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How Important Are Graphics Really?

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I will speak from the experience of playing Oblivion, jumping from an X800 (beastly in its time) to an 8800GTX (holy-fuck-beastly).

I loved Oblivion with just the X800.

Now, it's godly.

Decide for yourself

I upgraded from FX5200/512Mb RAM to 7600GS/1Gb RAM ... HL2 and FEAR.. I know what you're saying =P *drools*

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Graphics are really important. They're called video games for a reason. Bad graphics (art direction, technical implementation, etc.) can really ruin the experience a game delivers.

Agreed. Those Zork games and the other infocom classics were all godawful.

And roguelikes such as NetHack clearly aren't worth a consideration.

Being an ass aside, I think I see your point. I think it's more important that the interface--whether graphic or not--is adequate enough to deliver what the game requires. An annoyingly bad camera, as the 3D Sonic games are renowned for having, can screw a game up, no matter how pretty it may be. I'd also say that Alex Kidd games had better graphics than FF8. Square tried to milk too much out of the PS1's abilities when they made the game, so it looks grainy and ugly a lot of the time, but Alex Kidd's graphics are perfect and clearly show everything they're supposed to.

There's also the dimension of artistic quality that tends to be overlooked in threads like this. When arguing the Streets of Rage vs Final Fight, the FF fans kept on talking about how FF's graphics were better than SoR's--which is primarily because of the system. A few others and I thought that SoR had better graphics because they were not the bland, stereotypical beat-em-up settings that have been used and reused dating back to Double Dragon.

EDIT: Far better than I said it:

I would argue that gameplay is basically the sum of all the elements involved and graphics are simply part of it.

Please, good sir, you must post more often!

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A few others and I thought that SoR had better graphics because they were not the bland, stereotypical beat-em-up settings that have been used and reused dating back to Double Dragon.

Agreed. I hope as we come closer to photorealistic graphics that developers will take a more artistic approach to games. Games like Ico and Shadow of the Colossus are beautiful and I think those are games that would have been crap with out beautiful graphics.

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Video games can be a outlet from real life, designed to stimulate the brain and senses. Our visual, hearing, and feeling (rumble, or wii-mote, or buttons, anything with control) are all senses that help us immerse ourselves. Graphics are definitely important and effective in immersing a player into the game's atmosphere/world.

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As has been said before, but just to reiterate, once games start looking photorealistic, it's going to come down to graphic design and art, not just the raw polygons. One can argue that games like Okami have great graphics for any generation.

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I honestly don't care all that much about graphics. I've played Portrait of Ruin much longer than I have Oblivion. I'm not going to pretend that sweet graphics are pretty damn awesome though. Got my PC ready to go for Crysis, now it's just a matter of waiting for it to come out.

The fluid 2D art in the Castlevania games is very pretty to look at, and no doubt it has a considerable influence on how people value the games.

I don't really get why people bring up 2D titles as a counter-argument. Metal Slug looks just as amazing as any high-end 3D title.

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I still dig the graphics in Super Mario 2 and 3 and Megaman games etc. I think they have a personal look and feel to them. Of course I also like the awesome graphics of todays games but they're all starting to look alike and I don't think they have that much personality. For instance, it was really strange to play Prey. It felt so much like Doom3 that the game, even though very original and fun, didn't have a unique touch to it graphicwise.

But yeah, graphics to me are important in a way that the look is definitely part of the game, and takes you in the game. The amount of polygons or the realism of the lighting has nothing to do with it.

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But yeah, graphics to me are important in a way that the look is definitely part of the game, and takes you in the game. The amount of polygons or the realism of the lighting has nothing to do with it.

Well doesn't lighting add to the graphics? It certainly helps with immersion in fps's (but of course ai is the most crucial for that).

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Things can look photorealistic...but as soon as a character or whatever starts to move, you can tell it is not real at all, and that immedeatly kills it for me. (because of the bad physics)

Like someone said on the first page; there needs to be a balance between graphics and gameplay.

Right now, with just about every Wii game that is shown, I go: "*sigh* why does it still look so bad?"

They can do more, so use it!

And when I see other console games I go: "hey, now that looks good!", untill it starts to move and show gameplay.

3D technology may be at an all time high now, but game developers are still kids...they must learn damnit!

As for the first post: What I like about Wii is that they're working more on gameplay now. So for the next generation they can implement the "better graphics" anyway, while still keeping the new found ways to play games.

Lately I'm dissapointed in all consoles though...

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But yeah, graphics to me are important in a way that the look is definitely part of the game, and takes you in the game. The amount of polygons or the realism of the lighting has nothing to do with it.

Well doesn't lighting add to the graphics? It certainly helps with immersion in fps's (but of course ai is the most crucial for that).

Realistic lighting was the term used. No one in the film industry shoots at midday, simply because the light is unflattering. One has to know how to use light effectively for it to be useful- realism is simply a tool, not a means to an end.

On that note, I hated the early morning lighting in Twilight Princess, especially in places like Castle Town. May be realistic, but it sure as hell ain't pretty.

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Man I wasn't expecting this many great comments. Well done by all of you guys. Some of the things I read were really good. Like many said, one possibility for future games now that they are looking photorealistic is to improve the graphics artistic wise. I love this idea. I have always perfered artistic graphics to realistic graphics. Thats why Wind Waker's graphics didn't bug me like it did oh so many people. Some one also said that the newer generation games look great that is until they start moving. I don't know if they were talking about the animation but I must say I totally agree. I haven't seen any PS3 or X-box 360 game that really wowed me animation wise. Some of the games seem to me to be under 30 fps. That is why I was happy to hear Metroid Prime 3 was going to be running in 60 fps. My Pc isn't all that powerful so I always lower the settings to get better framerates. Some one also said that games maybe becoming too realistic. I aslo agree with that because I love to play games for one major reason, To escape reality for a while. Thats why I don't like games like Madden or Gran Trismo. I prefer Blitz and Burnout. I kind of feel the same way about graphics. Maybe if the game is too realistic looking, to me it wouldn't feel like I am playing a game anymore.

Agian good job on your comments.

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Agreed. Those Zork games and the other infocom classics were all godawful.

And roguelikes such as NetHack clearly aren't worth a consideration.

Zork didn't have graphics. It was all presented through text. As such, it wasn't really a video game. It was a computer game though/

And NetHack does have good graphics. It uses ASCII characters well enough to present everything, and it all works in the context of the game.

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Are graphics important? Yes, of course they are. But what is really meant by good graphics? Does photo-realistic mean good? Not for me it doesn't. I like games with a sharp art style and that is dependant on skilled artists, not how many zeros and ones a processor can push out. Some of the most beautiful games I can name are on older systems or weren't technically impressive but had such strong art direction that they didn't need glitz to look amazing.

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Are graphics important? Yes, of course they are. But what is really meant by good graphics? Does photo-realistic mean good? Not for me it doesn't. I like games with a sharp art style and that is dependant on skilled artists, not how many zeros and ones a processor can push out. Some of the most beautiful games I can name are on older systems or weren't technically impressive but had such strong art direction that they didn't need glitz to look amazing.

Exactly, graphics. I'm not sure whether this thread meant video performance or "graphics processing", but even that is important for immersion.

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Photorealistic stuff can be great too. For simulations, they are obviously a must. For sports games, they can go for the arcadey feel or the totally realistic feel. Both can be great.

As for FPS games and action games that use photo-realism, I think they play directly into the gameplay. Stuff like FEAR wouldn't be scary at all if it had Wolfenstein sprite graphics, camouflage in FarCry won't be possible with less visual power to even create the foliage, and without the physics engines, Half Life as a franchise would actually be pretty boring.

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I was playing Madden '07 for the Wii and those are some of the worst graphics I have seen in years. Whenever they showed coaches on the sidelines my friend and I would laugh because of how poorly designed they were. Madden '05 for Gamecube looks much better than '07 for the Wii and I am not exaggerating when I say that I have seen better graphics on PS1. When graphics are laughably terrible then there is a problem.

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I really don't understand the importance of graphics in gaming anymore. For the last decade console developers have touted thier graphics technology as the selling point for their consoles, which made sense as technology evolved from blocky 2D to blurry 2D to blocky 3D to humanistic 3D (PS2 era). More advanced technology certainly makes sense for buying a new console at a higher price point than "older technology", but to what extent should that technology be spent solely on graphics? Is better graphics even a priority for consumers? Nintendo has convinced me otherwise. The touchscreen on the DS and Wii remote have improved User Interface in ways High Definition can not ever do. I feel far more involved in DS/Wii games than anything else on the market.

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The touchscreen on the DS and Wii remote have improved User Interface in ways High Definition can not ever do. I feel far more involved in DS/Wii games than anything else on the market.

For one, High Def is definitely easier on the eyes. And you can actually READ TEXTS unlike with normal definition where a lot of on-screen texts turn blurry only 99% of the times. And almost totally unreadable unless they're on giant billboards or something. Can it make the actual gameplay better? Hell yes, because it can add a lot more things happening within the game, and make older games much more of a pleasant, new sheen. With primitive, 2D games, it might not matter much, but with 3D games, I think the clarity of picture and the graphical power means a lot. The Wii isn't going for that but the other consoles are. There's nothing wrong with what they're doing.

And speaking of immersion, high def and graphically capable stuff can do amazing things as well. I mean, people mention Okami's overall artistic design, but without the graphical capability, it wouldn't have been possible. If it wasn't immersive that way, it simply would not have held up. Would it have held up if we saw still images scroll in 10 frames per second compared to a smoothly flowing game world? We already know the answer there.

I mean look at the immersive aspects in Zelda Twilight Princess, and a lot of its graphical upgrades from the past generations made it look a lot more interesting and more inviting to play. Art and visual direction obviously matters a lot, but I don't think you can just say that "graphics don't matter". That's just ridiculous.

And believe it or not, HD gaming and HD content in the recent years is spiking up HDTV sales. So maybe some of you might be all stubborn with the idea, but it's really starting to take off in the mainstream.

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If you put it that way, I can agree somewhat. But they really are pushing for the high definition gaming a lot. For obvious reasons beyond the games' usage of them, but also for the HD TV/Movie content, possible streaming HD footages, HDDVD, Bluray and etcetera. There's a lot to it even if it doesn't directly have to do with games entirely.

Also, even if they have plateau'd the shockingly new appeal of graphics with games (which hasn't gone away. I mean, Gears of War and a whole slew of recent 360 games have done just that with the HD gaming. PS3 is starting to get into it too), that only means that the developers can just focus more on the gameplay at hand.

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