World of Apex

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Long Time, No See

I'm a very sporadic writer, especially if I'm not required to write on a regular basis. So, that said, every so often a conversation trips my writing instinct and I just have to put something down to get it out of my head. Now is one of those times.

Topic of the day: Gameplay or Graphics?

Now, before you immediately jump up my metaphorical ass and start yelling "GAMEPLAY YOU IDIOT," there is a point to this little rant. The point is, people are too one-sided, short-sighted and closed-minded about this issue. As soon as you ask the question I just asked, you'll get the reponse I just quoted. People these days are starting to turn against visual effects in favor of "new and different" ways of playing their games. It won't matter if it's the same exact game as before, as long as they have some new, fancy way of playing it. Case in point, despite the fact I'll get flamed for saying it, is the Nintendo Wii.

I'm not going to bash the console itself, so don't have an aneurism. The console is fine. However, the reasons people want to buy it are not. Ever since Nintendo used their little viral marketing scheme by abstractly naming their new console to generate buzz, then announced the inclusion of a motion-sensing controller, people have taken arms against the natural progression of videogame technology, jumping on a pop culture bandwagon instead. Gameplay! Gameplay! We don't care about the graphics, it's all about the gameplay!

Let's take a look back at the gaming industry before we go any further, to see how this mindset came into being. Over the past few years, videogames have become much more commercialized, corporate and generally have been made into a giant money machine by the big boys of the industry. EA churns out the same sports games each year with an updated roster and new soundtrack, companies pump out generic first person shooters like freebie fliers at a newsstand, Diablo clones 100 to 125 are made, and people gleefully slap $50 on the desk of their local retailer to buy them. However, even the general public isn't so blind as to wittingly accept this for very long. Catching on to the corporations evil schemes, the public has decided to "just say no" to things that aren't innovating. This isn't completely a bad thing, because it means people might finally wake up to the fact companies like EA are leeching money from their pockets every year for the same game, but it's also not a wholely good thing either. What would happen if people rebel against the publishers and say no to prettier graphics and yes to more gameplay?

In the real world, the publishers would ignore the public and continue on their merry way, because a few black sheep in the flock won't lead the rest astray. Let's be hypothetical for a moment though, and assume game companies actually cared about the customers and did in fact listen. If that were the case, the companies would have no motivation to make games look better whatsoever, and would cease improving visuals completely to save money. Imagine all of the dough they could save by not having fancy graphics! They could fire dozens of artists and cut down staff! Effectively, people would be stuck where we are now for the next ten years (the predicted time frame for the next shift in gamer interest, by my calculations). Games would look exactly as they do right now, on every system. There will be no Crysis, Gears of War, or Spore. All of them use new graphics technologies to improve the game.

You see, what people don't get is improving the graphics is a natural part of game evolution. Graphics have improved since Pong to become what they have today. Look at all of the classics we have today, then think to yourself, "what if people had decided Pong's graphics were good enough?" The art is as much a part of the game as the play style; one can not exist without the other. Gameplay is only half of the equation, on one side of the balance.

So, my final question to you is: Why can't we have both? What's so bad about having a fun game with really nice graphics? This day and age there's no reason we can't, as gamers, have our proverbial cake and eat it too. Giant game companies spend millions upon millions of dollars on development of these games, with hundreds of employees dedicated to them at a time, so why can't it look AND play great?

Aside: Reviews of games I recently purchased, in four words or less!

Hitman: Blood Money (Xbox360) - Hello, Mister 47.
Battlefield 2: Modern Combat (Xbox360) - Xbox Live or bust.
Titan Quest (PC) - Better Diablo, plus Co-op!
HL2: Episode 1 (PC) - Six more hours!
Rush for Berlin (PC) - Rush to return it.

Mod edition...

Dystopia (HL2) - Two words: Freakin' sweet
Hidden (HL2) - He's behind you.
Troy (HL2) - Pitt missing, thank Gods.
MultiTES4(Oblivion) - It's a start.
Star Wars (M&B) - Needs more blasters.
MultiTheftAuto (GTA:SA) - Ghetto blastin' online.

Demo edition...

Prey (PC) - Gravity rollercoaster.

That's all folks. I might post again this month. Maybe.


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