It's 2012, and the Wii hardware is ancient. It is an overclocked Gamecube, so it's hardware from 11 years ago. This year Nintendo will launch the Wii U, which will be more powerful than 360 and PS3, and finally have Nintendo games developed in HD.
How powerful will it be? We don't know for sure, but certainly "next gen" if it can pull off 1080p at 60 fps, which I think will be the standard, or high-water mark, next-gen (PS4/XNext included), based on the difference in graphics of current maxed-out PC games and the PS3/360.
The next generation could very well all-around be the smallest leap forward in processing power in the history of the industry. However, Nintendo's leap forward will (appear to) be massive.
Question: Will the leap from Wii to Wii U power, in combination with finally seeing what Nintendo can do with HD hardware, make it the most visually impressive console next gen, regardless of the specs difference with PS4/XNext?
I'm thinking more along the lines of: will finally seeing Mario, Zelda, and other Nintendo games developed in HD, on 11-year better hardware, make the console's visuals more impressive to you, than the bump that PS4/XNext will see? Like I said, it could be a very small difference from PS3 to PS4 if we look at what's to offer on PCs right now.
I think 1080p at 60fps is an ever moving target that will not be bested any time soon by any gaming hardware developer.
As soon as systems get close to realizing it (based on raw specs), developers pile on more geometry, more shaders/effects, greater draw distances, etc. so that they look distinctly better than "last gen" games, but at the price of 30fps. Select developers reign in the visual bells and whistles enough to achieve 60fps, but they are few and far between (unless you're talking about smaller, less demanding productions...i.e. XBLA/PSN/WiiWare).
Going off of the Unreal 3 engine tech demos, which 80%+ developers will be using in the coming gen, I expect no different in the future.
@anon_mastermind Oh. Well to me, probably, but that is more because I care about those specific franchises more than any sort of objectively better. Like, if I wasn't so excited to play those games the graphics wouldn't matter so much.
I also want to say, even though I know a ton of people went nuts over it, I wasn't too excited about this:
Frankly, it is a bit too close to generic HD "realistic" style for my comfort. It still has more color and style than a lot of HD games but... I dunno. Too dark and realistic for me. I'd prefer to see something like Wind Waker / Skyward Sword style fully realized in HD. By fully realized I mean artistically as well (Skyward Sword was a great concept with only so so artistic execution...)
@Zero Fair enough about the Zelda HD demo, but bear in mind that HD development will allow for the game design to benefit just as much as the visuals. For example, we may get a game like Skyward Sword, except with multiple large towns and small islands in the sky, more choesive "surface", voice acting, sound design, greater production values, and possibly even online integration.
But I realize that my question has more to do with the visual aspect.
Wii U is becoming more and more exciting to me. This is the year Nintendo goes HD, and full force.
I think how the games look, as always, will depend on the artistic style of the developers. I mean, there are a ton of Wii games that are not flashy in terms of the effects at play, but look simply beautiful because of the artistic design choices made. And then there are others that just look like PS2 games. But the converse is true on the HD systems. There are tons of games with all the bells and whistles, but just look generic as hell. I hate it when games end up looking plasticky, something the UE3 is notorious for. It takes a lot of work to make things look good.
For me the simple fact that it's going to be in HD is enough. I don't need it to be Skyrim vs. Oblivion (visually). Heck, you give me Wind Waker in High Def and I'm happy as a clam. No complaints here.
Art style >>>>>>>>> Technical Power, except when games look like a blurry mess because they're in SD and my TV can't handle SD signals. So fix that (and they are) and I'm totally on board.
I personally see PS4 and Xbox720 absolutely destroying Wii U in terms of power. I don't care, but I expect that to happen.
For example, we may get a game like Skyward Sword, except with multiple large towns and small islands in the sky, more choesive "surface", voice acting, sound design, greater production values, and possibly even online integration.
Pretty much all of that could have been done on the Wii though! Nintendo just has different priorities than most HD developers.
I'm not sure about that. Some things, like connecting the separate areas into a coherent overworld, don't actually require more tech, just a different approach to design. And having a few more larger towns is another design issue, could have been done if the will were there. The same with things like bigger production values and voice acting, could easily have been done currently, Nintendo just doesn't care that much about that.
1080p, 60fps with AA will easier to achieve on the Wii U, but might be sacrificed for other graphical bells and whistles. It will be up to each dev and also depend on the genre they're working in to decide whether they want to hit these targets. But say if Monolithsoft, working on their Wii U RPG decide that 30fps allows them to create even more enormous environments with more detail, then that's an ok sacrifice for me.
The Wii U will most likely be the least powerful of the next round of consoles, but as long as it comes with a decent amount of RAM, I don't think the difference will be too noticeable. Engines are so scalable nowadays that it will really be the Wii U's sales that will determine if it gets multi-platform games, not its power.
We know the Wii U is based on a decent graphics card, and if they can also upgrade the card's tessellation and have comparable results to dx 11, then it should be in good shape.
@Zero Eh, I don't think so. The Wii has its limits in game design.
Decades ago Daggerfall had a huge world with a billion towns and giant scope. While the Wii may have limits in game design, that sort of stuff isn't one of them. As Zero said, Nintendo just has very different priorities.
Hmm... I do think that Nintendo is generally more prone to creating games with interesting art styles. So I'll probably prefer their looks of their games to those of the even-more-realistic-though-still-wet PS4/720. In general. It will be nice to have the sharpness of HD, but a large portion of their franchises probably won't change too radically in the move to HD. And third-parties will probably have the edge for a while, technically.
I just hope it doesn't take them forever to develop HD games. That's more an issue with stuff like Zelda than stuff like Mario, though.
If the graphics come anything close to what we saw in those Zelda and Japanese Gardens demos, then I'll be impressed. Honestly, when I play many video games today, I say to myself "games don't ever really need to look better than this." They are so ridiculously jaw-dropping good already.
All the stuff you listed is better with better hardware. We are at the point now though where I think tech isn't a limitation on what's possible. You might have to compromise your vision somewhat but I think we achieved that in the GCN era. That does not make better tech pointless though, as it allows you to scale up other factors like scope, physical simulations and visual fidelity.
@New Forms I dunno, I never said that during the jaggie PSX generation nor the blurry and foggy N64 generation. But I think we are basically getting to the point where most of the tech lackings have been overcome and it's just details now. I'm not sure if I need to see every leaf on every tree in a forest in perfect detail, but I guess it wouldn't hurt either.
@Stephen That...kind of sucks. What's so exciting about new hardware then? You know, I think Nintendo gets this. It's a good reason for going the motion control route, and now their tablet controller will offer another twist on the traditional experience.
Point is that sometimes we don't know that we want something better until it lands in our laps and redefines our expectations.
I've remember 5 or 6 years ago many of us saying that Wii was just fine producing Xbox+ visuals because they didn't need to look any better. Well look how far we've come since then. Our expectations have moved forward.
I certainly get what you mean about current visual fidelity being aces, and I mostly agree. But we just have no idea what breakthroughs are around the corner as technology advances (in all industries), and redefines normal.
Think of it this way. Imagine if game technology reached the point where it was photo-realistic. Not the flavor of photo-realism as a term that is bandied about today in games like Gran Turismo 5, but photo-realism where you honestly can't tell the difference between a game and real-life.
That would be the peak, right?
Not really, imo.
As soon as people became accustomed to photo-realism in games (I know some here would hate the idea), then the next step would be Virtual Reality. Instead of watching something you couldn't distinguish from real life, you'd be walking around in something that looks like real life.
I know that scenario is all "Star Trek Holodeck" crap, but it illustrates the point. Technology both inside and outside the gaming industry will continue to evolve regardless. And we will continue to be rewarded by those fruits with experiences we never knew were possible and we never knew we wanted.
Just as a side note, expecting games to deliver more immersive experiences in the future does not mean not appreciating what we have in the present.
I can't count the number of times I've sat in awe at the screen in front of me, feeling lucky to be alive in an age where such mind-blowing gaming experiences were possible. I've felt it with Atari 2600, NES, SNES, etc. etc., straight up through today.
Yet just when I think it can't get any better...it does. That doesn't take a single thing away from those awe-inspiring moments I've felt down through the past.