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It's All About the Graphics
March 10th 2005, 15:56 CET by Sumbry][

"There's no question that the graphics are going to be a huge upgrade. You know, people are such snobs, with this "oh, it's not about graphics" thing. That's such nonsense. It's totally about graphics ..."


The above quote is from a GamesIndustry interview with Mark Rein, VP Epic Games.  It was in regards to the Unreal 3 Engine and what the biggest change between now and future games will hold.  While the interview itself is a very excellent and recommended read, TTISIA (The Intro Says It All).
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#1 by Chunkstyle
2005-03-10 15:56:20
Voting works!

Game Developers: Don't forget the zombie monkeys.
#2 by Jibble
2005-03-10 15:57:01
Wow, how boring.

Well it beats going to the video store to rent the latest hardcore releases twice a week. - G-Man
#3 by Chunkstyle
2005-03-10 15:57:16
Anyway, it's not all about the graphics, but good graphics are nice.  So is cheese.

Game Developers: Don't forget the zombie monkeys.
#4 by deadlock
2005-03-10 16:06:11
http://www.deadlocked.org/
It's all about the love.

Some people are afraid to croak
But Jimmy drank until he choked
And took the road for Heaven in the morning.
#5 by Marsh Davies
2005-03-10 16:06:19
www.verbalchilli.com
Graphics are cool and everything, but I'm more excited about the seemingly endless levels and the lack of programmer involvement in scripted events.

#6 by LPMiller
2005-03-10 16:07:10
lpmiller@gotapex.com http://www.gotapex.com
space invaders has that.

When LP says he's bringing Armageddon, he brings fucking Armageddon. - Caryn, 6/01/2004
#7 by Ryslin
2005-03-10 16:08:17
(waves piece of paper)
Graphics where they are right now would be fine for a bit, I would prefer to see some work on level design, story, even perhaps scripting to give games more than pretty bling bling.

and you also can STFU!
#8 by Chunkstyle
2005-03-10 16:11:58
I agree with Ryslin's well-crafted post.

Game Developers: Don't forget the zombie monkeys.
#9 by Ryslin
2005-03-10 16:13:36
(waves piece of paper)
(faints)

and you also can STFU!
#10 by TheTrunkDr.
2005-03-10 16:16:08
And you were doing so well Rys.
#11 by yotsuya
2005-03-10 16:25:50
I remember how bad YOU used to be, TrunkDr.

*tik*
#12 by Ryslin
2005-03-10 16:32:41
(waves piece of paper)
I fainted from the concept that someone not only understood me, but appreciated what I said.

I feel special now.
Alright, strange trip to twilite zone over, I am now going back to work.

and you also can STFU!
#13 by yotsuya
2005-03-10 16:40:25
Twilight Zone.

*tik*
#14 by Charles
2005-03-10 16:42:07
www.bluh.org
Graphics are going to hit a wall in the near future, and then the focus will have to change.  Once we can make photorealistic 3d graphics, companies who wish to differentiate their product will have to move to a more stylized art.  Just like how when 2D games hit the point where they could basically digitize their graphics, many companies retreated in to doing fully traditional 2D art and animation.  

That being said, people are stupid, and who knows how long it'll actually take for people to realize that.  Also, there are the idiot developers who still think everything should look as real as possible.
#15 by BobJustBob
2005-03-10 17:10:35
/me shakes fist at topic

Who smells like freaking porpoise hork?
#16 by CheesyPoof
2005-03-10 17:19:31
Oh come on Bob, you know that if a game is good, better graphics make the experience more enjoyable.
#17 by CheesyPoof
2005-03-10 17:20:18
Consider that bad graphics can make a game unplayable, you should rail again good graphics.
#18 by CheesyPoof
2005-03-10 17:21:01
"shouldn't"
#19 by CheesyPoof
2005-03-10 17:21:11
Hat trick!
#20 by Jibble
2005-03-10 17:24:45
The rebate industry is the only one where they can be 100% vague about when things might be finished, mailed, paid, or pretty much anything else.  They can tell you for damn sure that things are "Processing", but no way will they commit to a date as far as when that processing will be complete.

What would happen if these guys ran a bank?

"When will that deposit be available for withdrawl?"

"I can't tell you that, sir, but I can tell you that we've received your stack of checks and it is being processed."

"So...when will it finish being processed."

"Once again, sir, I don't know that information, nor can I provide it to you.  Please be patient.  It can take up to 6-8 weeks."

"Right."

Nine weeks later...

"So, are those checks done processing yet?"

"No, they're still processing."

"You said it would be 6-8 w..."

"SIR, please.  We've received the checks, verified their authenticity, verified that funds are available to be withdrawn from the indicated accounts, done a background check on your family to make sure you're not going to spend the money on drugs, retreived the funds from the individual accounts, run the money through scattered bank accounts in Europe a few times for fun, then put the money in our vault back there."

"Great, so it's available for withdrawl?"

"No.  Six to eight weeks, sir."

Well it beats going to the video store to rent the latest hardcore releases twice a week. - G-Man
#21 by Jibble
2005-03-10 17:26:27
This has been "Rebate Companies Bite Jibble in the Ass Again", a play in one act.

They only hit me cause they love me.

Well it beats going to the video store to rent the latest hardcore releases twice a week. - G-Man
#22 by yotsuya
2005-03-10 17:44:09
Bravo, Jibble! Bravo!

Do you sign body parts? Also, when does "Insurance Companies Bend Jibble Over and Don't Use Lube" start the off-Broadway run?

*tik*
#23 by Jibble
2005-03-10 17:46:44
We had problems with licensing issues, so that might not make it at all.  Apparently, everyone gets bent over without lube by the insurance company.

Well it beats going to the video store to rent the latest hardcore releases twice a week. - G-Man
#24 by BobJustBob
2005-03-10 17:47:05
Oh come on Bob, you know that if a game is good, better graphics make the experience more enjoyable.


True, as long as they don't impact the performance or take development time away from more important features.

Consider that bad graphics can make a game unplayable, you should rail again good graphics.


Also true, in theory. But the only bad graphics (aside from technical problems such as a poor draw distance or frame rate, which can usually be atttributed to concentrating too much on other areas of the graphics) are ones in which critical information is not made clear to the player, and I can't think of any games made in, say, the last five years, where this is a problem.

Who smells like freaking porpoise hork?
#25 by Matt Perkins
2005-03-10 17:48:35
wizardque@yahoo.com http://whatwouldmattdo.com/
Come now, anyone that believes uber graphics don't sell game is plain silly.  Look at the Unreal 3 engine, what is everyone going gaga over?  The AI?  The amazing story telling system?  Nope, the graphics.

Sadly enough, the graphics hold way to much sway in how well a game sells now days.

"Great spirits have often encountered violent opposition from weak minds." - Albert Einstein.
#26 by BobJustBob
2005-03-10 17:51:10
Of course graphics sell games. That doesn't equate to better games.

Who smells like freaking porpoise hork?
#27 by TheTrunkDr.
2005-03-10 18:01:15
I remember how bad YOU used to be, TrunkDr.

True, I'm not great when it comes to the written word. I'm mostly just careless, when I pay a little more attention to what I'm writting I think I do a much better job. I made mistakes early on and I've been branded and chastised ever since, as have many others on this board (including Ryslin). It really is an area that PC is brutally anal about, at least compared to other public internet forums. Ryslin has been much more coherent of late. She's made several posts in the past that, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't understand in the slightest.
#28 by Matt Perkins
2005-03-10 18:01:41
wizardque@yahoo.com http://whatwouldmattdo.com/
Of course graphics sell games. That doesn't equate to better games.

Of they don't, but they make the games sell, period.  What a better selling game?  Improve the graphics, have something flashy, do real time physics, etc, etc.

So, as a developer/publisher/etc, you HAVE to take into account the graphics as one of the bigger, if not biggest feature for any big title.

"Great spirits have often encountered violent opposition from weak minds." - Albert Einstein.
#29 by Matt Perkins
2005-03-10 18:02:25
wizardque@yahoo.com http://whatwouldmattdo.com/
+course

"Great spirits have often encountered violent opposition from weak minds." - Albert Einstein.
#30 by Charles
2005-03-10 18:07:29
www.bluh.org

True, I'm not great when it comes to the written word. I'm mostly just careless, when I pay a little more attention to what I'm writting I think I do a much better job. I made mistakes early on and I've been branded and chastised ever since, as have many others on this board (including Ryslin). It really is an area that PC is brutally anal about, at least compared to other public internet forums. Ryslin has been much more coherent of late. She's made several posts in the past that, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't understand in the slightest.


PC is the last bastion of proper english.
#31 by Sgt Hulka
2005-03-10 18:07:47
This weeks South Park ruled.  I love Matt Stone and Trey Parker.

#32 by Chunkstyle
2005-03-10 18:08:45
I thought this episode was a bit poor.  I could have done without the sex change footage.

Game Developers: Don't forget the zombie monkeys.
#33 by Sgt Hulka
2005-03-10 18:12:22
Yeah, that was tough to watch, but overall I laughed quite a bit. Perhaps it was because of the South Park drought over the last few months.. The Critter Christmas was the last new one and I found that one quite funny too.

#34 by yotsuya
2005-03-10 18:12:36
Well, I commned you for the job you've done, TrunkDr. I hate to say it, but some of those sentences were brutal. I give all the credit to your wife.

*tik*
#35 by Ryslin
2005-03-10 18:12:41
(waves piece of paper)
Bob is right,
However slightly older graphics do not equal good game play either.

Take into consideration Chris Sawyer's Locomotion. This game is garbage!
The entire Transport Tycoon community have moved back to the dos game because the new one is horrid.

and you also can STFU!
#36 by Jibble
2005-03-10 18:13:54
I got tired of South Park the fifth time I felt like I was being hit over the head by a giant clown who kept screaming "LOOK AT HOW SHOCKING AND SUBVERSIVE I AM! IS IT NOT FUNNY?! ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!"

Well it beats going to the video store to rent the latest hardcore releases twice a week. - G-Man
#37 by TheTrunkDr.
2005-03-10 18:14:37
I hate to say it, but some of those sentences were brutal.

*hangs head in shame* I know.
#38 by UncleJeet
2005-03-10 18:18:55
Graphics are going to hit a wall in the near future, and then the focus will have to change.  Once we can make photorealistic 3d graphics, companies who wish to differentiate their product will have to move to a more stylized art.

I agree, but I think we're much farther away from this than we want to believe.  People have been saying this exact thing for years and years now and as good as today's graphics look, as good as UE3's graphics look, there is still A LOT or progress to be made until things are truly photorealistic and all that jazz.  No, I don't think we'll see "the wall" anytime in the near future.

That said, I completely agree that photorealism, hyperrealism, etc...is old, tired, and increasingly needs to go away.  For my money, the best looking game out right now is WoW, hands down.  Oddly enough, it's also the least sophisticated, tech-wise, of any recent release.  And it's not just that WoW is stylized - people try stylized all the time and it usually sucks.

No, WoW is just plain good art - period.  The art direction is cohesive, each texture is brilliantly painted and every color is used with every other color of every other object in the area in mind.  WoW is the breath of visual fresh air that it is because we finally get to see what truly well done and inspired art can look like in a game.  Who cares how realistic a sewer grate looks, really?  I can see all the sewer grates I want just by walking down a city street.  When I want to play a game, I was to see things that impress me by being different and interesting.

The same shift happened in painting, due in large part to the advent and widespread use of photography.  The camera freed up painters from trying to match reality, which (in part) led to all of the sorts of interesting experimental artwork that we love to this day.  It will happen in games, too - but I think it will start to happen sooner, and before we hit "the wall" if it even, in fact, exists.

We'll have lots of games with oversized scale and cartoony looks because dim developers and publishers will see the reaction that WoW's art has had and will try to copy it.  Most will fail, however, because the brilliance of WoW's art goes beyond the general impression of the look and, in the end, since WoW's style is so dependent on the quality of its art, people won't be able to touch it until they hire truly talented artists or unbind the creativity of those whom they currently employ.

Still, photorealism will always be around in much larger quantities than more artistically creative works because, in the end, good art is much more difficult to create and impossible to fake with a bump map.

Accipere quam facere praestat injuriam...
#39 by Jibble
2005-03-10 18:22:16
I'm wondering if "the wall" is going to be when it can't look any better or when the amount of time invested is far greater than the return on that investment.  I'm leaning toward the latter, and we're getting there quick.

Well it beats going to the video store to rent the latest hardcore releases twice a week. - G-Man
#40 by anaqer
2005-03-10 18:31:25
/nods vigorously at #5

The sooner we get dynamic [un]loading of world data right the better. I still think we should tweak/rethink the hardware side of things a bit to make it more stream-friendly, but if they can do it all in software without sacrificing too much - hey, more power to them.

I'm more skeptic about the Scripting for Dum^H^H^HArtists part. Granted, we don't know jack shit about it yet, but I have a hard time imagining it would be very useful save for very basic stuff (that would have been copypasted anyways) and rough sketches (which will still get fleshed out in "machine code" at the end of the day).

I DO NOT CHEAT.
I just play by extended rules.
#41 by UncleJeet
2005-03-10 18:37:10
I disagree, Jibble.  Yes, the time, money, and skill required to create these photorealistic environments will continue to increase - but so will sales of games as our little hobby continues to grow more and more mainstream.  Increased sales will lead to increased budgets, though the main consequence I think we'll see are much smaller games, with a few blockbuster titles and a small number of major publishers, and fewer releases each year in general.  In this way, the gaming industry will become more and more like the film industry and it's already happening.

I really don't think "the wall" exists at all though, to be honest.  There will always be room for improvement, with ways to make this better or that better or come up with something new that changes everything, etc.

As far as making photorealistic graphics that feel as though you're walking around an actual space - there's really no danger of that happening any time soon.  Things look and feel more and more real with each generation of games, but even in standard CGI where polycounts and texture memory and all that good stuff aren't issues, true photorealism eludes us to this day.  Realtime rendering, as good as it's getting, is even farther behind.

Remember when you first played a true 3d game (or farther back than that, when you played your first VGA game in 256 colors) and how you thought "how can things get any better than this" - now go back and look at what you thought was so amazing then and see if it still seems so amazing now.  People then were talking about this very same "wall" as coming up in the near future, and we're talking about it again today.  Ten years from now?  Same conversation.

Accipere quam facere praestat injuriam...
#42 by anaqer
2005-03-10 18:41:25
I'm leaning toward the latter, and we're getting there quick.

That's a safe bet - think Doom3. Work hours invested in content creation alone are through the roof already and diminishing returns rules the lands.

WE NEED VR GOGGLES, STAT!

I DO NOT CHEAT.
I just play by extended rules.
#43 by Jibble
2005-03-10 18:44:47
#41 UncleJeet
I disagree, Jibble.  Yes, the time, money, and skill required to create these photorealistic environments will continue to increase - but so will sales of games as our little hobby continues to grow more and more mainstream.

Depends on if you're talking PCs or consoles.  With consoles, graphics are moot after the system gets released because it's never going to get upgraded.  Quality is thus the #1 factor driving sales there.

If you're talking PCs, every time the bar goes up, so does the price of the latest video card, which is the #1 barrier to entry for PC gaming in the first place.

Well it beats going to the video store to rent the latest hardcore releases twice a week. - G-Man
#44 by Ryslin
2005-03-10 18:44:59
(waves piece of paper)
I am not sure of facts, but have we hit the wall of colors yet? Are we or are we not at the point where the human eye cannot see all the colors we can produce?

Wow is nice art Jeet- but I am extremely disturbed by how the models move at times. The hinge on one point arms in particular. Take the orcess's dance where they are raising the arms above the head. You see only a sliver of area not capable of having a bone in it.. for the "attachment" point of the arm.
The arm looks fine as long as this attachment point is not "pointed out" by body movement. They could have spent a bit more time and still stayed in the stylized art by making the arm junction more than a sliver of a point. It is like they too an arm and just poked it on there with a thumbtack.

I do find the vistas wonderful. The shades they used to show the charecter of the land is wonderful. The models they used for the bodies needs work.

and you also can STFU!
#45 by UncleJeet
2005-03-10 18:45:35
Well, the diminishing returns on Doom 3's part are do more to the poor quality of the design and gameplay rather than the graphics.  Great graphics make a great game even better, but they cannot make a bad game good.  Bad graphics, on the other hand, can keep a good game down.

Accipere quam facere praestat injuriam...
#46 by Your Friend
2005-03-10 18:49:03
Graphics are important, yes, but only if, when you say graphics, you mean the art side and not the tech side.  Jeet already mentioned WoW, but I'll mention it again since it is a good case-in-point.  Everquest 2's graphic technology is notably better than WoWs, and yet WoW simple blows EQ2 away in that the art still manages to be a hell of a lot better.

Graphics technology for its own sake is worthless, graphics technology that enables a good artist to create something special DOES elevate a game beyond what it otherwise would be, no matter what the "graphics don't matter" people say.  If WoW looked like Darwinia (as an example) but retained all of the same WoW rules and gameplay I sure as fuck wouldn't play it.

So, in summary, I actually think Mark Rein is wrong, because he's talking more about the technical/graphics side and not the art/graphics side, but that's fine and understandable because at the end of the day he's trying to sell an engine with great technical/graphics, not trying to contract out game artists.

#47 by UncleJeet
2005-03-10 18:50:03
Depends on if you're talking PCs or consoles.  With consoles, graphics are moot after the system gets released because it's never going to get upgraded.  Quality is thus the #1 factor driving sales there.

I wasn't speaking specifically about hardware or software, much less specific platforms.  Both improve together and independently, or are you saying that launch titles on a console are on the same tech level as last generation titles?  All sorts of things are figured out and put into engines during a console's life cycle, as can be seen between Halo 1 and Halo 2, or the release of Riddick and Doom 3.

Accipere quam facere praestat injuriam...
#48 by anaqer
2005-03-10 18:52:17
I am not sure of facts, but have we hit the wall of colors yet?

I think not, I recall being told about various experiments with displays using 4-5 phosphors (base colors) because the widely used "RGB" method has problems covering the whole color space (particularly some greens).

I DO NOT CHEAT.
I just play by extended rules.
#49 by Jibble
2005-03-10 18:52:38
Also, what anaquer said.  Making 3D environments for Tomb Raider meant basically just kludging together some asstastic rock looking textures, then measuring jump distances just right.  Compare the amount of time it took to make a 3D model of this versus the amount of time it took to make this or this.  I guarantee you they spent more time making those guys' heads than they spent making six incarnations of Lara Croft.  There is a breaking point out there, and if you want to avoid it you can only do the following things:

1) Do crappier work.
2) Pay talented people less money.
3) Charge more for games.

WoW can accomplish their art goals because they have a set of people who are accepting of rule number 3 - charge more.  If you have a monthly fee, you can support such projects.  How many games are people willing to pay a monthly fee to play?  Not enough to make the "breaking point" a moot point.

Well it beats going to the video store to rent the latest hardcore releases twice a week. - G-Man
#50 by UncleJeet
2005-03-10 18:54:55
Rys,
Don't forget that all of the armor/weapon/item models who's animations must synch with the character model's size and movements.  The volume of animations that have to match dictate the complexity of the characters just as much as the low poly requirements of the engine and the stylized look of the art.

Accipere quam facere praestat injuriam...
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