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Why should game data be so large?

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Back in the day, game media was nothing spectacular. We had bitmapped 8-bit palettized textures for graphics, 22kHz wave files for sound, and various sorts of game level design that was meant to be compact so that data may be parsed easily (ever read tech docs on Ultima 7? Very well designed map system). Compression for different media became the norm in non-timecritical applications (music, internet graphics, amateur photography), until the hardware technology caught up. Now we have (in a few cases) gHz processors, gigatexels-rendered-per-second GPUs, and hundreds of megabytes of system memory installed on many gamers'' home systems. Processing said media should take next to no time, if optimization of loader-libraries is even remotely clever. Now, we have MP3, TGA, AVI, and so on... compression for sound, textures, video. Game levels tend to get bigger and more complex (higher poly-count models, more texture coordinates for higher detailed models, and so on). Seems that the ratio of space allocated to media opposed to game data has inverted (ever play Baldur''s Gate? 5 CDs later you learned why it deserves a nomination for Huge Game of the Decade ). But other factors apply, too... I don''t know of many games that could match or surpass Ultima 7''s depth and detail, and this game fit on ~50mb of disk space. Nor are there games that might have more to do in them than Daggerfall, or have more literature in them than (insert any 1980''s RPG here). Even the original Quake, whose later upgrades included an OpenGL port and innumerable add-ons, had more depth than some of the games out today. ("Serious Sam"? Come on... it''s a pretty Quake clone. At least the Space Marine has an axe.) So what is the bottom line? Games have more eyecandy and must look prettier than the next guy? If games 10 years ago were so popular because they were fun, how does improving their graphics and video to realistic proportions improve gameplay? Prettier game boxes don''t sell; how many gamers spend hours gazing longingly at screenshots on the box when they could be interacting with those environments directly? Just some thoughts... game data and content should never be sacrificed for game play. MatrixCubed
http://MatrixCubed.org

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I agree, todays games are really only taking advantage of the graphical power available on current systems, and developers are not bothering to spend time tweaking the gameplay, hoping people will by them because they look good. Its cheap, but it works.

Nintendo spent most of the time with the gameplay when they developed Mario Brothers, when they got it right, they released it and made MILLIONS because it had alot of playability, today most games are only playable until you are tired of the graphics.

Game data sizes have exploded due to the popularity and data capacity of CD''s and the video capabilities of todays video cards and CPU''s. Many developers dont bother with file types such as MOD because its easier and faster for them to just dump the music to an audio track on the game cd, or dump the music to an MP3 and let DirectMusic play them.

Amiga, SNES, and the like, will always have the best gameplay because the developers knew the limits of their target platforms, most of these games pushed the machines to their graphical limits and looked the same therefore the difference between a crap game and a good one was the gameplay and structure.

Is it just me or have todays games turned into a ''Ok im bored, lets play a 3D game while I wait'' senario?
Remember games like Wonder Boy in the arcades? They could be played for an hour on 60 Cents, today you would be lucky to squeeze five minutes from $2.




Demo Download: www.angelfire.com/realm/zeroone

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It is an art form that is almost lost. It is kept alive by those of us who were around in those days and understood what the system restrictions were and how to make the most of them. The younger people entering the industry these days were not around then and see the huge amount of resources available to them on modern PCs as a space waiting to be filled.

No, game data does not need to be that large. Yes, gameplay is generally playing second fiddle to graphical and audio extravagance.

Steve ''Sly'' Williams  Code Monkey  Krome Studios

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I do think it''s a sad state of affairs. Back in 93 or whenever Ultima 7 was released, most computer game graphics were pretty poor. So graphics were secondary to gameplay. But now that the graphics are a lot better, they have shifted to being the focus. After all, you can sell a game in 10 seconds based on it looking cool, but you can''t convince someone of the gameplay in that timespan. With the number of games on the market, attention span is limited. We don''t have the chance to try out every game any more. And you can get screenshots on the back of a game box... much harder to give the prospective buyer and idea of the quality or depth of gameplay. I do think people use those screenshots on boxes and in magazines as a guide to what to buy. And sadly, even though I believe most developers value gameplay over graphics, despite what we might think, I''d be sure that there is pressure on them to produce something that looks good for the magazines, press releases, demos, etc.

As for its size... well, I think that developers are getting lazy. CDs and hard disks now have so much capacity that they don''t really care how much space they use, and I don''t think most consumers care now either. Not like when I had to fit 50mb of Ultima 7 on a 270mb disk, with an OS, office suite, and other games on there too. So instead of coming up with elaborate compression and efficiency schemes like they used to, they often just stick all the resources directly on the disk. But this does mean they have more time for other features.

I suppose also that technology has allowed the use of resources that they once couldn''t have considered. I''m sure they would have loved to have used photorealistic textures for Ultima 7, but given only 256 colours and restricted disk/memory limits, it wasn''t an option. Now that you can use 4 billion colours with barely any extra code compared to 256, you may as well do so... and the resources grow by 200% to match this. And so on...

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And, to add a bit more to what I just said above, I found this quote on Gamasutra:

"As a game developer you have to take into account that the press wants to see new bells and whistles even as they are telling you that game play is all that matters. If you don''t have eye candy or some "hooks" that can be communicated very quickly, they have a habit of losing interest very quickly. And while the consumers will also say that they don''t care about graphics, if your screenshots don''t blow them away then there is less of a chance they will type in the website that is listed on the ad." - Feargus Urquhart, Black Isle Studios.

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Frogger3D and something hunter sold very well, but their graphics sucked IMO.

Gameplay still rules, when you buy a game, don''t you check out gameplay features first ?
I do.

Graphics needs to be good though, but not the best of the world.

-* So many things to do, so little time to spend. *-

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But then you could do it so that the graphics are great, but gameplay is great also. Deus Ex is probably the best RPG / first-person shooter of 2000 not because of its graphics, but because of its gameplay and practically infinite re-playability. But then again, I''m sure graphics upped the sales by quite a bit.

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Civilization 1 and 2 are both excellent games with engaging gameplay but simple graphics. Diablo 2 also has crappy graphics but amazingly addictive gameplay. I can''t think of any game with eye candy but bad gameplay that I play often.

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Peoples'' standards are increasing. If you walk through a level and all the walls have the same texture, every room you pass is "Quadrant Sector A:20" and every monster makes the same sound, it detracts from the experience. I''m not saying I am in favour of 1gb installs or "insert CD #28" but people expect diversity these days.

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Whats all this talk with the new entries in the industry not understanding these things? I''ve been ranting about this sort of things for years and I''m only 17. Graphics do need to look good, but gameplay needs to be even better! And, sure, most harddrives can hold those big games, well, game at least. Once you start actually playing more than ONE game, thats when better compression would come in handy! We can do alot better in terms of formats.

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Ever play Kings Quest 6: Heir today, Gone Tomorrow? I loved that game. I was positively hooked, and I still would be if I could remember where I put the damn disks (lost em a few years ago... very pissed off). It didn''t have beautiful graphics, not bad enough to hurt your eyes though.

Oh, as for Serious Sam, I think it''s cute.

Scott

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"If you try and don''t succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried."

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