State of play: Chris Taylor

Gas Powered Games' big cheese on the state of PC gaming, his favourite games of 2006 and what he's most looking forward to next year

GPG's Chris Taylor has been, and still is, heavily involved in the PC game development scene. RTS classic Total Annihilation and the Dungeon Siege RPGs are among the games tucked firmly into his résumé belt, and he's currently working on Supreme Commander, a PC real-time strategy game that has us excitedly twirling our commander's hat in anticipation. Recently, he was kind enough to let us grill him about the current state of PC gaming and where he thinks it should head. We also took the opportunity to ask him about his videogame highlights of 2006 and his most anticipated games of 2007...

What for you has been the highlight of the videogame world in 2006, and which title that's released this year would you say has most pushed videogame boundaries?

Chris Taylor: I always have a hard time picking just one game, but among my choices for 2006 are Company of Heroes, Medieval II: Total War and Battlefield 2142. I also appreciate the passion that was clearly put into Galactic Civilizations II: Dread Lords.

What do you look on as the strengths of the PC platform, and what's your opinion of the PC gaming scene as it stands currently?

Chris Taylor: The PC gaming scene has been a little "thinner" than usual this past year, but I suspect that's only a temporary situation caused by the new consoles. But don't get me wrong, in the last few months there have been some great titles released and from what I can see on the horizon, this will continue well into next year as 2007 may prove out to be an all new high for PC gaming.

Do you think PC gaming is suffering, or is going to suffer, at the hands of consoles in your opinion?

Chris Taylor: Temporarily yes, PC gaming will take a solid blow from all the attention the consoles are getting, but it will bounce back, as we are already seeing, just like it always does. And we'll see a lot of highly innovative games for the PC... and a couple of years from now we'll see titles for the PC that are just hands-down impossible on the consoles.

What's your take on Microsoft's Games for Windows initiative? Do you think this is a driving force that PC gaming needs?

Chris Taylor: I think it's great, and just the other day, I walked into a game store, and right there, front and centre, was a display with all the hottest PC games. You couldn't miss it. It made a very big statement, "PC gaming is alive and well", and there are some awesome new games that can't be played anywhere else. And yes, it's definitely what PC gaming needs, but we also need publishers to believe in PC gaming as well... it's where developers can be truly innovative with gameplay and crazy new ideas... stuff that's just too expensive to experiment with on the consoles.

Windows Vista of course heralds the arrival of DirectX 10. What excites you about Microsoft's new version of DirectX and how do you see it being employed to change the face of PC gaming as we currently know it?

Chris Taylor: My technical knowledge on the overall API is limited, but from what I understand, and as it specifically relates to graphics, DirectX 10 is state-of-the-art, and this API reflects the latest architecture for Pixel Shaders and "on GPU" geometry processing. It's going to take awhile for developers to fully exploit the new features that the new DX10 cards offer, but the results will be worth it and take us all well into the future.

I suspect the biggest changes we'll see is in the visual realism, and/or in the frame rates we experience... both of which can have a huge effect on the gameplay. But don't get me wrong, it takes more than powerful API's and next-generation GPU's to make a game better, we really need to work on new game designs... designs which push out past the established, comfortable boundaries we live within today.

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