What has kept me following the real-time image industry, if you will, all these years has always been its rapid evolution, the way it constantly reinvents itself through iteration of hardware and software. How everything looked so much better on Amiga 500 after using and getting accustomed to Commodore 64’s visual offerings. The continuous iteration is in the core of the real-time medium, and really the magic and transcendental purpose of it, as in technology at large.
How come, then, it feels like the evolution of the real-time image has been plateauing in the past few years? What is it so different now than, say, five years ago?
It’s the decline of the exclusive high-end PC –gaming, what’s different.
For instance, judging by trailers and screenshots, the upcoming multiplatform Crysis 2 is clearly a step down in almost every possible sense from its three-year-old PC exclusive predecessor, Crysis. It really is, and no amount of post-processing (of which there’s plenty) can hide that uncomfortable fact. And the sole reason for that is the long obsolete console hardware Crysis 2 is primarily developed for. Consequently, I have next to zero excitement towards Crysis 2, which said aloud sound equally sad as distressing.
So, we are now in a situation in which high-end PC hardware is practically a generation ahead of the console counterparts, but without any decent software to take genuinely advantage of it. Instead of getting another Crysis, we get poorly optimized console-ports, such as Call of Duty: Black Ops, which perform often nowhere near as they logically should on a fair PC.
Without the high-end dedicated PC –gaming, we have no more messianic games looming in the horizon, exciting and inspiring us like Doom, Quake, Half-life 2 or Crysis did at the time. PC supposed to be about pushing the boundaries of the medium, not sweeten up console-leftovers with ridiculously expensive hardware.
All things considered, I hate to say but it seems there really will be no major, groundbreaking developments happening in the video game space until the next console hardware cycle emerges, which may or may not happen somewhere in 2012 at earliest. It’s like consoles have taken real-time imagery as a hostage, and we, the enthusiasts, have no options but to wait on their next move.