Death to Good Graphics!

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

Yeah I never understood the whole "games are getting shorter" sentiment. I mean how many genesis psone N64 took like 2 hours to beat. Yeah there where some long RPG's but I don't recall your average platformer/adventure/FPS taking 6-8 hours to beat.

Shamus Young:
Death to Good Graphics!

Shouldn't we all just get over the graphics thing, already?

Read Full Article

Awww, you're a secret luddite aren't you? It's alright, i still love those old point-and-click adventure games, but then again I do love seeing the latest graphics features in action, and one of my pet hobbies is making new games runnable on my nearly-obsolete machine... it's like a puzzle, for framerates!!!

Playbahnosh:

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.

OI! Don't get hissy at me. I said I thought it was a rip off to the customer, not the dev team. I meant it had fuck all content. I meant that although it was fun whilest it lasted, it lasted only an afternoon. So there, I rest MY case.

watch this as a preemptive. Just saying, watch this, it shows alot from both sides of the visual spectrum.

I prefer to call them "visuals" rather than "graphics" as the way in context they are used are completely different from each other.

"Graphics" implies the amount of technology power in the screen. Things like how many pixels to squeeze on the screen to the amount of polygonol textures on a rock and such. Crysis is an example, but even that game falls to the later category.

"Visuals" implies on the aesthetic viewpoint of the game. This ranges from polished textures, the atmosphere of the game, the feel of it, and even the animations and interaction with the game.

All games can improve from better "graphics", how much they can improve varies, but even more games can improve from better "visuals".

There is a huge gap between these two words when people complain about how graphics are "ruining the industry" and crap like that. Quite frankly, games aren't any shorter or longer than from the past. It took me a week to beat RE5, playing every day, but I was exploring the nooks and crannys of the maps to see what I could find. And I'm still only on the 12th chapter of Valkyria Chronicles.

Improving graphics/visuals is about as "damaging" to the industry as improving story or gameplay. Graphics is 1/3 of the game, while story and gameplay take up the other 2/3.

I don't get where everyone is getting the notion that "graphics are killing the innovation of the industry!" when there are so many other factors besides graphics that are into play, most notibly that we're in a recession. Not to mention the cost it must take to get professional writers and scriptors, animation directors, Q&A testers, ect...... Improving storytelling or gameplay isn't cheaper than improving graphics, and it's probably even harder to improve those. And then if we concentrate on, say, story, then the gameplay and graphics will be neglected and we'll have people whining that "story doesn't make the video game, gameplay does!" which we already have anyway.

Sure, some developers do spend alot of time on graphics/visuals, but quite frankly I don't see that as a bad thing at all unless they get extremely excessive, like Crysis, but even then it's an advancment! Of course publishers want a more guaranteed game that will make money, so just slap in some proven-good gameplay and you can work on the visuals.

Saying that graphics are "killing" the industry is like saying bigger or slightly colorful fonts are killing the book industry, only that graphics/visuals help improve the experience.

With all of that said, I do agree that some publishers do tend to focus alot on the graphics/visuals sides, but whatever innovations they can bring to the visual table can only improve with examples like the Euphoria engine and new lighting techniques to help the game become more immersive.

Graphics dont make a game, take Warcraft3 for example. Acording to my Xfire ive spent near 6000 hours on it and i bought it when it was released yet i can still go on it today and find it to be as fun as the day i took the plastic wrapping off xD.

I admire games with graphics and love taking in the beauty thats been created for my pleasure (The Cry- games being a prime eg)yet i tend to rarely go on them atall after the first time and now they just sit on my games shelf.

Prime example of a brilliant game with bad graphics..Ultima Online- been playing that for 9 years with its awful 2Dish graphics and its still the most in depth wonderful Mmorpg that i have ever played, Apart from maybe SWG and ive been on WoW,EQ1/2, FF11, warhammeronline, Planetside, lotro + the crappy free ones.) so i can atleast say ive played the variety.

I think I shall now drop to my knees and worship my newest God.

All Hail Shamus!

But seriously, this makes SO much sense. High graphics=harder to make, even harder to run and even more of a headache to fix if it breaks.

I remember Command and Conquer 3: Kane's Wrath used to butt-screw my graphics card until I bumped the graphics to their lowest setting and prayed five times towards EA Studios.

PumpActionJesus:
Graphics dont make a game, take Warcraft3 for example. Acording to my Xfire ive spent near 6000 hours on it and i bought it when it was released yet i can still go on it today and find it to be as fun as the day i took the plastic wrapping off xD.

I admire games with graphics and love taking in the beauty thats been created for my pleasure (The Cry- games being a prime eg)yet i tend to rarely go on them atall after the first time and now they just sit on my games shelf.

Prime example of a brilliant game with bad graphics..Ultima Online- been playing that for 9 years with its awful 2Dish graphics and its still the most in depth wonderful Mmorpg that i have ever played, Apart from maybe SWG and ive been on WoW,EQ1/2, FF11, warhammeronline, Planetside, lotro + the crappy free ones.) so i can atleast say ive played the variety.

See, I have a problem when people say "graphics don't make the game" and then point to an old game to prove their point.

Of course graphics wouldn't make the game for older games because those graphics were cutting edge at the time! You cannot say that graphics don't make the game when you point to an old game that has crappy graphics by today's standards.

I can't say "graphics don't make the game!" then point to Sonic the Hedgehog on Genesis because those graphics were amazing at the time. Of course graphics don't make the older games because we don't have graphics like that anymore so it's easier to focus on the gameplay aspects and stuff.

However, if you use a more current example, like, say, the newer Sonic Unleashed, then you can say "graphics don't make the game" because it's current with the graphics of today. If for some reason the Sonic Team were focusing entirely on graphics (which they probably did...), then you can say "graphics don't make the game" because the current graphics right now can't be put aside as "old".

I'm sorry if I'm not making much sense, this sounded better in my head when I was typing it...

I find that game play is much more important then graphics but also to say that it isn't fun to play games that have graphics that are so terrible that you don't know that the images are. So I think personally that a fair balance needs to be make instead of shitty games with amazing graphics. They make good games with alright graphics.

Gameplay is the reason why games like diablo 2, starcraft, the original Mario games, the original zelda games, goldeneye, timesplitters and a whole load of other titles from before the great graphics race, are still adored, played continuously and held in high esteem by people all over the place. Graphics are nice, there's no denying it, but it's really not the core element of a game.

If we had games in reality that consisted of us standing around or going from one place to the next, with the only draw points being to stop and admire a tree or that random barrel fire on the corner of a street, how far would they get? That's why people invented cards, sports etc. Not to stand there and look at the pretty scenery or people, but to have fun playing the actual game!

Fraser.J.A:
I was talking to a young guy who had recently spent a few thousand dollars upgrading his PC to play games. I asked him what he liked to play. He said "I mostly play games for the graphics. So, like, Crysis."

I just stared at him. All I could think was "You spent thousands of dollars... so the games you don't really care about would look a bit better?"

As a person who plays Crysis at high detail the only reason I upgraded my comp was an attempt to keep up with the ever evolving world of video games. I wish they'd stick to older graphics engines (empire total war could have worked with Medieval 2 or even Rome total war graphics) because then like everyone else has said more people could play it. Doom 3 is a great example. When it first came out few people could max it out on settings but now five years later I would assume many people can. The Doom 3 engine looks great and there is no reason games couldn't have kept using it.

Boaal:
Gameplay is the reason why games like diablo 2, starcraft, the original Mario games, the original zelda games, goldeneye, timesplitters and a whole load of other titles from before the great graphics race, are still adored, played continuously and held in high esteem by people all over the place. Graphics are nice, there's no denying it, but it's really not the core element of a game.

If we had games in reality that consisted of us standing around or going from one place to the next, with the only draw points being to stop and admire a tree or that random barrel fire on the corner of a street, how far would they get? That's why people invented cards, sports etc. Not to stand there and look at the pretty scenery or people, but to have fun playing the actual game!

Read my previous post. You can't compare games with crappy graphics to todays games with great graphics. The crappy graphics from yesteryear where cutting edge at the time.

And I am 100% positive that there were HUNDREDS of shitty games that looked pretty at the time. If you can cherry pick the great games of old that had "bad graphics" but "amazing/memorable gameplay" yet clump all the "good graphics, bad gameplay" games together right now, then something's wrong with your logic because that is not a fair comparison.

No. Death to uninspired game designers who think that tricking out a game with the most up-to-date version of the Reality Engine V will automatically make their game awesome. Good graphics should be the chocolate syrup on an already delicious ice cream sundae.

I agree with the article. We need to stop advancing all the time, it's killing our games. I have a computer built in 2006, it can run everythhing that's worth running, because no good new games with cutting edge graphics are coming out for the PC that aren't just prettier versions of what came before. Sure, I can't run GTA IV or COD4 but I can run GTA San Andreas or COD1 which is pretty much the same thing gameplay-wise. The only other games I'm interested in running is either old stuff or new "casual" games (which is where the real innovation in game design seems to be happening lately) which run on an old computer anyway.

Just like the market has crashed because a model based on constant growth with a levelling-out world population is not sustainable, gaming is headed for a similar crash as big development houses eventually find out the hard way by overspending and not recouping that all the fancy graphics bullshit just isn't commercially viable anymore. Of course a lot of companies will go bust and many employees will lose their jobs in the interim, but the smart companies will stay ahead of the curve by producing games 'economically' and encouraging innovation rather than prettiness. Interesting times ahead for gamers.

VZLANemesis:

Kiutu:

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

Bioshock doesn't agree with you ^^

Does it say all? No. I am well aware most rules have exceptions. My point remains and is still true.

one question where are these game with no merit other than graphical mastery the original farcry was way ahead of its time in graphics but ignored the corridor like fps level design since the build engine.
Graphics aren't killing the industy otherwise how would nintendo make money, aside from that most games are very scalable like how Crysis on low looks no better than the original farcry and since graphics don't change gameplay you're still buying the same game and getting the same experience.
Better graphic settings and new graphic cards don't force you to pay for new hardware unless you get pleasure from own the latest card just because its the best my 7900GTX from 2006 can still play all of todays games sure it won't max them but how is that any different from me playing an older game like gothic 2 which has the same graphics as a new game but at its lowest settings.

I'm glad that someone has finally said something. At this point most games feel like tech demos, rather than actual bits of entertainment. Indeed, most games these days are feeling pretty interchangeable, and while I understand that this is a very low risk market right now, I'd venture a guess that if you didn't pour millions of dollars into a game's graphics, it wouldn't be as catastrophic if the game doesn't do well.

This kind of reminds me of the early days of the PS2, when games felt like they were 15 minutes and it was all about showing the pretties of a new system, only this has been the trend for several years. And the worst part is that the majority of gamers will swallow any tripe that the industry throws at us as long as it looks good. And games that don't make your eyes bleed at their beauty get crappy reviews even if they're damned good games. It's getting harder and harder to be a gamer these days because there's so little worth playing, especially if you're not into FPSs, which seem to be just a standardized genre to build your visual ograsmica around.

And before I'm accused of being a ludite or anything of the sort, I've got a system that, while a few years old, can still beat the living crap out of most rigs these days. While I'm not going to be hitting 50,000 fps, at the highest settings I've got plenty of wiggle room. But as I look at this massive behemoth I've built right now, I can't help but feel a great deal of disappointment, as I've been using it to play games that are from a time where dual processors meant you had to have two chip slots. It's been said already, but games these days are homogeneous and lack any sort of worthwhile gameplay.

Oh, and can someone tell me why this "realistic graphics" thing means only gray and brown? Because I live in an urban center, and I've got to say that there are colorful out there. Unless, maybe I have some sort of horrible neurological disorder and need to see a doctor pronto.

Hasn't Valve been using the Source engine for ages now?

Yes!

I agree with this article!

Everyone loves graphics and visuals, including me. But it definitely should not be taking away so much time and effort from what makes games what they are - FUN!

It's especially true how shorter and less innovative games are getting due to the emphasis on those slick, realistic, high-tech graphics.

This is probably a reason why I like the Nintendo Wii - yeah, the graphics that it can handle are pretty outdated. Does that really matter? Nope, good games can still be made for it. It doesn't have to be a Crysis killer to be fun.

For example, let's take a look at a recent example. I bought Okami last month for $30. And I have to say, that is one of the best games I've ever played, just below my personal ranking of a few other awesome titles like Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time.

I absolutely loved it not only for the gameplay, but also the visuals that didn't push for the high poly look, but just the cool art style that, yeah, isn't pushing the future of graphics, but definitely did its job well. It still looked great, fit the theme and story, and basically supported the game very well.

And guess what? Like Shamus Young (article author), we're spending more money on games that last shorter. But in this case, Okami cost me $30 and lasted me for over 40 hours in my first run through. I'm still yet to play through a second time, which I plan to do so eventually. When I finally finished the game, I was really surprised - besides Zelda or Metroid Prime, where else have I invested so much time into a game with a big fleshed out story that lasted you for so many days? I'm also hard pressed to find other games that give so much value at low costs.

Vale is another good example though. They've been simply using the same Source engine and making improvements to it over time. I also love Team Fortress 2, in that not only can my PC actually play it, but there's a lot of emphasis on just whacky fun.

I'm a big fan of long lasting games, and while graphics are great, I don't want it to be a selling point. I'm not saying it's not important - it's the opposite. But we need to find a balance between this and gameplay, story, audio, etc. With so much money and time pooled into just this one category, I fear the loss of those epicly long games that I don't finish in just a few sittings.

Here's hoping for an Okami sequel...

Jumplion:
You can't compare games with crappy graphics to todays games with great graphics. The crappy graphics from yesteryear where cutting edge at the time.

Except... contrary to your claims, in Warcraft 3's case (and in Diablo 2's case, too... actually, pick any Blizzard title after the release of Diablo 2), the tech was already dated when the game came out. We had already seen Max Payne before Warcraft 3, games like Homeworld 2 and Soul Calibur 2 soon after. Diablo 2 was even more dated in relation to its release: it was a low-res 2D game released during the biggest 3D craze. Cutting edge? Hardly.

Then there are games like Duke Nukem 3D, Nethack, Outcast, Arcanum and Dwarf Fortress just to name a few: none of these were ever played for their shiny new graphics.

Games like these still exist, though you probably won't be finding many of them from your usual gazillion budget blockbusters. What Shamus fails to mention here, is that at present we have a huge bunch of games released outside the usual retail channels that are often different, inventive and their creators realize that there are other ways to make a game pretty than just building impressive tech. Based on this article, exactly the sort of games Shamus wants to play.

Woe Is You:

Jumplion:
You can't compare games with crappy graphics to todays games with great graphics. The crappy graphics from yesteryear where cutting edge at the time.

Except in Warcraft 3's case (and in Diablo 2's case, too... actually, pick any Blizzard title after the release of Diablo 2), the tech was already dated when the game came out. We had already seen Max Payne before Warcraft 3, games like Homeworld 2 and Soul Calibur 2 soon after. Diablo 2 was even more dated in relation to its release: it was a low-res 2D game released during the biggest 3D craze. Cutting edge? Hardly.

Then there are games like Duke Nukem 3D, Nethack, Outcast, Arcanum and Dwarf Fortress just to name a few: none of these were ever played for their graphics.

Games like these still exist, though you probably won't be finding many of them from your usual gazillion budget blockbusters. What Shamus fails to mention here, is that at present we have a huge bunch of games released outside the usual retail channels that are often different, inventive and their creators realize that there are other ways to make a game pretty than just building impressive tech. Based on this article, exactly the sort of games Shamus wants to play.

I was not a gamer in the times of Warcraft 3 and Diablo 2, so I was going off of "eye-witness" reports, so to speak, of people around the forums who mentioned that thye thought "graphics couldn't get any better" and such.

but then let's go to the PS1 era, Metal Gear Solid's graphics/visuals were considered "cutting edge" weren't they? What about Final Fantasy VII's? Or on the N64, Super Mario 64 and OoT were considered "cutting edge" weren't they? Forget the technical standpoint on if they were truly "cutting edge", people at the time thought that graphics wouldn't be able to get better but they did.

In today's standards, however, the graphics suck. Graphics don't make those games because graphics have gone past that point of looking like that, so all that's really left is the story/gameplay. You can't cherry pick the classics from yesteryear that were amazing at the time yet clump all grayish-brown games that suck.

There were plenty of pretty games that sucked and vice versa. I'd go so far as to say that those kinds of games were the classics that people choose. Nothing has really changed with how people want to improve graphics/visuals.

As for your last paragraph, if we can improve the tech we can improve the game. More and better tech could mean more content, though that would depend on how it's used. But the tech used doesn't always have to be used for photorealism, games like Okami and Shadow of the Collosus could benefit greatly from having a more atmospheric and feeling game if they can use the tech to improve the visual aspect of it.

By "tech", I meant graphics tech in particular. I mean, a game like this (released in 2006, by the way):

image

...is actually a pretty impressive technical feat by one person. It's just not graphics tech we're talking about but the fact that it's an extremely intricate simulation of a fantasy world.

Woe Is You:
By "tech", I meant graphics tech in particular. I mean, a game like this (released in 2006, by the way):

[ASCII image]

...is actually a pretty impressive technical feat by one person. It's just not graphics tech we're talking about but the fact that it's an extremely intricate simulation of a fantasy world.

Aah, Slaves to Armok: God of Blood, Chapter II. Or, in short, Dwarf Fortress.

The best fantasy simulation as of today. It lacks only one thing, and because of that, nobody cares about the game. Yes, Dwarf Fortress has virtually no graphics.

The only good thing about this, is that the forums of DF are not filled with complaining fanboys, idiots, retarded trolls and screaming 12 year olds. It's a gaming community in its purest form. For this game, the entry level is not a $2000 rig, but an IQ of >120. Love the irony :D

Jumplion:

PumpActionJesus:
Graphics dont make a game, take Warcraft3 for example. Acording to my Xfire ive spent near 6000 hours on it and i bought it when it was released yet i can still go on it today and find it to be as fun as the day i took the plastic wrapping off xD.

I admire games with graphics and love taking in the beauty thats been created for my pleasure (The Cry- games being a prime eg)yet i tend to rarely go on them atall after the first time and now they just sit on my games shelf.

Prime example of a brilliant game with bad graphics..Ultima Online- been playing that for 9 years with its awful 2Dish graphics and its still the most in depth wonderful Mmorpg that i have ever played, Apart from maybe SWG and ive been on WoW,EQ1/2, FF11, warhammeronline, Planetside, lotro + the crappy free ones.) so i can atleast say ive played the variety.

See, I have a problem when people say "graphics don't make the game" and then point to an old game to prove their point.

Of course graphics wouldn't make the game for older games because those graphics were cutting edge at the time! You cannot say that graphics don't make the game when you point to an old game that has crappy graphics by today's standards.

I can't say "graphics don't make the game!" then point to Sonic the Hedgehog on Genesis because those graphics were amazing at the time. Of course graphics don't make the older games because we don't have graphics like that anymore so it's easier to focus on the gameplay aspects and stuff.

However, if you use a more current example, like, say, the newer Sonic Unleashed, then you can say "graphics don't make the game" because it's current with the graphics of today. If for some reason the Sonic Team were focusing entirely on graphics (which they probably did...), then you can say "graphics don't make the game" because the current graphics right now can't be put aside as "old".

I'm sorry if I'm not making much sense, this sounded better in my head when I was typing it...

I think you have an interesting perspective on those issues, but I think you are also missing the point of why some one points out an old game. Sure, games THEN may have looked good, and that may be why we played them then, but the important part is that they are still fun NOW after the graphics have aged. The games made a lasting impression in spite of the graphics and not because of it.

And I do agree with your previous post about "graphics" and "visuals," but it seems today that no one is going for the "visuals" and then complaining that their games cost too much to make and aren't selling well. I don't know how good it would be if everyone went for a more stylized mode of graphics, because games like Okami would get lost among the others, but at least we might see a few more better games.

It's certainly possible for modern games to have great visual style; titles like the wonderfully colorful de Blob show that. Which is why games like Gears of War and Fallout 3 depress me. They pour all of their money into the latest "cutting edge" graphics, and what do they make with it? Gritty, muddy, depressing environments. Crysis, on the other hand, took great graphics and created a breathtaking tropical island. The problem is not that developers are now obsessed with keeping up with the Jones', it's that the graphics have become an end unto themselves, a reason to produce a game, rather than a tool with which to create a breathtaking reality.

And I have to give the Wii this. It has more games that are just a joy to look at and immerse yourself in (de Blob, Zack and Wiki, Mario Galaxy), than the dull realities of many of the major 360 and PS3 titles. i wouldn't want to visit those places in real life, much less in my games, which I turn to for entertainment. If you insist on your shiny graphics, follow the Crysis model devs: at least make something worth looking at.

Shamus I'll be showing off your article where I study programming. I have no doubt that it will be an interesting topic of discussion, if I never post again, the 3D artists got me.

Graphics definatley can contribute to a game but I agree that we have reached a level where it is doing more harm than good. Crysis was impressive but the game was really short and at release it was bug riddled. Which only proves your point about graphics and development costs and shortcuts.

On the flip side, the more recent release Left 4 Dead has been a huge commercial sucess but its graphics aren't amazing.

Edited: Because I haven't slept in two days and my ability to construct sentences that make sense is getting limited.

Playbahnosh:
For this game, the entry level is not a $2000 rig, but an IQ of <120. Love the irony :D

That symbol means 'less than 120'.

Irony, huh?

I like the Source Engine games as far as my technological advances go. Probably because it's one of the few that will run properly on my outdated machine. They look good and play great.

Picked up U3 a while back for fairly cheap and after finally getting it able to run somewhat smoothly, it looked worse than the first Unreal. I just kinda stopped investing in new games after that, thought there were plenty of older titles available.

This article is a big digital middle finger to the folks at Crytek. And for what that's worth, I totally agree with you. Less graphics-intensive games cost less, easier to make, and can reach a broader audience. If that's not a recipe for success I don't know what is.

Makes me proud to be a Wii owner

Extravaganza:
I'm going to have to agree. Some games are still great and have great graphics.
But some games i feel like the put more time into the graphics rather than the gameplay
(Killzone 2, and Resident Evil 5) *They just happen to be shooters*
But i still play Starcraft.

Yes, I've noticed I play a lot more of my games that didn't focus on pretty graphics, but rather, on gameplay.

Samah:

Fraser.J.A:
I was talking to a young guy who had recently spent a few thousand dollars upgrading his PC to play games. I asked him what he liked to play. He said "I mostly play games for the graphics. So, like, Crysis."

I just stared at him. All I could think was "You spent thousands of dollars... so the games you don't really care about would look a bit better?"

Crysis is just an expensive interactive 3D benchmarking program.

So very very true. When I built my computer, I downloaded the demo to test it. xD

image

Someone had to post it.

Anyway, Shamus, you have to interview some developers or something. Get this through their heads.

This is hilarious: because my teach, who works in the industry, has already ranted to us on this exact topic. The industry is at the point where making games costs a ton because they HAVE TO BE SHINY or people think that they're bad. Didn't the Wii prove that stuff can be successful/good without looking like MGS4?

EDIT:

Woe Is You:
By "tech", I meant graphics tech in particular. I mean, a game like this (released in 2006, by the way):

IMAGE SNIP

...is actually a pretty impressive technical feat by one person. It's just not graphics tech we're talking about but the fact that it's an extremely intricate simulation of a fantasy world.

DWARF FORTRESS. AWESOME SAUCE.

I'll agree that fun comes first, but I'll also admit that graphics affect immersion. I'm playing the DS version of FFIV specifically because the graphics are decent.

The real problem is, even consumers can't keep up with the technology anymore. My copy of Gears Of War looked wonderful, but considering I don't have an HDTV, it didn't look as good as the developers wanted (Or as good as all their effort should have made it look).

This is definitely an issue, and until developers learn to skirt it, it will hamper the industry.

Lazarus Long:
The most exciting purchase I've made in many moons was the Ultimate Genesis Collection on 360, because I can play Shining Force again. I'd be perfectly happy parking the tech level for a while if it means gameplay gets deeper. It kind of feels like Bethesda and Bioware are the only ones even trying.
And Starcraft wasn't bad at all, but it'll always take a backseat to MOO2 for me. :)

*digs out genesis and SF/SF2*

I feel a shining force marathon coming on... Zylo needs feeding.

Excellent article Shamus, and I definitely am boggled at the need for developers to always push the bar, seemingly throwing away the hard work they put into an earlier engine. Conspiracy theorists might blame it on ATI, Nvidia, Intel, and AMD since those four make money when bigger better graphics in a game come out. The owners of Alienware probably had a overabundant happiness seizure episode when Crysis came out. But those would just be theories and/or opinions, which I won't and don't want to delve into.
As for companies that do use an engine for new content, seeing what new stuff they can wring out of it, I can think of Epic and Rockstar for examples, besides Valve(which is king in my books, they can lead the content revolution!). The first incarnation of Unreal Tournament which held strong for some time ran on the same engine that gave us Unreal. True that is as far as it goes, but where Epic is concerned that was nice of them, especially since Unreal was the Crysis-equivalent of its time. (I still remember trying to tweak Unreal up to get the juicier graphics and ended up with framerate slowdown that would come back to haunt me with Crysis. Those juicier graphics are so easy on my system now, Unreal actually operates on Red Bull mode. Zoom!) Rockstar used the same engine for GTA3, Vice City, and San Andreas. I think GTA:SA was definitely its peak as they built a new one for 4, which for regular PC's at this time seems to be over the top, but hopefully they will be happy with that engine for a while. I am sure there could very well be more examples of recycled engines, but they are obscured by the next best thing that always comes out. When I saw the recommended system for Fallout 3 I felt a distinct pain of frustration.
We need a content revolution and put the graphics revolution on hold until the content catches up or even passes by.

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