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Where will graphics lead?

I read an interesting article today from G4 regarding graphics in video games.  It got me thinking about the games I grew up with and what we have today.  Video games have a long and well documented history going back several decades.  From the games played on the big mainframe computers to today, where a game can be played on a cellphone.  Advances in graphics have improved substantially over the years with each successive generation.

When the first video games came out the graphics were, to put it mildly, less than mind blowing.  The screens usually had a white object (ala space war), or whatever you controlled, on a black background.  The advancing vector graphics in early games became something to behold.  Eventually games evolved to 2D sprites and emerging to 3D polygons.  The jump to 3D was definitely a huge advance for gaming and for showing the realism possible.  With advances in texture, lighting, and processing power, we have some amazing looking games today, but is that really what we need? 

We all like to see the eye candy in todays games.  Who doesn't like to see the way the foliage moves in Crysis?  Uncharted includes realistic looking and moving characters in addition to a good looking environment, but is all this realism something we really need?  Could realistic games bad for gaming?  Let's take a look at what the effects are of getting all that pretty scenery.  As games become more realistic we see a huge increase in the amount of software that is required to render said environments and characters.  It takes a lot of information to get Crysis to look as drop dead gorgeous as it does.  What cost do we have to pay for that?  Obviously, we need a system with a lot of processing power that can read all that information and display it on the screen as it was meant to be seen.  If our computer or console is unable to read and send out the information fast enough, we see drastic problems with the rendering.  Slowdown is to be expected in games with high detail environments, although the developers work hard to make sure their game is compatible with as many systems as possible.  Another issue we see, more and more these days, is regarding the length of the game.  The developers have a hard choice in choosing the correct balance between quality and quantity.  We all want more of our favorite games.  To see more and different environments in Uncharted, or to have another area to go to in Halo 3 are all natural reactions from the gamers.  For the game makers though, that one more level may mean another $500,000 in developing costs or adding a second disc to include the extra code.  Both factors that are important in order to lower development costs.

For some games though, realism is the only way it will work.  The Normandy Beach level in Medal of Honor would not have made the impression it did if you didn't see the bodies, hear the bullets and mortars, or see the Nazis in the distance with the machine guns.   You needed to feel a connection with the world, the real world that was, in order to get the full impact and emotional response to the moment.  When you charge the beach, you can imagine being with the soldiers that were actually there, some 50 years or so before you were even born.  It brings us a connection to what was, and maybe even, what is to come. 

Realism may be a challenge for developers, but in the right world, under the right circumstances, it is a requirement.

As always, I'd like to know what you think.  Yes you, the one that kept muttering to himself while reading this article.   You just need to speak up a little more so I can hear.

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LinuxGuru5094d ago (Edited 5094d ago )

I think the advances in graphics are essential for providing the correct atmosphere and convey the correct message to the gamer.

Art direction (similar to set direction in films) is a key component that is most definitely aided by increasingly real visuals.

Take saving private ryan, for example.

Without the advances in surround sound, visual effects, and props.....Stephen Spielberg wouldn't have been able to convey the horrible, bloody, nauseous atmosphere of the beach landings in WW II correctly.

I feel that Saving Private Ryan is the perfect example (even though it's a movie) for any game developer. If you want proper use of effects....look at this movie.

If you want proper use of amazing sound....look at Saving Private Ryan.

If you want proper use of props and scenery....look at Saving Private Ryan.

Saving Private Ryan, to me, is the penultimate achievement by any sort of director, and should be a model for anyone looking to show atmosphere and sound correctly.

There are great examples in the world already for any director to follow...for any genre.

You want a good fantasy template....take a look at lord of the rings.

You want a good sci-fi template....take a glance at the Fifth Element.

You want a well-paced action template...grab a copy of the Great Escape.

You want a well-done War film template - check Saving Private Ryan.

These films are perfect examples of what we are aiming for and heading towards in the gaming industry.

THese films provided their own very unique and compelling atmospheres, compelling characters, and compelling storylines, all with satisfying results and conclusions.

Making something interesting and compelling demands an approach laced with believable realism in the context of its own reality. There are certain elements (a low common denominator) amongst all films that the human mind uses to determine if the events happening could be plausible or not.

Ultimately....visuals will and only should AID developers to create compelling characters, stories, and worlds, all with an increasing sense of realism relative to that game's established definition of reality.

Make sense?


**good blog, dude. Made me think.

killer_trap5094d ago (Edited 5094d ago )

it will lead to more costly game development and thus more companies closing their doors cause it'll take 2million sales wise in order for them to make profit.

developers are struggling with this gen and very few companies have the resources and man power to tap the potential pf the ps3& 360. i can't imagine what will happen next gen.

however, this will force companies to reevaluate the games they release. they will make sure they're not releasing CRAP disguised as a video game.

graphics are the main reason games these days require a much bigger budget than before.

LinuxGuru5094d ago

money should be no object when it comes to making something that will affect someone's life.

That's what developers are trying to do, right? Affect our lives in amazing ways, by showing us that creativity really does have no limit?

I would be willing to spend my entire life's fortune, and then some, to create something that would affect a person's life in a positive way.

I think it's good that only big companies with lots of competitive, creative minds, are the ones making games now. This means that hopefully, with so much to lose.....they will put all their efforts into making wonderfully impacting games, and turn a profit while doing so.

killer_trap5094d ago

ummm. well what you said is kind of right but it doesn't apply to the majority of game developers out there. and if there were developers who are willing to go an extra mile to immerse us in a better experience and touch our lives in one way or another, i'm sure there are company executives that make sure they don't go over budget. after all it's a business and their first major concern is how to get your money.


who cares about graphics if the game is not fun?

look at san andreas on ps2, it had the worst graphics compared to everything else out at the time.

killer_trap5094d ago (Edited 5094d ago )

i know what are you trying to say. but that logic will only lead us one way........................... ..back to the black screen with controllable white dots in them. graphics are just as important as sound , control, gameplay and fun factor. i remember putting away games just because they had a faulty camera not just bad graphics.

bsides i didn't get a $500 system to play tetris, no matter how fun that game is!!!!!!

Silverwolf5092d ago

that will make or break a game. Graphics, sound, controls and gameplay. If one or the other fail to blend well, the game will flop. Many developers concentrate there efforts on one over the other. While others have found the perfect blend (Infinity Ward, Imsomniac, Naughty dog, Kojima studios, Capcom, etc). How can developers make sure they are getting the right blend? Well by hiring programmers that are good hardcore gamers as well as they are programmers. Being a gamer to begin with means you have passion for what you do. This is VERY important! Just because I know how and where to place a code, doesn't mean I'll do it with the same satisfaction of knowing it's been done right. Knowing that the code you just wrote will make a gamers jaw drop and having that feeling of "yes I did that"! Like any job if you don't do it with pride and passion it will always show in the finish product.

ngg123455090d ago

It will probably regress a little, when the budget for games become too big. They'll start using art, and better stories, instead of graphic whores. And probably use a artsy style instead of realism. That is at least my iea of what will happen.

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