I was talking with a friend a while back, who said that he played a game with updated graphics but was disappointed at other qualities of the game. Specifically, he said that since they put so much effort into making the game look good, he expected that the gameplay aspect would be fun. That got me thinking. Long-time readers of this blog will know that I put creativity and polish in gameplay and design much higher on a list of priorities than graphics in games. But could it be possible that developers are actually shooting themselves in the foot by focusing so intently on making their games look shiny?
Let’s back up a second. Graphics certainly have their role to play, and on its own, enhancing graphics does produce a positive effect. They quickly describe the environment and action of a situation to the player(s), and they contribute (if not in the most important way) to the immersion of the experience. But by making a game that looks fantastic, developers are saying to some extent, whether they mean to or not, “We have this amazing experience that we want to show you in the most detailed way!”, and if that experience doesn’t hold up to the built-in hype, then it’s like a coat of paint on an outdated car, and it can feel more like a letdown than a decent game with the plus of nice graphics.
That explains part of the appeal of independent games (the best ones, at least). By and large, they’re not all that concerned with the greatest graphics (they often don’t have the resources for AAA-level art anyway), and instead focus on delivering a compelling and/or unique gameplay experience that they think will be fun.
I’d love to get some discussion going about this topic. Do you think developers are actually hurting themselves by adding shiny graphics over better gameplay mechanics and design? Do you think better graphics are always a plus? Leave a comment!
League of Legends is a free-to-play MOBA game (in the style of the Warcraft III map, Defense of the Ancients, and its upcoming successor from Valve, Dota2) from Riot Games. Players control a single character and, with the help of their team, attempt to destroy the buildings of the other team. This is facilitated by their own character’s unique abilities, as well as the items they choose to buy with gold they earn over the course of a match, and runes and masteries that the player can acquire and customize in the launcher outside the actual matches. Over the years since its release, Riot Games has been steadily adding content to the game, primarily in the form of new playable characters. These characters, as well as cosmetic-only customization options for them, can be purchased with actual currency, and characters (but not skins) can be purchased through an alternate currency that is earned over time by playing matches. All the “freemium” stuff aside, though, let’s talk about the gameplay:
I’ll start off by saying that this game has a massive learning curve. Even the not-particularly-intelligent bots can be difficult for new players until they learn the ropes. This is because the game is incredibly deep. For example, there are well over a hundred items to choose from, with any combination of which you can equip your character during a given match. Learning what the best combinations are comes with a lot of time, research and/or practice. Until you’ve played as or played against every character (again, 100+) in the game, there’s a good chance that your opponents will be able to surprise you with something you’re just not familiar with yet. If you want to get any sort of decent at this game, plan to invest some time. I recommend you play this game with friends – it’s more fun to play on a team with people you know, and it’s a lot easier to learn with someone to help you along.
More after the break:
You may recall a few of the times I’ve posted about a promising indie game from Retro Affect called Snapshot, in which the main character can take pictures of things and thereby remove them from the world, and paste them back in at will. I even interviewed the creators a while back. Well, Snapshot is now available for PC on Steam, and is currently 10% discounted until September 6th. Thought you might want to know. Enjoy the launch trailer for the title:
What are your impressions of Snapshot? Are there other upcoming indie games you’re looking forward to? Let us know what you’re thinking in the comments!