Successfully embracing connectivity and community is the biggest challenge facing developers as they head into the next generation, according to Studio Liverpool, the outfit behind Sony's long-running WipEout series - and in 5-10 years the isolated single-player experience could well be in decline.
WipEout's a game that tackled one of this generation's big challenges - that of 1080p 60FPS gaming on a console - early on with the PlayStation 3's WipEout HD. Having sampled success with this generation, Eurogamer asked the team what the technological goal for the next generation will be.
"For us technical innovation and creativity is one of the cornerstones of our DNA," said Graeme Ankers, one of WipEout 2048's game directors. "One of the cool things you notice now is that everyone's a gamer. And I think for us that ties a little bit in what we did with 2048 with Crossplay, and we've only really touched the surface on that."
WipEout 2048 was the first Vita game to feature Crossplay, a feature that allows handheld players to compete against PS3 players. Initially limited to only four tracks, a recent expansion that introduced all the content from WipEout HD and WipEout Fury opened up the amount of content playable across the two platforms.
"I think we've just opened the door to that on consoles," agreed fellow game director Stuart Tilley, "and Vita's a good one for that as stats say that most people do go online with their Vitas. I think we'll find more and better ways of taking advantage of that.
I think in five, 10 years from now it's going to be really challenging for anyone to do a successful game that isolates the player.
"Affecting your mate's single-player career could be something really fun to do, and something we're going to look at to do. You don't want to switch on your console and fall out of your social sphere, and I think that's going to become one of the big things. I think in five, 10 years from now it's going to be really challenging for anyone to do a successful game that isolates the player."
Connectivity and dual screen gaming are two aspects that very much seem to be in the gaming zeitgeist, with Microsoft announcing SmartGlass at this year's E3 and Nintendo preparing to launch the Wii U, a console that's been built around a dual screen philosophy.
It's an area that Studio Liverpool has experience in, and not just from its work on the Vita - Formula One Championship edition famously allowed players to hook up a PSP to use as a rear view mirror.
"We had remote display on the PSP, so in a similar way that second screen was already existing then," Ankers said when asked his thoughts on SmartGlass and the Wii U. "Again that's demonstrated on Vita, with sub-display as well. So it's not a new thing for the PlayStation at all - those kind of things have always existed and are always in our mindset, and even more now with Crossplay. But there's a whole load more we can do.
"Now that the technology's there it's up to us creative people to figure out what we can do with it," agreed Tilley. "I'd love to be playing on the PS3 but my daughter could have the Vita and be doing stuff, and interacting in the same game world. There are definite possibilities in there, and I think developers will start taking more advantage of it in time."
Studio Liverpool also took the time to address questions as to whether it's looking to port WipEout 2048's tracks to the PS3 in the wake of the HD and Fury tracks making the jump to the handheld. "Yeah," said Ankers, "but we're not going to announce anything. That has come up in the community posts - and we're always looking at things. We're exploring all kinds of experiences. The big one for us was getting the HD/Fury pack out and rewarding our fans, because they're really loyal."
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