This week, on the eve of the launch of both Sony and Nintendo’s new consoles, an interesting phenomenon has occurred whereby a large quotient of the alsoran’s remaining colleagues that had yet to join the next-generation of consoles, (yes, even developers are shrewd about shelling out their hard-earned money for expensive consoles unless utterly sold on a platform), finally did make the leap. But this was not the expected group purchase of the new kids on the block, instead a mass take-up of the XBOX360, due to two major factors.
1. The GENIUS idea of Microsoft to flood retail outlets with 360′s, to be sold at discount price, on the one weekend that both Sony and Nintendo have enticed a large amount of potential customers out to Best Buy, Future Shop, Toys R Us and Wal Mart only to be met with dashed hopes due to the short supply of Wii and PS3.
2. Gears of War.
Over and above being the best looking game ever bar none, beyond having one of the most fun mechanics to ever be employed in a shooting game with their cover-fire system, and past utilising some of the tightest multiplayer level design outside of counter-strike, our friends at Epic, (for the alsoran has been working with them for the past 2 years using the Unreal3 Engine), have delivered what the alsoran hoped for in Gears – the one game to universally bring everyone together on XBOX Live.
Being a developer for a large videogame studio, the alsoran’s friends list has always been hovering around the 20 mark, but rarely do the diverse tastes of so many creatives ever converge onto more than one of those games enjoyed by the alsoran. Now 8-man matches are a nightly event, and above this, the friends list is now nearing 40. This marks the real birth of the next-generation. As the alsoran has often espoused to colleagues awaiting the Wii, (there is yet to be one soul holding out for a PS3), the next generation isn’t about graphics, or bigger and better, it’s about online.