Would you trade HD Graphics for Gameplay?

More ramblings from a gamer.

By on June 28, 2010 1:24:48 AM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

ZehDon

Join Date 04/2009
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For those who are unaware, Deus Ex turned 10 recently (yay!).  Instead of waiting for my Christmas holidays for my annual play through, this year I decided I'd jump in early to celebrate one of my favourite games hitting double digits.  The graphics may have aged, and the A.I. bugs are as hilarious as always, however Deus Ex still remains one of the most engaging titles I've ever played.  As part of this anniversary, Rock Paper Shotgun have been doing a few Deus Ex articles.  In one, it was commented that to do a game like Deus Ex (without the pre-established name) today would be impossible due to costs.  AAA titles are bloody expensive to make and taking a risk on something as random as emergent gameplay is financially irresponsible.  This made me remember back to when Final Fantasy XIII was released and the Director remarked that towns and the like were removed because creating them use industry leading visuals expected from AAA titles has simply become too expensive.

It seems to me that game development might have crossed a line here.  FFXIII is regarded fairly poorly, and some of the main criticisms leveled against it is the pathetically linear and non-interactive nature of the game - the removal of illusion of freedom offered by previous titles in the series.  Essentially, the removal of towns, optional quests, NPCs and the over-world hurt the game, and they were removed because to create them at the level of visual fedality desired was too expensive.  My personal solution would to have been to decrease the level of visual fedality desired for the project, saving the company money on the whole project while allowing the game to have everything it needed to really shine.

Obviously, my personal choice doesn't reflect the thoughts of everyone, and so the question: would you trade HD Graphics for gameplay?  Imagine, say, Call of Duty 4 with visuals slightly better than the original Call of Duty, however will hundreds more NPCs and significantly larger battlefields.  Is the trade off worth it?  If a developer released the game that would become the next 'Deus Ex' today, if it had PS2 quality graphics would it hurt the game?  Would the game be worse because of a lack of Normal Maps and Full Screen AA?

Usually a game has a focus on visuals to ensure it can be marketed to the mainstream audience to make up the development costs in sales, however it would see that the development costs are now so large due to a focus on visuals that the games are having to suffer as a result, which should mean less sales over-all? 
So, to make more sales to cover the cost of producing industry leading visuals they have to produce games with... industry leading visuals which means cutting features which results in less sales because no one wants to actually play it now?
Maybe I'm way off here, however it would seem to me its simply smarter, from a business perspective, to make a game with decent, not industry leading, visuals and let your gameplay capture your audience rather than the resolution of your textures?

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June 28, 2010 1:29:38 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I think it depends on the type of game, although overall I am all about gameplay and less so about graphics.  I think cut scenes or videos for the most part are a waste of time and development money that could be better spent elsewhere, but thats me.

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June 28, 2010 1:37:09 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

For sure. Some of my favorite games have poor graphics. And I don't play FPS's, so there goes the biggest graphical hog.

 

Of course, I'd prefer good graphics and good gameplay. But I don't think I have a single game I've bought for the graphics. Even Dirt 2, which looks awesome on my gaming PC, I still bought more for the gameplay.

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June 28, 2010 2:34:43 AM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

well. If they hadn't sold their soul out to XBox, they could have developed for the BluRay only and not have had to give up as much stuff... just sayin'. 

 

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June 28, 2010 2:36:37 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

All I desire from graphics is clairity of communication. I don't want to learn 12,000 crappy symbols to comprehend what I'm looking at in some ancient style asci graphics mess anymore, but conversely I don't want photorealism if that means the only way I can tell my lvl 1 peons from my hyperelite rangers is because they are wearing slightly different subdued insignias on their drab camo uniforms, which I'm looking at from a mile away and overhead therough jungle canopoy.

Gameplay trumps graphics up until the point where the graphics are so poor they detract from gameplay. I wouldn't enjoy playing a game where the graphics were significantly worse than, say, Dominions 3. But I'll play Dom3 all day. Hell, I'll happily play King of Dragon Pass and that doesn't even have animated graphics, although the still images it does employ are highly effective and evocotive.

Eyecandy is all well and good, but if all I'm looking for is visuals with no gameplay depth behind them I'd rather spend my $50 on 3 museams and a movie rather than a "game".

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June 28, 2010 3:30:27 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I can barely tell the difference between HD and non-HD on my 360, so of course I would.

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June 28, 2010 4:21:33 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

I pretty much agree with what Andorfiend said. Gameplay is more important up to a point, but eventually bad graphics are detrimental to the game. But for the most part, gameplay is much more important. Heck, I have more fun on my Wii than my 360. I'd much rather have Super Mario Galaxy and the Lengend of Zelda over Call of Duty and Halo, but that's also partly due to my prefered style of games.

A great example is the up-coming GoldenEye 007 remake. A lot of people are complaining "Oh, don't make it Wii exclusive, put on the 360 and PS3 because they have better graphics, etc." Yeah sure, it would look a little better, but would anything really be gained gameplay-wise? If it was fun on the N64 the first time around, it will be fun on the Wii, even if it doesn't look like Modern Warfare 2.

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June 28, 2010 5:22:36 AM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

These are all good articles, though I wasn’t initially planning to read them. I’m going to have to play the game again…

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June 28, 2010 5:28:50 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Know the thing I hate about mount and Blade?

The interface. Ugh.. its horrible, is that how they do things in turkey, big and jaggy?

 

I want to just go in there and fix up thier interfaces, a nice scrolling save list with character preview and stats on the side. Access to all your heros inventroy/stats from tthe main interface screen (left right buttons). The text needs to be smoothed out and drawn properly, stat compare on items, SMALLER FONTS with colour coded item rareity.

These are simply the lastest standards in useability. This is important. There is also a question of a minimum level of graphics, playing a mod can be amazing in that game but the native low end stuff is horrid (and they should NEVER show thier base human bodies - omg).

(I would also force them at gun point to improve native for the majority of players rather than relying on mods for that stuff.... village quests.... W. T. F? They are still dumb after 3-4 YEARS! But thats a side topic.)

 

So IMO HD graphics arn't very useful for anything than selling the game in the first place.

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June 28, 2010 6:36:54 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I shall preface this by saying that I Always play games on as high graphics settings as they support, heck I use the configs that make Crysis look better.  

My general opinion is that you should endeavour to have as aesthetically pleasing graphics as possible, up until the point, where it will interfere with the game itself, the issue I feel is that graphics have taken the front foot for the better part of the last decade, there were various moments, 2001 seems to have been one of them, when graphics got to the point that having "good" graphics meant that gameplay just reset, and genres essentially started again.

A good example is the, rather turgid, Alpha protocol, as i climbed down a ladder in the direct line of sight of an enemy and still wasn't detected I thought, is this really what passes for stealth nowadays, bad guys can't look up any more? Thief and Thief II were better than this, and they were made 12 and 10 years ago respectively. admittedly they were made by Looking Glass and they are responsible for some of the best games ever made. (at least 5 out of my top 20 in fact)
How many years has it taken us to get to the point where you can shoot out lights again? every time some bright spark came up with a new lighting method it just went straight out the window.

Another example is Sins of a Solar Empire, now I like Sins, I have spent a considerable amount of time playing and modding it, but It's still not Imperium Galactica II, indeed it's barely a shadow of a game that came out a decade ago. For the record I pick on Sins because there are few other options.

In fact, a better example overall, the Nintendo DS, the very fact that the graphics capabilities are limited has meant that developers concentrated on making, attempting, more interesting games. In a way I'd say that the DS epitomises my argument, and my personal opinion is that it's one of the best gaming platforms ever made. Could the games have been made for other systems, yes, but people wouldn't have tried. (except for perhaps the PC indie scene, who are also pretty good for similar reasons)

Now at the moment graphics have plateaued somewhat, so I think we are just about getting back to a stage where developers can\will start thinking about gameplay again.

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June 28, 2010 6:39:52 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting OMG_BlackHatHedgehog,
well. If they hadn't sold their soul out to XBox, they could have developed for the BluRay only and not have had to give up as much stuff... just sayin'. 

 

Umm, what? They gave up those things because they didn't have the budget to make them in the first place. They wound up porting to the 360 (badly, I might add) to try and get some of the money back. The game was just stupidly expensive to make.

It's not that good either. Skies of Arcadia is better, and the newest version of that is a Gamecube update for a Dreamcast game.

So yes, I'd make the trade. It doesn't matter how pretty a game is if it's not fun to play.

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June 28, 2010 11:34:14 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Imagine, say, Call of Duty 4 with visuals slightly better than the original Call of Duty, however will hundreds more NPCs and significantly larger battlefields.

This is a terrible comparison because Call of Duty 4 is already only slightly better than the original Call of Duty, and its engine is very low tech. They just didn't put a lot of stuff in it 'cause their production cycle is stupidly short (a CoD game each year!)

That said, pretty graphics are by no means an evil thing, as long as the developer balances it out. An aesthetically pleasing and good to look at game does wonders to drawing you in (visual stimulation is never a bad thing), but the game does need to have gameplay. Prime example? Demigod. All the focus went into the engine, and almost nothing into the game. They just needed the engine to make SupCom 2. That's obviously bad. But then you take a game like Crysis, which had a gorgeous engine, and backed up with solid fast-paced shooter gameplay.

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June 28, 2010 11:54:40 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Well, I have to weigh in on the side of 'gameplay über alles'.  To me- graphics are certainly nice, but should ALWAYS be secondary to gameplay.  Great examples of this are Dominions 3, Solium Infernum, Spelunky, Dwarf Fortress and other classics like nethack.

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June 28, 2010 1:05:27 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

I certainly would make the trade.  If a game has normal maps and 16x FSAA but crap gameplay, then you've simply got high-detail fecal matter without any jaggies.  On the other hand, properly-done graphics can and will create an immersive environment, enhancing gameplay.

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June 28, 2010 1:40:24 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums

I find I'm at the point now where games thought to have poor graphics by todays standards look good to me - the difference is now between good graphics and amazing graphics, and so I'd much rather have good graphics with good gameplay than amazing graphics with average gameplay.

Going back far enough though graphics reach the point where they start to look a bit awkward and detract somewhat from the game.

Overall if a game has poor graphics (but good graphics) I probably wouldn't be prepared to pay as much as if it had good graphics, but I'd still be interested in paying for it, while if a game has good graphics but poor gameplay I wouldn't be interested in paying for it at all.

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June 28, 2010 2:32:53 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums

Good graphics really add very little value to a game. Today's amazing graphics will look horrible in 10 years. Games were incredibly popular back when we had 8 bit systems and the graphics were horrible, but we thought they looked pretty good at the time. Great graphics will wow you for 10 minutes and then it becomes irrelevant. My favorite games are ones where I can zoom out to the point where all the graphics are reduced to symbols, but all the information I need is on the screen. A bad game with great graphics remains a bad game. But a great game with poor graphics is still a great game. I agree that the masses demand good graphics and a game will not sell without them, but in the end if wouldn't be a good game without the graphics, then it's not a good game WITH the graphics and will likely just gather dust.

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June 28, 2010 3:15:53 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

I play Paradox strategy games. There is certainly nothing graphically outstanding about those games, in fact, Crusader Kings is downright ugly, especially the character portraits which you spend a lot of time looking at. For me, how important graphics are in a game is related to the type of game I am playing. I give a lot of leeway for strategy titles. My FPS games, which I don't play as often, need to look like they didn't come out of the 90s and water actually splash when I walk in it. RPGs should also look pretty good but unlike FPS games, they don't necessarily have to have the entire world be viewable at 360 degrees. Then games like Trine, Trine's music and graphics really add to the game, without those two things, the puzzles would just fall flat for me.

I also own a Wii which, as many love pointing out all the time ever sinse its release, doesn't have HD graphics.

So my answer is in some cases, yes, in others no. It is situational for me.

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June 28, 2010 8:15:56 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Quoting jhonsadins,
These are all good articles, though I wasn’t initially planning to read them. I’m going to have to play the game again…

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June 28, 2010 9:02:03 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

My list of what is important.

1st is gameplay

2nd is techically good graphics, no stuttering, graphics bugs, etc.

3rd is the eye candy, it doesn't matter much if the game itself rocks.

Let's take Morrowind for example. Of course when it was first released it was among the best, but since there's no point in judging in yesterday's standards, it's rather... well, from outdated to ugly, depending whom you ask, nowadays. Though good enough for me, besides, the overall atmosphere and looks are far more important than details.

Left out story and plot since completly storyless games can work well. Halo CE still doesn't have much of a story nor characters but it is fun to play. And then there's a question if a storyless game is a better than one with totally awful one...

Stylised graphics are better than realistic ones. Those last longer. WoW looks nice still. SWTOR will probably look pretty nice 5-6 from now... Halos with their style fare better than some FPS i know the test of time. GalCiv2 is fun, Elemental WILL look nice for years.

 

Gameplay always over graphics.

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June 28, 2010 10:33:53 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Definatly would trade graphics for gameplay!   for me some of the most memorable titles have been for the SNES Without listing a bunch, ill pick FF6 for the frontrunner for SNES and For the PC Heroes of might and magic 3, is my all time favorite game ever. nothing special in graphics there.

Graphics are an everchanging and evloving thing, but storyline, charactors, events, and mechanics will always be there. i dont like when graphics claim to be "most realistic" and have no substance because i have yet to see them look realistic.

There is an exception tho, im a fan of cell shaded like XIII, Borderlands. and smooth moving simple texture games like serious sam, ones that use the unreal engine are usually smooth runnning. There are a lot of games that have passible graphics but steller gameplay. I find myself going back to games that ive had for years more then i go run out to get a new game.

Can good games have good graphics? Absolutly

Do good graphics make a good game? Absolutly NOT!

It makes me rather excited to know that graphics were not put to top priority in elemental so more effort can go to the gameplay. Plus i think cell shaded graphics allow for a more stylish presentation. I recently pre ordered mine and are awaiting my participation time in the beta!

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June 28, 2010 10:57:39 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

also  drop graphics for better gameplay, and I still tend to play 15 year old games over recent and as blackoth said

Can good games have good graphics? Absolutly

Do good graphics make a good game? Absolutly NOT!

harpo

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June 28, 2010 11:29:36 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Still playing my SimFarm from 15 years ago (emulated of course)

 

I love great graphics, but they will always age.  I liken it to cars - a great looking car is good, but if the engine is dead in 3 years, too bad.  I want a classic that can be run till I'm 65!   And I don't think todays modern view on longevity of games is up to par.  To much "razzle dazzle"

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June 28, 2010 11:37:03 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

If Graphics really don't matter (make #1) on many gamers lists, then why do the Game Dev's of almost all modern Games keep pushing the Graphical envelope, in such a manner, that those same gamers will/have to buy new and more graphically powerful PC's and consoles?

What is the acceptable level? I currently run a Quad Core, 2 GB video, TB drive unit. Anything else may be insufficient if I find a modern game I may like outside the FPS genre.... 

Am I just another sucker of the supposed "Tech Advancement" movement?


 

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June 28, 2010 11:43:51 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

No, I wouldn't. Example: The texture flickering and popping of Twilight Princess for Wii. I want to play Zelda on 360.

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June 28, 2010 11:45:04 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Ah Deus Ex! I also reply that one every once in awhile. 

I have realized that for me quality game play and story are paramount. Top graphics mean very little to me, they may be a novelty but they quickly wear off. The only thing that keeps me coming back is a good story, solid gameplay, and an interesting world.

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June 29, 2010 1:02:49 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

HD graphics...  Anything I'm running at 1920x1080 has WSXGA HD graphics.

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