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How Much Detail Is Too Much For Games? 201

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-don't-need-to-see-mario's-pores dept.
jones_supa writes "Gamasutra editor Eric Schwarz gives thought to the constantly increasing amount of graphical detail in computer games. He notes how the cues leading the player can be hindered too much if they drown in the surroundings, making it harder for the game to hint whether the player is making progress. Consistent visual language helps to categorize various objects, making their meaning more obvious. Paths through the game world can be difficult to read simply due to dense vegetation. For some cases 'obfuscation through detail' can also actually work really well. Schwarz challenges us to ponder how the amount of detail makes a game either more or less enjoyable."
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How Much Detail Is Too Much For Games?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @04:47PM (#40848773)

    ...it depends.

    • by Pseudonym (62607) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @07:41PM (#40850679)

      Precisely.

      As Steve Hollasch famously noted, computer graphics is the only area of science where if it looks right, it is right. The correct amount of detail is whatever the tradeoff between artistry and gameplay demands. Your goal as a game designer is to have the audience say "what a great game", not "what great detail". Unfortunately, it's sometimes easier to optimise for high detail than it is to optimise for great gameplay.

      • by wisty (1335733)

        Yes, but for the first 35 years of computer games, more detail was better. It was a challenge on some platforms to draw more than one bad guy. It's in the DNA of game people to try to push for better graphics, even if it's actually deleterious.

      • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @11:05PM (#40852087) Journal

        True. Unfortunately, 'looks right' lands you straight on the tender mercy of the whiny bastards who play your games...

        As one such, something I've found myself running into is that sometimes more detail makes me more aware of the remaining missing details.

        I've been bitten hard a couple of times by this while playing Skyrim lately. A couple of examples: Unlike Oblivion and earlier where all water was still, water now has a 'current' associated with it, so you behave more realistically if you try to cross a swift-flowing river or the like, or drop an object into one. Unfortunately, the 'current' value assignment isn't very granular, so you are constantly running into situations where your intuition expects the flow to change in response to an obstacle or bit of terrain and it just... doesn't. Having no current at all was even less realistic; but you got over it quickly. Now that you have current, every deviation from your intuitions about fluid dynamics just smacks you in the face.

        The improved weapon animation detail seems to have suffered a similar fate. They are much more visceral and kinetic this time around; but that makes the fact that the animations for a given weapon type(eg. all one-handed swords, all warhammers, etc.) are the same, despite the in-game weights of items within a given type varying 50-300%. They are markedly less stiff and anemic than prior animations; but that just makes watching a character handle a weight '9' sword and a weight '16' sword exactly identically weirder(and let's not even start on how different sorts of targets should probably result in more and less elastic collisions...)

        • by Canazza (1428553)

          It gets even worse if you install the handyman mod and wield a wooden spoon in the same manner you would a 1 handed sword

        • Skyrim is a good example for this. In much the same way the lack of sounds in games gets me. Just two insects types in the game bugs me too. The ground should be teaming with ants. I think the team needs a zoologist.
          It isn't important for game play and of course I don't expect it to be in the game. But I do expect it to be in the world. The stage they've set really calls for a lunatic amount of things to be added. The next next generation of games will need this level of detail for immersion.
        • You're beautiful examples succinctly summarize the problem! The two phrases you are looking for are:

          * The Red Herring of Realism
          * Suspension of Disbelief, or Immersion

          Sadly, too many gamers and game designers cry for more realism not understanding the tradeoffs associated with it. As soon as players start noticing "the physics are not 'quite' right" you've broken the first rule of game design: immersion.

          This was less of an issue with 2D because players "knew" it was only a game; the move to 3D now has a l

      • by fatphil (181876)
        There's more than one "looks right". If a static image looks stunning - photographic quality - then that's a wonderful feature to have. However, your immersion can be blown out of the water immediately if the NPCs look like beautifully rendered arthritic marionettes when they move. Or if objects don't obey simple laws of physics like conservation of momentum.

        (Yes, I hate superman movies, as when a lorry hits him, he should be moved backwards, unless he's of enormous mass, in which case he should collapse an
    • by MacGyver2210 (1053110) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @09:38PM (#40851489)

      I don't think it depends at all. I think that there is no such thing as too much detail. That said, don't equate detail to 'more stuff'. Just because you have extremely realistic vegetation doesn't mean you should place a hundred branches of a bush in front of the path the player is supposed to take.

      You can make everything extremely detailed without any issues, however, it is up to the level editor and layout artists to make sure that extremely detailed art doesn't interfere with gameplay. Maybe your tree needs shorter vines or branches so you can see the path through the woods, or the extremely detailed grass should be trampled in a certain area to delineate the way you should go, or that waterfall needs a little less glare so you can see the hidden entrance behind it. Those aren't matters of detail, but matters of design.

      • by Smauler (915644)

        Realistic detail would be catastrophic in any game. Literally any game would collapse under overwhelming micromanagement if realistic detail were involved.

        Every single game there has ever been has not come anywhere near close to representing one small town. All the brilliant stories you get from games revolve about a maximum of 100 people or so, and there's a reason for that. 10,000 people is not worth it, and it's a nightmare for gamers too.

        I've though about this for a while, and have come to the conclu

    • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @02:25AM (#40853069) Journal

      Half-Life showed the way, it was the first big game I recall where being told to go to the Boiler room, meant you looked at the wall and followed the arrows marked Boiler room. No more red card for red door or wondering why this room identical to all the others had special significance.

      A mod for Morrowind replaced the default non-sense roadsigns that only had tooltip on mouse over, to readable signs. Made the world a LOT more immersive. So the answer is simple:

      MORE DETAIL == MORE IMMERSION

      Well, unless you are very dimwitted/American and need a HUGE sign to be told a box with a redcross sign on it that looks just like a real word first aid box could be used as a first aid box and restore your health. I suppose some people prefer it to be a blue bottle because everyone knows blue bottles restore magic.... oops wait. Red potions then? Obviously the color for danger heals.

      When they stopped using these non-obvious icons and medpacks looked like first aid boxes instead that people could stop reading the manual.

      For first person shooters, being able to shoot through wooden doors, have realistic collision detection so that an obvious line of fire in the 3D world also is a line of fire in the collesion detection world, just makes these games easier and more fun to play as you are playing the game not an arbitrary set of rules that are never explained.

      Some people claim that Tomb Raider was merely popular for its lead characters assets. They forget that it was the first "platform" game, especially on the PC where pixel perfect precession was not needed. Close enough was good enough meaning you could focus on playing the game and not on finding the exact pixel to jump from.

      Not that everything has to be realistic. For instance the new MMO The Secret World does away with fall damage, you can jump from any height with no effect. Makes going around the world a lot more fun. In Lord of the Rings Online, a simple glitch going down a slope might cause fall damage to occur, slowing you to a crawl for far to long to be fun.

      I am personally convinced that a lot of the failure of SWTOR was due to the ingame graphics not being detailed or realistic enough. A cartoon style can work, I am an anime fan but NOT if the source material is live action movies. And all the trailers give big budget cgi movies a run for their money.

      Make it look "real". Not necessarily realistic but if people go "oh right, so that is what that is supposed to be, who would have thought", you failed.

  • by narcc (412956) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @04:48PM (#40848783) Journal

    I tried to play that "New Super Mario Brothers" game not long ago. I couldn't see a damn thing.

    Contrast, people. Contrast is important. The challenge should be playing the game, not seeing the game.

    • by PhrostyMcByte (589271) <phrosty@gmail.com> on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @05:05PM (#40848995) Homepage

      I'd prefer monitors that can work without a hugely contrasting image.

      Take a game like Quake. It plays perfectly, in all its dark, murky, brown palette, on CRTs. Throw it on an LCD without boosting the game's brightness and it can be quite difficult to pick out the details. Reacting to this, mappers seemed to go between one of two paths

      The first option, they'll make a game nearly fullbright, then add shadows in for contrast. Dark colors other than shadows are delegated for things you shouldn't be paying attention to -- mainly extraneous paths.

      The second option is that the mapper significantly increases the brightness setting in the game, designing a level that is actually quite dark and very difficult to see at a normal brightness level on a calibrated monitor.

      • by Chirs (87576)

        A properly-calibrated LCD image is very close to a properly-calibrated CRT image. If you're seeing significant differences, one or the other is miscalibrated.

        • by Stormwatch (703920) <rodrigogirao@nosPAm.hotmail.com> on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @07:28PM (#40850581) Homepage

          Consider this: early LCDs had horrible picture quality, and even now it takes a pretty high end LCD to compare to a good CRT.

          • I was a relatively late adopter of LCDs (2004), Before that I had calibrated 22" flat screen CRTs, beautiful picture, but 3 moves one season, and I decided lugging around 75# each wasn't so great... at least good IPS panel lcds aren't too expensive today... still more, but decent pricing... far less than the $1200 each for those crt beasts back in the day.
          • by Smauler (915644)

            So it takes a good LCD to compare to a good CRT?

            Some early LCDs were crap, and I didn't convert until they surpassed my CRT in most ways - that happened more than 5 years ago though.

          • by antdude (79039)

            Which high end LCD monitors are good to CRTs these days?

      • What went wrong with doom3? shudder

    • Same with Need For Speed Undercover. Go look at some screenshots on google images. The entire game has a blue/cyan color scheem, including the fucking HUD. This means that even on a 1080p display, the map is damn near impossible to see at ALL. Contrast this with earlier games like Underground 2 where they not only got contrast right, but you could actually CUSTOMIZE the color of some of the HUD elements (mostly speedo) to make them even more visible.
    • by Sir_Sri (199544)

      The challenge should be playing the game, not seeing the game.

      That's a good mantra, but it depends very much on what 'playing the game' is supposed to involve. To use the summaries dense jungle example, making it intentionally hard to find your way around can be part of the game. For a more mundane example Left 4 dead 2 has a corn field and a field to a gas station, both of which are intentionally there to disorient you.

      Now in that case, of intentionally disorienting the player, you need to give them a way out so they can try again.

      How subtle is too subtle in storyt

    • I've never had trouble with that, but I tried playing split-screen multiplayer Modern Warfare or one of its ilk at a party last year on a 55" Plasma. Now it's not exactly my bailiwick but back in the Halo 2 days I used to be a fairly decent console FPS player even with split-screen limitations. But with MW I seriously could barely see anything, and most often I died without ever seeing any of the people I was fighting. I even tried the old "watch the other guy's screen" cheat and it didn't help at all.

      Be

    • Really? I've found that less realistic games tend to have much better contrast than "ultra-realistic" games, NSMB has posed no problem, on the other hand, I've played several FPS and even first adventure games that were nearly impossible to see due to the color selection only being steel grey, gun grey, dirt grey, camo grey, and muzzle flash orange.

      Call of Duty has always been the worst offender for me.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    For FPS, most benefit from the additional graphics making the game look more 'real' vs. in the past when the levels could be memorized effectively (SOCOM comes to mind) and people instantly killed for stepping out into the open. For games like Raiden Project or DYAD, graphics are designed to overwhelm the player, hiding enemies or incoming fire. Limbo takes the other end of the spectrum, where graphics are nearly nonexistent, but places more emphasis on what is there. It just depends on what the designers d

  • Similar to robots, I would assume. Anything more than the necessary data and you get diminishing or negative returns up until it begins to be indistinguishable from reality.
    • Re:uncanny valley? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by grumbel (592662) <grumbel@gmx.de> on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @06:21PM (#40849929) Homepage

      The problem isn't in the looks, but in the interaction. In highly detailed games you often have tons of stuff that looks like you should be able to interact with it, but you cannot. So while the graphics have gotten more detailed, the interactivity has not. It drives me nuts when I run into doors I can not open, "walls" I can not jump over, holes I can not duck through, items I cannot pickup and all that stuff. With simpler graphics there was a much clearer communication as what is interactive and was is not, as there simply wasn't the computing power available to little the rooms with tons of uninteractive decal.

      • "It drives me nuts when I run into doors I can not open, "walls" I can not jump over, holes I can not duck through, items I cannot pickup and all that stuff."

        I understand but that has always been there because having absolute open levels DOES NOT MAKE SENSE. Now for items I can understand. One of the things GTA and other open world games got wrong is that you screw up the pacing of the game when you give the player too much freedom and players end up getting seriously bored because the space between activ

        • by grumbel (592662)

          I understand but that has always been there because having absolute open levels DOES NOT MAKE SENSE.

          It am not arguing about the actual level design, just about it's presentation. When you had a door in Doom, you could walk into it. If you see a door in a modern game, there is like a 80% chance that you can't walk into it. The reason for that is simply that when Doom needed a wall, the designers used a wall. In modern games that try to present realistic locations however the developers don't use walls, as that would look unrealistic, instead they use houses, cars, trashcans or any other object they can thi

        • by 0123456 (636235)

          One of the things GTA and other open world games got wrong is that you screw up the pacing of the game when you give the player too much freedom and players end up getting seriously bored because the space between activities is long and usually tedious.

          Uh, what?

          The biggest problem with the GTA games is that they force you to do boring missions to unlocks the fun open world stuff. They need less boring missions that require you to fail six times before you pass and drive right across the map each time, and more fun stuff.

      • by Haoie (1277294)

        If I see a toilet, I should be able to use it!

        Now that's interaction!

  • I agree (Score:5, Interesting)

    by oakgrove (845019) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @04:53PM (#40848839)
    I used to play a lot of games when I was younger and cut my teeth on titles like Doom, Quake, Half-Life, on up to Far Cry and Half-Life 2 where I kind of got away from the whole thing. Recently I made a Windows install and decided to see what state the industry was in these days. My God was I blown away by the lighting and effects in Crysis Warhead. But equally I came away puzzled that it just didn't seem like I could "see" anything. It all just looked the same to me. Enemies blended into the background and everything just seemed to be running together. I thought maybe I was getting old so its nice to see somebody else agrees with my sentiments.
    • Re:I agree (Score:5, Interesting)

      by X0563511 (793323) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @05:08PM (#40849035) Homepage Journal

      Modern games, especially when camouflaging of some form is involved (which usually is in shooters) it's motion that will give them away, if your eyes are not adapted to spotting things.

      So:
      1. Pattern and antipattern detection/recognition (hey that grass looks diff... oh that's an enemy!)
      2. Fine motion detection/recognition (something just moved in those trees)

      These very same "skills" are trainable - the more you play, the better you get. [rochester.edu] This has actual real-world impact, especially in the realm of soldiers, hunters etc. Likewise if you've done a lot of that kind of thing, you'll find you pick up these games a bit easier since there's something to build on.

      Here's another study [digitaltrends.com], though this one's some news report with no links.

      • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @06:05PM (#40849745)

        A problem in games has always been one of stealth. When you talk low rez stuff, characters stand out from the environment real well. So stealth is always done through artificial means. Characters become invisible or the like.

        Well, with detailed graphics that isn't necessary. Battlefield 3 does a great job of using visual camouflage. There's no "invisible button", no way to make your character magically disappear. However you can hide in shadows, crawl through the foliage, cove in debris. You can visually hide yourself from your opponents, because the engine has sufficient detail to make that a realistic possibility.

        Now I'm not saying that is the only way to do things. I don't mind games that want to go for bright cartoony graphics (I loved TF2). However it is a cool thing that we can achieve now with better graphics. We can have a setting where you can hide in ways we do in real life.

      • Re:I agree (Score:4, Informative)

        by Cederic (9623) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @07:44PM (#40850709) Journal

        Millitary training in the 80s taught me that static camouflage is hard to see, but movement leaps out at you.

        It _should_ be hard to see the stationary sniper.

    • by SoupGuru (723634)

      I've always felt a little guilty in a lot of those older FPSs where the only things moving were enemies (or other interesting things).

      With some of the games now, it's a lot more realistic with a lot of detail and a lot of motion and the enemies blend into the background, as you point out. I just see it as an improvement rather than a problem.

    • by Hentes (2461350)

      Not all games are like that, hide and seek shooters are their own genre. It's not even a new thing, CoD2 also played like that.

      • by Cederic (9623)

        It's not even a new thing, CoD2 also played like that.

        In what tangential universe is CoD2 not a new thing?

        Fucking kids, get off my internet :(

    • Re:I agree (Score:5, Interesting)

      by gman003 (1693318) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @05:52PM (#40849577)

      Crysis does that deliberately, trying to make camouflage an important gameplay element. It somewhat succeeds - the AI gets confused by camouflage sometimes, and that's not including your magic invisibility thing. So if you play it right, you can turn it into a weapon for you, instead of against you.

      Other games do it simply to look "cinematic". Doesn't work well.

      If you read some of the developer's papers on Team Fortress 2, you'll note that they were obsessed with visual identification. Every class was identifiable by silhouette alone, they used special lighting algorithms to emphasis object edges, and they maintained consistent color schemes, with players and important items being both high-saturation and high-contrast compared to backgrounds.

      That all went out the window somewhere around the time the first promo items were released, but it's still something more developers should learn from.

      • Yep, Team Fortress 2 is a good benchmark for detail. While it is an older title and therefore has less detail than a game released yesterday, it has enough detail to prevent it from being bland, but has great contrast and lighting to where you can actually see what's happening. There are too many FPS games today that you can't see what's happening.
    • by mjwx (966435)

      I used to play a lot of games when I was younger and cut my teeth on titles like Doom, Quake, Half-Life, on up to Far Cry and Half-Life 2 where I kind of got away from the whole thing. Recently I made a Windows install and decided to see what state the industry was in these days. My God was I blown away by the lighting and effects in Crysis Warhead. But equally I came away puzzled that it just didn't seem like I could "see" anything. It all just looked the same to me. Enemies blended into the background and everything just seemed to be running together. I thought maybe I was getting old so its nice to see somebody else agrees with my sentiments.

      Crysis Warhead would not be a good example, it was designed to be visually disorienting and that was used very well in its gameplay (same with FarCry and Crysis). I understand what you're saying, a lot of modern games are like that unintentionally.

      However graphics have not improved since Crysis (Crysis and Warhead had the same engine, it just ran a hell of a lot better in Warhead) and that was 2008 IIRC. I played Deus Ex:HR recently and couldn't notice a single improvement, in fact they covered up a lot

    • by tsotha (720379)

      That's why the advice you always used to hear from expert Counterstrike players was "turn your resolution way down so enemies stick out".

      Personally I think what makes it frustrating is the lack of a tool you use without thinking in the real world - depth perception. With my poor vision games have pretty much the same resolution as real life, but I still can't pick out patters as well because it's all flat.

  • by themushroom (197365) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @04:55PM (#40848865) Homepage

    I used to play this adventure game by Scott Adams on a VIC=20. All text, no detail, and I could never tell if I was making progress either.

  • like really detailed character and npc backgrounds as well as a thoroughly detailed detailed setting... so no detail is enough
    PS since all games are now ports of content originally designed for 3-5inch screen... can i get my pong back

  • Is there more detail than "reality"?

    -AI

    • Re:Skyrim (Score:5, Funny)

      by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @05:03PM (#40848977) Homepage Journal

      Is there more detail than "reality"?

      -AI

      I was thinking that, too...




      That is, until I took an arrow to the knee...


      *ducks*

    • by marsu_k (701360)

      Probably not, but I don't think Skyrim succeeds in it. Now, this might contain some spoilers - but really, I don't think there are anyone here interested in playing it who already haven't done so, so here goes.

      Bethesda excel at the sandbox-thingy they do, and it's really fun just to explore the vast outdoor environment. Quite often I found myself when going to a new location just walking there, even though I could just "jump" to a nearby location I had visited before and get there faster. But the world kind

  • by bigjarom (950328) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @04:57PM (#40848877) Journal
    I used to use this exact same argument to tell my friend why his 16-bit Sega Genesis was worse than my 8-bit NES. Really I was just jealous.
    • until the shiny new xbit X-Station comes out and PC's are already way ahead again.... and the publisher wants to establish one development platform (to rule them all) for your cell to PC... and justify it by saying
      hey look this turd doesn't need any more polish.... also windows 8

      • by Smauler (915644)

        PC's are always ahead - it's just a smaller market. Bear in mind the standard resolution for consoles for next generation will be lower than the resolution on my PC prior to the launch of current consoles. They're years behind, in some ways.

  • But 640 details ought to be enough for everyone.
  • by iONiUM (530420)

    I play a lot of battlefield 3, on PC, and the graphics are some of the best I've seen in-game. Things like this:

    screen shot 1 [gamersciz.com]

    screen shot 2 [gamersciz.com]

    I don't have a problem distinguishing enemies, so far, though sometimes the lens flairs and such do get in the way. Still, I'll take this level of detail any day. Going back to World of Warcraft after is actually kind of a sick joke....

    • by chriso11 (254041)

      Lens Flare is such a stupid gimick. It is something 'cool' the game designers can introduce but it destroys the immersion.

    • by Mashiki (184564)

      If you're impressed by that you should go play Skyrim, with a few texture mods.

  • by Sebastopol (189276) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @05:01PM (#40848929) Homepage

    Heh, reminds me of playing tomb raider back in 1997 on a voodoo/3dfx and not being able to find all the secrets because the texture maps all looked the same.

    I didn't find enough depth in the article to really understand his point. Sounds like he's saying: the more detail in-game, the more hand-holding for the player to make the game 'fun'. Sure, color palettes, collaterals, space, and the actual path to follow vary, but I expected him to go back at least more than 5 years to talk about level design.

    Personally, I LOVE all the eye candy on high end games: shadows, grass blades, dust, wind, lots of material shaders, cloth physics, but I think too much of the budget goes into collaterals and shaders, and not enough goes into actual plot and motivation. BioShock looked effing gorgeous, but holy cats did I find it boring.

    I haven't really played a game yet where the detail was too distracting, but I have played many games where it was so boring and repetitive I just didn't care enough to finish, regardless of how pretty it was.

    Anyone who's ever planed Monkey Island or Grim Fandango and then plays any of the modern first-person games knows what I mean about opportunity cost and reward for working hard at solving a game.

    Heh, and I didn't mention Infocom once. /pats self on back/

  • Type of game makes a big difference. Is it a strategy/tactics game where I need to be able to discern the overall situation from the screen, and see past the individual pixels? Or is it an eye candy RPG where part of the fun is reveling in the cinematography? Or a casual game like Angry Birds where the visuals reinforce some basic fun/humor element?

    It's up to a game developer to figure out what the customers will care about and build appropriately; part of the trick to a blockbuster game is making tho
  • "It is a poor craftsman, who blames his tools."
  • by julesh (229690) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @05:03PM (#40848973)

    ...why there's a trend to retro gaming. Indie developers are putting out more and more titles with retro-styled graphics, and games such as Fantasy Online (an orthographic projection 16x16 tile-based MMORPG with graphics that would have looked old-hat in 1990) draw in millions of players.

    • by burnttoy (754394)

      Much cheaper to make too...

    • by Hentes (2461350)

      They have their own reasons. Indie developers can't hire enough artists for more detailed graphics, and MMO games have to be able to run on cheap old computers if they want to get into the Asian market.

    • by zlives (2009072)

      a well made game gets the draw, good graphics add to it. bad graphics can be had on a super bad game as well.

    • by Nimey (114278)

      I suspect that another reason is people who were kids back in the day now have the ability to buy such games again. Same reason things like Transformers and My Little Pony are popular again.

  • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @05:05PM (#40849001) Homepage Journal
    Then Eric Schwarz must find reality damn-near impossible to navigate.
    • by Twinbee (767046)
      It's not just more detail, but 'noisy' detail with little contrast and ugly colour schemes. Modern games tend to have this 'bitty' noisy look which I think not only detracts from the gameplay as Eric points out, but also makes the graphics look *worse*.

      I've sometimes moaned how textures are 'planted' on polygons. It's always looked like a hack, as you get this high level shape which is flat, and this grainy mess pasted on top (yes even bump mapping is hack). In a big way, I'd rather have more polygons an
  • I'm an immersive gamer and like good graphics. For me, there cannot be enough graphical detail and variation -- but it has to look realistic. Unfortunately, practically no game nowadays fullfils the last criterion, except perhaps Arma 2 at extremely high graphics settings. If it's just console-style graphics with lots of effects, colored clouds and wrong exaggerated colors in general, or "ray of good" sunrays, then I don't give the slightest damn about detail.

    Oh yeah, and don't bother with detail or realism

  • I'm sick of games using a colour palette muted to the point where a state-of-the-art game contains black, grey and 18 shades of brown.

    Spec Ops: The LIne balances stunning opulence against desert ruins, but even the desert has more colours than Rage managed in the entire game.

    Too many devs seem to think that colourful=cartoony, so you only get Ratchet and Clank games that actually remember your TV can actually do red, green and blue as themselves. And too many devs would rather put all the effort into
    • Ummm, you've been able to shoot out GTA tires since at LEAST vice city (don't remember much of the earlier ones). I do this *constantly* in San Andreas. Just make sure you're using a PC, not a console if you want to do that.

      Side not on mouse accuracy: I was playing San Andreas with a friend that had only ever played it on a console. He was talking about how much more control you get over the vehicles with a controller (which I agreed with) and was basically saying how the PC version sucked. Then about 5 min

    • I want to be able to shoot out the tyres and every window, not have it be a hyper-detailed texture applied to a rolling brick.

      How much of this is the fault of automakers who don't want their patented, trademarked cars to appear damaged on the screen?

  • Getting older now, and I find that its more important that I can understand what's going on then that the game is pretty. Ran into this problem with Blazblue, where some of the backgrounds were so contrasting and busy that they were downright distracting from the actual game. I ended up having serious problems even playing the game due to that.

    Your vision mileage may vary of course, but for my dollar a game with simple, clear graphics is a lot better then a game with fancy graphics that obscure the action.

  • I kind of like "too much detail". Some of my favorite games are ones where there's too much to take in immediately.

    Far Cry 1 and 2 come to mind, where jungles actually feel like jungles and the lighting changes make it difficult to see at times.

    Immersion is a good thing, as long as the world I'm being immersed in is a little bit interesting.

    Less appealing is the kind of emotional immersion that so many current games are reaching for. So depressing. I know that anti-heroes are cool and all, but some of th

  • As the VFA (Very Fine Article) points out, detail is nice, up until it interferes with gameplay. Naturally, where that line is depends entirely on the the style of gameplay and the actual mechanics of the game in question. Therefore, there can be no general answer to this question. However, the intelligent answer is "Detail level should be part of the Requirements Process"; that is, the level of detail should be explicitly set to not interfere with gameplay, and it should be a QA requirement to make sur

  • I'd rather they trade off some of the close up I-can-count-the-rocks-on-the-ground detail for at least mediocre detail at a distance. I'm sick of having to wait until a blob is 100m in front of me to tell if it's a "ricochet off the car" obstacle or a freaking semi-truck.
  • I offer this (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kenp2002 (545495) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @06:31PM (#40850029) Homepage Journal

    (Shameless plug of sorts, apologies)

    I DM'ed (Dungeon Mastered) RPGs for many (like 20) years and I learned a very important lesson I mention in some youtube vids I am throwing out there (not a full timer, I'm just documenting some stuff for posterity so-to-speak http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL42823901F978F00D&feature=mh_lolz [youtube.com]) but I'll give you a specific relevant quote:

    "Every detail you give a player, is one less detail they can imagine for themselves." Part of limiting graphics is, it allows a viewer or player's imagination more flexability. This is why I preferred Batman TAS' art direction more then say Fist of the North Star or Robot in the Shell anime (not that I disliked either of those). The more minimal art allowed me, mentally, to focus more on the movement, the framing, the scene as a whole, and gave me enough flexibility to flesh out the world without having every rat and piece of eye candy thrown at me.

  • Unfinished Swan [youtube.com] shows that there's no single good answer to this.
  • I thought the edge enhancement was innovative, artsy, and useful. I could actually see what I needed to shoot.

    Also, everything's made for consoles first now... level of detail has actually been sliding backwards. I mean, look at how the ruined Diablo III.
  • A friend of mine used to set screen resolution to minimum (like 320x240) in Quake2 and 3 when playing deathmatch---rationale: it's easier to see and aim at a large pixel than to see and aim at a player model from across the map (sped up railgun instagib thing).

  • When my computer runs it as 60FPS. That is the correct answer lol.
  • Often the problem is not just detail, but obsessive detail in one area combined with wildly unrealistic limits in others. I find jungle combat games extremely frustrating for this reason - even CoD World at War - because there's all this highly detailed jungle around and you have to guess which bit of it doesn't function as an invisible barrier. The people writing the game spent much too long figuring out how to present realistic-looking jungle and not nearly long enough on how to construct a game that le

  • There's too much happening. What was that? A turtle stole my teeth!

    If he doesn't want so much detail, he's free to turn down the resolution and quality settings until it looks like he's back on the NES.

    My first console was a 2600. (A friend's parents had Pong.) I've had many consoles since and played games on my computers since the Z80 days. I've never played a game and said, "Gosh, I wish the environment wasn't so detailed." Even IF needs room descriptions. I'm building a 7680x1440 rig right now and

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