Wednesday, January 18, 2006

A Slight Deviance

Well I was going to write a bit more about the DS but I will leave that beauty for later. The reason is that in the last week I have had three of my theories substantiated to a degree. They remain, of course, theory. Two I haven't mentioned here yet but one I have. I wanted to quickly draw attention to them not just because it gives me an ego boost, but also because I feel that they are important and interesting.
The first is about the market penetration of the HDTV. I ran across data on "According to a report by Kagan Research on the penetration rate of HDTV sets, only around 10% of households had televisions capable of displaying high definition images at the beginning of 2005. By the end of the decade, Leichtman Research Group puts that number at 55%." He goes on to say that two other groups put up their own numbers. "Kagan Research LLC, however, put that number at about 82%, citing a much steeper increase as average HD-TV prices drop to around $1000. A third company, JupiterResearch, predicts that 63% of homes will have HD capable TVs by the turn of the decade." Still, averaging these three numbers out give us a solid 66.66%. A clear majority, but that is by the end of the decade, at the end of the lifecycle of the Revolution, 360 and PS3. As I said on my blog, the penetration at the END of the decade, in the next generation would be a much cheaper and better time to implement HD graphics in video games.
The second was a thought I had when I found out about the new controller and also heard that Twilight Princess was to be delayed and I thought that the delay might very well be to incorporate the use of the new controller functions into the Zelda title adding replay to the title and also giving the Revolution a killer app because if you haven't bought a Gamecube yet, Twilight Princess probably won't sell you, but it might entice you to purchase a Revolution in the beginning of it's cycle. Especially if the new implementations are solid changes. Its not hard to find this rumor if you Google it. The interesting extrapolation is the fact that the biggest hardware push with a new game title is only a matter of weeks. If they want to take advantage of the hype surrounding Twilight Princess to sell Revolution hardware they might be planning a near-simultaneous launch, which would make sense don't you think?
The third is much more vague, but stands to be the coolest of the three. It revolves around a technology called "displacement mapping". If rumors are to be believed, the Revolution will have dedicated hardware to perform displacement mapping, which is a method of splitting polygon models to make them more detailed. When the virtual console feature of the Revolution was announced I thought how cool it would be to enhance the graphics of older games to run better on the Revolution. Obviously the SNES would not benefit from this, leaving the NES and especially the N64. The resolution of the N64 games can easily be changed but to change textures or models would probably require a game specific patch. If displacement mapping can remake the models on the fly then it would breathe new life into games that have been gathering dust for a long time.
Now onto a few predictions just to have them on the record for if they too are substantiated. First, it has been suggested that each game for the virtual console will need to be re-released, meaning that not all desired content will be available to each person. A tiny hardware unit consisting basically of a cartridge slot and a wire interfacing with the Revolution would hook up to a cartridge that you own and allow you to emulate it on the Revolution. Of course there would be a separate one for each cartridge form factor. In terms of hardware I can't imagine these selling for more than $10, making them a viable consumer option.
Also, clues have been coming together slowly concerning a much bigger Revolution picture that I'm not entirely sure what to make of. When the Revolution was announced I was wondering, like many, what the revolutionary aspects of the console would be. While people were focusing on the controller I was thinking about the Virtual Boy and how it is nearly time to implement true 3D perspective gaming which I believe is a gaming leap that is inevitable. I wondered at the time if this might not be what Nintendo is up to. A few statements fueled my theory. Statements about new ways to visualize a game, and a patent filed by Nintendo, but I didn't want to get my hopes up too much. Then the revolution controller was actually shown and instead of putting down my theory it helped to fan the fire. For the first time in video game history we will have a controller that can access all three axis at once, and in an intuitive way. If you wanted to have stereo vision don't you think you would want a controller that could interface with a Z axis? Well, here you go. Some subsequent statements have also bolstered my idea such as numerous statements that we don't know everything about it yet and just a couple days ago, Iwata-san was asked for a price point for the Revolution and said it would not be priced above "$399". Doesn't it strike you as odd that a system like the Revolution, priced down by avoiding HD could sell for that high? Many developers who have precursor development systems say that a pricepoint as low as $100-150 would be probable. Why the huge gap? Only two explanations present themselves. Either Nintendo doesn't have a price established and they don't want to be held to anything they might have said, causing Iwata to quote a high price or else there is something more to the Revolution that we don't know yet. I am sure I will touch on this eventually as more details add to my theory. For now, just try to imagine if Nintendo gave you true 3D, so that not only was there a new way to PLAY your games, but also a new way to SEE them. That, my friends, is a Revolution.


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