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Let’s Talk: Graphics vs Gameplay  

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Jason Porembski (Gluten Mifflin)
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October 5, 2020 10:03 pm  

We all know someone that feel graphics are the end all be all when it comes to any-gen gaming. There are also others that feel that graphics are nothing without gameplay.

Is there a happy medium or is graphics truly that important in this next-gen console race?   Will you even entertain a game that has exquisite gameplay but lackluster graphics or the other way around?


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Kevin May (TheCleverPotato)
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October 6, 2020 11:30 pm  

"Is there a happy medium?" Maybe... I'm not sure i've exactly found it yet, but in my vision of the world, I don't think its important.

My two cents, for what it is worth (probably not "two cents")...

In the delicate balance between graphics and gameplay, I think there is at least one truth for me. All of the greatest, most incredible graphics with the most powerful video cards and biggest high refresh rate monitors or even in certain games, maybe multi-monitor displays that immerse you in the action (thinking my triple-panel setup playing Forza or MS Flight Simulator)... Well I think they are totally irrelevant if the game is garbage. Granted, the enjoyability and playability of a game is very much in the eye of the beholder (as Martin so keenly points out in his blog). but, I would never buy or play a game with the sole expectation being set to the quality of the graphics.

We've all played games that had some really incredible graphics. No doubt, as each successive generation of GPU's come out, the level of detail and realism that game designers can put into the graphics of their games becomes mind-bogglingly incredible. Jensen Huang, CEO of Nvidia, even alluded to this in the event Nvidia hosted a few weeks ago about the newest GeForce RTX video cards, suggesting that in 20 years, we could all be experiencing games in the equivalent of our own holodecks, a la star trek. While this is obviously hyperbole, its wont be surprising that in 20 years, VR will likely have become a much bigger part of gaming than it is today as the price point to enter into VR gaming will soon plummet.

But all that said, the level of graphics doesn't really help if you don't enjoy the game.

I would much rather play a great game with retro graphics than a boring/lame/poorly constructed game with amazing graphics. if its not playable, i'm not gonna stick with it long enough to really enjoy the graphics, and for me, it is far more important to enjoy the time I am wasting playing games, than feeling like I am wasting my time trying to enjoy a game.

I will say this though - there are some OK games that the graphics help it transcend its so-so appeal. Case-in-point - MS Flight Simulator. I like MSFS. its a really well done game, and i've seen many people on youtube and elsewhere post about their experiences from three guys with zero time in a real cockpit taking a 16 hour real-time flight half way around the world to professional pilots laud praise on the level of accuracy and detail in the game. The graphics are amazing, truly. My only wish was owning an RTX3080 so i can truly experience the games incredible graphics. The game itself is ok. I have played it since i was very young (its really one of the first games i ever played, and with my father being a private pilot, it was literally the only video game i EVER played with him.) However, there really isn't a lot to DO in MS FS. except to enjoy the scenery. Therein the game is MADE by the graphics.

But this is really the exception. Ultimately for me, Gameplay over graphics.


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Jason Porembski (Gluten Mifflin)
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October 7, 2020 12:58 am  

I have to agree with you. The best looking game is not a game with out gameplay, otherwise it’s a tech demo.

That being said, with the new set of consoles coming out the emphasis is on graphics.  How many Teraflop can it push? It must have 4K and 60000FPS!!! Etc.  Are the game developers talking about what they can do from a gameplay standpoint with this new hardware?  Wouldn’t game AI have more resources dedicated to it?  I feel like this is something that we don’t hear enough of.

As for me, I love a beautiful game but I’m more of a gameplay type of gamer.  I mean hell, I still find enjoyment in playing Ultima Online which is over 23 years old.


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Kevin May (TheCleverPotato)
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October 12, 2020 10:53 pm  

Well, I think we will eventually hear more about AI stuff. The fact is that as fantastically speed as the PS5 and Xbox SX are, their graphics performance pales in comparison to what a discreet graphics GPU card like the latest Nvidia cards are capable of. I mean the high end of the RTX lineup is pushing 4 times the FLOPS, and have AI cores on board for the sort of AI graphics processing you are speaking of. As is typical, PC gaming is a full console generation ahead in terms of potential power... but you can't put that kind of power into a console at $500 bucks. EXTREME pc gaming is NOT gaming for the masses.


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Jason Porembski (Gluten Mifflin)
(@glutenmifflin)
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October 12, 2020 11:58 pm  

I am hoping for leaps in bounds in AI development for games with the current generation.  Look what we have in PUBG with those damn bots.  Then again... That AI is probably server-side now that I think about it.


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