I'm back from at least part of this summer's travels, probably more travelling to come. Which reminds me of an issue I thought of a while ago.
When Microsoft was announcing XBox 2's supposed lack of hard drive, people were assuming this meant complete and total move to server-stored profile and game data. Personally, I guess they're just using some memory card system or other. The following is just some pondering on how this supposed "Game Passport" idea might fly today.
I live in a rather technological area. Here, I have broadband Internet connection and if I felt I would have any need for networked gaming on console (net gaming is for PCs only, dammit!), it might be possible to arrange it.
In these travels, I simply picked up my Gamecube, put the thing and the games and cables into bag, and away I went. My game saves were on a memory card in my wallet. When I got to my destination - considerably less hightech neighborhood, with decent computers but where 56k modems are the height of communications tech, with lost hope for ISDN glimmering in the people's eyes - I simply unpacked the stuff, plugged the thing to my Commodore monitor, and there I was, playing SSBM.
Now, let's see how well this thing might with our hypothetical network-aware microboX NetExtremePassport in year 2008. Let's suppose Nintendo and Sony had bowed before the will of Microsoft and all console systems were finally standardized and united in harmony... yet leaving Trip Hawkins weeping on 3DO's grave.
I'd arrive to my destination, drop the Gameicosahedron on the table, and plug the thing to the monitor and wall. Then, I'd find the huge three-prong plug telephone cord, plug the other end to the tiny little RJ11 on the back of the unit... wait, I'd probably have to plug in an external modem first - after all, no one's using these modems in 2008, at least in sweet theory!... and then spend next 15 minutes messing around with the controller and putting these modem settings right. (Presets for multiple locations? Surely no one will use the thing in multiple locations? Huh? Some NetExtremePassport licensee making a portable console?! Unheard of!)
And then, finally, everything is set up. I'd hit Connect. Modem handshake. Wailing. Wailing. Wailing. Modem handshake. Wailing. Wailing. Modem handshake, with hang up in middle. Reconnect in 10 seconds. Modem handshake... and so on. (Don't you love mysteriously low-quality rattling phone wiring? No wonder they invented error correcting protocols!)
Connecting to server, slow as usual. Wait, it's down. Retry in 5 minutes. Yaaaawn.
Skip some frustrations. Wind Waker's data, for comparison, would be close to a mebibyte, if I calculated right (which I probably didn't). That's a couple of minutes of waiting. And the games of 2008 are probably even more save-space-hungry than current games...
Oh, and when I save the game, I'd have to do all this connection nonsense again.
And somewhere, on the comfort of their couch and a broadband network, a lone gamer reads the message from their screen: "The server is down. Apologies for the inconvenience." Another night that was going to be wasted on playing games is going to be spent on even more pointless things.
Argh, this is too silly to even think of. I was going to say that networked game data storage isn't going to happen as long as communication systems are what they are, but instead, I'm just going to say that networked game data storage isn't going to happen - things over the network are always going to be slow and frustrating.
As an option and alternative, it is going to work, but never ever as the primary save method.