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Creating The Ultimate Next-Gen Console Part 1: The Console

by on May 7, 2012
 

Creating The Ultimate Next-Gen Console Pt. 1: The ConsoleNintendo announced one last year, Microsoft will probably announce one this year, Sony have said they won’t announce one yet. I’m talking about next generations of home console hardware.

Nintendo fired their first salvo at E3 last year, with their announcement of the Wii U; a 1080p ready console with a unique tablet controller. We’ve yet to see what Microsoft and Sony will retaliate with, but what if their efforts were the ultimate console. What would this console be like?

What if we could design the best console ever?

Wonder no more readers, for in this two-part feature I would like to to suggest what would constitute as being the supreme gaming system for the next generation (or to give it a name, the Super PlayBox – If you have any better ideas for a name, let us know in the comments).

In the first part of this feature, I’d like to concentrate on the console itself:

Processor

The PlayStation 3 was a unique system in that it’s Cell processor wasn’t an off-the-shelf part, but a specially designed CPU. However, this came at a cost to all parties as the price of the CPU itself affected the final retail cost to the consumer, and developers found it difficult to program for. Therefore, it makes sense to pick a CPU partner (either Intel or AMD) and go for something readily available. Rumours suggest that Sony are looking to be moving away from the Cell architecture, so this approach sounds about right for our Super PlayBox.

Graphics

While graphical quality is almost at a bottleneck in terms of where it can go, as long as our system can run everything at 1080p with 60 frames per second, then we’re OK.

However, it would make sense for the Super PlayBox to support 3D technology, the PlayStation 3 has made excellent strides in this area, and while the concept of 3D gaming is still in its infancy, supporting the technology would do wonders for validating the existence of 3D television hardware.

Creating The Ultimate Next-Gen Console Pt. 1: The Console - Optical Media
Optical Media (Or Not?)

Cloud gaming and digital distribution are taking off, but we’re still a long way off before physical media is obsolete. So that’s why I believe our console should have a Blu-Ray drive. The format’s adoption rate has increased dramatically, thanks to the PlayStation 3, and there is no reason other consoles shouldn’t follow suit. DVD & Blu-Ray movie playback is a must, even with the rise of streaming movies with services such as Netflix and LoveFilm.

Then of course, there is storage for games. Admittedly, the huge amount of space on a Blu-Ray disk is rarely used to it’s full capacity on PlayStation 3 titles, but with games getting bigger and better looking, storage space will be important. Using a proprietary method of optical storage (like the Wii U will be using) is a nice way of avoiding licensing costs, but for optimum compatibility, it has to be Blu-Ray.

Although cloud gaming (ala Gaikai & OnLive) has the potential of being a big deal in the future, I think the technology is too young to be adopted by consoles yet (plus I don’t believe the majority of homes have suitable broadband speeds for a satisfactory cloud gaming experience). The rise of digital distribution will continue, with more games released both digitally and physically, simultaneously (and at a competitive price!)

Creating The Ultimate Next-Gen Console Pt. 1: The Console
Storage Space

Internal storage is now a must for all consoles, as we have already seen with the PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360. The Super PlayBox should feature not only a reasonably sized internal drive (250GB at least), but also USB storage support, and even a little bit of cloud storage (for a small subscription fee, of course).

Games should have the ability to be installed onto the hard drive, but it should be a choice; not mandatory, like some PS3 games.

Physical Size

It sounds daft, but the actual size of the console can be a big deal. Just compare the original model of PlayStation 3, to the Wii! We’re looking into making the Super PlayBox a true component of the living room, so we wouldn’t want the system to be any bigger than the original Xbox 360 model, if we can get that down to the form factor of a Blu-Ray/PVR then that would be even better, but not at the risk of creating a system that will easily overheat.

Creating The Ultimate Next-Gen Console Pt. 1: The Console
Customisation

A feature for the original Xbox 360 model, that was horrendously underutilised, was the idea of interchangeable faceplates. People love the ability to customise their things, so let’s give them a variety of faceplates and shells of different colours and designs. Why not even give away some of these shells with Special Editions of games/consoles?

Human Interface Devices (Controllers)

I’ll probably get a lot of flak for saying this, but let’s forget about motion control. Nothing I have seen over the past generation has indicated that this concept is anything more than a fad. Let’s keep it simple, and provide a comfortable standard wireless joypad (two analogs, one D-Pad, four face buttons, four shoulder buttons and two buttons in the middle).

That’s it for Part 1 of my look into the future. Keep an eye out for part 2, where I’ll be looking at the software and features side of things.

What would you put in your ultimate console? Let us know in the comments below!

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  • http://twitter.com/TarakFord Tarak Ford

    For me the next gen needs to come with both a disc drive and streaming functionality, if the life cycle is 7 years again they will be dead in the water without both. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Xbox launch with a two skew approach (they love it for some reason) and have one console with no disc drive, and one with it and a few other bells and whistles.
     
    We’ll never get to the point where everything runs at 1080p 60fps, because developers will always make trade offs for a little more elsewhere.

    Nice article!

  • http://twitter.com/TarakFord Tarak Ford

    For me the next gen needs to come with both a disc drive and streaming functionality, if the life cycle is 7 years again they will be dead in the water without both. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Xbox launch with a two skew approach (they love it for some reason) and have one console with no disc drive, and one with it and a few other bells and whistles.
     
    We’ll never get to the point where everything runs at 1080p 60fps, because developers will always make trade offs for a little more elsewhere.

    Nice article!

  • Anonymous

    Picking an offtheshelf CPU is a bad plan.   The PS3 went with the cell for a reason.  It didn’t want to be stuck in the 70′s with regards to how games were written and executed.

    If you look at any PS3 exclusive that doesn’t have to cater for lesser consoles, you will see the Cell’s benefits paying off.  It’s no coincidence that the BEST games (not to be confused with POPULAR games) are all on PS3.

    At least you didn’t fall into the common trap of (falsely) believing that Blu-Ray is slower than DVD. That myth is still being spread around by clueless fanboys 5 years after Microsoft started it…

  • Anonymous

    Picking an offtheshelf CPU is a bad plan.   The PS3 went with the cell for a reason.  It didn’t want to be stuck in the 70′s with regards to how games were written and executed.

    If you look at any PS3 exclusive that doesn’t have to cater for lesser consoles, you will see the Cell’s benefits paying off.  It’s no coincidence that the BEST games (not to be confused with POPULAR games) are all on PS3.

    At least you didn’t fall into the common trap of (falsely) believing that Blu-Ray is slower than DVD. That myth is still being spread around by clueless fanboys 5 years after Microsoft started it…

  • Aa

    4gb of RAM
    Graphics card that can run DirectX11 and 3d games at 60fps
    Quad core CPU at 3ghz
    3d blu-ray drive
    Wireless internet and control pads
    No charge for internet gaming
    £300 launch price

  • Aa

    4gb of RAM
    Graphics card that can run DirectX11 and 3d games at 60fps
    Quad core CPU at 3ghz
    3d blu-ray drive
    Wireless internet and control pads
    No charge for internet gaming
    £300 launch price

  • Aa

    2d and 3d at 1080p or i

  • Aa

    2d and 3d at 1080p or i

  • Lee Garbutt

    Sure, the games that are made with the Cell processor in mind has been great – But look at how many multi-format games have suffered on the PS3, due to difficulty with coding for the system. Then you factor the cost of developing and manufacturing a proprietry CPU, which will end up being passed onto the consumer (as it did with the PS3).

  • Lee Garbutt

    Sure, the games that are made with the Cell processor in mind has been great – But look at how many multi-format games have suffered on the PS3, due to difficulty with coding for the system. Then you factor the cost of developing and manufacturing a proprietry CPU, which will end up being passed onto the consumer (as it did with the PS3).

  • james braselton

    hi there your right i want costomizable soo i can swap out the 250 gb hdd and replace with a 256 gb or 512 gb ssd 128 gb 64 gb 32 gb ssd