One of the big talking points this generation, and one that really grinds my gears, personally speaking, is the entire obsession with pixel counting- major graphical difference between different versions of multiplatform titles are all well and good- and those deserve to be discussed and analyzed. There is a place for that in the industry.
But modern consoles are so close to each other, their hardware so commoditized, that the difference between the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions of a game just comes down to a few lines and dots more on one version over the other- it is, frankly, insane, and we are spending far too much time discussing minor imperceptible graphical differences, when we could be engaging in far more meaningful discourse about the gaming industry.
In our exclusive Martin Sahlin of ColdWood, the guys who brought us the just released, gorgeous Unravel, we brought up the question of the industry’s obsession with resolution and framerate standards, and asked him to give us his opinion on it. Sahlin admitted that he is not a resolution guy himself- though he did also admit that he likes being challenged to deliver the best possible visual performance, as a developer and creator.
“Yeah, I think it’s a little bit blown out of proportion. I’m not really a resolution guy,” he said. “But it’s… I think it’s kind of fun as a developer, to be able to push boundaries, to be able to do kind of advanced stuff. I mean, I guess I like the challenge, because I like how it looks, and I think a game like this obviously helped by being beautiful. Which helped grabbed people’s attention. So things like that, they do matter. It does make a difference.
“But also, as a developer, I kind of like it the more similar platforms are- because again, there are fourteen of us, and whenever there is a difference in the spec, in the machines that you are working on, it means more work for us. Because you have to make it look the same on everything, and it’s not always that easy to do that, it can take more effort.
So does he like the idea of homogenized consoles? We asked him if he prefers these over the more differentiated hardware that each console used to have, right up until the last generation.
“Well it is [better]. You could argue that it would be better if they were all massively different, but that would also mean that there would essentially not be multiplatform development for anything, because it just wouldn’t be- it would be like, you know, making completely different games, at the same time.”
So that tells us just how much easier consoles having similar hardware have made life on developers. As gamers, we might gripe and long for days when each console was uniquely differentiated- but the present day gaming industry would not exist without the homogenized hardware that make multiplatform game development possible.