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Does photo-realism really matter?

Sure, graphics matter to an extent, but at what cost? Introversion's (Darwinia, Defcon) Mark Morris argues that developers' pursuit of photo-realism is a dead-end for the industry.

So far, with visually abstract games like Uplink, Darwinia and Defcon: Everybody Dies, Introversion has taken an obvious stance on the graphics vs. gameplay debate. Company director Morris says that Introversion is likely never to create a photo-realistic title, and his reasoning is simple: "Everybody's doing it, it's expensive and, most importantly, photo-realism doesn't matter."

But really, would any reasonable person argue that graphics (particularly photo-realistic graphics) are more important than the gameplay factor? Probably not, but Morris says that the games that are released nowadays indicate otherwise.

"What I think happens too often is that [developers] sort of go, 'We're going to show you the best graphics you've ever seen and then we might pack a bit of gameplay or a little bit of entertaining fun on at the end," he says. "I think that's a very bad thing, a very bad thing to do, and I think we're seeing a lot of companies doing it."

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heihoosilver3615d ago

if not why made new and more powerfull/expensive machines?
We only needed a saturn or Ps1 if Photo-realism doesn´t matter.

THAMMER13615d ago

Yes it dose. Just look at R: FOM and GOW. Both games play great and have great graphics. Crack down has awesome graphics and Game play that is on par with the best Mario games out. And Halo is Just WOW. And Madden 2007 is pretty too. So this guy is lame.

The best games have awesome game play and he probably sucks at video games in the 1st place. I tired of the tools that try to make it seem like good graphics are a bad thing. That is why I buy so many games. I want to see the best graphics and get pulled into a game by its realistic effects.

Bullseye3615d ago

I'm tempted to instantly agree with the guys above and say yes,photo -realism matters.But i would just like to qualify that a bit more,before i pledge alliegance to the almighty graphics gods. afterall, we have been playing games for decades now and the first game characters consisted of not much more than stick figures.I don't think we enjoyed those games any less than we enjoy the modern, graphic intensive games we play today.So,it may be its what we have become accustomed to rather than whats actually needed from an entertainment point of view.I sometimes wonder if it isn't the industry that pushes the graphics, because of a lack of inventiveness and originality in the gameplay department.See,i don't recall us arguing over the graphics quality in Mario, or the fact that street fighter wasn't hi-res, no, we where to busy enjoying wonderfully entertaining games.Photo-realism in games is inevitable,whether its essential is, i think, debatable.

THAMMER13615d ago

You do not need to have great graphics for a great game. But it dose help. Street fighter is fun because of the awesome game play and what it takes to master the controls. You will allways forgive the graphics because they nailed the game play so tight.

0ldb0y3614d ago

I certainly agree with your thoughts about the industry pushing for more photo-realism over gameplay, but at the same time I attribute much of the OVER emphasis on consumers demanding it when they shouldn't be.

You can have a great game that has non-photo realistic visuals and great play value (i.e. New Super Mario Bros for the DS), but great graphics and poor gameplay will NOT amount to a great game. Take Eragon, for example, which actually had poor graphics and gameplay. Even if it had the best photo-realistic visuals, to the point where it looked like you were controlling real life people, it wouldn't have helped the gaming experience.

As Morris explained, visuals had a great impact when they grew in complexity from blocky 2D sprites into 3D models, and I'll agree that graphics are the first draw for any game as it appeals to most people's dominant sense of sight. Personally, I feel that it gets to a point where photo-realism can actually take away from a game, regardless of gameplay.

For another example, consider Gears of War. Both visuals and gameplay are astounding, but Marcus and Delta squad character models are pretty stretched in terms of realism to actual human beings. Real people are not proportioned like that (except maybe body builders, in which case they wouldn't even be able to move as soldiers need to). Had they been able to perfectly replicate human character models, I doubt I would have liked it as much. It was the art direction that drew me in rather than its similarity to real life.

In some instances, photo realism does play a vital role, i.e. racing simulators where you want the car models to be crisp and accurate to real life. But making it a priority in all games is simply a mistake.

In the end, the article is making the point that you have to balance between visuals and gameplay, but you'll usually have them work in opposite directions. Yes, photo-realism matters, but gameplay trumps all.

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