Graphics: Common Myths

Discussion in 'General Gaming Discussion' started by Rydian, Apr 15, 2013.

Apr 15, 2013

Graphics: Common Myths by Rydian at 7:42 PM (3,018 Views / 11 Likes) 46 replies

  1. Rydian
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    Member Rydian Resident Furvert™

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    Graphics: Common Myths


    • "You don't need good graphics for a good game."
      Last I checked playing a game blind was pretty damn hard! "Good" and "realistic" are two different words. Good graphics are graphics that let a player know what's going on. Graphics give the player information about the game so they can make proper decisions and understand what's going on.

      Imagine trying to...
      • Play an FPS without a health meter or aiming crosshair/reticule, and having the camera not magically point where the gun points.
        [​IMG]

      • Play a level of Super Mario Bros where the powerups and enemies are represented with the same graphic, and the sky and ground are almost the same shade of color.
        [​IMG]
        Watch out for that pit you can barely see!


    • "This game looks childish, it must be easy to run."
      Lack of realism does not mean a lack of visual complexity. While GPUs have increased in complexity over time, the two big killers of framerate are still polycount and shader complexity.

      • Polycount refers to polygons (or in gaming, triangles specifically), which are the little pieces of geometry that 3D models (players, enemies, items, the world itself) are made of. The more on-screen at once, the more work the GPU has to do. If you've ever played a game that had a noticeable speed drop when a ton of enemies went on-screen at once, that was likely too many polygons to render in a speedy fashion.

        Smoother and more detailed shapes generally require many more polygons than rougher, more basic shapes....

        [​IMG]

        However, it's entirely possible for a game to still use basic shapes, but include tons of them for a high polycount compared to other games. Take terrain for an example. This first image is an example of the kind of terrain you might see in an open-world RPG type of game. Notice the number and density of the triangular polygons.

        [​IMG]

        Now compare it to Minecraft, and you can see that although Minecraft uses simple shapes for the terrain, it's much more "detailed" as far as the polycount is concerned.

        [​IMG]

        This translates to a lot more work the GPU has to do to render each frame, since it has many times more polygons/faces (two triangles per face of a square) to take into account.

      • Shaders are generally post-processing effects used to change the final form of a rendered image right before it's displayed to you. The left image is with no shaders, the right image is with shaders, and there's lots of differences.

        [​IMG]

        Shaders are often used to add glow effects, DoF blurring, motion blur, they can tint parts of the screen or a whole screen different colors depending on the lighting, add fast anti-aliasing, and more. Shaders are very useful and used in almost every modern 3D/FPS game today, but too many complex shaders can bog down a GPU while only adding post-processing effects, so a game doesn't have to be realistic to have heavy shader effects.



        The above video shows Minecraft, a decidedly-unrealistic game, with injected Shaders. This made the game so heavy that I had to record in SD and still got FPS numbers bordering 15 on the low-end... but nobody would mistake that video for a real recording.


    • "It's easier to make CoDShitClones and other 'real graphics' games than fantasy ones."
      In practice, fantasy creations are easier to get right than realistic ones due to an offshot of The Uncanny Valley. The more familiar players are with an object, the more likely they are to notice small imperfections. For an example, let's make the same modification to two separate objects.

      • First, let's take the Cactuar enemy from the Final Fantasy series, and greatly increase the size of the eyes.
        [​IMG]
        No emotional response? It still looks like a cactuar.

      • Now, let's do the same thing with something we're intimately familiar with: a human face.
        [​IMG]
        Creepy.

      When making realistic imagery, detail is much more important as even the smallest differences from the original (differences that wouldn't even be noticed with fantasy art) can be mentally amplified and jarring to a player, sometimes to the point of breaking immersion.




    5/2/2013 - Changed the shader screenshot to a better one I took highlighting more differences. Local reflections, bloom, FXAA, etc.
     


  2. emigre

    Member emigre Has complex motives

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    Just fixed that for you old chap.
     
  3. Rydian
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    Member Rydian Resident Furvert™

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    Hit post instead of preview too early, but fixed some of the wording/typos and added another sentence or three for explanations.
     
  4. Issac

    Member Issac Mini-mod

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    "You don't need good graphics"..." "Good" and "realistic" are two different words.".
    Well that all comes down to the definition of "good". When I talk about good (or not so good) graphics, I generally mean that the graphics are complex/advanced or not.
    Like you later say: "Lack of realism does not mean a lack of visual complexity."
    So realism is not equivalent with good in my opinion.
     
  5. Gahars

    Member Gahars Bakayaro Banzai

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    Extra Credits had a pretty interesting take on the topic. It's well worth a watch.

     
  6. Celice

    Member Celice GBAtemp Advanced Maniac

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    There are actually a large pool of FPS players that will mod their games to have this exact setup. One of the biggest complaints about Far Cry 3 on PC was the forced HUD elements which broke immersion. Removing these HUD elements didn't actually make the game harder; survival instincts and caution served to preserve many player's avatar's lives, as well as there being other indications of health (such as red-blur and blood effects, color tone, sound deprivation, etc.). Removing crosshairs similarly didn't negatively affect the gaming experience: the bullets still magically shot within a cone placed around the center of the screen. So the displace of a reticle is actually irrelevant because bullet trajectory, in Far Cry 3 and most other FPS games, is going to be in the same relative spot, for the guns are fixed in a static place, and do not vary in their physical orientation (some FPS games on the Wii are the only contestions I can think of).

    That seemed like the tamest claim worth responding to. A few others were too extreme to take seriously, unless that was the intention (satire).
     
  7. Rydian
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    Member Rydian Resident Furvert™

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    I guess I should mention the camera being unhooked from the gun's aim too.

    You haven't had the displeasure of coming across some of the worst video games in history, eh? :P

    Enemies and NPCs looking the same...
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=8FpigqfcvlM#t=662s

    Graphics of the game not actually doing their job and being visible/functional...


    etc.

    Most games are not like the out-there examples I gave, but some are, and that's a bad thing.
     
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  8. Foxi4

    Reporter Foxi4 On the hunt...

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    I agree with 99% of what was said, the 1% being that reviewers and consumers alike should ignore Graphical prowess and focus entirely on Aesthetics - that's not a good thing to do in my opinion. This enforces stagnation, because we give the impression of being fine with the Aesthetics delivered - there is no push for further development of Graphics since Aesthetics are in a realm of their own.

    I believe that Aesthetics are key to making a game look good, that much is true, however you can often improve upon Aesthetics by improving upon Graphic capabilities.

    Take for instance Super Mario Bros., Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island and New Super Mario Bros. - the hardware and the Graphics capabilities of Nintendo systems were pushed forwards and that push allowed for a revolution in the Aesthetics and the realization of artistic visions. As it was said in the video, stronger hardware allowed for more fidelity, more wiggle space for the art team to design whatever they felt like designing.

    Graphics capabilities should be consistently pushed forwards while simultainoulsy artists should focus on making their products look approachable and pleasant.

    I said earlier that Aesthetics and Graphics are in two realms of their own and I stand by that - Aesthetics are in the realm of art and Graphics in the realm of science.

    There is, however, a one-way relationship between those realms - better Graphics capabilities allow for more possibilities in the Aesthetics department, but at the same time, no amount of coding will allow you to create stunning results if there is no hardware prowess to pull it off. What I'm saying is that the best artist in the world won't be able to create art without sufficient tools of his trade.

    To conclude, we as consumers admire the artistic part of the product - the Aesthetics, however trends in Aesthetics of video games change with time and the hardware and its Graphics capabilities need to evolve simultainously to accomodate that, much like trends in painting changed as time went by and so did the techniques. We should very much focus and comment upon both.

    Perhaps that was an unintentional slip of the tongue, but overall, the video does highlight why certain products are "pretty" and some just "aren't", which is great. What really creates the gap between Graphics and Aesthetics is that all Graphics eventually feel outdated but a good Aesthetic design remains timeless, however to create that Aesthetic design, one needs appropriate tools for the job.
     
  9. Gahars

    Member Gahars Bakayaro Banzai

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    I don't think they were arguing that only aesthetics matter. After all, they stressed that graphics give developers more fidelity. It seemed to me that they were just lamenting the fact that many people put all of the emphasis on graphical prowess when it's only a part of the equation - they then used examples to prove what that overemphasis can produce.
     
  10. Foxi4

    Reporter Foxi4 On the hunt...

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    ...which is why I only disagree with the last... what, 2 sentences of the video? :P
     
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  11. Celice

    Member Celice GBAtemp Advanced Maniac

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    Even that is something several FPS players enjoy, especially in games where you can pull up an ironsight for manual aiming. I remember one Crysis mod that gave the physical actor and its components, such as the gun, their own momentum which would then affect things like the direction the moving player being distinct from the camera orientation, inertia of the body, as well as allowing the gun to fire in a direction distinct from the POV but relative to its own direction. It turned every combat experience into a visceral moment that basic gameplay can't seem to grasp: there was a definite need to orient yourself behind safety, to line up your shots, to conserve stamina and speed, and to always know your orientation. The average shooter, in comparison, feels like an on-rail shooter, or else like you're controlled a robot that pivots on three dimensions D:[/quote]
     
  12. ComeTurismO

    Member ComeTurismO CTO

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    Graphics don't make a good game at all. I've seen many games with good graphics, but they were quite shitty. I know so many games from year 2000+ with bad graphics, but games were a hit. Even games from 1990+ were good too, like SM64, or Donkey Kong 64, or MK64.. I can continue.
    So, yeah.
    But usually, people underestimate games from graphics, and also by the camera too. I recall someone hating Super Mario Sunshine for the camera, and there was this other game that was a 'good' game, but I can't recall the name, which had a bad camera too.
     
  13. Gahars

    Member Gahars Bakayaro Banzai

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    You do realize that those games had some of the most advanced graphics (as for as consoles went, at least) for their time, right?
     
  14. ComeTurismO

    Member ComeTurismO CTO

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    Yes, I agree with you. But people nowadays people judge those games for their graphics too. They think that OLD is not GOLD, so it's crappy, but what now is invented is more better.
    EDIT = MORE:
    I mean, I go to this SM64 forum, where TASing and speedrunning is discussed, and we had a troll come in, he was spamming saying SM64 is so awful because of its graphics, and the story line. He was saying that Miyamoto didn't have anything to think of too, back then. But as the years increased, the video games turned better.
     
  15. soulx

    Member soulx GBAtemp Legend

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    He's right. If only SM64 had a gripping story about Mario's quest to rescue the Princess from a giant tentacle lizard monster while trying to curb his addiction to magic mushrooms and solve the mystery of his missing twin brother.
     
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  16. Gahars

    Member Gahars Bakayaro Banzai

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    Those are some real nice strawmen you just made up.

    People caring about graphics,and a select few mistakenly prioritizing them above all else, is nothing new. People cared just as much in the 8 and 16 bit eras as they do now (Remember "Blast processing!" at all?). There's nothing "nowadays" about it.

    Also, considering the huge wave of retro-revivals we've seen in recent years (Just glance at some of the most successful projects on Kickstarter - everything from Wasteland 2 and Torment to Shovel Knight), I don't buy your assertion that "people" automatically hate old games for their age and nothing else. Some may, sure, but that's a pretty sweeping generalization to make.
     
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  17. machomuu

    Member machomuu Drops by occasionally

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    Agreed. In fact, in recent years, the interest in retro games has skyrocketed (well, that may be something of an overstatement), and this continues as retro and retro-styled games' availability and prominence increases between systems and platforms. The average gamer is now far less likely to dismiss an older game for its graphics than they were a few years ago.
     
  18. Rydian
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    [/quote]Got any links/info? 'Cause I'm willing to bet that the camera and gun are still linked like in a video game, unless it was intended that iron sights would be the only way to actually get a shot off.
     
  19. Nah3DS

    Member Nah3DS Madre de Dios! Es El POLLO DIABLO!!!

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  20. FAST6191

    Reporter FAST6191 Techromancer

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    Re retro games interest... has interest increased out of line with general games or has the concept just got better PR*. As for kickstarter rather than try to tie concepts like shareware, donationware and whatever else and say it already existed I will go the other way and say given that kickstarter did not really exist so much hasn't everything that got funding as such seen a massive increase?

    *I might actually argue there could be serious negatives here owing to people seeking the wrong things but that is a different debate.

    @Celice and the unbound guns..... I do recall a few older games having a free look mode unbound to the movement (granted this was around the time mice were not always a given) and I am sure we have all spun a tank turret around and suffered reversed controls. However is that all that functionally different to head bob/headwave which has been around for decades and increased reticule size when running?
     

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