July 12, 2008 4:00 PM |
['The Z-Axis' is a bi-weekly column from game writer Michael Zenke, stretching games and gaming trends out planarly to poke, caress, and pinpoint the innards of what makes them great. This week, he crankily denounces beautiful graphics in favor of focusing on other aspects of game development]
The modern face of game development is like that of Janus, the two-faced god. Out of one side game developers and industry commentators praise modern storytelling techniques, cheering on the fledgling stages of an up-and-coming art form. The other face (voiced by those same developers and commenters) is bellowing buzzwords and systems specs to a crowd of slavering graphics-porn aficionados.
Not only do both of these faces let slip a lie or two as they wail, they're working very much at cross purposes. In trying to work both sides of the coin, developers harm themselves, their audience, and ultimately their game. Ultimately the drive for more realistic graphics is a fool's errand, a tilting-at-windmills crusade undertaken by companies more interested in making a buck than in creating a compelling experience.
Today I'd like to explore how the drive for graphical excellence has forever muddied the waters of game creation. While PC game developers are particularly guilty of this, console developers bear just as much of the guilt.
There is hope, of course, as some developers turn their backs on the siren song of "moar pretty". Still, the laundry list of titles released too little or too late because game-makers listened to Janus is far, far too long.
Categories: Column: The Z Axis