In my column this week, I give my take on the announced specs for the next-gen PlayStation. Below are a few additional thoughts that were too digressionalI think that this should be a word. If referral is related to the process of checking references, and funereal is being like a funeral, then something digressional should be related to or seeming like a digression. to be included in the column.
I find it interesting that Japanese company Sony has an American in charge of designing their flagship gaming hardware. Even more interesting is that the American in question is also the designer / co-programmer of Marble Madness way back in 1984. Cerny’s Wikipedia page is an interesting list of honors an accomplishments. The guy has had quite an eclectic career.
The other interesting note is that the proposed PS5 is continuing the trend of consoles and PC converging. On the console side, the Xbox and PlayStation look increasingly like PCs in terms of hardware. On the PC side, Microsoft is trying to turn the Windows ecosystem into a closed, locked-down platform using the Windows 10 store.
These goals are understandable in isolation, but contradictory in nature.
- Companies want their machines to be based on standard consumer hardware, because those components are cheap thanks to economies of scale.
- Companies want total control over the user’s machine, because this is a good anti-piracy measure and controlling people makes it easier to extract money / information from them.
They want the price advantages of having open hardware but the control advantages of running a walled garden. The problem is that as hardware becomes more standardized, it’s easier for the community to wrest control away from the manufacturer. Jailbreaking your device becomes a matter of applying homebrew patches and requires less reverse-engineering and custom-built chips. The more open the hardware, the harder it is to protect the operating system from those danged meddlesome end-users.
Sony isn’t the only one that wants contradictory things. Personally…
- I’d love it if Microsoft gave up on their creepy Orwellian console and left the games business. At the same time…
- I want there to be lots of competing consoles because that’s generally better for end users.
Of course, the best way to reconcile these two things is to hope that Microsoft gets their act together and stops making a mess of things. Sadly, I don’t think the company is capable of doing that. They’ve had over a decade to work on this, and they don’t seem to be getting any better. They don’t just build obnoxious, inconvenient, privacy-invading systems, they build malfunctioning obnoxious, inconvenient, privacy-invading systems. Between GFWL and the Windows 10 Store, Microsoft has managed to inflict a lot of frustration on me, and I’ve barely used their products.
Still no PS2 support. I have a PS2A couple, in fact. but I’d love it if I could have one less device in the cable nest. Also, it would be nice if we weren’t relying on decades-old devices for access to the greatest console libraryAs measured by number of released titles, although you could probably make a pretty good case it wins in quality as well. in the history of the medium. Assuming the individual components are still manufactured somewhere, they ought to be pretty cheap by now. If they aren’t, then that’s all the more reason to make some more before the machines start dying off in significant numbers.
(This is based on the assumption that emulation isn’t good enough. I know the emulation scene has traditionally had a hard time getting a proper reproduction of PS2 behavior. It’s been a few years since I looked, but the last time I gave PS2 emulation a go there were still a lot of odd timing problems and rendering glitches. Then again, Sony has access to the full specs and don’t need to engage in any messy reverse-engineering, so maybe they’ll have more success emulating PS2 behavior on modern devices. I don’t know enough to predict that, so for now I’m assuming emulation is off the table and we need comparable hardware for access to those old games.)
Looking to the future, I have no idea what the giants will do in another ~7 years to try and get us to buy the PS6 and Xbox Whatever. What will motivate us to upgrade? Pay another $400 USD for graphics that are 0.001% more photorealistic? Heck, I’m not even sure what’s supposed to motivate us to make the jump to the PS5. Assuming Google Stadia is wrong and we’re going to continue to do our gaming on boxes, then we’re going to need a really good reason to buy another box.
But PS2 compatibility might be a pretty attractive feature. Sony could ransom our childhoodIn my case, more like mid-30s-hood. back to us through some sort of subscription service. On one hand I wouldn’t appreciate paying a monthy fee for access to a bunch of games I already own. Then again, this might be the only way these games can live on.
Sure, there are lots of PS2 in circulation now, but the number is going down, and there’s currently no way to reverse that trend. It might take a decade or so, but eventually the machines will become rare enough that it will be hard to introduce the next generation to these old games. Movies get occasional re-releases, but migrating games to the next generation isn’t nearly as easy.
Since writing this article, some information has leaked on the Microsoft side. Microsoft is claiming “ours is bigger”, but the official dick-measuring contest probably won’t start until next year.
 I think that this should be a word. If referral is related to the process of checking references, and funereal is being like a funeral, then something digressional should be related to or seeming like a digression.
 A couple, in fact.
 As measured by number of released titles, although you could probably make a pretty good case it wins in quality as well.
 In my case, more like mid-30s-hood.
Another PC Golden Age?
Is it real? Is PC gaming returning to its former glory? Sort of. It's complicated.
The Best of 2017
My picks for what was important, awesome, or worth talking about in 2017.
Crash Dot Com
Back in 1999, I rode the dot-com bubble. Got rich. Worked hard. Went crazy. Turned poor. It was fun.
So what happens when a SOFTWARE engineer tries to review hardware? This. This happens.
Bethesda felt the need to jam a morality system into Fallout 3, and they blew it. Good and evil make no sense and the moral compass points sideways.