The Conduit

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The Conduit

Yahtzee prefers to see the (game)world in 2D.

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Ha, take that overused internet references!

I see your point, why put money into graphics when it can be put into making great gameplay?

I agree with you completely, the Wii never claimed to be a graphical powerhouse, so why would a developer try to prove us wrong when at best they'll just look as good as an original XBox or Gamecube game? There may well be a way to push the graphics on a Wii to the point that it's indistinguishable from a 360 or a PS3, but it would be a waste of time.

I also think you're right about 2D sprites versus 3D models. Take fighting games (yes, I know you're not a fan, but take the journey with me here): in Marvel vs. Capcom 2, character models range from cookie-cutter humanoids like Jill Valentine to Lovecraftian abstracts like Shuma-Gorath, and with no added expense to the programmers. Put simply, if you can draw it, it's there, you don't have to count polygons, map textures, contemplate inverse kinematics, or worry about collision detection mapped to aforementioned polygons. As long as you have enough frames of animation, that's all it takes to have a diverse and eclectic cast of characters.

That's mostly why I chose the Wii to be my "console of choice" this generation. I'm the type of person that loves to strive towards being unique, and avoid borrowing ideas from anyone else as much as possible. While the Wii has quite a few flaws that really hinder it, it was a breath of fresh air at the time.

On the topic of 2D graphics, I agree; there's a lot of potential there. Muramasa: The Demon Blade really showcases what can be done in a 2D game. Even when I'm limited to 2 directions in which I can move, my imagination can burn bright whilst playing a good 2D game with well-drawn backgrounds.

Man, I know what Yahtzee is talking about. Back in the days of old, when my PS1 was new, I rented a game for it. I loved that game. Then it was returned, and I forgot its name. Recently, I relearnt and reaquired the game that I had fallen in love with so many years ago. My heart was then broken by the visuals that had been so incredible before. A stick figure and a pink blob.

FluffX:
Man, I know what Yahtzee is talking about. Back in the days of old, when my PS1 was new, I rented a game for it. I loved that game. Then it was returned, and I forgot its name. Recently, I relearnt and reaquired the game that I had fallen in love with so many years ago. My heart was then broken by the visuals that had been so incredible before. A stick figure and a pink blob.

There are a few PSX games that stand the test of time. The original Silent Hill seems to benefit from its grainy graphics (in fact, even the crappy controls of the main character help the unease), Metal Gear Solid and Vagrant Story.

I'm eager for the Stonking Great Game Contest too. Maybe I should try to make one...
The cake is a lie .
Dang. There goes a billion points.

Does anyone know if Yahtzee's YouTube videos count towards the 100?

The problem isn't with the Wii itself, but the games. Developers think that the Wii isn't "hardcore" so they make casual games for it. And when a hardcore game does come along for it, it's usually ridiculously over the top. (see: MadWorld, Manhunt 2, Godfather Blackhand Edition). It's now seen as a stupid plaything which is a shame because it had so much potential.

Maybe if it was more expensive in the first place, this never would've happened.

NOW I understand Sony's marketing strategy!

2d games do have the advantage that they age a lot less (when good, of course), but 2d games will always remain much more limited in terms of genres and, well, different kinds of gameplay. Also, games that rely on immersion will always have more options to 'immerse' in 3d, since the real world isn't 2d. The graphics might age, but the immersiveness of a game won't. For example, Majora's Mask. The game looks horrible the first 30 minutes, but after that you'll find yourself absorbed by the world of Majora. An old 2d game might not be as scary to look at, but it'll also immerse you much less easily. For example, the first Zelda: it's still a fun game to play, but the whole 'you live and fight in a big fantasy world'-aspect is lost. A game like that first Zelda is degraded to a simple toy, or something else that only provides instant fun for a while.

Has there ever been a decent kiss in a game?

I think some old 3D games still look appropriate, especially the ones that depict mechanical objects. Freespace 1 and 2 don't look bad, for example. The space ships look like they should and there's nothing that looks obviously wrong (except maybe the blast rings).

That said, a 2D sidescrolling cursor-aimed shooter game would be awesome. I loved the PC game Abuse back in the day. Unfortunately I douzbt High Voltage Software would have produced a better game even if they had gone with that style. They're working on some sidescrolling 2.5D game with hookshot arms (which are awesome as we all know) but it's licensed (Saturday-something) and I don't trust their ability to design appropriate levels.

There are some upcoming 2D games on the Wii, Muramasa (which I'm not terribly interested in because Odin Sphere was boring) and A Boy And His Blob which looks extremely adorable (there's a button to hug the blob!). Not all developers have given up on 2D it seems. Unfortunately New Super Mario Bros Wii uses 3D models, I don't think those look right when combined with sidescroller physics.

Macgyvercas:

Does anyone know if Yahtzee's YouTube videos count towards the 100?

Not by my count. And, by count I mean vague estimation involving counting the number of videos that appear on a page, multiplying that by the number of pages, then adjusting the figures due to repeats... all while slightly drunk.

Spaceman_Spiff:
Has there ever been a decent kiss in a game?

Not in 3D... in fact, I'm not sure if 2D is much different. Maybe Aladdin for the Sega Genesis just before the credits roll.

Now with all the talk about 2D I'm reminded of one of the most awesome games for the GBA, namely Ninja Cop (Ninja Five-O in the US). Your main character is a ninja with a hookshot and that's the recipe for awesome right there. Fast swinging and flipping out and killing people...

2-D games also leave a lot to the imagination. While 3-D games give a much more fleshed-out impression. In 2-D we take the restictions for what they are; restrictions because it's 2-D. But in 3-D the restrictions take away from the immersion, because moving around in 3-D shouldn't have any restriction.

Abe's Oddyssey went from 2-D to 3-D and it completely f*cked everything up.

Retro graphics for the... no, won't say it. Er... Retro graphics are indeed awesome?

I mean, I've never played System Shock 2, yet I still manage to be creeped out by Shodan's graphically handicapped face, an effect that the weird computer guy from Gears 2 missed completely.

It's odd to see Yahtzee in a normal, non-bashing mood, and actually take some time to analyze some of the ups and downs to game design.
Actually an interesting read, I'd say...

You know,2D graphics can be awesome and up-to-date even in our times. Go check Braid and World of Goo for evidence of this. But you can go only that far with 2D graphics - sometimes you can't really use them. FPSes and TPSes are good examples - i don't think it's easier to do an FPS in 2D sprites than in polygons.

On the other hand,each and every attempt at "realistic" graphics comes out as a total train wreck ten (or even five) years after. I think current gun-metal-gray-and-dog-shit-brown pallete will be a good vomit fuel in 2020.

So in this,i slide with heavilly stylized 3D. Team Fortress 2 is a perfect example - i don't think it's going to be very out-of-date even 10 years later. Another example is Psychonauts - just look it up on imagesearch. If you have old R&C games for the PS2,you can re-visit them - i think they look pretty decent,even 5-7 years after.

Macgyvercas:

Does anyone know if Yahtzee's YouTube videos count towards the 100?

No they don't.

Before 3D became a viable mainstream goal, 2D games were still very much subject to the mad dash for graphics. It was always true that anyone looking for an one-up on other games could claim the best graphics prize with no imagination or risky gameplay innovations. It's just that 3D graphics were seen as automatically superior when they came into play. Nowadays, the games that are 2D are normally done so for a reason (or because they're Flash games) and so the graphics are far more likely to be stylistically significant than the someone just making a game by the numbers.

2D graphics also were refined for quite a long while before the shift to 3D. It's difficult to get a fair comparison between, say, Spacewar or Pong and Star Fox on the SNES or Super Mario 64. Ever since early on in gaming, sprites on backgrounds were generally how graphics were implemented. Up through the SNES (and continued with the GBA), the changing toolbox for game developers mostly consisted of beefier hardware to do the same thing, letting them refine the same basic graphics more and more. 3D games include a hell of a lot more clipping issues, texturing, and a lot more interplay between subsystems in the graphics than 2D. It's a shift in design philosophy, and still isn't worked out to the degree that 2D graphics currently are.

Edit: As far as the Wii, it's partially rabid marketers attacking a new demographic, refurbishment of an old technology (see the Power Glove), the same hype that comes with every system, and genuine innovation. I do like that they're trying to focus on more than constantly improving graphics (and think they made a brilliant marketing move by abandoning Sony and Microsoft's to fight that war with eachother; not selling the consoles at cost and for cheaper is a large benefit). That being said, we're still exploring the new technology. It's going to take a hundred developers remaking earlier games with worse controls before we get a few gems that couldn't work without the Wii's unique peripherals. And hopefully the good parts of those gems will be emulated to make better games overall.

That LBP level is brilliant. Especially having Gordon Freeman and the Weighted Companion Cube in the cage.
I agree with the points made. Graphics don't designate good gameplay. Just look at Deus Ex. Or Half Life 1, for that matter.

This wasn't as funny as the earlier Extra Punctuation articles, but I think it was completely spot-on. Great article, Yahtzee.

matsugawa:
I agree with you completely, the Wii never claimed to be a graphical powerhouse, so why would a developer try to prove us wrong when at best they'll just look as good as an original XBox or Gamecube game? There may well be a way to push the graphics on a Wii to the point that it's indistinguishable from a 360 or a PS3, but it would be a waste of time.

I also think you're right about 2D sprites versus 3D models. Take fighting games (yes, I know you're not a fan, but take the journey with me here): in Marvel vs. Capcom 2, character models range from cookie-cutter humanoids like Jill Valentine to Lovecraftian abstracts like Shuma-Gorath, and with no added expense to the programmers. Put simply, if you can draw it, it's there, you don't have to count polygons, map textures, contemplate inverse kinematics, or worry about collision detection mapped to aforementioned polygons. As long as you have enough frames of animation, that's all it takes to have a diverse and eclectic cast of characters.

But Gamecube games looked pretty good. Or at least to me they did.

OT: great points Yahtzee, as usual. There is one thing I'd like to point out though. There will always be one douche in the gaming industry who thinks graphics means everything and behind him there will be millions if not billions of people who think the same thing.

I know what he means, I'd much rather gander at the cell shaded graphics of a Valkyria Chronicles than the realistic (as they could get) graphics of Fallout 3.

As realistic as they want their games to look, Bethesda only ever gets the characters to look as realistic as a Disneyland Automatron.

The problem arises when companies shoe horn 3D into genres that dont need it. Platform games and fighting games, especially scrolling beat em ups were effectivly killed by 3D graphics and I think the medium is worse off for it. I cant think of 1 platform game (Mario 64 included) that didnt suffer from being in 3D or comes anywhere close to the likes of Super Mario World, the Megadrive Sonic games or the Turrican franchise. Nor can I think of a fighter that touches the playability of the 2D street fighter and King of fighters series (including Street fighter 3d which used pretty much the same fighting engine and was still awful). Also try comparing the fun and intuitive combat of Legend of Zelda on the Snes to the awful system all the 3D zeldas have. 3D just doesnt lend itself to certain genres.

Companies need to re-embrace the good old 2D graphics, it can be done, go look at the high-res 2D HAND DRAWN graphics that the new King of Fighters game has if you don't believe me.

Then maybe, just maybe, we'll get a decent new Streets of Rage game lol

Some people have mentioned it already, but I want to put my own two cents in about it.

I, for one, loved the 2D Odin Sphere.

Muramasa looks like it'll be ten times more beautiful compared to Odin Sphere, and since the story is spread across only two characters, the repetition should be much less than it's predecessor. The gameplay has clearly improved, as well, what with it being much more fast-paced, each character using two different styles of fighting, plus teh ability to use super-moves. All of this was absent from Odin Sphere.

As for my opinion on 2D in general, I like it much better than 3D. I play games like Disgaea and Phantom Brave because, frankly, you can do a lot more things using "just" sprites in a game. As long as you have just as much imagination as you do work ethic, you can pull off some amazing things that would look unbearably awkward in 3D. So Yahtzee was right on the money. Once he suggested two 3D characters kissing, I cringed at the thought.

Goldbling:

But Gamecube games looked pretty good. Or at least to me they did.

Don't get me wrong, I agree with you completely, especially on the Gamecube (the Metroid Prime series is a gorgeous series). What I mean by looking only as good as an original XBox or GCN title is that developers like the Conduit team were trying to go up against the 360 and the PS3, which are graphically/technically superior to the Gamecube (albeit Metroid Prime is still more fun).

Put simply, they're trying to win Le Mans by putting jet fuel in a golf cart.

There are games where I really think that the graphics aged well. I mean look at Sands of Time and Half-Life 2.
Anyway, great article, Yahtzee

Mezzamine:
That LBP level is brilliant. Especially having Gordon Freeman and the Weighted Companion Cube in the cage.
I agree with the points made. Graphics don't designate good gameplay. Just look at Deus Ex. Or Half Life 1, for that matter.

Deus Ex is one of two games in total I will play again and again no matter how old it gets. It is unmatched and no game has come close to its level. It invented a proper moral choice system and is the only game to offer one to date. Anything and everything effects what happens next. I swear 1 part where you meat a random drug addict chick there is around 8 different variations to what happens with here alone. You can save her, kill her, kill the drug dealer, tell the hotel owner, do nothing and watch the drug dealer kill the hotel owner, save the hotel owner, kill them both, kill all 3, kill them both and spare the drug dealer, etc and each and every one of them effects the story in a different way. Nothing compares to Deus Ex, NOTHING.

If anyone is curious about my "second" game its the Disgaea Series. Though honourable mentions go to Zone Of the Enders 2 and Devil May Cry 1.

As far as 3D goes for me it comes down to whether of not the developers were able to acheive their vision with the technology available at the time in combination with all the other elements that make a great game.

In other words did they give a shit about making a great game despite any grapical drawbacks.

Grapics are important as this is a visual medium,but not as important as the overal cohesion of the title.

Kilo--interesting post; it seems to me that 3D ushered in "realism" as a goal for art design, even for games like Portal or Bioshock...I remember Bioshock devs talking quite a bit about how much effort they'd put into the *water* in Bioshock, presumably b/c having water behave in "realistic" ways worked as a way to make the environment immersive.

KDR_11k:
I think some old 3D games still look appropriate, especially the ones that depict mechanical objects. Freespace 1 and 2 don't look bad, for example. The space ships look like they should and there's nothing that looks obviously wrong (except maybe the blast rings).

Are you aware of the Freespace SCP (Source Code Project)? Ever since Volition released the source code the community has been hard at work improving and modernizing the game, while retaining the classic 'feel'. With all the new effects and models in place, the game will actually look as cool as you remember it being 10 years ago when it first came out, huzzah!

Gildan Bladeborn:

KDR_11k:
I think some old 3D games still look appropriate, especially the ones that depict mechanical objects. Freespace 1 and 2 don't look bad, for example. The space ships look like they should and there's nothing that looks obviously wrong (except maybe the blast rings).

Are you aware of the Freespace SCP (Source Code Project)? Ever since Volition released the source code the community has been hard at work improving and modernizing the game, while retaining the classic 'feel'. With all the new effects and models in place, the game will actually look as cool as you remember it being 10 years ago when it first came out, huzzah!

Yes, yes, the point is that even unupdated those old graphics don't look bad.

Once again Yahtzee you make a wonderful point. It's actually it's funny you should mention the contrast of 2D vs 3D 'cause I just picked up the GBA version of Super Mario Bros. 3 the other day and have been having a grand time replaying those old levels. The majesty of a good 2D platformer is apparently a lost art.

I'd argue that 2D games have aged just like everything else. While, yes, the 8-bit Mario games may still be a bit more "playable" than Mario 64, by Yahtzee's standards, it is impossible to ignore that the shift to HD has left some of the most beautiful 2D games of the past, like the Donkey Kong Country series, looking like utter shite.

...here is the only assistance I will give you. If your game includes absolutely any reference to the cake being a lie, you automatically lose a billion points.

....fuck....

Now I have to start all over again!

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