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GamePlay Less Than GameGraphics ?

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The year 2007. Halo 3 boxed in the shelves not only a few days ago. The graphics seem, in most places realistic. Before Halo 3, Oblivion Elder Scrolls for Xbox 360 dominated over all game console graphical games. Assassin's Creed also is appealing to the eye. In most articles today in gaming magazines, you see tons of comments relating to 'the graphics of the game' or how 'realistic' the game is. Many comments on the Nintendo Wii relate the fact that the Wii is fun, but the 'graphics are nothing compare to what can be achieved'. Few games I noticed around here that look for publishers and announce it here, receive comments on how outdated the graphics are, or overused a texture is. I'm not here to complain. I'm here to ask what you think. Are the games of today's generation going to be labeled by their graphical appearance or by the game play. Does it not matter how well the game play/fun factor is, but how amazing the graphics are? If so, I think it will be hard for the newer generation of game programmers to compete with Lucas Art's: The Force Unleashed. What do you think? [Edited by - PCN on October 2, 2007 8:41:07 AM]

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Being almost 30 years old, I can tell you that games, whether is was in the arcades back in the early 80's, the consoles for the last 3 decades, the PC's, or even back to the pin ball machines in the mid 60's, are all about the latest and greatest graphics.

Visuals sell because you can't judge a game's gameplay without playing it. But you can judge the graphics without playing it. Sure, if a game has bad gameplay, it will sit on the shelf collecting dust, but who cares? The publisher already made it's money and the consumer can't return the game.

That's what makes it so hard for us hobbyists, without professional, leading edge graphics, the general public won't even look at our creations. But since there are so many expiring hobbyist developers, we have ourselves as an audience and potential market place.

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I still think that gameplay is king; I've sat through some interesting games with less than stellar graphics, but when done right, the player will hardly know/care.

But with games fast becoming a multibillion dollar industry, less publishers are willing to take the risk of doing something innovative and different.

Another thing to keep in mind, though, is how hard innovation is to do. I mean, a lot of people want to think their game concept is different, but if you truly analyze the core mechanics of your game, is it something no one has really seen before? And even if it's innovative, is it applied in an effective manner to be considered fun?

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In terms of advertising, Id say graphics are always going to be the strongest point.

However, in terms of reviews and word of mouth, I think they make less of a difference. While a game that focuses on graphics will have people raving about its graphics, it is quickly forgotten when the next game with better graphics comes out, while games that have strong gameplay and are all-round well designed fun games will often be forgiven for sub-par graphics.

To me, it seems that for reviews and word of mouth, less-than-perfect graphics only really tend to be a problem if the game doesnt have anything else in other areas to make it stand out.


The other telling detail is the success of less-technically-fantastic-graphics games that use different business models. World of Warcraft is a prime example - its graphics are certainly acceptable, but they are by no means state of the art, but the gameplay and other features have made it a well-respected game, and its managed to turn into a very rich business despite not having the graphics to make particularly stunning advertising from.

So I think graphics are certainly an edge... but only for when the effort isnt (for whatever reason) put into other areas.

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For me, graphics are not the key aspect of a game. Sure a good looking game can be entertaining (just for the eye candy), but that rapidly looses it's appeal. I prefer gameplay over looks, but then I am probably not a typical gamer.

Because Good graphics have an instant appeal to almost anyone (even those of us that do not put a high value on them) but then have a short appeal, this makes them good from a publisher's marketing point of view (not the developer's though). The graphical appeal will last a short time and by this time the publisher can have their next release (from a different developer) on the shelves with slightly better graphics and therefore get the appeal and sales.

IF the publishers pushed gameplay over graphics, then they wouldn't get this high turnover and the game industry would not be as profitable. This would mean less games sold (which could mean that game technology would not have advanced as far) and a smaller market (which would actually make it harder for hobbyists and indi developers to get into the market).

So although I don't personally go for games just because they are new and have better graphics, I do think that they have been important to establishing the current market scope.

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I think the visuals are important. But I don't think most players really care beyound a certain point. I don't think anyone of moderate intelligence would dismiss a game because it had good graphics instead of great graphics.

On the other hand, gameplay is important at every level. You might be able to squeeze one by with bad gameplay, but your reputation will take a hit, and you'll eventually be out of work.

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A bit of both actually.

But gameplay is most important to me.

I can play oblivion and go back to diablo. I can play HL2 and still go back to quake1 mods. I can play Call of Duty 2 but I always go back to games like Chain of command. I can play Warcraft 3 but I always go back to utopia. The games I mentioned have very dated graphics and in some cases they dont have graphics at all. True gamers dont mind too much if something has good graphics, they will play it anyway if its fun and aslong as something about it is appealing. People who aren't true gamers will probably not get into games with poor graphics cause they dont know better.

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True gamers dont mind too much if something has good graphics, they will play it anyway if its fun and aslong as something about it is appealing. People who aren't true gamers will probably not get into games with poor graphics cause they dont know better.

I would say that we here don't represent a good cross section of the gaming community. We are either Developers and Designers or have an interest in game development and design (otherwise what are we doing on a game dev site :D ).

Because of our interest, we tend to focus more on what makes up the game: The gameplay elements. But to the typical player (and hard core gamers are not a typical player), they are focused on the impact of the "here and now", good graphics are a part of that.

I think it is this reason, not that they don't know better. They still have an appreciation of good gameplay. They still know a good game if they play it. It's that they also want the impact of the New as part of their experience.

As people who have an interest in the gameplay, we tend to focus on that aspect of a game. We devalue the enjoyment that you can get from impressive graphics.

Think of a fireworks display. We are awed and amazed by the colours and the show of it. But to an explosives expert or someone in the fireworks show business, they might have more appreciation for the mechanics, electronics and other technologies that have gone into making that display, and they might not have as much interest in the display its self.

So, like those experts in the fireworks business, we have a greater understanding on what goes on "behind the scenes" in a game. We understand how the elements of gameplay go together and so we have an appreciation of that part of the game.

Good gameplay is desired, but we must remember that for the typical player, they may not want to play a game for years on end. They want new experiences, and this makes the power of good graphics more important to them. Sure, a game with good graphics will wow them, and if it only has mediocre gameplay it won't hold their attention for long. But they don't want their attention held for long, and so effort spent on better gameplay would be wasted.

I am not advocating that we should not try to improve the gameplay, or that we should only release mediocre games, but that when considering the people that play the games, we should take into account what they would like and the way that they would use our product.

In a market where graphics are pretty much at the same level, then yes, the technically better game has that edge and so will usually sell more (ignoring the effects of marketing). Gameplay is an important factor, but just because it is an important factor doesn't mean that we have to (or should) ignore the other important factors.

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Original post by Edtharan
Sure, a game with good graphics will wow them, and if it only has mediocre gameplay it won't hold their attention for long. But they don't want their attention held for long, and so effort spent on better gameplay would be wasted.

I think you're venturing pretty deep into the casual player realm. Almost to the point that the players you're describing are S-Mart empoyees taking a ten minute lunch break with the breakroom X-Box. I think players that are even moderately interested in gaming are closer to the hardcore realm than that.

I have a lot of ..eh, less than nerdy friends. None of them are hardcore gamers. These are people that can go six months without playing any games. But all of them are capable of sitting around playing a good game for days or weeks at a time. Even missing work or avoiding going out to do other things just to play the damn thing.

Here's my theory. Typically, all males aged 15 to 50 are potential hardcore gamers, when a fun enough game is available.

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I pretty much agree with cyansoft. Games have almost always been about graphics, and people have been complaining about graphics overpowering gameplay ever since the first graphical games sold over the text based "pure gameplay" games.

King's Quest II - 1985
Quote:

animated characters that come alive
They walk, run, climb, even swim.

incredible three-dimensional graphics
Watch as animated characters pass in front of trees behind rocks, and around one another.


"It's like playing an animated cartoon," claims Compute! magazine.

500,000+ copies sold

Try playing it today, and you'll see there really isn't any gameplay, story, etc.

And this is just one of many highly selling games of old. Yes, 500,000 is nothing today, but back then it was amazing for a computer game.

Graphics sell games, gameplay keeps people playing.

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