Anyone who’s been gaming knows of these creatures. They don’t care about anything related to a game except for the graphics. These are the people who go ‘Holy crap! Doom III is an awesome game because it has uber realistic graphics that scare the crap out of you!’ and shun anything that’s not the latest and greatest graphics ever.
Like many gamers, they congregate in forums and let their opinions be heard, because this is North America, where everyone is right. So which Final Fantasy is the best? Obviously, it’s FFVII! It’s 3D and 90% of people everywhere agree: it’s an awesome game. But wait, there are those old-school hippies that say FFVI is the best! That can’t be, it’s 2D so it must be inferior! Never mind that it had an awesome cast of around twenty characters, and had a half hour ending! It uses sprites! Let it die!
Then we stroll along to the newest and hippest innovative game, Katamari Damacy. I don’t get why everyone loves it! It has crappy graphics! It’s all blocky crap! Never mind the fact that I don’t understand that it’s completely intentional and adds to the atmosphere of the game! It looks like it’s being rendered on an N64! Screw art direction, this is 2005, where everything should be ultra-realistic, like in Half-Life 2, where the realism has a purpose!
People who judge games by graphics piss me off. The strange thing is that this phenomenon is found only in American gamers. The Japanese? They only care if the game is fun. The sad truth is that no one should care about graphics anymore. Look at World of Warcraft. It does not have the most amazing graphics, but it is visually stunning because of the art direction and atmosphere.
A few years ago, graphics were advancing in great leaps from blocky looking sprites to more detailed sprites to blocky models to realistic models. How are we going to improve our graphics, dedicate entire GPUs to rendering each strand of hair on a character’s head? Sure, it’ll be amazingly pretty but when it comes down to it, it doesn’t add much to the gameplay.
We were able to be amazed by the realism of the characters. Now, we need to describe the new technology responsible for these amazing graphics by pointing to how real the water looks and how realistic the lighting is in a particular room. An amazing new feature of the Half Life 2 expansion is how your eyes will need to adjust to varying light conditions. Wow. We’ve become way too entranced in this competition for the prettiest raindrops.
Please, please, please, game developers and publishers, find a new goal. At least you’ll look like you’re innovating.