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QuakeCon 2013: Carmack On Next-Gen Console Hardware 136

Posted by Soulskill
from the developers-will-make-it-succeed-or-fail dept.
jones_supa writes "QuakeCon 2013 is running full tilt. John Carmack kicked off his speech by addressing the 'elephant in the room,' discussing the arrival of a new console generation to a crowd of attendees at the largely PC-focused event. He's optimistic about the coming console cycle, commenting that it's 'obviously going to be a good thing for gamers, developers, and an excellent thing for AMD.' John said he hasn't run quite enough tests on the hardware for the two consoles, but said they're both 'very close, and very good.' In his traditional long talk (watch on YouTube), Carmack also commented on Microsoft's always-on Kinect, its recently reversed DRM policies for the upcoming Xbox One, the death of optical media, and the state of handheld gaming."
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QuakeCon 2013: Carmack On Next-Gen Console Hardware

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  • by TWiTfan (2887093) on Friday August 02, 2013 @08:38AM (#44455687)

    Both the PS4 and Xbox One will have s86 architecture, and are essentially just heavily customized PC's (to the point where porting between PC and these consoles will be trivial). So is the distinction between console and PC even meaninful anymore? Aside from the control scheme and openess of software installation, there really isn't much difference.

    • by TWiTfan (2887093)

      oops...x86

    • by Mike Mentalist (544984) on Friday August 02, 2013 @08:45AM (#44455759) Homepage

      Nobody buys a console because they find the internal architecture interesting.

      • by TWiTfan (2887093) on Friday August 02, 2013 @08:49AM (#44455795)

        No, but a common architecture will make it a helluva lot easier on developers, which should result in more and better games (which DO matter).

        • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 02, 2013 @09:17AM (#44456027)
          A common architecture means that consoles will continue to hold back the progress of cross platform PC games. My current gaming rig is already an order of magnitude more powerful than either the XBone or PS4.
          • by Bengie (1121981)
            The newer architectures are using newer designs that scale well. It should be trivial to just add better textures and increase special effects on the desktop version.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Anonymous Coward
              Better textures is only part of it and would be exactly the type of sloppy porting job I'm talking about. What about higher poly models, more objects on screen, better lighting, more advanced shaders, more accurate physics, smarter AI, larger environments, deeper gameplay and controls optimized for keyboard/mouse?
              • Higher vertex counts in meshes and more objects on screen should be configurable values. I can almost guarantee you that the reasons holding back better lighting and more advanced shaders is the fact that they're not necessarily using the full power of the graphics chip right now. The rest is all coding. Considering that most games are either going to use the Bethesda FPRPG engine, Unreal, Unity, Source, and the developers aren't likely to be coding an engine from scratch, I don't think hardware design c
          • My current gaming rig is already an order of magnitude more powerful than either the XBone or PS4.

            No, it isn't. Do you have an 8-core CPU with the fast specialized busses and high bandwidth RAM the PS4 does? No, because you simply can't buy a PC with those things.

          • A common architecture means that consoles will continue to hold back the progress of cross platform PC games

            Guess that means Skyrim and Team Fortress 2 won't be able to be modded on the PC :(

        • by Anonymous Coward

          I don't think you know how the game industry works. A common arch will not make it easier for developers to make better games. It will only make it easier to port more of the same lame franchise product to all the consoles.

      • by spire3661 (1038968) on Friday August 02, 2013 @11:35AM (#44457665) Journal
        Umm bullshit. One of the reasons I bought a PS3 is to run Linux on the exotic hardware.
      • Except the PS3, of course, which sold a lot for clusters and researchers due to their unique processor.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I've been using my Xbox 360 controller on my PC a lot lately, especially with Steam games.
      The difference to the console experience is minimal.

      I hope the Xbox One controller will be as supported by PC developers as much as the Xbox 360 one is now.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's essentially been like this ever since the original x-box. The distinction is meaningful because the games are still designed with interface control schemes that target one category or the other. Until consoles are shipped with a mouse/keyboard (never), it will remain as a meaningful distinction.

      • by Verunks (1000826)

        It's essentially been like this ever since the original x-box.

        not really, the xbox 1 is x86 but the 360, ps3 and wii are ppc based, and the cell in the ps3 is also quite different because of the SPUs

    • by evilRhino (638506)
      Yes, it means that the lazy software developers will for many years hence tailor their PC releases (actually console ports) to whatever outdated hardware is set for these next-gen consoles.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Yup, the lazy software developers that get 0 extra time from their manager to work on the PC port because "consoles makes money, so do not spend time on the PC port".

      • more directly they will use something like the unity or unreal engines so it can be one and done {not really but a heck of a lot easier than not}

    • That's going to make writing emulators much easier. Might even be able to do it using hardware-aided virtualisation, nice and fast, and half the code you'd need is already open-source for PC virtualisation.

      • by Narishma (822073)

        You'd think so, but, as the original Xbox has shown [ngemu.com], that's not really the case.

        • by vux984 (928602)

          But emulating the instruction set shouldn't even be necessary at all. Xbox 'emulation' should really be 'virtualization'. The article you link talks about 20 different variations on the MOV instruction... which is entirely unimportant.

          That leaves the audio/video and operating system stuff, which admittedly is still potentially a lot of work but the CPU itself doesn't need to be emulated at all, which saves them a ton of work relative to say what we're going to be looking at for a PS3 emulator or the N64 one

    • by swan5566 (1771176)
      One difference still is the price point. Even though the major vendors continue to flirt with "oh, they'll still buy it at this price" type of thinking (and suffer the consequences), they are still a ways off from what a solid PC gaming system costs.
      • True, another point that is glossed over with PC to console comparisons is that one is subsidized. When you buy a PC you're not getting it at a cheaper price because you'll be buying software and peripherals with it. Here are articles highlighting the PS3 [kotaku.com] and the Xbox360 [joystiq.com]. Highlighted from the articles:

        Earlier numbers by Business Week may have reported that Microsoft is losing $126 on every Xbox 360 sold

        and

        Pricing the PlayStation 3 below its production cost caused Sony to lose $2.16 billion in 2007 and $1.16 billion in 2008, the company revealed today.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Call me when consoles can do:

      * At least 60 FPS on 4k TVs.
      * Allow upgrading of the graphics, and storage.
      * Allow modding of the games.
      * And most of all, allow keyboard and mouse.

      PCs can.

      The price, however high, is totally dependent on the buyer.
      But the point is that 'the buyer' has choices and features on the PC.

      Consoles == No choice (locked in).

      • Many people don't need choices and features like those things.

      • by TWiTfan (2887093)

        Allow upgrading of the graphics, and storage.

        If they allowed that, consoles would end up a fractured mess just like PC's. It would be giving up one of the biggest strengths the consoles have (their consistency). One of the best things I love about my consoles is never having to check the "system requirements" section to see if my system can handle the game (and how well), or having to adjust sliders to try and get decent fps, or having to figure out where my current graphics card falls on the "minimum requirement vs. optimal requirement" scale, or hav

        • There is something to be said for just hopping in my Corolla and knowing its going to start every day for the next 10 years. That doesnt mean its fun or exciting, only consistent. The plain fact is, the PC is a premium experience, but you give up convenience for outright performance and extensibility.
      • by dnaumov (453672)

        Call me when consoles can do:

                  * At least 60 FPS on 4k TVs.

        PCs can.

        Actually, they can't. With a monster like GTX Titan you would only get maybe 30-40fps maximum when gaming at 4K resolution.

      • * Allow upgrading of.....storage.

        Done

        https://support.us.playstation.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/362/~/upgrade-the-hard-disk-drive-(hdd) [playstation.com]

        And most of all, allow keyboard and mouse.

        They do! There's no "allow" about it. It's up to the developer/publisher to decide to whether to use it or not. It's common for text entry, on the PS3 any game that uses the PS3's standard text entry widget automatically supports keyboard. If you want to use them for controls...well that's different, besides, analog movement is better than WASD.

        Some of the Eve gamers who are trying out Dust514 are find

    • Aside from the control scheme and openess of software installation, there really isn't much difference.

      Some of the biggest games on PC (Counter Strike: Global Offensive, DotA 2, League of Legends) are derivatives of games which started as mods for PC games. Games like Skyrim and Torchlight II have been greatly expanded by the modding communities. Most of the value of games like the new Shadowrun Returns will be provided by modders. Until consoles support modding communities, there will always be a significant difference between PC and consoles.

      • Some of the biggest games on PC (Counter Strike: Global Offensive, DotA 2, League of Legends) are derivatives of games which started as mods for PC games.

        Yes, because PC gamers are cheap asses who don't want to pay more than 5 bucks for a game and then want to play it forever with mods because they blew all their cash on their "rig" and don't have much money left for games.

        Hey, maybe developers would pay more attention to the PC version of cross-platform games if PC Gamers actually bought games other than during Steam sales or from GoG. We see that here on slashdot all the time: "I only buy games from Steam Sales"

        • "PC gamers".
          You keep using that term.
          I don't think it means what you think it means.

        • We see that here on slashdot all the time: "I only buy games from Steam Sales"

          And slashdot is somehow representative of normal video game consumers? What's your point?

          Obviously someone is purchasing those games at full price or nobody would be making PC games anymore.

    • I thought the same thing when the first generation XBox came out. What I failed to realize was:

      - It is a hell of a lot easier to manage updates to the OS, firmware, drivers, and games on a console hooked up to a large-screen tv with a proper 10-foot interface than a PC
      - There is a convenience to having a separate box that's DRM'ed instead of having games trying to own my PC
      - That DRM allows for the purchase and sale of used games that isn't available on the PC, not to mention borrowing games without h
      • - It is a hell of a lot easier to manage updates to the OS, firmware, drivers, and games on a console hooked up to a large-screen tv with a proper 10-foot interface than a PC

        I don't think it is really that much easier. It is somewhat easier, yes. It is bolded hell easier? Not IMO.

        The console provides a unified interface for social gaming. I can see what games other friends are playing and join in their session or send them a message to try to convince them to play a different game

        You can do this (with any game, steam or not) in steam

        I can be sure that games on a console perform reasonably well without having to upgrade any hardware.

        PC gamers are also sure. One of the unexpected side effects of consoles taking over. I built my gaming rig in 2009. I upgraded the video card about 6 months ago because I got a 2560x1440 monitor and wanted to run everything in that res. I did not need to upgrade the video card otherwise. I buy any game I like and do not need to even consider whether

    • by rolfwind (528248)

      There is little difference between the two because the Xbox has effectively killed PC gaming as a seperate category for the publisher's intents and purposes. This leads to a more console oriented market whereas before it was a dual console and PC market, both being pretty different and thus allowing different games to thrive within each.

      PC are more powerful though but that difference doesn't really matter anymore because the increase visually it buys isn't all that grand for anything under a $1200 machine.

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        There is little difference between the two because the Xbox has effectively killed PC gaming as a seperate category for the publisher's intents and purposes. This leads to a more console oriented market whereas before it was a dual console and PC market, both being pretty different and thus allowing different games to thrive within each.

        PC are more powerful though but that difference doesn't really matter anymore because the increase visually it buys isn't all that grand for anything under a $1200 machine.

        I

        • I think the 90% piracy rate on PCs had something to do with it (piracy on Xbox360 was around 10% for comparison).

          I know plenty of 360 owner, and only a couple have one or two legit games.
          Piracy might be that low in the US, but it's a different thing outside the US. The 360 sold a lot more than the PS3 at some point because of the cost of games and the fact that the former could be pirated.

          Then publishers put on DRM and you had the whole SecuROM fiasco that burned out optical drives.

          All the Xbox did was show that between the Xbox and PS2, consoles were getting "good enough". The PS3 and Xbox360 basically said that things were pretty much there and consoles were no longer the huge compromises they once were when compared to PCs.

          Publishers switched over because you could develop for PCs and load it up with DRM crap, or develop for consoles (which were "good enough") suffer less piracy and get more people paying for it. And people were buying consoles as well because it was more "social" and fun to play on the big screen TV than the little monitor.

          What's happened since then is the universal DRM for PC now - Steam. And the proliferation of Intel graphics cards (around the time of the Xbox, people still used external video chips) which basically meant 90% of PCs sold were doing fairly poorly in the graphics department (and NVidia and AMD/ATi saw their marketshare dwindle as people rushed for cheaper Intel graphics).

          But, the PC adapted - no longer were AAA titles going to PCs, which meant indie games rose in prominence - a good indie game (most are crap, still) now has a huge hungry base to which people would buy them and play with. And since these were low-budget productions, DRM wasn't really an issue, since piracy tended to help. And these games worked even on piss-poor Intel graphics, which meant huge market. Plus the rise of mobile gaming helped.

          Consoles this round took notice and if you're paying attention, you'll see both Sony and Microsoft are trying hard to attract indies to their consoles.

          The (few) most popuar indie games have pretty good graphics, and are pretty good AND successful. AAA games don't exist any more (on any platform), all those franchises have been brought by EA or alike and burnt to the ground (Simcity

    • by Narishma (822073)

      The biggest difference between PC and consoles has always been that consoles have a fixed hardware configuration. That's still the case regardless of what CPU architecture they use.

    • The difference is value. PC's still cost a lot more (when you get comparatively the same specs) then a game console. I'd rather a $500 investment every 5 - 8 years then $2000 every couple of years to play the current games.

      Also, PC's have always suffered from configuritis. When you make a PC game, you have to make the code work on a broad spectrum of hardware configurations, including the shitty budget PC's you get at Best Buy. Even if you just port a PC game to a console, you benefit from being able to

      • Because keeping around a decent performing PC precludes using it with your overpriced speaker system, and $2000 every 2 years is "required" to keep up with console stats. Right.

        You can build a decent PC for under $1000. You can keep it butter-smooth on new games for $300 every couple years for a GPU upgrade, and an additional amount every 5 years or so for a CPU/mobo upgrade.

        On a separate note, I still can't get over your quote on your TV setup, though. I couldn't imagine $10k being remotely worth it, to
      • by lgw (121541)

        Finally, PC's are just not cool anymore.

        True enough - I don't need a space heater when my gaming rig fires up. Or did you did mean something about fashion? Are bellbottoms back in style yet? I've been hearing disco-like music again - can polyester leisure suits be far behind? Yes, lets be sure to stay in fashion.
         

      • PC's are just not cool anymore

        An Xbox is just a locked down PC that can't be expanded. What's cool about that?

        And for that matter what make you think that any form of couch potatoism is cool these days?

    • Because to a PC gamer something is VERY obviously different. The specs all the console fanboys are drooling over is for hardware YET to be released. Right now, gaming PC's already surpass those specs. PC specs will continue to evolve, the console specs will be fixed for another half a decade at least if not longer.

      Remember, during the hype up of EVERY console launch, people have drooled at trailers and demo's (running often on PC's) and then the games finally launch and it turns out that when you are power

  • So... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Type44Q (1233630) on Friday August 02, 2013 @08:43AM (#44455731)
    Well, I RTFA. So both consoles are virtually the same and Kinect kinda sucks.

    Somehow I was hoping for a bit more...

    • Kinect should be very good on the new console. It's pretty good on the 360, allowing games that make you more fit rather than sitting on the couch, but currently has a slight delay in recognition. This is supposed to be significantly reduced in the new console. Obviously it's not a good fit for many games, but for fitness, one-on-one sports, and dance games it's great.
      • Waving a controller in one hand makes you fit?

    • by Narishma (822073)

      If you want more you should watch the video.

  • Comments on the poll (Score:4, Informative)

    by methano (519830) on Friday August 02, 2013 @09:00AM (#44455901)
    So we don't do comments on the poll anymore? Is this where I have to come to comment on the poll? What's going on? Maybe I don't think there are enough options. Maybe I have some random Commander Taco comment. What do I do now?
  • well then (Score:1, Troll)

    by slashmydots (2189826)
    "He's optimistic about the coming console cycle, commenting that it's 'obviously going to be a good thing for gamers, developers, and an excellent thing for AMD"
    Well then he's an idiot who lives in his own little fake reality because that sure as hell isn't what's happening.
    • by Xest (935314)

      I'm not sure, Sony is being more open than ever, a complete u-turn from it's past where it's actually banning online passes and such DRM from it's system and forcing Microsoft to follow suit.

      We'll see greater plurality of platforms but increased compatibility with the new console hardware being largely compatible with PC hardware which means we should see far less of the low quality ports of the last generation - porting between the XBox One, PS4, Wii U, and PC will be way easier than between the 360, PS3,

      • THe reason i wont buy an Xbox one is that Im tired of Microsoft trying to wring a penny out of EVERY SINGLE ASPECT of the console. That and forcing a camera in my living room aint happening.
      • Sure, sony made a u-turn and is being friendly. But since it's a closed hardware with a close ecosystem, there's no garantee that they won't get back on their usual [evil] track once they've sold enough PS4.
        For me to buy a PS4 from them, they need to convince me they'll NEVER go bad. And that I'll get better-than-PC games, of course.

    • Does it occur to you that you probably live in an angry little fake reality, and lash out at more knowledgable people?
  • They just directed the decision back to the publishers - it's up to them now if they will require games use an always-on connection, or lock each purchase to a specific console or steam account to prevent resale. Microsoft provides support for such restrictions, but doesn't require they be used.

    • by TWiTfan (2887093)

      That's the exact same position as Sony. Yet another thing both consoles share in common, I suppose.

      Would have been nice for at least one of them to take a stand and say "No, we're not allowing publishers to put always-on requirements on any single-player game on our console, PERIOD." But neither wants to risk pissing off the developers.

      • When a market provides options then those options will be used for competitive advantage ... always online is a competitive disadvantage, prepare to see it not be a problem. Ubisoft recanted on the PC for good reason ...

        Only Blizzard is the exception to prove the rule, they have the Apple like halo power to convince the sheep to ignore the cattleprods ... but they saved me from making a mistake and buying Diablo 3, so all's well that ends well.

  • That its nice to see this. But Carmack isn't what he was. Nor is quakecon really. Recent ID stuff has'nt shone and the input isn't as valuable as it once was. I kinda have the feeling that ID and Carmack have settled. New upstarts don't have that hunger sated and this is the issue really I have with Carmack - nice guy that he is..

    • I disagree they have settled. Rage may not have been that well received, but ID have an expertise and interest in certain aspects of gameplay and they are pushing it with their new work. IMO anyone working to go deeper in the area they are best at isn't settling.

    • by 0ld_d0g (923931)
      id Games are not designed by john carmack. The success of modern games is determined by a combination of visual/audio art, game design, and rendering/physics/AI tech. Carmack works on behind the scenes tech stuff (hes not even an expert on AI or physics) that people don't "see" when they play games. Carmack is a technical person giving an informed technical opinion on technical things. The fact that you don't like id games is irrelevant to what he has to say.
  • Can I plug in a keyboard and a mouse?

    Playing these kinds of games with a console controller is like assembling a ship in a bottle with long, clumsy tongs. Without the feeling of pride, just irritation.

    • >Playing these kinds of games with a console controller is like assembling a ship in a bottle with long, clumsy tongs. Without the feeling of pride, just irritation. Not really. The playstyle is just different, and some people have trouble adapting. Keyboard and mouse sucks from the couch, and less and less people game at a computer desk. I'll take a 360 controller with the dual analog sticks over a keyboard and mouse for PC gaming in my home theater.
  • I disagree with Carmack's assessment that the handheld gaming market is being consumed by mobile devices. The games available for tablets and phones are VERY inferior compared to handheld gaming devices. There have only been a few worthwhile games for the iPad that I've found such as Tales from Monkey Island, Kingdom Rush and Machinarium are all great games but there are so few good titles to choose from. There are tons of great titles to choose from on 3DS and PS Vita though.

    The mobile market is still p

    • Carmack wasn't commenting about what he wants or whether it is a good thing. The fact of the matter is that fewer people seem to be carrying a game console and a smart phone. At the same time, consumers are buying more games. The quality and type of games for touch phones are different than for a game console. There are not the games you want to play but for most consumers they are.
    • by AvitarX (172628)

      Baldur's Gate, Xcom, this is the direction things are moving.

    • I disagree with Carmack's assessment that the handheld gaming market is being consumed by mobile devices. The games available for tablets and phones are VERY inferior compared to handheld gaming devices.

      Absolutely they're inferior, but the reason why the segment exists (and is rapidly growing) is because "everybody" has one. Convenience: no need to buy another device; and affordability: people are willing to wager a few dollars on entertainment.

      There have only been a few worthwhile games for the iPad that I've found such as Tales from Monkey Island, Kingdom Rush and Machinarium are all great games but there are so few good titles to choose from.

      While I'm not an avid mobile gamer I do keep an eye out. Square is releasing titles, too.

      The mobile market is still primarily about casual games like Words with Friends.

      Bingo!

  • John said he hasn't run quite enough tests on the hardware for the two consoles

    So what, the Wii U doesn't exists?

  • relevant? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by argStyopa (232550)

    John Carmack was a brilliant hardware/software dude in the 1990s and 2000s.
    I'm having trouble being certain of his relevance today.

    His company produced one of the greatest, genre-introducing games ever ...but what has he done lately?

    Cdr Keen - absolutely brilliant
    Wolfenstein 3d - 1992 - breakthrough game
    Doom 1993? - novel, a big evolutionary step forward.
    Quake 1996 - another huge advance in rendering, net coding
    Doom 2/Quake 2 were not substantial steps forward. D2 was meh; Q2 I believe did have a rather re

    • by 0ld_d0g (923931)

      I'm having trouble being certain of his relevance today.

      I'm having trouble seeing the relevance of your criticism since it has *nothing* at all to do with Carmack.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      "Doom3 - essentially D(1), but on 10 year newer hardware. Gameplay was indistinquishable from D1."

      I don't know what game you played but it was nothing like D1. Go back to playing your Halo.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Carmack has always been the engine guy, not the game designer. Engine stuff in Doom3, Rage is still very, very great. I doubt Id Tech 5/6 will let us down either.

    • You're missing something in between Doom and Rage, ET: Quake Wars. Megatexture tech didn't debut with RAGE, but with Quake Wars [wikipedia.org].

      More triangles in the scene (and curves, and textures, and lens flare, and 15 different flavors of "pitch black") is more a direct credit to Nvidia/AMD than to Mr Carmack, and I don't see that anything since Quake 2 (arguably, Quake 1) is really a monumental advance forward.

      Quake 2, really? You're leaving out Quakeworld! The graphics argument isn't unique to id and isn't new. It's been going on since gaming began. Here is a vintage example for Zelda [youtube.com] hailing from the 80s, whoa, check out those graphics! Minecraft is an example where gameplay outshines graphics, and there is a demand for innovative games - not just shine. There are more tools available

    • by Waccoon (1186667)

      I think a better way of looking at it is how many other people licensed the engines Carmack has created. As in, very few, because the engines weren't very useful. Meanwhile, look at where Unreal Engine and Unity3D have gone.

      To say nothing about design, the reality was that the D3 engine did some clever new stuff, but it ran horribly slow and looked just plain ugly. It's very obvious that it wasn't a very efficient engine, and thus wasn't well-suited for games. Rage was the same. Ambitious and interesti

    • Quake 3 is quite unique, and still popular.
      Quake Live is, technologically, quite innovative too (a browser plugin that internally uses XMPP for online FPS?). I'm not sure why the idea never took off.

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