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Old 02-09-2017, 11:24 PM
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Corona688 Corona688 is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2004
Default Re: Game Consoles: What's Next?

The dividing line here is mostly technologic; newer generations of computers make a newer generation of consoles. Sometimes it's also a new technological concept, like 3d polygons.

Gen 1: "Pong", and counting games, built from individual components. No real graphics to speak of - sometimes you had to stick an included vinyl sticker to your TV to know what you're looking at. Oh, its a castle, with windows lit or dark! God help you if you have the wrong size TV.

Gen 2: Primitive microprocessors, color, the first sprites. Pac-Man, Adventure, etc. Extremely limited computing power and memory even by standards of the day - consumers couldn't afford anything better in a game. They didn't have an entire screenful of video memory either, they had to draw 2-color blocks repetitively. Lots of weird things had to be done to put up with limits on the number of things they could draw simultaneously.

Gen 3: When they blur lines with computers. Super Mario Bros. An optical mask improvement flipped microchip manufacturing errors from "70% dud" to "70% good", which allowed microprocessor chips to be made a lot smaller and cheaper. The NES, Commodore, and Sega Master System all used this new generation of cheap processors. Refinements and expansions of the last gen of graphics chips allowed fuller expression with the same technology.

Gen 4: 16-bit processors accessed more memory, and memory prices came down and gave them more room to do things. Bigger and better sprites, longer games, better and more complicated audio... A lot of things video game designers wished were possible suddenly were. This gen spawned a lot of new and memorable things, even though the technology hadn't changed much, just gotten bigger & better. Digitized audio started to appear ("SEGA!") They flirted some with compact disk storage, but really didn't have the memory capacity to deal with it yet.

Gen 5: N64, Playstation. The first consoles with hardware 3d, 32 bit processors, and the first to really depend on CD's for mass storage. This was huge - the largest games in gen4 were a few megabytes, a CD had 600! This caused a few to go greedy and fill their games with full-motion video, but it turns out that making your game 9 big cutscenes isn't very entertaining. The systems still using cartridges inevitably had smaller, more expensive games, also much snappier since a cartridge's load-times are nonexistent.

Gen 6: When the industry they realized they had to take PC's seriously. Nobody uses cartridges anymore (except for savegames). Specs approaching their PC rivals - hundreds of megabytes RAM, modern(ish) 32-bit processors of the sort found in "real computers" running hundreds of MHz, and internet support. Internet support! We only remember the ones which had that, the Xbox and PS2.

Gen 7 had wireless internet, wireless controllers, high-definition, and 64-bit processors. (Not always all of them.) Wireless in a console is meh, but wireless in a portable meant being able to pokemon duel the guy behind you in the bus.

Since then, improvements have been "faster and bigger". Games are downloadable now (which not everyone considers an advance). Nobody knows what the next big thing is.

Last edited by Corona688; 02-09-2017 at 11:44 PM.
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