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Thursday, February 23, 2017

The problem with realistic graphics in games

Opinion by Matt S.

Once developers were able to start working with polygons and creating full 3D worlds, something quite substantial happened to the aesthetics of game art. Where once, inhibited by the technology available to them, game developers were forced into highly-stylised abstractions, such as pixel art, suddenly the pursuit of realism was not only possible, but the generally positive reception that “realistic” games enjoyed elevated this to the most desirable, mass-market approach to aesthetics within games. Consequently, most blockbuster games have since aimed to provide highly “realistic” environments and characters.

Suddenly developers started to compete with one another in creating the most rounded character models, the most realistic eye and lip synching, the most flowing hair. Suddenly, sweeping, intricate landscapes or 1:1 recreations of entire cities were achievements to stick on the back of the game box. E3 became absolutely dominated by fully motion-captured athletes pulling off feats that would impress their real-life counterparts with their sheer style and elegance.

Every generation, the technology available to developers to craft these “hyper-realistic” worlds and characters becomes better. Every generation, the characters and worlds become bigger and more realistic. And all of this is a mistake. Realism in art has long been considered passe and vapid, and game developers never seem to be quite aware of just how badly they date their games by aspiring to it.

The problem with realistic graphics in games
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