So I've been doing some catch-up on the trivia I missed while I was away. I'd forgotten that E3 had happened in the last couple of months, so I've skimmed over some of the press reviews of the games there. There's only a few things so far that have caught my eye; the descriptions of the new Wii games (I'm interested in how they will play), Spore (Will Wright is my favourite game designer) and BioShock (spiritual successor for the System Shock series, 'nuff said).
One thing I am a bit concerned about is how breath-takingly beautiful some of those games look. While I'm expecting most people would be impressed (and I am), I am more concerned with the specifications for this new generation of games. Frankly my PC is pretty underpowered by hardcore gamer standards. Despite being (mostly) new this year, I decided to buy cheap rather than powerful. This highlights for me one of the problems with PC gaming, which is the constant cycle of upgrades expected. New games have always pushed the envelope on what PCs can do, but these days I'm finding it harder to justify upgrading purely for the sake of a game.
Back in the nineties an upgraded PC usually meant more RAM and a faster processor, which improved work performance as well as entertainment, but these days my PC has done everything I want to do well - except for play the latest cutting-edge games. In the last few years, I've had to skip various titles I would have otherwise bought purely because they required a fancier graphics card than I had, and for just one or two games it didn't seem worth upgrading. With other PC games not requiring such high specs (especially older ones now in the bargain bin), console games, my extensive back catalogue of games I already only, and not to mention lots of other activities besides playing games all competiting for my free time, I don't need the hassle of upgrading.
Now with the extensive cross-over between PC and console games too, it's becoming more tempting to switch over to buying major releases purely on the consoles. Admittedly the new generation of consoles are trying hard to repel me from buying them with ridiculous game prices and extra features I don't need (high definition resolution isn't that necessary on a 14" TV), but eventually I'll might have to make the decision between yet-another-PC-upgrade-purely-for-games or an Xbox 360/PS3, and this time I'm leaning more towards the console. Or I might just stick with the games I already have, and with those games that don't require video cards and CPUs with an insanely large number in their description.
I've rambled on a bit too long, but there is a point in there somewhere about game development. I suspect that there's quite a lot of non-ultra-hardcore gamers like me out there who don't have a gee-whiz fancy computer but still like to play games. And if you are a game developer, whether hobbyist, indie or commercial, it would be wise to consider the decision between either going for a jaw-droppingly beautiful game, or the market of gamers who have underpowered computers. After all, what good is a beautiful game if it can't run on 95% of the PCs out there?
Right, that's enough for now. I still feel like I left my brain in Europe; got to find some more coffee.