Ouch, I just heard my bank account make a painful wincing sound after reading that headline. However, before you start flipping over couch cushions in search of loose change hidden between half-eaten Doritos pieces and peanut butter covered cat hairs, just take a deep breath because it’s not as bad as it sounds.
"I don't know if developers aren't 'ready' to kick off a new generation of hardware, but not knowing exactly when that shift will happen is definitely challenging as you begin mapping out a future title.”
"Our next project after Reach has to be planned, engineered and designed to potentially span multiple hardware generations considering we are working on a decade's worth of storytelling and game experiences."
The key thing to remember here is, as Mr. Jarrard said, the Bungie and Activision deal is a ten-year commitment. So it only makes sense that, over the life of a new franchise, they will have to be thinking ahead to the next generation of consoles at some point. Although, I certainly think it’s a little premature for this to be a huge factor for the development team as they work on the initial release for their secret, action IP.
With both Microsoft and Sony throwing a lot of weight, not to mention money, behind the release of new hardware add-ons for their consoles, it’s a pretty safe bet that Bungie could focus on getting a first installment out and seeing how it does before worrying about hardware limitations for any possible sequels. Although it does beg the question of whether or not console makers should have more open lines of communications to developers regarding system launches, so that this sort of concern doesn’t impede the production or quality of a game.
Jarrard continued saying:
"Look at the difference between Reach and Halo 3 - the hardware hasn't changed at all; our team just found better and more efficient ways to accomplish things.
"The sheer technical limits may be nearly tapped but that isn't to say that great, innovative game experiences aren't still on the way for this generation of consoles. Technology and horsepower will always only be part of the formula for building a fun, entertaining, lasting game title."
Here’s the thing, while Bungie doesn’t seem to be calling for the next generation to happen tomorrow or anything, the fact that they feel the need to point out just how much juice they squeezed out of the current hardware in order to make Halo: Reach doesn’t instill much confidence in me for them as a developer. Let’s face it, Halo 3: ODST was a little on the phoned-in side, and Reach’s armor upgrades seem a little too close to Call of Duty’s perk system to be considered one of the “innovative game experiences” that Jarrard is talking about. And while Reach does look better than ODST, you're the game developer Bungie and that's kind of your job.
Many of the best games of any generation often come toward the end of the cycle because developers finally have a grasp on the hardware and can focus more on fine-tuning play mechanics. It would be nice to see Bungie really get behind Jarrard’s sentiment of horsepower only being part of the equation and bring gamers something truly fresh without worrying about graphics or how many dudes are on screen at once in a deathmatch. The best games are not usually born out of the best tech but out of great ideas, stories and mechanics. Let’s hope Bungie is remembering that before they go getting ahead of themselves.
What’s it sound like to you, Ranters? Should Bungie just get a game out first so we can all let them know whether or not they even need to be concerned with sequels yet? Are you ready to see the new generation of hardware come lay claim to your precious dollar bills? Does Halo: Reach really look like it’s pushing hardware limitations compared to other big budget games that are out there, or is that just marketing hype? Should there be better communication between console manufacturers and developers so that this type of thing isn’t an issue until it needs to be?