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I would just like to reach a point where I no longer have to upgrade.
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Nirth: No, thank you. Progress is always important and while graphics isn't the most important part of games for me I still want it to advance.
It's not really about what we want but what is logical. I don't think it makes sense to progress much further, cost and return wise.
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StingingVelvet: Of course, and I really enjoy that, I just think we have already reached it to the most common sense stopping point. Hitman Absolution looks so realistic that I think any improvements beyond that are not worth the added expense. If we could stop now, lower budgets and make games cheaper, focus on gameplay, I think that would be best for the entire industry.
Better graphics are a way to get people to buy the same games again, e.g. the next NHL, FIFA, NFS, CoD, Halo etc. Or, one does not need to look further than the HD remakes of many games.

That's why especially the big game publishers are eagerly looking forward to the next console gen because then they can release the next patch of their big selling series. Trying to sell them on the same console gen over and over again dries up eventually, if the visual changes will be minor or non-existent.
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doady: It's sad that "good graphics in gaming refers only to the technical quality"
It doesn't. Maybe many gamers and stupid reviewers think that way but style and artistic direction are something that most (good) developers and critics value and understand. And in fact even supposed "photo-realism" is a much more complex case with games than many people seem to notice as there's many different approaches to that goal that result in distinct visual styles. Half-Life 2, Stalker and Crysis all went for pretty much pure photo-realism and yet they have distinct looks. I mean, movies are all made using footage from the real world (not counting animated movies of course) so they automatically are photo-realistic in the sense as we see it in case of video games and yet they also have very distinct visual styles. What many people don't seem to notice is that even those games that are officially meant to look realistic actually use many of the tools and ideas that film makers and photographers use to make their material look "better than reality" or give it special tones etc..

And of course the technical stuff is important in case of video games. Not only does this determine the level of detail of models and stuff, it also determines the artistic freedom the artists and game designers have. That's why it does matter an extreme lot how many polygons can be drawn at a time, what resolution textures can have, how many post-processing effects can be applied etc.. Aren't people aware that also those games that provide original or daring (and supposedly minimalistic) styles usually use all the processing power they can get?
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timppu: Better graphics are a way to get people to buy the same games again, e.g. the next NHL, FIFA, NFS, CoD, Halo etc. Or, one does not need to look further than the HD remakes of many games.
Halo 4 sold more than any other and was the 5th Halo game on the 360.
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StingingVelvet: It's not really about what we want but what is logical. I don't think it makes sense to progress much further, cost and return wise.
What are the costs? :P I mean, sure, the time and manpower you need to create "the best" graphics may be bigger these days than ten years ago but due to more processing power and better tools you can almost effortlessly achieve now what required lots of work and time ages ago. I've seen the works of students who learn to create video game art and it's amazing how fast they can create animated and textured models as well as environments that would have been exclusively AAA material years ago. So actually with technological progress the costs get lower and lower.
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F4LL0UT: What are the costs? :P
Of the millions of dollars that go into AAA games, I'm sure a larger chunk of it than you realize goes to these high quality graphics. I've heard that voice acting goes into hundreds per hour for not-so-professional voice actors. Imagine how much professional, top-notch graphics artists go for.

EDIT: Not to mention how much it costs for the consumer to upgrade...
Post edited January 18, 2013 by johnki
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doady: It's sad that "good graphics in gaming refers only to the technical quality"
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F4LL0UT: It doesn't. Maybe many gamers and stupid reviewers think that way but style and artistic direction are something that most (good) developers and critics value and understand. And in fact even supposed "photo-realism" is a much more complex case with games than many people seem to notice as there's many different approaches to that goal that result in distinct visual styles. Half-Life 2, Stalker and Crysis all went for pretty much pure photo-realism and yet they have distinct looks. I mean, movies are all made using footage from the real world (not counting animated movies of course) so they automatically are photo-realistic in the sense as we see it in case of video games and yet they also have very distinct visual styles. What many people don't seem to notice is that even those games that are officially meant to look realistic actually use many of the tools and ideas that film makers and photographers use to make their material look "better than reality" or give it special tones etc.
Graphical fidelity ("good graphics") and art direction are different things though people often mention the first when they mean the latter. There's little reason to increase the first much more (which is what I'm quite sure StingingVelvet was saying), and doing so increases the cost and time substantially (even if, as you say yourself, the costs of creating graphics of the same fidelity goes down to a certain extent as technology progresses and creating the art gets easier). Art direction though, can't really "increase" as there's no clear way of measuring what's more/less or better/worse, just "different".
Post edited January 18, 2013 by Miaghstir
I could never accept that there might be a limit to improvement. The graphics aren't the problem here, per se, but the method at how we get them. Imagine a game engine that makes game environments basically without human input, but can't make believable scripts or stories on it's own. You just hacked off a heck of a lot of working hours needed to make a game.

That's our (their) goal right now, to severely streamline the creation process. Better graphic will come on it's own.
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Theoclymenus: A game which got confused as to what it was trying to achieve graphically : Oblivion. Half the time this game is trying to achieve photorealism, the other half it is trying to be artistic (as really befits its subject matter).
"Artistic" and "photorealistic" are not mutually-exclusive terms. After all, photography is as much a valid medium of art as any other medium. Realism itself can be part of the artistic intent; it doesn't make a work have less artistic merit.

The question is, did they choose a realistic style to fulfill an artistic goal, or to fulfill a commercial goal?

Actually, this "realistic != art" idea is common outside of video games as well. In photography for example, there are a lot of narrowminded people who say that colour photos cannot be artworks simply just because they have colour, and somehow colour automatically means more realism (a primitive view, imo).

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F4LL0UT: And of course the technical stuff is important in case of video games. Not only does this determine the level of detail of models and stuff, it also determines the artistic freedom the artists and game designers have. That's why it does matter an extreme lot how many polygons can be drawn at a time, what resolution textures can have, how many post-processing effects can be applied etc.. Aren't people aware that also those games that provide original or daring (and supposedly minimalistic) styles usually use all the processing power they can get?
The technical stuff is more in terms of detail. Better hardware allows for more detail. But art doesn't have to be detailed. Problem is, the general consensus today is that more detail = better graphics. Of course, more processing power gives developers more freedom, but if they don't take advantage of that freedom what's the point? Why does every single mainstream game have to push the hardware to the limits? That doesn't seem like more freedom to me.
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Nirth: No, thank you. Progress is always important and while graphics isn't the most important part of games for me I still want it to advance.
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StingingVelvet: It's not really about what we want but what is logical. I don't think it makes sense to progress much further, cost and return wise.
I maybe wrong here, but I think some effort will be going into making smaller things more powerful, instead of upping the quality ceiling. There will be people pursuing that as well, but nowadays everyone has some small tablet or personal something. I think people are going to start wondering why they need a PC or console at all, and start wondering why they can't just plug it into their TV and grab a 3rd party wireless gamepad. Given the number of android "am I a PC or am I a console", boxes in the works it's not crazy to think people are starting to think smaller.
Post edited January 18, 2013 by gooberking
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doady: The technical stuff is more in terms of detail. Better hardware allows for more detail. But art doesn't have to be detailed. Problem is, the general consensus today is that more detail = better graphics.
Well, more detail DOES mean better graphics if the game is going for a style that benefits from more details. And of course they usually do. I mean, most games are telling stories about or involving people, they usually try to be believable and immersive and making the graphics look realistic and detailed serves that goal. It's certainly a more intelligent and honest decision than spamming "artistic" effects and stuff for no reason. I mean, look at all the games (especially indie games) that say use an 8-bit look for no reason other than that it's very easy to draw graphics in that style. That's less artistic conscience than most developers of "visually realistic" games have and their explanations for why they chose that particular style are usually less sophisticated and/or honest than what the lead artists of AAA games have to say about their work. I mean, ask yourself what a visual style means for a game. The "problem" isn't that games all look realistic, the issue is that most games have a general premise where that's the best decision. Would have Half-Life 2 or Crysis been better games if they had some heavily stylized comic looks including "BLAM!" signs whenever a gun is fired? Only if there was something about those games that would have justified that decision.
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johnki: Of the millions of dollars that go into AAA games, I'm sure a larger chunk of it than you realize goes to these high quality graphics. I've heard that voice acting goes into hundreds per hour for not-so-professional voice actors. Imagine how much professional, top-notch graphics artists go for.
Well, for one you cannot compare actors to artists. Voice actors have to be invited for recording sessions and only at certain stages during production, some maybe for one day, others multiple times but no actor will spend eight hours each day throughout the whole production at your company (or the company you hired to take care of the voice acting). Generally acting is not a work desk job while that's what the average game artist does - spending his whole workday sitting at a desk and creating minor assets. And it's these kinds of artists AAA studios have and which smaller studios lack, that's why the "really important" and more expensive artists can focus on creating the "really important" stuff - but even those artists aren't awfully overpaid. The true stars among game artists who get paid horrendous sums are concept artists as they are the ones who have to deliver originality and define the style but again, that's not the typical work desk job, those people are more important at certain stages during production. So don't make the mistake of assuming that when you see the credits of a AAA game which lists dozens of members of the art department each of those people gets paid thousands of bucks a day. If you wonder where the huge budget of AAA games goes then - it's largely the marketing and PR.
Post edited January 18, 2013 by F4LL0UT
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gooberking: I maybe wrong here, but I think some effort will be going into making smaller things more powerful, instead of upping the quality ceiling. There will be people pursuing that as well, but nowadays everyone has some small tablet or personal something. I think people are going to start wondering why they need a PC or console at all, and start wondering why they can't just plug it into their TV and grab a 3rd party wireless gamepad. Given the number of android "am I a PC or am I a console", boxes in the works it's not crazy to think people are starting to think smaller.
I would imagine once a tablet can do Xbox 360 level graphics, and someone figures out the architecture the right way, what you're describing could easily be a factor for core gamers. And I would guess that is one reason Sony and Microsoft have upped the tech specs considerably again, to stay ahead of that competition (and the PC for a little while).

Whether it works or not is I guess what I am debating. If it means we add another 20 million dollars to budgets and still sell about the same amount of games then it WILL fail.
I can start by saying aka writing that I love games with graphics like Commander Keen, Jill in The Jungle, Fallout Tactics and Minecraft.
BUT, I also have a strong love for graphics card intensive games that looks just awesume. But I also feel that a lot of games made after Crysis 1 that are made to look awesume, actually don't look that awesume. It's morel like, "Mm, it's okay, but it could have used more high res textures".