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Gaming In The Age Of Vista: An Interview With Microsoft's Rich Wickham
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Gaming In The Age Of Vista: An Interview With Microsoft's Rich Wickham


June 4, 2007 Article Start Previous Page 5 of 5
 

Cross-platform Developer

There are some significant issues and challenges to developing a game for release on multiple platforms. Part of what Microsoft Game Studios is trying to do with Shadowrun is address those issues, and prove the strength of both the Xbox 360 and Vista.

Wickham says the company will share what it’s learned in development with the community, through white papers and talks at various conferences. Some of the issues the Shadowrun team worked on were the difference between ten-foot-gaming and two-foot-gaming. They also balanced the controls. “I’m looking forward to all the smack that’s going to be talked, between the PC gamers and the Xbox gamers, about which version is better,” Wickham says.

He says that the Dreamcast, which allowed Console-vs-PC matches of Quake, was probably a little before it’s time. Now, we’re living in a time when “you’ve got great broadband penetration, you’ve got a great service with Live.” In Wickham’s opinion, consoles are now graphically close enough to the PC that it’s more relevant for cross-platform games.

When you think about the ability to connect two platforms, Wickham believes the concept itself is going to capture people’s imaginations. “It already has. When we’ve talked about it, people get excited.” Once you create the ability to have cross-platform experiences, you also open up the world of developer creativity to go out and do things we haven’t even thought about, Wickham says. He uses some examples “and they’re very basic. But they prove a point.”

A game that’s an RTS on the PC could be an FPS on the 360, where “I’m the RTS commander, and I’m moving units around and you’re the foot soldier going out and fighting the battles. And how you do effects how I do, and vice versa.”

“Certainly we’ve open up that possibility in that world.” Does this mean Microsoft is working on such a title? Wickham laughs, saying he won’t confirm it. Adding seriously, “I do know that there are developers thinking about the interesting concepts cross-platform play opens.”

Again, we’re at a place in time where, with the power of the PC, and the power of next-gen consoles, and broadband connectivity, that we can actually start to realize those things in a good way. “Now it’s just up to the developers,” Wickham says.

Conclusion

If it returns to questions about the portfolio, Wickham says what they wanted was make sure that, in the year that Vista shipped, there were high quality DirectX 10 games available. He mentions Crytek, Funcom, and Flagship Studios. “We went out and spent time and money and development resources with those guys so that, in 2007, there would be this really strong line-up of DirectX 10 titles.”

But Microsoft certainly has a greater challenge than it's faced in recent years - communicating the advantages of Vista and DirectX 10 for gaming while simultaneously catering to the mass of gamers who are still running pre-Vista systems with less access to those. Then, of course, there's the subscription proposition of Games For Windows - Live, something that's been under some fire even in the semi-official Games For Windows Magazine from Ziff Davis in recent months.

So how does a gamer, or even Microsoft itself, really measure success? Here’s Wickham's test: on the day after Christmas 2007, when you look up on that shelf, and look at the titles, as a gamer are you happier or sadder? His claim? “I think you will be happier than you’ve ever been.”


Article Start Previous Page 5 of 5

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