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Art Vs Content

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Whilst working on a side project of mine, a question donned on me, which is better art or content? 

 

Personally, I like content better than art. Content as in, quality of story, writing, and game mechanics. I think art is important, but sometimes it gets in the way of what the game could truly be. I've seen many a game with fluid animation and stellar graphics, yet lacking in story, writing and overall game play.

 

Although I may be biased since I'm a programmer and can't draw to save my life :p (aside from a killer stick man if I do say so myself).

 

Which do you think is more important?  

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Can you define what art and content are to you?

e.g. I'm used to the definitions where the game is made up of code and content - if it's not code, it's content.

 

I guess you mean that all effort that's going into making the game look pretty is in the "art" category, and all effort going into making the game fun is in the "content" category?

 


I think art is important, but sometimes it gets in the way of what the game could truly be. I've seen many a game with fluid animation and stellar graphics, yet lacking in story, writing and overall game play.

Do you have any examples of games where great animations/graphics have directly caused the writing / gameplay to be constrained?

Edited by Hodgman

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Can you define what art and content are to you?

e.g. I'm used to the definitions where the game is made up of code and content. If it's not code, it's content.

 

 

 


I think art is important, but sometimes it gets in the way of what the game could truly be. I've seen many a game with fluid animation and stellar graphics, yet lacking in story, writing and overall game play.
Do you have any examples of games where great animations/graphics have directly caused the writing / gameplay to be constrained?

 

 

I think the art/graphics restrict the other content in pretty much all games since art requirements scale with the amount of content in a game. (its not just graphics though, things like voice acting also have a direct impact on the cost of adding more dialogue to a game).

 

Its basically a content quantity vs art quality vs art diversity argument, if you raise one you have to either reduce the others or increase the budget, apart from a few AAA titles with massive budgets most games today have to pick a balance between them. (It seems like art diversity is the first thing that suffers though)

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Personally, I like content better than art. Content as in, quality of story, writing, and game mechanics. I think art is important, but sometimes it gets in the way of what the game could truly be. I've seen many a game with fluid animation and stellar graphics, yet lacking in story, writing and overall game play.



Although I may be biased since I'm a programmer and can't draw to save my life tongue.png (aside from a killer stick man if I do say so myself).



Which do you think is more important?

This is my personal opinion:

 

Once you dig into the content vs art topic, you will see that it is tragedy. From my experiences, there are only really three ways to go for an indie dev. Either produce really appealing art (in this case content is secondary), produce really un-appealing art and you might join the club of curiosities, which could bless you with media coverage (in this case content will attract and hold a certain fan base) or finally produce real art.

 

Just having decent art is often not enough to please most of the folk (almost every one will find, that your game looks 95% good, but just this last 5% are more or less a showstopper sad.png ). People like to talk either about the rich/poor and beautiful/ugly things, but seldom about normal stuff. And you need people to talk about your stuff if you want to get awareness.

 

Therefor it might be an better option to stick to really low,unappealing art (e.g. ascii,8bit art) instead of investing lot of time or money to get to a decent  art level. Though if you really have the option to make some appealing, polished art, go for it. But remember to choose the right scope, art creation is really costly.

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There are some popular games without/with poor graphics but great content (Dwarf Fortress, Minecraft).

 

There is not even one popular game that got there on looks alone.

 

 

 

Of course it's best to have both :D

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which is better art or content?
Personally, I like content better than art. Content as in, quality

 

That's all wrong. Art = quality. Content merely = quantity. 

What you're asking is, "quantity vs. quality," but you've totally mischaracterized what quality is.

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one needs to strike a balance between resources spent on art and non-art content.  all content should be of relatively equally high quality, so none appears weak.

 

competition will tend to define the minimum content quality level required to be competitive.

 

a game where non-art content quality was low because the resources had been spent on high quality art would have a lot of eye candy but not much game behind the pretty pictures. might generate some interest amongst causal gamers / non-gamers (think Myst), but would probably not do well with the more hard core gamer audiences.

 

"pictures are for looking at,    games are for PLAYING!" <g>

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Whilst working on a side project of mine, a question donned on me, which is better art or content?

Which do you think is more important?  

I think this is a false dichotomy; it presupposes that content is not art.

 

Let's lay aside for the moment the work of musicians, and graphic artists that create the textures and models, and level designers who craft worlds; those can be construed as artwork.

 

But a category I almost never hear of being referred to as a work of artistic endeavor is the sculpting of behaviors the player will execute within a game. For example, in the Facebook social game Farmville 2 there's a cooking minigame. One of the things about that game that I find pleasurable is the way the player goes about crafting the recipes. It's a hierarchical system of constructing sub-components and finally finishing the main dish. And the mechanic is a drill-down arrangement that is to me just fun to do.

 

Crafting fun things to do: Is it art?

Edited by AngleWyrm

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I don't see how (visual) art and (programmatical) content are mutually exclusive.  You can add maps, stories, characters, items, etc... all day long.  

If you won't be making the art anyway, do what you do and look for (or hire) someone else to assist with the art.  You can have both.

Edited by Meatsack

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I think the art/graphics restrict the other content in pretty much all games since art requirements scale with the amount of content in a game. (its not just graphics though, things like voice acting also have a direct impact on the cost of adding more dialogue to a game).

While, yes, with voice acting; but that's not necessarily the case with textures and 3D models. More content requires some more art, but it doesn't have to take alot more art. Art from previous areas can be reused effectively in new areas. Not every area needs to have 100% unique textures. The first few areas would require a huge amount of art, and each additional area would require progressively less because of the existing library of art you're already using in the game. Some areas won't require any new art.

 

(Since art is content, I'm using the definition of content = maps/levels/areas, art = music/textures/3Dmodels. This is a bad definition, because that means new enemies = art rather than content, which is wrong, but when we're starting with wrong definitions in the first place, there's not much you can do)

Edited by Servant of the Lord

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Obviously it's all interrelated, but I think since they are called games, gameplay should take precedence over everything else. I think the purpose of content (visual art, music, story, play spaces) is to relate the mechanics of the game to the player. Aesthetic or other appeal should never trump gameplay considerations. For example, an enemy should look and sound the way it does to communicate to the player its gameplay purpose (like an enemy is big and is wearing a helmet, meaning it has lots of health and can't be killed with a headshot), not just to look cooool, dude.

 

Theoretically, at least, since marketing relies heavily on things like screenshots and videos so your game can't look or sound too garbagey or tons of people won't even get to the point of playing a demo.

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They can both be important, but I think that in most cases, content, at least in the sense that we’re talking about here, is more important than art and graphics, although it kind of depends on what kind of game you’re making. (puzzle games and RPGs for example, traditionally benefit much more from content than visual art, while a multiplayer fighting game is pretty much the reverse) Personally, I would also classify a lot of game mechanics in a different and even more fundamental category than content or art, but that’s just how I tend to think about it.

 

The way I see it, higher quality content (good mechanics, good story, memorable characters, good level design, well designed puzzles, etc.) will make the game more fun, and the more of this content you add, the longer the game will last, further increasing its value. (again, depending on the genre) On the other hand, spending more of your time on art, either in making really high quality art or lots of individual art assets, will help your game get noticed, but it won’t necessarily make the game any longer, or any deeper, or any more fun to play.

 

 


(Since art is content, I'm using the definition of content = maps/levels/areas, art = music/textures/3Dmodels. This is a bad definition, because that means new enemies = art rather than content, which is wrong, but when we're starting with wrong definitions in the first place, there's not much you can do)

 

The way I’d read it, new enemies would only be considered entirely art if they’re nothing more than re-skinned versions of existing enemies. If we're separating the visual component from the gameplay components, then the 3d model itself = art, but the stats, weapons, abilities, and story behind an enemy would surely be considered to be a different kind of content than just “art.”

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I am confused. Which 2 things to compare and why? Based on your explanation, looks like you mean to compare graphics (art) to pretty much everything else (content)? So your question is if graphics are important?

 

If you are doing non-commercial game for free it doesn't matter much. You make the game by your own standards and skills and at your own pace. For commercial use since we know games ranging from Tetris to Crysis to do well on the market, there's not really a short answer.

 

In startup phase it is critical you have a graphic style planned out in GDD or at least visually solid and unified look in your screenshots that paints a reliable picture. If people come to see the material and they see comic colors and outlines mixed with photograph cutouts, clay renders and particle effects it gives off a very uncertain impression, like you have little idea what you are trying to do. Most important thing IMO is the unified graphics style, be it 8-bit, line graphics, photorealism, toon gfx etc.

 

If the graphics need to be flashy is another thing. If you need funding in the beginning the easiest way to get it (without  exceptionally mindblowing story / gameplay idea that can be summarized in one sentence) is to make nice looking screenshots. This is the part where most developers manipulate the in-game material with something that isn't quite working yet in real-time but will be implemented eventually. There are some tricky things to this like the fact that 2D is faster to develop but 3D sells better.

 

Selling the game for funding with really good gameplay mechanics, story or something like that is much harder, because you can't really present it in a way it could be seen at one glance. It takes some time for the viewer to realize the potential it and it also takes MUCH longer for the developer to prepare. I reckon this is why so many games aim for pretty looks in the end and lack on the story and content. Good ol' business world!

Edited by ShadowFlar3

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Art is content, as it is something that can be worked on to improve the game, just like level design, texts (if applicable), rules, etc. Having different people in charge of art assets and of gameplay doesn't make them competing concerns: all aspects of a game are interdependent, and a good development team gives priority to the weakest link, whatever it is. 

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Art is the conveyance of content. The best story in the world will never be read unless the writer artistically presents it in a manner that is understood and entertaining. The same thing can be said about games. Even "Angry Birds" must have some kind of over-arching plot (even if it's simple). Skyrim has both art and content. The artwork of the game gives the player a greater sense of "being there" and the content gives the player a reason to stay.

 

When designing a game, you should decide your content first and then use art to bring it to life.

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Art is a form or part of content. I see content is what the game engine eats.
A more pure data driven game engine the content is the game wich uses the engine to execute it.

From the contex of Art vs content it sound more like a confusing mixup of definitions.
But I read about.
Story vs gameplay.
Graphics vs gameplay.

Grapics is form of art and part of the game content .
Content I see as a data base of game assets.
Also gameplay related things falls under it. The game mechanics the game rules, could be list of atribute values a bunch of scrips balanced and stored as a asset in the content database.

To me the most important thing that makes a game a game is gameplay.
There are " games " wich have no gameplay. But where you can explore a virtual world and gaze upon things. I call those things non games.
Story hifidility art or abstract simple looks are all optional and a dev choice to choose your target audience.

Me I am more or realistic theme and render style with good worked out game play. Sandbox exploring and many things to do.
But no quest story or missions because that is in conflict with freedom.

So no cutscenes no QTE for me no level end bosses.

Also great story need a great writer wich are rare and very talented and skilled people to make a deep quality story. And game writing complicate story writing a lot. So a focus on story for a very story driven game. It cost a lot to atrack a bigsot " game " story writer to get in your team.
But for most games that is overkill as story is more a means to get a backstory or means to emerse more into to the game where aktion is the core of it so more gameplay with story support. Lot of action focused games just like aktion movies don't have deep story but are for specific target audience very entertaining. Including me.

So movie like Rambo 4 I like. Most oscar things like Titanic not. Also drama centered stuf I dislike.
Games like tell tale the walking dead or heavy rain are not for me.

But I play zombie shooters. With more focus on shooting. Then survival. Shooters from milsims to wii onrails shooters.

Art == content =/= gameplay =/= story

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