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What's the Importance of Graphics In Video Games? 506

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-all-pixels-are-created-equal dept.
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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What's the Importance of Graphics In Video Games?

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  • by Antony-Kyre (807195) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @04:45AM (#28633519)

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

    • by Verdagon (1532631) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @04:51AM (#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.
      • by Xiph (723935) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @05:02AM (#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: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by AuMatar (183847)

          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.

          • by kongit (758125) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @05:25AM (#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.
          • by GF678 (1453005) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @05:54AM (#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.

            • by quadrox (1174915) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @06:37AM (#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.

              • by Clovis42 (1229086) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @09:16AM (#28635305)

                No, this isn't true. Half-life is, of course, such an important milestone in gaming mainly because of stuff not directly related to the graphics. However, Half-life simply could not have existed if it had looked like Doom. A certain level of realism was required for Valve to reach their goals in terms of gameplay and story telling.

                Graphics alone will rarely make a game better, but better graphics actually create the possibilities of certain types of improved gameplay. Could Star Wars have been created with 1950s movie tech? No, the advances in special effects had to be created first and then used in an exciting way.

          • by Kjella (173770) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @06:51AM (#28634307) Homepage

            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.

          • by pbhj (607776) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @07:11AM (#28634389) Homepage Journal

            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, [...]

            Serious question. Do you have any imagination? If I say imagine you're a trogladite in a territory war, what did you have for breakfast? Can you tell me the story or are you lost in a see of "why?" and "WTF are you on about?".

            Playing a good game in part is escapism, make-believe. If a game doesn't somehow take me beyond my current reality in some way (even if that means intellectual immersion or a Skinner Box) then why play? Why not do something productive?

            • by Hatta (162192) * on Thursday July 09, 2009 @10:16AM (#28636089) Journal

              Playing a good game in part is escapism, make-believe. If a game doesn't somehow take me beyond my current reality in some way (even if that means intellectual immersion or a Skinner Box) then why play? Why not do something productive?

              Because of the challenge. In what way would you say that chess, poker, or basketball takes you "beyond your current reality"? I don't think they do, they're fun because the game mechanics are good. You don't need make-believe to have a good game.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              IMO you can tell if a game is innovating or not when you look at what they are boasting. If people only talk about the graphics in the game, you can almost always be sure there are no real innovation in game play. It's a long and annoying running theme in FPS games. In the end, a FPS is a FPS is a FPS. Regardless of story or mini games, the core game play of these games changed very little since the 1990s. How people can get immersed in the same thing over and over again is beyond me. Why people would 'esca

          • by rolfwind (528248)

            WHat the hell is immersion anyway?

            Immersion is when you are into a game, it doesn't have to mean you think you are in a game. It's when you are playing it and the outside world fades away, to the point that a persistent distraction can knock you out of it. The same way, I have been immersed into some movies I really love, but I never thought I was an actual character in those movies.

          • by Ephemeriis (315124) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @10:46AM (#28636641)

            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.

            Immersion doesn't mean "I have forgotten that this is a game and I now believe that I'm Bob the Dwarf."

            Immersion means "Holy shit, it's 4 AM, when did that happen?"

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      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.

      • by NervousNerd (1190935) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @05:22AM (#28633763) Journal

        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.

        • by dintech (998802)

          Somewhere there is moaning and scrabbling underground. The cartidges are trying to rise up out of the landfill...

      • Trying scaring someone on 8-bit arcade graphics.

        Definitely not impossible. I suggest you take a look at Eversion [zarat.us]. 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.

        • by Talderas (1212466)

          Agreed, Survival Horror and the horror genre in general don't win on graphics, otherwise you just have a gore slasher.

          Dead Space has got to be one of the creepiest games I've played, though I haven't played a lot of the Resident Evil/Silent Hill games either. You compare Dead Space to Resident Evil 4/5, which still try to be horror even if they aren't as good as the old RE games. Dead Space had me on edge way more often that RE4/5 ever did. RE4/5 was semi-predictable on when/where enemies would show up. Dea

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Fallingcow (213461)

          Hell, I've seen text adventures that are scarier (and way, way better written) than the average horror movie.

          Babel [microheaven.com]* comes to mind.

          * it's down that page a bit, you'll need TADS to play it.

      • by Toonol (1057698) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @05:42AM (#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.
        • 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.
        • Back in the days where good graphics simply weren't an option, the games still managed to scare you out of your mind through compelling story elements. Some of the scariest moments I've played in a game were in Project Firestart... back on the C64!
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by ThosLives (686517)

          I'm glad someone else mentioned this!

          X-COM still has the distinction of being the only game that has ever caused me to jump out of my chair. If you don't think you can get scared by 640x480 graphics or whatever that was...try it.

          I still think the original was the most terrifying though; Terror from the Deep never quite worked for me.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Opportunist (166417)

          Oh hell yeah. The moments when you twitched when you heard that PZAUH from behind your team when you thought you already scouted an area, only to find out one pesky grey managed to hide behind a blind corner. Especially during night missions when you couldn't see well, plus the general creep factor of the music.

          I hope I can still find my copy, I think I know what I'll play when I come home. Anyone know how to run it sensibly on XP or Vista?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by sqlrob (173498)

        Trying scaring someone on 8-bit arcade graphics.

        OK, done. [wikipedia.org]

    • 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.

      • by Gulthek (12570) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @10:29AM (#28636291) Homepage Journal

        So Might and Magic V had, wait for it, bad graphics! You just made the argument that graphics go hand-in-hand with gameplay. You can have great gameplay that is ruined by bad graphics, you can have great graphics that are ruined by bad gameplay, or you can have both.

        Now let me explain "good" and "bad" here. "Good" graphics are those that support the immersion of the player within the game. Good graphics complement the gameplay. Good graphics let you slip into the story. Bad graphics remind you that you are just moving pixels.

        Good and Bad gameplay and graphics are purely subjective of course. It's possible that someone out there thought that Might and Magic III was a neat game crippled by horrible graphics, and fanatically adores Might and Magic V.

    • by vivian (156520)

      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

      • ^^^ 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.
      I

    • 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 [quadoshock.com] 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.

    • by balster neb (645686) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @05:51AM (#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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by blahplusplus (757119)

      "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

      • by walshy007 (906710)

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

        As a major metroid fan (own every single game except fusion.. on my to get list), I must say, I do. that isn't to say I dislike metroid 3, but metroid one was quite an excellent game.

        graphics only need to be there enough for the game designers to be able to express their intention in the game.

        I also prefer Nethack over Diablo 2, simply because of the sheer depth involved in the gameplay of nethack. There are people out there, that prefer quality over shiny, but there do seem to be very few in comparison to

    • Check Upgrade Complete. http://www.kongregate.com/games/ArmorGames/upgrade-complete [kongregate.com] The goal is not the game, the goal is to upgrade everything including the graphic engine. I confirmed for me that improving the graphics and music might help a LITTLE bit, but if you find a game boring, the graphics wont help at all. Actually... if you find it fun, you already don't mind abou the graphics I guess.
  • One word (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 09, 2009 @04:51AM (#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.

  • by thatkid_2002 (1529917) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @04:55AM (#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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tnok85 (1434319)
      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
      • by nschubach (922175)

        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

    • by Jurily (900488)

      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 [tvtropes.org].

      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.

    • by Toonol (1057698)
      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 PS3/36
  • by MindlessAutomata (1282944) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @05:01AM (#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.

    • 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 greatl

      • by nschubach (922175)

        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

    • by Talderas (1212466)

      I'll be perfectly honest. I think the move towards more "realistic" graphics in RPGs is forcing developers to change how the game plays. As you develop a more 3D world which you move your character through it becomes harder and harder to accept the random encounter. Final Fantasy is a perfect example of this progression because they've had games under many platforms. The SNES and early games made it looks like you're moving through a map, rather than an environment. Yes you could interact with objects, but

  • 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,

  • by RogueyWon (735973) * on Thursday July 09, 2009 @05:17AM (#28633719) Journal

    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.

    • by Aladrin (926209)

      Exactly.

      I keep seeing this 'do graphics matter' questions about video games as if there's only 1 and the answer has to apply to it. There are millions of games, and each one is different. Some need good graphics... In fact, some exist merely to show off good graphics. Others just need a good view of the information for the player to make their decisions. Some only need text and no graphics at all!

  • by iamacat (583406) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @05:19AM (#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.

    • 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...
  • 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... ;-)
  • 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 ga

    • 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.

  • by McNally (105243) <mmcnally@nospaM.gmail.com> on Thursday July 09, 2009 @05:38AM (#28633839) Homepage

    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.

    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      Actually, it is easier for a manager to create a business plan for "the best graphical engine out there" than for "the best gameplay out there". The first one is a technical problem of solving a complex engineering task, the second one requires creativity, this pesky thing so hard to quantify.
    • For cinema, the problem is payback. Most of the money a movie makes is in the first week. The number of people who go to a film depends a lot more on how good the trailer is than how good the film is, and special effects make it easy to make a good trailer.

      The situation isn't quite the same for games, but there are parallels. Most people choose to buy a game based on short videos, reviews (typically by people who didn't play it for very long) or short demoes. Good gameplay is much less immediate than g

  • 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.

    Nethack/Rogue/Angband MUSH/MOO/ INFOCOM > $BADGAMEANYGRAPHICS

    --
    BMO

  • 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?
  • by daid303 (843777) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @05:50AM (#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 [imageshack.us] how the dark grey area and small gauge on the left and right don't seem to fit that well. A few simple things [imageshack.us] 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 ;)
  • 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 mov

  • 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 oligopol

  • different ends (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nEoN nOoDlE (27594) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @06:16AM (#28634083) Homepage

    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.

  • ...you insensitive clod!
  • 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!" :)
  • by EWAdams (953502) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @06:48AM (#28634287) Homepage
    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 [wikipedia.org] 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.

  • Back in the ancient days of video and computer games, there really was no way to put up realistic graphics. As a result, storyline and just aiming for the "fun" factor was the most you could hope for. Think of that period the way you would the early days of movies, where special effects were not an option, so story(and good acting) was the most they could hope for.

    Now, as with anything, there would be two "schools" of thought on how to attract people. In movies, you had things like nudity that eventu

  • Wii, NDS... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sam0737 (648914) <samNO@SPAMchowchi.com> on Thursday July 09, 2009 @07:30AM (#28634475)

    tells you that game does not have to be photo realistic to be fun, enjoyable.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by PixelScuba (686633)
      But it also shows that a lack of Photorealistic visuals can hamper an experience. No doubt there are dozens of great 2d, pixelated games on the DS and some great games with simple art direction on the Wii.

      As a counterexample I look at the new Ghostbusters game. The entire point of this game is immersion; it is a decent game by itself, but as a Ghostbusters game it's a lot more fun. The Wii/PS2 version, while cute and stylistic, doesn't capture the immersion of Ghostbusters. You never really feel like
  • If your game mechanic is boring it will be boring running the Crysis engine or the DOOM 1 engine *but* you will sell a lot more unit using the crysis engine. People like good looking shiny stuff even if it's boring, limited or even stupid. For examples, see ipod (-1 flamebait); Paris hilton; Windows (+1 Insightful), Dubai and others. If you have a good game, good graphics will still attract even more customers.
  • That's the order of things. If you don't have content... your game is a pretty piece of trash. (Think most sports games from EA that are recycled). Sure... the first might be awesome... but we lack a tremendous amount of content these days. Content is what keeps a game interesting, it's what makes others want to buy it from friends recommending since most of us realize that the rating system on gamestop and most of the magazines is now manipulated completely. Look at the Final Fantasy series? A new story ea

  • The importance is fairly simple in my ape brain.

    1. It's the hook.
    When you stroll down the street. All of a sudden you see that creature of amazing beauty. You are captivated.
    At this point in time you know nothing else about this person. All you know is the visual physical form. No other positive attribute has been expressed. You have been hooked.

    2. It stimulates "The" primary sense.
    Ask any woman out there. :) You tickle that part of the anatomy that contains both a huge bundle of nerves and a large port

  • "What's the Importance of Graphics In Video Games?" To allow me to interact with a visual element (voice-only games are boring!).

    "So, why is the current generation of games giving so much importance to the realism in graphic games?" Commodity graphics cards (where they used to be a massive, expensive, add-on only), excess of speed/power/capabilities, people buy "pretty" games for no real reason other than they are pretty, young people have "grown up" with 3D graphics, ease of putting out titles that are p

  • you insensitive clod.

    Seriously, wtf is wrong with the person writing the title? It's like saying "What's the importance of air for human beings?" or "What's the importance of water in the ocean?"

    Graphics and eye candy should never be substituted for FUN gameplay, but they certainly enhance it.

  • by rpillala (583965) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @10:48AM (#28636667)

    I've been immersed in a book before, not to mention an interactive fiction game. I don't mean that I completely forgot that I was holding a book or typing "take no tea." I just mean that if an experience is compelling enough, it draws you in whether by great description and powerful language or high realism. Once you abandon a verbal description, you kind of have to rely on the graphics, but a great deal can still be achieved by words, sounds, tones of voice, etc.

    Take Diablo II as an example. Half the fun of that game is the sound. This post is getting a bit directionless so I'm going to stop now :|

  • If the game is abstract, for example, realistic graphics generally don't make a lot of sense. Should somebody do an abstract game with realistic graphics, I would appreciate the art of doing that, but I don't feel it's needed.

    Simulation type games lean toward realistic graphics. On those, I find quite a high value associated with realism. The game is more immersive when this is done well.

    RPG games are all over the map, but generally best done with recognizable objects and good art direction. These things are an escape of sorts, and too much realism breaks that.

    Then there is the simple text adventure. No graphics at all! I'm quite sure somebody could do up a 3D "Zork" like place, and a whole lot of people would recognize it for what it is, just like many people "recognized" places depicted in "Lord Of The Rings".

    Pretty graphics alone don't add a lot of value, unless the game is lightweight, or maybe some kinds of puzzlers.

    There just isn't one answer to this question. There are enough variables to make it an art, not a science IMHO.

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