As the next generation of video game consoles from Microsoft Corp. and Sony Corp. is approaching, many game developers shift their attention to new platforms. However, as it appears now, Microsoft Xbox 360 also has a lot of yet undiscovered performance, as according to Epic Games the platform has not hit its limits yet.
“When we first released Gears of War, the first one, people were like 'woah, they are pushing the Xbox 360 to its limits, they are doing crazy things' – and every single time we have been able to step it up and find some corner of the X360 that no one was aware of and more areas for us to push,” said Jim Brown, the lead level designer at Epic Games, in an interview with OXM.
The new Xbox 360-exlusive video game – Gears of War: Judgment, which is based on Unreal Engine 3.5 with additional features – pushes the Xbox 360 like nothing before, according to developers. They admit that in order to provide better image quality, more enemies and more action in the new game, they had to optimize the code by hands and even to add a few new features to the rendering engine that allowed them to do richer and more dynamic lighting.
“We wanted this to be the most intense game ever. More enemies on screen, more action, more dense action, less of that sort of downtime in between. […] [The] other Gears games were post-apocalyptic. It was all about the destroyed beauty. In this game, it is the apocalypse. The beauty is being destroyed. There is a lot more fire, smoke, collapsing buildings, just a much more active environment. […] We are pushing way more enemies, way more particles, the environments are a lot [denser] than on previous games. Our rendering engine, we have even added a few new features that allow us to do richer lighting, more dynamic lighting, darker darks, brighter brights. […] So yeah, it was all hands on deck optimizing this thing, we squeezed a lot more out of it,” said Waylon Brinck, the art director at People Can Fly.
But while the Gears of War: Judgment is clearly among the most advanced video games for Xbox 360 that makes use of virtually all the resources the platform has, game developers believe that some things can be optimized even better, thus pushing the boundaries of Xbox even further.
“Yeah, there will always be something more we can figure out, do better,” said Mr. Brinck.
While there may be opportunities for further improving games for the Xbox 360, it is unlikely that they will actually be made by leading developers for AAA titles. Given that the Xbox Next code-named “Durango” is pretty close, the creators of popular franchises are more interested to start working on titles for the third-gen Xbox since this will result in better financial returns in the long-term.