NAG Online > Opinions > Resolution, graphics and other crap we shouldn’t care about

Resolution, graphics and other crap we shouldn’t care about

ghosts graphics comparison

So last week, the week before that and a few more weeks before that we’ve seen a lot of internet bitching about resolution, graphic fidelity, and just how many p’s each game has.

I’m sick of it. I’m sick of “ResolutionGate”, I’m sick of these stupid YouTube comparison videos and I’m sick of whiny people whining.

Look, I’m not going to say graphics aren’t important. They are. But they’re also far from the MOST important thing. Hell, they may not even be in the top ten.

The truth is, graphics today just aren’t that impressive anymore. When I was growing up, games were making leaps from the Sierra text-based adventure games to Doom to Duke Nukem 3D to Quake. That, was impressive.

When Half-Life originally came out, I was blown away. When I got my first look at Quake 3, I just sat there gaping like a fish out of water; the lighting effects, to me, were almost unbelievable.

We don’t really have that now. The next-gen console games look significantly better than the old-gen stuff, sure, but the graphics are as good as or worse than stuff we’ve already seen on PC for years. It’s not some kind of breakthrough, it’s no longer being limited by hardware that’s eight years old.

We’ve hit a plateau. Graphics, today, across the board for the big AAA titles are mostly just very good. For the foreseeable future, there isn’t going to be a Half-Life or a Quake 3 or a Crysis. So let’s stop bloody caring about it so much.

Do you know what one of the biggest games of the last five years is? Freakin’ Minecraft. Not exactly known for its hardware-melting graphics. The same can be said for every DotA-esque game, Counter-strike, the Call of Duty franchise.

"Woah, look at those particle effects!" - Noone ever.

“Woah, look at those particle effects!” – Noone ever.

Gameplay has historically been more important in terms of sales, critical reception, consumer reception than anything to do with appearance.

So why is that not what we’re talking about? The gaming community has turned into this toxic groupthink that quibbles about minor issues and nitpicks trivial details.

We no longer get excited; we get angry. We argue about resolution, we accuse developers of “false advertising” when their tech demos look a little better than their final product. We act as if the difference between 900p and 1080p is something we actually care about. We use every resolution comparison across consoles as an opportunity to drop our pants and grab the ruler.

This issue goes beyond graphics too. Every time there’s something that we perceive as a slight inconvenience, it’s time to create a petition.

I guess I’m off topic at this point, but the gaming scene has gone to an ugly place. We used to be excited about games, we used to share rumours and news and talk about what we were most looking forward to.

However misplaced that excitement may have been.

However misplaced that excitement may have been.

I guess we still do that; but it’s not the same. We’ve become angrier, grumpier, more cynical. We don’t celebrate games anymore, we evaluate them. We judge them.

The worst part is, we value the wrong things. We value disposable franchises over true innovation. We care more about minimum requirements than we do gameplay. We spend hours arguing over which platform is better, instead of arguing about which game is better.

Here’s the kicker too: gaming right now is better than it’s ever been. We have more games being developed than ever before, on more platforms than ever before. Games are infinitely more accessible.

We have a massive indie scene, we have publishers investing more money into a single game than a blockbuster film.

We’re swimming Scrooge McDuck-style in an ocean of awesome, mediocre and not so awesome games across every interest imaginable.

So maybe it’s time we all show some f**king gratitude.

  • FanieNel

    We started to judge games and development companies since they began to release broken games, and when they show us one thing and released another (Colonial Marines). The story now about Watch Dogs is a bit disappointing, but that doesn’t ruin the game for me, the changes were made to increase performance.

    I am a PC gamer, and I do have a Xbox 360 and PS3 and I will get the Xbox one and PS4 eventually. If a game releases cross-platform, then I will buy the PC version. If the game is console exclusive, then I’ll buy that game. So I’m glad that I am able to play them.

    Naughty Dog is one of the best game companies out there and what they are doing should be set as the standard. What they make is worth every bit they charge. Their passion and attention about games is what makes their games awesome.

    Each platform has their own performance levels, some can’t do what other can. So if a game releases on all platforms, there will be bugs and there might be some changes graphically. If a game is only on one platform, they can push the limits of what can be done and they can polish it up and iron out most of the bugs to make it a brilliant game (Last of Us, Uncharted, Halo, Gears of War, God of War).

    I agree with you that gamers are more angry and aggressive now than they were a few years ago. That needs to change. We should be more accepting and be more grateful that we have such a large selection of games to choose from and to play.

    Side note: The petition for Titanfall is fair. They pulled the game a week before release. That was just wrong and cruel. I really hope they can give a better answer than performance wasn’t as great as they wanted it to be. I played it online and I haven’t found any performance issues yet, I also have almost no lag.

    • Chris Kemp

      I don’t think that we shouldn’t hold developers accountable for dodgy business or poor treatment. We absolutely should. And we should vote with our wallets.

      The sad thing is when some tiny, inconsequential detail triggers a raging shitstorm. The good, hardworking and honest developers making great games for us are pelted with insults and vitriol for nothing. And that we need to stop too.

      Just to comment on your side note, the petition joke wasn’t a jab at Titanfall – that was one petition which was completely justified. It was more a comment on the absolutely insane volume of ludicrous petitions spewing from the crazed internet community every week.

  • Alex Rowley

    Mostly agree actually, except for this part

    “graphics today just aren’t that impressive anymore”

    Second Son is freaking amazing graphics wise and honestly the fact that games are starting to look like CGI trailers is damn unbelievable to me. I don’t see how a person can look at that Sorcerer tech demo for the PS4 and not be impressed by it.

    • ToshZA

      See what he said is that on PC the graphics have been at inFamous’s level for years. With the power available to those with the budget, we could get those graphics at near 4k resolutions already – but even then. Looking at games that are released today, there’s very little difference visually from the Witcher 2 on PC – which was released years ago and still looks amazing. There are no longer major leaps in graphics any more. The graphics argument is becoming more and more redundant by the day.

      The reason I think consoles should be excluded is that they remain the same over an extended period. The games, and technology available, do not remain the same. This isn’t a “PC is better” argument either, it’s being used to show unbiased graphics comparison to a few years ago. Which in this regard is far less than the internet suggests.

      • Alex Rowley

        There has not been any game that has had the graphics of Infamous in my opinion. The resolution and frame rate yes but the textures and lighting blow a lot of other games out the water. Details on peoples faces and particle affects are absolutely insane to see plus it’s an open world game to boot.

        I still think there are plenty of room for graphics to stun people

        • ToshZA

          Honestly, I don’t agree. I’ve seen some incredible textures and lighting in even Skyrim – and that’s a 2012 game. The Witcher 2 again, just absolutely keeps up with console games of today.

          Looking at some games coming though, I can admit that there’s good stuff still coming. DA:I – Witcher 3 – Star Citizen. They all look amazing. I don’t know, I suppose there is room, but I think that there isn’t much room left.

          • Sierra53

            I think we’re getting to the point were its less about what you can see in game (who’s going to pause in the middle of an epic battle to notice the shadows the lightning you’re throwing at your enemies is casting on your face?) and more about the numbers – ‘this character has 5 times as many polygons as the same character in the previous release’. Unless you are going over it with a fine-toothed comb, your’e not going to notice the difference. At least, I’m not.

    • Chris Kemp

      Full disclosure, I haven’t actually SEEN Infamous in person :) I think a lot of what I would say Tosh has said for me. I do feel that there is an extra layer of awe to the next-gen consoles visuals, as we’re naturally inclined to compare it to the predecessors.

      However, I didn’t mean to convey that there is NO room for graphics improvements. Over the next couple of years there are still going to be upgrades, we’re still going to better looking games.

      But it’s just, in my opinion, not on the same level. We had big technological leaps before, the introduction of things like OpenGL and Direct3D. Hell, hardware acceleration didn’t even exist not that long ago.

      Now it’s basically about how much power you can cram onto one (or two) video cards, but the way to stress it isn’t really with all the graphics turned up, it’s with bigger and bigger screens (or indeed, more than one screen).

      When the original Crysis came out,. you couldn’t even really find a computer that could manage to run it fully maxed.

      So yeah, we’re making improvements, but the baseline is just too good already. Everything looks pretty damn good, and that’s great. With the right hardware and the right developer, things can go from pretty damn good to incredible, but I think those major shifts aren’t something we’re going to see for quite some time.

      Graphics just isn’t the selling point like it used to be, so it makes me question why we all still care so much.

      • Alex Rowley

        Ah that makes it more clear, the only reason why I think people go on about the resolution is because of the retarded console fanboy thing(aka console war).

        That’s about it and I will never understand it, espically if you already have the console of your choice.

  • Sierra53

    A good game, for me, is something that keeps me so busy I dont care about the graphics. Ive sunk 20+ hours into Banished, a game that is in no way a looker, and I recently picked up the original dungeon keeper. Granted, with dungeon keeper it was really showing its age, but it was still fun. I think the only times I really notice the graphics are when they do something different – like borderlands art style, or minecrafts simplicity.

    • ToshZA

      Spot on I think. I don’t care how easily a game melts my machine – I care about how much time I want to spend playing that game. I still play Neverwinter Nights 2, Dungeon Keeper 2, Titan Quest because they’re fun. A lot of the new games I’ve bought in the last year have been indies with meh graphics, but have been so engaging and fun I just loved every moment of being in that game.

      One thing I need to mention is Bastion – the most memorable experience I’ve ever had – and a lot of that was due to the atmosphere created through some amazing sound and story design. It had NOTHING to do with the graphics.

      • Chris Kemp

        Indies are always the best illustration of how graphics =/= fun

      • Sierra53

        I agree – Bastion had some of the best atmosphere and voice acting Ive ever come across. And even though it wasnt running at 80 fps and 1080p, it was still really pretty.

    • Chris Kemp

      Yup! And the hilarious thing is, I think you’re not a minority. I think that people don’t really care about graphics that much at all – they just think they do.

      • Sierra53

        Agreed. Honestly, thinking back a couple of years graphics were quite important – I remember playing Halo 3 for the first time and marveling at how amazing it looked. Now, it just seems like people are still stuck in the frame of mind from 10 years ago when graphics were changing so much.

  • Miktar Dracon

    The only thing I think is important, is when a game drops to single digit framerates during battle. I’m looking at you, Titanfall on Xbox One. That’s just unacceptable.

    • Miklós Szecsei

      Really? It drops that much on XONE? Daaaamn. :

      • Miktar Dracon

        Yup. During multi-Titan fights, it goes single-digits. But don’t tell anyone, because y’know: nobody cares about framerates.

        • Chris Kemp

          It’s the evil graphics obsession that ruins our framerates to begin with! We care about framerates <3

          • Miktar Dracon

            I care about framerate first, style second, image quality third, and graphics quality last.

          • Chris Kemp

            Yessssss, preach!

        • DbDraad

          Just curious, how many titans on screen and how did you manage to measure the frame rate? Sorry if I sound snotty, haven’t played it myself, but I asked around and no one seems to have had issues, even with 6 titans on the screen. I am loking forward to getting it myself as soon as I sort my ADSL.

          • Miktar Dracon

            People with Xbox Ones are generally reporting that once multiple Titans get into a fight, it drops to a slideshow. Since Xbox One can record footage, it’s easy to find videos people have uploaded highlighting the problem. I’ve watched quite a few videos identifying the problem.

            Lots of threads about it on gaming forums. And single-digit framerates don’t need special tools to notice – anything lower than 12 frames per second stops being perceived as ‘motion’ by the brain.

            Digital Foundry has done a few tests using their specialized tools to capture framerate:

            To it’s credit, it manages to hover between 40 – 60 mooost of the time, but considering the low resolution textures and lower resolution (792p), screen-tearing, it really should have been better, especially for Source engine.

          • DbDraad

            OK, thanks. I still think they make more of it than it actually is. Most stuff I read, people rave about the game, and isn’t bothered by the fact that it’s no graphics masterpiece. 40 to 60 most of the time sounds good ennough for a start of gen game. Where it however falls short for me is the fact that it was supposed to be one of flagship titles for the X1, and if that was the case, it should have been a “must play” title, which it isn’t. From what I read, it’s just a “lot of fun” game.

          • Miktar Dracon

            Yeah, I hear that too. Got some friends who bought it for PC, and enjoy playing it, but say it wasn’t really worth $60.

    • Chris Kemp

      Wow. That’s… really really bad.


Login / Search

Latest games

Latest opinions


Related posts