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Why is it being made for the 360?

by uberfoop @, Seattle-ish, Thursday, February 14, 2013, 02:50 (3469 days ago) @ kapowaz

Ignoring the fact that making it next-gen only would massively limit your market, there are technical complications in releasing such a title on new hardware, effectively at the launch of said hardware. Games companies tend not to have found out all the neat tricks for getting the best out of the hardware so early on, and as a result games tend to be more conservative in visuals to begin with. You can see this for yourself with the massive difference in visual quality between Halo 3 and Reach/4.

I'm not convinced that we'll see the same thing happen quite so drastically, for a couple reasons.

The first is that Halo 3's graphics are way better than people seem to acknowledge them as being. I always get sort of perplexed when people praise Halo 3's lighting and that "look" it has but then say they wish that a game with good graphics would do it, as though the effect was purely done by the art team and not engineered through a system that's every bit as expensive as 2x supersample antialising. Bungie could easily have pushed vastly more detail at a higher resolution. The game also has some decently solid bits and pieces, like the water system and the way vehicles are handled post-explosion. 2007 Bungie probably wouldn't have pulled off Reach, but Halo 3 isn't as far behind as it's sometimes made out to be. It has different priorities.

The second is that hardware architectures haven't shifted as much as they during the last decade. Programmable shaders took off like crazy between 2001 and 2005; you can count the original Xbox's shader units on one hand, while the 360's GPU features an array of 240 programmable vector processors. It took the industry a while to catch up with itself and learn to use what it had at its fingertips. And while this is an ongoing process, it's slowed down a lot. And while we've certainly tossed more stuff into the specs since the 360 and DirectX 9, it's more "yeah, let's drop this extra step into the pipeline and add more parallel units" than "HOLY CRAP LET'S LOAD THIS OLD CONFIGURABLE HW ACCELERATOR CHIP WITH HUNDREDS OF FULLY PROGRAMMABLE PARALLEL PROCESSORS!" Some of the bigger advancements from Halo 3 to Reach (like the particle system) involved Bungie realizing that they could take advantage of certain parts of the GPU for certain weird things (Reach's particles actually bounce in screen-space; if you don't see a polygon, they won't bounce off of it. It's all handled in the depth buffer. !!!). Those kinds of developments simply aren't going to happen as fast as they used to unless there's another radical change in GPU architecture.

Next gen is going to be a jump for sure, but I don't think it'll feature quite as heavy a learning curve for developers as last gen, despite the 8-year gap.


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