Posted on July 06 2011 by Nathanial Rumphol-Janc
We’ve heard nothing but praise from Ubisoft whenever the software company so much as mentions the Wii U. Now it seems that Nintendo is downright spoiling the company with it’s next-generation hardware because of Ubisoft’s continued and voiced frustrations with the the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360.
Throughout the course of the year, company officials have mentioned that the long cycles of the Playstation 3 and the Xbox 360 are hurting industry creativity and that Ubisoft wanted new consoles sooner rather than later.
Normally, I’d think that a longer cycle is a good thing. Not only does it show the longevity of your product, but, from the consumer end, it means you can go awhile before having to worry about saving up for a new system. However, there’s a little thing called Moore’s Law, and technology is always going to improve.
For instance, Ubisoft is investing $1 million over the next five years in their research and development department. They want to find new ways of making games, and one of their major areas of focus will be AI. According Yves Jacquier, Ubisoft’s executive director of production:
AI has always been the real battleground. The challenge is that, if you see an AI coming, you’ve failed. And that’s a problem we have to overcome as we create the impression of flawless, seamless worlds.
In general the industry expects that graphics will not be a strong feature any more… Obviously, graphics are better for marketing purposes because you can show things. AI you can’t show.
Our challenge with the PlayStation 3 and Xbox  is that we’re extremely limited in what we can do. It’s a challenge for the engineers to provide nice graphics and nice AI and nice sound with a very small amount of memory and computation time. We think that the next generation of consoles won’t have these limits any more. Games might have more realistic graphics and more on-screen, but what’s the value of making something more realistic and better animated if you have poor AI?
Now that I’m more on the creative side of things, as opposed to the consumer side, I better understand Ubisoft’s frustrations. As an artist, you have all these creative ideas that you can’t use because you’ve hit a technology wall. Then you find out that it’s going to be several years before you get to work on a console that can handel those creative ideas. There are always gong to be limitations with computers because there aren’t any limitations on the imagination, but its hard not to feel stagnate.
I’m not going to agree that AI is more important than other aspects of gaming, but someone out there loves AI. They love it so much that they decided into enter the gaming industry to work with it. If that person is limited by the current generation, of course they’re going to want a new one. And with reports from Sony and Microsoft saying that we can expect several more years from the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, of course the Wii U is going to be welcomed with opens arms.
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