GC '07: Don Daglow's laws of next-gen

Industry veteran thinks that the Wii should be classed as next-gen, as it challenges what games are and do.

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LEIPZIG, Germany--The latest next-generation console wars? Simply history repeating itself as part of a cycle, believes Don Daglow, president of Stormfront Studios (Eragon, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers) and 36-year game industry veteran, speaking at the Game Convention Developer Conference. He gave examples from the past including the console war of 1984, which Nintendo won, and the battle between the PlayStation 2, Xbox, and GameCube, of which the PS2 won. These cycles go in three distinct phases, he notes.

Daglow says that as a developer, the first phase of the face off between the so-called "next-gen" consoles has been incredibly frustrating to developers. He said, "It's like getting into a new apartment after midnight, and the lights don't work, and your furniture's been delivered and you don't know where it is." After a while, developers start to recognise how to do things on the new machines, or, in his analogy, work out where "the furniture" is. It's also a great time for new IP, and the console will be adopted by only the hardcore, early-adopter audience.

The second phase is evident when there are more than three magazines dedicated to a particular console on the market. That's when other people who have been waiting to see which way the wind blows make a choice and opt for a particular machine.

The third and final phase of the cycle sees the prior generation fade away, and the size of the installed base allows major hits. Then, every five years or so, it all starts over.

"So what is next-gen?" Daglow asked, before telling the audience "Daglow's Law of Next Gen 2007." Simply put: "next-gen hardware is any platform, that, upon its introduction, dramatically changes players' view of the potential for interactive entertainment."

Therefore, the Wii is next-gen hardware because people are playing with it in new ways, although Daglow agrees that he can understand why some people think it's not. He said, "You can make a consistent argument that without the processing power, it cannot be next-gen. But the great thing is we can decide that for ourselves."

The best next-gen software titles are usually only recognised in hindsight, believes Daglow, who put up a long list of nominees he believes are worthy. So, software-wise, he believes Guitar Hero is next-gen, because "people played it in a different way." Sim City is too, even though, "a lot of people said that that's not a game." Geometry Wars is also next-gen, because "it proved that old games can be new again." And World of Warcraft is too, because it "proved that a large audience existed for something that we didn’t know it existed for."

Daglow concluded his talk by saying, "There is always a next-gen tomorrow."

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