regarding graphic capabilities it can be as much a curse as a blessing. with simple graphics you are forced to convey a mood and a setting and much like a novel your mind will fill in the blanks to improve the experience. old sierra games in particular, but also games like manic mansion, looked really bad even for their time but i still remember how heros quest 1 was amazing.
I get the gist of what you're saying. "with simple graphics you are forced to convey a mood and a setting" - doesn't that imply that with shinier, high fidelity graphics a designer can just rest on their laurels and excuse dubious choices in level design and gameplay mechanics with that argument? Maybe I misinterpret what you wrote. Please clarify that statement a bit more. A game is more than just graphics, no? Shouldn't a game studio always to strive to create a sort of consistent
style for whatever franchise they're working on?
Even with high resolution graphics a developer should still strive to create/uphold a certain mood. Just take a look at the past Hitman games, to name something out of your own vaults. Sure, today the graphics might be "outdated", but there were a ton of things (great and small) that added to the realism of these levels/locations. Yes, level design and construction has a lot to do with that as well, but level design and visual style are two means to the same end. These shouldn't ever be mutually exclusive, right? Shiny graphics might be nice to look at, but they should never mask questionable level design. I doubt a lot of gamers cling to games because of their graphics, gameplay and narrative are ultimately what keeps a player coming back for more. In my opinion, graphics are merely a tool, one part of a greater whole to create an engaging game experience. All these tools should work in unison to create an engrossing game experience, be it graphics, level design, audio (sound/music) or overall creative direction.
so the more you work your ass off to achive amazing graphics the more the details become even more important, since high resolution textures require a higher resolution world with more detail. and if characters look "nearly" human, but not quite, we will discard them as "bad" as the fall in the uncanny valley, while we easily accept cartoony or low detail human models as we will add the details in our minds. there are also contradictions in that a super detailed world might work against gameplay. stuff lying around doesnt make for very good cover, character might get stuck in it and so forth. so you want a simple world with simple mechanics for gameplay but details for graphics fidelity which can be difficult.
I like to point to Dead Space, Bioshock, Ratchet & Clank and the Uncharted series for examples of how (insanely) detailed worlds/locations can, in fact, be very effective and thoroughly believable, without ever "working against gameplay". Whether it's the sci-fi/horror of Dead Space, the retro-future of Bioshock, the cartoony style of Rachet & Clank or the semi-realistic Uncharted. All these games I mentioned contain tons of props, weapons, character models/animations and levels created with such insane amount of detail and gameplay never
suffers from it. It comes down to various development departments working closely together. As I stated earlier, graphics and expert level construction shouldn't be mutually exclusive, correct? My concern as a gamer (consumer) is that I get my money's worth when I choose to buy one of your titles/products.
How exactly does a "super detailed world" work against gameplay? Isn't it the developer's/game studio's job to tweak these things to a satisfactory degree? If there's props lying around and "stuff lying around doesnt make for very good cover" or "the character might get stuck in it" - it is clear (to me, at least) the level designers aren't doing their job well enough and/or that communication between departments could be better. Isn't there a lead designer in charge to notice these things? Who's keeping the holistic overview on the product? There's plenty of games that come to mind that are filled to the brim with props, intricate level construction and artistic design where gameplay never suffers in any respect.
I'm not advocating one specific style over another (which wasn't my point), but visual style and graphics should
work together towards the same objective: creating a believable game environment. A environment that both aesthetically pleasing (from a design/artistic point) while being highly functional (from a technical/gameplay point) and using the hardware available to most effective extent (coding).
making the super realistic games has its place and purpose, but its not in itself "better" than the toony looks of day of the tentacle.
As I said above, that was not
the point of my above post regarding visual style. I was merely pointing out that graphics (no matter what individual style) should work together with level design to set a certain mood or atmosphere, in lieu with the chosen visual style.
Edited by Choronzon, 14 January 2012 - 03:24 AM.