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Monday, August 01, 2005

To PC or not to PC

Again, I find myself in that moral quandry - can I really justify a PC powerful enough to keep up with the coming generation of gaming? My 9700 was already showing it's wear, AGP is on it's way out, yadda and yadda. Worse, the Mini does everything I need. So I don't really need a Windows box to run software or check the internet or anything. And if I really do - the old laptop is running XP now.

So if I'm going to get a box just to run games, why not wait for a 360? Or a PS3? I'm likely to get a next-gen console as it is and there is definately enough on the PS2 alone to occupy me until that time. I also agree with PeterB in that I really like playing games on my couch.

The PC, however, still gets some of the best games on the planet. While console ports have definately gotten more sophisticated lately, with cross-development and portable IDE's and middleware, it's still no panacea. If anything, the PC games have taken a hit on the nose with games like Doom 3 and Deus Ex 2 making design considerations for the XBox, only to make an equally lackluster game for the console. So the real price tag here is to stay on the cutting edge ... and how much is that worth?

And with current trends, is that a gamble? Will the studios spend more time focusing on the harder-to-pirate, easier-to-support, insanely-powerful consoles with the next generation? Not a "death of PC gaming" but a "shift of PC gaming"?


Troy Goodfellow said...

There are two separate questions here. Do you want a PC that allows you to play the next generation of games, or do you want a PC that allows you to play them at the near maximum graphic quality?

We can all agree that minimum specs are near useless for actual advice, but they do give you an idea of where designers are targeting their games. As of now, most are shooting for a 2 GHz machine with a run-of-the-mill 3D card. If you want the pretty stuff, a 2.8 will likely be the minimum, so long as you have a lot of RAM.

My wife and I both game, and have found that gaming has driven almost all of our tech upgrades. Gaming convinced us to move to DSL. And to get 1 GB RAM for my laptop. And to have the laptop weigh 700 pounds.

But it is a quandary. PCs will have, I think, the most revolutionary games in the near future. Black and White was PC. Sims was PC. Spore will be PC. The Movies. World of Warcraft. As great as the consoles are, the PC is still the testing ground for a lot of gaming ideas.

I guess you have to decide how important being a part of that world is to you. We don't have a console, and I miss it because so many of my friends and colleagues do and I am cut out of that world.

And my couch is pretty far from my TV.

Josh said...

Our apartment is what most architects would consider narrow, and one of the main reasons not to throw controllers at our place is the risk you run of damaging the tube.

That's an excellent point though. What isn't "extreme" ... but what is "acceptable"? And will continue to be acceptable for at least the next couple of years? It's really hard to tell since most gaming media caters to the "What, you only have one 6800? Loser." crowd.

What would chince this for me easily is ... is this something that could be small, relatively quiet and not crazy expensive. But then when I think of it like that, I realize I just described a PS3 or XBox.

It does almost make you wonder why MS doesn't just make the XBox PC compatible.

And you're absolutely right. PC games are still a much more fertile ground for gaming. And with the tangible mod & indie community, that's not likely to change.

Sean said...

troy is right. As long as you have a Direct X 9 card, you can run just about any game out there on a two year old machine. Just add a whole lot of ram, and wait for the 6800's price to go down, and you'll be set for 2 more years.

Peter said...

Troy pushed one of my hot buttons here, but isn't invoking Black & White as an example more likely to make people run, screaming, towards the consoles? One sentence: Non-skippable intro cutscene/tutorial that's so fucking long it makes you consider slitting your wrists to make it stop.