The Future of Console Gaming
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Whether or not the X-Box ends up being a fantastic system remains to be seen. We have yet to actually see the final product specification of a complete and running system, since there is no such animal yet. It also remains to be seen how good the games will be since everyone coding software for the system right now is programming for a specialized version of DirectX 8 running on a hardware "simulated" development system. If for some reason DirectX 8 doesn't interact with the finished hardware as expected, there could be problems for many launch games.
Another concern, game wise is that X-Box seems to be attracting all of the PC developers who frequently can't figure out how to program a game to fit into the traditional small system footprint of a console. Companies who for the most part, appear to only know how to create games in one of three categories: First Person Shooters, Real-Time Strategy, or Racing Simulations. Games that almost always require a keyboard and/or mouse. These games appeal to PC gamers. These games don't necessarily appeal to console gamers though. These games are also not small, fast, and good time killers to pass five minutes while you're food is cooking in the microwave.
Then we will also have the array of console type games programmed by PC developers which don't quite hit the mark because the programmers don't really know what they're trying to achieve (I believe you can't effectively create a great game in a given genre unless you have a love for games in the genre to begin with). These are companies who make great PC games, but as an example, refuse to recognize Pokemon as an RPG, or that Mario64 is more than just a game about running around and jumping on platforms. So how can you make a great Platform game if you don't understand what is that makes a great platform game?
Sure, to their credit, Microsoft is locking down publishers such as Square and Konami for their system, and it will certainly do well if they get some good console titles out the door. But they have some serious hurdles to get over first. 1) console gamers see the X-Box as just another PC only this time by Microsoft, the company that makes "buggy, crash-prone" software, and 2) a lot of PC gamers I've spoken to think that with a locked hardware model, and no way to upgrade processor/video/etc... that the machine will be obsolete for PC gamers before it even gets released.
Me personally, I think it has a chance to be pretty good. While Microsoft's software is generally middle of the road, their hardware is always good stuff (ie, joysticks, mice, and keyboards). As I see it, Microsoft's best bet is to cater not only to both console and PC gamer groups, but to actually also go where 3DO wanted to go with their system (to the average home TV watcher), and hopefully do it at a reasonable price.
To be continued...
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