Subversion, Theme/Art

It's all in your head

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quickdan
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Postby quickdan » Mon Jan 24, 2011 7:38 am

When you are in the heat of battle, or a heist in this case, you aren't looking at how pretty the textures are. You are looking out for your enemy, or your teammate. Graphics are there to support the gameplay which is the whole idea behind games. Does your Scrabble or Monopoly board at home have high-def texture graphics? No, but it's still fun to play. The same goes for video games. People still enjoy playing text-based games, because they get to create the spaces inside their heads. Great games use the graphics to help make the gameplay even better than it would have been, had it not had it. That's why Crysis for most people is not fun, besides the bad story, the graphics are a hindrance to most players as opposed to helping the game.
If there were only two games to play in the world, I would choose a text editor and a good C compiler.
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Postby MrBunsy » Mon Jan 24, 2011 9:53 am

quickdan wrote:When you are in the heat of battle, or a heist in this case, you aren't looking at how pretty the textures are. You are looking out for your enemy, or your teammate. Graphics are there to support the gameplay which is the whole idea behind games. Does your Scrabble or Monopoly board at home have high-def texture graphics? No, but it's still fun to play. The same goes for video games. People still enjoy playing text-based games, because they get to create the spaces inside their heads. Great games use the graphics to help make the gameplay even better than it would have been, had it not had it. That's why Crysis for most people is not fun, besides the bad story, the graphics are a hindrance to most players as opposed to helping the game.


You think scrabble is more fun than Crysis? Crysis was, performance issues aside, enjoyable imo. It was Far Cry without the annoying in the dark monster bits. Not a good example, especially compared to scrabble :P (upwords > scrabble, any day)
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Postby jelco » Mon Jan 24, 2011 1:17 pm

Once again, there is a difference between photo-realistic graphics with poor execution and a somewhat minimalistic style executed well. Scrabble wouldn't need graphics, it's centred around the words. However, try playing Crysis without textures and use, let's say, basic pastel colours for all polygons: there you go, one overdose of eyecancer. Crysis had great graphics and was awesome to play because of it - the hardware you needed was a minor aside, as was the fact that to me the entire game felt like it was making cheating a core part of gameplay.

When I took a first step into driving sims, I also though the graphics wouldn't need to be top-notch because everything zooms by anyway. However, I've found this is untrue. You might not look around all the time, but those few moments you do look ahead in a tight curve on Tsukuba, or take in the sights of roadside forests as you cruise over one of the Nordschleife's massive straights at mach 1, it is great to feel like you're racing the real world. Try playing an old game and it just feels a little more detached from actual racing, even if the physics and driving mechanics are exactly the same. This especially goes for the really old games that had so little memory road signs and spectators tend to suddenly pop into view at 10m away from you.

The same thing goes for shooters, and I even think it especially goes for shooters. They're all about being there in person, not playing a game but living it. You might not have your attention on your surroundings all the time, but it does certainly contribute to the feel of the game. In the same way, when you walk around in real life, you're not always looking at your surroundings either, but the fleeting moments you inadvertently do, it's important that it looks the way you expect it to look. Games, especially first-person games, are not any different.

Admittedly, part of the problem is a problem of luxury: we're so used to great graphics that old graphics feel...well, old. However, it can definitely contribute to the experience of the game, and is an important component these days. The fact that some games feel they can survive by their merit of having great graphics only is a sad side-effect, but nothing more. However you look at it, you can't deny that the graphics made Crysis feel somewhat better than the average shooter it is at heart, let alone convince me it 'ruined' the experience for you. That's just hating for the sake of hating on the mainstream, and makes you look pathetic.

Jelco
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Postby quickdan » Mon Jan 24, 2011 4:57 pm

I only threw in Crysis, because for most at the time it came out, it was difficult or near impossible for them to play the game at a high graphics level without their framerate dropping to the 10-15 range. I like having good graphics in games too.
Crysis was, performance issues aside
That's the problem, performance issues aside. I remember playing HL2 on an old 6 year old dell and it ran like a champ. For a large number of people they wouldn't be able to enjoy Crysis without a high-end gaming machine, which in my opinion is a hindrance. Why are people still playing CS 1.6? It's not because of graphics.
If there were only two games to play in the world, I would choose a text editor and a good C compiler.
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Postby jelco » Mon Jan 24, 2011 10:16 pm

You are both missing and seemingly avoiding the point. You were saying good graphics hurt games. The truth is, they don't (and although it is a rather extreme extrapolation from "bad graphics don't hurt games", that basis is not entirely sound either). The fact that Crysis needed a computer from the year 3000 to run was quite a mountain to climb for most gamers but in the end was pretty damn worth it and gave you everything you paid for. If you didn't have the money to spend on it or simply didn't want to, Crysis still looks very good at average settings the 'normal' gaming rig of those days could run.

CounterStrike is of course a game that is very much enjoyed based almost purely on gameplay, which definitely gives it a lasting appeal. However, do you really think it would be played less if it had better graphics? Let's face it, CounterStrike isn't really played as an FPS by most hardcore fans (except for the occasional "BOOM HEADSHOT" exclamations) - it's played like a puzzle game played in a 3D world. It's about finding your right position in the game world, hitting the right buttons at the right time, etc etc etc. That's definitely not a bad thing, but look at it this way: Crysis is played more like an FPS partly because of its great graphics, and going on from there the same goes for most recent shooters, including MoH and Black Ops.

Since the discussion initially was about whether or not Subversion needs photo-realistic graphics, let's trace back for a moment. My opinion: it really doesn't need them, and they will hurt the game (in its current form). As far as I can see, you pretty much agree with that, but your arguments make it seem like the opinion is founded on all the wrong reasons. In the end it comes down to what has been said time and time again in this thread, this entire forum and possibly the (indie) gaming scene as a whole: the graphics need to match the game. Photo-realistic graphics do not hurt a game per se, and especially in the case of the example you gave (Crysis) it does more good than bad since it contributes to the feel of being a soldier running around in a real world. They do hurt when it is out-of-place: Uplink for example did very well with its OS-like interface since it made you feel like you were actually hacking stuff from your own computer, and hence contributed to the feel of being a hacker sitting behind your computer. Both games are cases of phenomenal breaks of the fourth wall, and result in something very special: immersion.

If Subversion went for photo-realistic graphics, it wouldn't hurt the game because everything looks so realistic, but it would hurt the game because it is out of place. Obviously you don't plan a heist with (purely) sattelite images, you plan it with blueprints and maps. Making the whole world look like a giant 3D blueprint is hence a good move. However, I think the occasional photo of a bank manager wouldn't hurt and actually makes it feel a bit more real. That being said, it's difficult to pull that off properly when the version of the manager you meet with face-to-face will actually be another blueprint polygon.

Just imagine, for a second, that you don't go into the game (i.e. the actual heist, not the preceding planning material) in first-person mode, with photo-realistic graphics. Would the game be less immersive? No it wouldn't; you'd feel like a real bank robber, running around in a real bank, threatening/shooting/killing real people to steal real money. So why is the blueprint style also good? Because the blueprint version is third-person mode, basically continuing on from the planning phase - like playing out an army battle by moving pawns across a board. They might be very lively pawns, and it may all look very much like a real battle, but in the end it's just a set of pawns on a board. Subversion's current style isn't any different. In fact, if it wasn't for the impossible combination with the rest of the game's blueprint setting, I'd much prefer a photo-realistic first-person mode for the actual jobs since they're way more immersive. And it works well, as proven by games like Splinter Cell.

Fact of the matter is, graphics are, have been and always will be a very important part of the game, and are more important than you might realize in defining the game experience. Of course I dislike games that put so much time into graphics that other elements get bogged down, but not any more than any other elements (physics might actually be more guilty of this than graphics). Subversion's style has been chosen because it achieves a certain effect that IV is pretty familiar with, but you simply can't deny that at least part of the reason is that it's simple to build. The trade-off works out well in this case (or at least that's what I hope, don't really have anything more than videos to go on here) but can often work less well and destroy a game in the process. I'm not giving this particular troll (Jasmine Moldovia) backing here because he's being a fucking retard and deserves to get shot as far as I'm concerned, but I do give at least some credit to the folks who are a bit careful with games with these looks, since their cheap looks can sometimes (sadly) be a very good representation of the overall game quality.

Jelco

PS: Just to be clear, I write essays like this all the time. Don't think I'm trying to burn you to the ground here, this is my way of a friendly discussion over here. A couple of others have similar traits. :)
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Postby quickdan » Wed Feb 23, 2011 3:05 am

Graphics in games take up a lot of work, i.e. Artists, Level Designers, Engine Builders, Effects Work, Motion Capture, etc.. Which for an indie developer with only a few people working on the game have to cut off at a point. That's where the importance of procedurally generated programming comes in. How many times have you seen a video game trailer where they showed off the game logic? At this point in video game history, graphics and logic(the heart of a game), imo, are very intertwined and most people would not like to play a spreadsheet. That is the difference between a video game and a board game.
If there were only two games to play in the world, I would choose a text editor and a good C compiler.

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