Salt-pinches at the ready: Next Xbox to have Avatar-quality visuals and AI so good you won't need friends

Bloody hell, is it that time already? There's a point during every console generation when some trouble-maker starts talking up the supposed capabilities of the next set of hardware, and every generation it's been the same. The new machines will create living, breathing worlds the like of whichwe've never even imagined during our most fevered, bug-eyed cheese-dreams. They will generate more colours than the human brain can handle. They willproduce games more realistic than actual reality is when you're really, really awake.

The thing is, people have said this about every incoming generation from the SNES onwards. The N64 was even codenamed "Project Reality" for three years, fuggodsake, and touted as being as powerful as the supercomputers of the day for a while. So when someone tells me that the next Xbox will have games that look as good as James Cameron's giant battle-smurfs, you can probably forgive me for raising an eyebrow.

BUTITSOUNDSAWEOMEANDWEWANTITTOBETRUESOITMUSTBEREALRIGHT!!!!!???

What lends a hint of credability to the new claims is the fact that they come from AMD, the currentsupplier of the Xbox 360's graphics tech. Though you could argue that said fact also lendsthe whiff of freshly-baked PR, given that the GPU-maker is probably eager to start waving around the next-gen dominance flag,particularly with current-gen tech-spec whore Sonypresently using a processor from rival Nvidia in the PS3. But regardless of any claimsof "BIAZ!" (AMD is not currently confirmed to be working on a next-generation Xbox of any kind), the details are these:

The August issue of the US version of Official Xbox Magazinecontains the mouth-torrentsof Neal Robison, AMD's director of ISV relationships. He states that the next Xbox will come packing the capability to render graphics on a par with those seen in James Cameron's Avatar. Presumably trite, cliched plotting and appauling narrative structure will be optional. And beyond that, Robison states that new AI and physics capabilies will allow every NPC in an open-world game to have "totally individual mentality", leading to a situation where "every NPC will actually be an individual character". So detonating a car might not cause everyone to simply scream and run away en masse. Some might be confused. Some might go into shock. Some might become sexually roused. Some might start toasting marshmallows on the burning wreck.

So what do you think? Is it plausible that we're looking at Avatar-quality graphics in real-time within but a handful of years? Is it even an idea worth entertaining, given that PC gaming isn't even pulling off anything like that yet? And do marshmallow-toasting Liberty City denizens excite you, or will they just become background gun fodder within five minutes like they always do, regardless of how unique and fragile each one's personal background story might be. Poor Liberty City denizens. They have thoughts and dreams too, just like you. But nobody ever listens...

July 18, 2011

The thing is, people have said this about every incoming generation from the SNES onwards. The N64 was even codenamed "Project Reality" for three years, fuggodsake, and touted as being as powerful as the supercomputers of the day for a while. So when someone tells me that the next Xbox will have games that look as good as James Cameron's giant battle-smurfs, you can probably forgive me for raising an eyebrow.

BUTITSOUNDSAWEOMEANDWEWANTITTOBETRUESOITMUSTBEREALRIGHT!!!!!???

What lends a hint of credability to the new claims is the fact that they come from AMD, the currentsupplier of the Xbox 360's graphics tech. Though you could argue that said fact also lendsthe whiff of freshly-baked PR, given that the GPU-maker is probably eager to start waving around the next-gen dominance flag,particularly with current-gen tech-spec whore Sonypresently using a processor from rival Nvidia in the PS3. But regardless of any claimsof "BIAZ!" (AMD is not currently confirmed to be working on a next-generation Xbox of any kind), the details are these:

The August issue of the US version of Official Xbox Magazinecontains the mouth-torrentsof Neal Robison, AMD's director of ISV relationships. He states that the next Xbox will come packing the capability to render graphics on a par with those seen in James Cameron's Avatar. Presumably trite, cliched plotting and appauling narrative structure will be optional. And beyond that, Robison states that new AI and physics capabilies will allow every NPC in an open-world game to have "totally individual mentality", leading to a situation where "every NPC will actually be an individual character". So detonating a car might not cause everyone to simply scream and run away en masse. Some might be confused. Some might go into shock. Some might become sexually roused. Some might start toasting marshmallows on the burning wreck.

So what do you think? Is it plausible that we're looking at Avatar-quality graphics in real-time within but a handful of years? Is it even an idea worth entertaining, given that PC gaming isn't even pulling off anything like that yet? And do marshmallow-toasting Liberty City denizens excite you, or will they just become background gun fodder within five minutes like they always do, regardless of how unique and fragile each one's personal background story might be. Poor Liberty City denizens. They have thoughts and dreams too, just like you. But nobody ever listens...

July 18, 2011