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Default Man Bytes Blog - Conspiracy Theories

June 22nd, 2008, 15:23
I don't know that these two should be taken too seriously…but hey, it's a quiet Sunday and it might be worth a conversation. Corvus Elrod's Man Bytes Blog has two conspiracy theories on the current state of PC gaming and story-telling vs graphics. The first is titled A True Profit…er, Prophet and observes that some large sites like to run the "PC gaming is dead" (or similar) line so often, you'd think they might profit from the idea.
The second is called The Curse of Voodoo and laments the lack of progress in storytelling and asks if money from video hardware manufacturers has encouraged the focus on graphics:
We shouldn’t be grateful for the quality of story in today’s games. We shouldn’t be appreciative to the studios for the mere story-crumbs they allow to be sprinkled into our games. We shouldn’t cut anybody slack due to the allegedly primitive nature of their tools. The decision to de-emphasize the importance of story in our game narratives was exactly that–a decision. Somewhere, at some point in time, someone decided to move away from a focus on story. We haven’t come a long way, despite the challenges inherent in the task. We have, in fact, backslid–tremendously. None of the big studios seem to be sinking large amounts of money into telling better stories via gameplay. There are no successful middle-ware story engines. All of our focus as an industry has been elsewhere–photo-realistic graphics.
More information.
Last edited by Dhruin; June 22nd, 2008 at 23:02.
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June 22nd, 2008, 15:23
I was definitely putting on the tin foil hat with the Voodoo post, but I really do think that studios make wild claims to justify/defend/bolster their business decisions to their boards.

And there's still no 'n' in my last name.
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June 22nd, 2008, 15:51
I don't have time to read the whole thing, but I agree with what is stated in the paragraph Dhruin inserted here. I think graphics will eventually reach their pinnacle and there won't be much more that can be done with them, without completely redesigning the whole computer structure. Once graphics top out, maybe developers will be able to take a breath and start focusing more on story. I don't see that happening anytime soon though, and the climate in Hollywood doesn't bode well for that sort of ending either… With the advent of CGI in the movie industry, they have reached the pinnacle of visual effects - there is nothing that can't be done at this point. But instead of using effects to tell a good story, for the most part the box office behemoths are quite shallow. Apparently people don't want a good story, they want pretty things to look at. Either that or they are just taking what they can get. I expect the gaming industry to follow suit.

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June 22nd, 2008, 17:53
This is what I wrote as a comment into the blog regarding the first of both articles :

I find the theory of someone actually benefiting from the phrase highly interesting.

And yes, it would make quite a lot of minor developers hestitate or stay away from PC gaming completely, because they just don't have the resources needed for an AAA title.

Which leaves the AAA titles - and therefore the "big money" to the big developers.

On the other hand, an effect could be that shareholders become convinced that they should rather invest into console games … But I think this is what you had already thought of.

This could mean that console companies a) really need some money, or b) use this "bad-mouthing" of the PC platform as a way to gain even more dominance - and to attract smaller developers !

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction. (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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June 22nd, 2008, 22:58
God damn it…I'll get your name right one day, Corvus, I promise. I know what is right but I must have watched LotR too many times or something.

On the actual topic…it's an interesting idea that the death of the PC might benefit some organisations…and it obviously does. Whether they intentionally undermine the platform to accelerate that benefit is intriguing.

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June 22nd, 2008, 23:08
I wonder Jabberwocky….. I think that pinnacle you spoke about might be closer than you think! I am under the impression that major developers are locked in a kind of arms race with quality of game's graphics as weapons. This kind of contests have their own ever increasing momentums and the end will be marked not by "graphics top out" but by the willingness of gamers to constantly update their machines to keep up with ever growing demands made by graphic heavy games.

Now there will always be a hardcore of "gadget jocks" who will keep their machines up to speed but this group will eventually shrink so much that they will cease to be a viable source of income for game developers.

And, never forget, that this "arms race" creates ever growing field of opportunity for developers who can't compete in graphic develpment and will (and do) turn to story telling and gameplay as weapons of their choice!
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June 23rd, 2008, 06:55
I don't know - most of the articles "PC gaming is dead" and the like are indeed on smaller sites and blogs, that obviously have a narrower audience, and therefore we probably exclude the types that could influence something. Generally, a normal, sane, intellingent person would do a bit of research and find how things are, not trust the first gaming site that proclaims that a certain king of gaming or something is dead or has no chance of being successful, since most articles of the type discussed are written in quite an outrageous tone that, for the most part, I admit to insulting my intelligence, and I don't believe myself to have that much intellect. All the talk may generate some buzz here or there, but probably has little overall impact.

On another side, major sites - ones that have a much higher audience and subsequently may actually be read by the likes of shareholders and other bulk that can have someking or other influence in the gaming industry, tend to have a better quality stories, ones that have at least their facts right - somebody said something outrageous at this or that conference or press meeting, Ex -> Activision CEO talks Take-Two takeovers, $500M WOW-killers, sales numbers from then and there show a certain percentile decline in PC or something else sales, and so on. But generally, that cannot count as a conspiracy, that's just the analysts and money talking.
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June 23rd, 2008, 12:19
Has the graphics really improved since 2004 when human faces finally started looking like human faces in majority of games? I don't think so, it's just shiny effects and higher resolutions to my mind.
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June 23rd, 2008, 13:03
Originally Posted by drum View Post
Has the graphics really improved since 2004 when human faces finally started looking like human faces in majority of games? I don't think so, it's just shiny effects and higher resolutions to my mind.
-ehm-

No, not in the majority of games released since 2004.

However, if you look at the facial animations etc. in Mass Effect you will se that this is the nearest we're coming to movie-style graphics and visuals as of today.

I don't get why devs. etc. need to make photo-realistic graphics, though.

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June 23rd, 2008, 13:21
I have often said that there seems to be a trade off between photo-realism and art direction. Perhaps that'll change once the production pipeline settles into dealing with the intense art requirements of the current generation of engines, but I suspect we'll continue to see drab flavorless "realistic" worlds for quite some time.
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June 23rd, 2008, 19:20
Originally Posted by aries100 View Post
I don't get why devs. etc. need to make photo-realistic graphics, though.
I think this is the actual spot we are looking for.

I believe there's kind of a "hidden message" in that - like the probaly "hidden message" in "PC gaming is dead".

To me, this graphics thing is like some sort of secret "buried in plain sight".

I have the intuitional feeling asif we could analyse this right, we could re-engineer what's going on among the bigger companies of the whole gaming industry.

As I noted in my "A Thought" topic, I believe that we are able to deduce and kind of re-engineer thoughts and opinions by what people do.
Because everything we do has an underlying reason.


Sounds weird, doesn't it ?

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction. (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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June 24th, 2008, 14:22
LOL Alric it does! But I still would be interested in just what you were abble do deduce from what game devs do?
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June 24th, 2008, 18:23
Well, I didn't take this approach too seriously this far, and what i did, can be read in "my" thread called "A Thought". http://www.rpgwatch.com/forums/showt…hlight=Thought

For example, let's take the concept of so-called "dumbed-down games" : This implies that gamers probably don't WANt to have a lot of features implemented into a game !

Or - to "deduce it backwards" - : If the developers of so-called "dumbed-down games" were believing that gamers could easily master "non-dumbed-down games" - why didn't they implement them, then ?

The point of "this wouldn't sell" reveals an underlying image of a or "the" human gamer (by those who *are* saying "this wouldn't sell") that implies a human that wouldn't buy a certain kind of games - and even worse: Might be so "dumb" himself or herself that he or she couldn't master a game with micromanagement, for example !

This is very difficult for me to properly explain in English words, especially when i have my "bad grammar day".

The concept of a police department "profiler" is basically the same.

Deduce the belief-system of a mass murderer by his or her deeds.

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction. (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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