Pixelated Perspective – Cross-Platform Hullabaloo

April 4, 2007

Standardization has always been a big component of the console gaming experience. Unlike on the PC, console games benefit from being developed on a standard platform with standard capabilities and (for the most part) standard input devices. This frees up developer resources that would have been spent on optimization and keeps the focus squarely on the content. It’s for this same reason that development of cross-platform games has remained largely in the realm of the theoretical.

This is the big hurdle that team FASA has been trying for years to surmount with the development of Shadowrun, the first cross-platform game between Xbox Live and Windows. It’s a title that has received intense scrutiny less because of its ambitious network architecture, and more because of the creative use of the original source material. As the game has gotten closer and closer to its launch date however, people are starting to take greater notice of the ways that FASA has tried to adjust for developing a game on two quite distinct platforms.

It’s a conversation that gamers themselves have been having for a decade. Ever since big shooters started appearing on consoles, often exclusively, players have been debating which method of input provides for a superior gameplay experience. The conventional wisdom is that the mouse and keyboard layout provides the best, most efficient means for navigating a game world in the first-person perspective. Built on pixel-perfect precision, the mouse seems at first to be the natural choice. But as time has passed, as technology has improved, and with games being developed with consoles specifically in mind, this is far less of a truism than it once was.

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