Realistic Graphics Are Broken

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Good points about the problems with developers focussing too much on realistic graphics rather than realism as a whole. However, I think your opening missed the mark a bit:

Robert Rath:
Microsoft and Sony sit in the wings like gladiators waiting for the gates to rise, and the weapons they will battle with... are graphics.

The thing is, Microsoft and Sony are not, in fact, developers. It doesn't matter how great an idea more realistic game mechanics might be, there's really nothing they can do about. They just provide the hardware, and its up to the developers to worry about how to make their games immersive. Hardware developers focus on graphics simply because it's a very easy measure of how powerful their hardware is. There's no point them trying to advertise a console based on its ability to display branching dialogue trees and high quality music, because that's all just taken as a given. If we want more immersive games with more realistic mechanics, it's the developers we need to talk to, not the hardware manufacturers.

Seeing that old article about DOOM is quite funny looking at it nowadays. Especially considering the writer's suggestion of making friends with demons. FUCKING DEMONS!! And where are the green lizards in DOOM? I have played the entirety of the original DOOM and have not seen a single green lizard.

Besides that little tidbit I decided to focus on, I totally agree with this article. Cartoonish styles make a game more long-lasting visually and make it unique. It's the reason Timesplitters 2 still looks kind of nice. But not Timesplitters 1...that game was ugly.

I just find it sad when people claim "realistic graphics" is equivalent to "good graphics", they're not.
Good-looking graphics is the goal, and "realism" is just one way to get there.

The ludonarrative dissonance has only in recent years become gradually apparent to me personally, but that might be due to the enemies in the games I played not being human most of the time. It bothers me, though, when I have to question and justify my actions in the game. Why do I have to kill everything? I find it ok to be the bad guy, just give me a proper motivation!
I remember the first time I ever noticed it was in Tomb Raider:Underworld, which I got really cheap in some sort of steam sale. In the very first level, the bad guy steals a small golden statue from Lara, and she proceeds to gun down an entire boat full of seamen. I stopped playing there.

I find it funny they always speak of Immersion without really understanding what immersion is. Immersion is simply when the game draws you in to a point where you forget things outside the game, you lose track of time; or the fact that you should have had breakfast 5 hours ago. See how that works? Really deep immersion has you thinking 'within the game' within the head-space of your character. Graphics play a part but the combination of gameplay, narrative, sound and graphics are what make immersion happen.

It's why Deus Ex is still considered a fairly immersive game to this day even because while the graphics were never great the game play was fantastic and the world provided an array of actions and an array of consequences to those actions. This is of course the problem, from the marketing standpoint, you can't build an ad campaign around something intangible. So graphics have always been the go to. That has been the status quo since the first consoles since it was the easiest thing to put a screen cap in a magazine, or on a web page.

What I'd like to see is; what happens when they finally get photo realistic graphics... what will they use to market the next generation of consoles after that?

Good Article. I have always thought a more interactive environment is way more important than arm hair. Think about MMORPGS as an example. I think WOW is still doing well because it wasn't realistic, it allows you to escape. I am not sure I want to escape with real looking people having real life problems. Show me a fluffy big purple bunny with a jellybean gun, blowing up boxes and opening every door to find something and I am there.

This line needs a fix:

but it wasn't until graphics reached a certain fidelity that we started to hear the word immersion getting tossed around

Let's try it like this:

but it wasn't until graphics reached a certain fidelity that we started to hear the word immersion getting abused and misused by people with no apparent access to a dictionary

Immersion as a term goes back to at least the late 80s in gaming. Oh yes, the immersiveness of 8 and 16 bit games. How we mistook them for photographs, us silly old people in our foolish youth.

Edit: This isn't aimed at the author so much as the common misconception of graphics=emotions, as Jim might put it. People also misuse it to refer to "anything I don't like" as "immersion-breaking," but I treat that as an issue separate to the one here.

BigTuk:

What I'd like to see is; what happens when they finally get photo realistic graphics... what will they use to market the next generation of consoles after that?

Super HD high fidelity realistic super graphics super!

...Did I mention super?

I think this is why I've been so attracted to indie games recently. It's not old school nostalgia. The less graphically intensive worlds clarify and contribute the rule sets of the game enhancing the experience of the game. It contributes directly to the gameplay rather then distracting from it. I'm not against good graphics, I'd love to see where they go, but a game is a game and if table top gaming has taught me anything great gameplay is less about visuals and more about design.

I've said it several times and I'll say it again, and it seems Shamus is on the same page with me here: it doesn't matter how good they get at faces, if they don't get the other aspects of the character like movement and clothes down, everything just looks even more awkward. Seriously, LA Noire was impressive with their facial animations and all, but next to those stiff, plasticky clothes they looked really awkward.

Lilani:
I've said it several times and I'll say it again, and it seems Shamus is on the same page with me here: it doesn't matter how good they get at faces, if they don't get the other aspects of the character like movement and clothes down, everything just looks even more awkward. Seriously, LA Noire was impressive with their facial animations and all, but next to those stiff, plasticky clothes they looked really awkward.

L.A. Noire was a step in the right direction. You can't always expect a major step to be the last step.

This is just allowing companies the ability to take more steps that archaic consoles were preventing them from making. You can only fit so much in a box so a bigger box helps if you'd been previously just reorganizing things to fit more in at one time.

Lightknight:
[quote="Lilani" post="6.409790.17156179"]L.A. Noire was a step in the right direction. You can't always expect a major step to be the last step.

This is just allowing companies the ability to take more steps that archaic consoles were preventing them from making. You can only fit so much in a box so a bigger box helps if you'd been previously just reorganizing things to fit more in at one time.

I'm aware of all that, but I'm also aware this whole focus on faces is purely for the sake of marketing. If they were really so interested in immersion then they'd sit down and explain what they're doing to the whole model to achieve photorealism. But they're sticking with only the face because it's easier to explain to the customer, a more tangible result, and easier to achieve than making a decent face AND decent cloth physics/textures.

Lilani:
I'm aware of all that, but I'm also aware this whole focus on faces is purely for the sake of marketing. If they were really so interested in immersion then they'd sit down and explain what they're doing to the whole model to achieve photorealism. But they're sticking with only the face because it's easier to explain to the customer, a more tangible result, and easier to achieve than making a decent face AND decent cloth physics/textures.

I'm not seeing the problem. It's the component we care most about and so it shouldn't be a problem that given limited time/resources/computing that they'd focus on that graphically. You also certainly can't say that they skimped on the writing of the game so none of this really cries foul of graphics. If anything, it just instill hope that the next iteration will improve those areas as well.

I think Robert got it in one. Most advances in games have been graphical, and very little in mechanics. Take Gears of War. Although ear-marked as a bro-shooter it broke a lot of new ground. Roadie-runs, cover shooting, co-op campaign, Press Y to look at point of interest, active reload. Aesthetically it also moved away from realistic to slightly cartoonish character and world designs. They were new ways to interact in a game. It got buried under the ridiculous machismo but nearly everyone one of those innovations has been ripped off and used ad nauseum since.

It suprises me that hyper-realism is such a goal still. That's only relevant to simulators, not "games". I always dreamed games would get more clever, like GTA III. The graphic change was amazing but it was the oppurtunities to interact with the world that hooked people. All the games that burst on to the scene are that same element in common, they allowed players to interact in new ways with game worlds. Even CoD4 exploded because it gave console players a good warfighter story, with changing POVs and interesting shifts in game mechanics (AC130 for example). But like Halo it brought a universal multiplayer to consoles. Multiplayer had been the domain of PC gamers mostly, console multiplayer before those two was quiet poor.

The joy of most artistic mediums for me is the absolute freedom they have. You CAN write a book about anything you want, you CAN make a film about anything at all. Imagination is the limit these days. But with games there's still a lot they CAN'T do. AI can rarely simulate real people believably. Developers can make a game where players do amazing things but oddly can't do the simpliest things. Like talk when they want, go where they want, interact how they want. I love Half-Life 2 but you can't hop over chest high walls and even though Gordon carries a crowbar, he can't go through flimsy wooden doors? When I was young I had visions of games that let me do everything I could imagine, in a lot of ways they have if it's shooting, flying, driving, etc. but they haven't figured out branching stories well, or infinite possibilities in an open world.

Either developers have to get clever about the CAN'Ts or work a lot harder to make more CANs.

Zachary Amaranth:

BigTuk:

What I'd like to see is; what happens when they finally get photo realistic graphics... what will they use to market the next generation of consoles after that?

Super HD high fidelity realistic super graphics super!

...Did I mention super?

Emotion infused polygons, each pixel will make you truly feel.

Anyway I believe we had some unfinished business going on.

Okay then, since apparently you can't take an ounce of criticism without running and hiding.

I'll express this in as clear and explicit terms as possible. What you said, THIS is what it looks like:

Someone had their outdoor shop burned to the ground, and decides to open up shop indoors where there is better security, and then a black man speaks up and says "well, I had my watermelons and cucumbers stolen the other day, and I'm still here"

then someone else pipes in "I don't really think that's equivocal"

and then I bust in with "well don't you see? Having his watermelons stolen is probably the worst thing he can imagine!"

Oh, but I wasn't actually implying anything, it was just a sardonic joke that's rooted in...I plead the fifth.

Yes, that's very convincing.

That's EXACTLY what this looks like, only what you said was worse, because of the heavily implied homophobia on the part of the person you were referring to. Even if it was an obvious joke and you didn't "mean it that way" (which I still wouldn't believe), anyone with an ounce of human decency would at the very least apologize for any potential offense/misunderstanding when something like that was pointed out and explain how they didn't mean it that way. But you didn't. You didn't choose to explain your position. You didn't choose to apologize for any misunderstanding or hurt feelings. You simply chose to say "you can't prove it, herpa derpa", and now you're going "BOO HOO, you accused me of the obvious >O<, you don't deserve an explanation *sad face*". You have the balls to act like YOU'VE been wronged. Yeah, I could say the same thing about the black guy comment, but it would still make me the asshole. An asshole to have made the comment and an asshole to have reacted that way. If you think it's not clear what you did there, then you're as deluded as I thought.

You talk like a lawyer trying to defend a client at all costs, when you really just end up looking like like an awful person. I especially loved how you had the balls to talk about my "implications" in your last statement in the thread, when the entire basis of your defense was essentially the heavy implication you made weren't explicitly stated enough to warrant verbalized interpretation of any kind. Oh yeah, smooth bro.

You're being cowardly and disingenuous. You aren't giving an explanation because you don't have an explanation aside from the one I've already stated multiple times now. You still think "the way this played out" went poorly for me because a thread got locked and you simply haven't chosen to admit to the obvious and instead blocked your ears? Oh man, you really are deluded. I guess this method of sticking your head in the sand is a great way to reinforce that delusion. Have a nice life, bro.

There are limits to how you can interact with a game world with a controller. The best that can be achieved is making sure the player can go anywhere they want to, and do anything they would do naturally through the course of their journey. It is frustrating when you cannot go somewhere or do something coolly for no good reason.

I've personally developed controls that I think are as far as first person adventure games can go with two unbuttoned thumbsticks and three digital shoulder buttons. Which is what games should be limited to IMO. I don't think we'll ever get away from controllers outside of video arcade and amusement park settings. We'd sooner biologically engineer extra fingers, or mechanical prostheses of some kind. It's true you can use pedals or something, but you have to get strapped up like that scene from Clockwork Orange to do that.

The trick is basically one button for each hand and a third action button for running, sneaking, ducking, jumping, climbing. That can all be done with one button when each button can be tapped or held for different results, and behave differently when you are pushing against an obstacle (including the degrees of freedom) or moving freely or standing still.

Then in games where you have weapons or implements, you need separate modes depending on if your weapons are holstered. Holstering is like performing a standing jump. You hold the action button to go down, but then release to spring up.

I like to think in terms of a Clint Eastwood character. You want the player to be able to always feel cool and in control. Look side to side by only turning your virtual neck. You can do that with the hand buttons in a scanning mode with weapons holstered. Tap the buttons to scan left and right to discover what is and isn't interactive just by facing toward it.

Then you can begin to do very natural things. Like knock on a door by pushing up against it and tapping the hand button. Or talk to the door with that action button to see if anyone is in there. Having that degree of control makes the experience feel natural.

You can scale any surface in the same way by scanning for places to get a handhold. These are pretty much the limits of control. Face buttons should not be used for movement since they require giving up control. They are best for macros, to instantly equip or use any item or power or whatever.

Likewise interaction with elements of the environment, where that doesn't mean picking up and carrying them, never need be more complex than pressing a single button to do what that thing would logically do. In fact the only other thing you'd expect to do in a game that would demand any degree of control like combat is a make out session.

Just the same, dialogue is not something you want to let the player control. There's no good way to do it, and options like that just distract from the story or gamify things more than is necessary. At best the player could use the same social gestures for player player interaction with an NPC to communicate your general disposition. Ultimately I've come to the conclusion that players should always play the role of a character, that can make particular decisions for them. That's how we watch movies, read stories, and I think that's ultimately what is best for games as a traditional medium.

Players should just be able to steer the character with broad gestures. Do they barge in uninvited? Approach weapons drawn? Use a hailing gesture. Acknowledge the NPC by looking at them directly. Turn their back or pull away from an advance, etc. Until you can have a philosophical discussion with one of those demons (Megami Tensei would be great for that) this is the best all we can do.

God, I hate these "Realistic Sucks" topics.

Graphics are ***NOT*** Photorealistic! Not yet.

Very very long story short: Until in-game Graphics are as good looking as these two links, we will not be in photorealism:
http://www.zbrushcentral.com/zbc-top-row-gallery.php
http://www.youtube.com/user/TheCGBro/videos

And spiking production costs isn't because of Photorealistic Graphics. It doesn't take a $200,000,000 budget to make great CGI. Just look at this underrated game's intro:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6QU2i6-BQc

And that's nothing, these two videos was made by one guy named Alex Roman:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iWE18YjLA8U
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQ-3aRhvFwU

My point is graphics isn't the problem with cost, it's programming. If we can make tools that can make it easier to make levels, Graphics, and games, then the cost will go down.

And what about Photorealistic physics? Like walls that can be destroyed, or water physics? Can we first have that in games before we talk about stopping new hardware?

Silentpony:
Why can't the weapons publishers fight with be...you know, good games? Remember 2005? The fight wasn't "my graphics are better than yours!". Instead it was basically
"Oh, you released Resident Evil 4 did you? Well I'll just release God of War!"
"I'll see your God of War with KOTOR 2!"
"Muwahaha! I'll just release World of Warcraft!"
It was a good year, with great games! It wasn't about the graphics!

And then 2007 told 2005: "I see your games and raise you to Mass Effect, Bioshock, Team Fortress 2, Portal, the last Half Life, Persona 3, The Witcher, Crysis and the then fresh CoD:MW."

So basically what this article is trying to say is....We need more Katamari Damacy in our lives.

image

"As Heavy Rain or L.A. Noire can attest, game mechanics that represent realistic conversations and environmental interactions are still in their infancy."

Hold the phone...Are you trying to tell me that this isn't a realistic way to interact with a bench?

I know of a little-known cult favorite PS1 game where you can interact with everything you see before you & the environment changes over time; LSD Dream Emulator. You don't have to speak a word of Japanese to play it, The book it was based on is multilingual. The graphics are terrible, but that's really one of the biggest charms of the game.

image

& if we look on some of the best RPGs ever made from Chrono Trigger to Aveyond 3, we see that they are done with sprites.

Robert Rath:
Realistic Graphics Are Broken

Realistic graphics may cause more of an issue than they solve.

Read Full Article

I am sure you understand that videogames are fundamentally limited systems that predominantly simulate space and physics (also one of the main reasons why violence is so ubiquitous in games). Of course their limitations will show, especially when scrutinized. The question is how much effort the developer has put in to conceal/ hide the limitations (for example, the notorious invisible walls).

What I'm saying is, ludonarrative dissonance is inherent to games because they are games, i.e. limited physico-spatial simulations. As long as games remain limited simulations (ie not a Matrix-like virtual world), it doesn't really matter by how much interactivity increases. The borders will shift, more scrutiny will perhaps be required to discern them...but they will definitely be present. Gaming would have to become as complex as life itself in order to completely get rid of ludonarrative dissonance.

Personally, I think a lot is to be gained if developers would either pay more attention to the expectations they set in cutscenes or do away with cutscenes entirely.

The Sims was an interesting stab in the direction of turning human interaction into a game mechanic. But when they tacked the friendship mechanic onto GTA IV it just felt out of place.

Hyakunin Isshu:
God, I hate these "Realistic Sucks" topics.

Graphics are ***NOT*** Photorealistic! Not yet.

Very very long story short: Until in-game Graphics are as good looking as these two links, we will not be in photorealism:
http://www.zbrushcentral.com/zbc-top-row-gallery.php
http://www.youtube.com/user/TheCGBro/videos

And spiking production costs isn't because of Photorealistic Graphics. It doesn't take a $200,000,000 budget to make great CGI. Just look at this underrated game's intro:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6QU2i6-BQc

And that's nothing, these two videos was made by one guy named Alex Roman:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iWE18YjLA8U
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQ-3aRhvFwU

My point is graphics isn't the problem with cost, it's programming. If we can make tools that can make it easier to make levels, Graphics, and games, then the cost will go down.

I agree, games aren't photorealistic. However, you're wrong when you say graphics aren't spiking production costs: they are. An example? Facial capture and mo-cap. You gotta buy the equipment to capture the actors' movements, then pay an actor to act out the scene, animation, whatever. In the meantime you have animators - people who's job is to animate things - working on making reload animations, stabbing animations, AI movement animations, basically everything you see from the first-person perspective. You know what else they used to animate? Everything the mo-cap guy is doing. You're paying for extraneous equipment and actors while also paying animators to do the same job. Why is this extra money being thrown away? "Because an actor in mo-cap will be more realistic". Yet they're mainly used exclusively for cutscenes. This money being used for mo-cap could be used in other places to improve the core game experience (by that I mean everything that adds to immersion) by improving sound design, AI, or level design so we have more than one path through a mission.

Want another example? (from the article, second paragraph.)

The only game-based portion of the Xbox One event consisted of Infinity Ward bragging about animating arm hair and a motion-captured dog.

Now explain to me how the bolded part in any way improves the gameplay experience, because all i can think about when I see that is "wow, they threw money into creating moving arm hair, but not into AI behavior?"

Hyakunin Isshu:
And what about Photorealistic physics? Like walls that can be destroyed, or water physics? Can we first have that in games before we talk about stopping new hardware?

Um, that's pretty much half the point of this article. The graphics in games are fine, but the physics and behavior of the inhabitants of the games are wonky. And the more photorealistic the game, the more those errors in programming stand out. The point of the article was that game devs need to stop putting so much time and energy into graphics and more to programming.

Good read, a couple of things though:

I think a lot of the side problems you mentioned come from games trying to become more mainstream than they should be. People have been complaining about "fandom" which involves everything from comics to video games for as long as it's been around. Complaints about violence in video games and the "horrors threatening your children at the local arcade" existed back when things like "Donkey Kong" were new, and people still used wire-frame graphics. The urban legend about "Polybius" arguably has it's roots in this kind of paranoia. In short the guys who are going to be screaming about violence in current video games, would have been yelling about it when it was sticks and dots, and given the opportunity would have been railing against comic books in the efforts that created the original comics code authority. "Realism" in games has nothing to do with it, and never will, it just presents something that can be tacked onto an argument as old as the medium and which would continue using whatever games were doing at the moment no matter how unrealistic.

The problem is that games have become mainstream due to gaming companies and those in them, both at the producer and developer level, wanting to become filthy rich as opposed to simply making a good product for a fair price. Nowadays they don't want to reach a profitable niche, today the developers expect to pay themselves from development budgets that can be in the tens or hundreds of millions of dollars, and producers expect to move hundreds of millions of copies of a game in order to make the level of profit worthwhile, it's not about making ends meet, or a decent profit, you need monster profits to justify yourself. This means that to reach these goals game companies need to try and make their games as appealing and free of offense as possible in order to reach as large a group of people as possible. This gives those complaining about games an unprecedented amount of power in proportion because any market share they can influence becomes a factor in the eyes of the cigar-chomping business moguls. Today the basic plan is to try and design games around a checklist of features contrived by a broad focus group, and make a game as inoffensive as possible to get as many buyers as possible, and to that anyone with a reasonably big platform and potential influence represents a threat.

In general the reason why "people" care about things like foreign soldiers being gunned down, is not because it's so realistic, but because the gaming industry has cast it's net so wide that your typical FPS game (for example) needs to move hundreds of millions of copies and that includes people deeply invested in the leftward side of the political spectrum, not to mention potential sales in countries in those countries that are generally speaking the real life "bad guys" we face every day. China for example is the new evil empire, running a robber economy, building up a huge offensive military force, and causing problems for the civilized western world. Needless to say they are pretty much everything you need for an unambigious bad guy in an action movie or game. Of course media producers today don't want to use them because the demands have become so high that they need to be able to sell their products in the Chinese market as well as elsewhere. I use this example because of the way games like "Homefront" and movies like "Red Dawn" were edited after the fact to remove referances to China as an aggressor and criticisms of it's policies in order to be sold there due to the money to be made from that market. This is before you even consider domestic "peace at any price" sentiment. The reasons here are such that if these games were being made with old Vectrex-style Wire-Frame graphics and all the soldiers looked like "Otto" from "Berserk" people would STILL complain, and companies would have to listen because of their own demands that they move stupidly huge numbers of copies...

... or simply put the problem isn't the graphics, it's that when you start trying to make something for everyone it tends to suck, you can only cast your net so wide and produce something of substance. Quality productions require more focus and a narrower audience. On a lot of levels one has to wonder what would have happened if the guys doing "Homefront" or the "Red Dawn" movie hadn't had to spend a ton of money editing the product part way through production and made their product for a more focused audience as opposed to trying to make it as unoffensive as possible. The problems with both of those products was that even before the gameplay problems you had to deal with a totally mind blowing premise of North Korea somehow managing to launch invasions across the entire planet, when it doesn't have the technology, power, or position to do what is proposed... which China, the original enemy intended in both works, does, especially seeing as China could very well bring a lot of it's buddies like North Korea along for extra firepower in a situation like the ones proposed in the game (as opposed to North Korea somehow doing it entirely on their own).

-

Do not misunderstand though, I'm not entirely disagreeing with this article. For the most part I do agree that there needs to be more focus on gameplay than graphics. The graphics shouldn't suck, but the prettiest graphics in the world don't matter if the game underneath them is a dog. I've been saying that for years, and honestly have been appalled that rather than developing good games based on things that work, we've instead seen all kinds of buggy motion gimmicks and such which even if they are worked out still miss the point that when I game I want to relax and sit back in my chair, not flail around my living room like a spaz... which is particularly jarring when you live with other people.

At the end of the day for me it's not really going to be a matter of which company can "wow" me most with their graphics quality or gimmicks. To be honest, I'm not going to be looking at individually rendered arm hairs anyway, when things are moving at decent FPS (Frames Per Second) and I'm actually doing things in a game it's not like I'm going to want to pause and hit the ultra zoom and go "hey look, if I go far enough up Kratos' nose I can see each hair rendered invidually and they all even seem to move in time with his breathing as he moves and fights!". At the end of the day it's going to be all about who has the best titles and games I actually want to play, and for me that's going to be RPGs, especially turn based ones.... the kind of games that tend to be ignored by developers because they aren't snazzy and bleeding edge enough.

That said, I'll also remind people that workers need to be paid to create all these graphics. Paying those workers is the big cost in making games (in the scope of these budgets office space and computers to work on are minimal). Individually designed and animated arm hairs are something that a professional programmer is going to be working on, and he's being paid out of the game's budget which increases the cost and contributes to a lot of problems. Out of the tons of guys doing graphics for these games, the fact that at least one would arguably be in charge of creating digital arm hair is kind of offensive since that's effort that could be put into other aspects of the game, or just cut entirely which might mean they have to move ten thousand less copies or whatever.... the point here being that with increasingly large and expensive design teams and companies like Squeenix claiming they couldn't afford to do enviroments like the ones from FF VII anymore (hence no remakes) with the current costs of technology, certain innovations while technically interesting are actually a bad thing. They should be focusing on doing more with less people. All the tech in the world is pointless if it's too expensive to use even so far as creating updated versions of things done in the past. A company basically bragging that they are going to pay a guy to animate arm hair (which in an offhanded way this is) actually has the opposite effect of what they probably intended. Not to mention it will be galling to learn that some guy got paid top dollar to say individually render the strands of hair in the armpits of a sweaty barbarian in a game where the fundamental combat mechanics and collision detection turn out to be broken. :)

To be honest I'd be content if they could just get graphics developers with enough competence to make models where the cloaks/hats/hair/weapons don't clip through each other. MMOs are especially terrible about this. I find it hilarious and depressing at the same time that companies like EA and Bioware like to scream about being so great with games and graphics and yet it seems 90% of the vehicles you can actually sit down on in "The Old Republic" cause your cape/cloak/tabard/whatever to clip through them, and given that huge numbers of outfits feature those embellishments... it can be trickier than you think to find a decent costume/vehicle combination that doesn't turn into a nightmarish graphical jumble.... the guys developing the new hardware/games guarantee and deliver on stuff like that not happening (it happens in a lot of games) and I'll be sold a lot more than promises of cooler arm hair.

This is nothing new.

They figured out long ago that graphics sell...hardware. A great story, scintillating dialogue, adequate AI--those don't sell hardware, nor are they as easy to tie to hardware, as graphics. Graphics are easy to understand--look! It looks realer! It's easy to sell--buy this upgrade kid, and we'll show you things you can't even dream of! And it makes big bucks. Plus, you can make that hardware improvement required to play the game.

You can wish all you want for another approach--and you may get your wish from time to time, but the big developers and the hardware makers are all in bed together, and if you want anything other than sloppy fourths, you're going to have to walk away and find your own party. They will not cater to you. They are interested in making money--and for the big money, they have to stroke one another...not you.

I'll add my thanks for an interesting article. Well written. I'm not sure I agree entirely in relation to graphics and subsequent expectations (subconscious or otherwise), but my point of view is that graphics should enhance the gameplay and story. A high level of visual fidelity and detail is great in a game but should not be a dominating factor. It wasn't in Dishonored (I felt), where the art style gave the game a unique look rather than achieving outright "quality". Mechanically the game was pretty simple, but (or perhaps as a result) very satisfying. Hitman Absolution was different in that it obviously went for a more realistic look for environments and characters. However it only relied on interaction with a limited, specific number and type of objects that remained consistent throughout the game. I thought the game looked great, and enhanced the core mechanics of sneaking and hiding. However, if you think too much about it, you still end up having to suspend disbelief. Let's remember we're playing games that should be fun and interesting, and not let console manufacturers, publishers and devs fool us into thinking they're more meaningful than real-life experiences.

Yes, great article.

Whie I'm all up for it, I think that in general the pursuit of realism produces awkward experiences. In graphics, it's just easy to do. Just raise everything: more polygons, bigger textures, more postFX (to the point where your character is apparently a cyborg with a photographic apparatus for an eye which really needs cleaning and an anti-flare coating)
It's in the field of non-graphics where stuff gets outright stupid. The simulation of flying a plane translates nicely to me sitting at my desk. I move a joystick and I press buttons. Just like the real thing. The simulation of being a soldier does not. If I want to access my real-life inventory/backpack, I just do so. Not even worth mentioning a word like "intuitive". In, say, ARMA - a "simulation" - it requires a considerable use of braincells even after having consulted a tutorial. Immersion? Poof. Another offender is almost every system of exhaustion. I just broke my ankle out of the blue, Project Zomboid, because that 154/300 in the corner should have given me the impression that I'm too overburdened to be able to run? It didn't. I don't feel weight here, you know?

0over0:
This is nothing new.

They figured out long ago that graphics sell...hardware. A great story, scintillating dialogue, adequate AI--those don't sell hardware, nor are they as easy to tie to hardware, as graphics. Graphics are easy to understand--look! It looks realer! It's easy to sell--buy this upgrade kid, and we'll show you things you can't even dream of! And it makes big bucks. Plus, you can make that hardware improvement required to play the game.

You can wish all you want for another approach--and you may get your wish from time to time, but the big developers and the hardware makers are all in bed together, and if you want anything other than sloppy fourths, you're going to have to walk away and find your own party. They will not cater to you. They are interested in making money--and for the big money, they have to stroke one another...not you.

Exactly, consoles only have two things to pitch. What they're capable of (i.e. graphics, because graphics mean processing power) and the game lineup. It's games themselves that have to wory about story.

Calling a console manufacturer dumb for pitching hardware capabilities is as silly as calling a hard drive company dumb for pitching how much storage their HDD can hold and how fast it can transfer it. In essence, that's what they're selling, their hardware.

The (bad) way that recent Call of Duty single player games and Assassin's Creed 3 try to get around the mismatch is to attempt to railroad and script every single player interaction in a mission.

Go here, do this, stand there, pull that, stay frosty, okay now this NPC will react scriptedly to what we wanted you to do... oh whoops, you caught up with the guy running away sooner than we thought you would, instadeath - AC3 actually does this!

From a gameplay perspective it's just awful. The player isn't wanted, or even really needed. You're a puppet. Dance, puppet, dance!

AC3 does at least give you some flexibility outside of missions. Which makes it even worse when they yank your leash again.

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