BioWare: Next-gen leap 'won't be as obvious'

Art director says new platforms will offer souped-up graphics, but won't stand out as clearly as past transition.

Gamers expecting the upcoming console transition to usher in a new leap in graphical fidelity may want to pare back their excitement. BioWare art director Neil Thompson told OXM that new platforms will feature beefed-up graphics, but not on the same level as the past transition.

"For the next generation there will be a big leap, but it won't be as obvious," Thompson said. "People will do things in a cleverer fashion--and I have to be careful here as there are non-disclosure agreements involved."

According to Thompson, it all comes down to economics. He said the last technology iteration "caught folks by surprise, especially the number of people you needed and the skillset jump that was required to do the work that people expected."

"In the last generation the perception was that it was going to be a ten times improvement over the previous generation."

This led to ballooned budgets, he said, noting that if this were to happen again, games could become economically unviable.

"I think they'll be better prepared, shall we say--but we can't see a ten-fold team increase again as the budgets would just be ridiculous," Thompson said. "You'd have to sell 20-30 million copies before you broke even."

Sony last week announced the PlayStation 4, and Microsoft is rumored to reveal its next-generation Xbox at a one-off event in either March or April.

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

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Discussion

440 comments
Cloud_imperium
Cloud_imperium

He is right . They have been in this industry for too long . They understand it better .

orbit991
orbit991

Maybe not from Bioware, but I've seen other devs making some pretty incredible eye candy for next gen already.

Shango4
Shango4

this game will fucking suck

CP2077
CP2077

They know their product is inferior to others that is why they are saying this.

Hey_Jay
Hey_Jay

As long as it's quality gaming, I won't complain.

jark888
jark888

"New platforms will feature beefed-up graphics, but not on the same level as the past transition."

I think this statement will stay true in most cases. Nonetheless, we'll see stars shining on some of a few publishers that would take the risk to go beyond others. Companies like: Square Enix, Naughty Dog, and Quantic Dream as example.

PlatinumPaladin
PlatinumPaladin

No way! Really?! This guy's on the ball, 'cause I totally got that impression watching footage of Sony's PS4 event last week.

kalpesh_78
kalpesh_78

Graphics, Gameplay, Variety, Art... everything's already in the new era. what we gamers need is an upgrade in AI. when will they start doing unexpected things? unexpected moves, unexpected flanking and tactics. Somehow a difficulty level only makes your character more susceptible to hurt and damage. Doesn't actually make the AI smarter. There's a leap I'm waiting for.

Lei_11
Lei_11

Judging the graphics from upcoming Watch Dogs and ..say.. Crysis3, I'd say they're good for now. We can spend the next gen era making giant leaps in gameplay :D Maybe look at some old pre-2000 games that had great gameplay and reuse what we find? *hint*

AlexFili
AlexFili

I definitely agree that things are going to change. It seems like virtually all retail games are going to have some DLC, and with the profit margins from that I can completely understand companies wanting to release a game one year, release DLC for it while making a sequel and then continue the cycle.

TheGreyArea
TheGreyArea

one thing's for sure. the price of one game in next gen is going to have your bank manager showing up at your door, and asking you to perform unspeakable things to extend your credit

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

I have been thinking for a while that this should happen. It is time to forget about the obvious things like graphics and start taking care of the smaller aspects of gaming. Those small pieces of the world that make you think "Wow.....just WOW!", the sort of things that make a game feel right even though you can't put your finger on what it is you are experiencing. That is what makes a good game, great. It is past time they started making games great again. I mean take a look at a game like Gears of War. The game is fun no doubt, it felt fresh, the story was great and the graphics were nothing to turn your nose up at. Yet I sit here now and think back to the first one and I don't long to go and play it. The game was fun while I played it, now it is basically a convenient way of stopping dust from settling on the wood on my shelf. It means nothing to me. Why are games companies okay with letting that happen to their creations?

blueboxdoctor
blueboxdoctor

Hopefully the non-gamers will realize this, as it is a lot easier to show graphical differences compared to trying to show all the intricate details throughout the course of a game.

tmthywtsn
tmthywtsn

Classic example of how much money they as developers are trying to get out of consumers by giving less in return. Next-gen is starting to sound like a gimmick to me. If your telling me that your next gen game installments will compare to 10 year old current "GEN" hardware then I'm out. I won't be forking over 500 to 550 for any semi graphically enhanced hardware.

MarcusFeelius
MarcusFeelius

I'm all about details. I don't need to see a huge graphical jump, just as long as they keep ironing out inconsistencies with the great graphical engines they don't need to make my jaw drop off.

HapiJoel
HapiJoel

I did think this from the PS4 launch event the other day, the graphics looked...ok. But it was effects such as lighting that really looked improved, and im sure there will be other improvements (hopefully games being more stable) that will be perhaps more subtle leaps than just upping the polygon count, which we must be maxing out pretty soon...

GrendelSP
GrendelSP

Bioware hasn't really ever had "amazing" graphics. I mean they are ok, but maybe they will improve with the new engine. However, I think some of this smaller leap in graphics is due to a little laziness with the producers. What they are saying is that "we have achieved acceptable graphics now and are not interested in the investment of  more "stand out graphics" because we can make profit just my increasing resolution, which was pretty much on the PC already.

Alucard1475
Alucard1475

Obvious or not, it is natural for technology to evolve to a greater state. 

Vividnightmare
Vividnightmare

This is a double edged blade here. We won't see a big jump because the details are getting finer. Going from flat 2d images to 3d polygons to million pixel 3d images of course will show a difference. This time though were going from (this is just an example, not accurate math) 1 million pixel characters to lets says 2 million. While it will look better, it won't be as obvious because from this point technology will only improve the details. The other edge of this sword though is that consoles aren't making a big jump, they're getting what I consider specialized CPUs and a beefyish GPU. PC's are already 3 to 5 times more powerful at the high end, and thats not counting super systems running things like the TITAN. So the jump won't be as big because the tech gap isn't as big, going from PS1 to PS2 offered a HUGE technology leap, even from PS2 to PS3 saw the end of  "bit" generations and made a big jump. What graphics will really come down to now is the studio Artists. Realistic imagery is all about the TEXTURE quality. Lighting is nice, but true visual fidelity is all about texture quality, which also means texture size. Games are going to have to get bigger memory wise if they want to continue to move forward graphically.

warhawk-geeby
warhawk-geeby

Oh yeah, couldn't agree more.

Killzone looked beautiful but not jaw dropping.. I think the best looking game graphics-wise was Capcom's 'Deep Down', but even then it wasn't a MAJOR improvement.

Still.. Graphics ain't everything.

sam628
sam628

skyrim looks like l'm playing on the xbox 720 when l'm not :)

sam628
sam628

l think current graphics on my xbox 360 is fine no ned to release something abit better for $1000 lol

Sekhemket
Sekhemket

 Personally I am fine with the current gen graphics, I'd like to see leaps in gameplay and story. I don't know about everyone else but I still find old games like Deus Ex 1 and Final Fantasy 7 to be insanely fun even after all these years. Deus Ex had the Nameless mod released not to long ago that used the same graphics with a completely original story and I loved that just as much as I enjoyed alot of these more recent games with top of the line graphics. 

MondasM
MondasM

the use of 1080p graphics is not wide spread in the console gaming world, imho, the biggest change will be the use of 1080p graphics with a minimum fps of 60, which will in turn make the games run and seem silky smooth, apart from that we will be able to see more realistic physics and much much more dynamic particles, objects, etc...

maybe these will not stand out as much as the difference from the previous generation to this one but the next one will be, hopefully, introducing the above mentioned... :)

kominio
kominio

I just upgrade my PC,i was playing PS3 for 5 years now and in the new PC,the SAME games are obviously better! So how can the new PS with the new Grapics machine Unreal 4 etc. cant make "obviously" better games (at least at graphics).

Arcturuss
Arcturuss

Also if they make DA 3 a coop game i'm seriously going to rage.


I love co op.  But a deep rpg like DA should not be designed around it,  will fuck up the entire experience while derailing dev attention from things that really need work like not making it fucking suck like DAII... imo.

PS2fweak
PS2fweak

If I can get true 1080p, high res textures & higher polygon models, and higher frame rates all at the same time...it will be "as obvious" for me.

Arcturuss
Arcturuss

No this time they can have the shitty dlc downloaded in the background without asking you first! \o/

Kraken422
Kraken422

I'd like the next gen to move to better local play. The reason I buy a console is to play multiplayer with friends but in recent years less and less games are including 4-player split-screen. This is often due to hardware limitations so hopefully with more powerful consoles and a smaller step-up graphically we'll see 4-player split-screen return. I doubt this will be the case though, which is kind of ironic really. I used to play 4-player everything on my 56cm TV now that I have 50" TV only a few of my games support it.

Cashmoney007
Cashmoney007

Oh Bioware, It is nice to have graphics and talk about sex in your videogames, but when are you actually going to talk about stuff that matters like more details about DA3 hmm?  I still have some hope for your company, but if DA3 makes a lot of people upset like some of your current games then what?  Do you really think a lot of your fans will hang around?

BuBsay
BuBsay

Graphics aren't even that big a deal, honestly I went back and replayed Half Life 2 on my PC recently. It's sad that the water graphics in that are better than most current gen games, and that came out almost a decade ago now.

haze_blaze
haze_blaze

@tmthywtsn That's it has been nearly every gen... the only reason this gen was so drastically different is b/c we moved from SD to HD. In the past, graphical improvements were more subtle, except for the leap from the Atari to the NES.

dabomb790
dabomb790

@GrendelSP He's not saying that at all. What he's trying to convey is that it will be a financial risk and too expensive to create games at the fidelity that people would normally expect in a whole new console generation. It has nothing to do with laziness and has everything to do with money. In a nutshell to surmise what he was saying in order to make that happen you would have to pay more people and hire individuals with a higher and a advance skillset which isn't cheap. Consequently, consoles will naturally be more expensive and wouldn't be worth the investment. That's it. 

danusty
danusty

@sam628 I guess most people don't think like that for that's the reason why most people dis on the U

danusty
danusty

@kominio I don't think he said they can't, it's just that it would get too expensive to do and game developers being cheap will not go as far as they can with the technology

jark888
jark888

@PSYCHOV3N0M Maybe developers have chosen to minimize system requirements to increase the number of potential buyers.

itchyflop
itchyflop

@PSYCHOV3N0M with ocs having already twice the graphics chip size and power, ps4 future will struggle i think

Assassin_M85
Assassin_M85

@BuBsay Yes but its about time that they all properly evolved for proper immersive experience.

danusty
danusty

@haze_blaze @tmthywtsn I think the leap from ps1 and n64 to ps2 was quite gigantic. compare some of the best looking games in each of those consoles and you'll see what I mean. for example: FF8, conker's bad fur day and FFX or even dragon quest 8

GrendelSP
GrendelSP

@dabomb790 Did you even make it through my post before your inner internet user decided to debate? I literally said it was the disinterest in investment. investment capital aka money. Also, EA is making 10s of millions in profit a year. If it were completely about the money, as you suggested, they would be skimping because they weren't paying out hella dividends to a few rich people. As it is, the investors are getting rich, and the consumers are getting less than what they pay for.

Vividnightmare
Vividnightmare

@S0ulReav3r @Vividnightmare  Gameplay isn't relevant to graphics. But technically speaking the consoles will as well display greater processing power in details, physics will be more accurate and more things will be able to exist both physically and visually on screen. The low clock 8 core setup is interesting, suggesting gaming needs more cores and less speed, more cores is beneficial to things which take multiple calculations to complete, while more power is beneficial to things which require major calculations to complete.

dabomb790
dabomb790

@GrendelSP @dabomb790 Bro, you're making this way too complicated. I have no clue why you started to bring investors in this and started talking about dividends. You're making everything very confusing with all of this superfluous tangled rhetoric. It's not about paying rich investors or anything like that. And it doesn't matter if EA is filled with a boatload of money. Making costly, expensive, and highly complex and sophisticated games would be too much for even a very successful publisher like EA or Ubisoft to invest in. It simply wouldn't be worth the investment because you would be losing so much money that eventually you may have to sell your assets and go bankrupt. Nothing to do with laziness. Everything to do with the risk it takes to make a video game on such a high level that the compensation wouldn't be equal or profitable.