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Virtual Reality is Pushing Gaming Into Another 'Golden Age': Xbox Co-founder (cnbc.com) 114

From a CNBC report:The Xbox and PS2 were two of the most popular consoles ever and now gaming is entering "another golden age," according to Otto Berkes (a pioneer of the gaming industry), driven by virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI). "One of the aspects of VR that has incredible potential is interaction and communication -- interacting with characters that are both artificial and virtual, being able to blur distance and geography, you can be anywhere and literally in any time," Berkes told CNBC in an interview on Wednesday. "We're entering another golden age of interactive content development."
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Virtual Reality is Pushing Gaming Into Another 'Golden Age': Xbox Co-founder

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 25, 2016 @05:02AM (#53358449)

    This age is of DLCs

    • by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Friday November 25, 2016 @09:21AM (#53359269) Homepage Journal

      Exactly right. The golden age of gaming ended when games moved from real media to interminable downloads before one could even start gaming. They sucked all the fun right out of that balloon. It doesn't help that the new consoles are rarely designed with any serious degree of backward compatibility at this point. They love to make you have to start buying all over again. And enough people keep doing that to encourage this awful behavior.

      "It's dead, Jim."

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 25, 2016 @09:36AM (#53359321)

        It's also the age of the paid power-up, "crystal", "coins", weapons, armor, etc.

        Money is killing gaming faster than anything else.

        And on the VR front: Give me a break. VR games to date haven't even come close to living up to the promise. Where are the titles?

        Oh... right... they're coming....

      • We are also in the 'ship the game, patch it later' age, in the days of ROM cartridges developers had no choice but to ensure that their games shipped virtually bug free. Now we have multi-gigabyte day zero patches. Granted game development is a lot more complex than it was in the 1990s but there's no excuse for some of the unplayable trash that's released to market nowadays.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Granted game development is a lot more complex than it was in the 1990s

          Actually that's not true. Back then everything had to be done manually. We didn't have all of the software to do all of the heavy lifting creating assets, they had to be done painstakingly by hand. The same for code where now there are libraries, middleware and engines for everything but back then we had to code everything ourselves in machine language in order to squeeze out maximum performance. These days developers don't have to worry about running out of RAM or disk space, but that was a massive concern

      • by lgw ( 121541 )

        Console peasants never had a golden age. That was the "covered with slightly less shit" age.

        Now, back to the game I bought off Steam at 80% off.

      • Backwards compatibility was never really A Thing IMO. How many consoles were backwards compatible?

        PS1 to PS2, because the PS2 basically used a full PS1 CPU for interface stuff. The original fat PS3 could play PS1 and PS2 games, but it was removed in the slim models.

        Xbox 360 is compatible with some Xbox games, but there are issues and it's basically just a fancy emulator.

        The Wii can play Gamecube games, and the Wii U can play Wii games, but not Gamecube games. However, those three consoles are basically just

        • by fyngyrz ( 762201 )

          Backwards compatibility was never really A Thing IMO

          ... (cough)

          PS1 to PS2, because the PS2 basically used a full PS1 CPU for interface stuff. The original fat PS3 could play PS1 and PS2 games, but it was removed in the slim models.

          Right. So definitely was a thing. A wonderful thing, for that matter.

          Carry on.

          • Only for a limited number of consoles for a limited period of time.

            For the vast majority of time that consoles have existed, backwards compatibility just wasn't there.

            • Only for a limited number of consoles for a limited period of time.

              Come on. First of all, the PS2 was the best selling console ever, with your "limited number" being over 155 million consoles sold. The PS3 "fat" sold many millions more.

              Seems to me that you're intentionally minimizing an extremely significant number of consoles. Any number is "limited"; but 150+ million consoles is significant.

  • The xbox was NOT. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 25, 2016 @05:15AM (#53358475)

    "The Xbox and PS2 were two of the most popular consoles ever"

    The PS2 comes in at number 1. The xbox comes in a distant 17 and is beaten by the xbox 360 which doesn't even come into the top 5.

  • by ledow ( 319597 )

    I agree. VR is the "next big thing". That doesn't mean it will stay around permanently afterwards but it stands a good chance this time round (after the 80's VRML debacle which was basically a large, expensive flop).

    But the kit is still too expensive.
    And I was hoping the new Nintendo console came with VR at least as an option at launch.
    And the smartphone / Google Cardboard thing is cool, but it's not really VR.

    You need HTC Vive's level of hardware in the couple-of-hundred price range to make it work prope

    • Its been a LONG time since Nintendo were front of the pack in terms of hardware. They seem to have pretty much thrown in the towel on that front and are concentrating on the gameplay. Which is laudable, but if all you want is gameplay there are millions of 2nd hand previous gen consoles out there you can buy.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Nintendo has only once had the superior hardware and that was in the Super Famicom days.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      This will last about as long as the 3D televisions. Most people don't want to put some junk on their head to play a game.

  • by Crashmarik ( 635988 ) on Friday November 25, 2016 @05:17AM (#53358483)

    Very primitive with lots of promise. It's going to be awhile before development costs are going to be low enough to get down to mass market price points.

    Right now it's still a singing frog. Nobody cares if it sings well, it's just incredible it sings.

    • by mlheur ( 212082 )

      Agreed. I think of today's VR scene more like the days of Atari 2600 and CalicoVision. Everyone's making their own path making it _work_, the golden age won't come until a generation or two after it works _well_.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 25, 2016 @05:18AM (#53358487)

    I have a HTC Vive. I've had one for like... many months by now. I've tried it all. It sucks. I have no idea what people are talking about, but it's just... shit. After the first 5 minutes of "WOW", that is. There's just nothing interesting to run on it.

    And AI is a pathetic joke, hardly any different from the "Alice" bot of the 1950s. Again, I have no idea what they are talking about. It's as if we are using completely different Internets and/or live in parallel dimensions. I can't relate to anything these "important people" claim in the "news".

    • by Megane ( 129182 )
      This is another fad that will flop, just like the CD-I/MPC multimedia crap from the '90s that gave us a bunch of dumb rail shooters over low-resolution low-color FMV. And CD-ROM encyclopedias.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's just another fad. Anyone that has tried the current offerings will know they're little more than expensive toys, gimmicks, products looking for a killer game. The lag is terrible, too. Those that scream otherwise as in denial due to fanboyism, or they're part of those pushing the crap, or they're simply lying about how much experience they have.

    Why I am I so down on this shit? I've spent the last 30+ months writing code for it, and I'm having to eat my own dog food. And like eating dog food, I'm fsckin

  • by RogueyWon ( 735973 ) on Friday November 25, 2016 @05:24AM (#53358507) Journal

    The quotation in the CNBC report here is just a little bit disingenuous. "The Xbox and PS2 were two of the most popular consoles ever" is 50% true; with an estimated 155m units sold, the PS2 does indeed sit at the top of the pile for home-consoles (though the Nintendo DS handheld roughly level-pegs it). The Xbox, however, with sales in around the 24 million range, is very much in "also ran" territory.

    It wasn't a failure by any means. It was a toe in the door for Microsoft and it did eventually beat out the Gamecube in the battle for second-place on units sold among the 6th generation consoles. But attempting to lend credibility to an argument by claiming that views are from one of the creators of "one of the most successful consoles ever" when said console was the original Xbox is simply misleading.

    And as for the content of TFA... the case for VR in gaming is not yet proven. Sales of consumer VR units are ok but not spectacular and are showing some signs of diminishing now the launch-hype is over. Perhaps more importantly, there has yet to be a game that really makes the case for VR as anything other than a tech demo. A range of factors, including problems with using the headsets for an extended period and, most importantly, control problems mean that nobody has yet produced a really great VR game (Elite: Dangerous is almost certainly the most successful, but that's a fairly niche product). For the most part, VR experiences to date have fallen into one of three categories:

    a) the pretty but shallow glorified tech-demo
    b) the cut-down version of an existing game (e.g. Driveclub VR)
    c) The existing pre-VR game which has had VR support added

    Last generation's fad, motion controls, eventually faltered after people realised that they just weren't as good as regular controls for actually playing games. Nobody was ever going to be chosing to play through a Dragon Age or a Call of Duty using motion controls and, after the novelty wore off, people went back to their controllers or mouse/keyboard combos. If VR is to avoid the same trap, its best hope comes from my category c) above; but so far, that's only been made to even remotely work in the driving and space-combat genres, both of which are niche.

    • by aliquis ( 678370 )

      Don't he really mean "when 3D games become a thing on consoles" though?

      PS1, N64, Xbox and onwards.

      VR open up for new games.
      AR too.

      • by aliquis ( 678370 )

        Sorry Dreamcast.

        SEGA is a games company right? ;)

        S3 Virge, 3Dfx Voodoo, Nvidia TNT, .. you too want a mention?

  • Golden age eh? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Z80a ( 971949 ) on Friday November 25, 2016 @05:27AM (#53358517)

    So, can we start getting games with good gameplay again?

  • by TuringTest ( 533084 ) on Friday November 25, 2016 @05:31AM (#53358529) Journal

    Once you put your VR glasses on, you're disconnected from the world and immersed in a virtual application. That's all it has. It's a glorified 360Â screen; the things you can do are mostly the same as in a flat screen, only more nauseating and from a closer perspective.

    AR on the other hand, overlays a virtual world on top of the real one, using information from the context where you are placed. It's Google Maps on steroids. Remember those old promotional "alternate reality" games for Halo 2 or Lost? New gaming could take that shape, only working in real time. Now that people have learned about Pokemon Go, which is not even proper AR, the concept can be marketed to the masses.

    Oh, and it has social implications too. Read the "Vision Machine" comic if you haven't already. It's a classic, one of those Sci-fi stories that are a thinly veiled description of our current world.

    http://www.visionmachine.net/ [visionmachine.net]

    • by Rande ( 255599 )

      Call me when I can buy a lightweight headset that paints the image on my retina with a frikkin laser beam.

    • VR is more than a screen-in-a-headset, and it doesn't just disconnect you from the world; it immerses you in another. The level of immersion that can be achieved by a few "small" things working together (good head tracking, 3D video and audio, virtual presence i.e. being able to see others or your own body rendered in the virtual environment) is incredible, and has great potential for games as well as movies. I agree with the guy that VR is a potential game changer (ha ha).

      It might not be something for
      • VR is more than a screen-in-a-headset, and it doesn't just disconnect you from the world; it immerses you in another.

        But this is something that good storytelling already does. Heck, you can be immersed in a different world with words written on a sheet of paper.

        You don't need the fancy new tech to achieve the same effect, so it doesn't really change anything essential; the possibilities are mostly the same, at least until they develop a language specific to the new medium, which is still decades in the futu

        • VR is certainly no substitute for good storytelling (at least I hope to god it won't be), but it can add to the experience of even a well-told story.
        • But this is something that good storytelling already does. Heck, you can be immersed in a different world with words written on a sheet of paper.

          True, but then the movie and tv industries shouldn't exist. I'm not sure what logic you use to draw the line at VR.
          • No, by that logic the golden age of the new medium won't happen in the same decade that the first viable commercial products are sold.

            It didn't happen for Hollywood or the TV, either. It takes time for creatives to explore the possibilities, and find out how to make good use of them to create something that was not possible in the previous media. "Being fully immersive" is not enough on its own.

        • >the overall experience is not radically different to playing with a Wii or Kinect,
          >except that you move around with your head instead of your thumb.
          >Its not different
          >Except for the part that is
          Anon, i..... isn't that being... contradicting?

      • VR is more than a screen-in-a-headset

        yes, it's a screen-in-a-head-tracking-headset.

        and it doesn't just disconnect you from the world; it immerses you in another.

        I already get that with my normal screen.

        It might not be something for casual gamers or viewers, though.

        No. It's only for casual gamers. You can only reasonably use it with a game controller, not with a keyboard.

    • by ledow ( 319597 )

      AR is a massive privacy invasion waiting to happen.
      VR isn't.

      AR requires cameras in public places.
      VR doesn't.

      AR pretends you can navigate in the real world while being distracted by a game.
      VR doesn't.

      AR can be spoiled / interrupted by other people's pissing about in front of the idiot with the headset.
      VR cannot.

      AR requires high-end computer vision, equipment and processing to operate properly.
      VR doesn't.

      • by dissy ( 172727 )

        AR is a massive privacy invasion waiting to happen.
        VR isn't.

        Oh yea, heaven forbid we gain AR and lose all of the privacy we currently have with the likes of Google and the NSA.

        AR requires cameras in public places.
        VR doesn't.

        Nearly everywhere you go in public right now, you are on at least one camera if not ten. All of which are owned by other people than yourself.
        One more camera of your own that isn't recording doesn't seem like that big of a deal.

        AR pretends you can navigate in the real world while being distracted by a game.
        VR doesn't.

        That's about the only good point you've listed.

        AR can be spoiled / interrupted by other people's pissing about in front of the idiot with the headset.
        VR cannot.

        Challenge accepted!

        AR requires high-end computer vision, equipment and processing to operate properly.
        VR doesn't.

        Tell that to the VR headset makers that all want me to upgrade my video card or purchase a next gen co

      • AR is a massive privacy invasion waiting to happen.

        We already have this. AR is giving us nothing that isn't already in a database somewhere.

        AR requires cameras in public places.

        We already have this. To say nothing of government cameras, CCTV cameras, Dash cams, everyone typically carries around a camera already. If you're a typical Slashdot user you'll likely be carrying 3 and only one of them has black tape over it.

        AR pretends you can navigate in the real world while being distracted by a game.

        And as Pokemon go showed the impact was small compared to the distractions that already exist.

        AR can be spoiled / interrupted by other people's pissing about in front of the idiot with the headset.

        And as Pokemon go showed the impact was small on the game itself. If you can't navigat

    • by iCEBaLM ( 34905 )

      Once you put your VR glasses on, you're disconnected from the world and immersed in a virtual application. That's all it has. It's a glorified 360Ã screen

      Yeah, all VR is is a way to fool your senses into making you feel like you're in another world. A world that can be literally anything. That's all. Who needs that?

      Have you tried a Vive with room scale? It seems to me like you haven't, and I would highly recommend you do, because room scale is the evolution of gaming.

    • VR as it is marketed (and has been all these years) may be doomed to fail due to the human-machine interfaces. I think a direct interface with the nervous system (as scary as it sounds) could be more successful making as live the experience of a virtual reality.
    • by trawg ( 308495 )

      I was never really interested in AR until I read Vernor Vinge's novel, Rainbows End. Once I saw his vision of what it could be like, I was hooked.

      I say this as a hardcore gaming nerd that until that moment lived for the day that I could play games in VR. Now having seen things like Hololens I am much more interested in what AR might bring to the table.

  • Where is Kinect these days? All these new interactive interfaces have great gimmick value, but peak input interfaces was reached in the 70's and 80's with the controller or mouse/keyboard.
    I tried VR in a shop, spent 30 seconds on it and had a little fun, but can't see how that will stick around. It's just too awkward to be used for anything other than gimmicks.
  • by Ihlosi ( 895663 ) on Friday November 25, 2016 @05:52AM (#53358597)
    Golden ages are driven by great games, not by technology. The technology merely needs to be good enough to allow the games to be realized.
    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      Indeed. One of the games I enjoyed most in recent times was Pillars of Eternity. Pillars could have done tech-wise 20 years ago without losing much. Another one was Grimrock. While they use some modern features, the Dungeon-Master engine by FTL from 30 years ago could have done most or all of that game.

    • And technology is driven by great games. I was happy with a paper-white grayscale VGA monitor until I saw SimEarth on a friend's computer. Once she gave me the disks to install SimEarth on my machine, I HAD to get a color VGA monitor to enjoy it. This was back when a new 648x480 color VGA monitor was a $600-800 purchase. (I found one among the oscilloscopes and power supplies in an electronics surplus store for under $200)

      The new game drove my need to upgrade my hardware.

  • So VR heralds a golden age. Like in the 90s, when VR was the hottests new thing. Then again in the 00s. And now the 10s. I can't wait for VR to be the hottest new thing in the 20s!

    Excuse me, I am going to go not enjoy my 3D TV set while waiting for 3D TV to become the hottest new thing in the 20s.

    • VR in the 90s simply wasn't good enough (neither the headsets not the content that could be produced for it), and it never was going to be good enough with the available tech. As a result it did not offer enough of an advantage to be attractive to anyone but a few, and it died before even many experimenters got their hands on one.

      This time could be different: anyone who has tried a modern VR headset can see that the potential is there, especially compared to the 90s models. That doesn't mean that VR wi
      • This time could be different: anyone who has tried a modern VR headset can see that the potential is there, especially compared to the 90s models.

        Alas, I have to buy yet another graphics card to have decent performance while I do it, so my PC won't be ready for it for another year or two. I'm not dropping $300+ on a video card just so that I can spend another $300+ on a headset. I personally do not give one tenth of one shit about VR. It's AR or bust. That would actually be worth paying for. It also needs to be totally portable and man-mountable without having to wear an entire backpack PC. I'm not piping the signals in and out wirelessly. The utilit

        • A problem is that Augmented Reality requires that one provide a reality to the 'system' or 'game' that is worth augmenting. It means a non-stationary experience in a real world you can safely 'play' in. I could do that because I have 5 fenced acres here. People could do it in parks, i.e. the way I play Pokemon Go a few miles from here at a large park adjoining a small mid-western downtown.

          There are places where it won't work without large infrastructure changes. Heavily urban areas will probably continu

  • I was given an Occulus Rift headset as a gift. I tried playing it with a few games I have. Here's my honest opinion:

    The added immersion that a headset gives is a gimmick, much like 3D is for movies. A crappy game is still a crappy game even if you decide to transport yourself into that world. After a few days, I went back to a classic screen, keyboard, and mouse. It's just easier all around.

    Call me back when they discover a way to transport your entire physical existence into a game where you have compl

    • by Ash-Fox ( 726320 )

      Call me back when they discover a way to transport your entire physical existence into a game where you have complete autonomy over your body, just like the world we live in today.

      Anime warned me [youtube.com] this is bad juju technology.

      • Call me back when they discover a way to transport your entire physical existence into a game where you have complete autonomy over your body, just like the world we live in today.

        Anime warned me [youtube.com] this is bad juju technology.

        Or how about Tron (1982) [imdb.com]?

        • by Ash-Fox ( 726320 )

          Or how about Tron (1982)?

          I loved the movie. But, the big difference is the big laser in Tron was never advertised as a home entertainment system for video games that could make you experience the game in VR as if you were really there.

    • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Friday November 25, 2016 @09:10AM (#53359221)

      I am not surprised. Considering that even > 1000 years old technology (books) can create good immersion if the story is good, it is no surprise at all that even advanced technology cannot fix a bad story. Immersion is something that happens in your head, not before you eyes.

    • by GuB-42 ( 2483988 )

      I tried a few VR games and yeah, mostly gimmicks, except in one case : a flight simulator.
      It really adds to it, being able to turn your head and look at the tip your wings or underneath you is really great. I suppose that the same can be said for most simulation games, real or fictive : driving, space (elite...), mech, some sports...

      Other domains I can see real use for VR :
      - Horror games : a bit gimmicky but VR definitely make it more intense.
      - Modelling : not really a game, but I know some people who devel

  • I thought the Golden Axe game was returning in VR.
  • What does cause a renaissance of gaming at this time is crowd-funding. VR is a hype that will die soon (again), because neither the interface technology, nor the content is ready. My guess is that we will see 3-5 more iterations of this before VR is really there to stay. Say 20-40 years.

  • apparently being in a industry makes you a pioneer, his own bio doesnt put him in microsoft till 1993 and the gaming industry with XBOX

    so, ass kissing article says future is what they are trying to sell you, even though its not been selling for quite a while now, news at 11

  • VR will be about as popular as 3D TV and 3D movies.
    It's going to be popular for a few years, then people will learn that it doesn't actually make games any more fun and though it's still going to be produced (because by then it's not going to cost much more to do so), it's going to be just another bulletpoint in a long list of features.

  • The resolution of current VR headsets suck. Resolution needs to be at a minimum of 5K per eye, and the frames per second have to be no less than 120fps. If they can't get a per-eye resolution of 5K, VR will be just a cool thing you can check out for 5 minutes.

    Also, these are the minimal usable spec. Ideally, the resolution needs to be at 10K per eye and FPS/latency at 240 fps.

10.0 times 0.1 is hardly ever 1.0.

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