A Core i7 will be able to do more than an APU. This is on CPU bound games and it clearly proves that DirectX12 is not a pipe dream. Xbox One users will see improvement on the complexity of games and framerates depending on how well the game was optimized for the Xbox.

GPU bound games is the next chapter for gaming and we will see more on that in the future at GDC this year. Both PS4 and Xbox One will benefit dramatically from the shift away from CPU bound to GPU bound games and both console platforms should be excited for this shift. Nobody will be left behind in this race and we should expect Sony to reveal (or not) their answer to the future of gaming. Hopefully they will ensure that the console does not sound like a plane taking off while doing it.