HD graphics, faster processing are dominant features of games today

From the days of falling pixel-sized bricks in Tetris to the 8-bit coloured guy jumping over poisonous tortoises, hopping on clouds and into tunnels as Super Mario, there is a world of difference compared to what is happening in the video game world today. Reality mimicking graphics, complicated plots and sophisticated artificial intelligence are the dominant factors in games today. Fresh upgrades to gaming consoles and new releases of games are all happening right now in anticipation of Christmas sales.

Eighth-generation offering

Both major gaming console manufacturers, Microsoft and Sony, have their versions of the eighth-generation consoles ready for release. While Sony will release its much-anticipated PlayStation 4 on November 15, Microsoft’s Xbox One will be released on November 22. The first of the eighth generation consoles was Wii U released by gaming console veteran Nintendo in 2012.

Both Xbox One and PlayStation 4 have similar enhancements improving upon their seventh generation offerings — Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

Heavy hardware upgrade to deliver a more realistic gaming experience with faster processing and the ability to render high definition graphics on screen with emphasis on online networking between gamers seem to the tone of improvements undertaken this time.

To facilitate these feature enhancements, both consoles use eight-core processors manufactured by AMD, house eight gigabytes of high-speed RAM, half a terabyte of hard disk storage with Blu-ray/ DVD readers to install heavy games.

Graphics processors

The performance difference nonetheless shows up in the graphics processors. Xbox One uses a 12 core graphic processor, whereas PlayStation4 uses an eighteen core Graphical Processing Unit that can deliver up to 1.84 Teraflops. This increase in cores gives direct advantage of additional computation power that is harnessed to render higher resolution graphics. In a benchmark test, game makers of Battlefield4 revealed that Xbox One supported 1280x720 resolution, whereas Playstation4 supported 1600x900 rendering.

In personal computers, while performing routine tasks, small latencies are bearable and many times go unnoticed. Whereas, the entire joy of a first-person shooting game or an adrenaline-rush racing game is the response of the gaming station. To be able to deliver close to a realistic experience, under the hood of these consoles, the best performing consumer electronics are housed. Gaming has always been on a parallel hardware platform, requiring dedicated equipment. For a few years, PC gaming thrived. The trend now seems to shifting towards video game consoles again. The release of some of the highest in demand games for Xbox and PlayStation is testimony to this trend.

Sequels released

Starting September, some of the most-awaited sequels to successful games have been released. Grand Auto Theft-5 hit the highest sales records for any entertainment product, touching one billion USD in the first three days after its release. GTA V is the fifteenth release in this popular action adventure game where players interact in a city modelled on Los Angeles. Assassin’s Creed had its fourth release, Black Flag, featuring a pirate world, on October 29. Later this month, BattleField 4, a first-person shooting and role-playing game with rich effects, will be available for gaming consoles.

These games are developed over years on the scale of making feature films, and sometimes with more effort required in programming the artificial intelligence.

Designing the characters, environment, and interaction in games requires artists working with computer programmers. In an increasingly intersecting domain of digital art, artists digitally create characters, and the characters are modelled and rendered using software. Character behaviour can either be programmed, or like in many games today motion capture of performing artists is used and embedded to model the characters. This shows up as realistic responses by the characters in game play.

Future of gaming

A lucrative market for more than a decade has been built around gaming, and the technical innovation that is changing the face of mobile telephony or Internet is also impacting the scale and scope of gaming that can be done. Virtual reality games where gamers are no longer sitting on the couch but involved with the gaming environment could become a household gadget in years to come.