EDGE - - GAMES SECTIONS - Send your views, us­ing ‘Di­a­logue’ as the sub­ject line, to edge@fu­turenet.com. Our let­ter of the month wins a New Nin­tendo 3DS XL, sup­plied by the Nin­tendo UK store

Edge read­ers share their opin­ions; one wins a New Nin­tendo 3DS XL

Des­ti­na­tion: fu­ture

Through the decades, I’ve been priv­i­leged enough to see a lot of im­prove­ments in the field of gam­ing. I’ve seen graph­ics im­prove markedly; sound is now as good as you could pos­si­bly want it to be; stor­age has in­creased to the point where it’s prac­ti­cally not an is­sue; and controllers don’t fall apart in your hands ev­ery sec­ond week like they used to. I mean, there have been a lot of changes, and quite a few big leaps since the day I first sav­agely tore apart the Christ­mas wrap­ping to re­veal the brand­new Atari 2600 which kept my eyes glued to the screen for a good few years.

We’ve seen steady pro­gres­sion now for some three-and-a-half decades but this next leap, vir­tual re­al­ity, I think is go­ing to be the big­gest leap of all. In fact, it won’t be just within gam­ing: be­fore too long, I think we’ll find go­ing to the of­fice will sim­ply be a mat­ter of strap­ping on our head­gear, press­ing a cou­ple of but­tons, and bingo – no longer will we need to be ex­posed to the usual work­place chaos, cig­a­rette stench and count­less traf­fic jams. We won’t need to think about trav­el­ling to places like Dis­ney­land. Meet­ing peo­ple – dating, for in­stance – will be­come a wild new ex­pe­ri­ence. And be­ing able to travel vir­tu­ally to places over­seas, other plan­ets… It goes on and on – the pos­si­bil­i­ties are end­less.

I think we are on the verge of a change of Star Trek-like pro­por­tions. Con­sid­er­ing what has been hap­pen­ing in the world of quan­tum physics and the in­creas­ingly real pos­si­bil­ity of par­ti­cle tele­por­ta­tion, it won’t be too long be­fore we’re no longer mak­ing fun of Doc­tor Who and his TARDIS, but re­joic­ing in the fact that he was a pi­o­neer­ing, rev­o­lu­tion­ary fig­ure.

I’ve yet to get a sin­gle pre­dic­tion wrong in terms of the gam­ing and tech­no­log­i­cal world, so this is just a gen­tle fore­warn­ing to your read­ers, and the pub­lic in gen­eral, that we are in, un­doubt­edly, for quite a ride. The Lawn­mower Man was rub­bish in com­par­i­son to what’s re­ally go­ing to hap­pen. Robert Roe­mer

To be fair, The Lawn­mower Man was rub­bish when it was made in 1992, so that may not be the best point of com­par­i­son. If you’re say­ing we don’t have to come into the of­fice any more, though, sign us up.

State of in­de­pen­dents

I’d like to ques­tion the be­lief that, within the videogame in­dus­try, in­die de­vel­op­ers are more in­no­va­tive than their triple-A coun­ter­parts. The ma­jor­ity of in­die games are de­riv­a­tive and un­o­rig­i­nal, and it’s only by the sheer vol­ume pro­duced that in­ter­est­ing or un­usual out­liers crop up more fre­quently. More­over, as an in­die de­vel­oper my­self, I feel strongly that we need to be bet­ter at talk­ing about and tack­ling the bar­ri­ers to in­no­va­tion: val­i­dat­ing and fine-tun­ing me­chan­ics, teach­ing new play­ers un­fa­mil­iar con­cepts, and find­ing an au­di­ence where none ex­isted be­fore. All are that much harder when a game veers away from genre con­ven­tions. Never mind when de­vel­op­ers try to do some­thing wholly orig­i­nal.

Equally, we need to gently nudge indies away from nostal­gia trips, worn-out tropes, and the same old me­dieval-fan­tasy or space set­tings. Triple-A games can also play a part in in­spir­ing indies to ex­plore cul­tures and places that are rarely dis­cussed in other me­dia. Or less well-known pe­ri­ods in his­tory, such as with the fan­tas­tic Em­pire: To­tal War shin­ing a light on the rise of 18th-cen­tury eco­nom­ics and geopol­i­tics.

From my own ex­pe­ri­ence, and talk­ing to other indies, I know it’s not a lack of de­sire. But with the twin pres­sures of per­ceived in­dus­try wis­dom and the very real fi­nan­cial

“Triple-A games can help in­spire indies to ex­plore cul­tures and places that are rarely dis­cussed”

pres­sures most indies face, it’s of­ten the ‘safe’ route that gets picked.

Let’s con­tinue to cel­e­brate suc­cess and learn from fail­ures, but also be un­afraid to turn a crit­i­cal eye on the in­die-game move­ment and dis­cuss what it can do to im­prove it­self. James Coote

A quick scroll through the swollen Edge in­box con­firms that, yes, there’s an aw­ful lot of me-too dreck among the in­die suc­cesses. If you have some­thing dar­ingly orig­i­nal to show us, though, we’ll al­ways give it a shot.

Fight this gen­er­a­tion

As an en­thu­si­as­tic gamer, I am wor­ried about the fu­ture of game con­soles. I am wor­ried about all this new talk about mid-gen­er­a­tion hard­ware up­dates that do not seem to ben­e­fit the end user. How­ever, the thing I am most wor­ried about is my gut, which tells me that lazi­ness is ap­proach­ing.

Sony and Mi­crosoft an­nounced the be­gin­ning of a new era with their mid-gen hard­ware re­freshes. Soon all they talk about is th­ese shenani­gans about 4K, HDR, more CPU and GPU power and ter­aflops, a word pre­vi­ously known only to PC gamers. But what does it mean for us, the play­ers?

Ex­cuses. To me, look­ing at the way the game in­dus­try works nowa­days, I sense that users with the orig­i­nal sys­tems will suf­fer and be forced to up­grade their hard­ware. If there is any­thing that the New 3DS taught us, it’s that ex­clu­sive games hurt sys­tem sales more than any­thing else. How­ever, it also taught us about Hyrule War­riors syn­drome, where the game runs per­fectly on the new hard­ware but fails to de­liver a con­sis­tent ex­pe­ri­ence on the old one. I am no Michael Pachter, but I am con­fi­dent enough in this to say that de­vel­op­ers will come up with all sorts of ex­cuses to ex­plain the lack of op­ti­mi­sa­tion for the old hard­ware, the most com­mon one be­ing that “the hard­ware is not pow­er­ful enough”. In an era where qual­ity con­trol al­lows the re­lease of atro­cious and in­com­plete games to the mar­ket, I can only imag­ine all those As­sas­sin’s Creeds with fram­er­ates far be­low 30fps glitch­ing out ev­ery sec­ond if you’re play­ing on the launch ver­sion of the hard­ware.

I hope I am wrong but this risks set­ting a prece­dent by giv­ing cre­ators the power to not de­liver the same ex­pe­ri­ence to both types of user. De­vel­op­ers were used to squeez­ing ev­ery sin­gle bit of juice out of those ma­chines in or­der to amaze and de­liver some­thing solid to gamers all over the world. As time passed and first­par­ties re­leased new tools to de­vel­op­ers, games would still look great. Just look at GTAV on the PS3, a tenyear-old con­sole! For me, it is hard to be­lieve de­vel­op­ers will put in the same amount of ef­fort with two types of hard­ware avail­able. It is hard to be­lieve they will come up with in­ven­tive ways to cir­cum­vent prob­lems such as lack of power. I still re­mem­ber when stream­ing tex­tures was one of the most suc­cess­ful ways to by­pass con­sole lim­i­ta­tions in the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion, or the fact that

Mario de­vel­op­ers copy/pasted tex­tures, adding a dif­fer­ent colour to them, in or­der to save sys­tem mem­ory.

Just ask your­self this ques­tion: would you squeeze two or­anges the same way you would if you only had one? Bruno Sir­gado

The prospect of PS4 Pro gave us pause, too. But then we saw the en­hanced ver­sion of

Hori­zon Zero Dawn and sort of melted. It is a par­tic­u­larly squeez­able-look­ing or­ange.

Spe­cial re­quest

I guess the rub­bish stat­ues, and $2 worth of plas­tic tat, just aren’t do­ing the num­bers any more. The videogame spe­cial edi­tion is get­ting thor­oughly out of hand. It’s al­ways been a hard sell, I think – games cost enough as it is, and it’s go­ing to take some­thing spe­cial to get your au­di­ence to cough up even more. And as time passes and more peo­ple have seen what’s in­side th­ese lu­di­crously large re­tail boxes (they’re large enough to fit a con­sole in, for heaven’s sake), that hard sell just gets even harder. Oh, if I pay £90 for COD I can have my own drone? Well, a few years back I got my own COD RC car. It was dead within a week and didn’t even man­age to take any ter­ror­ists with it.

So, re­al­is­ing the phys­i­cal realm has lit­tle left with which to en­tice the lover and savvy pur­chaser of videogames, pub­lish­ers are try­ing some­thing dif­fer­ent. For years, on­line re­tail­ers have cur­ried favour with po­ten­tial cus­tomers by build­ing a rep­u­ta­tion for get­ting a new game on to your door­mat a few days be­fore of­fi­cial re­lease. It works. Lo and be­hold, Mi­crosoft comes up with the Forza

Hori­zon 3 Ul­ti­mate Edi­tion, a dig­i­tal-only bun­dle cost­ing £80 that will give me ac­cess to the game four days be­fore the hoi pol­loi. This is a nat­u­ral ex­ten­sion of the way EA Ac­cess gives you ten hours with a game a week be­fore re­lease, which I as­sume has made them quite a bit of money. But it does mean that th­ese mas­sive com­pa­nies’ vi­sion for the fu­ture of videogame dis­tri­bu­tion is ba­si­cally just the dig­i­tal equiv­a­lent of be­ing pretty good at get­ting the post sent out.

Oh, so early ac­cess doesn’t do it for you? Fine! How about ex­clu­sive ac­cess? Call Of Duty: Modern War­fare Re­mas­tered, sir? Avail­able only with the spe­cial edi­tions of

Call Of Duty: In­fi­nite War­fare? Noth­ing warms the cock­les like a bit of ag­gres­sively mon­e­tised nostal­gia, eh?

No, thanks. If I’m nos­tal­gic for any­thing it’s the days when spe­cial edi­tions meant get­ting a load of cheaply pro­duced plas­tic tat along­side a game I wanted. Now it means get­ting a dif­fer­ent game, made with a bud­get of tens of mil­lions of dol­lars. If the stakes are re­ally that high, no won­der they’re get­ting des­per­ate. Wake me when it’s over, please. An­drew Moore

You’re prob­a­bly go­ing to be asleep for a while, judg­ing by the num­ber of peo­ple on our friends list play­ing Forza be­fore its re­lease. Hap­pily, your New 3DS comes with no ex­tras, and hasn’t cost you a penny.

Is­sue 298

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