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Does release date or technology matter more for a Game's Generation


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#1 Dastari Creel OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jul 16, 2017 11:26 PM

Someone on Digital Press asked me an interesting philosophical question. Would the Bentley Compu-Vision count as a Gen 1 machine, because it's a standard AY-3-8500 "Pong-on-a-chip" machine or would it be Gen 2 because it released in 1983. I can see it both ways. What do you think? 



#2 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jul 17, 2017 12:38 AM

The technology. I could release a Combat hack today. And it would thoroughly be first generation because of its technology and inner workings. Yet it would have been made in 2017.



#3 Dastari Creel OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jul 17, 2017 8:41 AM

The technology. I could release a Combat hack today. And it would thoroughly be first generation because of its technology and inner workings. Yet it would have been made in 2017.

 

I can definitely see that point of view, but I'm wondering if there's a consensus, because I've seen the opposite opinion. I don't ever want to say that Wikipedia is the be-all and end-all of knowledge, but it lists the Flashback consoles in the generation for the year that they were released. It doesn't list them as Gen 1 because they're dedicated consoles or as Gen 2 because they're imitating a Gen 2 system. Whoever wrote those articles feels like release date is the most important thing. 



#4 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jul 17, 2017 9:55 AM

I always prefer tech, because it is a solid and unchanging fact. Right or wrong. Can't argue that 8-bits are the 1st, and 16-bit rigs are the 2nd. Or can you? 8-bit and 16-bit are part of the 1st generation when comparing to 32/64 machines. Heck. A significant change in a model line-up is enough to scream "next generation".

 

I think the more you investigate the more you will find it's a grey area. In fact, people can't even agree what generation a machine belongs to; even if the comparison criteria (time or tech) is specified.

 

Back in the day the ColecoVision was considered a 3rd generation machine. Today it could be part of the 1st generation of cartridge machines.

 

Thing is.. as time goes on the "generations" tend to widen and become more encompassing. Consider in 50 years from now. Will we have 50th generation machines? Or will everything that came before 2047 be 1st generation and everything after, 2nd? Or will there be a major technical change, like optical processing, and every existing electronic videogame would be delegated to 1st generation, and every optoelectronic game be 2nd gen?

 

There's simply too many points to measure from. And people have different standards and use different inflection points, and they define them differently. Especially if it fits their ultimate objective and supports whatever they're saying.

 

Good luck!



#5 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jul 17, 2017 10:18 AM

 

I can definitely see that point of view, but I'm wondering if there's a consensus, because I've seen the opposite opinion. I don't ever want to say that Wikipedia is the be-all and end-all of knowledge, but it lists the Flashback consoles in the generation for the year that they were released. It doesn't list them as Gen 1 because they're dedicated consoles or as Gen 2 because they're imitating a Gen 2 system. Whoever wrote those articles feels like release date is the most important thing. 

 

Not sure where you're looking, as Flashback isn't in this list

 

I'm with Keatah, it's the technology that matters, not the release date. And even in the case of the Flashback units, those things are using modern system-on-a-chip technology, they aren't faithful reproductions of the physical boards and chips from 1977. The guts of an Atari Flashback are about the size of a pack of gun. 

 

This is a Flashback

post-30773-0-92131900-1322526811.jpg

 

and here's a vintage Atari from iFixit

 

l6IGIygVLUPYeOwJ.huge.jpeg

 

A technician from the 1970s/1980s would be baffled by the miniaturization of the modern hardware. 

 

I think "generations" aren't particularly useful, unless you're narrowly focused on a specific era. Just like "generations" of car releases. Yes, it's interesting to a Subaru enthusiast to note the 5 distinct iterations of the Impreza, but compared to the fins and gills of a 1950s car, it's just splitting hairs. 

 

Hey, check it out, there's a very clear image of the FB5 board posted by me, almost 3 years ago. I should play with that thing more often. 

gallery_2410_1266_1301121.jpg



#6 Dastari Creel OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jul 17, 2017 10:24 AM

 

Not sure where you're looking, as Flashback isn't in this list

 

I'm with Keatah, it's the technology that matters, not the release date. And even in the case of the Flashback units, those things are using modern system-on-a-chip technology, they aren't faithful reproductions of the physical boards and chips from 1977. The guts of an Atari Flashback are about the size of a pack of gun. 

 

This is a Flashback

post-30773-0-92131900-1322526811.jpg

 

and here's a vintage Atari from iFixit

 

attachicon.gifl6IGIygVLUPYeOwJ.huge.jpeg

 

A technician from the 1970s/1980s would be baffled by the miniaturization of the modern hardware. 

 

I think "generations" aren't particularly useful, unless you're narrowly focused on a specific era. Just like "generations" of car releases. Yes, it's interesting to a Subaru enthusiast to note the 5 distinct iterations of the Impreza, but compared to the fins and gills of a 1950s car, it's just splitting hairs. 

 

Hey, check it out, there's a very clear image of the FB5 board posted by me, almost 3 years ago. I should play with that thing more often. 

gallery_2410_1266_1301121.jpg

 

 

Wikipedia's lists are hardly comprehensive. It's why even when looking at first gen consoles I've found different information depending on what article I'm looking at. For reference, it's the list of dedicated consoles that puts the Flashbacks as starting at 6th gen. https://en.wikipedia...icated_consoles



#7 zzip OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jul 17, 2017 10:33 AM

Someone on Digital Press asked me an interesting philosophical question. Would the Bentley Compu-Vision count as a Gen 1 machine, because it's a standard AY-3-8500 "Pong-on-a-chip" machine or would it be Gen 2 because it released in 1983. I can see it both ways. What do you think?

I prefer the idea that what distinguished Gen-1 and Gen-2 was the ability/inability to play cartridges.

But if you went by time, 1983 is Gen-3 in my book. It makes no sense that the 2600 and 5200 are of the same generation. Or that Colecovision and Channel F are the same generation for that matter.

#8 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jul 17, 2017 10:47 AM

Wikipedia's lists are hardly comprehensive. It's why even when looking at first gen consoles I've found different information depending on what article I'm looking at. For reference, it's the list of dedicated consoles that puts the Flashbacks as starting at 6th gen. https://en.wikipedia...icated_consoles

 

Ah, yes I see ... they've aligned them with the release dates of the big consoles. Doing that puts them in a larger context, but it's completely useless here. "Hardly comprehensive" is very generous -- this isn't even a rough draft of all the dedicated systems out there. If anyone cares, this site has enough material to fill out the page. Alas, I do not care enough to do that. :-)

 

Atari Flashback 1, 2, and 3 are completely different technology. Atari Flashback 3, 4, 64, 5, and 6 are almost identical to one another, except for the games onboard. They don't list 7 or the upcoming 8 or 8 Gold. 

 

NES and SNES Classics are likely very similar hardware. SNES Classic isn't out yet. 

 

I'd put all the AtGames machines (including the absent SEGA clones) in the same category as the Nintendo PnPs, "modern ARM devices emulating old games." RetroPie too. 



#9 spacecadet OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jul 17, 2017 11:23 AM

Ugh! I wrote a whole reply and clicked the wrong mouse button and poof.

 

Well, to summarize, I don't really subscribe to the whole numbered generations thing, and I know some other old-timers don't either. I think the term "generation" is really only meaningful when you're either talking very vaguely about consoles that happen to be on the market at the same time (e.g. such and such console is the best of "this generation", meaning now) or alternately very specifically, about one particular console that had several clear successors in the same line. The PS1, PS2, PS3 and PS4, for example. The PS4 is clearly the fourth generation PlayStation - Sony even did the numbering for you.

 

But when you try to look at the entire industry and draw lines where one entire console generation ends and another begins, it starts to get really murky and ultimately meaningless, because it didn't mean anything at the time. That's really what matters - what the market was like at that time. Manufacturers release stuff when it benefits them to do so, not on clear and coordinated 5 year timelines. You can easily look at a modern day example in the Switch, which I guarantee people are going to be arguing about in the future as far as what generation it's part of. But right now, it's competing with the PS4 and Xbox One. So it's clearly part of the current generation. It will probably also compete against the PS5 and Xbox One X in 2019. So it'll be just as accurate to say it's part of that generation when that time comes.

 

I've never trusted that wikipedia page that numbers the generations. I've never agreed, for just one example, that the Intellivision, ColecoVision, and Atari 5200 are in the same generation as the Atari 2600, Bally Astrocade, Fairchild Channel F, etc. Those are clearly two different generations - they were marketed as such, and they weren't generally even on sale at the same time. When the Intellivision came out, things started changing and expectations were raised... when the CV came out, there was a sea change. And I don't think you can ever consider two clearly successive consoles that come out 5 years apart - like the 2600 and 5200 - part of the same generation. The 2600 did stay on the market for a while, but it was a low-cost option by the mid 80's.

 

So obviously all of this is debatable, but ultimately it doesn't matter.

 

Anyway so this probably isn't that helpful to the original question, but I think my short answer is "don't worry about it". There's no right answer, because the point is moot.



#10 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jul 17, 2017 12:02 PM

I tend to believe that "generation" is a marketing term. Competitors and all that came before were 1st generation, what we are selling today is 2nd generation. Simplistic? Sure. But look at some old adverts for consoles.



#11 GoldLeader ONLINE  

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Posted Mon Jul 17, 2017 7:11 PM

I can see it both ways, but yeah Wikipedia doesn't make sense for anyone that was there...

 

I recall it being (roughly) early Pong units, and mostly dedicated consoles etc. as 1st Generation;  Fairchild, Atari 2600, Odyssey 2, Intellivision as 2nd Generation;  ColecoVision, Atari 5200 as 3rd Generation, and so on...Then they began calling things 8 Bit (NES, SMS, Atari 7800 (?)), 16 Bit (SNES, Genesis, Turbografx-16), 32 Bit and so on...Obviously there's some consoles that don't fit a mold.

 

Like others have said, I can see no logic in having ColecoVision and 2600 in the same category...Some magazines called ColecoVision and Atari 5200 4th Gen machines, or if it was 1982 simply "Next Gen".  The takeaway was that they were Contemporaries and Competitors...They were the most advanced machines available on store shelves at that time.  Speaking for myself and most of my friends, ColecoVision was the First time most of us "Upgraded" our console and bought something newer to go with our old Ataris...

 

And when people think of the Sega Genesis, they will think of its rivalry with SNES.

 

When I think of Playstation 2, I can't help but also think of Dreamcast, XBOX, and Gamecube...

 

In the end it probably doesn't matter which Generation you consider something.  What matters is which competitors were also available and in what time frame it was available.  Because, at any given point in time, there are usually less powerful machines available, and something due to come out in the future that will be more powerful...



#12 Dastari Creel OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jul 17, 2017 8:18 PM

Ugh! I wrote a whole reply and clicked the wrong mouse button and poof.

 

Well, to summarize, I don't really subscribe to the whole numbered generations thing, and I know some other old-timers don't either. I think the term "generation" is really only meaningful when you're either talking very vaguely about consoles that happen to be on the market at the same time (e.g. such and such console is the best of "this generation", meaning now) or alternately very specifically, about one particular console that had several clear successors in the same line. The PS1, PS2, PS3 and PS4, for example. The PS4 is clearly the fourth generation PlayStation - Sony even did the numbering for you.

 

 

 

It's interesting, because I asked the same question here and at Digital Press, and I've come up with two different responses. Most people here prefer technology as the basis. Most people there prefer the date. That probably says something about the two communities, but I'm not sure what that is. Anyway, I'm not really sweating it, but I find the debate interesting. My interest was in seeing everyone's point of view rather than in coming to an answer per se. If there was consensus that would be interesting. Having no consenus is interesting as well. I personally find that categorizing things is helpful when drawing conclusions either about technology or marketing, so I don't think that generations are completely meaningless, but you probably need to define your terms a bit...

 

But to the point of most people on Digital Press and as a couple of people here pointed out, the reason that they prefer the date is because they see generation as a term to analyze the marketing of systems that were around at relatively the same time. I can see the other argument too though. 



#13 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jul 17, 2017 9:13 PM

Ugh! I wrote a whole reply and clicked the wrong mouse button and poof.

 

 

In most cases you can reload the page and recover with auto-save in the lower lefthand corner of the message entry "box".



#14 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jul 17, 2017 9:13 PM

I think that the first answer is time, and as knowledge is gained, it shifts toward the tech side.



#15 zzip OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 18, 2017 7:56 AM

I've never trusted that wikipedia page that numbers the generations. I've never agreed, for just one example, that the Intellivision, ColecoVision, and Atari 5200 are in the same generation as the Atari 2600, Bally Astrocade, Fairchild Channel F, etc. Those are clearly two different generations - they were marketed as such, and they weren't generally even on sale at the same time. When the Intellivision came out, things started changing and expectations were raised... when the CV came out, there was a sea change. And I don't think you can ever consider two clearly successive consoles that come out 5 years apart - like the 2600 and 5200 - part of the same generation. The 2600 did stay on the market for a while, but it was a low-cost option by the mid 80's.


And Intellivision is a good example of a system that throws a monkey wrench into the generational numbering scheme

Clearly Atari 2600 and Channel F aren't of the same generation as 5200 and CV, but what generation would INTV belong to? It went head to head with the 2600, and was more advanced than a 2600, but less advanced than CV and 5200. I'd be inclined to lump it in with the 2600 bc that was its competition but could see arguments for the other way too.

oh and it was technically 16-bit, so if you try to use bits to delineate generations, it messes that up too.

#16 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 18, 2017 11:57 AM

10 bit processor, 16 bit memory access?



#17 GoldLeader ONLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 18, 2017 1:03 PM

See also Turbografx 16...Atari Jaguar...


Edited by GoldLeader, Tue Jul 18, 2017 1:03 PM.


#18 spacecadet OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 18, 2017 2:48 PM

 

But to the point of most people on Digital Press and as a couple of people here pointed out, the reason that they prefer the date is because they see generation as a term to analyze the marketing of systems that were around at relatively the same time. I can see the other argument too though. 

 

I guess if you had to pin me down, I'd pick time/marketing as the generational line. Because tech is largely a result of whatever year a system comes out, not usually anything else. (Nintendo messes up that argument a little bit, but they just refuse to be bound by generations at all either way.) For the most part there is a relatively hard limit to the amount a company can charge for a mainstream system, so costs need to be contained under that, meaning companies will almost always include the most advanced tech they can for under that price. That price has slowly dropped over the years when inflation is taken into account, but the point is if the "accepted" price for a new system is $399, a company can't suddenly release a system that costs $1,200 and expect it to do well. So they won't include the most expensive tech - they'll include tech as good as they can for $399, and that's going to depend on nothing else but when they decide to do it.

 

Of course there have been exceptions to that too, like the Neo Geo AES (what generation is *that* machine?) and even to a certain extent the PS3, which launched at $599, and people thought both SNK and Sony were crazy. And not surprisingly, the AES didn't sell well and the PS3 *initially* didn't sell too well either, although that changed when the price dropped. But these were machines that were really intended to span multiple generations. The AES lasted quite a while despite its poor sales, and even longer for new software releases, and the PS3 was intended from the beginning to have a 10 year lifespan. So it's still more a question of time than tech.

 

I think there is actually a third category you could use to separate generations, though, and that's features. That's why I include the INTV, CV and 5200 in the same generation but not the 2600 or older systems. The INTV, CV and 5200 all shared very similar controllers, which were all *very* different than what had become standard by then, and they were different in most of the same ways. That's not coincidence - that's each company trying to copy and then one-up the other. When such a big change happens, and across several systems only a couple years apart, there's no way in my mind that you can call those systems part of two different generations. The INTV was the first of that generation, but the CV and 5200 are part of it too. The fact that all three systems were then on the market together and competing against each other only cements it in my mind. It doesn't really matter how much more powerful the CV and 5200 were than the INTV, it matters that they all copied each other and all competed against each other.

 

 

In most cases you can reload the page and recover with auto-save in the lower lefthand corner of the message entry "box".

 

I noticed that message but didn't realize I could click on it - d'oh! But I'm not sure it'd have worked, because it seemed like the site thought I was starting a whole new reply. I clicked the "back" button on my mouse instead of left-clicking to post. When I clicked "forward" again I just had a blank page.

 

 

Clearly Atari 2600 and Channel F aren't of the same generation as 5200 and CV, but what generation would INTV belong to? It went head to head with the 2600, and was more advanced than a 2600, but less advanced than CV and 5200. I'd be inclined to lump it in with the 2600 bc that was its competition but could see arguments for the other way too.

 

This is why I don't think the tech matters. It's the same with the Switch, which is 1/4 as powerful as the PS4 Pro and 1/6 as powerful as the Xbox One X. (Even compared to the regular PS4, it's about 1/2 as powerful.) And it came out 4 years after the PS4.

 

But it's competing against the PS4 and Xbox One right now, and has never (yet) competed against anything else. So you couldn't really say it's a last-gen machine, despite its power being comparable to one. And if the PS5 and Xbox One Y or whatever end up being hybrid machines with built-in screens, well at that point you might have to ask if it was really the start of the *next* generation.

 

It all ends up being a mess when you start to really think about it, and there's never going to be complete agreement.


Edited by spacecadet, Tue Jul 18, 2017 2:50 PM.





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