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The Onslaught of Photorealism

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the stabbing-me-in-the-eye dept.

Games 72

Ant writes "Shacknews mentioned an article entitled 'Videogame Aesthetics: We're All Going to Die!'. In it, the author considers the pros and cons of the neverending push toward absolute reality in video game graphics (or at least the weird plastic look that people get confused with reality), and comes to the conclusion that all in all it's probably worthwhile. In the process, the author takes a look at several games that employ unique visual styles that are extremely successful without attempting any sort of photorealism." From the article: "The photo-real push is obviously important to many people within and surrounding the game industry, as demonstrated not only by the persistent trend in commercial development, but also by work such as the System Shock 2 mod Rebirth, which replaced some of the models with curvier versions, designed for more powerful machines than the original game."

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Brain Stem Jack! (1)

purplewolfhound (915513) | more than 8 years ago | (#13752321)

Sign me up, that will be ral enough.

Re:Brain Stem Jack! (3, Funny)

Lally Singh (3427) | more than 8 years ago | (#13753464)

Actually, it'd be worse. Imagine jacking in, only to find yourself in Super Mario World 64...

"Brain Stem Jack" (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 8 years ago | (#13754256)

That'd be an awesome name for a wrestler, or perhaps a pirate. "Brave men tremble before Brain Stem Jack!!!"

What a Joke Slashdot Has Become (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13752340)

Not only has half the post been plagarized, the submitter can't even spell "article." (He splels [sic] it "articel.")

For the original, unplagarized news post, check out Joystiq [joystiq.com] .

Photorealism Smotorealism (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13752461)

Personally, I'm not that interested in photorealism in games; for me it seems to detract from the entirely fake world that game developers have created. I also think that what is starting to seperate the good game developers from the worse ones is their unique artistic style, and I have noticed that the more realistic games look the more generic they look. I think that you can add a lot of stlye to a game by adopting a nontraditional art style. As an example of what I mean, consider the works of Blizzard and Free Radical; neither company really pushes the latest and greatest in photorealistic technologies, but through the use of unique art direction have produced very interesting and beautiful games.

Re:Photorealism Smotorealism (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13752744)

Maybe if all applicable and feasbile games soon become photo realistic and it becomes just damn impossible to produce a better graphically immersing environment recognizable by any human sensory system, and we actually manage to resist the urge to whip out those brain stem interfaces, developers might just, maybe, possibly, one day, start putting as much investment into game play, style, challenge and originality as they have been trying to get as many polygons as possible on screen into their products...

LOL Nah.

Re:Photorealism Smotorealism (3, Insightful)

thegrassyknowl (762218) | more than 8 years ago | (#13753204)

and I have noticed that the more realistic games look the more generic they look

I have noticed that the more realistic games look, the more the same as other crap games they tend to become. Game programmers must think we're really really stupid. They're repackaging the same old shit week after week and adding "better" graphics (where better is subjective).

Their push for "better" graphics means that those of us who cannot afford to or don't want to upgrade our PCs to the latest and greatest (WTF? I just want to look at pr0n, download my email and compile a few small applications; my current PC is already overkill for that) can't play the games in all their glory anyways.

I think new laws should be passed to force game makers to either:

* Innovate and make something new
or
* Fuck off and die

Rather than wasting our time with remakes and rehashes of old, tired themes with nothing better than "photorealism" to add.

Re:Photorealism Smotorealism (0, Redundant)

Tim Browse (9263) | more than 8 years ago | (#13753235)

Or we could just keep the existing laws where you don't have to buy a game if you don't want it.

I don't think it's the programmers (4, Informative)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 8 years ago | (#13754679)

"I have noticed that the more realistic games look, the more the same as other crap games they tend to become. Game programmers must think we're really really stupid. They're repackaging the same old shit week after week and adding "better" graphics (where better is subjective)."

I think you're severely mistaken if you think anyone asked a programmer at all at most companies. (Well, other than at ID, but then their games are just tech demos anyway to sell their graphics engines.)

The days when one or two programmers could make a game just as good as anyone else's in their spare time, and proclaim it a big success if they sold 1000 copies and made $20,000 out of it are long gone. Nowadays, partially _because_ of the photorealism, game budgets are in the millions range, so you need a publisher.

And the publisher isn't evil or anything either, but they're risking millions on each game. And it's pretty much like a lottery there: most games actually don't make a profit. In fact, most games actually make a loss, and the publisher covers their losses from the profits from those that did sell well. (E.g., EA pretty much uses their sports games cash-cow to subsidize most of the other stuff they make.) And then some don't just make a loss, but are complete duds and sell 800 copies total, and noone is sure exactly why. And then some don't even get finished. (E.g., Jowood paid 5.5 million Euro to develop a game, and after many delays had to just scrap the project because the result was crap.)

Publishers go bankrupt, or get bought for pennies just for the brand name, all the time.

So the short story is that the publisher tries to minimize their risks. That tends to mean making more of whatever sold well last year.

Re:I don't think it's the programmers (1)

thegrassyknowl (762218) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755734)

So the short story is that the publisher tries to minimize their risks. That tends to mean making more of whatever sold well last year.

This just further proves my point - they release the same old crap over and over again.

As I said, do they really think I am that stupid? You occasionally see some real gems of games but most is just shit. The days when innovation and good ideas ruled the (most) industries are long gone. The dot bomb era is the reason for it becasue every moron with a computer wanted on it with a me-too mentality.

I can't write software without getting sued for patent violation. I can't play games because they're the same old boring shit over and over again. I can't look at pr0n because I've seen it all.

I think I might go outside!

Re:I don't think it's the programmers (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 8 years ago | (#13756506)

"This just further proves my point - they release the same old crap over and over again."

Well, I never said you didn't have a point there. Just that it's not the programmers who are to blame for it.

"As I said, do they really think I am that stupid?"

There's a lot of thinking just that in this industry, yes. Or at least wishing that if they tried really really hard to believe something, it would become true. There's a whole bunch of myths getting repeated over and over, in the hope that they'll become reality. Most of them, yes, revolving around the hope that the consumer is totally stupid.

Re:I don't think it's the programmers (0, Flamebait)

thegrassyknowl (762218) | more than 8 years ago | (#13760405)

Well, I never said you didn't have a point there. Just that it's not the programmers who are to blame for it.

I'll take your point there; I won't (and I don't believe I originally did) blame the programmers directly.

The management are to blame for thinking in pure dollar terms. This is yet another thing that rings true of the fundamentalist capatilism that America is trying to spread to the world (fuck this democracy shit, they just don't want communism becase then the people at the top of the US wouldn't be rich or "superior" anymore).

Game companies (like the music and movie industries) are spending more and more time inventing creative ways to deter, but never stop, people from copying their software. If they invested all of that effort into innovation, simplified the games back to basics to cut on development costs and made their games cheaper people might start buying them again. I don't pay for games anymore because they're all the same as games I've already paid for with the exception of a different map or a different actor doing the voiceover or some crap like that.

It's just like the RIAA and MPAA; they make crap, overpriced shit based around the "how to make infinite profits off of morons" formula and then wonder why people don't pay for the junk they're selling. Of course, then they claim that one song is worth $15,000 when they take you to court for not paying.

Enough is enough people. Stop buying games. Boycott the industry (and while we're at it, stop paying for music and movies) to stop these assholes treating us like we're stupid and effectively stealing from us!!!!!!

Re:I don't think it's the programmers (1)

ChocoBean (890202) | more than 8 years ago | (#13777117)

I share your sentiments.

After years upon years of not buying a PS2 I finally gave in and bought one. Why? Because I wanted to play Katamari Damacy (and its happy colourful sequel). Just for that one game, yes. Because everything else is crap that's repeated over and over again. I don't care for photorealism at all, and frankly most 3D environment games make me dizzy--I just want something fun.

Unfortunately my idea of "fun" isn't pretend-sports or FPS or racing car games or Shoot-random-things or any of those tired genre, so I don't, in fact, cannot buy games.

Ironically the few games I would really, really like to play on the PS2 are all either import from japan only, or else so "obscure" noone carries or has even heard of it. (i had one clerk tell me game X was only on Game Cube and gave me the dirtiest look thinking i'm retarded. No, it's there for the PS2, just that noone is selling them...)

My solution? I'm modding my PS2.

There's still a few small groups left... (1)

Ian_Bailey (469273) | more than 8 years ago | (#13758951)

The days when one or two programmers could make a game just as good as anyone else's in their spare time, and proclaim it a big success if they sold 1000 copies and made $20,000 out of it are long gone. Nowadays, partially _because_ of the photorealism, game budgets are in the millions range, so you need a publisher.

The little guys aren't dead yet! Every once in a while there's a game developed by a small company that either sells like crazy, or gets a lot of industry buzz. In fact, because these companies don't have the money to focus on photo-realistic graphics, they put more focus on gameplay.

Two examples that come to mind include Snood [snood.com] , and Alien Hominid [alienhominid.com] .

Re:There's still a few small groups left... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13763420)

Snood is just a Puzzle Bobble clone, no original idea there, just ugly graphics...

Re:Photorealism Smotorealism (4, Insightful)

bigman2003 (671309) | more than 8 years ago | (#13753321)

I think that photorealism and reality are different. Yes of course 'photorealism' has 'realism' in it, but that doesn't mean it has to portray real things, just LOOK real.

What about a completely realistic looking planet, that isn't our own. It has totally different animals, plants, geology...but it all looks like it could be real.

The closer to 'real' looking that racing games get, the more real I want them to look.

And don't forget...there is one thing that people never tire of looking at: people.

Re:Photorealism Smotorealism (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 8 years ago | (#13758463)

Man, where do you live. The people around here hurt my eyes. I get very tired of looking at them.

Re:Photorealism Smotorealism (1)

Schemat1c (464768) | more than 8 years ago | (#13779378)

Personally, I'm not that interested in photorealism in games; for me it seems to detract from the entirely fake world that game developers have created. I also think that what is starting to seperate the good game developers from the worse ones is their unique artistic style, and I have noticed that the more realistic games look the more generic they look.

I think overall it's just a phase in the evolution of computer graphics. Once photo realism is achieved easily then there is really nothing else to do but explore different styles. This was the trend in art before photography was invented. Artists tried to represent the world and people as real as possible in their paintings. Once you could just take a picture of something that's when artist really began exploring different styles. Should be interesting to see if this is the same trend in computer graphics.

Well then... (2, Funny)

Compuser (14899) | more than 8 years ago | (#13752608)

I guess we know what rtfa stands for: read the fine articel :)

Non-realistic vs Ugly. (5, Insightful)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 8 years ago | (#13752623)

Thing is, quite often the choice is not between "realistic" and "unrealistic" but "nice" and "ugly". Pixellated textures break the immersion. Squarish hair make girls unattractive. Plain Phong shading makes fake plastic effect instead of nice metal. The problem is that what could be solved with better concept art and design, is often solved by push towards more polygons per model or normal maps on the walls. Authors look at the screen and say "Ick, that's ugly!" and go about fixing that - not by scrapping the ugly design but by adding details, trying to make it less ugly.
Good games are art. Bad games are showbusiness.

Re:Non-realistic vs Ugly. (3, Insightful)

patternjuggler (738978) | more than 8 years ago | (#13753225)

The problem is that what could be solved with better concept art and design, is often solved by push towards more polygons per model or normal maps on the walls.

I'm always a little suspect of solutions that suggest trading the quantifiable and readily obtainable to the more abstract. It's usually a false dichotomy anyway: good art design is going to benefit you at any level of detail.

More polygons and normal maps make the characters and surfaces look more realistic under a wider range of lighting and viewing conditions- where previously that information was encoded more statically, it looked okay at first but then the illusion fails as soon as the light changes or you walk around an object or get close-up and it gets a lot less convincing. The inadequacies of phong shading are solved by reprogramming the GPU, not better concept art and design.

There's only one problem with that (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755256)

The problem is that the more details you put into something, the more people notice when those details are wrong, and what other details are missing. E.g., one of the common complaints about EQ2 is that the graphics are detailed but "sterile". And having played both EQ2 and WoW, I can tell you that EQ2 has much higher polygon counts than WoW, it has high resolution textures, it uses shaders for everything including details on your armour, and it attempts to model the physics even for your character's hair or the grass you run through. And yet it looks disturbingly unnatural. Something feels eerily wrong about that world, and I've found it a lot easier to suspend disbelief in WoW's cartoonish graphics than in that. I was talking some time ago with someone who's tried some VR headset and some car sim, I don't remember the details, and apparently he's just got some bad case of nausea out of it. Because if you fool the eyes well enough, the brains start expecting other stimuli too. Like if you turn hard to the left, it expects to also feel a centrifugal force to the right. When that doesn't come, it's weird. It can actually cause nausea. I suspect the same applies to Sony's virtual world. When you're led to expect a certain level of detail, you start noticing (even subconsciously) all the places where it's missing. Anyway, between Sony's "quantifiable and readily obtainable" polygon count approach and Blizzard's using better artwork instead, Blizzard's approach won. So maybe that trade isn't that bad after all.

Re:There's only one problem with that (1)

patternjuggler (738978) | more than 8 years ago | (#13756436)

When you're led to expect a certain level of detail, you start noticing (even subconsciously) all the places where it's missing.

I think you're talking about the uncanny valley [arclight.net] . It's a problem, but it's not insurmountable- there's no reason why we can't push through to positive reaction side. You're sort of right, EQ2 could avoid the problem by going for a more stylized approach, but that doesn't necessarily mean it needs less detail, less shaders, etc- you can have high detail and not go for absolute realism.

Re:There's only one problem with that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13757283)

Reminds me a bit of something Scott McCloud put in Understanding Comics.

Some artists go for stylized characters in a realistic world. Because even then you could still identify with the characters as opposed to if the artist drew the characters as realistically as the world was.

SoE could've done something like that with EQII.

Anyhow the art in EQII is just boring in general.

Even then (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 8 years ago | (#13757371)

Hmm... Thanks for that link, that was most definitely worth a read. I didn't know about that theory, but yes, at least the dip downwards matches just what I was talking about.

Still, even then, now we're only starting on the slope downwards into that valley. We're barely at the peak where it starts sorta provoking some empathy (enough to deliver a story anyway) but not enough to be taken for real. And we have a helluva chasm in front of us, seein' as even the Final Fantasy movie, with its _insane_ polygon counts (by computer game standards) and physics/mimmics simulation still was in that valley of weirdness.

I.e., even without Moore's law slowing down (and it does), we're talking about another century or more worth of valley in front of us.

_If_ that theory is correct, then rying to push straight through it the hard way is IMHO suicide for the industry. There's IMHO no way to really survive that kind of an extended dip where your graphics actually turn off the customers. (Again, in EQ2's case, a lot of people actually were turned off or even driven away by those graphics.)

_If_ that's the case, we may well actually _need_ to go stillized or cartoonish to survive it. (After all, the same people who laughed at the Final Fantasy movie, had no problems swallowing Toy Story or the Lion King, which were equally computer-generated.)

Re:Even then (1)

patternjuggler (738978) | more than 8 years ago | (#13761367)

I.e., even without Moore's law slowing down (and it does), we're talking about another century or more worth of valley in front of us.

_If_ that theory is correct, then rying to push straight through it the hard way is IMHO suicide for the industry.


I've never seen the uncanny valley discussed in such apocalyptic terms, but I think the market will take care of it as your comment about EQ2 hints at: customers will avoid the uncanny and go for the stylized- but they will still be attracted by more sophisticated graphical techniques either way, even if those techniques are used in non-photo-realistic ways.

And we have a helluva chasm in front of us, seein' as even the Final Fantasy movie, with its _insane_ polygon counts (by computer game standards) and physics/mimmics simulation still was in that valley of weirdness.

I thought the physics of The Spirits Within were a big reason why it was so off-putting- characters rarely ever interact with each other or the scenery in ways that require much physical simulation. Have you ever thought about why they did it all SF instead of edged weapons combat? I thinks it's because edged weapons combat requires a helluva lot more animation skills/physics modeling to look convincing than characters shooting or being hit by energy bolts (and energy bolts are way easier to simulate than bullets, explosions that destroy an object completely are easier than explosions that sort of mangle part of something and causing intricate failures etc.).

Also, the facial animations of the characters were very rigid, because facial animations are hard (but very important for the sake of empathy).

I suspect the uncanny valley flattens out if you are exposed to a certain graphical technique enough- I'm sure after many of hours of play that the characters look wierd and plastic/wooden/whatever doesn't bother you anymore and you accept them as nominally human.

Re:Even then (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 8 years ago | (#13762630)

"I've never seen the uncanny valley discussed in such apocalyptic terms"

Well, the part that makes me worry in that graph is the dip below zero. I don't know if that theory is true or not, but _if_ it is, there ought to be a point ahead where more "realism" would actually be repulsive, as in worse than not playing a game at all. That's how I read that graph and that less than zero situation. (E.g., see the examples there: you could play with a toy robot or doll, but a zombie or a corpse is something you'd want to be as far away from as you can.)

That's basically why the apocaliptic terms.

Additionally, it is interesting grounds for speculation what happens on the other side of the valley anyway. According to that theory, on our not-yet-real side you still don't have too much empathy for the characters, but on the other side you do. Thing is, you can do a lot of stuff to the NPCs precisely because of that: you can sorta relate to them for storytelling reasons, but are still detached enough because you still know it's an NPC. If needed, you can do stuff that would require you to be literally a psychopath IRL. (Which is one thing that scares the non-gamers and causes the anti-gaming hysteria: for someone who hasn't been trained to instinctively know "it's just NPCs, they don't matter", in half the games you _are_ acting like a psychopath. It scares people.)

_If_ there is a point at which you can actually mistake them for a human, could you still do those things and look yourself in the mirror in the morning? Some grown men have been known to cry at Aeris's death in FF7. What would happen if that scene happened in a Star Trek holodeck setting that's indistinguishable from reality? Could you bear being mind-controlled, gutting her like sardine and watching her bleed on the floor in that realistic a setting? I suspect a lot of people would get permanent psychological damage there.

Basically, could it be that we're better off staying on the current side of the valley? That theory does say that the best stories intentionally stay around the peak on the left side.

"but I think the market will take care of it"

It _probably_ will, but then there has been one gaming market crash already. Ok, for very different reasons, but it's already happened. So we already know it's possible (even if admittedly improbable to happen again) to drive the market as a whole off gaming.

"I thought the physics of The Spirits Within were a big reason why it was so off-putting- characters rarely ever interact with each other or the scenery in ways that require much physical simulation. [...] Also, the facial animations of the characters were very rigid, because facial animations are hard (but very important for the sake of empathy)."

I.e., you describe the exact same phenomenon I was talking about, and which then turned out that the uncanny valley theory already was about: you notice some details that aren't there. That's just the thing. You could live with wooden facial expressions in a 1000 polygons per character game or cut scene, or with games where the whole interaction is magic, or you could live with that in a comic or cartoon, but start noticing it when it gets realistic enough to be mistakable for humans.

It's not just because it's a movie, IMHO. I've noticed the same thing in EQ2 vs WoW, and they're both games in the same genre. It's just business as usual when my cartoonish characterin WoW just rubs his hands to produce a piece of armour, but I found myself noticing stuff like "wtf, he's hammering that blade in the air instead of on the anvil" in EQ2. Same about combat, since you mentioned edge combat in relation to the FF movie: in EQ2 I do notice stuff like that my realistic looking character swings the weapon at the wrong tempo or in somewhat the wrong direction.

Re:Even then (1)

patternjuggler (738978) | more than 8 years ago | (#13765199)

_If_ there is a point at which you can actually mistake them for a human, could you still do those things and look yourself in the mirror in the morning? Some grown men have been known to cry at Aeris's death in FF7. What would happen if that scene happened in a Star Trek holodeck setting that's indistinguishable from reality? Could you bear being mind-controlled, gutting her like sardine and watching her bleed on the floor in that realistic a setting? I suspect a lot of people would get permanent psychological damage there.

Basically, could it be that we're better off staying on the current side of the valley? That theory does say that the best stories intentionally stay around the peak on the left side.


I still think the valley concept is more fluid than the graph suggests. A person's ability to distinguish fantasy from reality adapts to their culture's ability to produce fantasies that mimic reality, and people who immerse themselves in certain art forms are going to have more refined senses of what looks real and what doesn't compared to outsiders.

Extreme violence is sort of interesting to think about in terms of the uncanny valley- one of the reasons that extreme violence is so repulsive when shown realistically is because in real life it puts people into the uncanny valley- the valley is about comparison to a living normally-functioning person, people suffering major trauma are not going to look natural either due to the direct consequences (like being hit or hitting something at high velocity, or being so damaged they can't move properly) and as a reaction (extreme pain causing unnatural bodily motions).

(Violence aside, the initial revulsion people have to various afflictions that cause motor dysfunction or distort facial features is another example of the uncanny valley in real life, but people can overcome those feelings)

The media usually self-censors (the camera always cuts away even if there is a gross sound effect) or gets very stylized when it comes to depicting that sort of thing fictionally (e.g. the limb severing in Kill Bill being very bloody but in a cartoony sort of way). High-profile games are mainstream enough they will conform to societal norms just like big budget movies, some like GTA will push the envelope but still probably go the stylized route (which still is disturbing to some people).

Re:Non-realistic vs Ugly. (1)

alan_dershowitz (586542) | more than 8 years ago | (#13760948)

I'm always a little suspect of solutions that suggest trading the quantifiable and readily obtainable to the more abstract.

I don't see why, that's art. Quantifiable is good, but it's ALWAYS secondary to "Abstract" concepts when it comes to art. If you gave a monkey a dual CPU G5 with Photoshop and gave a charcoal briquette to Picasso, I'm putting my money on Picasso, who gives a crap about the medium. Now what you'd be saying here is, give the G5 to Picasso. What the OP is saying is, you don't have Picasso, you have a monkey. We all want the Picasso plus the G5, but we got the monkey.

Re:Non-realistic vs Ugly. (1)

patternjuggler (738978) | more than 8 years ago | (#13762564)

If you gave a monkey a dual CPU G5 with Photoshop and gave a charcoal briquette to Picasso, I'm putting my money on Picasso, who gives a crap about the medium. Now what you'd be saying here is, give the G5 to Picasso. What the OP is saying is, you don't have Picasso, you have a monkey. We all want the Picasso plus the G5, but we got the monkey.

Either way you're still better off with the G5- part of my point is that you don't necessarily know what your dealing with on the monkey-picasso spectrum, but the having the better tools very rarely hurts you (except it costs more...).

Human Realism (3, Interesting)

patternjuggler (738978) | more than 8 years ago | (#13753151)

I believe that the more human-seeming the characters in games become, the more accessible and emotionally involving the games may become. Graphics are a significant component of this, though increasingly important is facial and bodily expression- and the interactivity is key, cut-scenes don't count and also canned animations etc. within the game get old once they are seen too many times (remember lame canned death animations before rag-doll physics?). The more nuanced and detailed and subtle a character can be, the more compelling they can be- one side effect is that games may no longer have to hit you over the head with over-the-top violence and skimpy outfits.

It's going to take increasing amounts of money and artists to handle all that extra detail though, I don't see any way around that, except through simplified scanning-in of real world objects and people.

Re:Human Realism (1)

bitkari (195639) | more than 8 years ago | (#13756033)

One way of attaining very detailed content, while keeping costs down is to use object libraries.

By re-using existing content, game developers can save a huge amount of time and money, especially when it comes to producing game ports, sequels where so much content can be re-used.

Some frown upon this recycling of objects, stating that games will look samey - but if you treat the "stock" objects as a virtual props department, you can achieve a great deal of aesthetic variety through lighting, environment design, animation, oh, and of course the game itself - which should be the real focus of any title.

Re:Human Realism (1)

patternjuggler (738978) | more than 8 years ago | (#13756559)

Some frown upon this recycling of objects, stating that games will look samey - but if you treat the "stock" objects as a virtual props department, you can achieve a great deal of aesthetic variety through lighting, environment design, animation, oh, and of course the game itself - which should be the real focus of any title.

I agree, but we're only now reaching the stage where you can differentiate a game through lighting and the amount of props in a scene. When a room could only have a handful of objects, and one or two lights, then games that reuse objects are going to look 'samey'- but if you can put hundreds of objects in a scene then it can be more unique, and subtle lighting effects will completely change the character of an area.

Animation needs libraries too, but the developers can focus on differentiating certain animations that are key moves in the game.

Re:Human Realism (1)

alvinrod (889928) | more than 8 years ago | (#13756519)

I'll agree with your main point, but I think you're looking at it in the wrong light. While it is true that the more we connect with the characters in the game, the more we become emotionally wrapped up with that game, I don't think it has a lot to do with graphics. Take the Final Fantasy series for instance. I absolutely enjoyed the sixth game in the series and cared about what happened to the characters and how their lives turned out even though they were nothing more than little sprites. Now consider FF X, where the characters look very rearlistic. I really didn't care about any of them and hoped that serious tragedy (such as permanent death) would befall at least two of them.

Good graphics don't really ensure that I'll like a character more because it looks more human. I need good characters that have personalities that don't suck, say interesting and meaningful things, have good voice acting, and don't come across as agnst filled teenagers.

Of course, not all games depend on or necessarily care if you form an emotional attachment to your character. Take racing games for example. Better graphics would most certainly lead to a better experience, provided that the gameplay was already solid. It really depends on the particular genre that's being dealt with.

Rag-doll physics and other modern techniques similar to it may not be the answer either. I really don't care how realistically a corpse falls to the ground after I shoot someone if the gameplay sucks, the main characters spouts off the same crap one-liners, and the story isn't very compelling.

A lot of the focus has shifted from good gameplay, characters, and story over to graphics, physics gimics, and other flashy things. They might make the game more realistic and emersive in some sense, but who really wants to be emersed in a piece of crap world no matter how realistic it looks? I'm sure eventually, some developer will take all of the fancy graphics, rag-doll physics, and other modern technologies and make a really good game out of them. Until then we just have to deal with whatever they throw at us.

Re:Human Realism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13757573)

While it is true that the more we connect with the characters in the game, the more we become emotionally wrapped up with that game, I don't think it has a lot to do with graphics. Take the Final Fantasy series for instance. I absolutely enjoyed the sixth game in the series and cared about what happened to the characters and how their lives turned out even though they were nothing more than little sprites. Now consider FF X, where the characters look very rearlistic. I really didn't care about any of them and hoped that serious tragedy (such as permanent death) would befall at least two of them.

There are too many variables there to determine what helps and what doesn't, though. For example, by the time FF X came out, you were nearly ten years older, and could easily have played three more rehashes of the same formula in the meantime even if you restricted yourself to Final Fantasy games only. Someone coming to FF X as their first FF game might easily fee the same way you felt about FF VI...

Re:Human Realism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13758302)

/sigh

most people are just waiting and waiting for virtual sex (think holodeck)

Re:Human Realism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13759100)

Isn't the problem that as the games become more photo-realistic, your suspension of disbelief is jarred every time the same character model reappears? I mean, GTA is all well and good, but didn't everyone look kind of similar?

Didn't I just run you over?

No, that was my twin brother.

Re:Human Realism (1)

patternjuggler (738978) | more than 8 years ago | (#13761276)

Isn't the problem that as the games become more photo-realistic, your suspension of disbelief is jarred every time the same character model reappears?

I've never really had a 'suspension of disbelief' while playing a game, I wonder if you mean more along the lines of a game breaking 'the fourth wall' or similar kinds of inconsistencies- if a game does that continually through the game then you get used to it, it's the games that do it a handful of times or once that are most jarring (e.g. using the second controller to evade Psycho Mantis in MGS).

There has to be a resource balance there in terms of both artist time and real-time processing resources. You should make as much of a variety of objects and characters as possible if your game is going to have a lot of them, even if that means decreasing the quality per individual object- it's harder to render more varied objects, and it takes more time for artists to develop that content, so you've got to trade off with quality.

Another route that needs to be explored more is more parameterized characters like in the Sims 2, where facial features and skin color can be varied incredibly (but annoyingly, height and weight and etc. cannot be varied at all), and two characters should never look identical, although everyone may sort of look like they came from the same character generator.

I mean, GTA is all well and good, but didn't everyone look kind of similar?

Generally each of the installments has increased the number of character models, so that at least you don't see as many identical people walking next to each other on the same sidewalk anymore. But they were only able to do that because they have lots of resources at their disposal for making hugely successful games...

Re:Human Realism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13765986)

I dunno. In a movie a well produced animation can evoke almost as much sympathy in me as a good actor. Or at least it could in the days before my soul withered to a dry husk. Actually, manipulative music probably has a greater effect on the depth of my emotions than appearances of any sort.

This post brought to you my the word image 'incubate'.

Re:Human Realism (1)

some guy on slashdot (914343) | more than 8 years ago | (#13771817)

Remember Aeris? The video game character people actually cried over? How many polygons were in that model? How involved were her facial expressions and her body movements?

Digital or no, there's only one thing that will always make a good character: compelling writing. If you've seen an amateur production of a famous play, you know what I'm talking about. Words make the characters what they are, and as long as those words are conveyed faithfully, the character comes through. True, a really brilliant actor can play a horribly written part and make it sympathetic; but which would you rather do: try to distill the essence of truly great acting into billions of tiny digital subtleties, or write a good script?

Assuming you even have the skill to create and manipulate the kind of models you're talking about, trust me, writing the script is still easier.

Re:Human Realism (1)

patternjuggler (738978) | more than 8 years ago | (#13779037)

Remember Aeris? The video game character people actually cried over? How many polygons were in that model? How involved were her facial expressions and her body movements?

For the pre-rendered cut-scenes (which includes the scene that people cried over), her polygon count was probably pretty respectable.

Digital or no, there's only one thing that will always make a good character: compelling writing.

I agree, but 'good writing' isn't very interesting to me as a technology (unless we're talking about computer generated good writing, but that's probably further off than reaching some minimal definition of photorealism).

Also, when I say that human realism makes a game more accessible, I mean immediately accessible- seeing a few seconds or a single still frame from the game should be extremely compelling- seeing a person that has an incredibly unique and beautiful or interestingly weathered face, a look in their eyes, an expression on their face that captures you- and then when they move, the expression changes- a facial tic when the character is holding back their anger, someone breaks into a smile and you can't help but smile back. Film can capture that sort of thing, I'd like to see it done in games.

If you sit down to read a thousand page novel, or play a 40-hour rpg, the reader or player has a chance to create longer term attachments to the characters, which is a different thing than the the short term I'm talking about.

Photorealism is overrated. (4, Interesting)

FFFish (7567) | more than 8 years ago | (#13753361)

Aural realism is more important. That's the one thing that has made the great games great: the use of audio cues and audio environment to enhance the gaming experience. From Doom through System Shock through Thief, it's always come down to audio, not photorealism.

Re:Photorealism is overrated. (1)

porcupine8 (816071) | more than 8 years ago | (#13753898)

This is a great point. I don't play photorealistic games, for the most part - see my sig, I'm a Mario and Zelda girl. But even when you're going for brightly-colored cartoons in the graphics, realistic sounds can make the experience much more immersive.

Re:Photorealism is overrated. (1)

cornface (900179) | more than 8 years ago | (#13757556)

Aural realism is more important.

Yes, anal realism is necessary for a compelling experience.

Re:Photorealism is overrated. (1)

steveo777 (183629) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759134)

Hear, Hear!!!

Literally... I've been addicted to Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow since I picked it up last week. The sound is simply amazing. The music isn't perfect, but that's to be expected and that's no problem (I turn it down a bit to hear the effects of what's going on anyway). The effects are wonderfull. You'll need to put on a pair of headphones to hear it correctly, but you can hear the bones rattling when you destroy a skeleton, or the blood splatter when you kill a zombie. Fires off to the left and the thud of Gorgan feet to your left. Simply wonderful how immersive it is.

Re:Photorealism is overrated. (1)

Sigma 7 (266129) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759548)

Aural realism is more important. That's the one thing that has made the great games great: the use of audio cues and audio environment to enhance the gaming experience.


This could be difficult...

While there are standards such as EAX, it doesn't feel as if it's implementation is standard. In some sound cards, it is not supported on half of the games - while other sound cards supports it in that half, but the other half stops working. In addition, there is distortion with some incorrect implementations (which I believe is caused by improper documentation or tutorials): For example, firing weapons in software causes sounds from both speakers - with hardware (+ EAX or some other option), firing while moving causes it to be only heard from one speaker (based on the direction of movement).

Until things get better (which I hope they do - there's already OpenAL to ensure that sound can be worked cleanly on the software side), I don't see how improving sound will satisify everyone unless you stick with pure software sound processing (which can be expensive for the highly advanced sound effects.)

There's also overreliance on sound [deafgamers.com] that tends to kill games. Putting in sound is great, but if there is no fallback, all your effort is lost when players cannot hear the sound (e.g. Deafness, lack of speakers, etc.)

Re:Photorealism is overrated. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13771862)

I think he's talking more about sound effect design in the game. For example, a brisk "ping!" when you collect a coin, a sound of pain when your character takes damage, a "cha-ching!" sound when you buy something, a roar as a felled beast dies. It's less about using sound in a dynamic 3-d environment in complex ways, and more about using the right sounds at the right times. And I don't think the grandparent meant for games to rely on sound. He was just saying that, given any game and the choice to make the graphics or sound better, he would choose sound. I tend to agree.

I'd also like to point out that one BIG element of gameplay almost always gets overlooked. I'm talking motion. The way a character or object moves is vastly more important, aesthetically, than the form of the object itself. We have pretty good tools to manage this kind of design right now, but not nearly enough game designers are good at designing motion. Putting more emphasis on the models themselves will only take away from the time designers will spend making objects and characters move fluidly. (Camera movement also has a role in this, and god save my nipples if half the design teams out there know when, where, or how to move a camera.)

Re:Photorealism is overrated. (1)

Kelbear (870538) | more than 8 years ago | (#13768822)

It bothers me that Creative is going pretty much uncontested in the market for gaming audio cards. There isn't as much incentive for them to spend money on R&D to improve audio quality since they're the only ones focused on gaming audio in particular. They're the only ones to buy from. Also they have less incentive to give quality product support for previous generations of their cards, there's no competitor to compare stability with except the newest iteration of Creative cards.

I think we'll only see incremential steps of improvement in the sound environment of our games. After EAX came out(and Aureal died), everything following was just small improvements on the same thing. I've seen all the hype about the X-fi, it's still just a small improvement (though they did upgrade the outputs to the quality of some of the non-gaming computer audio cards).

An old argument, polished! (4, Insightful)

ForteMaster (844937) | more than 8 years ago | (#13754043)

I don't care about increased polygon counts, vector shading, whatever they're using in the Lost Coast thingy for Half-Life 2. Okay, I DO, but mostly from a technical standpoint and an "oh wow" factor.

I've said it time and time again. I'd rather play a game with beautiful hand-drawn sprites rather than crappy (but beautifully rendered) 3D characters. That said, I'm also a realist-if you can make something that looks bad in 2D better in 3D, then do so. There's also the limitation of genre. Most adventure genres don't need 3D rendering (and a few fringe subgenres absoulutely DEMAND hand-drawn art). However, racers and FPSes just don't look as good with Mode 7. Of course, there's always games that can only work in 3D but look crappy because of tech (read: Starfox). I could go on all day about it, but I won't.

That said, I believe that environments, done well enough, look far better in fully interactive 3D. Or maybe that's just me :P

For those who want good art direction AND visuals, pick up a GBA and get some of the higher-rated titles (and Sigma Star Saga, because it's underrated), and virtually every half-decent RPG. Almost all of the best GBA games have stunning art direction, and pixel-pushed goodness.

Re:An old argument, polished! (1)

grumbel (592662) | more than 8 years ago | (#13756280)

### Of course, there's always games that can only work in 3D but look crappy because of tech (read: Starfox).

Interesting that you mention it, I consider the original StarFox(SNES) still to be the best looking game of the series, the enemy design is cool especially because the 3d power was extremly limited in that day. They created some great looking extremly-low polygon models there. The other games in the series on the other side with their more realistic models just can't keep up with the originality of the first one. That said I wouldn't mind a Starfox that would run at constant 60fps and at a better resolution, but if I could chose between the untextured 3d models of the SNES and those of the later games, I'd always pick the SNES ones, they simply looked a hell of a lot more interesting.

The throuble is that still to many deveolpers go for a realistic look when it comes to textures and lighting, while a more minimalistic look can often look a lot more interesting.

It's only one of many factors (4, Insightful)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 8 years ago | (#13754294)

Photorealism is good for certain types of games, but will never replace more stylized art. It will just add another choice to those telling the stories. Take the analogy of cartoons - there are stories you can tell with modern animation techniques that would have been far less effective when the animation medium was in its infancy. Try to picture a "Ghost in the Shell," "Lion King," or "Ice Age" produced at the technical level of "Steamboat Willie." Or compare games to films. (Stop groaning and let me finish, dammit.) Film as a popular medium has only been around for a little over a century. Video gmes as we know them have only had about a third of that time to evolve, but in both cases as the medium advances, so does the choices of ways in which it can be used to tell a story. There will always be a place for black-and-white films, video without CGI effects, 2D cartoons, and games in which the characters don't look like a photograph.

Re:It's only one of many factors (2, Informative)

6ame633k (921453) | more than 8 years ago | (#13754718)

I heard Pixar was going to do a 2D movie to show it's not about the technology - it's about the story. I think this mode of thinking applies to games as well - graphics should be tailored to the gameplay - form follows function.

The article, the point, and the problem (3, Insightful)

DingerX (847589) | more than 8 years ago | (#13754769)

The article features this in the concluding paragraph:
The saleability of such fruits in game form is a complex and erratic proposition, but it seems scarcely relevant

No offense, but it reads a bit like an undergraduate essay; perhaps an honors project, complete with a "hall of fame" for various aesthetic styles.

The point (as I understand it) is that visual representation and the drive towards "realism" detracts from the exploration of the wide range of visual styles available for game development. The author uses many examples, a few from film, but mostly from comics for his argument.

The problem with the article (besides its rather pretentious linguistic exuberance) lies in the incomplete realization of a very interesting thesis that lurks in the subtext, which betrays the failure to properly conceptualize the field of inquiry, viz. videogames.
Alright, time to cut the pretentious babble: at times during the author's exposition, the issue of limitations creep up. Mostly, these are (as is not surprising for most videogame freaks, given historical development) limitations in technology, and remarks made in passing do indicate that game development has to take this into account (with a salient example being Katamari Damacy). But there are other limitations, the biggest one being money, whether expressed in development time, anticipated sales, or the burgeoning arts budgets of big-ticket games. In other words, aesthetics does not merely consider formal aspects, but rather formal aspects as expressed in the proximate matter that we call "the medium". A painter can't paint on moonlight, but needs a canvas (of some sort). A filmmaker without film (chemical or digital) is not a filmmaker.
So at the heart of it is the computer, and its capabilities. But the problem here is not just material; it's formal. The Author assumes the essence of a computer game; that is he never defines his subject. As a result, he injects ideas and categorizations that are completely foreign to video games.
When I was younger, and even more pretentious, I once declared that if cooking were an art, I'd have slipped motor oil into the compote. I'm glad there's someone following in my footsteps and suggesting a matisse-like (as opposed to 1920x1280 matrix-like) pointillist video game. "Computer game" is not a monolithic concept: games belong to specific types, and those types have their proper artwork. Puzzles (like tetris) do not need photorealistic artwork; in fact, a pure puzzle works best with an abstract and unambiguous semantic scheme that communicate the salient information immediately to the player (imagine how much fun tetris would be if the blocks were photorealistic bricks of nearly identical size). A narrative can play with representation (like the author's beloved comic books) and explore some of the more fantastic representational schemes. A simulation, however, needs to give the user the cognitive experience of the reality being simulated. That doesn't rule out art altogether; rather it establishes rules within which the art operates.
Within these rules, "photorealism" is a dead end, or at least a misnomer. Few photographs convey the feeling of "being there". Extracting 2048x2048 textures from photographs, and slapping them on 100,000-poly models doesn't result in a realistic-looking model: any photographer will tell you the same object, photographed, will be entirely different from one part of the day to the next, and that the camera does not function identically to the eye. Making a "photograph" means putting something in focus, and directing the player's eye along.
But the idea of "imagistic realism" itself, complete with complex graphics and lighting effects, is quite valid for games with a heavy simulation element. The largely narrative-driven ("sandbox") series Grand Theft Auto, when it shifted to a "first person" (or nearly) perspective with GTA3. went from an exploitational sidewalk-driving game to a blockbuster monument of game development with "Vice City", where it blended a strong narrative, realistic simulation, and a coherent (not to mention very expensive) artistic interpretation comprised of reasonable-quality professional acting and a consistent visual, audible and musical world. People bought the thing and actually felt themselves the protagonist; they could be the bad-ass crime lord they always wanted to be, without that whole "Getting Shot" part. You could say the same thing, I suppose, about another huge-budget FPS, featuring all of the cliched locations of the genre -- 747, underwater research lab, u.s.w. -- Deus Ex.

Ultimately, most big-budget, blockbuster Hollywood films feature special effects that are getting us ever closer to Huxley's Feelies. The same is true for video games. The vicarious release of simulations has practically no parallel in comic books (the biggest sellers of which I'm guessing are not the ones the slashdot geeks deem "most artistic").

Feel is more important than realism. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13754936)

Photorealism can be horrible. Personally, I can't stand the textures in Half-Life 2. They try too hard to be something they're not, and it bothers me to no end. Photorealism should look natural, not like a bunch of medium-res pictures slapped together. Developers need to take care to create art that enhances the feel of the game. If photorealism can do that, then by all means, utilise it, but if they just use it to show people pretty pictures, then I have a whole world outside that I can go look at.

Uncanny Valley (4, Informative)

vistic (556838) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755316)

No one mentioned the Uncanny Valley [wikipedia.org] yet?

Re:Uncanny Valley (1)

bitkari (195639) | more than 8 years ago | (#13756042)

TFA mentioned the Uncanny Valley.

"If it looks real, it is not art." (5, Insightful)

porttikivi (93246) | more than 8 years ago | (#13756083)

There is a chinese wisdom about arts: "If it looks real, it is not art." I think the "mimesis paradox" is also known in western art philosophy: that striving for realism is kind of futile, because absolute realism would be in no way more beautiful or fun than the reality already is.

Of course, it might be better to differ from reality by the ways of the artists all-powerful mind, and not because of limitations of our tools. So photorealism here and some fantasy somewhere else makes sense. But if you insists on photorealism, realistic chracter AI, a working realistic environment and complete freedom of storyline, what is there left as the "art"?

The 13th Floor! (1)

rubberbando (784342) | more than 8 years ago | (#13756442)

Haven't you seen the 13th floor? [imdb.com]

If they get too close to reality, they'll crash this one! :P

Re:The 13th Floor! (1)

MrCopilot (871878) | more than 8 years ago | (#13766972)

Haven't you seen the 13th floor?

Yes I have, I'm not proud of it, but there you are.

Wind Waker (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13757468)

This is why I hated LoZ: Wind Waker.

I think the only acceptable art form is Soviet Realism.

I'm all for photorealism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13757815)

The sooner we get perfect photorealism, the sooner the industry will have to fall back to story and gameplay to complete.

Screw realism (1)

CrazyClimber (469251) | more than 8 years ago | (#13758643)

To hell with realism, I play Kingdom of Loathing [kingdomofloathing.com]

its not necessary (1)

ecumenical_40oz (914889) | more than 8 years ago | (#13760549)

Most of my favortite games are not the ones with the greatest graphics. Gaming is about having a good time, and there is no rule that you have to be immersed in a replication of the real world to do that. Pac-man and the original Mario Bros. weren't fun because they resembled reality, but because they took us away from real life for a while. But of course, there will always be games out there that realism because it is part of the experience: sports games, GTA types, and realistic FPS's. But let's not fall in the trap of believing that realism is automatically better, in many cases it's not.

meh, I wrote this article ten years ago (1)

cmotd (811874) | more than 8 years ago | (#13761042)

Games journalism is retarded, it has no sense of it's own history or continuity. People say the same things over and over again. I wrote an article like this a decade ago, only better :)

what photorealism? (1)

j1m+5n0w (749199) | more than 8 years ago | (#13761398)

The trouble with "photorealistic" games is that they really aren't actually photorealistic at all, because they don't accont for indirect illumination [wikipedia.org] . Games keep adding more and more triangles, yet that approach has reached a point of diminishing returns. Graphics cards have become faster and more programmable, but they're using the wrong algorithms. Should we be surprised when gamers complain that new games are starting to look more and more like old games?

Unfortunately, the alternatives have historically been computationally too difficult for real time use (though one could make the case that ray tracing is actually faster than rasterization once one passes a certain threshold of scene complexity), though that may change as hardware gets faster and algorithms get better.

Here [ucsd.edu] are some animations of the sorts of effects that should be present in games if they are to truly be called "photorealistic" (and no, I don't know how long it took to render those).

Of course, this is orthogonal to the argument of whether games should be photorealistic at all, but I suspect a non-photorealistic renderer based on ray tracing and photon mapping could still look much better in general than a non-photorealistic renderer based on triangle rasterization (assuming you have enough cpu power to do the former).

Re:what photorealism? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13766544)

3D raster hardware is fast because it's pipelined. For high-quality indirect illumination, you need to store the whole damn model in RAM and bounce rays all over on different geometry and textures - blowing out your cache and stalling the pipeline. Even though the ATI x8k can multithread, it is still only one shader at a time, with limited texture targets.

Re:what photorealism? (1)

j1m+5n0w (749199) | more than 8 years ago | (#13769207)

3D raster hardware is fast because it's pipelined. For high-quality indirect illumination, you need to store the whole damn model in RAM and bounce rays all over on different geometry and textures - blowing out your cache and stalling the pipeline.
I never said global illumination was easy... As for storing the whole model in RAM, ray tracers can represent the model using more general primitives than triangles (spheres, cones, quadrics, fractals, etc...), so the RAM requirement might not be such a big issue for some models. And you can always apply the same tricks that polygonal renderers use, like pretend parts of the model you can't see don't exist if they don't contribute much to the global illumination calculation.

Re:what photorealism? (1)

Minna Kirai (624281) | more than 8 years ago | (#13771350)

The trouble with "photorealistic" games is that they really aren't actually photorealistic at all,

You are attacking games for a claim that they've actually never made.

The topic of the article is not any existing game, but possibilities for the future, when brute-force raytracing becomes more and more plausible.

because they don't accont for indirect illumination.

There have already been games that accounted for indirect illum, usually by precalculating light levels. Of course, that means that they are then unable to accurately represent dynamic lighting and occlusion with the same fidelity- but for an average realistically lit scene, that's a better choice.

Here's an idea! (1)

msormune (808119) | more than 8 years ago | (#13762676)

How about publishing an article about realism in games or about scary games that DOES NOT reference System Shock 2? Yes, the game is way cool but it seems editors are just showing off their game knowledge here by name dropping.

Need to be able to control the photo aswell. (1)

boyce111 (893865) | more than 8 years ago | (#13763768)

Doesn't matter how good the graphics are.
If the controls are awful (most games I've played for some reason or other) then the game will just be back to annoying and frustrating.

I picked up an old copy of Riddick for the Xbox last weekend and found myself getting into it.
Well, that was until I had to use a ladder, or jump on a box, or try to get up on a step that is only knee high, but unable too.

The more photo-real the game is, the more fluid the controls need to be.

I'm off to make a cup of tea. -
Hold on - I can't grab the cup, closes cupboard, Reopens cupboard,
Takes 1 step back, "game reloads hall area." - oh no.
Turns around, re-enters kitchen area.
"Camera angle changes, flips how legs work."
Tries to walk forward; but steps back, "game reloads hall area." - Oh for fuck sake.
Pushes the off button on the universe.

I don't want this level of shitness in photo real games or in 5 poly per person games.

Re:Need to be able to control the photo aswell. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13780760)

The more photo-real the game is, the more fluid the controls need to be.
Amen to that, right on the money. Like many already wrote, some games benefit from "Photo realism" and the others don't. Perfect example of missuse of "Photo realism" I know IMO is Everquest 2. Part of the graphics in this game is really beautifull, but characters mostly feel like plastic Barbie/Ken toys. Thing that bothers me the most are really washed out colors, everything is ugly grey and brown. Perfect example of beautifully done "Cartoonish" style is World of Warcraft. Poly count is nothing to write home about, but overall feeling and world imersment is stunning (to me that is). To me, games should be more beautifull than the real world, so I prefer "Cartoonish" feel.

Photorealism steals focus (2, Interesting)

ockegheim (808089) | more than 8 years ago | (#13770549)

Photorealism is difficult and technically demanding, and doubtless brings out the nerd in many game producers. If they're not careful, other aspects of gameplay will be lost. Titanic was a visually spectacular movie, but could have been taken to a whole new level if James Cameron had thought of spending a couple of hundred thousand dollars on editing the script. I've been in a musical theatre production where the director spent 80% of the time working on the lighting and 0% of the time actually directing the chorus. Maybe something as technically demanding as a photorealistic game requires someone high up who doesn't know (or at least doesn't care) what a polygon is.

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