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Steam Box, Oculus Rift will define next-gen, says Cliffy B

Steam Box, Oculus Rift will define next-gen, says Cliffy B

Mon 07 Oct 2013 5:12pm GMT / 1:12pm EDT / 10:12am PDT
HardwareDevelopment

Gears of War creator Cliff Bleszinski doesn't see much disruption or innovation coming from consoles and AAA titles

The new consoles from Sony and Microsoft are now only a little over a month away. While much of the industry is gearing up for the arrival of these next-gen systems, there are plenty who are less enthusiastic about what the platforms mean for next-gen gaming. You can count former Epic Games design director Cliff Bleszinski in that camp.

When asked by the [a]list daily what he thinks will define the next-gen era of games, Bleszinski gave an answer that was decidedly in a direction away from consoles. "Things like the Steam Box and the Oculus Rift, honestly. I'm friends with a lot of folks in Microsoft. Microsoft has been very good to me throughout my career. I'm friends with the folks at Sony. But when I think about my gamer instincts and where I'm going to see a lot of the most disruptive and innovative gaming I don't see it in the $250 million budgeted game that cost $100 million to market. Because when you have that high of a budget the amount of risk being taken decreases exponentially," he said.

"I was more excited about playing games like Gone Home than any console release. I am thoroughly excited to dive into Grand Theft Auto V, but it's sitting on my desk looking like War and Peace to me right now. I'm going to have to clear out a good two weeks of doing nothing in order to just deep dive into it. In the meantime I'm on my Nintendo DS and I'm on my laptop playing Steam games. I got to fire up Two Brothers and I finished Thomas Was Alone and Gone Home. I don't know if it's because I'm rubber banding and rebelling against my AAA background, but I will buy a Playstation 4 and an Xbox One. Am I more excited for that than the Rift and Steam? I think Sony and Microsoft are going to do just fine and it's a known entity. A known entity is not that exciting to me. It's the disruptive things that are exciting to me."

Bleszinski is confident that Oculus Rift can become a solid platform, but it needs games designed specifically for its VR interface and not just some console ports. "They know what they're doing over there (at Oculus) and I think Rift could eventually be its own platform. Putting Team Fortress 2 and Half Life on it is a mistake. The experiences that are going to be the best ones are the ones that are custom made for the pacing of that kind of experience. I got more excited by the trailer for EVE Valkyrie on the Rift than anything I saw at E3 this year," he commented.

Check out the rest of the interview at our sister site the [a]list daily.

26 Comments

Jeff Kleist
Writer, Marketing, Licensing

270 131 0.5
I'm skeptical about either ones ability to go mainstream, but I agree about the evolution Rift represents and the ability to deliver a true new experience, but I have my doubts about it expanding beyond the hardcore PC audience. For the mainstream I fear it'll end up being the next Wii, sales powered by a gimmick that wears thin

Me, I'll be too busy rockin Star Citizen in VR to care what they think ;)

Posted:9 months ago

#1

Nick Wofford
Hobbyist

149 156 1.0
If you look up Fortaleza, MS seems to think that OR could be a hit. I'm very interested in things like this if they're subtle. Gimmicks won't cut it.

Posted:9 months ago

#2

Paul Smith
Dev

189 148 0.8
I couldn't disagree more, The steam box sounds like an obsolete product (who are they even marketing it towards?) and the Rift is way too expensive and gimmicky to catch on.

Posted:9 months ago

#3

Steve Goldman
Journalist.

81 92 1.1
In his dreams.

Posted:9 months ago

#4

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,491 1,259 0.8
Popular Comment
The steam box sounds like an obsolete product (who are they even marketing it towards?) and the Rift is way too expensive and gimmicky to catch on.
Steam Machines are debatable (see the many debates on this site :p ), but the Rift? I think he's right about the Rift, if we think of it in terms of it being the next big evolution in gaming. Games are technologically staggering at this point (or soon to be, with the next-gen), but they're still the same-old same-old. In terms of AAA gaming, the control interfaces are much the same; the design concepts are much the same. The developers are reaching for much the same targets. A Polygon headline from yesterday reads "Dead Rising 3 is a co-op paradise packed with Kinect-enabled taunts, anatomically correct gore." If they're selling points, then games have more-or-less reached a point where an evolutionary step needs to occur in order to have "more", at least in AAA games. More thoughtful gameplay; more interesting designs; more scope for storytelling conceits. I think the Rift is that evolutionary step.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 8th October 2013 8:48am

Posted:9 months ago

#5

Tom Keresztes
Programmer

632 239 0.4
"Dead Rising 3 is a co-op paradise packed with Kinect-enabled taunts, anatomically correct gore." If
Dead Rising is another 3rd person Tomb-raider/Fade to black clone with slightly different game mechanics. A variant. Like most of the AAA games. Just putting a slightly different set-up wont make it a different game - it reminds me of the 1930s pulp fiction - same hero, different settings, almost identical way of solving problems. Kinda of a creative crisis IMHO, as it seems they can differentiate games by a different story, but otherwise its exactly the same old tired mechanic.

Rift is cool. Even the devkit with its low-res screen made me wow, and order one. Will need to find some time to work on it ;)

Posted:9 months ago

#6

John Cook
Senior Partner

27 12 0.4
Boy he's going to be embarrassed re-reading this in a couple of years.

Posted:9 months ago

#7

Klaus Preisinger
Freelance Writing

1,036 913 0.9
My experience regarding the Occulus Rift is that you should doubt it, but you can only doubt it until you tried it on. After that, you are sold.

It is worth mentioning that most of the more public demos are with "cockpit" games, such as a racing game, a space shooter, or mech shooter. Essentially a game, whereint the player model itsel does not move but sits down.

The real killer app for the Rift might not even be gaming, but video. Imagine a camera that records a giant field of view and is projected around you in the fashion of Imax Dome. You'd have a real video in which you could turn your head. Be remotely present on the ISS or at the World Cup Final. Just as there are cavemen with spears in museums, there shall be 70ies business-men with Viewmasters. Why buy a $1000 TV for your family, if you can get multiple VR Headsets for the same money?

Posted:9 months ago

#8

Paul Smith
Dev

189 148 0.8
Why buy a $1000 TV for your family, if you can get multiple VR Headsets for the same money?
Because people don't like wearing things on their heads/faces? The thought of seeing a family sat together watching a film with screens attached to their faces horrifies me, the last thing society needs is even less socialization.

"Why buy a 7.1 surround sound system when you can just buy 4 sets of 7.1 SS headphones for the same price!"

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Smith on 9th October 2013 1:36am

Posted:9 months ago

#9

Klaus Preisinger
Freelance Writing

1,036 913 0.9
@Paul
the well being of the modern family is not dependent on the configuration in which they sit in front of the TV. Would you also reject books amongst your family, based on the idea that people have to be left alone while reading them?

The most important thing to realize is the OR not being the same media consumption thing delivered with crazy goggles instead of flat screens. If you look at the 3D hype of previous years as expression of a desire of the audience to get more "into" the media than before, then the OR is leaps and bounds ahead of 3D.

Posted:9 months ago

#10

Alfonso Sexto
Lead Tester

768 574 0.7
Although I get his point, the way of innovating with a game is not necessarily the controls. Each generation brought new IP's and some of them pretty innovative.

We should not forget also that this comes from the guy that surprised everyone with Gears of War in a moment in which the action shooter genre was stuck into using the same formula again and again, and GoW was a game running in a old school controller like the one the 360 uses.

Posted:9 months ago

#11

Martyn Brown
Managing Director

136 33 0.2
The Rift is a refreshing novelty product that is undoubtedly impressive (I've got the devkit). I'm aways keen to see new titles for it but it's almost always a toe-dip in the water.

However, I don't think it can be seriously considered since (a) it's not an inclusive tech as only one person can experience it (unless everyone has the sets, obviously) and (b) it's difficult to imagine playing on one for any kind of long spell without feeling ill or uncomfortable - not sure how that can be fixed.

Steam is certainly viable (Steam boxes I'm not sold on as yet) and PC tech has always been there or thereabouts with the right software support. Tech wise it's a no brainer with costs dropping.

Posted:9 months ago

#12

Tameem Antoniades
Creative Director & Co-founder

196 164 0.8
Entirely new genres of gaming are created by new gaming interfaces, it's always been that way. So it follows that the Rift will see some breakthrough game experiences. It only takes a few of these "must have" experience to make it very sexy indeed.

I expect steam platforms to consoles will be akin to Android vs iOS. So you'll see more stuff on it, more experimental games, more misses and the occasional big hits.

From a creative standpoint, these are both exciting platforms and i imagine a lot of that innovation will migrate back to consoles. I don't think that they will commercially threaten consoles for many years but that's not what Cliff is saying here. He's excited by them, as am I. I don't think that's a controversial position to take is it?

Posted:9 months ago

#13

Jason Avent
VP, Studio Head

139 140 1.0
I'm really looking forward to Rift and want it to be great. I did feel a bit sick when I used the devkit version. I'm hoping that the sickness can be either eradicated with the higher resolution and faster screen that the final Rift will have or by clever game design. Even if we have to slow the pace of games down a bit so people are physically comfortable in VR, I think this could be a revolution. Heavy Rain or Walking Dead with this tech would be awesome. We just need to figure out what makes people sick and then not do that too much.

To the point that you look a bit of a dick in a headset: I almost definitely don't look attractive in my pants on my couch playing GTA on X360 and it doesn't bother me or anyone I play with because they're in their own gaming rooms sitting in their pants. Probably. : ) This is a piece of technology that can solely survive on early adopters who then turn into evangelists to their geeky friends. I'm in! : )

Posted:9 months ago

#14

Paul Smith
Dev

189 148 0.8
[
the well being of the modern family is not dependent on the configuration in which they sit in front of the TV. Would you also reject books amongst your family, based on the idea that people have to be left alone while reading them?
Being left alone to read isn't the same as sitting in a room with 3 other people while having a screen attached to your head, also what happens if someone else wants to watch? you have to buy a few spares?

Posted:9 months ago

#15

Klaus Preisinger
Freelance Writing

1,036 913 0.9
@Paul

You can read my book, when I am done with it and you may use my Rift, after I put it down. You can try to negotiate other terms, but the Rift toy is no different from any other toy in that regard. A TV might be able to broadcast information to multiple human receivers, but I am confident the Rift can compensate for the lack of such a feature through sheer quality of experience. A quality that remains the same, even if experienced alongside other players.

Families have multiple TV sets because even if they could, they sometimes prefer to watch something individually. Two rifts will be cheaper than two TV sets. More importantly, the Rift is a gaming device and games offer multiplayer. Even if you have just one tablet and one Rift PC, you can still create amazing multiplayer experiences that won't make you miss split screen TV for a second.

A family can just as easy sit next to each other in front of the TV without engaging each other, as they can sit each in their corner with Rifts on their heads.

Posted:9 months ago

#16

Jason Avent
VP, Studio Head

139 140 1.0
Rift isn't a Wii or a dance mat. Who cares if you have to play it alone? That's really not going to stop it selling tens of millions if it works.

Posted:9 months ago

#17

Anthony Gowland
Lead Designer

170 500 2.9
People won't watch sport through a rift 'cause it would be hard to drink a pint at the same time :)

Posted:9 months ago

#18

Edward Buffery
Pre-production Manager

148 96 0.6
Anthony, good point, but I'm sure people will learn how to drink alcohol efficiently with a Rift on their head in no time at all ;-) Where there's a will, there's a way (though the way may involve a few spilled pints before the goal is reached!)

Posted:9 months ago

#19

Rafa Ferrer
Localisation Manager

47 67 1.4
@Anthony & @Edward
Time to invest in straws, this could mean a huge comeback.

Posted:9 months ago

#20

Andrew Goodchild
Studying development

1,228 388 0.3
Have a rift/beer hat combination.

Posted:9 months ago

#21

Tim Carter
Designer - Writer - Producer

551 268 0.5
Cliffy B is a good level designer.

Posted:9 months ago

#22

Greg Wilcox
Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,134 1,039 0.5
Heh, want a Kickstarter that will make five million bucks in a week or less? The RIFTSTRAW will be that thing that does it (if those things take off)... I can't prototype for shit, so someone steal this idea and roll with it...

Posted:9 months ago

#23

Paul Smith
Dev

189 148 0.8
@Klaus
Two rifts will be cheaper than two TV sets.
That depends on the tv's you buy, and even then the tv's offer WAY more value for money.

Im sure The Rift will have some great uses' but for gaming its just another gimmicky peripheral like how 3d and motion controls were.

Posted:9 months ago

#24

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,137 914 0.8
The problem with this assumption is that these pieces of "hardware" can't magic innovation either.

You can only really rely on the software to innovate, not the delivery method. So I don't see what makes Occulus Rift or Steam Box better than consoles or AAA.

One is another console also with PC based architecture, the other is a peripheral. There are wonderful independent efforts on the PS4 and WiiU too, for a start.

Posted:9 months ago

#25

Bryan Robertson
Gameplay Programmer

86 210 2.4
I tried the development version of the Rift at a friend's house, running iRacing (with a steering wheel and pedals too).
I have to say, it was pretty mindblowing. I wouldn't go as far as to say it'll definitely be the future of gaming, but there's a ton of potential there, and if someone can come out with a killer app for it, then I wouldn't be surprised if it turns out to be extremely successful.

I don't think the fact that you can only play it single-player is necessarily a problem. Other people can still watch what's going on on the TV, they just won't get the effect of wearing it. Not to devalue split-screen, because I think more games should support it, but how many people play split-screen nowadays? I don't really see it as being all that different.

If someone came out with some kind of multiplayer X-Wing game, or an flight-sim that's accessible for people like me that don't play that kind of game normally (like the old game "Eurofighter 2000"), I'd totally buy one

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Bryan Robertson on 10th October 2013 11:18pm

Posted:9 months ago

#26

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