Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Failing (of) Technology

Apologies for not posting yesterday; I did actually write a post, but then my new phone didn't post it... Somewhere between the time when I configured and successfully tested the email capablities of my phone on Sunday afternoon and my "blogging by email" attempt last night it decided to wipe all of the settings that I had entered regarding email etc, and so had simply stored the email in a folder without telling me that it hadn't been sent. I had suspected that it wasn't working, but not having an internet connection at home I wasn't able to check up on it until this morning.

With a little luck (having trawled through menus and manuals a few times today, so far unsuccessfully) I'll have the email up and running again in a few days, in time to check that it's working before I go on holiday.

A news story that stood out to me today was this report (BBC News Online). In it, the chief technical officer of Electronic Arts is reported as saying, essentially, that good graphics are not enough in games these days, realism must be strived for - in the ways that environments behave, people move, etc. He goes on to say something about the importance of user generated content, which is something that I agree with, but I think that his talk of realism and graphics is a very broad statement, and shows quite a narrow focus.

I'm not suggesting that graphics in video games aren't important, but they are secondary to good gameplay or a compelling story. Similarly, The Matrix is a great film because it has an interesting story; while it is breathtaking to watch, it wouldn't be so well respected and liked if it wasn't for the story. It's interesting that a recent poll of the top videogames of all time was dominated by classic games, and that only six games from the current generation were listed. While graphics are part of the equation, they are by no means the dominant factor - all of the reviews in the poll talk about gameplay and how the game involves the player, reels them in. By saying that games need to have greater graphics and realism aren't we excluding a massive number of games that already exist which don't strive for any real sense of realism?

How does one apply realism to Tetris? Recently I've started replaying the classic Zelda game, A Link To The Past, and it's amazing. Fifteen years old and utterly fantastic, better than quite a few games I've played on my PS2 by a long way. One could interpret Glenn Entis' remarks as talking strictly about the future of video games, but even then I think it is a very restricting point of view.

What's the point of developing insanely powerful processors for games consoles if all you're going to do is make things look better? We've played FPSs and RPGs for years and years, with different sheens and hooks - give us something different!


mattiecore said...

I completely agree; I would sacrifice graphics for gameplay any day of the week.

That's why the Nintendo Wii makes me salivate. The gameplay on it is simply fantastic! Granted, the graphics aren't necessarily bad, but they're certainly not up to par with either PS3 or X-Box 360, and you know what? It doesn't even matter. I would much rather have a Wii, hands down.

Also, A Link to the Past is one of the best games I've ever played. Are you playing it on an emulator? Or SNES? Or...something else?

noisms said...

You're right, for once. The best game I think I've ever played is something called Gravity Force II, in which both players controlled a spaceship that looked like a child's drawing of an arrow using Microsoft Paint.

Text adventures are, of course, the ultimate case in point.

Andrew Fry said...

My young son has started in on a few games on the PS2 and with his sisters DS. However, the game that keeps him fascinated over the others is the Pokemon game on the gameboy. It is still a fun play without the hyper realism of some new games.