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PC Game Graphics: Steep or Forgiving Requirements?

posted by MusicallyInspired on - last edited - Viewed by 249 users

I didn't make this a poll as I don't really consider this a "taking sides" kind of thread, but rather geared more towards the philosophy of PC gaming itself and its graphics.

So, many complain about graphics for games (not just TTG games but PC games altogether) that have graphic requirements too high for their rigs to handle. Likewise, some complain that some low-end games need to get with the times and take advantage of the latest graphic capabilities. Who's right? Is anybody right?

Personally, I think games should stay somewhere near the latest capabilities. Not everything needs to be the very newest cutting edge graphics showcase model but I also don't agree with games produced that are about as impressive as a benchmark from 6+ years ago. Specifically, plastic-looking models for everything in a game makes for a really bad looking game. Specular, parallax, normal, diffuse, etc texture mapping really is the way every dev should be making their game graphics. Or just normal and spec mapping at the very least. Plastic models are ugly and obvious.

Of course there's the argument that some games don't need to be as realistic as possible and that's fine...SBCG4AP, for instance, looks just fine and absolutely perfect as it is for what it is. I can't think of anything that would improve it. Perhaps the same Flash-like shading that the toons have? But even some cartoon-ish games need a level of realism to them. Like Sam & Max and Tales of Monkey Island. Just because they're cartoons doesn't mean the models have to look like living plastic dolls. Measures can be taken to make model surfaces look less plastic.

But, besides the question of whether or not games should be realistic or not, this is PC gaming. PC gaming by nature is about building on and adding to your current PC setup. I may be generalizing, but I think it's safe to say that most PC gamers have had a level of customization done to their rigs at some point or another. And most of that group of people don't just add the odd new card every now and again but actually update most of their hardware. And still more actually custom build their rigs from scratch with their own personal selection of hardware specs. The PC is customization heaven as far as gaming is concerned. And as such I think game developers need to stick to certain standards.

Casual games? Yes, those can use whatever onboard Intel GFX chip standards are out there. I'm not talking about casual games. I also don't think that TTG games are "casual games". Sure they're episodic and whatnot and TTG has a great business model for non-mainstream titles, but I think they're moving beyond that now. TTG have garnered more and more attention with each game season they release and the quality of their games keeps going up. I'm pleased to see that the quality level of the graphics are increasing as well.

However, I'm not specifically talking about TTG here, they're just an example. Most of The Adventure Company games are pretty behind as well. Granted I haven't played any of the latest ones, but they usually consists of hand-painted, pre-rendered, or photo backgrounds with character models that just meet the lowest modern graphics quality standards. And still more games continually disappoint me. Of course it's a money issue, but that's no excuse to be lazy (I'm not saying TTG are lazy, like I said they continue to improve their graphics quality with every game and that excites me. I'm referring to those game devs that are lazy). There are fans who create new engines for old games with modern graphics capabilities (a painstaking process) and still more people who create the spec/normal/diffuse/et al texture maps needed to put the game into high resolution. And all for free. And the quality of the work is staggering. A perfect example: the new "polymer" renderer for eDuke32 (Windows-based Duke Nukem 3D engine). From what I understand, it's all a very standardized streamlined process. Running models through Zbrush and generating normal maps from them. As long as you know what you're doing you could get quality work out in a reasonable amount of time.

Of course, all this spawns a new discussion altogether: writing quality, puzzle quality, etc. But I truly believe that graphics are just as important as any other aspect of a game. But I'm not going to get into that in this thread.

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  • @MusicallyInspired said: But I'm not going to get into that in this thread.



    Good call.

    Now, who likes toast??

  • I like whizz-bang graphics as much as the next guy, but I think companies, even those with AAA titles need to focus on optimising lower settings so they can actually appeal to a wider range of clientele, not just "you can run this on your 128mb card sure, it'll just run like it's stuck in molasses" sort of mentality.

    This is what i'd ideally like to see, i've no idea of the technical jibber jabber that would make this do-able

  • I think it's just sad that games work that way.

    Think about it. Every few years, maybe even more often, new games become unplayable on "old" systems and new systems can't play the games you already own.
    In comparison, my TV in France was over 30 and worked perfectly fine. And books have stayed the same for like forever. We can still read books owned by our ancestors, and we don't need to get different glasses or anything like that.

    Technology does change faster, but games even moreso. You can still buy CDs even though there are mp3s, you can still buy tapes even though there are CDs, and you can even still get LP records even though there are tapes. Sure, you can't get some of the older stuff, but I can still get stuff that existed before I was born, including new releases (or at least I could recently. Did they stop releasing tapes and LPs of new stuff?).

    With games, it just changes so fast. And then you get people going "duh, you dummy, having a computer that's two years old, you should just shoot yourself" and stuff like that. Fortunately, not everyone is like that, but...
    What I mean is that people tell me "you need to realise that games have to evolve and you just can't get by with a system that's old". And my question is... why?
    Why is it unreasonable of me to wish games still looked like they did in, say, the 90s? Why should I find it normal to have to replace my system or get a new console every few years? It just seems to me like a way to sell a new console and make everyone switch, because otherwise they can't play new games anymore. Sure they can play the old ones, but you run out of games to play at some point.

    It's not just technology. It's different. I could watch TV on my 30+ years old TV and get the exact same channels as people with the latest kind of TV. I could buy tapes and get the same songs as people who bought CDs or mp3 directly. I could buy a paper book with the same text as the ebook that's also sold. I could talk to you from a rotary dial phone to your latest whatever's-in-fashion-today.
    Other technological stuff just doesn't change THAT fast, and not in an incompatible way. And sometimes, well you just don't earn enough to save for the next system, even if the second you buy one you start saving for the next.
    And sometimes, you just don't want to "get rid" of something that still works 100%, either.

    So I just hate that about video games. I don't care about the graphics. I've been replaying games from before I was born more than new games lately, and the graphics are fine. I just hate the idea that I should "suck it up" and just not play games. I mean, I get what you're saying, but if a new technology arrived that got books to download directly in your brain, but that it cost a lot, changed often, and old books became incompatible, wouldn't you guys wish you could go back to normal books that you can just read?
    And wouldn't you want to buy the new [insert favourite living author] rather than be stuck reading the old ones?

    I'm not blaming anyone or being all bitter and saying it's evil or something, I just think it's really, really sad. That artificial need has been created and I don't think there is any way it's going to ever change now. And I'm going to be left behind, and I don't think I'll make a fuss about it or anything, I'll just stop buying games and fade out of the (new game) market, but I can't say I'm in a hurry for that moment to happen.
    At least there will be a lot of old games for me to play, just like there would be a lot of old books for me to read or old movies for me to watch, and that does make it less hard, but that doesn't mean it makes me happy.

    So yeah, I guess that makes me this generation's old crank who says things were better in her time, but you have to be sad at the fact that I'm only 25 and things change fast enough in that industry for me to be in that stage already.

  • @Avistew said: You can still buy CDs even though there are mp3s, you can still buy tapes even though there are CDs, and you can even still get LP records even though there are tapes. Sure, you can't get some of the older stuff, but I can still get stuff that existed before I was born, including new releases (or at least I could recently. Did they stop releasing tapes and LPs of new stuff?).



    But can you still buy 8-tracks? :p

    Tapes are pretty much dead in the water, but quite a bit of stuff gets released on LP still today, don't expect Gaga or anything to be on vinyl, but there's still a lot of LP releases coming out

    But back to graphix!! When they perfect streaming games then there'll be no need for hardware upgrades as you'll just be playing with a high-definition video with all the processing done server side, as long as your system can play a HD video and has a capable internet connection you're covered! though it's still a bit aways yet

  • I too feel like games are evolving now at lightning speeds and the slick graphics don't necessarily mean the games are better. Sure it's nice to be enveloped by GTA IV's massive Liberty City but Chinatown Wars proved that simple graphics could provide equally good gameplay.

    I've been lucky so far that I haven't come across a game yet that doesn't run at all but I'm certain it won't be long before I need to upgrade just to play one game.

    I find it most frustrating that a lot of older games don't work on new machines until they pop up on Steam or whatever and force you to buy them again. Even then, games like Dark Forces don't run comfortably on Windows 7.

    Oh and Avistew, you can't get new albums on cassette but you sometimes can on vinyl, particularly with alternative bands. There are also a lot of small independent labels who are trying to revive the cassette by releasing limited run tape-EPs that also come with a download code for the songs.

  • I'm speaking from a financially-handicapped position and I still say games need to keep up. I don't even have near the latest rig. I'm just getting by on a Pentium 4 2.8Ghz (hyperthreaded) with 3GB of RAM I managed to scrape up out of other rigs and still rocking on my old ATI X1650 AGP card which, regardless of my cpu speed and RAM quantity, still runs games slowly at times). PCs certainly don't have to be outdated in just a couple years. That's nonsense. And I don't agree with games concentrating on graphics alone and nothing else (which seems to be the trend nowadays). As I said all aspects of a game are equally as important to each other. It's just sad to see good games with bad graphics and vice versa.

    I do agree with the idea of supporting older hardware in addition to having fairly modern graphics. Nobody seems to have done that since Half-Life 2, though (which was recently updated and doesn't work in DX7 mode anymore :().

    Also, where do you find cassette tapes of modern music nowadays? I can see LPs and Vinyls as those kind of have a cult following, but cassette tapes? I've never seen any in years and years.

  • @MusicallyInspired said: Also, where do you find cassette tapes of modern music nowadays? I can see LPs and Vinyls as those kind of have a cult following, but cassette tapes? I've never seen any in years and years.



    Here's one example
    http://www.roughtrade.com/site/shop_detail.lasso?search_type=sku&sku=323422

  • I've never even heard of them. Any examples of modern popular artists?

  • @MusicallyInspired said: I've never even heard of them. Any examples of modern popular artists?



    Oh no, definitely not. It's very much an 'underground' lo-fi thing, an attempt to bring a little nostalgia to modern music I guess.

  • Source engine is a good example of a perfect engine. Most computers in stores that are over 500 dollars can run it at low settings and be fine with it, but those dedicated can make it look as if it came out last year at full settings.

    If only Valve would fix the damned skybox bug in L4D2 where if shaders are low then it won't show.

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