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Graphics vs Gameplay

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Most of the gamers I know say that graphics don’t influence at all while they play. They say it’s all about skill and imagination, that “graphics just enhance the experience a bit”. I’m pretty sure that in the videogaming industry, there are 2 different sections (at least) that separate the graphics work from programming but in the end they are still part of the same team, so is gameplay actually a consecuence of graphics?

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No.

If you play chess on the computer or mariokart with actual carts, the rules of the game don't change.

The industry doesn't just create rules though. They create a product, which (for better or worse) graphics makes up a large part of.

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Maybe it has to do with what the greatest influence for creating the game was. If someone has a great new gameplay idea they want to push through, then the graphics may not be the primary focus, and vice versa, but there are cases where the gameplay idea could involve graphics somehow too.

Also, people like different things about a game (they may even like one thing one day and another the next). hardcore min/maxers and clanners probably don't care too much about the graphics, as long as the gameplay is captivating for them. For example, all the people that play quake3 with all the texturing off and force their opponent's model to be rendered in bright purple, to get the best gameplay/advantage.

Art vs Programming is always an interesting topic. As you suggest, though, whatever the programming, gamers still have to interface with the art to some degree.

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Bad graphics can ruin an otherwise great game.
Bad gameplay can ruin an otherwise great game.

Reasonably okay gameplay can help make a game compelling.
Reasonably okay graphics can help make a game compelling.

Excellent gameplay can overrule bad graphics for people who prefer fun games.
Excellent graphics can overrule bad gameplay for people who like shiny things.

Further, the definition of what is good or bad depends a great deal on the target audience. A game targeting very young children doesn't require very much to have good gameplay, just enough to keep their interest and hopefully teach them something. A text-based dungeon crawler doesn't require much to have good graphics, just appropriate glyph selection, colors, and layout. Figuring those out can be a lot of work --- especially if you are aiming for "excellent" --- but reaching "good" in those cases is not too hard.

Neither graphics or gameplay alone will make or break a game.
My general view:

Gameplay Graphics General result
Bad Bad Really horrible game
Okay Bad Low end game
Bad Okay Low end game
Okay Okay Medium to above average game
Good Bad Medium game
Bad Good Medium game
Good Okay Above average game
Okay Good Above average game
Good Good Excellent game

Note that there are several other factors in determining the quality of a game for an individual. A few of these include sound, non-gameplay design, design style, target audience, performance (lack of bugs or crashing), hardware requirements (a game for 5-year-olds shouldn't require a $3000 gaming rig), and innumerable others.

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In my opinion, graphics will become less important as the industry reaches the 'photorealistic cap'. While the graphics will still be phenomenal, anyone (basically) is capable of producing them, so they are no longer special.

I know a lot of people that would agree with me when I say that awe-inspiring graphics do not ensure a good game (Assassin's Creed comes to mind), so you cant neglect the gameplay.

If I wanted photo-realism in a world where nothing exciting happened, I'd peer out my window. The suspension of reality comes from great story and gameplay, and while good graphics is a fantastic bonus, I don't believe that is the 'clencher'.

M

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