Bleszinski: we can do more with Xbox 360
Cliff Bleszinski, creative director at Gears Of War developer Epic Games, believes there is still room for technical improvement on the Xbox 360 despite the system's age.
Microsoft's console will be six years old in two weeks' time, but in a recent interview Bleszinski told us that was an advantage to developers who, having spent so long getting acquainted with the hardware's architecture, can now focus on better exploiting its capabilities.
"With creative programming you can squeeze anything out of any given platform," he told us. "Go back to the demo scene where these guys would take a 286 PC and in 38k make a demo that rivalled the most triple-A game of the time.
"It's just a matter of code magic, time and effort. I don't know how much longer the 360 will be around, but I'm sure that if we have a product coming out before the end of [its] lifecycle we'll continue to try and squeeze more water from that stone."
Blezsinski goes on to explain that he and his team at Epic did just that in development of Gears Of War 3. Asked what the project's biggest technical challenge was, he explained: "Pushing the Xbox  even further. We're kind of at that point where in the SNES [days] they started using Mode 7 in ways you never expected.
"We're now at at the point where it's not learning how to use the hardware, it's learning to trick the hardware into doing what you want it to do. The first thing I was ecstatic about was the new lighting…we're at the point where an artist can just let the lighting breathe, a nice brick wall can just be a nice brick wall; it doesn't need 8000 pipes layered on it."
Bleszinski's not alone in this line of thinking. Julien Merceron, worldwide technology director at Square Enix, told us recently that lighting – specifically global illumination – was one of the areas in which improvements were still possible on the current consoles.