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What's the Importance of Graphics In Video Games?

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the not-all-pixels-are-created-equal dept.

Graphics 506

An anonymous reader writes "I develop games as a hobby. I've experimented with games on almost every platform available. For me, the gameplay is the most influential factor of a game, with history and graphics dividing second place. But, for some reason, it's not the technical beauty of the graphics that appeal to me. I have played Crysis, and I've played Pokémon games. The graphics of the Pokémon games entertain me as much as the graphics of Crysis. I think both are beautiful. So, why is the current generation of games giving so much importance to the realism in graphic games? I think it is sufficient for a game to have objects that are recognizable. For example, while the water in some games may not look as good as in Crysis, I can still tell it's water. What are your opinions on the current direction of game graphics? Do you prefer easy-to-render 3D scenes that leave space for beautiful effects, like with Radiosity, or more complex 3D scenes that try to be realistic?"

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A good combination of a storyline and graphics... (4, Insightful)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633519)

is important in any game. Graphics can be cool and all, but they shouldn't be the primary reason for any game.

Re:A good combination of a storyline and graphics. (5, Insightful)

Verdagon (1532631) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633557)

Not so sure, look at roguelikes. They consumed years of my life with naught but ascii characters. I think graphics are a luxury, not a necessity. Games can definitely get by with little to no graphics.

Re:A good combination of a storyline and graphics. (4, Insightful)

Xiph (723935) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633621)

Graphics can be great for immersion.

I've never really felt that nethack was fun, because it was ME running around in dungeons.
Nethack is fun because it speaks to logic and bad puns (i like bad puns. I like bad punch too, if it's spiked).

when first played games such as quake or bioshock, good graphic and soundscape helped me feel in danger of whatever was around the next corner.
I like a good shock once in a while, the sudden appearence of a darg grey 'D' or '&' just doesn't hit my nerves.

This might also mean that it's most im

Re:A good combination of a storyline and graphics. (3, Insightful)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633739)

WHat the hell is immersion anyway? I never feel like I'm a character in any game- I'm me. I'm playing a game. I don't want to feel more like I'm a pretend character, I want the gameplay mechanics to be more fun to use and the strategy level/difficulty level to be correct. If that's there, I have fun. If its not, trying to make me think I am the character won't help.

Re:A good combination of a storyline and graphics. (5, Funny)

kongit (758125) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633783)

I AM THOGULUS WARRIOR OF THE UNDEAD. I EAT YOUR LIVER TO REGAIN HEALTH. Yeah I hate it when I am raiding and I start referring to myself in the third person and act more like the character than myself. Once in high school I put my characters name on a test instead of my own.

Re:A good combination of a storyline and graphics. (5, Informative)

GF678 (1453005) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633969)

WHat the hell is immersion anyway? I never feel like I'm a character in any game- I'm me. I'm playing a game. I don't want to feel more like I'm a pretend character, I want the gameplay mechanics to be more fun to use and the strategy level/difficulty level to be correct. If that's there, I have fun. If its not, trying to make me think I am the character won't help.

That great, you're of the "old school" traditional gaming camp.

However, many gamers have shown that they like being sucked into games to the point of becoming part of the story, the setting, the protagonist. Valve have run with this via Gordon Freeman - the game is designed to make the player play as if they ARE Gordon. He has some back-story, but the player ends up feeling as though they're the one fighting the combine instead of controlling some guy who's doing all the work. Hence the lack of cut-scenes or any concept of Gordon talking.

And you know what? The gameplay mechanics are fun too! You can have fun and gameplay AND get sucked into becoming the character, it isn't mutually exclusive. I don't know why you were modded insightful - maybe some people believe that opinions that buck the trend are somehow insightful for this very reason.

Re:A good combination of a storyline and graphics. (5, Insightful)

quadrox (1174915) | more than 5 years ago | (#28634219)

Yes - the original half life was a spectacular game and it still is. But you know what? It's not the graphics that did it - at least not by modern standards. And still I enjoy playing that game (both single and multiplayer) a hell of a lot more than pretty much any new game with shiny graphics.

Re:A good combination of a storyline and graphics. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28634225)

First there were no cut-scenes. Then it was technical possible to introduce them. And how they get removed due to game play.

And I though they were a bad idea from the start.. but no...

Re:A good combination of a storyline and graphics. (1)

Apagador-Man (707934) | more than 5 years ago | (#28634033)

Ah, here is someone who never played DOOM for the first time in his room at night, with no other light source than the CRT and with headphones making sure the first cacodemon that ever jumped him gave him a bloody fright.

Re:A good combination of a storyline and graphics. (5, Interesting)

Kjella (173770) | more than 5 years ago | (#28634307)

I don't think that kind of immersion is much related to the graphics, really. Graphics is more like this: Imagine you were sitting down to watch the latest Bond movie. You don't think you're Bond, you have no control over the action - but there's a story unfolding. Now Bond trips over something so it breaks and you see it's only a cardboard prop. That'd break all the immersion and remind you it's all just illusion.

Of course, in a movie they'd cut it but since a game is rendered live you don't have that luxury. Every time the graphics act unnatural it breaks the fantasy, reducing you back to "Yeah, it's just a bunch fo pixels thrown together". Of course you knew that all along just like you know Bond is a fictional movie character but it doesn't matter. It's not about making the fiction reality, it's about not breaking the fiction.

Re:A good combination of a storyline and graphics. (0)

John Betonschaar (178617) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633823)

I partially agree, but that said, you can always over-estimate the complexity of in-game visuals to provide 'immersion'.

As an example, I had this discussion with some random guy on the internet, about Codemasters post-poning the next Colin McRae game to make it a DirectX 11 title. I argued that while both DX10 and DX11 are nice improvements, you should still be able to get to almost (or maybe completely) the same visuals you could achieve with the same card running DX9, now that GPU's have fully programmable shaders. It might be difficult, but it should be possible. His reply was that 'this is exactly what's holding back computer games, sticking with obsolete technology', and 'that would mean PC games would end up with the same crappy low-resolution graphics that consoles have'. Instead we should all buy GTX295 SLI setups that draw 500W of power, and run our DX11 games in 1920x1080 and above.

Well, yesterday I was playing Killzone 2 on the PS3, which has a Geforce 7800 in it, and runs at 720p, which is about on par with PC graphics technology from ~5 years back. I can say I had zero problems getting 'immersed in the game', because the gameplay takes care of that, there so much going on while playing that the number of pixels and polygons is completely irrelevant to the game and how you enjoy it. The same holds for (e.g) Mario or Zelda games, those games don't need realistic or high-def graphics, in fact, they'd probably discount the 'level of immersion'.

Re:A good combination of a storyline and graphics. (1, Interesting)

A12m0v (1315511) | more than 5 years ago | (#28634223)

I immersed just fine in Chrono Trigger, Xenogears, Final Fantasy VI, Avatar Tuner, Xenosaga, Dragon Quest III, Ar Tonelico, etc...
None of these games were at the cutting edge in terms of graphics.

Re:A good combination of a storyline and graphics. (0)

rve (4436) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633787)

That was then, when it was all there was. I can't stand to watch black & white movies from the 50s with claymation special effects anymore either. No matter how great the game play and the story are, if the artwork isn't up to the same standard, it's just not a finished product.

Compare it to a book, with a great plot and a compelling story, but typed on a typewriter and littered with corrections, typos and spelling errors.

Re:A good combination of a storyline and graphics. (2)

Choozy (1260872) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633923)

I can't stand to watch black & white movies from the 50s with claymation special effects anymore either. No matter how great the game play and the story are, if the artwork isn't up to the same standard, it's just not a finished product.

I have to agree with that. It has to be a combination of both story and graphics. I used to play nethack, I used to play muds (can we say wall of text?). A lot of them were great at the time. For the time. Now the world has moved on, the ability of graphics on these types of genre have helped to enhance the gameplay not detract from it.

Starcraft is a good example. When it first came out, the story and graphics blew my mind. It had me hooked from the first mission. Now, however, the level of the graphics has moved on. I would like to play it again but the graphics now detracts from the immersion that I once experienced. I will always look back on Starcraft with fondness, but I doubt I will ever install it again and spoil my memories of such a great game.

Re:A good combination of a storyline and graphics. (1)

segur (1066520) | more than 5 years ago | (#28634181)

Compare it to a book, with a great plot and a compelling story, but typed on a typewriter and littered with corrections, typos and spelling errors.

Looking at some examples of present-day typography, typewriter could actually be somewhat of an improvement...

Re:A good combination of a storyline and graphics. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28633563)

SHHH, The people at Crytek might hear you.

Re:A good combination of a storyline and graphics. (2, Insightful)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633633)

Actually, yes, graphics should be the #1 focus of survival horror primarily because those games are supposed to draw you and and hopefully unnerve you. Nobody plays Silent Hill for super-innovative gameplay. Trying scaring someone on 8-bit arcade graphics.

Re:A good combination of a storyline and graphics. (5, Funny)

NervousNerd (1190935) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633763)

Trying scaring someone on 8-bit arcade graphics.

Maybe not 8-bit arcade graphics but.... it has to do with locking someone in a room with an Atari 2600 and one game. That game being E.T.

Re:A good combination of a storyline and graphics. (1)

Razalhague (1497249) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633793)

Trying scaring someone on 8-bit arcade graphics.

Definitely not impossible. I suggest you take a look at Eversion [] . Don't be fooled by the screenshot and the beginning of the game.

In general, I think gameplay and especially sound are more important than graphics in horror games. Hell, one sound you can get scared even if you haven't seen anything scary. Imagination is a powerful thing.

Re:A good combination of a storyline and graphics. (4, Insightful)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633873)

I've been more scared and nerve-wracked in a single game of X-Com than in many of the 'hyper realistic' gory zombie games that have come out recently.

Re:A good combination of a storyline and graphics. (4, Insightful)

nkh (750837) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633991)

I wish I had mod points for you, X-Com was definitely scary even with huge pixels all over the graphics. The fact that you could not know where attacks came from, the music, all that helped to create this creepy atmosphere. Same thing with Maniac Mansion, big pixels, but weird people everywhere, the door bell ringing whenever you didn't expected it, and Edna chasing you in the kitchen, I was scared of that as a kid.

Re:A good combination of a storyline and graphics. (4, Insightful)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633699)

Graphics can be cool and all, but they shouldn't be the primary reason for any game.

Case study: Heroes of Might and Magic III vs. Heroes of Might and Magic V: same fundamental gameplay, except 5 was done entirely in 3D. The result? 5 is unplayable on a dual-core Dell laptop, (except with minimal settings in 640x480), and it got harder to recognize objects you can interact with.

Re:A good combination of a storyline and graphics. (1, Insightful)

quadrox (1174915) | more than 5 years ago | (#28634231)

You are spot on - too bad I don't have modpoints.

Re:A good combination of a storyline and graphics. (1)

vivian (156520) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633751)

I think the texturing is more important than the polygon count - good quality texturing can make up for a lot of polygons.
More important than both of these however, is the AI and game physics.
If I had a choice between a photorealistic game where everything was indestructible, vs a game that was more like say, WoW but you could actually dig holes in the landscape, destroy or build things and actually physically change the world (even if only temporarily) then this would add much more value to the game, in my opinion.

AI is also important - there's nothing more boring than mobs that act in a predictable way, or worse, have been given god like reflexes and omipotence in order to make up for crappy AI. Ideally, mobs in the game should be indistinguishable from other players, at least until you go and try and talk to them.

of course this also depends on the genre of the game. If you are writing a flight simulator or something, then visual realism is much more important than say, being able to create a big hole in the ground when you crash.
I would love a FPS where you could actually blow a shortcut through the wall (at the expense of wating a lot of ammo) or an RPG where your lvl 80 fireball was actually able to blow down that door or at least scorch it a bit.

Re:A good combination of a storyline and graphics. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28634045)

red faction

Re:A good combination of a storyline and graphics. (1)

Jarik C-Bol (894741) | more than 5 years ago | (#28634201)

i love that game. i still have it installed, load it up whenever i get the FPS itch. to bad the second one sucked.

Re:A good combination of a storyline and graphics. (1)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 5 years ago | (#28634261)

^^^ Parent has a good point. It's not about the level of graphics beyond a certain point so much as it is the POLISH of what level you've chosen. If you go for crysis and wind up looking like crysis on it's lower settings I'm going to hold graphics against you but if you settle for a lower graphical standard and do it WELL with good quality textures then I'll probably say "this is well done, how does it play?" and go looking for gameplay.

Re:A good combination of a storyline and graphics. (1)

Sooner Boomer (96864) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633781)

is important in any game. Graphics can be cool and all, but they shouldn't be the primary reason for any game.

I play the first time because of the story line, because up until then I've never seen the graphics (on my machine). I keep playing because the story line draws me in and the graphics make it easier. Then...maybe not...

It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.

Re:A good combination of a storyline and graphics. (1)

Antidamage (1506489) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633807)

You can't avoid the first wave of games to take advantage of a new graphics technique or newer hardware being primarily about these upgraded features.

Decent games with an intricate backstory and well thought out gameplay do take time to make. It's not surprising that they arrive in the later waves.

It's definitely a decent goal to continue pushing towards photorealistic visuals. I'm excited about how the options and challenges are diversifying. I'm yet to see convincingly realistic characters simulated, but with some of the mocap solutions bieng developed, that's not far off. I can't wait to record myself with a webcam and have every little nuance of my expression mapped to an avatar.

What does "good graphics" mean? (2, Interesting)

Kirys (662749) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633811)

I think that plot and good gameplay is much more important that graphics in the kind of games I do like, but this is not true in any kind of games.
IMHO Gameplay come always first, a game must be fun to play, then came the rest in an order depending on the game kind, as an example an online fps doesn't really need a plot.

Anyway it is also difficult to describe what "good graphics" means.
Saying that "good graphics" means high-resolution and photo realism is like saying that a photo is better that a painting.
It's not a matter of pixel, is something more complex, it's a form art, you have to choose your canvas, and you have to use it well.
An example is Okami (wii and original ps2 version), its low-resolution/low definition graphics to me is the most beautiful eye experience I had from a videogame. The plot and the game-play are just as beautiful, so to me is one of the best game ever.

Anyway It's a matter of taste ;)

Re:What does "good graphics" mean? (1)

Mashiara (5631) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633879)

Oh yes, Okami is great, I also liked GC Zelda (wind waker) cell-shaded graphics a lot (and couldn't understand why they drew so much flack from some circles [except maybe them being immature but that would be ad hominem])

Re:A good combination of a storyline and graphics. (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633919)

Graphics require consistency - not realism.

If something looks "out of place", it'll give a much worse experience than if you go for a more cartooney style, but keep that style consistent and interesting.

I happen to think games like Psychonauts [] look quite good. Paired with being just about the most fun game I've ever played, and you have a powerful combination that makes a great game.

Re:A good combination of a storyline and graphics. (3, Interesting)

balster neb (645686) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633947)

It's clear that graphics alone do not make a good game. But graphics do remain very important in games, especially in 3D oriented titles.

For one, better graphics capabilities give game artists more flexibility in creating the right look and feel in a game. Think for instance how Team Fortress 2's unique visual style has been made possible by the advanced capabilities of modern 3D hardware and the Source engine. While graphics are getting closer and closer to photo-real, many game developers in the future will likely favour a more pseudo-real, stylised look. Why? In order to avoid falling into the uncanny valley.

While there is an obvious trend towards photorealism (this trend is nothing new), many of the best games of this generation aren't quite photorealistic. For example, in GTA IV, while the cityscapes are rendered in a more realistic style, the characters are rendered differently. Even in Crysis, while the environment looks amazingly real, the human characters are ever so slightly cartoony.

But ultimately, your question, pitting the world of Pokemon against Crysis is a bit pointless. It's like asking why people shoot live action film when animations can be just as entertaining. I'm not sure if titles like GTA IV or Crysis or CoD4 would have the same impact if they looked like Pokemon.

Re:A good combination of a storyline and graphics. (2, Insightful)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 5 years ago | (#28634091)

"is important in any game. Graphics can be cool and all, but they shouldn't be the primary reason for any game."

Actually graphics are a *primary reason* for any game, but not the only thing obviously. They are called VIDEO games for a reason.

Art sets the tone of the game, if you check out the extra's on the God of War 1 disc they show you models that never made it into the game, and the different versions of Krato's that never made the cut, looking at some of the models you can see that *art* the vision in someone's imagination *definitely* makes the game better when one can bring it out of one's mind and one has good artistic discernment.

This isn't to say that graphics are the only thing obviously, but when it all come's together it's about putting all the pieces together properly to make the experience.

God of War would not have the same visceral Impact using the other model heroes seen on the God of War 1 disc as Kratos.

Technically God of war is an action button mashing 3D beat em up, yet there are other games like that that never reach the level of fun or success God of War has.

The truth is every part of the game experience matters in the game ideally. The problem is game developers don't have the resources to focus on all the parts equally so they have to pick the "core" and focus on making the the core they've chosen as best they can with the resources they have.

Graphics matter only in so far is that they are done artistically well enough.

I doubt anyone would take Metroid 1 (NES) over Super metroid for instance.

Re:A good combination of a storyline and graphics. (0, Troll)

Tet (2721) | more than 5 years ago | (#28634117)

Storyline? What are you smoking? Who gives a shit about the back story? Did Doom succeed because people cared about what Union Aerospace were doing on Mars, or because the gameplay was out of this world? I know where my money would be. Where's the storyline in Tetris? Yet somehow that was mindblowingly successful. Ultimately, it's all about gameplay. Nothing else matters.

One word (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28633561)

In the end it is all about communication. You could ask the same about movies, and conclude it's all about the story. The lion king would not work as well as a live action movie, since it will not communicate emotions as well. On the other hand, special effects nowadays aren't as scary anymore, because they have the sense of being unrealistic (see Michael Bay Movies).

For me, the appeal of pretty pictures wear off quickly, so I prefer simpler graphics with beautiful effects so my senses do not get overloaded. Also for crysis, I think all the detail clutters the screen and distracts attention away from the gameplay.

Re:One word (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28633987)

See this ... too realistic actually reduces immersion in a video game because the senses react against it. Some games are more like video card tech demo's with a few ultra obscure DX haders. That steals CPU and GPU cycles that should be used elsewhere ... on the game. AI, Physics. Sort of like printing ultra realistic letters in a book that distract from the actual story.

I wrote a blog article ...

"What can be accomplished in the MIND of the player is far more powerful than anything a graphics card can do. This is sort of like expecting high end audio systems to make the music sound good. If the music is no good to begin with then no amount of money thrown at it is going to make a difference."

Eye of the beholder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28633573)

Realism is something everyone is able to grasp. In the not so distant past, any art that was not realistic was considered unprofessional. It was only after time that abstraction and impression were recognized as having value.

Now, I don't think it's that people think less of non-realistic games, but I think it's just a natural human thing to say 'that looks so real'. There are those that wish to take on the challenge of recreating that which already exists, and those who are more interested in re-interpreting what is real

Re:Eye of the beholder (2, Interesting)

Antidamage (1506489) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633855)

Abstract games do work. It's just that they don't work unless they're compelling in every other way.

A pretty but otherwise bland game will leave you bored. The key point here is the ability to entertain comes from several angles. The ability to be entertained by something is also subjective. There's no point in Slashdot routinely knocking Doom IV as bland and an attempt to put a new engine to use, because it has a target market who enjoyed it.

Games with good gameplay, good graphics and a compelling storyline are, sadly, a little rare. Part of the reason games like Portal are perceived as winners in every category is that Portal was unique and fresh. Therefore speed of release is also a factor in our perceived enjoyment of a game.

So what's left? What sure-fire thing can a game developer do to ensure his game is well received once he's met all other criteria for an entertaining game? Be original - that's pretty much it.

Graphics enchance immersion! (4, Insightful)

thatkid_2002 (1529917) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633581)

The better the graphics the easier it is to be immersed in the game. Immersion is probably the best generator of enjoyment in a game.

I guess it depends on the person. I find good looking 3D games much more enjoyable than 2D games (with the exception of Peggle, maybe) - and I have played my fair share of 2D games as I did not have a decent computer for quite a few years.

I think people might be coming to actually *expect* good looking graphics too, so when they see a game that is not aestetically pleasing as games of a similar type this would make getting immersed in the game more difficult.

Re:Graphics enchance immersion! (3, Insightful)

tnok85 (1434319) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633629)

While I agree that graphics do add a certain level of immersion, I believe that they can also take away from an imaginative person's level of immersion.

Simple example - book versus movie made from the book. Many who read the book first prefer it because the movie does not match up with what they have imagined in their head. (Regardless of the fact that most books are better than the movies that come later)

Some of the people who get MOST immersed in their 'games' are people who roleplay, either in text based games, table top, or in graphical simulations. These people get far more immersed than almost anybody who plays Crysis.

Realism and/or suspension of disbelief are paramount to immersion. The environment may look real, but if your belief is not suspended it's impossible to be immersed.

Re:Graphics enchance immersion! (1)

Antidamage (1506489) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633905)

You're talking less about immersion and more about engagement. Movies aren't engaging, but they can be enjoyable in ways games can't.

As far as immersion goes, sometimes it's more enjoyable when you have to work at being immersed. Rogue has been mentioned several times in this article's comments. Leaving more work for the imagination to do often means more enjoyment when you finally manage to engage the player. A sense of presence and involvement - immersion - follows.

I agree with the sentiment that more realistic graphics take away the effort of imagination. This leads players who are immersed to sort of sit back and be less actively involved in the engagement of a game.

I'm not sure what the answer is. I do know that in order to meet the perceived standards of being a commercially viable game, you have to meet certain visual criteria. I'm still always surprised by games like Echochrome or Braid that defy these criteria and still get published. In a sense, their being simplistic and abstract in their visuals is an original thing in itself: but only for the current state of gaming.

Re:Graphics enchance immersion! (1)

Antidamage (1506489) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633913)

> Movies aren't engaging,

Movies aren't IMMERSIVE. My bad.

Re:Graphics enchance immersion! (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 5 years ago | (#28634273)

But a movie (and a game with better graphics than a competitor) has a lower level of entry than a book (or a screen full of ASCII symbols.)

Immersive, imaginative or not... it's easier for someone to pick up a game if it looks and acts like something real. It also doesn't require them to imagine what something looks like. They can focus on the story/plot (and I'll agree, games don't have much story) or the movie/game's mechanical features without having to task half their brain trying to figure out what a "Dornag" looks like or have to read 14 pages of descriptive text.

It's about consuming the story in as little time as possible. People would rather spend 2 hours watching a movie than several days reading it in a book.

Re:Graphics enchance immersion! (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633769)

The better the graphics the easier it is to be immersed in the game.

No, it's gameplay. There's something called willing suspension of disbelief [] .

Graphics actually ruins a game when it runs at 3 fps tops. I still prefer AvP2 over Bioshock on my Dell laptop, wanna guess why? And that facehugger that suddenly jumps you from a dark corner could be three polygons, you'd still jump through the ceiling.

Re:Graphics enchance immersion! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28633883)

And what if that facehugger looked like a one colour, blocky mess of Atari 2600 pixels?

Sorry, but graphics DO matter.

Re:Graphics enchance immersion! (1)

Wagoo (260866) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633957)

No, it's gameplay. There's something called willing suspension of disbelief [] .

Well I'm not having anyone staring in disbelief at my willy suspension!

Re:Graphics enchance immersion! (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633945)

But let's not get 'realistic' graphics confused with 'beautiful' graphics. The massive amount of 'realistic' 3d games out there tend to blur together... but when you come across a truly beautiful game with painted or drawn art, it can still take your breath away.

The last game I played that did that was Grim Grimoire on the PS2. Beautiful spritework; antiquated console, sure... but ART hasn't changed in the last four years. Hell, there are games on the SNES that are more attractive than a lot of PS3/360 games.

Getting the tech to take better and better photographs hasn't rendered paintings obsolete. That's probably how I think of comparing realistic 3d to stylistic sprite/art based games.

It's important for the publishers / developers (1)

fatp (1171151) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633587)

1) Eye catching: before you buy a game, you don't know the gameplay. Therefore they advertise the graphics
2) Promotion: high demand on graphic card is becoming a selling point. If the display is so slow that only mid-to-highend display card are supported, it'd be a glory for the game to be used for benchmarking.
3) Reuse: Gameplay and storyline can hardly be reused, graphics easily
4) Bloating the game: make it seems more money-worthy and make it more difficult to BT

Re:It's important for the publishers / developers (1)

Razalhague (1497249) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633849)

5) Objectiveness: unlike gameplay which is really subjective, the realism of the graphics is fairly objective. It's a measure they can use to say "our game is better".

The point of realism... (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633597)

It's not important to think they're beautiful. It's more important that they're not distracting. Making the graphics realistic makes them less distracting. When you don't find it jarring that nothing has shadows or the lighting is wrong or everything looks a little too polygonal you can pay a lot more attention to the game.

It's the same with everything else. You don't notice really good special effects. It didn't occur to most people that there were only a handful of people in the crowd scenes in Forrest Gump. You don't notice really good acting. You only notice it when it's unconvincing.

Don't bother with the show-off funky effects. Make sure they're good enough to tell the story and work out the trade off between time and how convincing graphics are.

Well... (1)

Mystra_x64 (1108487) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633603)

If gameplay/storyline sucks I wouldn't play it regardless of how flashy it looks. I can play Chrono Trigger level graphics games just fine. Very good level for me is something like Disgaea/Guilty Gear/BlazBlue. Very realistic vater vs somewhat realistic water adds nothing for me. Those very realitic games tend to work that realistic on the future hardware anyway...

The department of obvious called (1)

iamapizza (1312801) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633609)

They said that it's for the gaming experience. When you play a game, you want to immerse yourself into that world, playing games is about escaping reality. A jagged edge or 'water' can make all the difference in a world or environment that you're exploring. Try staring at Lara Croft's airbags in TR: Underworld and then try playing TR original. Although the original content may be much better, TR:Underworld isn't that bad because the environment covers for the lack of content.

In a way, it is a vicious cycle, but it's also innovation, you don't want games to become stagnant in terms of how they look.

Re:The department of obvious called (4, Insightful)

Razalhague (1497249) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633877)

In a way, it is a vicious cycle, but it's also innovation, you don't want games to become stagnant in terms of how they look.

Only focusing on realism is stagnation. There's very little innovation in realism. It takes very little artistic vision. It's the easy wasy, all you need is money.

Video games are an entertainment medium. (4, Insightful)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633617)

Video games are an entertainment medium. So are movies. No one is going to argue that good CG effects can make a movie better, yet when it comes to graphics people want to stomp their foot on about gameplay and how graphics are meaningless.

They're not. Of course, it depends on the game--many games don't translate well to 3D, and the retro charm of 8bit is always nice--but let's not kid ourselves that "immersion" (yeah, yeah) is a part of game enjoyment. You can't make an 8bit WoW, now would you want to try, but a 3D pacman isn't going to translate well either.

You can't say "Oh, well I prefer this over that" because graphics depend on the type of game. Comparing pokemon to Crysis isn't fair at all. FPSes, which put you in an actual environment where you have to run, hide, and hopefully slaughter your opponents are a "Far Cry" (ha, ha, ha) from a lightweight (but yes, fun) RPG game on a portable. And imagine an 8-bit Silent Hill! Survival horror didn't really become popular until the PSX for a reason.

I find myself greatly missing the graphics of some of the old-school SNES rpgs such as FFVI's look, but I'm not going to say that FFX's (last FF I played) graphics detracted at all from the game's experience. So I can't say it's the type of graphics I enjoy so much as it is the game and how well the graphics fit in with the genre and the game's design. I don't see why it has to be a one-or-the-other situation.

Re:Video games are an entertainment medium. (1)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633665)

Of course, this isn't to say that gameplay can't make up for graphics. I still think DOOM is one of the best-designed FPSes ever made, not just in graphics but atmospherically and in design. I think there's a reason people were so disappointed in DOOM 3 (and that a good engine can override graphics--people still make note of HL2, while DOOM 3 is mostly forgotten.) But it should be noted that DOOM at its time was also one of the best FPSes, graphically.

That doesn't change the fact that graphics can greatly add to a game's enjoyment.

Re:Video games are an entertainment medium. (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 5 years ago | (#28634319)

No way. In DOOM you can't hide in a dark support beam and wait for an enemy to round the corner where you'll jump out and surprise them getting the first shot. You're fixed to only 2 dimensions so you can't hide under a bridge to avoid someone with "quad damage" or better armor.

The reason DOOM was more memorable was because of it's graphics in an era where 3D games only had 4 directions of travel. Doom 3 was just another reprint of a typical FPS game. It didn't have much in the innovation department so it was easily forgotten.

Graphics are a poor substitute for substance (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28633623)

Much like any form of entertainment, graphics represent the final gloss on a product. A film that relys only on graphics to be successful (Final Fantasy Spirits Within anyone?) will usually find itself dead and forgotten months or years later. However, sometimes movies with poor special effects (or none at all) stay with us for lifetimes. We don't judge The Godfather based on how realistic the horse's head looked.

Graphics are required to give a game a theme and a feel. In that respect they're essential in creating an immersive environment, probably a bit moreso than the story or the voices, if only because while poeple do stop talking in-game, you never stop seeing the game rendered. This does not always mean that the graphics need to be good, advanced, or photorealistic. It means the graphics need to be appropriate to the venue.

If you're making a high-powered, over the top, epic game about a larger-than-life hero who can defeat whole armies singlehandedly, then the realism of the graphics becomes less important than being able to render large groups at once, or pretty particle effects for special attacks. If you're doing a film-noir detective story where you investigate dead bodies, then gritty, realistic, high-contrast graphics are probably appropriate.

You'd never want photorealism in pokemon; it has no identity outside of being a cartoon. At the same time you wouldn't want to play a Dawn of the Dead made with the graphics engine they used on Wind Waker.

It depends... (0)

V!NCENT (1105021) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633655)

If you are on an island, and sneaking, laying in the grass and you are about to encounter your alien overlords in an invasion, then the realistic graphics are a must. It's all part of the experience. Nobody is going to care about your game if the aliens invasion is on a 8bit coloured gameboy.

If you are playing an adventure game Mario/Crash Bandicoot style then your obviously want to keep in basic and cartoony.

If you... bla bla bla you get the point; it dependss on the game you make. The graphics are nothing more than a visual presentation of what you are doing, and so the visual presentation should match the type of game you are playing.

They sell the game. (1)

philmarcracken (1412453) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633681)

Flashy graphics appeal to people visually and stimulate you before you get to play the game and judge it's actual value. I'd say that to make a game look the best is a marketing decision for the screenshots and the trailers to sell the game.

Don't try too hard! (1)

Per Wigren (5315) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633705)

For me it's all about the feeling. Graphics, background music, sound effects, narrating and of course the story line are all part of that.
I can love beautiful, near-photorealistic graphics and I can also love simple, cartoonish graphics. What I don't like is graphics that try to be photorealistic but fails to.

Remember that the more you put into details, the more the details you miss will become obvious. I wouldn't care that the water didn't look very realistic in a game where all graphics looks unrealistic, but if the grass and the trees are dead gorgeous, unrealistic water would suddenly become a minus point because it wouldn't fit in.

Basically, if you aren't willing to put major effort into making the graphics look realistic, don't try. Instead aim for some other style, like Prince of Persia [] , Zelda: Wind Waker [] or Little Big Planet [] .

Re:Don't try too hard! (1)

Jarik C-Bol (894741) | more than 5 years ago | (#28634343)

exactly, this is where a lot of games fall down. World of Warcraft may have semi-cartoony, stylized graphics, but it is a complete world, down to the ogre crap and insects buzzing around. on the other hand, like you said, if a game shoots for photo-realism in its graphics, anything that is not perfect, or missing that you expect to be there in a photorealistic environment, is a blaring omission.

I for one think that Graphics in video games are important, but effectively, they are important on a scale of the game play. example, Ratchet and Clank is a blast to play, graphics are cartoony, polygonal, and goofy. Crysis is fun to play, and the graphics are far more realistic. how can both be fun? expectation of content, pure and simple. you go into R&C expecting a wacky world and whatnot, so the graphics follow the formula that the game type has set. you go onto Crysis looking for a real/futuristic combat setting where you can take advantage of terrain and environment to best your opponents.

the graphics follow the game type. THAT is what is important. the graphics are the means by which they show you the story, final example: the movie toy story. it was a cute fun movie. now imagine that it was done with michael bay special effects, not the stylized cartoony CGI. different movie entirely now. probably not nearly as cute or fun. graphics define how we approach and feel a game, but they must fit the archetype of the game for them to be "good graphics"

Graphics need to be appropriate to the game (5, Insightful)

RogueyWon (735973) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633719)

Graphics should be appropriate to the game experience you're trying to create. That's all there is to it, really.

In some cases, that means pushing for absolutely cutting edge technology. A big part of the Crysis experience is the "shock and awe" factor of the visuals, as well as the heavy use of foliage and other environmental factors that need to be done to a very high standard if they're not going to look silly. Personally, I think Crysis is a very, very good game - one of the best of recent years on any platform - and the graphics are a big part of that (though the fairly free-form gameplay is another big element). To be honest, if you're making a first or third person shooter these days that doesn't have a deliberately abstract setting, then you really should be pushing for the most technologically advanced graphics you can, because as gamers' expectations improve, games which fall behind the curve face a bigger and bigger challenge in not having their immersion broken through poor graphics. I remember playing Call of Cthulhu - Dark Corners of the Earth back when it was released and being generally very impressed by the atmosphere (despite the bugs). I tried replaying it recently, and the way that the graphics had aged so badly was quite a shocking bar to getting back into it.

However, not every game needs to be a technological powerhouse, and there are even cases where flash-whizz-bang 3d graphics can work against a game. My favorite example here (and yes, I know it's an old one) concerns the third and fourth Monkey Island games. Monkey Island 3 was for many years the closest thing I'd played to an interactive cartoon. The graphical quality certainly wasn't far short of the animation you were seeing in animated movies at the time, and was actually ahead of much of what you'd see in kids' TV cartoons and anime of the era. For a cartoony graphical adventure, it was perfect. Then for the fourth installment, everything went 3d and it looked rubbish. So we went stylistically from "interactive cartoon" to "badly designed Quake mod". You can see the same thing with the transition from Baldur's Gate 2 to Neverwinter Nights - beautifully drawn 2d backdrops changed to boring, bland 3d tilesets (though I guess this was necessary to make user created content easier).

Interestingly, the recent Sam & Max episodic games seem to have found a decent middle ground here. They balance 3d and 2 graphics in a way that works really quite well, and have finally pulled things back up to the "interactive cartoon" level (and a prettier cartoon that Monkey Island 3 was, though perhaps not by far).

Then occasionally you get one of my favorite experiences; something which uses really quite advanced graphical effects to produce a deliberately highly stylised effect. The best example I've seen of this recently is Valkyria Chronicles for the PS3, which uses some quite advanced 3d graphics and visual effects, but aims for a unique look, which is going neither for realism, nor for the typical anime look you see in a lot of Japanese games. I know cell-shading is nothing new (and has been much abused, particularly by Nintendo), but Valkyria Chronicles combines it with other techniques to pull off a unique and distinctive look that really fits the game well.

I hate photorealism in video games (5, Insightful)

iamacat (583406) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633731)

If I want reality, I turn off the computer. As for video games, they should:

1. Have graphics simple enough to quickly locate usable objects without having to strain through all the distractions. Myst series is a bad offender, especially since the objective is to solve puzzles.
2. Take you to an alternative world to take your mind away from real life
3. Be installable on a typical hard drive in dozens, without a need to hunt for - or worse swap - CDs or DVDs
4. Be playable in half an hour intervals, so that someone with kids can also participate.

I have the disposable income to buy pretty much all the titles I like and have time to play. Yet, chiefly because of #4, I am mostly downloading DOS games from abandon ware sites. I would gladly pay if someone was selling them for reasonable price and with instant download available. As a hobbyist, I think you would do well to write some adventure-style games and gain some audience without competition from most commercial developers.

Interactivity for the win! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28633953)

Photo realistic graphics would be good if the game world would also be realistically interactive. However, the interactivity is severely lacking. If I'm playing Crysis or whatever, I want to be able to knock out a soldier with a coconut I just picked up. Or use the top of an oil barrel as a frisbee to decapitate people, or other cool stuff. But no, all environments look very nice, but the interactivity just isn't there. Red faction is trying to make some progress in that area, but just being able to destroy buildings isn't what I'm looking for. Perhaps developers should scale back on the graphics and focus more on the interactivity part of games.

Re:I hate photorealism in video games (1)

should_be_linear (779431) | more than 5 years ago | (#28634031)

You pretty much described old "Lemmings" or new "World Of Goo" games. Now, if only someone could come with such a great ideas more frequently...

Re:I hate photorealism in video games (1)

xtracto (837672) | more than 5 years ago | (#28634139)

You pretty much described old "Lemmings" or new "World Of Goo" games. Now, if only someone could come with such a great ideas more frequently...

Yeah, but those games are just example of a renege (strategy), you also have Worms in that genre and maybe the Advance wars games.

However you also have "First Person Shooters" and "Role Playing Games" and "Sport games" genres. Those require different technologies for a successful implementation. Some of them may be require more graphical detail than others and some may require more "algorithmical" power.

Re:I hate photorealism in video games (1)

xtracto (837672) | more than 5 years ago | (#28634107)

I also heat photorealism in video games but for other reasons:
1. I am shortsighted, having a lot of "detail" in the small screen just obliges me to put more attention (and more eye strain).
2. In several of those "photorealistic" games I do not know what to pick/use/click/etc and what not to... (that is related to the AC post on Interactivity).
3. Due to the processing/space limits in computers, the "photorealism" in games is incomplete. No mater how many particles they use for the water, once you get closer to see it, it will always seem unrealistic at a short distance.

Re:I hate photorealism in video games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28634165)

why not get an xbox 360 and take advantage of the games available for xbox live arcade? they'll be downloaded straight to the xbox hard drive. have a look at N+, schizoid, castle crashers, braid and ikaruga. then you've also got the option of having large immersive games like fallout 3, or multiplayer halo 3 fights if you want a quick fix of violent action.

Most computers can't run full graphic glory anyway (1)

warewolfsmith (196722) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633741)

I actually wonder why game developers bother when most computers can't run games at there full resolution anyway. Most mere mortals put up with crappy graphics so we can enjoy skip free game play. It usually take me two computer upgrades to be able to run an old game at its full resolution. Game play has always been the priority.

Graphics are really, really important for an hour (1)

BerntB (584621) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633749)

Graphics are really important for an hour or two, then you turn them down to get maximum speed in the real goal -- killing your friends and unknown kids on the intertubes... ;-)

Minimal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28633759)

especially in real games like Pong

Depends on the game... (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633765)

If it's CounterStrike or GTA IV, there's no such thing as "too realistic". Even in most fantasy/sci-fi settings like say Oblivion or Fallout 3 you expect fire to act like fire, water to act like water and so on.

Other games are just about putting you in the right mood, like say Super Mario Galaxy - it's a cartoon. Or pretty much everything from Telltale like Sam & Max, Wallace & Gromit, Monkey Island etc. Where it's important but not realism-important, where a 3D CGI animation can deliver a visual gag the way lesser graphics can't.

Finally, there's games where it doesn't matter. I play chess from time to time with a black and white 2D board, plain as it gets. Because I'm playing people and it's about the strategy, not the battle chess animations (though that was fun for fun's sake too).

I'm just one person but the importance of graphics vary from "very high" to "very low" for me alone, suggesting there is no answer. Look at your genre, is it important? Yes, then it's important. If you don't want to compete aganst all that, you can find a genre where it's not. If you still want to get in on the graphicly intense stuff, make a creative new game with decent graphics and try taking them on head-to-head in a sequel.

Re:Depends on the game... (1)

kaaposc (1515329) | more than 5 years ago | (#28634001)

Planescape: Torment - poor graphics but wonderful story line. If this game was recreated with the same story but in "state-of-art" graphics I probably would moisture my pants (:)

Re:Depends on the game... (1)

biacos (1583555) | more than 5 years ago | (#28634029)

I agree with you. For instance, first person shooter need a higher realism, the camera position is quite "immersive" and the lack of realism affects badly the gaming experience. Of course, we are speaking of "realistic graphics" instead of "good graphics". For example, toon rendering is a cool not-photorealistic rendering technique that improves the game experience for some kind of games.

Re:Depends on the game... (1)

earthbound kid (859282) | more than 5 years ago | (#28634265)

If it's CounterStrike or GTA IV, there's no such thing as "too realistic".

You want to see a realistic depiction of a person getting shot and bleeding to death? No thanks, I'll stick with polygons.

Just imagine your character sweating and breathing hard after running for the length of a play session (at a top speed of 15~20 MPH), then tell me that "there's no such thing as too realistic."

No one wants perfect realism, we just want different kinds of fakeness.

When you have a hammer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28633767)

...everything starts to look like a nail.

The guys who are making the consoles are focusing on the hardware, and adding realistic graphics is a problem that hardware can help with. Better hardware can't really help with story lines. So they build the hardware for good graphics, and when you have that, suddenly developers start thinking 'what else can I add 3D realism too'

Lack of imagination (1)

prof alan (1166873) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633809)

Q "why is the current generation of games giving so much importance to the realism in graphic games?"

A. For the same reason that Hollywood attaches such importance to CGI and vastly expensive special effects: - they are unable or unwilling to provide storylines or dialogue that can grip the viewers attention without them.

The same lack of imagination is the reason for the preponderance of sequels and films based on comic books.

Graphics Are Not the Key to a Great Game (4, Insightful)

McNally (105243) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633839)

Just as it takes more than skillful special effects to make a great movie, it takes more than good graphics to make a great game. You'd think these points would be obvious but there are quite clearly game (and movie) makers out there who don't get them.

Re:Graphics Are Not the Key to a Great Game (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28633931)

There are many developers out there that do get it, it's just that the forces of Nvidia and M$ DirectX ram the graphics down our throats at the expense of the industry. This does seem to be changing. Look at Farcry 2 or OFP2 that don't focus on ultra-realistic graphics so that there are CPU and GPU cycles left to do a lot of other more interesting things like the actual gameplay ... AI, Physics.

love asbstract visuals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28633847)

It does depend on the game but I love abstract graphics myself. Most of the classic games that I've played and loved over the years have tended not to be particularly realistic. If you look at something like Tempest say, or Robotron, or pretty much any of Jeff Minter's work. The visuals for Minter's next project look stunning:

as food props in menu pictures (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28633859)

The better a [product] looks the more attractive it will appear, usually convincing enough to purchase. This is a fairly common practice with any business/industry selling wares.
Nice visuals can make a bad game passable and a good game great. Looking good is what will get people to buy it and actually being good will keep them playing.

In my day, we had 7 bit text. (1)

bmo (77928) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633871)

If I want realistic imagery and soopah dense meshes, I'll go outside.

Changing the theme is a bitch sometimes, though.

If I want to play a game, it had better be a /game/ because if it has suck-ass playability, it doesn't matter how dense the polygon meshes are.



Why should one be more important than the other? (1)

Knutsi (959723) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633895)

Games are not a uniform thing. There are games where the graphics are stunning, and really pull you into the world. Then there are games where even the simplest graphics perform all the function needed to make a beautiful game. Why should we not have both? Independent games with interesting gameplay mechanism, an interesting visualization as well, are highly popular - it's not like we have lost anything?

Yes, graphics are important, but.. (3, Interesting)

daid303 (843777) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633933)

Yes, graphics are important, but they will never fix bad gameplay.

Crysis had perfect graphics, and not that bad gameplay. Still, it scores low on my list, because it's to short in my opinion. They sacrificed game length for graphics, they shouldn't have.
Braid is a perfect combination of gameplay and graphics, the whole environment blended nicely with the game, and the gameplay was a wonderful experience. It's not that long, but also not that expensive to buy.
The new resident evil on the Wii is a perfect example of fail in my opinion. The graphics show horrible aliasing and the controls work frustrating making for a bad experience.

Now, as a hobby game builder, you don't always have access to perfect graphics. So you'll have to make up with gameplay for that. But still work on the graphics, they are very important. A screenshot can 'sell' your game, if your game looks like an old 8bit nintendo game, it's harder to get people to try it. But not impossible (see 'Cave Story')

Graphics are also an important gameplay element. I'm working on a GuitarHero clone which plays FretsOnFire songs for the Wii. And I noticed the game became much more enjoyable AND playable with a few very simple effects. As they provided more visual feedback on your actions. See [] how the dark grey area and small gauge on the left and right don't seem to fit that well. A few simple things [] can make a whole lot of difference. The gray star provides feedback that you hit a note, and the rest just makes it more pleasant to look at. While you are playing you don't even notice the backdrops that much, but notice how they caught your attention just now ;)

Bigger than games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28633949)

photorealistic, realtime CGI will be an advance equivalent to photography or television. While the industry is a major driving force, the intrinsic value of the technology extends way beyond gaming.

I agree that photo-realism isn't the only way - (1)

pecosdave (536896) | more than 5 years ago | (#28633997)

As far as artwork and "cinematics" are concerned, I loved Viewtiful Joe, who would have thought a bad movie would have made an awesome video game? They pretty much pioneered the "2.5D" game. On top of that, I hated old fashioned side scrolling beat-em-ups - this is one of those to a whole new level that made it awesome. It's cheap, check it out, you can probably get it at GameStop for under $10.

I tried explaining the game to my cousin one time "It's made to look like a bad movie" he asked "which bad movie?"

off the top of my head (1)

turing_m (1030530) | more than 5 years ago | (#28634035)

So, why is the current generation of games giving so much importance to the realism in graphic games?

1. Larger potential market: A lot of the population are under-endowed with imagination (hence to become immersed in something, they need realism). If you make games that even they can enjoy, you increase your potential market.

2. Barriers to entry: The higher the costs involved in producing a game (due to complexity), the less competitors you will have. You build yourself a nice little part of an oligopoly for yourself. After a while you widen the moat by lowering your costs (but the startup costs get higher), reuse code/art/story/experience/marketing/whatever to further advance the state of the art or lower costs, both of which are barriers to entry.

3. E-penis wavery: those who have to have the latest and greatest of everything (and flaunt it) will have to have your game. Counterpoint: If you make it too hard to run, you also decrease your potential market. (But how many games does the low end actually buy?)

It depends really... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28634037)

generally you can tell if a game is trying to look amazing and/or realistic. The important part is whether they manage to pull it off or not.

A game that tries and fails is in for a bumpy ride because the player will be completely aware of it.

Good graphics are based entirely upon what the designer intended. I think the following games (I have played) have great graphics...

Theme Hospital
Settlers 2
World of Goo
Farcry 1 (I remember stopping and looking out at the sunset!) ... but I cannot tell you which has the best graphics.

graphics is not an indicator of quality (1)

gintoki (1439845) | more than 5 years ago | (#28634061)

and I'm not alone on this one. Developers spend way too much time making the game look pretty these days. I doubt anyone cares how good a building looks if that building happens to be a place where a massive fight takes place. The thing is, developers probably spend months on making it as shiny as possible but most gamers don't even notice it. Game reviewers are the only people who really seem to care what the game looks like. For example, uncharted on the ps3 is my favourite game on the console. The graphics on that game are awesome. I was so drawn into the game that that I thought that this was how it would feel if Indiana Jones was a badass. I probably wouldn't have enjoyed it as much if the graphics weren't as good as they were. Then again, I don't really care for graphics for the most part seeing as I do most of my gaming on the ds. When gameplay is good the graphics are secondary. I'm probably gonna get flamed for this but I'm gonna say it anyway. Killzone 2, Halo 3, Gears of War had good graphics but in my opinion the gameplay was just dull and I'm really surprised to see why people seem to almost revere these games. Call of Duty 4 was better than these games but nothing revolutionary. I guess I just don't find games to be much fun when all it entails is going from point A to point B while killing things in a graphic manner ( can be entertaining sometimes) Let's stop here before I can get started on all the "dark/mature/gritty" games rant.

different ends (3, Insightful)

nEoN nOoDlE (27594) | more than 5 years ago | (#28634083)

You can't really compare the graphics between Pokemon and Crysis because the purpose of their graphics are completely different. Games that are trying to get as close to realistic as possible are doing so because there is more immersion than in a top-down RPG like Pokemon. Not immersion in the sense that "I could play this game for hours" but immersion in the "I'm actually there" variety. Pokemon is trying to be more cute and iconic as a way of making the characters more lovable. Pokemon with realistic graphics would be a completely different game for a different purpose. There's nothing wrong with either of them and both types can be beautiful, as you said.

When picking an art design, you have to know the audience and the type of feelings you want to evoke. Also, more often than not, your design is dictated by your budget. If you're a single developer working on a game in his/her spare time, then chances are something like Crysis will be way out of your budget, as opposed to a game with a few stylized icons or models. The reason why it seems more emphasis is placed on realistic graphics is that realism is a challenge that only the big budget guys can attempt to accomplish. It takes millions of dollars to have hours of mocap sessions, hire cleanup artists, high-res modelers, animators, texture painters, environment designers, etc to make a full city of locations and characters. Then it's also a lot more challenging to figure out how to make that world realistic and still function on modern day machines, with physics, animation interpolation, various gameplay mechanics and effects, etc.

While it seems that most games are going for the realistic look, I'd wager that the vast majority of games are going the more stylistic approach. Pretty much anything on the biggest gaming platforms right now (Web, iPhone, Nintendo DS, and Wii) take the stylized route, whereas only the $20 million AAA titles on the XBox 360 and PS3 are going the realistic route, of which there are only a few dozen a year.

I play nethack... (1)

pedestrian crossing (802349) | more than 5 years ago | (#28634101) insensitive clod!

Immersion, not realism (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28634111)

I think your assumption is wrong, people don't want realism, they want immersion.

A lot of detail in graphics helps provide that immersion, that escape from reality. While games as Pokemon, Final Fantasy 6, etc. can provide that immersion as well, once the player is used to high quality graphics, the lower quality graphics just don't really cut it anymore. Sad, in a way.

If a game with lower end graphics wants to do 'immersion' well, they have to do better than average on the other aspects of the game (Gameplay, story, ...).

Just my opinion, discard whenever you see fit.

The traditional gimmic (1)

pizzach (1011925) | more than 5 years ago | (#28634171)

Graphics are the traditional gimmic. No more no less. Most people who say they can't go back to old TVs or old games tend to be exaggerating on prima donna levels. "How could I ever look at something so ugly!? I have been brought up civilized!" :)

Would you have watched ID4 or Transformers? (1)

Tomsk70 (984457) | more than 5 years ago | (#28634245)

....or the Matrix, or Star Wars, etc. if they didn't have amazing visuals?

There will always be similar games and films that don't have the amazing effects, and still be entertaining - the point is, these are usually outnumbered by those that do - and by a large margin....

Depends on the Style You're Going For (1)

Secret Agent Man (915574) | more than 5 years ago | (#28634283)

It really depends on what style the game itself is trying to pull off. Some have criticized Team Fortress 2 for its more cartoon-like look and style than its predecessor. I think, however, that it's incredibly fitting for the game. The voice acting is incredible and the characters fit the style quite well (the Meet the Team videos only enhance these qualities further). I realize that Team Fortress 2 isn't known for these qualities, but it really is a lot more fun because of the stylistic decisions made.

I myself have never really had the most cutting-edge technology, but I have never felt truly immersed in a game based on the graphics alone. In the back of my mind I always go "this is just a video game," but the story, characters, gameplay (i.e. the attributes that are truly meaningful) can reel me in. Games like GoldenEye and Perfect Dark come to mind here. The graphics were good for the time, but nothing close to realistic. However, they were still able to pull me in just as well.

As the Game Boy Color commercials proclaimed: "Get into it." If a game can get me interested in the other facets of its world, then it could be from the 8-bit era and still get me to feel immersed.

This issue was thoroughly hashed out in the 1990s. (5, Insightful)

EWAdams (953502) | more than 5 years ago | (#28634287)

I've been in the business for 20 years and heard all this before. We reached two conclusions:
  • Different players want different things; you can't please everybody (as the comments above show).
  • To make a successful commercial game, you must have both high quality graphics AND high quality gameplay. (High quality doesn't necessarily mean high-end graphics technology; it means aesthetically competent and suited to the game's setting.) A game with great gameplay and graphics weaknesses can survive, but it will have a tough time at first, until the word spreads. A game with great graphics and poor gameplay will have decent early sales, but these will drop off quickly as people discover the bugs or design errors in the gameplay.

If you must err on one side or the other, err on the side of gameplay. But you should make both as high-quality as you can.

Concerning graphics technology, that's down to audience. Hardware-oriented fanbois will drool over the latest gear and games that exploit it; adult women playing games on Yahoo during their coffee break will not. Decide who you are serving and what your game really needs first.

Lemmings (1)

gringer (252588) | more than 5 years ago | (#28634305)

Lemmings [] was a game that occasionally invoked a few gulps from me. It was hardly realistic graphics -- this was a game built on the idea of making creature graphics as small (pixel-wise) as possible yet still produce a recognisable humanoid figure. You tend to treasure the little critters more when you need to save all of them (in the harder levels), and there's always the chance that there'll be one more trap waiting for death a few pixels further onward.

SpiriteH! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28634351)

I'd say anything up and beyond the source (half-life2) engine is pretty pointless, it looks good and it runs on most hardware well... Why would I want to go out and spend four digits on a new rig _and_ go through all the pain of setting it up just to have water look that little bit nicer? -.o

No games should be about the game play.

The best graphics engine... (1)

John Guilt (464909) | more than 5 years ago | (#28634353) still the mind; it constantly fills in the gaps and extrapolates from what our eyes transmit. When the mind is sufficiently engaged, almost any level of graphics can be adequate, and sometimes less leaves more room for our processing. The mind does what good graphics engines can merely assist: assign meaning and importance to the patterns on the screen; good writing can help there....

(This is, incidentally, one of the reasons why pr0n is always one of the first applications of any new graphics technology, e.g. printing, lithography, dial-up BBS and CGA or Hercules: when the mind is intensely engaged, the limitations of the medium, ineptness of the plotting, and the crudeness of the rendering don't matter as much, and since pornography hacks the will of our Masters, the Genes, it guaranties engagement [but please don't marry it].)

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