Arcaned Machine 7
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January 2nd, 2011

Arcaned Machine 7

For me, realistic video game graphics don’t work. They seem to draw attention to the ridiculous part of the game. Like how my fully rendered 3D image of a dude is just running into a wall, in place, as he tries to round a corner. Or how the tree looks completely real but the leaves don’t move. Or how when I fast a frost spell on an area the flowers survive better than the thick skinned ogre. Or how when my dwarf and I wear the same armour it fits. I think that’s why I loved Zelda: Windwaker so much. It didn’t try to look real. It looked like a cartoon and that was perfect. It worked within its limitations. It was adorable. If I can pretend a few white pixel is Yar, the space insectoid, I think maybe more time should be spent on making a fun game and less on making it look realistic.

18 Awesomes Comments!

  1. crowbar

    I agree: Graphics Alone Do Not A Good Game Make. Look at Minecraft, which has sold a bazillion copies “despite” it’s LEGO-like graphics. Or Dwarf Fortress, which uses ASCII by default yet manages to generate incredible gameplay.

    And then of course there’s Rogue (yes, the original Rogue), which also used ASCII “graphics”, yet is one of the most immersive games I’ve ever played. Since you can’t save except by exiting the game, your heart really gets racing when you’re deep into the dungeon, walk your smiley-face avatar around a corner, and see a capital D for Dragon. One false move and you’re history, with no quick-load to give it another try. Now that’s immersion.

    Another example in the game Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem. It didn’t have the greatest graphics, but as your character became more and more insane, the game would start to mess with your mind by pretending to turn off the television, alter the volume by itself, or “lose” your save files. In a way, it’s the opposite of immersion, but it made the game creepy as heck.

  2. RavenBlack

    That’s what us old fogeys say, it’s the modern equivalent of “we used to make our own fun.” Your average kid raised on Grand Theft Auto is going to look at Space Invaders the same way we look at kick-a-can.

  3. ColdFusion

    I like the way 2d graphics keep getting better, up to the super high resolution capcom anime-looking stuff.. or the hand-painted look of Muramasa and such..
    Wind Waker, I couldn’t get over the gigantic heads, tiny legs, and long arms.. but I thought the n64 ones were the perfect balance.
    I love how the clockatrice is a digital clock XD that is awesome.

  4. Tiki Snakes

    As an argument to the contrary, would your webcomic be improved if you didn’t put as much effort into the art? It would likewise require us to use more of our imagination.

    I don’t think so personally. 🙂

    I think to some degree your problem is related to the whole ‘uncanny valley’ effect, but it’s also a false dillema. It’s very unlikely that a games company would directly balance the ‘making things fun team’ against a seperate ‘make things look good team’. Equal effort is going to go to both, in as much as different individuals will work equally hard at their respective jobs.

    You should also have a look at some of the newer technologies cropping up in games, that will deal with some of these issues. For example, characters in Assassin’s creed, Red Dead Redemption and so on increasingly react to their enviroment properly. Ironically, dealing with that kind of thing isn’t even really a graphics problem, but a physics one. 🙂

  5. sirbacon

    Does a game really need the newest and best cutting edge graphics to be super good? Final Fantasy VII, end of story.

    Not that I’m not clamoring for a PS3 remake, mind you, but still…

  6. starkey

    I know this question gonna be sound silly, but so Curious. Who is the Real Face-model of Queen of literally Heart in this Episode?

  7. Bok

    Where Final Fantasy 7 is concerned, the graphics may not be cutting edge NOW, but they certainly were back when the game was released. I haven’t actually gotten far into the game, so I can’t say much about the story, but the gameplay left some things to be desired for me as well. (most of it seems to involves watching long flashy battle animations)

    What I like is how nowadays, there seems to be a whole market for (graphically) simpler games, be it low-cost digitally distributed minigames or full-price (and full-content) games for portable consoles. Given the latter, I’m not sure how I feel about Nintendo’s new 3DS; it seems to go in a more graphics oriented direction again.

  8. admin

    Crowbar – good examples!

    Raven Black – Get off my lawn! I mean, yeah, maybe the next generation will think of awkward computer generated characters as heartwarming as I see Ray Harryhausen monsters.

    ColdFusion – You’re right, the more time being spent on 2D is really pushing it to look gorgeous.

    Tiki Snakes – Actually, that was the point I was trying to make also. If my comic was as well rendered as that last panel it would not be any funnier, and probably less funny.
    The games companies may be trying to make games fun but I think they also get caught up a lot in the keeping up with the Jonses and trying to justify why you buy the sequel/2kX version. You’re right that it’s probably the physics also causes issues a lot of times.

    Starkey – The real Queen of Hearts

    Bok – yes! Indy game culture is pretty exciting!

  9. Tiki Snakes

    I tend to find that as with anything, it’s the games companies that get the mix right that produce both the most genuinely good looking and fun games, really.

    If you don’t understand how to build a fun game, it doesn’t really matter how nice it looks, but a lot of companies do tend to use graphics as a crutch when they have otherwise put in half a job on the game itself. I’ve noticed that a lot of Japanese games, especially RPG’s, are doing this. I struggled to find one that wasn’t both using the excellent Unreal engine and also totally torturous to play, a little while ago.

    Given that some of my favourite games of the last year include Red Dead Redemption, Mass Effect 2 and Limbo, I can pretty happily agree with Bok, too. Arcade and Indy games are a great addition to the market.

    Just a note, though, Eternal Darkness had pretty mind blowing graphics, considering which console it was released on, to be fair. 😉

  10. Tamfang

    On a tangent, I wonder whether there’s a market for decks of cards with the customer’s choice of suits. You could order a custom deck with pink hearts, yellow moons, orange stars and green clovers, for example. Or eight suits with 16 ranks numbered 0 to F.

  11. admin

    Tiki Snakes – one of my friends worked on Eternal Darkness. I’m sure he’ll be pleased with the compliment!

    Tamfang – Brilliant!

  12. Tiki Snakes

    Easily my favourite Gamecube game, Eternal Darkness. He’s every right to feel proud, working on a title like that.

  13. jonmcnally

    Sign me up for simplicity, in video games and elsewhere. “Realistic” rendering is one of the reasons I don’t read many superhero comics these days.

    Sign me up also for the Eternal Darkness fan list!

  14. EveryZig

    My theory is that the best level of graphics depends on the intended atmosphere. For comedic stories, for example, a more simplistic art style often works better, as opposed to more dramatic fiction, which usually has an atmosphere that fits more detailed things.
    (of course, you can make use of differing art/story tones for various effects (consider Erfworld, for example))

  15. Scarodactyl

    I wish I could contribute meaningfully to these kind of discussions, but as a pixel artist I kinda have to be biased towards 2-D games (keeps me in commissions, after all, and it’s art I can appreciate). Speaking of which, I really like your backgrounds, though they give me the vague urge to antialias =D.

  16. Emma

    I like well rendered yet cartoony grapics, like the ones in Square Enix’s more recent DS releases

  17. Grapestain

    Hey! It’s me! You drew me! Aww, you are my king of hearts, ok? Jack of hearts? I don’t know, what’s better? Would you rather be the king (4 points) or the yoss (20 points!)?

  18. Steve

    My personal opinion on the matter of graphical fidelity is that it is a tool, which isn’t always needed and must be used correctly, but can be very effective. My analogy is that if you know how to run it and plan on cutting down trees, a chainsaw is a wonderful thing to have, not so much if you need to scratch your back and can’t quite reach. Far too many game designers think that they have to use the most realistic graphics available, even if they aren’t really best.