Friday, April 3, 2015

Q Attack, Round 10 - Are Graphics Important?
Next-gen graphics were the talk of the town when the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One were announced. Demos and trailers touted phenomenal graphics that looked photo-realistic but are graphics really important? Tiger and Rabbit discuss looks over substance and whether or not you should judge a book by its cover.


Tiger: So one of the biggest releases this month just happens to be The Order: 1886.

Rabbit: Which we got a chance to play at PAX Prime last year.

Tiger: That’s right. Have you noticed that most of the hype surrounding this game has been about how it looks? It seems like everything is about the graphics and how realistic it looks. Maybe not so much in the overall design but the lighting and environments are pretty awesome.

Rabbit: I have noticed that and having seen it first hand, I can say that the hype is real. Even in a dark PAX booth with poor lighting, you could tell that the game had high quality graphics.

Tiger: But then we played it, and well, it kind of sucked.

Rabbit: The guy felt so heavy, like he was running around in mud.

Tiger: It felt like an on-rails shooter. It was like I was playing a really pretty version of Time Crisis or something.

Rabbit: It wasn’t quite that bad, but pretty close. I definitely think that so much focus was put on the looks of the game versus the actual gameplay.

Tiger: Granted, we haven’t played the full game yet so it could be a lot better than the underwhelming demo we played. It does look pretty.

Rabbit: See, that’s a shallow comment right there.

Tiger: What? I can’t tell a game it’s pretty?

Rabbit: That’s just gameist. I mean, what about the ugly games? There are some that really deserve attention but everyone only seems to care about the pretty ones. It’s not all about looks.

Tiger: That’s true and you can’t judge a game by its graphics alone but looks do matter.

Rabbit: If the game is good, why should its graphics mean anything? Think of all those PS Classics. They look atrocious by current-gen standards but they are still great to play.

Tiger: But a lot of those games looked amazing when they came out. Think of Legend of Dragoon or Gran Turismo, they looked amazing when they released. Granted they haven’t aged that well but I still think they look pretty good considering how old they are.  Or look at ICO and Shadow of the Colossus; I know they got an HD remake on the PS3 but the PS2 versions still hold up really well. Not only were they designed well but their graphics really helped to create the immersive and unique game worlds.

Rabbit: Design does matter but that’s not the same as graphics. You can have a game that has great level and character design that just falls a bit short in regards to the graphics, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad game though. Freedom Fighters was amazing on the PlayStation 2 and had some great designs but it definitely wasn’t easy on the eyes. I just think gamers should be careful about picking up a game just because “it looks cool.”

Tiger: And this is coming from the person who bought Magic Pengel: The Quest for Color because the game “looked cool.”

Rabbit: And the gameplay “looked cool” as well. So no, I wasn’t buying it just on its lovely face. What do you think I am? A cavebunny?

Tiger: I don’t really see why you have a problem with judging something by its looks. We do it every day with other things, so why not video games? I’m not saying that we need to be shallow and only care about the graphics of a game but we shouldn’t disregard them either. After all, video games are a visual medium. Why would you want to spend 20+ hours with an ugly game?

Rabbit: I can’t believe this is who you really are. How could you even judge a game on how it looks rather than who it is as a game? Games are people too you know. They have feelings; they aren’t a piece of eye candy. They have souls and don’t exist just so you could stare at them.

Tiger: Actually, they kind of do.
Rabbit: That’s beside the point. So you’re telling me that a game’s graphics are more important than its substance? Are graphics really important?

Tiger: I think they are important because you consume video games with your eyes. If video games were always ugly or had bad graphics, it would be like watching a really ugly movie. Or better yet, could you imagine listening to Bartok on an out-of-tune piano? Bartok is Bartok but still, even his work would sound pretty bad if the instrument it’s played on is not in tune. So why are video games any different? I’m not saying that graphics are the only thing important when it comes to choosing my video games but I do want them to look nice. I can think of a few upcoming games like No Man’s Sky or The Tomorrow Children that really piqued my interest because of their visual design and graphics. Neither game has crazy graphics like The Order but both look unique and amazing. So while you don’t always have to be the best looking game, I think developers should try and create a game that’s visually appealing. I always go back to Fallout 3 as an example but it really fits here. The game is set in a wasteland and it could have been visually drab but the overall design helped to breathe life into the game. Combine that with the graphically power of the gaming platforms back then, made it stand out visually amongst its peers. A game doesn’t need to win Miss Universe or anything but if I’m going to take it out on a date, I’d rather spend my time looking at a pretty face than a really ugly one and that’s just a fact. I’m not being shallow, I’m being sensible. And why are we talking about games like they’re people?

Rabbit: Because they are, deep down inside, they are. Well, I can understand where you are coming from but I have to disagree. I think too much stock is put into a video game’s graphics, so much so that it has become a major focus, a focus that has taken away from other aspects of a game’s creation. Think back to the Killzone debacle, for one the game didn’t look as good as the trailer showed. And then it wasn’t even that good of a game. Now Killzone: Shadow Fall lived up to its visual hype but still, it wasn’t a very good game. Maybe if Guerrilla had spent less time on looks and more time on substance, they would have released a better product. Or what about Assassin’s Creed: Unity? The demos that we saw looked far superior to the game that was actually released. It makes me skeptical that Rainbow Six: Siege or The Division will look half as good as what we’ve already seen. Not every developer is going to have the time or resources to spend to make a game that’s graphically powerful. Look at Naughty Dog, not everyone has a mocap studio like they do so not everyone is going to be able to produce a game that will rival Uncharted 4. Does that mean those developers produce lesser quality games? Probably, because they aren’t Naughty Dog, but maybe one of those developers will create a worthwhile game even if it isn’t beautiful. Plus, who needs another pretty face? I want a game that truly understands me and what I need as a gamer. People make art out of all sorts of objects, some art isn’t going to be pretty, and I think that’s true for video games too.

Tiger: Wait… video games are art?

Are Graphics Important?

Tiger     vs     Rabbit

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