The Onslaught of Photorealism

By Chris Remo, Oct 07, 2005 10:30am PDT David Hayward has a feature up, sensationally entitled Videogame Aesthetics: We're All Going to Die! He considers the pros and cons of the neverending push towards absolute reality in video game graphics (or at least the weird plastic look that people get confused with reality), and comes to the conclusion that all in all it's probably worthwhile. In the process, he takes a look at several games that employ unique visual styles that are extremely successful without attempting any sort of photorealism, including Darwinia, NPR Quake, Okami, Vib Ribbon, and many more.

Regarding photorealism: I do hope that it's achieved so that game artists are perhaps more likely to pursue alternate routes (such as in some of the games showcased in this article), but for the most part graphics that push for it no longer really excite me unless they're done well instead of gratuitously. Half-Life 2 is a good example for me. With the technology we have, there's room for an even greater breadth of styles, but that will surely come in time.

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26 Threads | 94 Comments

  • I think part of the problem is that everybody is basing aesthetics on tech alone.

    It doesn't matter if you are trying to achieve a realistic look or a stylized one, as long as it's artistically sound, because tech will not last past the initial novelty.

    After all this years, i still experience aesthetical pleasure in looking at Stacraft and the game was technogically behind THEN, let alone now.

    Looking at Quake4 on the other end does nothing for me even though the game's graphics are sparkling new, merely because the novelty wore off with Doom3 and the game's visual design is completely uninspired and offers nothing to supplement the purely technological elements.

  • This topic has been going since forever. I remember seeing a digitized picture of marilyn monroe on some crappy bbc micro or something and it was the most realistic picture i'd ever seen. It was like you could tell it was a copy of a real photograph. OMG SO REALISTIC!!!

    I see photo realistic movies and tv shows all the time on my television.

    For decades people have been saying photorealistic graphics are just around the corner. Sure go back 15 years and show someone Battlefield 2 or CS Source or something and they'll shit their pants, but at the end of the day, you just get used to the norm.

    Games will always be about gameplay. When the games stop being fun, then people will stop buying them.

    Right now I don't feel games are much fun. I mean we have the fantastic graphics, the millions of dollars invested in development, the scriptwriters, the voice actors, but I think we're moving away from having fun.

    I mean a game to me is only a game if you're enjoying it with someone else now. We had out multiplayer revolution and it was great, now most games give you the chance to have fun with other people. That's all I care about now.

    To me single player games are trying to be movies, but instead of letting me lie on the couch for 2 hours and relax while the story unfolds before me I have to "think" and look for health and ammo and die repeatedly so I can get to the next part of the "story".

    Jeez I've been a gamer all my life, but I'm not really very enthusiastic about the games that are coming out just now.

    Sure there are a ton of them, but I don't know. Maybe you do actually get to an age where computer games don't interest you anymore. I'm 26.

    Maybe women have had it right all along.

  • I guess Im stupid or something cuz hot graphics still get me hawt. Some of the things coming out on Xbox360...Unreal 3 tech...ect. I still dont think i've played much of anything that was 'real' looking. I mean, even HL2 looks cartoony if you look at next to real pictures, maybe the HDR will improve this. I want more real graphics...I know, the graphics dont make it fun, but the graphics are what give it I know there are probably tons of examples (I cant think of one right now), but what has had photorealistic graphics that was a fun game?