CMP0010N E-solutions and Digital Media Applications

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CMP0010N E
-
solutions and Digital Media Applications

CASE STUDY ANALYSIS

3) Digital games

09027067 William Marsh


When comparing the two gaming platforms, Microsoft’s Xbox
360
and Nintendo's Wii and DS it is immediately
obvious that they are two very
different platforms. They have different

audiences, different hardware,
different

games and are headed in completely different directions.

I will look

at how these two

platforms have developed over the last four years and what makes these seventh
generation consoles so exciting.

To do this I will analyse

how they market themselves and to whom, how they
utilise technology and for what purpose, and how
two very different
communities have grown around them.

Microsoft’s Xbox 360 at a glance is for people who enjoy high quality graphics (it being a high definition
console) where games are created
with
rich and believable characters with a focus on story and environment.

With
many of the most popular games being FPS, Sandbox or RPG (or indeed a mix of the 3) such as Call of

Duty: Modern Warfare 2, the Gears of War series
,
Fallout 3
,
Mass Effect 2

and
the Halo series there is a
definite focus on the player as an individual

follo
wing their own story
.
With the addition of Xbox Live
,

gamers
are given a very competitive and social medium to show off their skills.

Nintendo have, since the Wii’s release, presented themselves as the new leaders in family entertainment
,

concentrating on fun
. With their innovative controller and
sensor bar Nintendo have
indeed
revolutionised
gaming
. The Wii is certainly not as powerful as the 360, but
doesn’t need to be being much smaller
and
sleeker.
As well as this
Nintendo’s DS, DS Lit
e and DSi is the latest in the Game Boy line, with dual screen
gaming and Wi
-
Fi
multiplayer
capabilities for most games
, it also boasts a touchscreen with stylus.


Hardware and Interactivity

When looking under the bonnet

of

the two consoles
, the Xbox has a higher processing ability
than Nintendo’s
Wii
. It has an ATI graphics GPU and a 500MHz processor
;
it is also in HD and contains HD playbac
k for DVDs
which is compatible with

an HD television
.
Apart from being a more powerful console the Xb
ox 360 also has
the 120 GB hard drive option seen in the 360 Elite, allowing you to store much more than games and
downloadable content on your hard drive.

In comparison to this
,

the Wii has half the processing power and
only

3Mb
of textual memory

(Casamassina,
2006)
.
The Wii owns 512Mb of internal memory (Greenwald, 2006) which is all it needs for its DLC. I believe
that
what Nintendo are focuse
d on can is simplicity
.

A
s Bob Feldstein, V
ice
P
resident of Strategic D
evelopment
at AMD,
pointed out

i
n
an interview with Gamasutra’s Christian Nutt,
the areas that are really exciting are not
graphics, but physics of a game

(Nutt, 2007)
.

This will become more apparent

in
the future
where eventually
the GPU and CPU are combined

but for now, as it stands, it
seems that Nintendo
have spotted this and
aren’t
focused

on
detailed or complex
graphics
.



No

larger than 2 or 3 stacked DVD cases

(
Takamoto
)
is the phrase that echoed when the Wii first came out.
This small

user friendly

console
does not

have
as intricate games as the 360; it is
designed to be fun.
As Genyo
Takeda
,

when asked by

Satoru Iwata

stated “if we had followed the existing Roadmaps
we would have aimed
to make it ‘faster and flashier.’
...we would have tried to improve the speed at which
it displays stunning
graphics. But we could not help

but ask ourselves, ‘
How big an impact would that directio
n really have on our
customers?’
...we came to realize the sheer inefficiency of this path when we compared the hardships and
costs of development
against any new experiences that might be had by our customers.” (Takenda)
.
Nintendo
made a bet
that their sensor bar and TV
-
remote
-
like controller would be a hit, and they were right.




Games

When considering how
games are developed for each console, the difference between the two is
prominent.

2


Both the Nintendo systems are more physical environments to play
with. The DS’
s stylus defiantly encourages
this,

games
such as

My Virtual Tutor
,

Kawashimas Brain Training
and the Cooking Mama series
display how the
stylus has
made the games more hands on. The
DS’s
microphone
also
has this capability involving

you within
the game, whether you are whistling for a cab in GTA or teaching you parrot to talk in Discovery Kids: Parrot
Pals
,

th
e
refore

DS experience is very different to any hand held console we have seen.
Combine the Wii’s
remote with this and we can s
ee where Nintendo are headed, as
A Console To Make You

Wiip

(2006)
stated
that

the player feels emotionally connected to the game through physical actions.


With this in
mind the Wii and DS spearhead games that involve a group of people in the same room. Wii Play
,
Wii

Sports and
the New Super Mario Bros Wii as well as
many other titles are designed to get everyone in the
room involved
. These are hugely multiplayer games
where you can work with, or compete again
st your
friends. This links with
Nintendo’s
expansion of
t
arget audience,

which is

both existing
Nintendo
fans and
families.

In comparison the Xbox games have been ju
st as revolutionary and stimulating, but where Wi
i and DS’s games
concentrate

on the physical experience o
f the gamer, the Xbox’s
games
focus on intricate stories
and

creating

an immersive environment.
Games such as Fallout 3 and Fable 2 have been designed to give the
game
player
an individual exper
ience
where each action
that they perform
affects

other
characters perceptions of
the
gameplayer’s character virtual
environment.

These wide open S
andbox

or RPG

games allow the player to spend hours exploring

and which is

almost
limitless.
Red Dead Redemption

along with Bioware’s
Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age: Origins are
all
excellent
examples of non
-
linear gaming where the player’s choices are paramount to the story. This can defeat the age
old problem of the replay ability of a game as gamers will want to kn
ow exactly how
the path they chose
affected
the story

and what they could have done differently
.
These kind of games

also bring a

player's
morality into question.

W
hether
they are

Machiavellian

or not

moral
decisions
made within the game,
such as
acts of
mercy, kindness and violence
,

will
to an extent
reflect the players personality
. Even sexual preferences
displayed within a game

are taken into consideration
, such as in Fable 2 where

the player is treated as an
individual by all
in
-
game
characters

dependi
ng on who they are known to have virtual sexual relationships
with
.

The individuality of the gamers experience is also being enhanced in a graphical way as well. The new game
Crysis 2 by
Crytek, reviewed in the March edition of Edge magazine, is an
excellent example of how graphics
and game physics are changing to present a
n immediate real time
experience. As Cevat Yerli of Crytek told
Leigh Alexander

"I think graphics matter a lot...It depends on the type of game. If graphics and technology, AI
and
physics provide you a better experience but a challenge, then ultimately it does matter. You can get an
experience out of Crysis 2 you just don't get anywhere else."

(Alexander, 2010) of course he is promoting his
own game here, but essentially he is right
. Dangli
ng lights, trees in the wind,

the reflections in water

and rope
physics in relation to the gameplayer’s actions
have all been
the
concentrat
ion
,

with the CryEngine 3 bringing
about
real
-
time

movement and
realistic
physics to games
,

the players expe
rience has been enhanced
.


Marketing and Target Audience

The Nintendo market audience
for the Wii and DS
is unmistakable from the adverts. They all contain people
actually playing the game as well as
clips of gameplay,
therefore show
ing

the viewer who is capable of
enjoying the game. Most notably the adverts contain people from all age groups and social situations
completely immersed within the games and obviously enjoying the experience. Family units
in neutral spaces
can be seen sittin
g on the sofa interacting with each other through the game, in either in a competitive or a co
-
operative way. The TV advertisement for Just Dance (2009) even
shows a Wii at

the centre of a party wher
e
everyone in the room is dancing along with the 4 player
s stating the intentional social reach of the console.


This is a clear sign that Nintendo are reaching out to everyone, people who might have never played on a
console are shown Nintendo's simple
controls are accessible and enjoyable. This is also percept
ible from the
3


games genres that are on Nintendo’s two systems. Every genre is available on both platforms, from Sudoku
puzzles to racing every avenue is explored
using physical gaming.


The Xbox adverts
in comparison are much more theatrical. The
Halo 3:
Believe

advert is a

perfect example

of
this,
where
we

see Xbox reach out to it’s target audience by showing the emotional recollections of a veteran
recalling the heroisms of the Master Chief, your character in Halo. The veteran recounts how you, as the
pl
ayer, filled men’s hearts with hope. This is a clear indication of Xbox concentrating on the individual’s
experience as being nothing less than patr
iotic
,

as t
he empowered

male is clearly the target.



It would seem that as Nintendo have broadened their ta
rget audience, Microsoft have kept their eyes on the
young
-
adult
-
male.


Online

The online capabilities of the platforms are just as different
. The Wii has self contained wireless
capability
which needs little setting up. It is completely free to use and
includes extras such as weather reports and world
news. Nintendo have also opened up a whole world of older, classic games that Nintendo fans will recognise
from their childhood, all easily downloadable from the Wii Shopping Channel. What has also been mad
e
available is access to the internet via The Internet Channel
.


In comparison the Xbox requires an external wireless adapter, and then the purchase of Xbox Live making it
decidedly more expensive to join the online gaming community. However once there you

can play anyone
from around the world at the game of your choice. Both consoles offer multiplayer gaming for their games but
as the Wii and DS may be easier and cheaper, the Xbox has collaborated with Sk
y giving you the choice of
hundreds of television ch
annels to watch without having to have a Sky dish. We can see here how both
Microsoft and Nintendo are acutely aware of their console and the lifestyle of their console’s users.


In conclusion
it is obvious that
Microsoft and Nintendo are trying to create
lifestyle choice rather than just
consoles. Both
console
s

offer more with their online features with Sky TV and the internet
as well as
multiplayer gaming proving this. It is also clear from the different processing levels of the consoles that being
more p
owerful is not as meaningful as it once was. The truly more advanced console is one that can focus on
it’s target audience and supply a unique unrivalled gaming experience. There will always be competitors, but it
is the first past the post that will win t
he race.


The Wii and DS have undoubtedly revolutionised gaming having
shown the world how to make gaming fun for
everyone and we will surely see more, demonstrated by Johnny Lee’s head tracking research into the Wii’s
sensor bar and remote (Lee, 2007), bu
t as Microsoft plan to launch the Natal system later this year it is clear
that Microsoft are prepared to fight for the physical gaming experience.
With facial and voice recognition the
link between the gameplayer and the game is almost complete. Demonstra
ted by
Peter Molyneux and
Lionhead’s
Milo

we can see a seamless real time interaction with a virtual world
. All that is left is for game
developers to incorporate this interactivity amongst rich storylines, emotional obligations and immersive
environments.


Bibliography:

A Console to Make You Wiip. SeedMagazine (2006)
[Online] Available from:

http://seedmagazine.com/content/article/a_console_to_make_you_wiip/

Date Accessed:
10/04/2010

Alexander, L
. Gamasutra (
2010
)
Interview: Crytek's Yerli On Why Graphics Still Matter

[Online] Available from:
http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/28027/Interview_Cryteks_Yerli_On_Why_Graphics_Still_Matter.php

Date Accessed: 10/04/2010

4


Casamassina, M. IGN (2006)
Revolution's Horsepower

[Online] Available from:
http://uk.wii.ign.com/articles/699/699118p1.html

Date Accessed: 10/04/2010

Greenwald, W. CNET Reviews (2006)
Nintendo Wii
[Online] Available from:

http://reviews.cnet.com/consoles/nintendo
-
wii/4505
-
10109_7
-
31355104.html?tag=contentMain;contentBody#cnetReview

Date Accessed
: 10/04/2010

Lee, J. Human
-
Computer Interaction Institute (2007)
Head Tracking for Desktop VR Displays using the Wii

Remote

[Online] Available from:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jd3
-
eiid
-
Uw&feature=related

Date Accessed: 10/04/2010

Nutt, C. Gamasutra (2007)
AMD On Graphics: 360 and Wii GPU Guru Speaks

[Online] Available from:
http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/1995/amd_on_graphics_360_and_wii_gpu_.php

Date Accessed: 10/04/2010

Takamoto
,
J
. Nintendo.
Iwata Asks Volume 1
: The

Wii Hardware, Part 2
: A

Design For Everyone
[Online]
Available from:

http://www.nintendo.com/wii/what/iwataasks/volume
-
1/part
-
2

Date Accessed: 10/04/2010

Takenda, G. Nintendo.
Iwata Asks Volume 1
: The

Wii Hardware, Part 1: Using State
-
of
-
the
-
Art Technology in
Unprecedented Ways

[Online] Available from:

http://www.nintendo.com/wii/what/iwataasks/volume
-
1/part
-
1

Date Accessed: 10/
04/2010