Interview: the future of handheld gaming

Lows are quite significant, though. UMD is a failed storage medium with bottlenecks and power demands that we could really do without.

The fact it offers a current-gen console experience also has a downside, as the PSP offers nothing more – it's like having a mobile PS2, but with worse controls, meaning there's nothing you can experience on the platform that you can't get with a home console.


TechRadar: What are your thoughts, ideas and suggestions for games that employ integration with home consoles - PS3/PSP, DS/Wii, 360/ Zune and so on? Any general or specific plans to make games which are cross-platform in this type of way?

Dave Hawkins: One of the most obvious ideas is contiguous play at home and 'on the road', as well as media sharing. Being able to pick up where you left off, both in terms of games and media, is a pretty cool feature.

Charles Chapman: There's also the idea of being able to manage aspects of a home-based game on a handheld, such as tweaking RPG characters, setting up a car for a racing sim, designing liveries and so on.

There are also some great possibilities for the handheld as a private screen and the TV as a global overview – I can think of loads of games that could work around that central concept, along the lines of the Gamecube Pac Man.


TechRadar: How do you think each particular handheld might be improved in their next iterations? What would you change in their developer kits in future?

Charles Chapman: The DS needs more raw power, improved graphics and some kind of flash storage embedded in the unit.

The PSP could do with a unique control method or maybe even twin analogue sticks, as we're used to on the home Sony machines. It also would be massively improved by having a decent amount of embedded flash storage.

Dumping the UMD drive would be a good idea too.

iPhone could do with a more conventional control method - single touchscreens mean your hand will inevitably get in the way of the display, which is annoying and compromises what you can show in order to have decent functionality.

Dave Hawkins: In general, next-gen handhelds will need to build on current successes, increase ease of connectivity and continue to differentiate themselves from home machines, whilst remaining complimentary to them.

Downloadable games are a clear 'must-have', though this service needs to be available through street retailers as well as online services.

It would also be great to ramp up the graphics, sound and processing power, though battery life is always going to be an overriding concern and should never be compromised.

One thing I'd love to see is an alternate display method – fold-out screens, projection or even goggles.


TechRadar: Can you give us some specific details regarding the unique online sharing components and some of the other control /online elements for the much-awaited SKATE IT on DS?

Dave Hawkins: Not right now, you'll have to wait for more details on that one! It will be worth the wait though.


TechRadar: What about more general plans for the future ?

Dave Hawkins: At Exient, we're looking to move into iPhone development and apply our handheld expertise to the most exciting platform to arrive for ages. We're also looking to move away from our traditional work and develop our own IP internally, along with a move into 360/PS3 development.

Adam Hartley