Wednesday, September 02, 2009

7 Deadly Sins of Gaming - Sin 2

Sin 2: Realism

I get it, okay? You're designing a console and you want it to look infinity bajillion times better than your last console.

I mean, you're creating the next generation of consoles, so you'd look pretty stupid if the games didn't look better.

This ain't lateral gen, people.

But can we give it a break with the trying to make everything look photorealistic?

Honestly, I don't really give a shit anymore. It made a huge freaking difference when we were playing Atari games, but I think we've come far enough.

Do I really need to see pores in people's skin? Really? Is that some pinnacle of graphics evolution or something?

I don't look that realistic.

That's why men stand so damned far away from the mirror. We just want to get a general sense of how we look.

We're not detail people.

But when it comes to video games, people just lose their freaking minds. They say games look like crap just because you can't make out every hair follicle.

Is that what games are all about?

Silly me. All these years, I thought games were about enjoying yourself.

I get that people like things that are nice and shiny. I get that most companies out there are putting millions upon millions of dollar into making water that looks like real freaking water.

My question: Why?

Yeah, it looks nice. That's great.

That's not why we play games.

Basically, they're just trying to justify asking you to spend another $500 on a new console when you haven't even played half the good games on the last console.

Do you know two of my favorite systems? The Wii and the PS2.

Yes, that's a 2.

I like the Wii because they don't really give a shit about graphics. They make games that are fun and interesting and don't require me to see every speck of dirt on the screen.

Can you imagine what Wii games would look like in High Def?

Good luck sleeping tonight.

I like the PS2 because that system had some GOOD games. Lots of them.

Now, why would I spend twice as much money or more just to get a new system with better graphics and HDMI whatzits?

Oh, Wii graphics aren't up to par and PS2 games have jaggies.

Boo freaking hoo.

If a game looks like fun, I will play it. I won't play a game just so I can call people into the room and say "Hey, look at that. Isn't that realistic?"

Seriously, if the graphics are the biggest thing your game has going, then you made yourself a pretty shitty game.

Yes, make nice looking games. By all means.

But let's keep some perspective here. A game doesn't have to be photorealistic to be good and a photorealistic game isn't necessarily good.

A good game is a game that is fun to play.

That's it.

Keep your blue rays and your HD-DVDVDs. Keep your loud music and complicated pants.

Just make good games.


At 11:28 PM, Blogger Xacred said...


At 12:54 AM, Blogger Ordinaryguy said...

Well said [GM]Dave. I always like playing games that look amazing, but they have to be fun. It's sad that developers put graphics first and leave the core gameplay on the chopping block.

At 1:01 AM, Blogger Kusaya said...

I've been rereading the blog, and I noticed a problem. The page layout for the February 2009 archive is messed up. From the beginning of the month to February 14th, the posts are centered without their usual format, and the sidebar information is at the bottom of the page.

I don't know if it's because of my browser or if it's something else, but you may want to check it out.

All the other archive pages look normal.

On a side note, rereading [GM]Dave's blog at 3 AM is not beneficial if one wants to sleep.

At 3:13 AM, Blogger Sven said...

Those are also my two favorite consoles, for pretty much the exact same reason.

Several hundred dollar consoles suck. I don't care how good the graphics are.

At 5:25 AM, Blogger Duncan7 said...

Games are a great example of Sturgeon's Law:

90% of everything is crap.

My corollary is:

The other 10% is really awesome!

At 5:41 AM, Blogger Jakk Frost said...

And let's not forget that sometimes games shouldn't look too realistic. Perhaps my only real complaint with FFXI is that it could use a bit more color and fantasy in it. Not to WoW's extent, that's a little too cartoony, but back in the day, grinding in Quicksand Caves, everything was so drab I'd wind up getting sleepy.

I know, I know, it's a desert and earth-based area, but something could have been done to dress it up a little. Sometimes too much realism is a bad thing.

At 6:22 AM, Blogger Lenwe said...


At 6:25 AM, Blogger Chewie said...

Agreed. I keep playing grand theft auto 3 and kill everything in sight. I havent gone back to grand theft auto 4 since I beat it.

At 6:56 AM, Blogger Zal said...

I completely agree with the PS2, since new RPG's are still being released for it that are way better than anything available on the PS3/Xbox.

I can't really agree with the Wii though, since I haven't really used mine for anything but Brawl every now and then and old Gamecube games in years.

I'd say my second favorite is probably my PSP, which gets almost too much use - although unlike my Wii my PS3 gets good use when a good game actually comes out occasionally. Although it says something when the only PS3 game I'll be getting any time in the near future is Agarest: Generations of War.

At 7:07 AM, Blogger Cidolfas said...

My PS2 and PSP are my favorite consoles at the moment. I like games to look good, but have no need for them to look OMG FREAKING AWESOME. And besides - games can look awesome while stylized rather than photorealistic. I present Okami as Exhibit A, and Valkyrie Profile 2 as Exhibit B.

At 7:30 AM, Blogger Warewulf said...

Good lord; If Mario were in HD, he would be a pedophile?

While I love amazing graphics, they should never come at the sacrifice of gameplay. That's just wrong. Since PS3 has more or less hit a pinnacle of realism and amazing graphics, my hope is that their main focus now shifts to improving gameplay. Some of the new games that have been coming out leave me hopeful, if nothing else.

At 7:59 AM, Blogger Master said...

Agreed, same goes for HD and Blu Ray. People bring me in and say look at how crisp that picture is.

I'm just like ok... so why is this better than DVD?

Sorry can't justify spending extra money for a picture that in all reality isn't any better.

I know people will say you are wrong. Sorry folks not wrong you just don't want to believe you blew all that dough for something completely worthless.

At 10:24 AM, Blogger Katherine said...

I completely agree. I think they actually are losing the "look" of their char's when they look so realistic that you can see the "flaws" they've added to faces and teeth and such to be "more real"

We KNOW these people aren't "real" you don't have to sell it that hard. Make them look nice, make the graphic's smooth, and leave it at that. Scenic stuff (like water, dirt in the air as you're traveling, etc.) I see more leeway on to go overboard and be justified - but there's a line on how much more I want to pay for a game just so I can squint at the TV (I'm getting older y'know, all us Nintendo players from the early days are) and say "wow it's a damn fine sandstorm, I can see the individual grains!"

At 11:50 AM, Blogger Hylian said...

FINALLY i hear someone else out there that shares my view on appearances in games and applications. I'm a web programmer... you have any idea how many times people whine because "oh, that text box isn't perfectly lined up..." the application WORKS doesn't it?

on that note, let's bring up age of conan. i have friends that keep on trying to get me to enjoy that game and i just can't. see, here's the proper process. "let's make a game! WOW! it works well, and it looks ok. now let's upgrade the graphics on it. WOW! now our game is awesome!" conan did that backwards. "alright, let's start with great graphics... and now let's spend the rest of our lives just trying to get the damn thing to work..."

i can't play that crap because of that fact. great, looks beautiful. but when you die because the GUI or the interface screws up or because something didn't activate right or because your character isn't facing the exact location of something... quite aggravating. i play video games because they give me entertainment... not because i want to scream and throw my monitor across the room.

good graphics are no substitute for a game that's broken.

that being said, tell me you all wouldn't cream just to see ffxi's graphics all updated with realism and DX10 capability. i think that's where designers should start. get a game that's fun to play, THEN update the graphics!

and no, ffXIV isn't a good enough substitute for ffxi. i'm sure it'll be fun, but i dun wanna level a character all over again...

At 12:28 PM, Blogger Kahsha said...

PS2 and Wii are my favorites, but I play my DS more than anything else at the moment.
I likefantastic games with interesting characters, challenging puzzles and humor. If I have that, I don't give a rats ass if it's 8-bit or blu-ray!

At 5:42 PM, Blogger Leut said...

I'll agree with you about the PS2 having far better games. I'm hoping and praying that the PS3 will continue to get good games like Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Other than that, I haven't found much that I would call entertaining.

Hell, I've mostly played on my PSP lately rather than PS3. The only thing I've used my PS3 for much lately is downloading movies. (Which is the main reason its worth having, imho.

At 9:11 PM, Blogger Daniel said...

I agree one billion percent.
Yes, one freaking billion.
My favorite system is the SNES, I love my Wii, but I still love the SNES. I think third generation consoles were a step down. SNES games looked better (to me) than the gamecube/PS1/Dreamcast/whatever
Give me some story, give me some good gameplay, give me some replayability.
Like those people that swear they can tell a difference between HD and blu-ray.
Shove it, I know that even YOU really don't care that much.

At 2:42 AM, Blogger illustrated said...

If your argument is "Dont let photorealism stand in your way of making a good game", i agree, but not for all games. If a 3rd person thriller can sacrifice some gameplay elements in order to look more photorealistic, i would understand. Nobody's aiming for an oscar in gaming, if you need good plots, read a book. You play games to become a part of another world for some time. And graphics (both design quality and camera) help you get there faster than a better plot. Imagine FPS games without photorealistic graphics. The whole concept is to walk, run and kill shit. Thats it. So apart from graphics and physics, what is left there to enjoy? The fact that you can shoot down a tree to kill a terrorist? Imagine this scenario with DOOM 1 graphics and physics. Not that attractive.

Now if your argument is "Who cares about photorealism in general" i completely disagree. Following that line of reasoning, we'd be still playing pacman. The whole idea is to have fun using pixels. So the graphical advancement of them is natural, and there is no limit. Designers will always try to make it more real even when you cant fucking understand whats real and whats not.

I cant imagine FFXI without that sky. Or without that texture and curves of mountains, or without that realism that makes it different than other shitty games of its genre. And im glad FFXIV follows the same direction.

At 1:00 PM, Blogger Michael said...

Graphics shouldn't take the place of gameplay in the developer's priorities, but it'd be silly to say that games should be ugly, because we're not playing for graphics.

Tell that to Shadow of the Colossus.

It was good mainly because of it's art direction and animation designers. The Last Guardian is looking to be just as good or better; I get goosebumps no matter how many times I watch the trailer and I'm not even playing a game.

Assassin's Creed 2 is so amazing looking that I might have a heart attack when I finally see the start screen for the first time.

Point is, I agree, but I look forward to the forward progression of 3d graphics as well.

At 11:20 PM, Blogger illustrated said...

I didnt saw The Last Guardian at e3, i was busy enough shitting my pants for FFXIV, but i just saw the trailer and i was left in awe. See, games like that would not even be half as good without good art direction and realistic textures. It would be like "watching" a good movie straight from the storyboard. It would be ruined. Assassin's Creed is also a game where graphics and animation have a protagonist role. How would you feel this 15th century Venice theme without photorealism?

At 11:53 AM, Blogger Akamar said...

:/ Graphics have improved but the games seem to get shorter, more generic, and generally less enjoyable.

I miss my PS2 and older RPGs.

At 4:29 PM, Blogger illustrated said...

"but the games seem to get shorter, more generic, and generally less enjoyable."

Maybe its us getting older. Few years ago my DAY seemed to be longer, less generic, and generally more enjoyable.

At 10:28 AM, Blogger Kevin said...

Killzone 2 anyone? Gorgeous looking game.....not too fun to play(in my opinion at least)

Resistance 2. Fairly pretty looking game....lots of fun to play.

Which one do you think gets played more? I'll give you a hint. Not the one that starts with a k -.-


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