Death to Good Graphics!

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Kiutu:

"...but graphics that augment fun usually are considered bad graphics."

Bioshock doesn't agree with you ^^

Samah:

Crysis is just an expensive interactive 3D benchmarking program.

You have to admit that game is FUUUUN (apart from the graphics)
I mean, the suit is a cool basis for a fps. I liked it way better than most fps games I've played. But yeah, I'm not that into fps games, they're too repetitive and the themes GOD the themes, WWI or II, alien invasions or some zombie/disease/mutation. Apart from that they're all the same game (excepting painkiller, that game kicks ass).

Try telling that to Epic Studios. Most of their work is based on creating and improving their game engine, which are then used by other publishers who believe that the better the graphics, the more people will play it. I say that the CryEngine is the top and it shouldn't evolve further. We don't need to see every little leaf blowing in the wind. For that we have pre-rendered cutscenes. As some of you said publishers should just take the engine and improve it without increasing the requirements, and make it unilateral. As right now, it's pretty ok to use the UnrealEngine to make car races (and I know a few that are working on Wipeout mods with the UT3), but not really useful for RPGs and RTS'. Something like an all-versatile game engine would be great. Offer it at a minimal price to studios (to also help indie games, make it a pro version for studios at around 1000$, and the indie/student version, which has some features disabled at 350-500$). While the company that published it, doesn't make games, just keeps on improving the engine. Sounds like a utopia, so now I'll shut up.

In conclusion: I whole heartily agree that the graphics need to stop advancing. If we want realism, we'll just go outside.

Credge:

Signa:
I've been saying this for years. The current console generation is crap. The only one that has it right is the Wii, and crap developers are making it crap anyways. From the moment I saw the $60 price tag on the 360 games, I knew that we were in for trouble. There just isn't anything to justify the $10 increase if the game isn't any more fun. As time has gone on, I see that games are now even LESS fun. It's driven be back to decade-old games because they just were a lot more fun then.

That's exactly what I've been doing as well. I've been playing older games more than newer games with some rare exceptions (Neverwinter Nights 2 and CoD:WaW... but one is simply an old-school game with tons of content with updated graphics and I'm a WW2 shooter nut). There are a few games this gen where I could easily justify $60 on it, but that is simply because they were truly incredible games.

The games industry is currently suffering from the same problems that the music industry is with a few exceptions. For example, we have $60 for consoles where CD's are $15. Are you really going to suggest that this band I've never heard of with songs I've never heard of is worth the same as a new Eric Clapton CD?

Some game companies are starting to get it. Stardock is one and Valve is another, although L4D was a pretty meh deal compared to the Orange Box in regards to value.

I've found I've gravitated more towards PSN games and Wiiware games this gen more than anything else. They have simple, yet fun games that don't miss the point ~ the game play.

What is sad about this too, is that devs don't seem to realize that their best works from the past are a far bigger threat to sales than what some one else might be releasing at the same time. At least with PC games, there are no "last gen" games that people will refuse to play because of age or digging out an old console. As consumers, we have no obligation to buy a new game just because some one who made it says it's the best game ever made. We can always fall back on those titles that we got 4 years ago or the ones that are $20 in the bargain bin. One of the best games I've ever played was fished out of a bargain bin by my brother, and it was so good, it ruined other RTSs for me (I'm talking about Total Annihilation).

I admit that I am driven by eye candy as much as the next person, but it's gotten to the point where everything is so beautiful that I just don't care anymore. The games market is getting over-saturated, and the only thing that will save it is more effort that no one has to give right now. Making cuts somewhere will help immensely, and graphics should be the first to go.

Edit:

InProgress:
Try telling that to Epic Studios. Most of their work is based on creating and improving their game engine, which are then used by other publishers who believe that the better the graphics, the more people will play it. I say that the CryEngine is the top and it shouldn't evolve further. We don't need to see every little leaf blowing in the wind. For that we have pre-rendered cutscenes. As some of you said publishers should just take the engine and improve it without increasing the requirements, and make it unilateral. As right now, it's pretty ok to use the UnrealEngine to make car races (and I know a few that are working on Wipeout mods with the UT3), but not really useful for RPGs and RTS'. Something like an all-versatile game engine would be great. Offer it at a minimal price to studios (to also help indie games, make it a pro version for studios at around 1000$, and the indie/student version, which has some features disabled at 350-500$). While the company that published it, doesn't make games, just keeps on improving the engine. Sounds like a utopia, so now I'll shut up.

In conclusion: I whole heartily agree that the graphics need to stop advancing. If we want realism, we'll just go outside.

I want to give Epic some credit there. All the UT engine games that I've played are BEAUTIFUL, and none of them run crappy. It seems like if you have the hardware to handle the engine, it runs without a hitch. In my experience, there is no spectrum of performance. Either it doesn't run, or it looks second to Crysis.

Edit 2:

VZLANemesis:

That was the single most absurd post I've ever read in my life...
Stop graphics advancement... really? You think you're not getting it WAY too far?
REALLY?!

Stop being so melodramatic. While stopping graphics advancement is ludicrous, slowing it to a halt is critical right now. Graphics are at critical mass, and are taking the industry down with them. It's reading between the lines, but it's effectively what the article was about. Calling it the "single most absurd post I've ever read in my life..." is even more absurd.

InProgress:
Try telling that to Epic Studios. Most of their work is based on creating and improving their game engine, which are then used by other publishers who believe that the better the graphics, the more people will play it. I say that the CryEngine is the top and it shouldn't evolve further. We don't need to see every little leaf blowing in the wind. For that we have pre-rendered cutscenes. As some of you said publishers should just take the engine and improve it without increasing the requirements, and make it unilateral. As right now, it's pretty ok to use the UnrealEngine to make car races (and I know a few that are working on Wipeout mods with the UT3), but not really useful for RPGs and RTS'. Something like an all-versatile game engine would be great. Offer it at a minimal price to studios (to also help indie games, make it a pro version for studios at around 1000$, and the indie/student version, which has some features disabled at 350-500$). While the company that published it, doesn't make games, just keeps on improving the engine. Sounds like a utopia, so now I'll shut up.

In conclusion: I whole heartily agree that the graphics need to stop advancing. If we want realism, we'll just go outside.

That was the single most absurd post I've ever read in my life...
Stop graphics advancement... really? You think you're not getting it WAY too far?
REALLY?!

The whole point of the article was to say that graphics advancement has been detrimental to gameplay, that's the way it has happened so far, but it doesn't mean better graphics are bad by nature. It's just that way too many companies have relied on good graphics to forget about making some decent gameplay.

But look at Zeno Clash, it's got good graphics, and yet the gameplay was improved from most fps games and it oozes style.

As I said before, look at Bioshock, amazing atmosphere and game immersion, awesome graphics, and what would be the problem if it became photo realistic? More immersion... and it would still be awesome because of it's gameplay mechanics.

Signa:
I've been saying this for years. The current console generation is crap. The only one that has it right is the Wii, and crap developers are making it crap anyways.

I would agree with you there. I like the Wii, in potential at least, because it actually does something interesting that you couldn't do before. It is, whether a step forward or backward or anything else, at least a step away from what there was before.

Whereas the X-Box 360 or PS3... I just don't see the point. PS3 games are still ported to the PS2. (I remember seeing a PS2 version of The Force Unleashed and thinking 'why the hell was a next-gen console needed? At all? if the new games run fine on these earlier consoles, what was the point of upgrading?'.) The 360 and PS3 are not actually different to the X-Box or PS2 in terms of anything but graphics. Is there a reason Halo 3 could not have been an X-Box title, for instance? The game would be identical; the only difference would be a minor graphical downgrade, and I don't see how the minor upgrade of the 360 justifies the price of upgrading.

I get the impression that those consoles are in a rut. They're not innovating or doing anything that will actually allow more possibilities in gaming. Earlier generation upgrades did allow for real advances. The NES-SNES leap (forgive my ignorance of other consoles of that era) allowed for Mode 7 and other advances, and at that level the graphical upgrade could be said to be relatively significant. The SNES-N64/PS1 leap was obviously huge, as we got 3D out of it, and there are still series that haven't figured out how to make use of it. New gameplay innovations were possible. (And I mention Metroid Prime again; I was a fan of the 2D games and frankly am amazed at how well it works and how it keeps the feel of the earlier games.) PS1/N64-PS2/GC/X-Box is again a significant move. It brings in online console gaming, for a big advance, albeit one I never really liked, and often gameplay itself seemed to improve. Note that this same principle applies in handhelds. GB-GBA brought in most of the same innovations that NES-SNES allowed. GBA-DS was a massive leap, and I applaud the DS for doing things that I never thought you could do on a handheld.

Given all of that... what advances do we get from the current generation? X-Box-360? PS2-PS3? What do the new consoles do that the old ones couldn't? GC-Wii seems to be the only meaningful change, because there are a lot of things you can do with the Wii that you couldn't have done with earlier games. I suspect that much of the reason the Wii seems so gimmicky now is because developers are experimenting with those things; they aren't quite sure how to approach the Wii. In a few more years we might see the Wii really mature and show its quality. At present I don't really think it's had the most made of it yet.

Oh God do I agree with you! I really hate the 5 hour long games of the current generation that take 2 fucking years to finish or the ones that are ON CONSOLES ONLY! I also think game devs should center a bit on the pc, after all it's a lot easier to produce pc games and provide support (in the form of patches, like our beloved Valve). I noticed that your suggestions are quite similar to the current Valve's strategy :D

Agreed, game developers should spend less effort on graphics and more effort on improving gameplay,
having better stories, developing characters etc.

It isn't always necessary to keep building new game or graphic engines all the time.
Once programmers and artists have more time to work with existing graphics and physics they can improve
and tweak the performance offered by the game engine.

A good example would be to look at Half-Life 2, then Episode 1 and 2.

Also, many PC/Mac consumers aren't willing to be constantly upgrading or replacing their hardware.
Mainly because it's prohibitively expensive and unnecessary to keep pouring that much money into computer hardware.

This trend has caused a shift towards consoles, sure PC gaming is still important...
but less prevalent than it was say 5 years ago.

Anyways, nice article Shamus Young, it included many points that are sensible,
plausible and that I personally agreed with.

RE5 was a game that suffered heavily from it. You'd figure graphics like that would make the "Evil" Part of the title stand out more, but nope. Nothing. It happens to feel more like an action movie than a horror game.

VZLANemesis:
That was the single most absurd post I've ever read in my life...
Stop graphics advancement... really? You think you're not getting it WAY too far?
REALLY?!

The whole point of the article was to say that graphics advancement has been detrimental to gameplay, that's the way it has happened so far, but it doesn't mean better graphics are bad by nature. It's just that way too many companies have relied on good graphics to forget about making some decent gameplay.

But look at Zeno Clash, it's got good graphics, and yet the gameplay was improved from most fps games and it oozes style.

As I said before, look at Bioshock, amazing atmosphere and game immersion, awesome graphics, and what would be the problem if it became photo realistic? More immersion... and it would still be awesome because of it's gameplay mechanics.

Something tells me you're really angry at what I said

1. I didn't meant to say that graphics are bad, but publishers put too much care and attention on it.

2. Game engines can be realistic, but even realism has it's limit. And CryEngine almost reached it. Make the CryEngine able to create all other genres with it and it would be almost perfect.

3. I would say that your Zeno Clahs argument is faulty, as Zeno Clahs isn't trying to be the game with most the advance and realistic engine.

4. You wouldn't mind if BioShock got even better graphics. However, would you mind if Bioshock had better graphics and a lot of faulty gameplay mechanics? You wouldn't, because it would be mostly like a tech demo.

I apologise if my previous post confused you about what I really wanted to say.

InProgress:

VZLANemesis:
That was the single most absurd post I've ever read in my life...
Stop graphics advancement... really? You think you're not getting it WAY too far?
REALLY?!

The whole point of the article was to say that graphics advancement has been detrimental to gameplay, that's the way it has happened so far, but it doesn't mean better graphics are bad by nature. It's just that way too many companies have relied on good graphics to forget about making some decent gameplay.

But look at Zeno Clash, it's got good graphics, and yet the gameplay was improved from most fps games and it oozes style.

As I said before, look at Bioshock, amazing atmosphere and game immersion, awesome graphics, and what would be the problem if it became photo realistic? More immersion... and it would still be awesome because of it's gameplay mechanics.

Something tells me you're really angry at what I said

1. I didn't meant to say that graphics are bad, but publishers put too much care and attention on it.

2. Game engines can be realistic, but even realism has it's limit. And CryEngine almost reached it. Make the CryEngine able to create all other genres with it and it would be almost perfect.

3. I would say that your Zeno Clahs argument is faulty, as Zeno Clahs isn't trying to be the game with most the advance and realistic engine.

4. You wouldn't mind if BioShock got even better graphics. However, would you mind if Bioshock had better graphics and a lot of faulty gameplay mechanics? You wouldn't, because it would be mostly like a tech demo.

I apologise if my previous post confused you about what I really wanted to say.

Not angry, just what you said was pretty ridiculous.
How are you justifying with what you just said the "stop the advancement of graphics" reasoning? That's what really amazed me about your first post.
Edit: my argument about Zeno Clash is faulty?
Who said anything about it trying to be the one with the best graphics, I'm simply saying great graphics AND great gameplay. How is that faulty after reading that we should stop the advancement of graphics altogether?

I can drink to this! All I see when I'm looking at the trailers for games I really look forward to is "bad gpfx, lulz" "OMG GT44 lookz so much betta".
The knuckle dragging masses appeared to have fallen for this graphics gimmick.

Me, I'm happy as long as it isn't 8-bit. Anyway, keep up the good work, man.
Your articles are always a good read.

Edit: Isn't the secret to Valve's success the fact that they build their own engine and seem to use it continuously for a number of years (the Half-Life engine and the Source engine, for instance)? Just something I was wondering whilst I finished up reading your article properly.

this article is gunna get attacked by sony fanboys why becouse every sony fanboy ive ever met is a graphic nut(or graphic zombie as i call them)

VZLANemesis:

Not angry, just what you said was pretty ridiculous.
How are you justifying with what you just said the "stop the advancement of graphics" reasoning? That's what really amazed me about your first post.

I would compare it movie formats: Why would you need Super Hi-Vision when it looks exactly like full HD only bigger.Or TV screens with a billion colours, even though the human eye can't percieve that many The reason: technological masturbation. It's almost the same as having games going with a steadi rate of 60 FPS, even though the human eye can't perceive more than 24. It does make a change, but that's it. And porfesional lighters can give the illusion of realism just with lights. Polygon limit wise it can be turned up a nothc, to somewhere like 20 000 triangles and then it's enough.

As I once said, I would like to say that gaming, as an art, it's in the same phase as art was in Roman times: Everything is just realistic and idealised, ruogh cuts weren't really accepted as art. Realism is the key at the moment. Hopefully publishers will realise that realism isn't everithing and just go ahead on making fun games.

Iori35:
This trend has caused a shift towards consoles, sure PC gaming is still important...
but less prevalent than it was say 5 years ago.

I agree and disagree. More people are playing PC games now than ever before. The worlds most successful video game is on PC with more people playing it than any other game ever.

When people talk about the number of players playing a console, they talk about just that. When you talk about the number of players playing PC stuff... well, that doesn't even make sense because you don't 'play' a PC like you play a console. When you talk about people playing PC games, you talk about people playing a specific game. Never a genre or the total number of people playing PC games.

That's really confusing.

The reason developers are going away from PC gaming is because they suck. They can't do what past developers did with different types of hardware and software so they stick to something that is consistent. However, the terrible practices and general terribleness of the developers really shows when they release games riddled with bugs, visual problems, and missing features that SHOULD be there.

It's more of a paradigm shift because making consoles games has become easier than making PC games. The result is that there are more quality PC games but less PC games while consoles are flooded with truly craptastic games.

Russian_Assassin:
Oh God do I agree with you! I really hate the 5 hour long games of the current generation that take 2 fucking years to finish or the ones that are ON CONSOLES ONLY! I also think game devs should center a bit on the pc, after all it's a lot easier to produce pc games and provide support (in the form of patches, like our beloved Valve). I noticed that your suggestions are quite similar to the current Valve's strategy :D

Er... isn't it actually harder to make PC games, due to the constantly changing technology? That was part of Shamus' point in the article. It's easier to develop games for consoles. As for support, it's worth pointing out that online support is becoming increasingly common for consoles. (And I've always been of the opinion that a good game is fine out of the box; reliance on patches is a bad thing.)

Incidentally, I'm curious about one thing. This is an open question to everyone: what's so great about Valve anyway? As far as I know they're just a company that make PC FPSes. I didn't like Half-Life or Portal myself (as by and large I don't particularly like FPSes full stop; the 3D Metroids are my one exception, and they're practically adventure puzzle games), so I've never really played their most famous games at length. My only major contact with Valve is Steam, which they forced me to install with Dawn of War II and which I loathe.

So for someone who doesn't have much contact with them - who doesn't really like the genre they do most work in and doesn't care for digital distribution or anything of that sort - what is it that Valve does that is actually so great when it comes to graphics? I'm not attempting to troll (preference in games is subjective, so don't worry about that; their games just aren't my cup of tea), but as I'm not familiar with the policies that many posters here are praising, would anyone like to fill me in?

Credge:

Iori35:
This trend has caused a shift towards consoles, sure PC gaming is still important...
but less prevalent than it was say 5 years ago.

I agree and disagree. More people are playing PC games now than ever before. The worlds most successful video game is on PC with more people playing it than any other game ever.

When people talk about the number of players playing a console, they talk about just that. When you talk about the number of players playing PC stuff... well, that doesn't even make sense because you don't 'play' a PC like you play a console. When you talk about people playing PC games, you talk about people playing a specific game. Never a genre or the total number of people playing PC games.

That's really confusing.

The reason developers are going away from PC gaming is because they suck. They can't do what past developers did with different types of hardware and software so they stick to something that is consistent. However, the terrible practices and general terribleness of the developers really shows when they release games riddled with bugs, visual problems, and missing features that SHOULD be there.

It's more of a paradigm shift because making consoles games has become easier than making PC games. The result is that there are more quality PC games but less PC games while consoles are flooded with truly craptastic games.

True, more people are playing PC games now, that's not what I was trying to get at...

What I was trying to say was that consoles and their games have a larger slice of the pie than they used to 5 years ago.

More importantly the cost of PC hardware pushes many gamers into buying consoles and playing their games on them.

There exists many games that used to be made for PC/Mac system only,
now being made to work on the PC, PS3, 360, Wii... multi-platform releases.
Not necessarily do gamers have games only on the consoles, but many people lack
the money to play some of this generation of games on anything other than a console.

I agree wholeheartedly with this article. As someone who spent 4 years in school for artistic video game design I still feel that we are hitting the point where we cannot go any further with graphics. Development time is just too long and too costly to justify us making things any better looking than they are at this point. And hell, I actually like the way games made in the Source engine look, and have been repeatedly pleased by Valve's continued efforts to work with an engine that's hitting its 5 year mark in terms of age.

At this point I'd rather be making games that are fun over games that look physically impressive, because really, what's the point of making something look awesome if it doesn't play awesome. It's probably why I have more of an eye for design and concept more than I do for the art itself.

In any event I think the biggest problem here is that the consumer has been taught to believe that better graphics = better game. And in a way we're all at fault for that in some form or another.

But I think if we start making games under less intensive graphics requirements, thus resulting in a faster and cheaper development time, game costs will go down and consumers will accept this new idea more readily.

Shamus Young:
Yes, there are mainstream game reviewers out there who are obsessed with graphics and spend their non-gaming hours masturbating to the NVIDIA product catalog.

I know you elaborated this point, but this is really the issue at the end of the day. I'm sure developers would be more than happy with your tactic of graphical upgrades every 8-10 years or so and still using the DooM 3 engine from 2004 but at the end of the day the higher ups will demand the latest and greatest to get the best reviews. Hell, the Kane and Lynch scandal with Gamespot just proves the extent to where developers' alliances lie: with the score and not whether the game is 'good' and/or 'fun'.

For the majority of games, I believe graphics should take the back seat to anything else. E.g. story/ character development.

I'm definitely in favor of this idea. To me, anything from the PS2/GC/Xbox era looks perfectly fine, especially the stuff on Xbox that was made for the system (like Riddick, Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict, Oddword: Stranger's Wrath and Otogi.) And yeah, how much better do the graphics need to be? How much is an acceptable amount to spend pushing the last pixel of visual excellence out of the latest technology that nobody's going to have? When something has to give in game development, must it always NOT be the graphics? Why can't the graphics just be a BIT more dated, and the game given more content or bug testing?

I've played Snes and GBA games that really don't look dated at all, to me. Oftentimes with good games it seems like it's less about having "awesome, mind-blowing graphics" and more about creating an immersive visual style. The original Escape from Butcher Bay, for example, actually uses the graphics as a part of gameplay, color-coding the environment according to whether or not you're in darkness (and thus invisible to enemies), in addition to doing the whole Pitch Black eyeshine thingy (which looks really cool.)

Mm..I agree..But..Do physics engines count as graphics?Look at Half Life 2. The graphics are quite good, but the game runs on most mid-range PCs. It's the realistic physics engine that makes it so compelling..among other things.

I don't think we should remove good graphics completely because playing games does beomes easier when you can see what's exatly happeing. i think we need a few more games with some stylised "artistic" graphics like Okami. Also games companies need to stop using graphics as a selling piont because now-a-days it's give pretty much everyone can do great graphics.

Signa:
I've been saying this for years. The current console generation is crap. The only one that has it right is the Wii, and crap developers are making it crap anyways. From the moment I saw the $60 price tag on the 360 games, I knew that we were in for trouble. There just isn't anything to justify the $10 increase if the game isn't any more fun. As time has gone on, I see that games are now even LESS fun. It's driven be back to decade-old games because they just were a lot more fun then.

Agreed, completely. To be honest, the only case where better graphics are necessary is when crapping out the next Madden game or the next Fifa.

Anywho, aside from that, the pace of wasting on graphical improvements for little or no return is ridiculous. I'm amazed that only Stardock and Valve seem to have realised that they don't need to create a new top-of-the-range graphical engine every 3 years. Stardock focuses on simple but robust and pretty engines (see SoaE, Demigod, and Galactic Civilizations 2) which aren't massive cost-makers and are kind to hardware. Valve are still working with the source engine, adapting/refining/improving in small ways frequently for little risk and little cost.

Why oh why do the two 'hardcore' consoles seem to just want to out graphic each other? The Wii has a few fun games with strong art styles (see Mario Galaxy, No More Heroes, MadWorld, etc, etc).

Ok, someone is going to want a photo-real game, but the majority of us are happy or even prefer a stylized form of graphics, which is good for the developers as well.

Holy hell, it's been 5 years since Doom 3? Wow. 5 years, and the graphics of that game still come close to what the games of today look like. Not to mention, that thing runs absolutley beautiful on my computers, which are older than Doom 3. Two years older, in fact. It also looks very good on my 1-year-old Laptop, that can run it on near-highest graphics.

So yes, I agree with everything you said.

Wow. I didn't read every comment, but it seems at least 99% of the commenters agree. That has to say something...

I can't put my finger on the exact moment where graphics took over as the primary concern for game designers, but it must be somewhere around Doom3. I still haven't played that game, and I never will, because it's shit.

On topic: anyone with eyes can see, that graphics are overhyped. Gameplay, art and story is the key. Hell, when Darwinia came out, it looked like a fucking fossil compared to 2005 graphics (when it was released), but I still consider it one of the best games as of today, along with Introversion's other game Uplink: Hacker Elite (which is essentially a text-adventure with point&click elements) and my all-time favorite game StarCraft.

But the most sad thing about this is not the pursuit of better graphics, but neglecting gameplay in the process. Gears of War is essentially and interactive cutscene, Far Cry 2 is boring as shit, and many MANY games that are released today are glorified rail-shooters with quick time events. Gameplay of these new games has been dumbed down to the point a toddler with Down Syndrome could play them...and win...

The console titles can be won by random button mashing, and the PC titles' walkthrough consists of "hold down W and the fire button. Wait. Win." No need to think. Eehhh...

For example, Fallout 3. It's a nice game in itself, but it's not a Fallout game. It's just "Oblivion with guns". I wonder how many of the Fallout 3 fanboys actually finished the first two games. I guess not too many. In the first two Fallouts, you had to use tactics, logic, strategy...basicly your brain to get through. In Fallout 3, you just run around and shoot everything that moves. It has its charm, hell, I liked Oblivion (aside from the fact that is was fucking boring), but the originals, the Jagged Alliance and X-Com games were turn-based for a reason. I agree, those were glorified chess programs, but you had to use you brain nevertheless.

Today's games doesn't require thinking or imagination. They just hold your hand and yank you through the story and only require you to press some buttons to create the illusion of interactivity. There is no death, magically regenerating health, life saving quick time events, checkpoints on every corner...ehh. There is absolutely no penalty for playing badly. In earlier games, if you died, you lost money, lost skills, you lost plot elements and progress. That was game's way of punching you in the nuts for messing up, and it gave an incentive to not do that again. The reward for using your brain, learning to play and practicing was...actually...finishing the game. Today, there is no penalty for playing like a retard and no tangible reward for thinking or figuring out stuff. This stupid achievement system is just a transparent, idiotic hoax. Wow, you pressed the jump button 1000 times, good for you. OMG, you drove off a cliff, fell a mile and died horribly 2000 times in a row, in racing game, way to go dude! Here, let me increase this totally arbitrary and meaningless number for you. Now go and brag about how good you are at repeating mindless tasks for no apparent reason.

Bleh.

InProgress:
Try telling that to Epic Studios. Most of their work is based on creating and improving their game engine, which are then used by other publishers who believe that the better the graphics, the more people will play it. I say that the CryEngine is the top and it shouldn't evolve further. We don't need to see every little leaf blowing in the wind. For that we have pre-rendered cutscenes. As some of you said publishers should just take the engine and improve it without increasing the requirements, and make it unilateral. As right now, it's pretty ok to use the UnrealEngine to make car races (and I know a few that are working on Wipeout mods with the UT3), but not really useful for RPGs and RTS'. Something like an all-versatile game engine would be great. Offer it at a minimal price to studios (to also help indie games, make it a pro version for studios at around 1000$, and the indie/student version, which has some features disabled at 350-500$). While the company that published it, doesn't make games, just keeps on improving the engine. Sounds like a utopia, so now I'll shut up.

In conclusion: I whole heartily agree that the graphics need to stop advancing. If we want realism, we'll just go outside.

Doesn't something like the unreal engine cost around 500K to use? The numbers i've seen bandied about are in the 350-700k range. Hardly 350 bucks lol:D .
EDIT: actually that was unreal 2 pricing :)
I don't think cryengine is the top, you can always do better, fully destructible environments, better lighting, better particle effects, even more detail.

I want my temporary escape to look as realistic as possible, not to be bench marked at some standard low setting. For some, nay many, gaming is about the technological aspect of it, I don't play COD4 because the story is good or the gameplay (though it is good) I play it cause when I crouch and see grass waving though my scope as the enemy soldier is exquisitely rendered in high detail I get a rush out of that, and would love to see that aspect of my gaming continue to advance.

Very thoughtful read. Good graphics IS the "Holy Grail" of developers, often at the expense of gameplay, often accompanied by numerous bugs.

One of my favorite games of all time was Dungeon Keeper. Then they came out with DK2, where they replaced all the beautiful graphics with "cutting edge" rendered versions of all the creatures and enviroment. It was ugly, and it sucked wind.

Broadening the argument, why do developers feel like they have to "improve" a game that already has solid gameplay? So many times a sequel comes out, with a development team that either lost a few members, or a totally new one, and they feel like they have to totally S-can the old gameplay, even when it was stellar, when it was what made the game popular in the first place and begged for a sequel. Populous fell victim to that, like many other games. Of course, most games often have a few specific areas needing improvement. For example, Mass Effect planetside repetitiveness needs a serious overhaul, something I hope they address in ME2. Still, c'mon guys, don't dump the gameplay that made the game fun in the first place!

A very bad sign is when the lead developer walks away from the sequel, something I find ominous as I await Bioshock 2 . . . .

Playbahnosh:
Wow. I didn't read every comment, but it seems at least 99% of the commenters agree. That has to say something...

Game developers, take heed! It seems to me that a lot of players would like the ability to opt out of the 'graphics race', if they had the choice.

Today, there is no penalty for playing like a retard and no tangible reward for thinking or figuring out stuff. This stupid achievement system is just a transparent, idiotic hoax. Wow, you pressed the jump button 1000 times, good for you. OMG, you drove off a cliff, fell a mile and died horribly 2000 times in a row, in racing game, way to go dude! Here, let me increase this totally arbitrary and meaningless number for you. Now go and brag about how good you are at repeating mindless tasks for no apparent reason.

Oh, achievements have always been pretty pointless. We can measure achievements for ourselves. For example, the other day in Medieval II: Total War, while most of my army was off fighting the Italians, the Germans decided to attack me with three separate armies. I had a single rump army in the area, ferried it down from England, marched straight into the heart of the Holy Roman Empire, defeated two German armies, killed the Holy Roman Emperor in a siege, and retreated, defeating the panicking Germans racing back to attack me as I did so. No little box popped up saying 'achievement acquired!', but I felt like that was an achievement. I marched a rear echelon army to their capital and back, defeating everything they could throw at me with my garrison troops. That was awesome.

Whereas actual achievements aren't really about achieving anything. They're actually collecting mini-games. That's fine - some players love that sort of thing - but really, it's not as if they represent any actual achievement. They're purely arbitrary. (And also one of the reasons I am most definitely not a fan of X-Box Live and all the achievements and such it staples on.)

sneakypenguin:
Doesn't something like the unreal engine cost around 500K to use? The numbers i've seen bandied about are in the 350-700k range. Hardly 350 bucks lol:D .
EDIT: actually that was unreal 2 pricing :)
I don't think cryengine is the top, you can always do better, fully destructible environments, better lighting, better particle effects, even more detail.

I want my temporary escape to look as realistic as possible, not to be bench marked at some standard low setting. For some, nay many, gaming is about the technological aspect of it, I don't play COD4 because the story is good or the gameplay (though it is good) I play it cause when I crouch and see grass waving though my scope as the enemy soldier is exquisitely rendered in high detail I get a rush out of that, and would love to see that aspect of my gaming continue to advance.

Well, not all people think alike.

As for the CryEngine being the best, I don't believe that either. I used it as an example because it's well know, and it's on all consoles, unike the latest version of Unreal Engine which has destructible enviroments, realistic lighting and so on but is only for Xbox 360 (I think; from what I've seen, they said that they're not going to update the PC version of the engine).

The prices are taken from the top of my head without prior research to see what they cost.

Irandrura:
Oh, achievements have always been pretty pointless. We can measure achievements for ourselves. For example, the other day in Medieval II: Total War, while most of my army was off fighting the Italians, the Germans decided to attack me with three separate armies. I had a single rump army in the area, ferried it down from England, marched straight into the heart of the Holy Roman Empire, defeated two German armies, killed the Holy Roman Emperor in a siege, and retreated, defeating the panicking Germans racing back to attack me as I did so. No little box popped up saying 'achievement acquired!', but I felt like that was an achievement. I marched a rear echelon army to their capital and back, defeating everything they could throw at me with my garrison troops. That was awesome.

Wow, nice :) I was talking about that exact same thing. Achievements or more precisely "totally random shit that is amazing" is one of the best things in a game. Two years ago, I was playing StarCraft with my friends on LAN, 2v2, and our team was sucking badly. At the end, my teammate got eradicated by the combined army of our two opponents, and I could only see the huge wave of units converging on my base and the evil glee on faces of the two guys. But they were unaware of my trap, as they though all my units perished defending my teammate's base. As soon as the two armies were inside my totally empty base, happily stomping on whatever left of it, I pressed the unburrow button. I laughed like a maniac as 100 hydralisks emerged from ground, and tore the combined army to shreds in mere seconds, with the sound of two jaws hitting the pavement in unison. Then I took my army of hydras and mowed down their bases in minutes, encountering only minimal, hastily cobbled together defenses and panicked "shiiit, shiit, fuck, FUUUUUCK" screams from the other side of the room. My victory was EPIC beyond belief. I still have the replay somewhere :D

Now THAT is an achievement, and not collecting 100 thingamabobs or performing some arbitrary and meaningless stunts in a row.

Irandrura:

Playbahnosh:
Wow. I didn't read every comment, but it seems at least 99% of the commenters agree. That has to say something...

Game developers, take heed! It seems to me that a lot of players would like the ability to opt out of the 'graphics race', if they had the choice.

But developers know that even though we say story and gameplay is more important we usually don't believe it.
Would we have loved mass effect if it was based on the Kotor engine?
Would assassins creed have been popular if it looked like ninja gaiden(xbox)
Would COD4 have been as epic powered by source?
Truth is for a lot of gamers graphics contribute a LOT to the gaming experience, go watch a trailer for uncharted 2 or something like GoW2 graphical prowess is a major selling point to both titles. This isn't a bad thing, it doesn't make these bad games in gameplay or story(developers don't just sub story with graphics( a bad story with good graphics is still a bad story without), it's just a different way to approach gaming.

Playbahnosh:

On topic: anyone with eyes can see, that graphics are overhyped. Gameplay, art and story is the key. Hell, when Darwinia came out, it looked like a fucking fossil compared to 2005 graphics (when it was released), but I still consider it one of the best games as of today, ...

Hmmm... I thought Darwinia was abit of a rip off frankly. Only 6 levels, if I recall rightly, and very little reason to replay. Ok, they gave you a map editor too, but really, it was abit naff for 20. Gameplay and graphics where nice, the story was interesting, but there was just so very little of it.

Games aren't shorter now than they were in 1992... far from it.

Doug:

Playbahnosh:

On topic: anyone with eyes can see, that graphics are overhyped. Gameplay, art and story is the key. Hell, when Darwinia came out, it looked like a fucking fossil compared to 2005 graphics (when it was released), but I still consider it one of the best games as of today, ...

Hmmm... I thought Darwinia was a rip off frankly. Only 6 levels, if I recall rightly, and very little reason to replay. Ok, they gave you a map editor too, but really, it was abit naff for 20. Gameplay and graphics where nice, the story was interesting, but there was just so very little of it.

Ok, here: Darwinia wiki entry
Look at the system requirements, I dare you! It's a game made in fucking 2005! With a recommended system req. that was barely enough to run GTA3 as a slideshow, which came out 4 years earlier. Now go and look up the development costs. Darwinia was made with only a fraction of the costs of ANY modern day game, not to mention development time.

The sheer manpower, money and time spent on, say, Unreal 3, could've produced more than 100 Darwinias. And that's an understatement.

I rest my case.

Playbahnosh:
My victory was EPIC beyond belief. I still have the replay somewhere :D

Yes. That is exactly the sort of thing I had in mind. When it's a surprise or comes from nowhere, it really helps.

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