TSM Episode 10: Graphic Art

Are amazing graphics necessarily a work of art?

Produced 2011.08.21

Reetin is flying high, Enrei is soft on the eyes, Blitzmage is simplified, Breaka is getting a redesign, and Lusipurr doesn’t want these hats. Companies sue each other as Summer ends, whereas Valve treats protesters to a free lunch, tour, and playtest!

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  1. I’ve only every played two games where the graphical presentation was so bad I had to stop playing. Those games were the original Shadow Hearts, for PS2, and Final Fantasy VII. I gave both an honest try before I just had to stop. I couldn’t continue, but I knew if I had played either of those game closer to their original release dates, I would likely have finished them.

    As for early 3D polygonal games, like on the N64 and PS1, not aging well in comparison to their 2D predecessors, I think a lot of that has to do with what those games were trying to accomplish graphically. 2D games, with their sprites and (typically) side scrolling backgrounds are trying in many ways to create an illusion of depth and even of detail. They show you only so much, because that’s what that style is capable of. Realistic polygonal 3D games are trying to show an approximation of real three dimensional space, and that approximation is limited to the tech at the time. 2D games, by comparison, are trying to show an interpretation of that environment or space and we give this method more leeway because it isn’t trying to be real nor is it presented in a realistic manner.

  2. That sucks Breaka, hope it gets fixed soon. Mine was broken for 3 weeks recently so I feel your pain.

    I love the older, sprite-based graphic systems. And I know I’ll take some crap for this, but even back in the PS1 era, I disliked the graphics of FFVII. I was disappointed that they abandoned the sprite graphics of FFVI for that style. I’m not a big graphics person, but I can say that it didn’t help my opinion of the game.

  3. @SN, The in-battle ones I’d agree. The field models are spinachetastic.

    @Mel, do you think later PSX and PS2 era 3D holds up better? I can’t think of any heavily stylized 3D PSX games that still look nice, really.

    PS2 games like FFX I think look pretty decent (regardless of its many other flaws). FFX sort of stylized the world (and retarded character outfits), but simultaneously tried to do “real people.”

  4. My experience with the PS1 is very limited, so I can’t speak in detail to which games have held up or not. But I do know that, for the most part, the console cycles have followed a trend of “new presentation method” and then a “re-uptake” of that method. So, 2D sprites (which I know didn’t originate on the NES) were followed by an improvement of that method in the 16 bit era. Polygonal 3D then hit the scene, followed by an improvement in it with the PS2 and the rest. Now it’s HD. We’ll be entering an improved version of that, next gen most likely. Though, the waters have been muddied with the induction of things like stereoscopic 3D and motion control.

    So to answer the question, evilpaul, I do think later polygonal 3D games hold up better, because it’s not just an improvement in the available tech, but a greater mastery and grasp on presentation techniques using that method present in those later games. I was simply stating that because those games are usually trying to emulate realism, they gain accolades by how much we’re impressed by them. As time goes by, that impression slips into nostalgia. Ultimately, the incremental improvements in 3D polygonal games are far greater than the ones in 2D sprite games.

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