This opinion piece, due to length, will consist of several parts. Each part will be published on the following Monday, at 12pm EST until the series concludes.
Are realistic graphics something we should want? Part 2
Are realistic graphics something we should want? Part 3
Fallout 4’s recent announcement was accompanied by a less then pleasing trailer aesthetics wise, using in game graphics. Being in development since 2010, the game was initially being worked on for the previous generation of consoles(Playstation 3, Xbox 360). Although porting a game over to a new generation of consoles(the Playstation 4 and Xbox One) will contain its own unique set of issues, with new engines and different specifications on the machines; Bethesda, so far at least, has chosen to ignore these issues and continue on with creating more content for the game. Fantastic, right? This will help to push the industry forward and create more diverse games, packed with features and things we probably never thought would happen. … but what happens to the appearance of games?
This also brings up the issue of The Last Guardian. In development since 2005, and last seen in 2009; Sony has been talking a bit more about The Last Guardian this year, with several reports saying 2015 will be the year for a re-appearance. And with E3 only a few days away – whether or not the game will show up again is still a mystery. But if it does, will we be seeing the level of graphics equivalent to 2015, or equivalent to 2009? The Last Guardian’s style is realistic, and for that reason we hit a bit of an issue when it comes to the actual release of the game. When waiting for a game this long, most expect it to look – and play – good.
The hype surrounding The Last Guardian, similar to that of Fallout 4’s, has been created mostly by the fans… That and a missed copyright renewal. The idea behind a game being in development for so long after its been announced is not unheard of, However, in today’s gaming culture it becomes less and less common, leading to pressure on both the developers and publishers.
As the Video Game ‘Hollywood’ slowly begins to develop over the years, we begin to see certain patterns arise – including yearly releases of specific franchises. It is an interesting time for the AAA titles to continue to develop, as while both Movie’s and TV’s version of Hollywood are slowly being turned away from, Video Games are just beginning. 30 years is not a long time for an industry to be in development, and its only been a few years since people started to take it seriously.
As an example, Assassin’s Creed is a major franchise with yearly releases since 2009, with the first installment being in 2007. Although the quality of the franchise and when it actually stopped working is debated by many, its safe to say that the series took an interesting turn in 2013 with the release of Black Flag. All of that aside, if you compare the graphics between the first Assassin’s Creed(2007), and the last one developed before the new consoles hit the market, being Assassin’s creed III(2012), the differences are startling. And it kind of makes the first a little boring to look at. Not just from location, but the level of realism alone. At that point, however, Assassins Creed I’s graphics were eye candy for the year of 2007.
Besides changing Desmond’s general face shape to fit the graphic capabilities of the generation, the cut scenes themselves look incredible compared to what they initially were. The changes within a span of 5 years shows what developers can accomplish on such a limited system. And that doesn’t look very good for Sony or Bethesda at this moment in time.
The question, in the end, is if realistic graphics actually help the games they are incorporated into. Although realistic styled games have not hit their peak, the argument still stands that games that are cel shaded(Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker), 2D(Super Mario Brothers franchise), or done with unique art(Ubiart games, paper mario), stand the test of time far longer then those going for a realistic style.
Are we to far gone to rekindle the unique styles found in older franchises? Or does the industry itself put too much pressure onto the developers to keep things realistic? The notion that we should even be moving for a realistic style hasn’t actually been questioned yet. Although we are provided with beautiful games, with some unique takes, the 3D modeling can begin to take away only 5 years later.