Thursday, December 4, 2008

For the last time...The Wii is more powerful than the Xbox

Two years later and this is still a debate? Do the people arguing the xbox's superiority over the Wii even understand the tech of which they speak? Short answer...hell no. The fact that most developers are putting forth subpar efforts on Wii has nothing to do with the power of the system.

Here is a funny fact for you all. The gamecube was more powerful than the Xbox. Did you miss that? I said... THE GAMECUBE IS MORE POWERFUL THAN THE XBOX. The tech wizards at Factor 5 even stated that the GC had the most powerful general purpose cpu ever in a console in 2002. They stated that the Gamcube CPU was every bit as fast as a 733mhz pentium III(an Xbox) and even exceeded it in key areas.

The Gamcube was a beast in 2002.

Perception and bottlenecks kept the Gamecube from being the monster it could have been. There was this perception that the GC was even less powerful than even the PS2 because of the conservative spec numbers released by Nintendo as opposed to what Sony and Microsoft were touting with the PS2 and Xbox respectively. Nintendo stated the Gamecube was capable of 6-12 million polygons per second which was easily attainable on the system and perhaps a little to conservative considering a launch game for the system made in a mere 9 months were running at 12-15 million at 60 frames per second. Sony claimed the ps2 was capable 75 million which was actually 75 million "Raw" meaning it could not be achieved in-game and were essentially fake numbers that failed to calulate textures, lighting,framerate, know...things that make up a game lol. Microsoft did the same, claiming the original Xbox could do 120 million when that was a raw number as well. Which is even funnier is that if you look at the spec shet for the Xbox 360 you'll see that 120 million poly number back again except this time it's real time and not made up unrealistic raw number bs.

The truth is that for its' time, the Gamecube was a polygon monster. Didn't any of you find it odd that Rogue Leader a 2003 Gamecube title is running at double the amount of polys and double the amount of framerate of the best looking Xbox titles? It can be your opinion that Xbox had the best looking games of last generation but they certainly were not the most hardware taxing. Rogue leader could not run on the Xbox in it's current current form. F-zero GX could not run on Xbox in it's current form.

The best looking games on Xbox either:

-ran at 30 frames or less
-had very limited geometry
-limited color pallete

or most time... all of the above.

There is a reason for that. The GC could display more on screen at a time and at a better framerate to boot. This is why Xbox developers had to rely on shaders and normal maps to make things appear more detailed than they really were. A game like Metriod Prime has far more detailed well...everything than a game like Halo 2 and if you believe otherwise is because you don't understand the purpose of a normal map. Developers use normal mapping and shaders so that they can use less polygons in their models...not more. That is part of what makes games like Metriod Prime 3 and Super Mario Galaxy so impressive is because they use next to no normal mapping or shader effects and still look excellent.

Shader effects are possible on the Wii as evident in games like the up and coming The Conduit. However, unlike on systems like the xbox and xbox 360, these effects must be built from scratch and add a large hit to the systems performance. The Wii uses the TEV Unit for it's texture combining "shader" effects and the more stages they use the more it eats into hardware performance. The use of shader effects on the xbox and xbox 360 come at pretty much a zero hit on performance on those systems. They basically get shader effetcs "for free" so to speak. The fact that The Conduit has been known to pass for a 360 title at first glance, all while taking a huge performance hit because of the mandantory custom shader effects is a testiment to howe powerful the little white box is. The xbox cannot handle the visuals the way Wii the Wii is forced to (custom).

The Wii also has no harddive to help with texture streaming it wouldn't otherwise be capabale of.( I'm looking at you doom 3 and halflife2 on xbox). The GC's lack of disk space also put a damper on what could have been regarding the gamecube's graphics potential. Developers were forced to compress textures resulting in lesser quality. Wii however does not have this problem. It is more powerful than the Xbox is every area. It may be easier for the Xbox to create shaders but that doesn't change the fact that the Wii is a more powerful system and also doesn't change the fact that pixel and vertex shader effetcs are possible on the Wii platform if developers simply take the time.

The power is there. It's up to developers to make use of it. Let's hope that High Voltage Software and Factor 5 aren't the only dev teams interested in the potential of the Wii's while not bleeding edge...very capable hardware which happens to be quite a bit more powerful than the Xbox.

Friday, October 31, 2008

How to make the perfect Wii Sonic game...Listen up SEGA

Sonic games have been...ehhh...let's say...less than steller over recent years. Even though I own and admitedly enjoy Sonic and the Secrets Rings there were some major deal-breaking problems in that title. The controls sucked. The voice acting was freaking horrible (as usual). The "new" levels were really missions in the same level but very boring and sometimes damn near impossible.(Racing a fairy?...Really?) The biggest downfall was how awkward it was to go backwards. That was ridiculously bad.

SEGA... since I love you I'll get you this advice free of charge. Here is how you make the perfect Sonic game for Wii:

Story: We don't need it. Ditch the humans. That Sonic/human girl relationship thing in Sonic "next gen" was disturbing. No thanks SEGA. DO NOT WANT. The story should be simple. Dr. Robotnik (yes call him that again. Eggman is corny) is trying to take over the world again. Simple. Just give us some of that always gorgeous FMV at the intro and ending of the game and we'll be set.

Characters: Sonic only. Bring back Tails as an NPC following Sonic ala Sonic 2-3. Knuckles as a playable character AFTER THE GAME IS BEATEN. Do not force people to use him.

Music: Sonic music of today sucks...ass. Don't sing over my sonic music. This 80's cheese rock crap needs to die. People still love the old sonic music because it was really good. As a child one of my cousins told me that a song from a bonus stage in Sonic 1 was his favorite song. HIS FAVORITE SONG LOL.

My suggestion... include remastered perhaps orchestrated tracks from Sonic 1-3. ONLY. Hardcore SEGA fans will eat it up.

Control: Nunchuck/ Wiimote only. Analog to control sonic. Camera should turn to follow Sonic if he needs to go backwards.

Item boxes...bring them back. Add the ability to hold on to these and use them with a slight flick of the wiimote. Jump with A button.

Stage design:
Throw real world levels out the window. Sonic 1-3/Knuckles were so awesome to play because of clever and non-realistic level design. I don't want to see Sonic run throw the old west or new york city. Give me back my corkscrews, floating platforms, and break-away bridges SEGA. Go all out on level design. Bring the platforming back to Sonic. Sonic wasn't all about speed. It was about timing, well executed jumps, speed boosts, and multiple branching paths. This can all be done in 3D. Give it a try.

You're welcome SEGA.

Friday, July 11, 2008

WiiNside Exclusive Interview with High Voltage Software

First off I would like to personally thank you guys for your dedication to the Wii platform. Wii owners have been literally begging for this kind of effort on a Wii title from a 3rd party since launch. Glad to see it finally become a reality.

On to the questions...

Will there be the ability to run or crouch in The Conduits single or multiplayer modes?

Rob Nicholls – Not only can you run and crouch, but you can jump as well.

Will story sequences be via FMV or in game ala Metriod Prime 3?

Rob Nicholls – It will be a combination of mission briefing videos and in-game cut scenes and voice-overs.

Will the Conduit support true 16x9 widescreen by the time it is released?

Rob Nicholls – We will indeed support 16x9 widescreen

Will any multiplayer modes support the "all seeing eye"? Oh and how did you come up with the concept?

Rob Nicholls – We are still looking into how much we can use the ASE if there are 16 people running around at the same time. As for the concept, it’s really evolved over time. It started with our ability to project textures onto the environment and once we saw how cool that was, it was like “okay, what else can we do with this?”

Was the idea of the Conduit proposed to any publishers before starting the project? If so.. what were their reactions?

Rob Nicholls – To my knowledge, the concept wasn’t shopped around first. We were fortunate to get full funding independently and just dug in from there.

High Voltage software has experience with the ps2, gamecube, xbox, and now Wii. How would you say the Wii compares to say the Xbox in terms of overall performance? Are developers still restricted from giving actual Wii benchmarks? Polygons per second, glfop numbers, fillrate, etc?

Rob Nicholls – The Wii is very similar in terms of performance, which is why we’ve been able to do everything you’ve seen in our trailers and screenshots. As for benchmarks, we could say but then we’d have to kill you.

LOL ok..As far as online... will you be using your own dedicated servers?... Or NIntendo's? Or Gamespys? Are we going to have to enter friend codes?

Rob Nicholls – [Laughs] No one wants details like that about our multiplayer more than us! Basically, all I can say is that we’re still exploring the possibilities regarding matchmaking, but whatever we use will be as solid as we can make it.

The newest build of the Conduit recently shown looks damn good... but one thing kind of sticks out... some of the environmental textures such as floors and walls look a bit flat. Are these place holder textures like the ones for the alien character models previously?

Rob Nicholls – We are still constantly polishing up our textures, so expect improvements across the board before we ship.

Are you surprised at what you have been able to pull of visually so far?

Rob Nicholls – I posed this one to our Art Lead, Joe Hamell . His answer would be our shaders and the normal mapping. These things have really helped to bring our environments, weapons, and enemies come to life. And we’re still looking for more ways to surprise ourselves [laughs]

Much thanks to Mr. Rob Nicholls for taking the time to answer these questions.