Death to Good Graphics!

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Woe Is You:
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.

Delicious ASCII vision! Spoiler: And I'm old enough to remember that kind of visual on a TRS-80. We've come a long way baby! Let's just don't go too far..

Shucks. Considering I have spent way, waaaaaay more time on games like:

Dwarf Fortress..
Mount & Blade..
Tripwire Interactive's Red Orchestra and now Killing Floor..
OpenTTD..
Warzone 2100..
Sword of the Stars..
Brigade E5..
7.62mm High Calibre..

..than on games like Call of Duty with all it's fancy graphics, says a lot. At least, to me it does. I must say that World at War was an enjoyable experience, but it has little replay value.

None of the games I have mentioned have anything close to cutting edge graphics, and all run well on my laptop. The eye should definitely have something, but not all of it.

I've been saying similar for years. I remember getting annoyed by adverts for games that only contained about 3 seconds of playable in-game footage as opposed to cut scene majesty.

I'm currently transfixed on Twighlight Princess, a game which is on the graphically inferior Wii and about 3 years old. I think the graphics are still important as they can help with the immersion. I felt part of Ocarina & Twighlight, but not Wind Waker. I still loved WW, but I didn't feel the same connection due to the graphics. They were gorgeous, however they just never clicked with me.

I think it's what you do with the graphics. They don't have to be budget bustingly intense, just made with a bit of care and attention. If a game still plays like a dream then that's a hell of a lot more important.

Also, the point about games not running on some PC's is very true. I stopped buying PC games because I knew that no games would run on my (relatively new, but not massively tech'd up) PC. The last one was Age Of Empires 3 and I had to turn all the settings right down.

So there are many games I've lost out on. As I fall slightly more into that 'Casual' market, I'm not going to keep up to date with the latest sound cards just so I can go spend more money on a game. I know for a fact I'm not the only one.

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.

HAH! I love *They just happen to be shooters*

Assassins Creed in my opinion was a great game, and it had great graphics. But do good graphics make a game good-looking? I mean, take Rayman 2: Revolution. Made at the very beginning of the PS2's empire, it had pretty bad graphics. But the art direction, and how the graphics were used, made the game beautiful. Its bold use of colour, the explosive environments, all of this led to one of the best-looking games of its time.

Shotgun making a thread for this

I think that a prime example of this article being true is Killing Floor (and I think I saw mention of it a couple times while I skimmed through). Recently released on Steam, the game has graphics that could easily run on a PS2 or X-Box (not 360), and it's a very fun game in spite of the graphical inferiority.

AndyVale:
I'm currently transfixed on Twighlight Princess, a game which is on the graphically inferior Wii and about 3 years old.

Twilight Princess isn't even a Wii game, remember. It's a GameCube game with a Wii port. The graphics are the same; the port is exactly the same in all respects save the control scheme, and taking place entirely in mirror-Hyrule because it's assumed most players can't sword-fight left-handed.

Put it this way: Twilight Princess ought to be graphically inferior to most Wii games. And yet it definitely holds its own. Says something about the revolutionary new graphics technology, doesn't it?

I made a thread about this

I think graphics have been ugly ever since bump-mapping was perfected. Doom's bump mapping worked. So did bump mapping in games like their 3. Now games just look like crap.

Halo 2 is the ugliest game i've ever played.

I'm gonna pick a game purely based on its history of fun, and its current problem with its graphical level being too high... GTA IV (Yes, I know it's mainly because the PC port was shoddy, but bear with me, that's not gonna be my point.)

Here would be the ideal test.

When GTA V comes out, Rockstar should release two versions, one looking twice as detailed as GTA IV on its highest settings, and another one with Vice City/ San Andreas level graphics, but make the lower one $10-20 cheaper.

Lets see how much the customer is willing to pay for shiny screen candy, or whether they just want to enjoy the game.

Irandrura:

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?

Typos, I have them. <_<

Some older games are better because they focused less on graphics and more on things which are important like gameplay for instance. Nowadays a lot of games suck because they spend too much time making them look pretty.

samsonguy920:

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

Snip: picture of Dwarf Fortress

...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.

Delicious ASCII vision! Spoiler: And I'm old enough to remember that kind of visual on a TRS-80. We've come a long way baby! Let's just don't go too far..

AWESOME! I just downloaded Dwarf Fortress and I'm currently trying to learn the system--wow, that game is complex.

Also, regarding excellent RPGs like Baldur's Gate 2, I hold with everyone's comments. I always thought it was very strange that Bioware decided to switch to a 3D engine for Neverwinter Nights: not only did BG2 play a lot better, I thought it had much better graphics. It's old, but the art in it is still lovely.

Valve has taken that approach with their games, the specs have increased very little since Half-life 2.

Graphics are a very good example of the law of diminishing returns. You are putting more people to work on graphics but the additions each one is making is significantly less then when their are only a few.

People don't need better graphics, they like unique graphics, like those in Zeno Clash.

yes we should.

Graphics are like the little decorations on a cake. They can make it a more enjoyable experiance, but they can't make a nasty sandy tasting brick any tastier. If it's a good game, it shines through it's bad graphics: NWN anyone?

Chadling:
Also, regarding excellent RPGs like Baldur's Gate 2, I hold with everyone's comments. I always thought it was very strange that Bioware decided to switch to a 3D engine for Neverwinter Nights: not only did BG2 play a lot better, I thought it had much better graphics. It's old, but the art in it is still lovely.

Honestly, I could never get into NWN. The graphics were so blocky and polygonal. BGII looked a lot smoother, and didn't have to re-use textures as much.

I feel like games that have great graphics AND great gameplay are the classic and popular games that people eventually start calling "overrated" =.= kids are so hard to please

TsunamiWombat:
Graphics are like the little decorations on a cake. They can make it a more enjoyable experiance, but they can't make a nasty sandy tasting brick any tastier. If it's a good game, it shines through it's bad graphics: NWN anyone?

But having a cake that looks like dog shit wouldn't make the cake very appetizing.

Sure, graphics don't make the game, but terrible graphics can put people off of playing a game (at least shitty graphics on modern games that aren't up to today's standards, oldies don't apply here)

Jumplion:

But having a cake that looks like dog shit wouldn't make the cake very appetizing.

Speaking of which, here's a local delicacy:

image

Yet it tastes fricking awesome.

Woe Is You:

Jumplion:

But having a cake that looks like dog shit wouldn't make the cake very appetizing.

Speaking of which, here's a local delicacy:

image

Yet it tastes fricking awesome.

Never said looks can't be deceiving or that you should judge a book by it's cover, but first impressions are everything, and if the first impression is "My god, this game has the worst graphics I've seen!" well then...you connect the dots if you know what I mean.

I've been saying this for years, and really haven't bought any new titles because of it. I bought a PS3, played a few games, and turned around to trade it in and buy back my old PS2 (yeah, it was a huge waste of time and money but a lesson well learned).

Sure, games these days look nice, but I'd rather have a game with a solid story, over a days worth of playable content, and some average graphics (PS2/GC/original Xbox).

But, give me the first two requirements and I'll be happy as a clam.

Tenmar:
Thank you! It is taking too many programmers to create a game and bind them to making expansions for DLC. I know graphics has always been a driving force in the video game industry but some old dogs like myself think that it is enough. Can graphics be pushed to the point of a star trck holodeck? Sure! But at the same time the amount of work to create that look is getting where the other points of the video game is being lost.

In the end graphics should still be pursued to be improved but video games cannot be that lead runner if video games are going to maintain quality gameplay.

Exactly. Crysis, I've never played it. That's because I could never run it, and I've heard it isn't even very good, it just looks pretty. Honestly though, what do you expect from a design team who can't spell crisis?

So in short you are saying... do what Blizzard does?

Sergeant M. Fudgey:

Tenmar:
Thank you! It is taking too many programmers to create a game and bind them to making expansions for DLC. I know graphics has always been a driving force in the video game industry but some old dogs like myself think that it is enough. Can graphics be pushed to the point of a star trck holodeck? Sure! But at the same time the amount of work to create that look is getting where the other points of the video game is being lost.

In the end graphics should still be pursued to be improved but video games cannot be that lead runner if video games are going to maintain quality gameplay.

Exactly. Crysis, I've never played it. That's because I could never run it, and I've heard it isn't even very good, it just looks pretty. Honestly though, what do you expect from a design team who can't spell crisis?

In Crysis the graphics where the draw to the game though and that's not a bad thing. When you see that think in all it's glory it's just like damn, graphics alone bring a certain measure of fun.
There are games out there for the crowd that want's quick dev time PSN and XBLA have tons of those. But if you want a "full"game your going to have to wait. And I'm no expert (read I know nadda) but there are still physics engines and working out movments and suchs, I don't think adding extra detail to graphics is the issue I'd say it's the actual animation and physics engine etc that's taking so long to develop.

I agree. We are at a point were any new step in graphics production will not help a game, but just make it more expensive, and look a little bit better on the new 90in. Blue ray HD-TV. Just start making good games so that i will buy them, because i'm sick of the same game with a different main character.

Irandrura:

AndyVale:
I'm currently transfixed on Twighlight Princess, a game which is on the graphically inferior Wii and about 3 years old.

Twilight Princess isn't even a Wii game, remember. It's a GameCube game with a Wii port. The graphics are the same; the port is exactly the same in all respects save the control scheme, and taking place entirely in mirror-Hyrule because it's assumed most players can't sword-fight left-handed.

Put it this way: Twilight Princess ought to be graphically inferior to most Wii games. And yet it definitely holds its own. Says something about the revolutionary new graphics technology, doesn't it?

Not really, as the Wii made a definite point at making the Wii NOT stuffed up to the brim with revolutionary new graphics technology...

It's funny because a while ago I had a nostalgia trip with an N64 port of GoldenEye. As a kid I was never allowed a console so to go over to a friends house and play was a special treat. I remember looking at the graphics of GoldenEye or even Halflife and thinking "Wow this is so advanced" and now it just looks grainy. I really loved Morrowind, in fact at some point soon I'm going to start a drooling fan thread about it, the thing is Morrowind had issues, the graphics weren't top notch, there was a lot of repetition in enemies, the spell-casting was awkward but for some reason it was just damn beautiful to play and I invested two years worth of gaming in it, seeing graphical upgrades (both official and modded) being brought in and I still loved the game.

I have an OK-ish laptop, it can run FarCry 2 on medium settings but I turned the resolution to save frames, doesn't bother me, I played and enjoyed. I play, Rainbow 6 Vegas 1&2, Crysis and CoD4 on medium settings and frankly I don't mind, it still looks good, plays smoothly and I'm enjoying what I play. But I try the PC-version of GTA San Andreas or World at War or sometimes MoH Airborne (played fine on the demo and every time I tried to get to the second level BLUESCREEN!!!) and the dreaded chug-chug-chug of jerky gameplay starts even on low settings. I play only on a laptop that has no chance of upgrading its graphics card so I make do with what works, I'm now backtracking over titles I know will work for entertainment. The inconsistency of games and their performance really gets me. And the length, it is true is awful. Even on sandbox games I feel the only way there is any length to some of the missions is because they have you perform the same action ad verbatim several times (Just Cause was the most transparent of those) and that's not really playing fair.

By the way if anyone wanted a better experience from World at War- try MoH Pacific Assault, I'm not overly a fan of MoH games but after World at War I looked on it much more favourably.

Keep commenting folks, maybe some savvy developer is watching and will take the hint

I am a developer and i'm 100% sure that most other developers agree with these comments and the article (besides who wants to spend four years making a single game which will only last a few hours? - but with today's content needs it is hard to not spend these years).

Unfortunately it isn't the developers who make such decisions, but the publishers and marketing guys who live in their own world (which practically means, they wont read this article and comments). Its basically a "you either make better visuals than [insert some game of the same genre just released] or we wont fund you; and good luck surviving" case.

DrDeath3191:
The power of graphics is not what's important, but I think style can really make a game great (see Okami and Madworld).

Team Fortress 2 as well: I personally think it's one of the best looking games I've played in recent times, largely because of the interesting art design and brilliant character animation. Yes, it may not be technically as graphically good as something like Crysis or Fallout 3, but it's artistic strengths, which more than makes up for it's technical deficiencies.

My view on graphics is that, as long as they don't hurt the immersion and/or enjoyability of the game (fallout 3 character animation I'm looking at you), I'm not really that bothered by them. Having played the first Half-Life recently, even graphics that old did not get in the way of me enjoying the game. I think Shamus is right in saying that 2004 level is a good place to keep it: Half Life 2 is still a great looking game, and the engine still more than holds up today.

JC175:

zoozilla:

Andy_Panthro:
I totally agree with you on everything there, especially the 2004 tech idea.

I have a PC which I tend to play older games on, and it could just about run Doom 3 at a decent graphics level, but really struggles with newer games, to the point where I now need to upgrade to be able to play things at higher detail levels.

There is one example of following your model, and thats Valve. They continued to use the Source engine to bring out a variety of games, to maximise the amounts of people who would be able to play, and therefore maximise the amount of money they can make.

As usual, Valve is pretty much the only game company that really understands how the games industry works and how it's going to evolve.

You took my thoughts exactly. They've been using the same engine since 2004, and it still looks great due to the small updates they continue to make - without increasing system requirements.

And they give all their updates for free.

Thank you Valve, one of the only honest publishers/developers around.

badsectoracula:
I am a developer and i'm 100% sure that most other developers agree with these comments and the article (besides who wants to spend four years making a single game which will only last a few hours? - but with today's content needs it is hard to not spend these years).

Unfortunately it isn't the developers who make such decisions, but the publishers and marketing guys who live in their own world (which practically means, they wont read this article and comments). Its basically a "you either make better visuals than [insert some game of the same genre just released] or we wont fund you; and good luck surviving" case.

Damn marketing department.

Andy_Panthro:
I totally agree with you on everything there, especially the 2004 tech idea.

I have a PC which I tend to play older games on, and it could just about run Doom 3 at a decent graphics level, but really struggles with newer games, to the point where I now need to upgrade to be able to play things at higher detail levels.

There is one example of following your model, and thats Valve. They continued to use the Source engine to bring out a variety of games, to maximise the amounts of people who would be able to play, and therefore maximise the amount of money they can make.

THIS. My pc can't run any game thats made in 2007 or later (exept HL2:E2 and other source games), yet I still have fun with it, mainly because of valve's games (and mods of course)

I just completed cod 2 again. It's a fantastic game despite being released in 2006 and having no ragdoll and very pointy models. The textures are blurred and smudgy and the smoke from grenades is just lots of flat textures, but I still enjoyed it enough to play it through once on each difficulty.

EDIT: Almost forgot: SUMMONER!!!

I wholeheartedly agree. I have just bought Quake 4 for my computer and the game runs like a dream- hi res, no slowdown at all, smooth frame rate all the way. I also tried Dawn of war 2, and even with all of the graphics options turned to the absolute minimum (which made it look a lot like Dawn of war 1) the game still chugged and sputtered like an old engine. Even on the loading screen, for some unfathomable reason.

Source, Doom 3, Unreal 2- these were and are still fantastic engines, so what if they can't do "expansive outdoor settings"? You can still do a damn good looking game for my 2 year old computer. One that hopefully also has a compelling story and gameplay, too.

FROGGEman2:
Not really, as the Wii made a definite point at making the Wii NOT stuffed up to the brim with revolutionary new graphics technology...

And this is why I love Nintendo.

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