There's been a lot of hype about the next generation XBox360. However, almost everyone I've asked about it has had a lukewarm response.
Despite being excited about the last generation of machines, this generation doesn't seem to offer that much more. Sure -- they'll tell us how it will show 200 times as many polygons and you'll be able to see individuals in the crowd move in the reflection of your racecar... but still -- who really cares.
When I think back to what has genuinely excited me about video games in recent times, it was true breakthroughs, like the introduction of cel-shaded animation. Photorealism has never been that big a draw. As far as I'm concerned, the current technology is good enough to be fun, frightening or any other emotion that a skillful game designer can evoke.
To reiterate what many, many people have already said -- Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo should be focussed on improving and evolving gameplay, not graphics. XBox360 seems to offer nothing more than amped up XBox games. Nintendo, however, seems to be interested in innovating at least the controls. Ads for the upcoming Revolution show gameplayers using the truly 360 controller to fish, play the xylophone and many other exciting things, never before seen on a home console.
And yet, I predict the Revolution will prove to be nothing more than Nintendo's last dying gasps in the console wars. And I predict this will be down to them having too few games to compete with XBox360 and PS3. This will be due to the fact that game publishers will not share their 'revolutionary' vision of creating innovative new games when they can cash in on safe franchises.
So... how could Nintendo save themselves? I think they could launch and support a truly Open Source machine. There is already a ravenous community of console hackers. If Nintendo embraced this community, supported them with development tools, and thought about how to make game development as accessible as game playing -- they could truly create a revolution in the industry. They shouldn't just create an open source machine, they should create an open source architecture -- meaning that any game developed for the machine would have to expose its 'guts'.
Here's a quick scenario of what we'd see if they did that. Some game developer publishes a racing game. Given the open architecture, the game's models and programming are easily edited. Soon enough, you'd see custom, tricked out, cars appearing across the net, ready to download and add into the game.
Or just think of all the homegrown Splinter Cell levels that would appear.
Ah well, and Open Source Nintendo is not likely to appear anytime soon, but it's worth dreaming about.