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stevelat

Next-gen graphics may stifle creativity?

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stevelat    122
Once again the leap in graphics seemed to steal the spotlight at E3. As I looked at all the next-generation games it seemed that they all were trying to show off a ultra high resolution "realistic" look. The character models all seemed chunky (probably to show off the detailed textures), the draw distances were long, and the lighting affects were very dynamic. Do you guys think this is what we can expect from next-gen games? I personally would lament the death of games that look like Windwaker, Psychonauts, Okami. Creative graphics that aren't just attempts to mimic reality.

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HemoGloben    314
Not to be a nazi, but in the sense you use it, it's 'effects'.

But to the point of the post, enh. I'd agree to a certain extent, but not very far. Notice how all the games you mentioned came from his generation? Because this was the first generation where that was really possible, there was a time when almost every game seemed to be going for the cartoony/Cel-shaded look (Wacked!, XIII,Mad dash, that racing game that game out for the Xbox right away, etc.). But that's just because it was the first generaion that could pull it off, sure there were games that tinkered with it before the current Gen, but none could really do it.

And I think the same is going to be for the uber-realistic graphics, but more so. Most games atleast go for 'realistic'. But now that they can hit 'uber-realistic', lots of them are going to try. Eventually I think it's going to fade out.

To be honest, I'm less worried about originality in graphics, and more about the lessening of originality in gameplay.

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Sheeva_    122
Have you ever played such a game as Warcraft III or WoW? [wink] The graphics there are totally cartoony and there are loads of special FX at the same time.
To my mind, the 'effects' aspect and 'realism' aspect are not the same.
Besides, real-life isn't so full of realistic explosions and mana strikes, right? Games should look smooth.
Quote:
original post by HemoGloben
To be honest, I'm less worried about originality in graphics, and more about the lessening of originality in gameplay.

Absolutely true! Modern games usually don't add anything to the gameplay cliches used everywhere. Some new cliches are "adding RPG-stats to any game of any genre" or "trying to make a game that gives you absolute freedom of action". Sometimes i miss the old days when every game had its distinct look and feel and people actually invented things.

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Pipo DeClown    804
Disclaimer: I'm always right. With exceptions.

People often tell me: "Don't say the bottle is half empty, but say that it's half full!" The thought behind this is that one should look at things on the bright side. How is this related to the topic? Well, you could imagine how these new features and processing power aren't just being used for realistic graphics. You could even make new effects (effects like in cel-shading) that weren't possible with the current generation of GPUs.
So: greater GPUs != more realism, but, greater GPUs == more everything.

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AgentC    2352
I'm all for next-gen graphics capabilities if they enable something that should always have been possible in the first place (like dynamic/uniform lighting: it's always been a pet peeve of mine how in "quality" ie. baked lightmap lighted games you can almost never shoot light sources, compared to vertex lighted like Freedom Fighters where it's no problem)

But this doesn't necessarily mean it should be about emulating reality as close as it can get... I don't know, at some point it's got to hit some critical threshold where making graphics/models/maps at that level will just be prohibitively time consuming & costly. Unless it's automated to a large degree or it's only the biggest behemoths making games anymore... (and I guess big behemoths aren't famous for creativity)

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The thing that I am worried about is the cost of creating graphics that will use these new GPUs to the full. As E3 stated, the cost of a next-gen game will run into the 8-figures. These costs are almost as much as the top publishers make as a profit. This means bad new for next-gen games.

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fyhuang    253
You know, this somehow reminds me of a quote Mr. LaMothe made in one of his older books (Black Art of 3D Game Programming, which taught me almost everything I know [smile]). He says, (referring to the DOS graphics) that graphics couldn't possibly get much better than what they had back then (people would hit a ceiling of progress), and people would start worrying more about gameplay cause everyone would have the same graphics.

Just goes to show 2 things - people have always been worried about gameplay (at least if always = a decade or less), and graphics will never stop progressing, no matter how realistic it already looks.

As for me, I don't care much for stylized graphics, unless it's perfected style where it adds a lot to the atmosphere of the game (I like Soul Calibur's II graphics for some reason, they look a lot better than 'realistic' graphics. It's probably also cause it's so smooth. Which leads me to ask, why do TV screens @ 25 FPS and interlaced look so much smoother than PC screens @ 100 Hz?). What I don't like are cliched graphics effects (lens flare, gradients in 2D games (use sparingly), the stupid glow effect that every single damn game today is using!!!). Gameplay remains an important point to me [smile].

Just my .02, and cheers!

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Kylotan    10006
I think graphics started stifling creativity long ago! And I don't know if it will ever recover, as to do so would require the game-buying population to stop being obsessed with appearance (difficult when screenshots are perhaps the best way to represent the gameplaying experience in reviews and on the box), or for developers to be able to keep up with graphical trends without needing to invest ridiculous amounts on modelling and art.

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Wavinator    2017
I really welcome this transition. As it gets harder to match eye candy, the budgets will continue to swell, the games will become more and more bland to appeal to a wider base, and gaming will become more stratified into niches as hardcore gamers become more and more dissatisfied.

The niches are probably the only hope for creative indies. I'll still pay for a 2D top-down open-ended space game like Escape Velocity with no problem, because it has gameplay that few other games provide. It will never make 100,000 sales, but it has a strong enough fan base to keep them going.

The big guys will always have fresh blood, year after year, so I know they can afford to lose me as a customer. But they're losing someone who used to nearly buy a game a month. When I do so now, it's never at full price, and often used, because most of what there is to play I've already played, 3 or 5 years ago (just with a new coat of paint).

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Garmichael    115
The way I see it, the video game industry is the next Hollywood. I already see alot of similiar traits between the early film industry and current video game industry.

A majority of the game will appeal to the average/casual gamer. They will be flashy high-tech action and suspense that draw that vast crowds. They will be the video game versions of Fast and the Furious, XXX, Boogyman, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, etc etc.. Basically, the games will be generic games of a specific genre dressed up in a fancy skin and dialog. Theyll be the same games over and over but with different themes. Just like the Movie Industry. Hell, thats already the case in the video game world...

So we pretty much have to wait for enough Indies to come together and gather themselves like they did with the movies. In the vast sea of generic games, we'll find more and more gems as in the movie world. We'll see the game equals to Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch, American Beauty, Titanic, Shawshank redeption, The Usual Suspects, Sin City, The Blair Witch Project, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, etc..

The video game indie scene is growing larger as we speak, and thats the group hardcore gamers should spend more time with.

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Dark Elf    122
New "uber-realistic" graphics may be trying to steal the spotlight at places such as E3 and the next-gen consoles coming out, but it will not kill off creativity. In fact it might spur more creative things on. Now that better realistic graphics are possible new things are also possible. Just lookat LoZ: Twilight Princess, in the game they have great graphics but it also COMBINES that with some cel-shading providing for some pretty awesome stuff. It makes it look even more creative and innotive than usual. Plus eventually everyone will get bored with SUPER AWESOME REALISTIC GRAPHICS and will look for something different, and that, will definetly keep creativity alive.

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fyhuang    253
The way I see it, no one ever gets bored of super-realistic graphics in movies, I don't see why they would of games. I don't think art creativity is so much in how realistic the game art is, but more of how it is presented, like the level design and such. For example, it's great that this game has uber-realistic trees but if you just have some random landscape displaying them, what's the point? The artist has got to take pains to arrange the scene so that they look more impressive than they really are.

That's another one of my viewpoints at least ;). Cheers!

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Daaark    3553
The successful game franchises are not always the ones with the best graphics.

GTA / Pokemon / Zelda etc / Tony Hawk / WOW

People still want fun games.

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WeirdoFu    205
Ironically, the main reason why most demos at E3 with the next gen consoles are so graphically oriented is because that's the only thing they can really show that has progressed. Its also partially marketting. Its easier to capture people's sights with more flashy visuals than to spend 30 minutes explaining the great advancements in gameplay before a title is actually complete. Also, if you show your gameplay selling points too early in the development process, if its good, other people with larger budgets may take your idea, change it a little and beat you to the punch. Its a business thing....

So, graphics it is....

Also, with the next gen consoles, the only thing certain is the graphics, since GPUs are pretty much stabdard now. So, they can show you what you will see fairly easily by simply making better graphics, since we all know that's going to be better. As for everything else, its still a question mark.

So, currently, we can't really say anything about whether next gen graphics will stifle creativity.

From what I've seen online and from what I've heard no developer really has a piece of next gen hardware to work with to begin with. All they have are pieces of hardware that Sony and Microsoft tells them, "its going to be something like this." And if you ask me, that's not alot to work with. At current stages, I'd say that you can be "imaginative" about what next gen consoles can do, but no one can really be "creative" in a constructive way, since only Sony and Microsoft knows what the next gen console really is.

Another big challenge for developers for next gen consoles involves the actual processor. Yes, multi-core processors and parallel processing is nice, but can you imagine what it would take to utilize all that resource? Its not just a simple matter of forking off a thread in the game engine. Even if you do end up forking something off, you then have to worry about concurrency, mutual exclusion and communication issues with all the threads. Yes, hardware-wise its a leap forward, but software-wise its a nightmare. Parallel processing is nice on paper, but hell in practice.

So, if you ask me, we probably don't have to worry about next gen console graphics stifling creativity. Creative people/developers will be creative no matter what medium they work in. Currently, its more of a problem of implementation and marketing. In the end, next gen console graphics may not stifle creativity, but rather mask it. So, in the end, I think, what players should do is keep an open mind and wait and see what actually comes along.

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superpig    1825
Quote:
Original post by WeirdoFu
Ironically, the main reason why most demos at E3 with the next gen consoles are so graphically oriented is because that's the only thing they can really show that has progressed. Its also partially marketting. Its easier to capture people's sights with more flashy visuals than to spend 30 minutes explaining the great advancements in gameplay before a title is actually complete.


Aye. E3's a bad thing to hold up as representative of the next gen because most of the games were being shown, not played - and as such the focus was on making them look as good as possible. The actual games we see probably won't look as good because the focus will be slightly more evenly shared by other areas (including gameplay).

That said, rocketing production values make each game more of a risk to undertake, so the publishers are interested in selling as many units as possible, often with no regard to the actual entertainment value of the product. The way to sell units is to have a pretty box and a loud and all-penetrating marketing campaign - sad but true.

One thing that might still save us is game rentals. If people rent the glitz-but-no-substance games more frequently, they'll discover that they're not much fun within the two or three days that the rental lasts, and not bother buying the game long-term.

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infrmtn    100
Quote:
Original post by superpig
That said, rocketing production values make each game more of a risk to undertake, so the publishers are interested in selling as many units as possible, often with no regard to the actual entertainment value of the product.


A bit off-topic, I was checking out a readme that came with a patch for Ultima Underworld II and it struck me how casually it was written. Having spent some time with newer games I had gotten used to the dry, official way of doing everything. When you go back to have a look at the older games again you notice how spoiled and stupid we (the gamers) are.

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superpig    1825
Quote:
Original post by infrmtn
Quote:
Original post by superpig
That said, rocketing production values make each game more of a risk to undertake, so the publishers are interested in selling as many units as possible, often with no regard to the actual entertainment value of the product.


A bit off-topic, I was checking out a readme that came with a patch for Ultima Underworld II and it struck me how casually it was written. Having spent some time with newer games I had gotten used to the dry, official way of doing everything. When you go back to have a look at the older games again you notice how spoiled and stupid we (the gamers) are.


Yeah. That's a side effect of games becoming more mainstream - instead of it just being a small-ish community of computer-literate people who are prepared to put time and effort into getting their games working, we're now catering to 'Joe User, ' too, who has a more population-average computer literacy level. I think Introversion Software found this out to their disadvantage when they released the first demo of Darwinia with minimal instructions/tutorial - instead of taking the time to poke the game and see what they could make happen, gamers were just quitting and saying "it's crap, I've got no idea what you're supposed to do."

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I_Smell_Tuna    96
Since the next-gen systems are just making their debut everyone is trying to show off who has the better graphics. The system hasn't come out yet so they're trying to make you buy it when it's avaliable. Great gameplay will come several months and games later.

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Lysander    134
The novelty will wear off quickly.

I think we'll see some neat things in 5-10 years when it's no longer possible to increase graphical quality noticeably--leaps in sound, interactivity, AI, gameplay, etc.

Quote:
Original post by fyhuang
why do TV screens @ 25 FPS and interlaced look so much smoother than PC screens @ 100 Hz?


My guess is that you're farsighted. Or you need a better video card.

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WeirdoFu    205
Well, the main reason is the resolution. You don't notice it, but most TV screens only have an actual pixel resolution of 320 x 220 (or was it 320x200). So, a game console really has a lot fewer pixels to worry about. In comparison, computer screen start at a resolution of 640x480, which is 4x times more pixels.

This used to be one of the greatest advantages of console games, since they work with a fixed resolution that is fairly small. The fact that PC games can be played at varying resolutions, means that there's is inherent overhead to make it possible. However, next gen consoles will close in on PC resolutions, considering that two of the 3 output options for the PS3 require an HD device to output to, preferrably 1080p.

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Daaark    3553
Quote:
Original post by WeirdoFu
Well, the main reason is the resolution. You don't notice it, but most TV screens only have an actual pixel resolution of 320 x 220 (or was it 320x200). So, a game console really has a lot fewer pixels to worry about. In comparison, computer screen start at a resolution of 640x480, which is 4x times more pixels.
That is simply not true. Look up NTSC. And monitors 'start' much lower as well.





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WeirdoFu    205
Quote:
Original post by Vampyre_Dark
Quote:
Original post by WeirdoFu
Well, the main reason is the resolution. You don't notice it, but most TV screens only have an actual pixel resolution of 320 x 220 (or was it 320x200). So, a game console really has a lot fewer pixels to worry about. In comparison, computer screen start at a resolution of 640x480, which is 4x times more pixels.
That is simply not true. Look up NTSC. And monitors 'start' much lower as well.


Sorry, guess I was a little off there, but not really by too far...

NTSC:
- 525 vertical lines
- 484 active lines (vertical)
- vertical resolution 242
- horizontal resolution 427
- frame rate 29.94
- aspect ratio 4/3

Just in case you don't believe that: http://www.ee.washington.edu/conselec/CE/kuhn/ntsc/95x4.htm

So, still consoles still have the advantage of a fixed resolution, it has always been like that. Why spend time rendering pixels that aren't going to make it onto the screen. So, for NTSC standard, there's no point in rendering at more than a resolution of 427x242, since the viewers aren't going to see more than that.

Yes, computer monitors can go lower, as long as the video card supports it. I think most people ditched the ModeX video mode long ago, but I do recall it was something like 3??x2?? at 256 colors. Currently, I don't see many video drivers that allow you to go below 640x480 though. The only monitors that support lower are LCDs and that's because of the easy scale down factors (1024x768 -> 512x384). But we're completely veering off topic...

Sorry for the long tangent which started out from:

Quote:
Original post by fyhuang
why do TV screens @ 25 FPS and interlaced look so much smoother than PC screens @ 100 Hz?

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