Mark Rein: PCs Can "Simulate The Future"

We had Cervat Yerli from Crytek claiming that consoles were holding PC gaming back, now Epic's Mark Rein, speaking to Eurogamer, has claimed that PCs have "shot by" consoles.

"Don't forget every game that's ultimately built is built on a PC," began Rein. "PCs are always going to be the tools through which all games get made.

"With the PC you can simulate the future – you can put enough hardware in a PC to show you what a future console will look like."

To an extent Mark Rein is merely stating the obvious truth - console hardware is beginning to look increasingly dated in the face of PC technology, and while mainstream AAA development has been focused on console formats, there does appear to be an increasing need to move forward. This console generation has stretched farther than most would have predicted and this has been good for the growth of gaming as an industry...

But are we ready for the next generation of consoles? Being perfectly honest, I think we are.


Comments

    THIS GUY IS A REAL BRAIN.

      WHO HAS TWO THUMBS AND CAN STATE THE OBVIOUS?

      THIS GUY.

        Epic employee. 'nuff said.

          Ok, I'll stop now.

          What I'm hinting at - this guy is an idiot. Does this sort of obvious statement really require a news article?

            +1

            Ok, so in my haste to criticize I've sort of missed the bigger point of the article - that game devs are now starting to call for more power in game consoles.

            This is about time considering that consoles seem to think 30fps is acceptable, whereas it's considered a 'barely playable' framerate in the world of PC's.

              And 30 fps is where it's going to stay (exceptions are some games that explicitly aim for 60fps and 3d stereoscopic imagery)

              30 fps is approximately the lowest frame rate that we can run games at without our eyes/brain processing the difference between frames and thus see choppy low frame rates.

              Unless we hit some kind of unlimited detail supercomputing, developers will continue to push the hardware to it's limits, and that usually shows by the way of putting as much graphic glitz and glamour on screen at the expense of "unnecessary" frames over 30.

                On the "Framerate" of our eyes, I would have to say not really.

                Want an example, go watch a movie. That was running at 24 FPS.

                Hell, go find a flickbook. You can have stuff running at 12 FPS and still have your brain convert it into a smooth, running, image.

                Yes, if you boost the framerate up to 30, 60, or for some (but not all people) 120, you can tell that there is a difference. But our eyes do not capture data at a "framerate." And far more importantly, our brains do not process the data as "frames."

                  I never said our eyes "see" at any particular framerate or that our brain processes anything at a particular framerate. I actually agree with you and if I did say anything like that then it's simply because I couldn't think of a better way to explain the reasoning.

                  It's not so much that we can't see/process frames higher than 24 (30 is used because it lines up with the 60hz frequency) it's more that our brains don't care to process them, since anything moving faster may be outside our reaction time. Our brains blur together the "flipbook" and for the average man 30 fps is 'A-OK' Sure it's not ideal for certain games like fighters and racers, since the ideal 60 makes a smoother transition due to the eye receiving an extra frame for every 1 in 30.

                  Anything below is where we know there is a difference between one frame and the next. The flipbook may make a recognisable movement in 12fps, but you can be damn sure you know pages are turning.

              "This is about time considering that consoles seem to think 30fps is acceptable"

              For the love of life where are these sentient console comments coming from?

              Seriously, it is the DEVELOPERS of games that make these decisions not the hardware!

              More hardware will not improve games - the developers need to think how they can get around the limitations. Take a look at the Uncharted Series, hardware is the same but they still continue to improve and take the Cell processor further.

              All this makes me wish it was the early 1990s again - back when it was all about the games and not the pixels and detail.

    So he can see the future in PC's right now and goes on to imagine that the console future will be what PC's can do right now....Maybe try living in the future now?

    "To an extent Mark Rein is merely stating the obvious truth." Only an extent?

    Slow start to the week, Mark? :P

    If Mark Rein truly believes this, he better (ahem) rein in the Cliffster.

    I think it does when everyone thinks consoles are the business at the moment, when they really shouldn't be, and so many games that are then ported back to PC are horrible abominations.

    They need to do something about that...

      No, they don't. Why should they?

    Okay, so this is mainly in response to the comment from Mr Yerli, but this is common knowledge.
    As for if we're ready for next gen consoles...
    Microsoft and Sony aren't, tvs won't increase in resolution for some time yet and the only significant advances which can be made at this stage is increases to textures and draw distance or fitting more information on a single disc.
    Nintendo needs a new console, but it's not next gen time yet.

      >Microsoft and Sony aren’t, tvs won’t increase in resolution for some time yet

      TVs don't need to increase in resolution for the next generation of consoles. The vast majority of console games are only rendered at 1280x720 or below. Current consoles aren't taking full advantage of 1080p displays.

      TV's dont need to advance they have been ahead technology wise since the current gen of consoles came out.

      And considering that these days in order to make games look better they render them at even smaller resolutions and hope the upscaling can compensate for the rest.

      Most console games are presented in 720p or less and at terrible frame rates to boot

    I think that people do forget the power of a top notch PC though. Sure its expensive and you have to know what you are doing to get the best out of them, But when they are right, they are THE gaming platform. Don't get me wrong, consoles are great for people who dont want to worry about upgrading and maintaining their gaming machine, ultimate plug and play gaming machines, but a top notch PC will wipe the floor with them any day of the week. Hail to the king baby

      yeah but thats the thing PC's really aren't that expensive especially if you were to mimick a console atm.

      I think what needs to be done is that every 3 years you set a new baseline GPU.

      You say that the industry has to make a game that accomodates this graphics card as a bare minimum.

      Then you have the people who invest they will be swapping out old GPU's and the like for newer ones. these can then be sold via Ebay and the like to those who are looking to move up from the old standard.

      and you make the new base line card the one that has come out like 18-24 months after the last base line card

        Who would set the baseline though? The only company I can think of is Valve due to Steam's market share, but NVidia and AMD wouldn't like this at all.

          development community.

          It wouldn't effect Nvidia or ATI in anyway.

          They make the money off the new GPU's.

          All this would change is saying that the bare minimum is say now a 250GTX or something.

          The high end cards would still be desirable because you often have games with a large scale between poor graphics and Great graphics. Something which is an inherent bonus of not having a set hardware limit.

          It actually wouldn't change the PC market that much. But it would provide people with clear guidelines as to how long the card should be usable for before the games technology surpasses it completely. Thus allowing for a clearer transition from the console system to a PC system. knowing that buying the lowest end card should last them 3 years.

    Holy crap, his picture is like those Uncle Sam recruitment posters.
    His eyes.
    They follow you.
    Everywhere.

    So PC's past is Console's future? Duh

    The PC I bought 4 years ago and last year updated the videocard and RAM is still keeping up with what the current consoles can do, so I'd say they're definitely ahead.

    Consoles are easier though, PC's have come a long way in making installations simpler but there's still occasional fiddling. Just the other day I was struggling to get Bioshock to run on Windows 7 because the sound wouldn't work, the solution ended up being to plug an old set of headphones into my microphone jack...

    We've been interacting with PCs the same way for ~20 years now. In that time, we've gone from the NES control pad to Kinect and everything in between. It's never been meaningful to differentiate consoles by what hardware is inside the box: it's the way we interact that's different.

      Ive got a pc and all 3 consoles. I play the 360 the most because thats what my friends play on. My choice doesn't come down to resolution, ease of use or exclusivity. Its merely that most of my friends own an xbox 360 and that multiplayer experience is what currently drives my gaming choices.

        I dont think anyone can argue that when it comes to an online community, supporting past games and still filling servers, the PC shits all over consoles. Sure your mates all play on xbox, but the community and general manners of players on PC versions of games is much better. Server browsers, mods etc, the consoles are defenitly behind when it comes to the online community, so it cannot be used as a defense or selling point for consoles over PC. Not to mention the 10yr olds screaming for their mumafter you headshot them 5 times in a minute.

    PCs=overated

      In what way? Superior graphics, superior controls (as well as the ability to use a gamepad if you want), mod tools, cheaper games (in most cases), blah blah blah. There's really not much against PC as a platform... except for maybe less choice of games, but that's more a fault of developers than PC.

    Consoles were originally built to be weaker than the PCs of the time of development anyway. So it is a redundant statement to say that 6 years on, a console is outclassed by a PC. They were always outclassed. It's simply a case if they are outclassed by a ridiculous amount now instead of the original level

    Game developers need to start developing for the PC and then port to the consoles rather than the other way around, because right now PC gamers are having to suffer an intolerable amount of crappy gameplay and interface design because developers are ignoring the top platform in the range in favour of the outdated architecture of the current era of consoles

      "PC gamers are having to suffer an intolerable amount of crappy gameplay and interface design because developers are ignoring the top platform in the range in favour of the outdated architecture of the current era of consoles"

      First, there is no top platform - if you want anything that resembles a one platform that beats all others then go read the Lord of the Rings because that is where that concept only ever works.

      All platforms are alternatives and each will have weaknesses and strengths between each other. There is no platform to beat them all.

      Second, at the end of the day, developers are organizations whom have profit as a primary goal. They are not going to put the money in to redesign an interface or recode a game engine so it fits the architectural differences (seriously, the problem is not the limitations its the difference) of various consoles and PCs.

      If developers can cut corners to get a release out in a given season that is what they are going to do.

      I personally see to it that I have as many platforms as I can because I am in it for the games. Picking one platform only serves to fence one's accessible range of games.

        I would beg to differ regarding your comment about there being no top platform.

        Hardware-wise, PCs have led the pack since their first conception, both in flexibility and potential performance. The games being produced these days no longer test that performance as they did as little as 5 years ago, because developers are coding for the consoles where the money is. And as long as they continue to do that, the console developers will not see the need to bring out a new generation of consoles to raise the bar for the quality of the game, because they are still able to milk the current cash-cow.

        I do not know if you are aware, but the current architecture of consoles limits the potential development options in a game. They literally cannot handle as much going on at once as games developed on modern technology can. As a result, game innovation is suffering.

        All that said, at least part of the blame lies with the publishers. Publishers these days determine where the money is and can dictate to the developers what they develop for, how they design it, etc. So instead of doing what is best for the game, they are forced to go with whatever the publisher thinks will sell the best if they want that publisher to take it to the distributors (i.e. multiplayer in games where it just doesn't belong, etc)

        My biggest issue, however, is with games like dungeon siege 3, where the developers literally picked up the game, coded the buttons to keys, and then slapped a PC sticker on the box. There is little, if any, action taken to improve the interface or control methods based on the different control systems. The graphics look like something that should have been brought out back in 2006. It is clearly a new game that has suffered from being developed for an outdated system and then given a crappy port to the PC.

        I guess it boils down to this: I miss the days where you could crank up the options to max and have a game that you could immerse yourself in completely without having the feeling that someone out there really just isn't trying, that they're putting the wallet ahead of quality. I miss seeing developers make the game as good as it can be, instead settling for as good as they can whilst still meeting the publishers demands for a quick buck.

          "I guess it boils down to this: I miss the days where you could crank up the options to max and have a game that you could immerse yourself in completely without having the feeling that someone out there really just isn’t trying, that they’re putting the wallet ahead of quality. I miss seeing developers make the game as good as it can be, instead settling for as good as they can whilst still meeting the publishers demands for a quick buck."

          This! This is the very essence of the debate. I couldn't think of anything worse than caring about 'cranking up the options to max', and I couldn't think of anything worse than developing a game for a platform so diverse in it's potential hardware range that you need to give users options to'crank things up'. Do you like games, or do you like computers and games are a way of using your computer?

            As compared to ignoring every technological development for the last 6 years? Limiting the scope of your games based on the restricted capacity of the outdated equipment you code your game for instead of maximising it's potential?

              and i don't just mean graphics-wise. I mean the actual mechanisms used are limited.

              A classic example: Ultima 7

              The ultimate step forward for the PC, it was implementing concepts such as NPC schedules and ongoing non-initiated NPC-Character interactions, concepts that haven't been seen properly implemented again in games until Radiant-AI over a decade later.

              However, when it was ported to the most powerful console of the time, the SNES, they were forced to cut the entire party system due to the limitations of the console architecture. It simply could not handle all the operations running at the time.

              Today, we're looking at a similar issue, except instead of porting things from the PC to the console, it's happening in reverse. Game developers are limiting their game design for what the console can handle, and as such when the PC gets the crappy half-arsed port, it is not the game it could be.

              That is the essence of my argument, not that they are limiting graphics (tho that is a side-effect).

      “PC gamers are having to suffer an intolerable amount of crappy gameplay and interface design because developers are ignoring the top platform in the range in favour of the outdated architecture of the current era of consoles”

      How are PC's the 'top platform?'. A top platform is one with a rigidly defined hardware spec and a massive userbase. Like ps3..360..iphone.. Developers aren't complaining about 'outdated architecture' they are enjoying the design constraints which let them focus on making compelling games. Well, except for team bondi :P

        Theres a distinct difference Between Top and Popular/Most Common.

        There a plenty of great motoring vehicles that are the top of their respective design area's.

        But none of them see's mass production or usage.

        If anything the Top platform is the one which has the most versatile use for the moolah.

        personally all 3 have their pros and cons but that's because a good deal of the userbase of any of the platforms only uses them for one thing.

        most people use a PC for PC things, a laptop for portability and a console for gaming.

        My decked out PC does all of those things and more

          But the amount of people with a decked out PC is so small relatively that its just not worth the effort of game developers to consider them - and as an owner of a decked out PC you have to acknowledge that and never complain. It's like owning a Lamborghini and complaining that no-one ever builds roads that you could truly unleash the potential of your vehicle on because they are too busy making roads suitable for everyday cars that most people have. A platform is seen as being 'top' by the manufacturer/developer, not the user.

            Completly agree dude. I am in the same boat, and we cannot get shitty about them not catering for us. I guess Witcher 2 was a shining light for the Big Rigs. I get shitty when a former PC heavyweight is toned down for the sequel, namley Crysis 2. Just seems like a kick in the balls for the top end of PC town.

    I think PC gamers are more interested in status than gaming. oh, look at me, I'm Running shit @ 60fps @ 1080p!

    Piracy also plays an issue in choosing console over PC considering piracy rates for consoles, at least the last generation, are signifcantly lower than on PC which has games leaked and downloaded literally hundreds of thousands of times before release.

      >... PC which has games leaked and downloaded literally hundreds of thousands of times before release.

      Erroneous. There's some silly ad hominem and misinformation in your post but I'll stick with this particular one. In the last couple of years, there has been a shift towards prerelease leaks occurring on consoles far before PC. From this year alone:

      - Bulletstorm, leaked on consoles: 5 days before release; "leaked" on PC on launch date.
      - Alice Madness Returns, leaked on consoles: 5 days before release; "leaked" on PCs: one day AFTER release.
      - Crysis 2, leaked on consoles: 4 days before release, "leaked" on PCs: two days after release.
      - Homefront, leaked on consoles: 5 days before release, "leaked" on PCs eight days after release.
      - Red Faction Armageddon, leaked on consoles: 1-2 weeks before release; leaked on PCs: no scene
      release to date.
      - Gears of War 3, leaked on consoles: 2.5 months before release; no PC release. Oh boy, god bless those leakproof and pirate-free consoles.

      I'm struggling to think of any recent multiplats that were actually released by the scene before the launch date.

        Is piracy as rampant on consoles as are on PC? I don't think there are as many pirated games being played on consoles that are on PC. Games, I would argue, are easier to download and run illegally on PCs than to do so on a console. My point isn't which platform gets leaked first it's how many times the game is illegally obtained and played. Your points (for which you provide no sources, by the way) about specific games being leaked on console before PC doesn't prove more people download the leaked console version over the PC one.

        I never engaged in an ad hominem attack on PC gamers, (I'm one) my point was whenever the arguement about consoles and PC gamers is brought up you have elitist PC gamers talking about how hardcore their rig is compared to the latest gen consoles. Well duuhhhh. Of course it is. You can't just keep upgrading a console when a new piece of hardware comes out. It's status. It's bragging.

          If you want a source, http://orlydb.com/ is probably one of the few that won't get me banned.

    10 bucks says that when it comes down to it, developers are going to put more effort into something they know will sell. And that means consoles first, unfortunately. I've just gotten back into pc gaming and can see the argument for both sides, but they have employees and bills to pay too. So they'll in where the money is.

      "10 bucks says that when it comes down to it, developers are going to put more effort into something they know will sell"

      You should have put $10,000 down - easiest money you would have ever made.

      Seriously, name a developer that is willing to put in the extra cost of optimizing game engines for the Cell, PowerPC and x86 individually?

    it's been said already but they all have thier pros and cons.. i got a new gaming system couple months ago (2600k, 6990 etc) and want it to run purely on my 58" tv as i feel the graphics are getting a little dated on consoles, and boy i forogt what i was missing out on graphics wise.. but then you get games with support issues and black screens etc and you spend a shit load of time to get them to work, sometimes a console is good for just putting a game in and playing away... which is why i couldn't believe ps3 get you to install 90% of games as it's defeating the purpose of console gaming! xbox online support is awesome and i miss it alot, party chat etc works so well. But for all these kickarse games coming out at the end of the year i will be going PC and will cross my fingers i won't have much messing around to get them to work... but i do think its time for a new gen of consoles, they are just trying to bleed every cent out of them now which i think is wrong

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