Slightly Mad Studios

Slightly Mad Studios, the development team behind Project Cars revealed today that they are working on a new "stand alone console" that they hope will be released within the next three years.

The news came directly from the Twitter account of Ian Bell, the CEO of Slightly Mad Studios. He's calling it "The Mad Box" and he's already promising some rather fanciful features. Speaking with Variety, Bell says that The Mad Box will be a console similar to an Xbox or PlayStation. Not only that, but VR support is a fairly major feature that he hopes to include.

"It will support most major VR headsets and those upcoming and the specs will be equivalent to a ‘very fast PC 2 years from now'," Bell wrote in an email. "We're in early talks with manufacturers of components so we can't say much more right now other than we have the designs specced out in detail."
Well that sounds great, in theory. Then again, this kind of sounds like the long forgotten Steam Machines that still exist? Damn, they really are still on sale at a few retailers. Color me surprised.

Bell went on to say that they are aiming for 4K and "VR at 60FPS." Hold on, VR at 60FPS is bad. While 60FPS is fine for playing games on a monitor or TV, 60FPS in VR can be a very uncomfortable, jarring, and even a nauseating experience.

Right now, the minimum for a decent VR experience is 90Hz or 90FPS per eye. This is true for the current iterations of the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift, both of which offer per eye resolutions of 1080x1200 or 2160x1200 combined resolution. Even the underpowered PlayStation VR utilizes a technique to interpolate lower frame rates so that they display at 90Hz or even 120Hz albeit at a resolution of 960x1080 per eye. Maybe Bell just misspoke?

Oh. Yeah, that's not how any of this works.

Given that The Mad Box was just (sort of) announced and it's still presumably three years out, it's possible that these things will be rectified. Or, and this is probably more likely, everyone will forget about this in a few days. Some bits about The Mad Box may show up here and there over the next few years, and I will have to re-explain what The Mad Box is each time, but nothing much will ever actually come of it. This currently mythical machine will either fade away from the public eye completely or it will be released to next to no fanfare. That's just my assumption.

Bell says that they are looking into different ways to fund The Mad Box.

"We have multiple investors already offering the required funding for us to see the product to completion, but it’s still early days and we’re looking at the best offers right now. All that we have approached are discussing standard partial ownership investment deals.

"As for how much the new console will cost, Bell said it will be “competitive with upcoming console prices."