does good graphics lead to bad gameplay?

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I think good graphics lead to bad gameplay only with a limited budget.

Nasrin:
What do you guys think?

I think there's no connection.
I guess that quantity is what makes people think about "x leads to y". Back in the old days we had very small amount of games and we tried to play each and every, we tried to live with their errors, flaws and limitations. Nowadays we don't have to - we have a multitude of alternatives.
Anything lees than total perfection ? Uninstall the game, try alternative, write bad review. That's our way. :]

Simple as that.

Kahunaburger:
I don't know if I consider good graphics to lead to bad gameplay, but they are often the result of a "make it more cinematic!" philosophy of game design that I think frequently leads to bad gameplay. So, correlation, but not causation.

I completely agree with this assessment. I have no problem at all with anything that results in a better narrative experience, but not if it sacrifices what makes it a game in the first place.

no. well not simply anyway. personally i see it as good graphics = higher cost = preferring to play it safe in terms of gameplay

i see a lot more innovation in terms of gameplay when i play indie games. the main reason that market appeals to me is because the gameplay is usually varied, because it can afford to be. until publishers see that we genuinely do want new and interesting ideas, they'll back the safer option.

Daystar Clarion:
Animation, for me, is more important than graphics.

The textures are still awful and people are still block men, but everything moves like it should.

I just wish Half Life actually played like that :D

There are lots of games with pretty visuals, but some things just don't move like they should.

Character models in Mass Effect move terribly in cut scenes.

That is why I like games with headbob (if that is the right name), I am still waiting for the "Real FPS mod" for Skyrim to work properly, just look from 12:02 to the end on this video

Lets get this out of the way first, graphics are not what a game looks like, but how powerful its style can be. If your going for photo realism you need a powerful engine, once made you do the textures, then the filming and all sorts of stuff. Obviously you've spent more time on this then on your core mechanic, which will hinder your game and sometimes leave with unfinished garbage.

Would Okami be better if its graphical capabilities were increased is a good question to ask and you will understand why in a minute.

Call of Duty suffers largely from trying to achieve perfect looks, thus bugs and games never changing that far past each other. Okami, on the other hand, looks better then Call of Duty and has a much better mechanic in play that is more solid because of its art-design not being all that intensive.

What about a game like Bastion? The gameplay itself is nothing new, but the presentation and mixture of awesome visuals and a stupendous soundtrack make up for it. It is an example of how a product can be better than the sum of its parts.

Correlation and causation. You should know the difference by now.

P.s. Take off the rose tinted glasses, the devs of ye olde times had more than their fair share of shitty games. Infact, I distinctly remember that the games industry crashed as a result of an overload of terrible games.

Soviet Heavy:
What about a game like Bastion? The gameplay itself is nothing new, but the presentation and mixture of awesome visuals and a stupendous soundtrack make up for it. It is an example of how a product can be better than the sum of its parts.

Yeah but my thinking is... we have no shortage of visually stunning works being pushed out right now. Why is more of that valuable? I'm not saying it isn't, I just worry that an obsession with it detracts from the impetus to innovate in other ways.

I've played many bad games with bad graphics. I've played many good games with bad graphics. The two are only loosely connected.

Correlation does not equal causation. Just because these games have better graphics but not better gameplay, doesn't mean the graphics are the cause.

Squidbulb:
Correlation does not equal causation. Just because these games have better graphics but not better gameplay, doesn't mean the graphics are the cause.

They do indirectly though, because too much time/money goes into stuff like shiny graphics/cinematics while the gameplay/depth is sacrificed.

A certain amount of graphics is required for a great game, but amazing graphics are more of a luxury. They are there to deliver the game mechanics. If you have a sweet set up people will be coming back for the mechanics. Games based on graphics are just going to stagnate in whatever time they were in. When you go back to play one of your favorite games from younger years, people are going to play the games that were compelling enough to leave an impression on what you find entertaining.

It's not that games with good graphics have to be bad. It's just that it is financially tempting for a company to make a game that looks real nice to try to rake in a larger market. Playing games from years back doesn't make money, they need us buying new games. Not as much effort needs to go into the essential elements of programming, storytelling, and difficulty. The problem is the market has become so over flooded with similarity because effort has not gone into exploring research to see what it is people like and what keeps them playing. So whenever a method is found it gets exploited and overdone. That's why I can be in a party with people playing MW3, Black Ops, and Battlefield.

Today too much of the budget is spent on visuals and cinematics, thus the gameplay suffers.
And people get surprised when I say older games are better.
Off topic:

Daystar Clarion:
snip

A lot of animations in that video are awful and unrealistic. A bad example of "good" animation.

Imbechile:
Today too much of the budget is spent on visuals and cinematics, thus the gameplay suffers.
And people get surprised when I say older games are better.
Off topic:

Daystar Clarion:
snip

A lot of animations in that video are awful and unrealistic. A bad example of "good" animation.

Really? huh.

My eyes must be broken then.

I hope the warranty on these things is still valid.

I don't think that is necessarily the case. Crysis 1 is still one of my favorite shooters of all time. I really enjoyed the gameplay, actually, mentioning it just now makes me want to go and play through it again. I also find that the Total War series has been getting better as the graphics have improved.

That being said, graphics should not be the core focus of a developer. After all, no matter how much time you put into your graphics engine, it will still look dated in a few years. Once that happens it better have good gameplay to fall back on. This is particularly pronounced in games that go for a 'realistic' aesthetic like Call of Duty or Battlefield. Games like Team Fortress 2 or World of Warcraft have aged quite well do to a quirky, interesting art direction.

I like to single out Hearts of Iron III as an example of graphics not being as important as gameplay. For those who don't know, Hearts of Iron III is a hardcore grand strategy game. If you looked at it from a purely graphical prospective it is horribly ugly. Just a 2D map and LOTS of stats, menus, charts etc. Yet the gameplay is extremely fun and as a result I will probably be playing it for years to come.

Crysis did not have a bad gameplay and only it's story was generic.

The objectives were too repetitive, though. Warhead was a little better on that aspect.

At most it's engine only made the game better by using physics as part of the gameplay.

Well, terrible games might occasionally get away with it by showing off shiny shiny screenshots and snippets of videos. But most of the games that I can think of which are gorgeous graphically are also pretty good. Farcry stands out as an excellent example.
Hell, even plenty of great indie games have nice artwork going into em, even if there isn't cell shading and millions of polygons and all the other technical wizardly that AAA games have.

for the love of god no, story/plot/characters/music is what makes a game. Graphics are just eye-candy to spread it out a bit but overall no. Hell I replay Final Fantasy IV every year along with chrono trigger and they are both getting dated now. My new favorite game is corpse party only on the psp/vita which relies heavily on voice acting, music, and story telling for a decent game experience.

big budget companies tend to splurge on the cgi because they think it is expected. It obviously is not and its probally one of my most hated things about gaming in general. These over bloomed characters and no proper mechanics and details. Skyrim was one of the few exceptions of details such as being able to pick flora and fauna whislt not going too deep into the cgi. Not saying its the best game (cause its not) but they had the right idea of balance.

Somewhat poor title there. A better one would probably be "Does the effort to make graphics look good lead to bad gameplay?". The way it is now, one might think you're saying the presence of good graphics by themselves cause bad gameplay.

Even so, you make a good case for it. I have to agree that developers constantly trying to make the graphics better and better does result in somewhat cut down gameplay, but that reflects more on the developer. If a developer is really good, they'll be able to make the graphics look fine, while acknowledging that gameplay is what matters. The more time you put into something as superficial as graphics, the less success you'll have in the gameplay department.

No way. Red Dead Redemption, for example, is one of the best looking games I've seen, and it's also one of the best games ever, in my opinion. However, if the devs focus more on the graphics at the expense of making sure the gameplay is fun, then yes.

Nasrin:

Soviet Heavy:
What about a game like Bastion? The gameplay itself is nothing new, but the presentation and mixture of awesome visuals and a stupendous soundtrack make up for it. It is an example of how a product can be better than the sum of its parts.

Yeah but my thinking is... we have no shortage of visually stunning works being pushed out right now. Why is more of that valuable? I'm not saying it isn't, I just worry that an obsession with it detracts from the impetus to innovate in other ways.

But Bastion's graphics aren't what your average Johnny means when he says "good graphics". He doesn't mean aesthetics or stylization, he means the number of polygons, the raw processing power required to render, cause then he can show off his just how much powerful his hardware is than the other guy's. Because his other hardware...no, better not go there.

Does Bastion look good? Definitely. But it's not an example what the kool kids mean when they say they want "good graphics". If anything, the industry should produce more games like that, that look good without having to upgrade your system every three months.

Let's see here, lemme reach into my bag o' answers. Nope it doens't. Half-Life 2 had some of the best graphics of as of 2004 and is still on of the best games ever. I think the O.P. is looking at correlation not causation.

Daystar Clarion:
Character models in Mass Effect move terribly in cut scenes.

Oh god, I know what you mean, but to me the worst model animation in modern gaming is in Deus Ex: HR. I mean, so twitchy!

Kahunaburger:
I don't know if I consider good graphics to lead to bad gameplay, but they are often the result of a "make it more cinematic!" philosophy of game design that I think frequently leads to bad gameplay. So, correlation, but not causation.

Yes, pretty much this. While I'd even lose the "frequently". Rule of thumb: Games ≠ Movies

In general, yes, but with exceptions.

I'd imagine the reasoning is just based around development cycles and funding. The more money, time and resources spent on visuals, the less can be spent on other areas of the game.

that's a tough question... but i'm gonna say i don't think it does. i don't think there is a connection between good graphics and bad gameplay, i think it has to do with production and how games are "produced" nowadays like a product. today's industry seems to be pumping more money into the graphics than the gameplay because it's easier to advertise and sell a game with good graphics. the industry is focused on graphics 1st, gameplay 2nd. i kinda wish it was the other way around though.

Daystar Clarion:
Animation, for me, is more important than graphics.

The textures are still awful and people are still block men, but everything moves like it should.

I just wish Half Life actually played like that :D

There are lots of games with pretty visuals, but some things just don't move like they should.

Character models in Mass Effect move terribly in cut scenes.

That's pretty awesome.

At least we now know what's happened to HL2:EP3. Gabe saw that video.

Daystar Clarion:
Animation, for me, is more important than graphics.

The textures are still awful and people are still block men, but everything moves like it should.

I just wish Half Life actually played like that :D

There are lots of games with pretty visuals, but some things just don't move like they should.

Character models in Mass Effect move terribly in cut scenes.

0:18 the mech is made out of jello
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no and yes.

It depends, I prefer a nice balance between both

Extra Credits did an episode on this and I think they nailed it. More to the point, money that goes to improving graphics is money that isn't going to improving gameplay so there you go.

A great deal of the industry seems to think if a game has impressive visuals it can get away with the sort of gameplay that feels shallow or copied from another game. I have alot of doubts that the WiiU and the successors to the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 will quell such practices.

No, is the short answer.

I've worked in the games industry a long time, and I make games for a living. What I see are the following things happen over and over again:

1) Developers have to sell their game to a publisher. The vast majority of execs at publishers have never made a game before and therefore know nothing about the process. Typically, they will never even play the prototype in a pitch meeting - all they will do is watch someone else play it. Sadly, this means that if the graphics aren't close to [insert name of whatever amazing looking game that has just come out], then the pitch is dismissed, regardless of how innovative the gameplay. That is the sad, frustrating truth of games publishers.

2) Writing snazzy shaders on modern hardware is pretty straightforward if you're half decent at math. It's not like the (good) old days, where we were optimizing assembly code to eek every last cycle out of a sprite print. The hardware does the heavy lifting, and the graphics engineer simlpy has to implement a variation of a Siggraph paper. In the grand scheme of things, this is not very difficult.

3) Writing good gameplay code (such as AI, controls, etc.) is not simple. It sounds like it is, but trust me - it isn't; it's very, very difficult to get a game 'feeling' right. It also isn't something that can be learnt - you either have 'it' or you don't.

4) I could throw a rock right now and hit five great graphics engineers. It would take me a long time to find a good gameplay engineer. Graphics guys are much easier to hire because there's so many of them, thanks in part to the multitude of University courses that teach them how to write shader code. Why do they want to write shader code? Because it's the 'cooler' side of programming. The guy that spends weeks tweaking some AI code to get the gameplay feeling just right will get no recognition; the guy that just wrote some whizzbang particle effect will. It's like a AAA physics engineer - absolutely invaluable on your team, but really really hard to find because there's no hero element to the work.

5) The 'our game is going to be cinematic' syndrome. The current blight of the games industry. A game 'looking cinematic' requires a higher number of graphics engineers than you'd usually need. Points #4 and #1 then come into play and increase that number still further.

6) Most game developers think that the public want 'cinematic looking' games. Do you? I'm not sure, but this is another reason why so much of the budget and focus is on graphics; the perception of what the mainstream gamer sees as most important. Personally, I see this a self-fulfilling prophecy within the industry at the moment, and I am sick to death of 'realistic' games where everything is brown.

So no; good graphics do not create bad gameplay, but most game teams these days have a higher quality of graphics engineer than they do gameplay engineer, and this is down (primarily) to the fact that the former is ten-a-penny, and the latter is like finding a needle in a haystack. Good graphics=easy, good gameplay=hard.

Daystar Clarion:
Animation, for me, is more important than graphics.

The textures are still awful and people are still block men, but everything moves like it should.

I just wish Half Life actually played like that :D

There are lots of games with pretty visuals, but some things just don't move like they should.

Character models in Mass Effect move terribly in cut scenes.

That. Was. Amazing...

I would gladly welcome a re-release of Half Life if it was animated like that.

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