While initially it seemed that the next gen consoles wernt overly impressive, as more info has come out about them, they are a massive jump from last gen.
I will speak of the Xbox Series X here, as the PS5 is lacking in alot of the key next gen feature set.
The jump from HDD to SSDs, the inclusion of Ray Tracing, the inclusion of lower precision int8 and int4 on the GPU, Variable Rate Shading, Sampler Feedback Streaming and Mesh Shaders takes game development in a hole new direction than last gen consoles.
We saw how long it took game engines to actually exploit multicore CPUs, so do we think that these features will actually be exploited before the end of the gen?
There is also the fact that Unreal Engine is becoming more of the default engine, so if it doesn’t adopt these features then they may not get a foothold.
VRS is already being used, so I think this one is all good.
Machine Learning is already being used by Nvidia to great effect, but will the lower precision hardware in the XSX be used in any real meaningful way?
Then we have Mesh Shaders and SFS. Mesh Shaders have been around for a couple of Nvidia generations, but yet no game has used them. There is some serious gains to be had by using them, but it seems it needs that engines need to be built around them, and in a time where the majority of GPUs out there don’t yet support them, are devs going to spend time and money doing this for maybe only 5% of GPU users to get a benefit from?
Same goes for SFS.
What features will be used, and when can we expect them to happen?
If a big studio was to use all these features in a game, the results would be amazing.
The thing is that these things take so much more time than they used to.
Just take Mesh Shaders for instance.
It could take a year or two to develop an engine to use Mesh Shaders. Then once the engine is done you start to develop the game, which in all reality could be up to four years of dev time.
That’s a five or six year wait for a game that takes advantage of just Mesh Shaders.
I personally think Turn 10s new engine must be going to incorporate all these new features. It has taken them a couple of years to sort the new engine out, and Forza MS is still a couple of years away they say.
That depends on the studios, Bethesda game studios, Obsidian and InXile have talked about making more complicated and larger amounts of NPCs, cities and environments that react to choices so expecting them to take full advantage of ray tracing is not a well placed expectation.
I’m not sure Direct ML is going to be overly used.
You have devs making makes with DLSS in mind, but its only a few of them.
Then the PS5 has no int8 or int4 capabilities, and Nvidia DLSS is totally different to what the XSX offers, so there would need to be two sets of ML added into the game, and then none on PS5 and older PC GPUs.
Not sure outside of Xbox first party alot of devs will use it.
I really hope that devs push ML, SFS and Mesh Shaders, as I think the results will be amazing.
I just wonder how much the PS5 will hold back game development this gen with it lacking these features.
Devs will just program to the lower spec hardware I fear.
From my perspective (and I could be very wrong about this) is that there will not be a game that is built ground up to take advantage of all these features for a while for financial reasons.
I’m basing this on the limited sales of the Series consoles and the limited sales of DX12U GPUs going forward for at least the next 2-3 years. It really limits the audience of your game.
So I think if anything these features will be more like nice-to-haves built upon game engines that can run for existing consoles and 99% of today’s PCs. This is a pure business-focused perspective that I think is realistic.
On the other hand it is almost like the “Field of Dreams” situation where I believe if they build it people will come. Much like how Crysis got a ton of PC players to upgrade their computers, and the DX11 based Flight Sim got people to upgrade…a fully DX12U game that pushes the envelope puts pressure on all other developers to hit that level.
It would certainly boost the sales of the Series consoles because they would be the most affordable entry point for these visuals. And only that be the best bang for the buck in terms of “graphics per dollar” (or whatever term makes sense heh).
This is where I think Indies can fit, because they don’t need millions of sales to become profitable.
For first party studios there is a chance that some of this stuff has been worked on before the Series X reveal. It isn’t beyond the realm of belief that The Coalition (for instance) were fed a memo when they finished up Gears 5 which said “XYZ is now available, they’ll be on the new Series consoles, aim to use them” before the official tool kit was shared with the wider developer community.