Consoles and Hardware Expansions

Zero Satori

Jaguar Ninja
Joined
Sep 21, 2006
Posts
2,009
Before going-on, I know that this message is pretty-much "tech-related," but I'm more interested in the social ideas and ramifications of what I'm saying than the nitty-gritty of a design, so I'm putting it in "unrelated."
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If the current generation of consoles has proven anything to me, it's that I'm no longer really willing to shell-out that many hundreds of dollars for a gaming system. Blame it on lack of interest, blame it on upgradable computers, do what you will; but ultimately, I don't have an XBox 360, a PS3, or a Wii because the cost of upgrading has become too prohibitive for my blood. From other threads and other forums, I know I'm not alone in this.

Nevertheless, it's not like change is bad, and after a while, game designers certainly want the ability to do more with their games than would be possible with an older piece of hardware. But when flicking through Saturn games today, I found the now-iconic RAM expansion cart and remember how much of a difference it made for Street Fighter Zero and its kin. On the same note, the N64 had the same idea, replacing the ordinary 1M jumper for four megs of RAM, and playing games like Turok 2 or that-Star Wars game (Rogue Squadron?) was like night-and-day if one had the expansion.

So my question to the free-thinking gamers of Neo-Geo.com is: How would you feel if this trend of "expanding" original systems were in current or future systems? It seems a damned shame to think that, every time a company wants to upgrade, they're dead-set upon releasing a whole new system. Granted, the overall hardware works-out better that way, but the Saturn and N64 are great examples on how pre-envisioned changes can work. (For what it's worth, I'll say that I love my Genesis going beyond a Genesis with the 32X and Sega CD, and the failure of those systems should largely be attributed to being so state-of-the-art that they, like the current generation of systems, were cost-prohibitive upgrades.)

I hope what I'm saying is making sense. Given the closing gap between consoles and computers, maybe the next generation will have simple removable SO-DIMM chips or something and only ship with a gigabyte. But as it stands, I think that the industry could benefit a lot from gamers not having to worry that they'll need to shell-out major dough to play the latest games; they lost me already for that reason.
 

smokehouse

I was Born This Ugly.,
15 Year Member
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Posts
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I'm not a fan of it.

One thing that I've always liked about gaming consoles-vs-computers was that you didn't have to upgrade them. You buy them as a package, play games on it with no further hardware purchases required and then replace the entire unit when something new comes out. With many consoles having a 4-5+ year shelf life...I rarely mind the price of admission.

I like knowing that every game made for that system, if properly programmed, is guaranteed to work with that console, no extra hardware required. This is actually why I stopped PC gaming years ago, I got tired of upgrading my system just so I could experience the best resolution/frame rate/sound that whatever current game offered.
 

Takumaji

Kraut Mod
Staff member
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Jul 24, 2001
Posts
18,208
Online content has brought in sloppy coding. Companies know they can release a game even if it's still in beta state because they could always offer some patches and hotfixes via online services.

What's more, IMO it sucks having to "install" a game on a console hd in order to play it. A buddy of mine and I rented Gran Turismo for PS3 a few months ago and it took the damn game more than half an hour to install and download all sorts of upgrades. I mean... what crap is that? It's a game console, not a fucking PC. I realize that the current consoles are capable of doing what no other console did before but that alone doesn't cut it.

One of the major reason why I dislike PC gaming is right this installation and update bs, that and the fact that most major PC releases either are FPS, RPGs or overdone sims, read, genres that I'm not particularly fond of. If the trend towards PC-style gaming on consoles continues, the PS3 or 360 I'm going to buy in a couple of weeks in order to play RE5 and a select few of other titles will be my last vg console purchase.

- EDIT -

About that hardware upgrade thing:

What's a vg console with slots, removeable gfx cards, hd and DVD drive? Nothing more than a PC with a different shell, anything else wouldn't be cost-effective enough because you had to develop and build your own custom hardware, which not only is expensive as hell but also a no-no in light of the current business philosophy. Companies these days don't want to be stuck with a system for too long anymore because it's cheaper and more lucrative to pick up the state-of-the-art hardware at a certain point in time, add a few minor enhancements and build a complete system around it which can be marketed way easier than some hardware expansion pack for an old system.

On the upside, an expandable system would give the vg biz what it (IMO) desperatedly needs: Steadiness and long-term planning, and developers who are capable of squeezing the last drop of power out of a system because they can focus on it for more than just two or three years and gain lots of experience.

Sadly, this isn't how the industry works anymore.
 
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Lochlan

Igniz's Servent
Joined
Dec 23, 2006
Posts
1,067
So my question to the free-thinking gamers of Neo-Geo.com is: How would you feel if this trend of "expanding" original systems were in current or future systems? It seems a damned shame to think that, every time a company wants to upgrade, they're dead-set upon releasing a whole new system.

I could not disagree more.

This will never happen, and should never happen--not only due to the historically monumental failure of system upgrades in the US, but also due to constantly changing technology. Game consoles are just computers, and 5 years from now we're likely going to have new types of RAM, processors, system architectures, etc. It's just not practical to make all these upgrades, releasing a new system makes a lot more sense.

Granted, the overall hardware works-out better that way, but the Saturn and N64 are great examples on how pre-envisioned changes can work.

Notice that in both cases these are just RAM upgrades.

(For what it's worth, I'll say that I love my Genesis going beyond a Genesis with the 32X and Sega CD, and the failure of those systems should largely be attributed to being so state-of-the-art that they, like the current generation of systems, were cost-prohibitive upgrades.)

I don't know about that. Cost was probably a factor, but I think it's misleading to suggest that cost was the reason people didn't buy Sega CD's. The Sega CD didn't exactly have a ton of great games with mass appeal, and I think consumers were also dissapointed that the CD-ROM that promised them FMV and all this new fancy stuff was still limited by the Genesis itself. CD audio and grainy video in a tiny little box just wasn't good enough.

And by the time the 32X rolled around, it was a terrible idea to the point of absurdity. The Sega CD's failure gave the 32x a bad rep, being yet another Genesis add-on, giving it the appearance of being destined for failure before it even came out...not to mention that in late 1994, when it was released, people were looking forward to the next generation of systems.

Given the closing gap between consoles and computers, maybe the next generation will have simple removable SO-DIMM chips or something and only ship with a gigabyte.

...and then SO-DIMM will be replaced by a new standard. Or perhaps bus speeds will increase and faster SO-DIMMs will exist.
 

smokehouse

I was Born This Ugly.,
15 Year Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2005
Posts
12,878
Online content has brought in sloppy coding. Companies know they can release a game even if it's still in beta state because they could always offer some patches and hotfixes via online services.

What's more, IMO it sucks having to "install" a game on a console hd in order to play it. A buddy of mine and I rented Gran Turismo for PS3 a few months ago and it took the damn game more than half an hour to install and download all sorts of upgrades. I mean... what crap is that? It's a game console, not a fucking PC. I realize that the current consoles are capable of doing what no other console did before but that alone doesn't cut it.

One of the major reason why I dislike PC gaming is right this installation and update bs, that and the fact that most major PC releases either are FPS, RPGs or overdone sims, read, genres that I'm not particularly fond of. If the trend towards PC-style gaming on consoles continues, the PS3 or 360 I'm going to buy in a couple of weeks in order to play RE5 and a select few of other titles will be my last vg console purchase.

This is all the truth...

One thing I despise about my PS3 are the fucking updates...some can take up to an hour (and I'm on hardwired broadband). Like you said about Gran Turismo...that thing took forever to "install" all the shit needed to play it. It's even done this shit to me when watching a few Blu Ray titles...once I had some friends over to watch a movie and we all had to sit there for 30+ min to wait for the fucking thing to download and install the "required software". What a joke.

Like you also said, this gives game developers the option to release a buggy titles and offer updates later, something I despised about the PC gaming world.
 

ratson

Hyperactive Stoner
15 Year Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2008
Posts
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Yeah that's exactly what annoyes me,having to load your game to the harddrive,which indeed does take fucking long.I thought we got rid of that after the C64 data cassete players.
And indeed those updates take forever,wtf.
 
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Mushiki

flaming petrosexual,
15 Year Member
Joined
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Posts
11,434
This will never happen.

What really sets consoles apart is static hardware, which translates to highly optimized code -- this is how games like Resident Evil 4 run on hardware like the PS2, with only 32MB of RAM, and 4MB of VRAM.

Sure, developers can always make use of more and faster hardware, but they would have to sacrifice the fact that they work on static, predictable hardware configurations.

Again, won't happen and there isn't need to discuss it really -- I mean, what was the last hardware expansion released by any company?

Oh yesss, Microsoft's HDDVD drive for the Xbox 360...
 

Bishamon

Azu Bla, ,
Joined
Aug 24, 2002
Posts
3,624
It would make little sense. As has already been mentioned, the big advantage consoles have over the PC is the static platform leading to highly optimized games. I also find consoles have relatively low cost for 'state of the art' in gaming upon release. In recent years, the trend has been for consoles to leapfrog PCs in terms of graphical performance upon release, and then PCs generally catch up over the next 24 months or so (in terms of raw power, PCs tend to catch up to new consoles after about ayear, but it seems to take two years before the games catch up), and then surpass consoles before the next generation. The big difference is that in order to be 'state of the art' with a PC, you are looking at spending $500+ on a graphics card (or cards) alone, and then there may be only one or two titles that take advantage of the capabilities of that graphics chipset before it is surpassed in 8 months or so, and the cycle continues. Sure, I used to have fun constantly upgrading my PC in order to play a single title each year, but these days I find console titles much more interesting, and instead of spending $1000+ per year on my PC I only have to spend $500 or so every four or five years.
 

NeoSneth

King of Spammers
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this gen was too expensive, especially with $60 games.

that is why i flashed my drive for the 360, and bought a chip for my wii. Both are stealth.
 

NeoCverA

RevQuixo. Who He?,
20 Year Member
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I didn't bother checking age or anything but this thread is a bullshit lie.

Shadow Dancer and Strider were 79.99each at K-B Toys during the Genesis days.

So stop your fucking crying about how expesive shit is.

Carts were more expensive to produce blah blah fuck all that.
 
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Mushiki

flaming petrosexual,
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Carts are more expensive, but production costs for games nowadays are much, much more expensive than they used to be.

Sega had to invest over 70 Million USD to make Shenmue
 

ki_atsushi

So Many Posts
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For Games.
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I didn't bother checking age or anything but this thread is a bullshit lie.

Shadow Dancer and Strider were 79.99each at K-B Toys during the Genesis days.

So stop your fucking crying about how expesive shit is.

Carts were more expensive to produce blah blah fuck all that.

Hell yes. Phantasy Star II came out at $89.99. Fuck that.

And the SNES games were the same too. Even saw some NES games for $79.99 back in the day.
 

ForeverSublime

6400|!!|Kyo Clone
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...and 5 years from now we're likely going to have new types of RAM, processors, system architectures, etc. It's just not practical to make all these upgrades, releasing a new system makes a lot more sense.

Right, there will be completely new technologies (hardware and software) to take care of things previously impossible.

This is where backwards compatibility comes in to justify the new purchase.
 

smokehouse

I was Born This Ugly.,
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Joined
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Posts
12,878
I didn't bother checking age or anything but this thread is a bullshit lie.

Shadow Dancer and Strider were 79.99each at K-B Toys during the Genesis days.

So stop your fucking crying about how expesive shit is.

Carts were more expensive to produce blah blah fuck all that.

Older games were expensive as hell...putting aside the obvious Neo games which cost more than a house back then, NES, Gen and SNES games were costly. When I bought my copy of Final Fantasy III back in 1994, after tax it was over $90. The first game I ever purchased, Super Mario 2 for the NES was $49 before tax...and that was in 1988.

To me games cost what they cost...I don't bitch about price, I bitch about gameplay on the disc. I'm not dropping $60 for a game I'll play through once in a week and never pick up again. Longer games *cough* Metal Gear, Final Fantasy, Fallout, etc I'll pony up the dough for.
 

WoodyXP

Setsuna's Owl Keeper,
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One thing that I've always liked about gaming consoles-vs-computers was that you didn't have to upgrade them. You buy them as a package, play games on it with no further hardware purchases required and then replace the entire unit when something new comes out. With many consoles having a 4-5+ year shelf life...I rarely mind the price of admission.

Word life.
 
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