Only you can see that

I made a shocking discovery today: Gamers don’t care about graphical quality. I was sitting together with a dozen other nerds looking at four of them play FIFA 08, and commented on how bad the lighting in that game is (a “where is the light source that is throwing those shadows?” sort of comment). When I explained why it couldn’t be the way it was, one of the guys said “only you would see something like that”.

To me, and everyone working in games, what looked like a cheap mix of shadow maps and stencil shadows was glaringly obvious, and we know the PS3 can probably do better. But to these guys, all with different backgrounds, it not only didn’t matter – they didn’t see it! Why are we spending bazillions of dollars on ever more refined tricks like AO (“look how the shadow in the corner of the room are very realistic – oooh!” when even simple shadows are something players don’t pay attention to?

3 thoughts on “Only you can see that

  1. I had a similar revelation at IMVU. During user tests, most people say “Awesome graphics!” We have a fixed-function pipeline with two lights at most and no multitexturing, but it’s all about the community-generated art. To our demographic, we really do have awesome graphics.

    (Someday we’ll make sure we get particles/multitexturing/lighting though. 😉

  2. AO is totally different though. When you’re in a first person RPG the details matter a lot more, the realism matters a lot more, than when you’re playing football games. As for IMVU, I think people appreciate the graphical -style- there, rather than believing it’s an amazingly realistic looking world 😛

  3. I fully agree that style is more important than technology. But I think tech is more dominant in sports games, and style more important for Virtual Worlds.

    See what Warhammer does: They don’t even have any kind of character shadows. WoW is extremely cartoony, and that has worked fine for them.

    I’m a big fan of low-tech games with great art style (Another World, Zelda: Windwaker, Oni, Rez) because I think they stand up to time better than their pretty-looking realistic cousins, but also because they are such rare beasts.

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