What’s In Store for 2001?


In Store for 2001? Here Are Some Thoughts

Michael Lafferty

Another year has passed and we stand on the
brink of 2001, the new millennium. Sadly we are no closer to Arthur C.
Clarke’s vision of that year than we gladly weren’t near George Orwell’s
vision of 1984.

However, as the year closes out, some of us
will look back in fondness at memories created, while others will look forward
to the possibilities of the New Year. It is with the latter prospect that this
column will concern itself.

Over the past two weeks and newsletters,
people within the software industry were asked to share Christmas wishes with
our readers. Now they will share their vision of the industry to come. Two
questions were asked: What do you think will be the next big move in the world
of software, hardware and peripherals?; and what is your hope for the year

For this missive, our cast of characters will
include the following: producers Eric Wang, Rade Stojsavljevic, and Mike Ward,
and designer Adam Isgreen of Westwood; Tali Fisher, Guillemot; Blizzard’s
Bill Roper, senior director of Developer Relations; Raymond Chow of ACT LABS;
Electronic Arts’ Trudy Muller and Anne Marie Stein; John Coglan of BlueByte;
and Annette Bechamp of DreamCatcher.

Here are their answers to the questions posed:

What do you think will be the next big move in the
world of software, hardware and peripherals?

Eric Wang: “The next big move in
software will be to utilize the Internet in new and exciting ways to allow
people to come together and play in one big group.  The next big move in
hardware will be broadband Internet connectivity for every device in the home. 
Next big move in peripherals will be to allow all electronic devices to talk
to each other (PDA connected to my laptop connected to my cell phone).”

Rade Stojsavljevic: “I think that
hardware and software will become much better at facilitating communication
and emotions between players.  With the rapid spread of online gaming,
it’s becoming increasingly apparent that the current method of text chat
between players is insufficient.  Voice over Internet technology is
becoming more common, but still has a way to go before players can use it
without thinking about it.  Also, issues such as communication between
large numbers of people simultaneously and profanity filtering still need to
be addressed.”

Adam Isgreen: “The move in software
is going to be towards visual processing quality, realism and speed, followed
closely by a larger emphasis on player-to-player (or player-to-game) audio
recognition and transmission. The hardware will continue to evolve to back
this up. Hopefully someone will come up with a way to filter/modify audio so
it can be modified on the fly so it is appropriate for the game world and cut
out all the ‘k3wl d00d’ stuff. Having this as a hardware solution built
into an audio product (are you listening, Creative?) would be a blessing.”

Mike Ward: “More speed! Although
people are now enjoying increased bandwidth via cable modems and DSL, it’s
still not fast enough! The world will not be satisfied until content delivery
is pretty much instantaneous. And then, ‘faster’ than instantaneous –
which would, of course, involve time travel.”

Tali Fisher: “I wouldn’t even try
to guess at what the next big move in software is. Game companies are
constantly coming out with innovative and interesting games.  As for
hardware and peripherals, I believe companies will continue to strive for the
fastest and the best, but I also think they are starting now to develop new
and original peripherals to enhance the gaming experience. I think we will
continue to see ground-breaking technologies keep things interesting for

Bill Roper: “Massively multiplayer
games for the PC will become more refined and more popular and start breaking
into the mainstream, much like The
made strategy gaming something your mom or dad might be interested in
doing. The concept of becoming part of a virtual, global community where you
have powers far beyond those of your everyday life is an amazing draw and –
if done in a way that is compelling and easy to negotiate – promises to open
a new market for our industry. In Hardware, it will be the explosion of
portable handheld devices, such as the Palm Pilot or Visor. As we see this
hardware get more and more powerful in both processing power and connectivity,
more people will use them to manage their busy lifestyles, as well as get
information and entertainment delivered directly to them, no matter where they

Anne Marie Stein: “I think with
software we’ll continue to see the trend of games offering more compelling
storylines coupled with challenging gameplay and amazing graphics.”

Raymond Chow: “Games with Full EBMP
(Environmental Bit Mapping). Peripherals that replicate real life controls.”

Trudy Muller: “I see the next
generation platforms and the second generation of PS2 games as
really innovative and exciting direction of gaming and entertainment in the
coming year.”

John Coglan: “More intense simulation
of reality in games, in terms of making fantasy a reality (e.g. a mythological
RPG that looks and plays incredibly realistically, or a space battle
simulation that puts players right into the action itself with an almost
infinite number of possible actions, quests, et cetera). I’m tempted to say
virtual reality but I’m not sure how soon that will happen! 😉 Also an
exponential increase in the live interaction between players and communities
via online multiplay (which provides far greater AI than any computer or
console can currently offer).”

Annette Bechamp: “Eventually the home
computer will include virtual reality software so that ‘immersive’ will
truly apply to the gaming experience.”

What is your hope for the year 2001?

Eric Wang: “That more people get to
learn the fun of playing video games online.”

Rade Stojsavljevic: “I wish everyone
would focus more on gameplay instead of flashy graphics.  I’ve seen too
many great games that didn’t get the attention they deserved because they
didn’t have the latest bleeding-edge graphics technology.”

Adam Isgreen: “I’d like to see more
games that encourage players to be creative and experiment within the game
environment rather than punishing them for not thinking or playing the game
like the creators want you to. That, and I’d like to see NASA actually start
aggressively ramping up towards a manned Mars mission.”

Mike Ward: “That someone will find a
cure for cancer. That video games will continue to dominate the entertainment
world. That my kids will stay healthy and do their homework. That someone
other than the Yankees will win the World Series. And hey, another stock split
wouldn’t hurt.”

Tali Fisher: “I hope that gaming
continues to be the innovative experience it has become. I look forward to
seeing the creativity I’ve witnessed in the past year continue to push

Bill Roper: “I hope that we continue
to see games that are carefully crafted and released only when they are ready.
The year 2000 saw many great games hit the shelves that maintained a high
level of quality. I look forward to all of the games that were held over until
2001 to be shining examples of what investing a few more weeks and months into
properly finishing a game can do to elevate the quality of our titles, placing
games into an even higher place in the consciousness of the mainstream

Anne Marie Stein: “That gaming will
finally get the respect it deserves as a legitimate form of entertainment.”

Raymond Chow: “This probably won’t
happen, but games and hardware that allow ‘photorealistic’ graphics and
peripherals that allow more realism.”

Trudy Muller: “There won’t be
any more hardware shortages – so that everyone who wants a
hardware unit to play the cool new games can buy one.

John Coglan: “That even more people
play games, that even better games are produced, and that I learn everything I
possibly can from the highly talented people in this industry.”

Annette Bechamp: “I would really like
to see an extension of good will towards people past December 25th.”

In parting, I would like to thank everyone for
helping make it a great year at GameZone. And when you greet the New Year, try
do it with a smile. Maybe that joy will follow you throughout the year.