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Opinion Game Dev Platform Xbox Series X games no longer defined by technology, says Matt Booty

IbizaPocholo

NeoGAFs Kent Brockman
Dec 1, 2014
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ibiza

Two hours after the Xbox showcase event livestreamed on 23 July, I’m speaking to the company’s head of studios, Matt Booty, via video call. The showcase revealed 22 games, “built to launch exclusively on Xbox consoles”, nine coming from first-party teams – a clear response to Sony’s live event in June, which concentrated on exclusive PlayStation 5 titles. But there was no mention of hardware during the one-hour stream, and now Booty is keen to make the point that projects developed for Xbox Series X, due this Christmas, will not be as delineated or constrained by hardware specifications as they have been in the past.

“We’re at a point where the technology is out of the way,” he says. “In previous generations, the hardware and its limitations would leave a pretty clear fingerprint on a game. I remember the first early games that used sprite scaling and then suddenly every game had all these objects flying around the screen. You’d build a game around technical advances like that. But now we’re at the point with the tech where we can just let the stories and the characters that the teams have in mind reach the screen.”

A highlight, however, was the final reveal of the event: a return of the acclaimed role-playing series, Fable, originally developed at Lionhead, a studio controversially closed by Microsoft in 2016. As long rumoured, the new title will be developed by Leamington-based Playground Games, which until now has been responsible solely for the driving series, Forza Horizon.

According to Booty, it was the studio’s experience with large open-world environments that singled it out for the project. “I just look at what Playground has done with the Horizon series – that attention to detail, the ability to represent these naturalistic landscapes. They also have a real passion for the IP and a unique point of view on what’s core to Fable. Everything I’ve seen as the game progresses tells me this is going to be a very high-quality release.”

Rumours surfaced at the weekend that the new title will be a massively multiplayer online game rather than a true narrative sequel to Fable 3. Those rumours have since been refuted by other news sources. While not directly addressing the speculation, Booty claimed the new title will respect the legacy of the series, as well as bringing in the studio’s own ideas.

“With any kind of franchise like that, where you’ve had existing versions, there’s always that balance between what you’re going to bring forward, what still stands up, and what you want to add that’s new,” he says. “It’s like the challenge of making a new Star Wars movie – there’s stuff that everyone wants you to bring along, but then you’ve got a responsibility to take that to new places and I trust Playground has a good vision for that.”

Elsewhere, the demo footage of Halo: Infinite, which is taking a more open-world approach than previous titles, also drew mixed reactions from fans. Twitter debates raged for hours after the presentation, with some feeling the art direction made the visuals look flat, while others felt the gameplay looked dated compared with contemporary shooters.

However, Booty says that developer 343 Industries has been closely guided by the Halo community during the game’s creation. “343 works with dedicated insider groups that are always giving them feedback,” he says. “They’re as plugged in as any team could be to feedback from core fans, from the esports community, and from people who have seen what they’ve done with the Halo: Master Chief collection. Games of the genre have evolved and moved forward. The art of game design is figuring out what feedback you’re going to incorporate, where to strike a balance, and I think they’re well plugged into a big community to do that.”

Booty also claims that the Xbox Series X era will make it easier for gamers to dip in and out of games and therefore experiment with a wider selection of experiences. Through its Game Pass Ultimate subscription service – and the new console’s quick resume feature, which lets owners open and switch between multiple titles without losing their progress – players can take a similar approach to games as they do to browsing television platforms.

“Digital delivery and Game Pass have created a much more ready audience for games,” he says. “And, through 5G, delivery is another thing we hope just gets out of the way. That’s one of the beauties of online services like Netflix – you can browse so readily, it’s instant. If you don’t like one thing, you can move on to the next without much penalty. I think we’re inching up on that with games. The ability to try something you might not have the motivation to purchase almost becomes friction-free and that makes connects between creators and this broad audience we’re building.”

But it is Booty’s views on the capabilities of the Xbox Series X, and how they will allow developers to focus on game design rather than technical challenges, that will be most keenly analysed when the machine arrives later this year. The argument is not that there are no technical constraints any more, but that the machine is so powerful, the emphasis will be on possibilities dictated by design rather than limitations dictated by specifications.

“If you look at movies, we’ve become almost numb to how amazing the special effects are,” he says. “You watch actors being portrayed as 20 years younger, you see these amazing worlds, and you just take it for granted – and that’s about getting the technology out of the way.

“I think we’re inching up on that in games, where the tech to create is just there and hopefully players are being drawn more into the story and the world and less thinking, ‘Oh wow, the load time on this game is really short.’ I mean, it’s great to have short load times, but I hope that’s not what players will pay attention to.”
 

Freeman

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Aug 23, 2013
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What is going on at Xbox all of the sudden? They can't get out of their own way.
Maybe it wasn't just Don Mattrick that was clueless about how to launch a console.

Sony guys carefully chose each word and control every interview they make (pretty much turning them in add pieces), Xbox guys just blab away contradicting themselves and sending mixed messages with every statement.
 
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Max_Po

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Mar 1, 2015
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- Just feeling better after the PS5 Reveal.
- Congrats SONY but All those third party games will look and play best on the world's most powerful console.
- What you will see on 23 July is pure creative freedom.
- Rare ... beautiful trailer ... but we don't know what we are doing..
- Frog swallows a Fairy... we will reveal Fable once the fairy passes Frogs digestive system through the tiny anus.

Moral of the Story is, MS's own talent is tainting the Xbox Brand.... not anyone else.


 
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Vawn

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Feb 20, 2018
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Maybe it wasn't just Don Mattrick that was clueless about how to launch a console.

Sony guys carefully chose each world and control every interview they make (pretty much turning them in add pieces), Xbox guys just blab away contradicting themselves and sending mixed messages with every statement.

Yes. Xbox had their best success under Mattrick, but they needed a scapegoat.
 

quest

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Jul 17, 2004
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Glad to know why they choose playground to reboot fable. It fits my thoughts technically they make great open worlds. So in house they can do the visuals. Just get the guys for the combat and skill systems.

If you don't like it ignore it the whining is getting old. There are other threads to discuss non xbox items.
 

quest

Not Banned from OT
Jul 17, 2004
5,953
2,767
1,695
- Just feeling better after the PS5 Reveal.
- Congrats SONY but All those third party games will look and play best on the world's most powerful console.
- What you will see on 23 July is pure creative freedom.
- Rare ... beautiful trailer ... but we don't know what we are doing..
- Frog swallows a Fairy... we will reveal Fable once the fairy passes Frogs digestive system through the tiny anus.

Moral of the Story is, MS's own talent is tainting the Xbox Brand.... not anyone else.



Yep playground studios is tainting Microsoft. The troll trying their best to use 343 to down play great studios.

 

Max_Po

Member
Mar 1, 2015
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Yep playground studios is tainting Microsoft. The troll trying their best to use 343 to down play great studios.


Re-read my response and do tell me where I fucking mentioned playground except Frog and Fairy which showed absolutely NOTHING ABOUT FABLE

 
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Klayzer

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^^^ No thanks forum police. I'll take instructions from the mods and not you. Take a seat.

Jesus,

MS, WTF are you doing?

Shut up for pete's sake. Take the L, regroup and refocus.
To say the pr department isn't doing a good job would be the understatement of the year. The specs reveal was positive, everything else has been a disaster. Way to much boasting and chest pounding for my taste. I hope this setback will give them a more laser focus approach. And for the love of God, pull Aaron, Larry, and Phil from the media rounds. They aren't helping the situation right now.
 
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Sad to watch. I can only imagine Sega in the day of Social media going bust and bowing out. Probably would have been the same.

2013 redux but in different circumstances more or less. People like the traditional console model more than MS anticipated 2 gens in a row. They've tried to break away from it... and every time they do console gamers say NOPE.
 
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sincarra

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Oct 5, 2019
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What is going on at Xbox all of the sudden? They can't get out of their own way.
It makes sense, though. Phil Spencer has been pushing this inclusivity and no gamer left behind message since 2016, maybe earlier. Even if they wanted to, it’s too late now to go back and omit an entire generation of players when they’re focusing mostly on services and subscriptions. I think the reason we see a lot of figure heads like Phil Spencer, Matt Booty, Aaron Greenberg and other Xbox execs rephrasing is because, I believe, there messaging can be interpreted in differently. I don’t blame them, not entirely, I just think it would be more beneficial if they were clear from the start about a lot of their plans.
 

Freeman

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Aug 23, 2013
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Yep playground studios is tainting Microsoft. The troll trying their best to use 343 to down play great studios.

Does metractic matters now? Wasn't it all about just having fun?
 
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I buy sony and microsoft consoles day 1 and planned to do so for these consoles

But jesus christ the more these guys talk the more they dont speak to what gamers actually give a fuck about.

Im trying to give you 500 dollars for your new console Mr. Booty.

Show me why this machine is supposedly super powerful when it comes to games, and not its ability to quick resume Netflix

And I love rare. But now that they've admitted they dont even know what the hell the gameplay is about....I ask once again were we just watching cartoons during that trailer?
 

ZehDon

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"We have a brand new console you should buy, but it doesn't matter if you don't, to play these new games using this incredible new technology, technology that doesn't actually matter and no one is using, to give you real next gen experiences that just aren't possible on current hardware, but are possible on last gen hardware so we're launching our games on the devices you already own, all delivered with the incredible value of Gamepass!"

We're getting closer - we're not there yet, but we are getting closer - to a real Mattrick moment.
"We have consoles for people who can't buy an Xbox Series X, it's called Xbox One, and it runs all the same games on Gamepass with basically no differences."
 
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Vawn

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To say the pr department isn't doing a good job would be the understatement of the year. The specs reveal was positive, everything else has been a disaster. Way to much boasting and chest pounding for my taste.

Yeah. Every time I hear "cocky Sony", I get confused. Sony is just sitting back, letting MS do all the talking and then just showing up and showing games.

Sony definitely hasn't sounded like the arrogant ones this go around.

I guess we haven't gotten a "Deal With It" post this time, so.... progress?
 
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quest

Not Banned from OT
Jul 17, 2004
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Does metractic matters now? Wasn't it all about just having fun?
Lol i don't remember defending 343. You might have me confused with the someone else. I sure as shit will defend playground when someone tries to use a shit studio to taint them. I can't help it they dethroned GT as the premier console racing series and it pisses certain people off. Enjoy your victory lap on halo but that does not give people open season to troll legit studios to down play them to console war. This has been a constant for the last 5 days. But but the cabal of the last 3 xbox fans on another forum are the bad ones haha.
 
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magaman

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Hmmm.

1st post in an XBox thread was posted ~4 minutes after OP went up....and it's a troll job. Shocking.

Woulda been great to show us that you read the article by providing more than a 1 word response...but your contribution wasnt even a single word.

Thanks for the meaningless contribution.

... or ... OR .... it could be that the explanation provided is BS, and I find it funny.

Nah, who am I kidding? I'm just a troll. A smart guy like you can spot measly swine like me a mile away.
 

Psykodad

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“If you look at movies, we’ve become almost numb to how amazing the special effects are,” he says. “You watch actors being portrayed as 20 years younger, you see these amazing worlds, and you just take it for granted – and that’s about getting the technology out of the way.

“I think we’re inching up on that in games, where the tech to create is just there and hopefully players are being drawn more into the story and the world and less thinking, ‘Oh wow, the load time on this game is really short.’ I mean, it’s great to have short load times, but I hope that’s not what players will pay attention to.”

This is reasonable, were it not for the fact it comes shortly after the Halo Infinite gameplay footage.

MS has a PR nightmare to deal with rn.
 
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“If you look at movies, we’ve become almost numb to how amazing the special effects are,” he says. “You watch actors being portrayed as 20 years younger, you see these amazing worlds, and you just take it for granted – and that’s about getting the technology out of the way.

“I think we’re inching up on that in games, where the tech to create is just there and hopefully players are being drawn more into the story and the world and less thinking, ‘Oh wow, the load time on this game is really short.’ I mean, it’s great to have short load times, but I hope that’s not what players will pay attention to.”

This is reasonable, were it not for the fact it comes shortly after the Halo Infinite gameplay footage.

MS has a PR nightmare to deal with rn.
It's like watching a train wreck in slow motion.

Remember now all the threads and posts created on how MS PR has been transparent and confident this whole year and Sony was scared not saying anything or hiding from the media. Now we are here at this point where MS is trying to put out fires which is only making matters worse because their message is all sorts of fucked up with one exec saying one thing and another saying something different.

Love how Sony is silent in all this. They just show up and show the games. Simple and effective.
 

Psykodad

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It's like watching a train wreck in slow motion.

Remember now all the threads and posts created on how MS PR has been transparent and confident this whole year and Sony was scared not saying anything or hiding from the media. Now we are here at this point where MS is trying to put out fires which is only making matters worse because their message is all sorts of fucked up with one exec saying one thing and another saying something different.

Love how Sony is silent in all this. They just show up and show the games. Simple and effective.
Thing is, it was clear as day.
Sony never was panicked, nor were they reactionary in any way (from PR to PS5 hardware design), because frankly next-gen has always been a sealed deal.
MS isn't a threat in any way and all the huff and puff from MS showed how dire their situation actually is.

Slightly off-topic, but what's really pathetic, is that many people pointing it out all this time have been silenced and banned by the mods because they got reported for console warring.
When everything has been pretty obvious all this time, unless you're either a massive xbox fanboy or trying to be "objective".
 
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magaman

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Between first comment and a two hour long interview there was... less than 4 minutes. You can imagine how positive and engaging is the rest of thread.

Man, a guy gets a lot of flack for literally reading the OP and responding quickly. Are you wanting me to sit through a two-hour interview, and craft a wall of text in response to a stupid statement like this:

“I think we’re inching up on that in games, where the tech to create is just there and hopefully players are being drawn more into the story and the world and less thinking, ‘Oh wow, the load time on this game is really short.’ I mean, it’s great to have short load times, but I hope that’s not what players will pay attention to.”

The whole idea behind a new generation is new hardware, new tech, which empowers the creation of better worlds and more immersion. And yes, shorter load times help with that. If I wanted the same experience that I have right now, I wouldn't be in the market for a next-gen system.

Xbox is basically shooting themselves in the dick because morons like Matt Booty are put in the spotlight and spout insipid commentary that effectively downplays the need for a "next gen." If you don't see that, and if you expect his flawed arguments to create "positive and engaging" dialogue, then you're just as dense as he is.