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Reader Comments (35)

Posted: Aug 8th 2008 8:17AM Snorii said

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I don't mind cartoony, but I far prefer Team Fortress 2 to World of Warcraft. Overall, I prefer graphics that tend to be on the side of realistic.

Posted: Aug 8th 2008 8:34AM (Unverified) said

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Realism for sure.

Asheron's Call 2 had really really really wacky art, hell, Tumerocks and Lugians were rediculous looking, but it all was carried out to be realistic.

Posted: Aug 8th 2008 8:29AM (Unverified) said

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As a long time player of wow, I do like the graphics, but my personal favorite is the ultra-realistic. I also play Age of Conan; if we had a game that combined the graphics engine of AoC with the game engine of WoW, we would have a winner. Warhammer comes close, we'll just have to see.

Posted: Aug 8th 2008 8:31AM (Unverified) said

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I also prefer better graphics like AOC... Just wish that game was good.... I am tired of games coming out that look like crayon (like WAR) WAR is going to be a big disappointment to all of the AOC haters I hate to say... WAR should at least have the graphics of LOTRO since its coming out later than LOTRO... But sadly, WAR looks like a crappy crayon kiddy game... :(

WAR = warhammer

Posted: Aug 8th 2008 8:37AM wjowski said

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To be perfectly frank, give me stylized. In almost every MMO out there with a 'realistic' art style everyone looks like stiff, plasticy-looking mannequins that crawled right out of the Uncanny Valley and the worlds generally look bland and washed-out, with way too much brown (with the possible exception of Age of Conan).

Posted: Aug 8th 2008 8:49AM Skellybob said

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Argh. Now I wish I'd mentioned the Uncanny Valley in the original article.

You raise a very important point: if you go for stylized, there is no benchmark of realism to live up to, and success is far more to do with whether the result is aesthetically pleasing. A stylized game can be too cutesy, or too colorful, or too manga-inspired for one's personal taste.

However, if you aim for 'realistic' and MISS, you can end up with something that's neither one thing nor the other; there's the same distancing, plastic effect that bad CGI produces.
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Posted: Aug 8th 2008 9:19AM GenBanks said

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Exactly, that's where so many 'realistic' shooters fail. When you go for 'good graphics' it's vital not to leave the artists behind.

AoC more or less manages to look good while still being down the realistic route, with some top examples including the Frost Swamp and Conall's Valley.
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Posted: Aug 8th 2008 10:32AM SgtBaker said

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Agree with this.
In many cases with ultra-realistic graphics, there's enough polygons stacked into the characters to make them look realistic when they're standing still in the character creation screen.

Unfortunately I've yet to see a case where this transfers to animation. As soon as the ultra-realistic figures start running and fighting I want to run to the closest ultra-realistic lake and drown, drown, drown them ultra-realisticly, for ever.

Give me stylized anyday - The Uncanny Valley gets me everytime designers try to go for "realistic".
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Posted: Aug 8th 2008 8:42AM (Unverified) said

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I love AoC' graphics, but the MMO gaming community seems to love the idea of using 6 year old PC's even though a lot of people seem to spend 12 hours a day at them. So I *like* AoC visuals, but I *understand* why MMO's go the WoW route.

Posted: Aug 8th 2008 9:49AM wjowski said

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Honestly, the low system specs are probably one of the keys to WoW's success if you ask me. When given the choice between purchasing WoW or WAR plus subscription fees and purchasing Aoc plus subscription price plus several hundred dollars worth of time-intensive upgrades (or a new machine entirely in some cases), it's not too hard to guess what the average person will choose.
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Posted: Aug 8th 2008 10:34AM SgtBaker said

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Well, most "normal" people don't buy their PC's based on game specs, not even the "normal" people who spend 12 hours a day in WoW. Only gamers care about system specs. Oh and some game companies seem to think everyone should. But it's not really the way Joe Sixpack works, he goes to a store and wants a "cheap computer that can access the Internet, run some documents, print and perhaps play some games. Cheap". You don't get latest Nvidia 9800 with those requirements, you get something with built-in Intel gfx-chip.

This is one of the key factors in Blizzards success with WoW, they realised this and designed their game accordingly.

As a very wise man once said.. If you want to make a Massive game, you can't have Massive system specs.

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Posted: Aug 8th 2008 12:39PM (Unverified) said

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"normal" people aren't gamers.

There are gamers, who buy systems based off games (this is why developers bundle their games with cards).

and then there are WoW players (or generally MMO players). Nothing wrong with this audience, I just wouldn't call them gamers. You're average WoW player isn't the same person who 1 - built their machine 2 - have a library of AAA titles 3 - play games (that aren't WoW)
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Posted: Aug 8th 2008 12:54PM wjowski said

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They play games...how are they not gamers?
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Posted: Aug 8th 2008 8:43AM Nadril said

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Stylized, now. I have a great rig (runs crysis all high @25-30fps) but when it comes to an MMO I would rather it run well and allow for a lot happening at once then look a bit better. I constantly multi task while in an MMO so a really up to date one makes that more difficult.


Realistic MMOs are great if they're optimized right but most of the time that doesn't happen.

Posted: Aug 8th 2008 8:56AM (Unverified) said

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Another vote for stylized. It's one thing for the art/modelling team to accurately copy reality and another for "artists" to create a world that never existed.

And stylized doesn't HAVE to be silly.

Posted: Aug 8th 2008 9:35AM GenBanks said

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I don't think it's worth taking sides on this debate... There are three separate factors for determining looks imo:

-Stylistic - unrealistic looking but appealing (what path the devs took to give their characters unique appearance, give their world a distinctive shape)
-Artwork - Good looking paintings and patterns etc (like Conan's armour in AoC or various decorations in WoW)
-Technological - Noticeably technologically accomplished (cool particle effects, realistic scenery, nice textures on armour)

High on style and tech: Team Fortress 2
High on style, and artwork low on tech: WoW
High on artwork and tech: AoC
High on tech: Eve

TF2 looks gorgeous, is demanding, but also has a stylised look normally reserved for low 'tech' games. It's pretty innovative in that domain.

In terms of 'stylised' vs. realistic though, like I said, I don't think it's worth taking sides since both can be done well or badly. Also, they are not completely separate since one ca hold back the other. Civ IV for example is stylised but is held back by technology to look great. This is becoming increasingly the case with WoW too, where the style is still great but I kind of wish there was more tech to flesh it out with.

Posted: Aug 8th 2008 9:46AM (Unverified) said

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If the technology/skill involved ever evolves to a point where they can make "realistic" looking models move so they don't look like creepy animatronic mannequins, I greatly prefer the stylized/cartoony look.

Yeah Conan's models look nice (other than the fact that everyone in the world has the exact same skin blemishes in the exact same places), but when I run and jump it looks like my toon just got up from a 9hr road trip. Your toon looks almost pasted into the world rather than a part of it. That ruins the effect for me totally. EQ2 has the same problem. The highly detailed faces look terrible in action because the expressions hardly ever change. You look like a robot rather than a person.

With the stylized/simple look it's a lot easier to suspend disbelief and feel like you're a part of the world because your toon actually matches the surroundings and looks like it belongs there. Animations are smooth and natural looking because they match the style of the world.

Posted: Aug 8th 2008 10:22AM (Unverified) said

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I don't mind what style is used, all I want is FPS.

Posted: Aug 8th 2008 10:51AM (Unverified) said

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Stylised.
An interesting article.
Nice to see your blog.

Posted: Aug 8th 2008 11:04AM (Unverified) said

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My vote is for "Stylized", because if "Realism" is taken to its extreme, all games will start to look more and more the same. Besides, there's already an art form out there that is like "realistic video games", and there are thousands of titles to choose from... they're called live action movies and TV shows. I want my games to feel like games.

How we define "stylized" and "realism" is apparently up for debate though. The article seems to include "detailed" a bit too closely under the realism banner, and I have to disagree there. Specifically, CoH/CoV... the artwork may have a lot of detail, but that doesn't make that game "realistic", in my opinion. There is definitely a fair bit of cartooniness going on in the character design and action effects in CoH/CoV.

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