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.