Ever Since the humble beginnings of the video game, the industry has been striving to improve the quality of the graphics in them. Many techniques have been used over the years to try to achieve the most realistic looking games possible. Well before the 3D gaming world, artists were pushing the limits of 2D. One of the earlier techniques used was rotoscoping, this technique involves using actual live scenes and animating them frame by frame by tracing over filmed footage. Some games actually used clay models in their video games, one of the more notable uses of this technique was in the game ClayFighter.
With advances in the hardware we use to play our games, software developers were able to take advantage of new technologies and push the limits of what was possible in a video game. Eventually, 3D games began to take over the industry and with their introduction people started to expect more and more. Again, it was a race to match reality, and in the process, pull end-users away from the competition.
Today, things seem to have changed a bit. Although we are still making strides toward the ultimate 3D gaming experience, we seem to have been somewhat delightfully distracted by a new wave a games that are just as amazing as their 3D counterparts, but instead of focusing on reality, they are acutely artistic and vibrant. These games are highly addictive and in some cases, surprisingly simple. We pay little attention to how “realistic” these games are, in fact we are hoping that they are far from realistic, as we anticipate being immersed into an unknown world that looks nothing like anything we have seen.
In some cases we do mimic reality but embrace the gameplay in favor of ultra-uber textures and cutting edge tessellation techniques . Take the popular game Minecraft for example, this game is hardly on the cutting edge for graphics but it’s game play is addictive and when you add in multiplayer capabilities, the game becomes even more enjoyable. I guess the best way to explain what todays gamer is looking for in a game is simply, good entertainment. Far too many times have games been produced where the main focus of the project is it’s look. Gameplay in these types of games is almost an afterthought and gamers pick up on this. We know what makes a good game and it’s not just the polygon count.
So what has made us refocus our attention to these other types of games? Mainly, the rise of mobile gaming, touch input and Facebook. Nothing has influenced gaming more in the last few years then these three factors. Our web browsers don’t really take advantage of our GPU and so instead developers produce relatively simple yet addicting games than run right on Facebook, and as I mentioned before when you add your friends into the mix, it becomes a winning combination. The mobile environment is suited perfectly for all kinds uniuqe games that rely on pure creativity instead of raw power to provide an entertaining experience. Games like Words with Friends and Draw Something are a big hit and yet are very simple, graphically speaking. Touch input challenges developers to create games that focus more on creativity and offer up distinctive gameplay.
Again, I believe we are focusing more on gameplay then ever before and it’s making for some really amazing games. Now, I am not saying that we can’t have the best of both worlds here, both graphically and content wise. There are already many titles that do an amazing job of combining both. Instead I am pointing out a trend among mainstream gamers that appears to be moving away from a focus on pure graphics capabilities. We seem to have shifted our attention to new methods of control and portability instead. It’s interesting to see how the gaming world is evolving, I can’t wait to see what’s next.