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Reader Comments (20)

Posted: Dec 20th 2008 5:03PM (Unverified) said

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[quote]one of the phrases we like to use is, "Look at how good it is!" rather than the phrase "Look at how realistic it is."[/quote]
Shouldn't this be the other way round?

Aside from that I agree with your point. In addition I think that we're clearly experiencing the Uncanny Valley here: more realistic being perceived as less appealing.
http://www.slate.com/id/2102086

My friends and I still play UT2004 instead of UT3 because not all of us got new computers, but we still have a hell of a lot of fun =)

Posted: Dec 20th 2008 5:16PM Minofan said

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Mostly agree, but I have to say I'm a stickler for playable Humans having 'proper' proportions - even Warcraft's primate-esque male avatars are enough to put me off MMO investment.

Beyond that I prefer the fantastical to the mundane, but I need Humans to look Human whether they are detailed, plain or artistically styled.

Posted: Dec 20th 2008 8:16PM Jesspiper said

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As long as the graphics match the world and setting, that's what matters imo. Example: There is no way in hell I'd want WoW's 12-year old boy cartoon-style graphics used in an MMO representing Hyborea or Middle-Earth. And I likewise wouldn't want AoC style graphics in a Warhammer game.

That being said I'll take "brown" over cartoons ANY DAY.

Posted: Dec 20th 2008 8:30PM arnavdesai said

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You gotta be kidding me when you defend bad graphics by saying its "artistic". Please!!
The main thing to consider is whether it "fits". Yes its "Star Wars" but it was never in the trenches gory war so the stylistic look used makes the sense(sort of)
When WoW was released the graphic requirements on that game were higher than the mid range systems so they were actually following the norm of PC games of trying to get the midrange PC system with midrange settings of the game. A lot of people did have to upgrade their systems to play it at its best.
AoC might be a mess of a game at launch but if you looked at its graphics they are just beautiful and they FIT because the world of Conan was gory, messy muddy.
So while I agree with a lot of your points the most basic thing is does it fit!! I think they could have pushed the graphics envelope without looking "brown" , heck there have been so many games which look "next gen" without looking brownish and highly detailed.
I am not privy to what decisions led to their choice of artistic styles but they could have been pushed IMO.

Posted: Dec 20th 2008 11:58PM (Unverified) said

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once again the emo club of massively fail to connect with any of their target demographic. Why do I Even browse here anymore?

Posted: Dec 21st 2008 4:35PM (Unverified) said

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I have to agree with you mate, good thing this was tagged under "opinion" since it clearly is pretty biased. This site is slowly getting lower on my list of readable sites. Need to get there writers checked out, or send them over to http://www.Livejournal.com where people might actually care.
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Posted: Dec 21st 2008 12:59PM organiclockwork said

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I'm inclined to agree to an extent.

I think realism is good. It lends itself to immersion if done well.

The misconception is that brown and sepia equals realism. Are you shitting me? Look around you. Does everything look hazy and brown? I sure as hell hope not, or else you may need to get your eyes checked out.

Realistic is good with me. Brown and muddy is not.

Realism is about textures and vivid colors that mimic those seen in real life. Is the sky in real life sepia? No, it's bright blue. Is grass sepia? Well, if it's dead it is. Otherwise it's a very vivid green. People need to realize that realism does not mean give it a sepia tint and make things muddy and gross. That's not realistic. There's a full spectrum of color in the real world. Games attempting to be realistic should reflect this.

If a game wants to be stylized, let it. That's fine. But if a game is attempting to be realistic, that's fine. Just as long as they realize what realism entails.

And on the subject of Brownquest 2: Its graphics weren't that bad. Its animations were, however, god sodding awful. And they still are, years after launch.

Posted: Dec 21st 2008 4:35AM (Unverified) said

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Agree! One thing that's really put me off of the current generation of FPS for Xbox 360 and PS3 is that Aliens/Terminator the 'future is destroyed look' that they all sport.

To be honest, in my spare time I don't want to spend hours looking at a screen consisting of greys, browns of a devastated landscape - in my mind, games are meant to be about escapism and fun!

Agree with the comments about WoW too - despite the low poly count in a lot of the landscapes and models their artists are geniuses with what they are producing re. the amount of polys that they're allowed to play with.

Having said that, my iMac G5 is really straining playing Wrath and can only run it on pretty much the lowest graphics settings - and it really shows the amazing abilities of the graphics team when they game STILL looks evocative at the lowest graphics settings of a game that is still largely based on a graphics engine written back in 2002-2003 or thereabouts.

I'm hopefully getting a new computer soon, so I should be able to crank things up a bit - and I'd hope that Blizzard will accordingly crank the graphics up a bit too for those with more recent computers - compared to the latest games, it is looking a bit creaky.

But having said that, they're still doing the right thing - they want the maximum amount of people to play and subscribe to WoW and only a small fraction of people have amazing gaming rigs - far more sensible for them to create a great looking game that those with average machines can play - and let's be frank, in this economy most people will not be able to throw cash at amazing new computers and screamingly fast graphics cards.

To go back to the topic - agree also that WoW does a great job in blending a cartoonish look with a more realistic look to produce something evocative although I have to say, whilst I love Blizzard's landscape and dungeon team I'm not so hot on their character model team, with the particularly bad models being the male human and orcs - wrists that are larger than the character's necks - ok...

Posted: Dec 21st 2008 5:05AM (Unverified) said

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I don't think you went far enough. I agree that brown sucks and striving for realism over artistic style sucks, but you have an implicit assumption that "brown is realistic". It isn't. Look outside. I see bright greens, bright blue, lots of whites, lots of shades of red (brick buildings, for example), some greyish black, a bit of chrome, some creme kind of color and a whole bunch of others. But I don't see a single pixel of brown. The closest I can see is a few trees that are sort of greenishgreyish brown, but that's really all. Even when striving for realism, use some damn colors.

Posted: Dec 21st 2008 6:23PM Seraphina Brennan said

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Ha ha, you're right. I was trying to get at your point, but I think it got muddled a bit in the delivery.

I think everyone goes for that "brown is god" palette style because they want their game to be "gritty" and "visceral." Yet, you can totally make a gritty game with darker colors and still make it look absolutely amazing and not a large pile of... well... brown.

But, yes, "realism" should be using realistic colors to get points across. I totally agree with you.
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Posted: Dec 21st 2008 10:36AM Ravenschild said

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personally I LIKE the wat The Old Repub;ic is looking...I just wish it would list an eta so I can plan for it.

Posted: Dec 21st 2008 9:47AM (Unverified) said

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I have to disagree with one of your assumptions.
Take Lineage 2. It has bad game play, but the graphics are YEARS ahead of any other MMORPG (and it came out 4 years ago!). Despite this, it can run on very modest systems.
I think it's just lazy (and cheap) for companies to not want really nice graphics in their MMORPG's.

Posted: Dec 21st 2008 1:09PM Seraphina Brennan said

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Actually, your disagreement is very much valid. I really like Lineage's artwork and scenes (although sometimes the place looks like a barren wasteland, but that's fine because some of the areas are just so gorgeous) and I forgot how low of a poly count the game is. It really can run on systems well, and the game is dated.

My apologies, Lineage II totally slipped my mind. Kind of like how Age of Conan slipped my mind, but should have been placed in this article with "graphics fail" attached to it.
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Posted: Dec 21st 2008 3:57PM aboutblank77 said

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Hey man, brown can be cool too. People are just abusing it.

Posted: Dec 21st 2008 5:40PM (Unverified) said

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I've been one of the "Haters" on the tOR forums about the graphics, and "WE WANT BROWN" has never been uttered, the Old republic (era) is a Thriving colorful playground for Bioware to work in, an era they played a big part of defining in there awesome KotOR 1, I want good graphics, good colorful graphics, the argument is they are too stylized and not gritty and real like this game deserves. IMO the graphics suck the art direction is irrelevant, I want better, not "Better for all types of PC"

Posted: Dec 21st 2008 6:48PM (Unverified) said

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Pretty good article: you just didn't hit it close to the mark, it's a bull's eye.

It's not just in PC games: Having played the big three platform systems I find the most realistic, most beautiful games are just not playable. It's like the programmers used up all the available space on the disks to ensure every step taking is as realistic as the next step, but at the last moment they just remembered the lines of coded needed to move the characters around. Find it a lot in PlayStation 3 games: floaty controls and unforgivable physics doom so many games on that system, and the PS2 as well. XBox tries: I can say they put an effort into it better than Sony does. Even Nintendo is slipping in that regard.

A reminder to game developers: I want to play the game, not just look at it.

Posted: Dec 22nd 2008 12:56AM Jeromai said

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Shrugs. Preferring stylized or realistic graphics is a matter of taste. And sometimes, a single game can appeal to both camps.

I had a gut impulse avoidance to the rainbow color and low polygonal nature of World of Warcraft when it was first released. Just didn't look natural. After a long while of staring at screenshots over the years, I eventually accepted that the round cartoony look was 'right' for WoW and could appreciate it for what it was.

Guild Wars has a lot of color, a lot of beauty, and real-world inspired themes without being a graphical resource hog. I'd personally say it leans towards realistic in look, with acrylic fantasy painting influences. Some might consider GW stylized.

LOTRO is extremely realistic in look, to me, regarding the landscapes. Very pastoral, faithful to the Tolkien legacy. Even though the characters themselves are uncanny valley if you look a bit too closely at them.

I truly loved Age of Conan's graphics. The muddy browns and gritty look appealed to me, even if it's not for everyone. A very 'Brom' style of painting. I quit not because the graphics were bad, but because there wasn't much game at the end of it all.

I also play City of Heroes, which is considerably more stylized, and I'm messing with ATITD, which cannot lay any claim to match graphical sophistication with MMOs built by hundred-people strong teams. Both are fun for me in terms of gameplay.

Ultimately, we only continue playing an MMO if there actually is a game behind the pretty or ugly look of the world. Fancy graphics don't hurt the intitial attraction to try the game out though.

Posted: Dec 22nd 2008 12:36PM (Unverified) said

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Linking art styles and game engines like the article does is a disservice to the game industry. I is completely possible to recreate cartoon graphics on the crysis engine, or us the WoW engine for realistic "brown". The only points I agree with, is that the Author hates "brown", and hates computer games that don't run. I'm going to file this article under "rant", just like it was a post on some no where forums. Then I am going to cross my fingers that Massively steps up to the plate on quality journalism.

Posted: Dec 22nd 2008 9:57PM Xii said

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Sounds like you should join the Blue Sky In Games Campaign: http://ukresistance.co.uk/2005/11/blue-sky-in-games-campaign-launched.html

Although started by a rabid Sega fanboys who remember how classic games (Sonic, OutRun, Phantasy Star, etc) were *packed* with vibrant colors, even taking into account the limitations of then-current systems (64 colors on the Genesis/Megadrive; less on 8 bit consoles).

More games need to be made this way, including MMOs. Most of the ones made recently (Vanguard, TR, AoC, WAR, etc) use limited color pallets to be 'dark' or 'realistic', which really just makes them ugly. One of the things I loved about PSO was how vibrant the environments were - Sonic Team wasn't shy about using color, even at the risk of turning off self-proclaimed hardcore MMO gamers (granted, who might not have existed back in 2000). WoW is kind of close, but they still try to pour on the 'dark' to add atmosphere when the story isn't quite up to the task itself.

In short: Earth is green and blue, with plenty of other colors thrown in... you can use a diverse color pallet and it will more realistic than brown and gray. I mean, I live in NYC and we have more than two colors here.

Posted: Dec 23rd 2008 2:47PM (Unverified) said

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Interesting discussion. I think some people clearly don't know what the job of an art director is, nor recognize his/her changing role in the product.

With games licensed from film franchises, it makes sense to follow the aesthetics as established in those films. For example, one reason I enjoy Star Wars games is the possibility of walking/flying around those worlds from the big screen. It has nothing to do with realism, it's following the art direction already established. In this sense, the role of the video game art director is to make sure the vision fits, and overcome their own ego to add their own individual stylistic flourishes.

But I agree that players can be a bit uptight about all this. I remember when that cartoonish Zelda came out and how everyone grumbled about it because — while it looked great, and had a great story and play value — it didn't fit what they were hoping it would be: "realistic".

When someone wants "realism", this usually means they are wanting in imagination.

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