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RPGWatch Forums » Comments » News Comments » The Escapist - Death to Good Graphics

Default The Escapist - Death to Good Graphics

May 23rd, 2009, 07:22
I'm not really much of a fan of Shamus Young but his piece Death to Good Graphics at The Escapist raises an issue many RPG fans have argued for some time:
You can see where this is going. The one hour room gave way to two hours, and eventually led to teams of people working for days to make just a few moments of playable content. Now you have someone designing the level, someone else making unique meshes to decorate the space, a specialized texture artist, and a lot of work being done to set up complex lighting systems, moving machinery, special environmental effects, and all of the other steps needed to take advantage of current-gen graphics engines. That's more than a thousand fold increase in the amount of work required to give players a few seconds of entertainment. This inflation of manhours is obviously unsustainable, and even the amount of work we're putting into games now is probably too much. Taking another step forward is folly.
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May 23rd, 2009, 07:22
What developers should do - and what should have happened years ago - is start treating the PC (and if we're lucky, the Mac) like consoles.
Hee hee, that's what many devs have done… by developing for the consoles instead, and porting over to the PC. It's a strategy that seems to have panned out for Bethesda…

But of course I agree with authorguy. I'm not some old-school holdout who wishes we could stick to 2-D, but how many competing 3-D engines do we need? Wouldn't most devs be happy to give up the extremely granular, endlessly complex bouquet of graphical effects that next gen engines provide, in exchange for something that's just drop and go? Something that looks 80% as good, but only takes a quarter of the time and resources to implement? I'm a simple, simple man, and I have real trouble understanding why the advancement of technology makes games MORE expensive, rather than LESS. I understand that major leaps (2-D to 3-D, 3-D that looks like crap to 3-D that looks decent, text to speech) take more effort and money, and result in more pleasing games. But what the hell are the advances since then that the devs are chasing, and what are we the gamers getting out of them? Do people really buy games because they look so pretty? Really?

Authorguy's point is right: Frigging Doom 3 came out five years ago. And instead of games today looking like that (pretty great) and being 5 years CHEAPER to make, games are now looking 25% better and costing MORE to make than ever. It's stupid. How did those one-man shops in the olden days do it? Why hasn't the MASSIVE advance in technology made the good games we like MORE common, instead of LESS?

The whole thing's a rip off. I want you to get up right now, sit up, go to your windows, open them and stick your head out and yell - 'I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!'
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May 23rd, 2009, 09:34
You got it all wrong, though.

The advancement in technology is NOT what makes games cost more.

Production values don't really mean development of the engine or game mechanics - it's about how much you pay to EARN more.

Things like:

Famous actors for voice acting
Hot CGI sequences
Fancy offices
Rewards for being geeks that made it
Marketing campaign
Media manipulation

The last two are the big ones, and it takes a loooot of money to control the market, and manipulate the media - and as a result, the audience. The geek thing is about the gaming industry slowly evolving into a "cool" place to be, and you don't see AAA developers driving around in cheap beaten down cars once they've made it - and it takes quite a bit of cash to maintain that sort of "cool" outward appearance. This is mostly for top people, naturally, but as most AAA developers are placed in the US - it's only natural that they live the dream people seem to have over there.

The game mechanics and engines don't sell games, and it's not how GOOD they are, as long as we're talking pretty and competent.

Casuals don't buy for quality - they buy what they're told to buy, and if it's good to great - they have absolutely no issue calling it the best thing ever.

It's NOT that they're STUPID - not at all. It's that they're CASUAL, which translates to not REALLY caring.

It's the same reason most people go watch Transformers, but don't necessarily go watch films with artistic integrity. It's the more you spend, the more you earn - and that's EXACTLY why you hear AAA developers cry about their games being so expensive. It's also why you see Keanu Reeves, Will Smith, Shia Lebeouf, Megan Fox, and actors of that stature star in the biggest and most succesful movies. If it was about quality of acting, they might not be the first to be picked.

Hollywood and the gaming industry are getting ever closer in nature, and that's what the money thing is all about.

—-

Note that the above is exclusively for AAA productions akin to blockbuster movies.

The average game production has elements of that, though in much smaller scale - but it's still marketing and media manipulation that take the cake

Then there's another way of making a good return - and that's what Stardock are doing by focusing the budget on the actual game, which is what we see with GalCiv 2 and Sins of the Solar Empire. Those games probably weren't exactly cheap - but I'm sure they cost a fraction of say, Gears of War, Mass Effect, or Fallout 3.

You could easily make a decent shooter on such a budget - but it wouldn't saturate the media or necessarily look and sound like a Hollywood movie. It still might be a great game, though.
Last edited by DArtagnan; May 23rd, 2009 at 10:13.
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May 23rd, 2009, 11:23
As far as I concern, the engine wars was over awhile ago. ID haven't released a game in ages, Unreal 3 is quite old now as well. The only engine still going forward frequently is the crysis engine. And Nvidia is falling.

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May 23rd, 2009, 12:38
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
The advancement in technology is NOT what makes games cost more.
Mmm…no, sorry, you're wrong. I'll accept that those things potentially add to the cost but simple logic tells me creating art more complex art resources takes more manpower and thus costs more. This is backed up by developer comments, team sizes and more. You can't just excise graphical technology and lay it all on fancy offices and marketing.

I've often seen development costs quoted exclusive of marketing and the sums are growing quickly. I've no doubt marketing budgets can get pretty enormous these days but, again, this is often in addition to increased base development costs. Obviously every project varies.

I also believe voice acting costs are a relatively small percentage but I'll leave that aside. Any developers want to comment on the subject?

Take the recent news that the Assassin's Creed 2 team is 450 strong - triple AC1. Now, I'm sure many of that number are part-time, external contractors or shared with other Ubisoft teams but it's an extraordinary number and it would be hard to write them all off as marketing suits this far before launch.

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May 23rd, 2009, 13:14
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
Mmm…no, sorry, you're wrong. I'll accept that those things potentially add to the cost but simple logic tells me creating art more complex art resources takes more manpower and thus costs more. This is backed up by developer comments, team sizes and more. You can't just excise graphical technology and lay it all on fancy offices and marketing.

I've often seen development costs quoted exclusive of marketing and the sums are growing quickly. I've no doubt marketing budgets can get pretty enormous these days but, again, this is often in addition to increased base development costs. Obviously every project varies.

I also believe voice acting costs are a relatively small percentage but I'll leave that aside. Any developers want to comment on the subject?

Take the recent news that the Assassin's Creed 2 team is 450 strong - triple AC1. Now, I'm sure many of that number are part-time, external contractors or shared with other Ubisoft teams but it's an extraordinary number and it would be hard to write them all off as marketing suits this far before launch.
You're confusing technology with content.

What you're forgetting is that as things get more detailed, we get tools that are much more advanced and sophisticated. The market is enormous compared to the past, which is why they can afford to hire so many people for the purposes of developing content - but that's not about technology. Technology, at the core, is basically about what the engine is capable of - not the content made for the engine. As poly-count, texture resolution, object density, and things of that nature increase - so do the tools used to create the content and the power of the hardware they use. I'd estimate it more or less evens out, manpower vs content generated.

But note that you might generate a HELL of a lot more content today, but that's due to the market size and the luxury of hiring people for extraordinary details. It has little or nothing to do with technology itself and how it influences the cost of a game.

I'm not saying it's cheap today - I'm talking about where the REAL money goes.

You think Liam Neeson was cheap in Fallout 3? I don't think so. That's just one guy for one job - and was it really worth it in terms of game quality, or was it a marketing gimmick?

Now, voice acting was just an example of the kind of production values I'm talking about. The whole AAA industry is turning into Hollywood - and it's about drowning your audience in as many action sequences as possible - all of which require a ton of content. That's what I personally consider almost superfluous to the game experience itself - but then, I don't play games to watch a movie unfold with a bit of my interaction.

Anyway, you can't exactly blame technology for having 450 men teams. I'm pretty damn sure you don't have 450 people sitting around developing new technology.

We're probably dealing with motion capture actors, voice actors, musicians, PR/market guys, writers, producers, and whatever else they can cram in there to make the number as impressive as possible. That has nothing to do with technology itself, but rather what the developers have chosen to put in the game.

What I'm claiming is that ~90% of that budget is spent in an effort to make the game SELL, rather than making the game better in terms of mechanics or genre evolution.

If you don't think marketing and media manipulation - both of which are primarily about selling the game before it's released by hyping it up - is a positively GIGANTIC aspect of the ENTIRE production, then we'll just have to disagree. I'd claim the 450 number is almost entirely there exclusively to hype the game and develop "Hollywood" content - rather than work on the actual design, mechanics, and core gameplay experience.

To put all this in very simple terms:

The PRIMARY reason games cost SO MUCH MORE today, is this:

Market size.
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May 23rd, 2009, 13:47
As far as I concern, the engine wars was over awhile ago. ID haven't released a game in ages, Unreal 3 is quite old now as well. The only engine still going forward frequently is the crysis engine. And Nvidia is falling.
There are a lot of engines on the market, and many are still going forward, for example there is gamebryo ( that's what Oblivion uses by the way ), acctually there are too many to count. The main reason a lot of games still uses Unreal 3 engine is because it works good both on the current gen consoles and on PC.
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May 23rd, 2009, 17:25
IMO, this was an outstanding article. It made perfect sense, and I agreed with it completely up to the point where the author suggested the PC ought to be treated like consoles (Not that it wasn't a perfectly-good point. It's just not what I'd like to see happen).

The point about tools and how they can handcuff programmers seemed especially good. In a recent post, Gorath referred to game engines as middleware, and that surprised me. So I checked out the engine maker's site and saw what he meant. Apparently, there's an appreciable learning curve to using today's game engines, and the tools you're provided — their quality and your ability to use them — are a serious consideration.

I'd like to see the "arcade-game" style market conceded to consoles and the PC go forward in another direction, one that would take an initial step back, away from graphic interpretation. I think the PC could be used to host RPGs differently and, in some ways, better.

Everyone talking about "the market" being the problem is wrong. This bit of intertia has to do with technology and business realities. It's a phase. Technology will work itself out over time. Individual businesses will make individual decisions, but overall that will eventually work itself out too (I believe).

Product development at the companies I used to work with in the communications industry was dominated by engineers. Today it's dominated by scientists. To make the kind of adjustment that's needed, I think game makers will need to go through their own kind of change, and I imagine it might be a step away from Windows programming and toward software engineering.

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May 23rd, 2009, 22:10
Sounds like MMOs with WoW graphics is the perfect recipe.
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May 23rd, 2009, 23:59
Mmm…no, sorry, you're wrong. I'll accept that those things potentially add to the cost but simple logic tells me creating art more complex art resources takes more manpower and thus costs more. This is backed up by developer comments, team sizes and more. You can't just excise graphical technology and lay it all on fancy offices and marketing.
Dhruin is correct. It takes VASTLY longer to create high poly models, the associated detailed textures and normal maps (in fact you generally have to create the model twice to create normal maps), the complex array of animations and facial morphs, and then to sync them with VO, than it used to take to create the lower detailed models or even sprites of yesteryear. The tools have gotten better, yes. But the "better" is more in how many options are open to artists, not how much of a time saving you get.

Think of it this way. You're an artist, you have 3 basic pencils. Now I give you an array of pencils, brushes, paints, canvases, special inks, sponges and chalks…etc. Your options are increased, and some of these tools might save you time, but it's more that your options for creation are broadened.

Content generation is FAR AND AWAY the thing that has spiraled in cost over the years. Art and content gen teams have increased in size dramatically. To the point where some games practically have warehouses full of artists.

Production values don't really mean development of the engine or game mechanics - it's about how much you pay to EARN more.

Things like:

Famous actors for voice acting
Hot CGI sequences
Fancy offices
Rewards for being geeks that made it
Marketing campaign
Media manipulation
Generally false. For most games developed the single largest expense is salaries, by a significant margin. Not because people are payed extravagantly, it's simply the cost of paying that many skilled developers for that length of time. The cost of paying the staff salaries over the years of dev dwarfs things like the cost of an Unreal Engine license or paying for some pages in magazines or on websites.

For a game like Halo, the hype campaign may exceed the cost of salaries. But, generally, not so.

Anyway, you can't exactly blame technology for having 450 men teams. I'm pretty damn sure you don't have 450 people sitting around developing new technology.

We're probably dealing with motion capture actors, voice actors, musicians, PR/market guys, writers, producers, and whatever else they can cram in there to make the number as impressive as possible. That has nothing to do with technology itself, but rather what the developers have chosen to put in the game.
Nope, it's mostly content generating artists, with some of the extra padding coming from the management structures needed to co-ordinate such massive efforts.

If you don't think marketing and media manipulation - both of which are primarily about selling the game before it's released by hyping it up - is a positively GIGANTIC aspect of the ENTIRE production, then we'll just have to disagree.
We disagree. I work in a software house that develops online gambling games. You should see how many artists we have just for small games that have a 4 month dev cycle, and mostly use 2D sprites and a few 3D model renders. You have no idea how much work it takes by talented people to produce the kind of art seen in modern games, it's a tremendous effort by large groups of people over long periods.

The marketing and hype is small in comparison.

I'd claim the 450 number is almost entirely there exclusively to hype the game and develop "Hollywood" content
You would be wrong, I'm afraid. And, as an aside, it's actually fairly frustrating when people have no appreciation of just how many good people break their backs to bring you these kinds of experiences.

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May 24th, 2009, 01:25
For what it's worth, here are some numbers for Stardock titles (source: Gamasutra):

He explained that the PC title Galactic Civilizations II had a $1.2 million development budget for the base game plus two expansions.

The marketing budget, including advertising, press tours, and so on was $500,000, and the was a $500,000 distribution budget for "market development funds" to get shelf space at major retailers. From there, the title has done $10 million lifetime revenue and counting, according to Wardell.

An even newer Stardock title, developed by Ironclad Games in association with the company, Sins Of A Solar Empire, had a $1 million development budget, taking into account the base game and first expansion.

Ironclad is only comprised of 8 developers, and yet, with a $600,000 marketing budget and a $800,000 distribution budget, the game has now done more than $8 million in revenue and counting.
Yes, that's hardly the usual case (both on team/budget size and revenue), but I figure it'd be useful to have at least some numbers out there.
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May 24th, 2009, 09:50
Originally Posted by Naked Ninja View Post
Dhruin is correct. It takes VASTLY longer to create high poly models, the associated detailed textures and normal maps (in fact you generally have to create the model twice to create normal maps), the complex array of animations and facial morphs, and then to sync them with VO, than it used to take to create the lower detailed models or even sprites of yesteryear. The tools have gotten better, yes. But the "better" is more in how many options are open to artists, not how much of a time saving you get.
No, it doesn't take vastly longer.

You have all kinds of tools to assist - and the poly count is the absolutely LEAST significant aspect of creating any kind of model. You don't seem to know anything about that which you're talking. Polycount is basically just a number you enter and from there it's how fast your hardware can render it.

Textures are basically images - and depending on what kind of texture, they're usually taken from some kind of auto-generated source - like a photograph. That doesn't take longer in any way. Hardware has grown in power - so we're talking about processing power in terms of loading and rendering. Sure, the work done on the textures might be more intricate and complex - but then you'd have to compare the time it takes directly and not use your imagination because you feel it takes a long time now.

Animation tools are so far ahead of what they were in the past, that it's hard to even fathom. There are so many ways of automating this, and most developers re-use whatever paths and routines they made in the past. The same is true for lipsynching - where AAA developers don't sit around and re-invent the wheel every time.

Valve have been using their source engine for god knows how many years now, and though they tweak it constantly, it's mostly the same thing. You really want to claim they don't re-use all that technology each time they sit down and create something?

Think of it this way. You're an artist, you have 3 basic pencils. Now I give you an array of pencils, brushes, paints, canvases, special inks, sponges and chalks…etc. Your options are increased, and some of these tools might save you time, but it's more that your options for creation are broadened.
You're not seeing this from the correct angle. Along with 10 more tools, you suddenly have 10 more hands to use them with.

Content generation is FAR AND AWAY the thing that has spiraled in cost over the years. Art and content gen teams have increased in size dramatically. To the point where some games practically have warehouses full of artists.
This is about choice - not technology. If you sit down and want a certain level of detail - you spend that much time or manpower creating it. This was always true, and developers 10 years ago sometimes sat down and spent much, MUCH more time than was "average".

They do this so often today, not because technology REQUIRES them to, but because the market supports the costs associated with that kind of time.

Good technology is why I - a person ALL alone with no formal training - can sit down and re-create a better looking version of Dungeon Master ALL by myself. In the fraction of the time, and with an engine up and running in a few weeks. Dungeon Master might not be amazing today, but I can assure you it was upon release.

Take a look at some of the XNA demos lying around, and see what people literally have created in a few hours during competitions.

Generally false. For most games developed the single largest expense is salaries, by a significant margin. Not because people are payed extravagantly, it's simply the cost of paying that many skilled developers for that length of time. The cost of paying the staff salaries over the years of dev dwarfs things like the cost of an Unreal Engine license or paying for some pages in magazines or on websites.
Things aren't false because you say so. Take a look at the numbers posted above. That's just for a middle-market title and only the marketing budget.

Then, remember, I said this is EXCLUSIVELY about AAA titles, not average productions. You really think Bethesda spent a few bucks for "some pages in a magazine" for Fallout 3?

You're drunk, in that case.

Oh, and I never said the licensing of an engine was a significant aspect of the budget.

For a game like Halo, the hype campaign may exceed the cost of salaries. But, generally, not so.
Guess what, that's what I said from the beginning. This is about AAA titles.

Nope, it's mostly content generating artists, with some of the extra padding coming from the management structures needed to co-ordinate such massive efforts.
Ehm no.

We disagree. I work in a software house that develops online gambling games. You should see how many artists we have just for small games that have a 4 month dev cycle, and mostly use 2D sprites and a few 3D model renders. You have no idea how much work it takes by talented people to produce the kind of art seen in modern games, it's a tremendous effort by large groups of people over long periods.
Why would you talk about your own little house as some kind of evidence of how it is for AAA developers. That's not exactly logical.

But again, you're talking about content generation - not technology. This is still not the same thing.

Since I create my own art for my own game, I think I know something about what it takes. I don't have to insist I break my back, though, and to me it's easier with Photoshop CS4 and 3D Studio than it was with Deluxe Paint and Amiga Lightwave. I don't think I'm wrong.

You would be wrong, I'm afraid. And, as an aside, it's actually fairly frustrating when people have no appreciation of just how many good people break their backs to bring you these kinds of experiences.
What you see as breaking backs, I see as work. I don't seem to recall asking them to break their backs - and what I'm suggesting is that they spend time developing the game - rather than corrupting the industry.

However, that's hardly the fault of the team itself - and it's unfortunate they work so hard for something to profoundly insignificant.

I'd look to managment for the source - or rather, to human nature.
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May 24th, 2009, 10:17
Personally, I miss the old 2D graphics of yesteryear. 2D couldn't hide behind bloom effects, HDR, AA, etc etc. you either had good art or you had bad art. As you still have today. Take away the graphical effects of a lot of modern games, and you have extremely bland art direction, uncreative characters and creatures, and rather boring and safe settings.

As a fan, it's a shame that video games have become such a big business. I miss the days when developers tried new and risky things. Sometimes they failed, but other times they were genius and even when they failed, you could still appreciate what they accomplished.
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May 24th, 2009, 10:19
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
(…) Polycount is basically just a number you enter and from there it's how fast your hardware can render it.

Textures are basically images - and depending on what kind of texture, they're usually taken from some kind of auto-generated source - like a photograph. (…)

Good technology is why I - a person ALL alone with no formal training - can sit down and re-create a better looking version of Dungeon Master ALL by myself.(…)
You sound like someone who has never done graphics for a computer game.
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May 24th, 2009, 10:20
Originally Posted by Hindukönig View Post
You sound like someone who has never done graphics for a computer game.
Oh, how so?

Are textures not commonly taken from an auto-generated source?
Is polycount not a number, as in the amount of polygons in a given model?

Tell me now, what's wrong with what I said.
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May 24th, 2009, 10:49
I think I see that we're arguing semantics, actually.

You say technology is causing games to be more expensive - where what I really see you saying is that there's more content to be generated.

So, in fact, you're right - it DOES take vastly longer to create the content - because the direction is to create ever more details in an effort to make this as "Hollywood" action-like as possible. You have people creating all kinds of sound effects, fancy lighting, motion capture animation, and so on and on.

To turn it around and get to my point about technology: Let's imagine Bioshock is a true AAA title (it's close enough) and let's imagine creating that game with 5-10 year old technology. True enough, it wouldn't be possible to do with similar details - but an approximation. That would take MUCH MUCH longer to do, because of the lmitations of hardware, and 3D rendering software. The Unreal Engine is basically what ENABLES the developers to IMPLEMENT all those fancy animated water textures, lighting effects, and the HAVOK engine makes physics possible and so on. But technology isn't responsible for the TIME it takes to create all that in the 3D rendering software or Photoshop - that's really up to the developers, because they can use it as they see fit.

But my point is that the market is so big today, that AAA developers are CHOOSING to focus their efforts on capturing the masses with these things.

IN that process, my claim is that the majority of the money goes to marketing and non-gameplay related development. Content is an aspect of that, sure, but it's what I call superfluous content - something which doesn't directly affect the game - but rather the cinematic aspect of the experience.

The technology itself is not to blame - it's that developers don't use this technology to their advantage, and rather they go crazy with all these ridiculous details and expensive names. Actually, they DO use it to their advantage - which is to say they make more money - but the game isn't better, rather the opposite.

They could be using technology efficiently, and instead simply focus on gameplay rather than Hollywood content and market control.

Naturally, that would mean giving up a piece of the pie - and that's why they don't.

The article is assuming the market wants better games, where it doesn't. The market wants better LOOKING games - and as long as the gameplay is "good", that's all the markets needs.
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May 24th, 2009, 11:06
I see a lot of people in this thread talking out their asses.

Unless you're all actually game developers and just never mentioned it…
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May 24th, 2009, 11:14
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
I see a lot of people in this thread talking out their asses.

Unless you're all actually game developers and just never mentioned it…
To avoid talking out your ass, you'd have to not only be a game developer, but a game developer with the objective insight and interest necessary to care about how the whole industry works.

It's funny how people assume that because you work as one person on some gigantic project, you're somehow aware of what's actually going on - from top to bottom. You might even be in a worse position, because you're not only biased - you're also saturated with corporate mantras and the general working environment.

You need only take a look at your own workplace, and you'll find that every single person has his or her own unique vision of that workplace, how it works, whether it's good or not, and so on.

What's interesting, having worked in several places, is to note that the new and young workers have a very optimistic and naturally uninformed opinion about their places of work. Where you have the older and more experienced workers, who generally are A LOT less enthusiastic and optimistic about the future.

Often, you'll find people who've just been hired at some place - and people don't even think about that. They just assume that since they work there, they must have the most intricate knowledge available. Just like if we see some developer on these boards, 90% of the people here assume they have the objective truth and speak without any kind of bias. I find this most interesting, and very very human.

Yeah - we're talking out our asses - but that's all we got.

I have my 27 years of experience with the industry - following it intensely and with great passion. Then we have my personal experience with developing art and coding, though I admit it's just a hobby and was never my main focus.

That doesn't make me right in any way - but it entitles me to an opinion.
DArtagnan is offline

DArtagnan

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May 24th, 2009, 14:01
No, it doesn't take vastly longer.

You have all kinds of tools to assist - and the poly count is the absolutely LEAST significant aspect of creating any kind of model. You don't seem to know anything about that which you're talking. Polycount is basically just a number you enter and from there it's how fast your hardware can render it.
Ironically, I was working on this in-between posting, I'd saved pictures of the process for an interest piece post on my blog :

http://img36.imageshack.us/gal.php?g=76927430.jpg

Strangely co-incidental, the fact that the more time I spent on it, the higher the polycount went, generally. I wonder, what could the connection between those two numbers be…?

I wish I was as knowledgeable as you DArtagnan. Please, help me out, where is the "create my art for me" button in Max, I've obviously overlooked it. The couple of hours I've spent on this a total waste, so tragic.

Textures are basically images - and depending on what kind of texture, they're usually taken from some kind of auto-generated source - like a photograph. That doesn't take longer in any way.
And paintings are basically paint, on a canvas. A more complex painting doesn't take longer, in any way, than a less complex one. Because they are both created from paints, right?

Clearly, you've never tried to make a decent texture beyond a few wall textures culled from some photos then.

Animation tools are so far ahead of what they were in the past, that it's hard to even fathom.
Hard to fathom? It's not black magic mate, read the help files and do a bit of browsing as to the principles. When you understand them, come back to us and we will discuss how much work it actually takes to make animations. Again, no "just do it all for me" button. You can mo-cap it, but that is still a good chunk of time and money. IIRC, AssCreed had a couple of thousand animations for Altair alone.

and most developers re-use whatever paths and routines they made in the past.
Rubbish. But you can prove that is the general rule, yes?

Valve have been using their source engine for god knows how many years now, and though they tweak it constantly, it's mostly the same thing. You really want to claim they don't re-use all that technology each time they sit down and create something?
Are you on some form of drugs? The artwork is what I was talking about, and the artwork from L4D, HL2 and TF2 is VERY different. That all had to be created for those games, which covers a large part of the development time even given the use of a shared engine. Hell, does anyone remember how long it takes Valve to push out HL2 episodes? What do you think they are doing during that time, marketing and hype?

You're not seeing this from the correct angle. Along with 10 more tools, you suddenly have 10 more hands to use them with.
Doesn't work like that. It's more like you have 10 more tools, 4 more hands to use them with and the mass market is demanding you have 12 more tools to make things shinier.

Take a look at some of the XNA demos lying around, and see what people literally have created in a few hours during competitions.
Incredible, I've never seen demos before! Now come back when someone releases a demo with AAA amount of content in a few hours please, if you want to prove something.

Things aren't false because you say so. Take a look at the numbers posted above. That's just for a middle-market title and only the marketing budget.
No, that is for Galactic Civilizations 2, a game which looks like this :



Not this :



nor this :



nor even this :



If you cannot understand just by looking at screenshots that the difference in scale of art creation is whole orders of magnitude, well, I cannot help you.

Gal-Civ and Sins were not "middle titles", they were shoe-string budget games done by teams that are a fraction of the size of "average" titles. Two worlds is closer to a "middle title".

You're drunk, in that case.
Not yet, but talking to people on forums often makes me want to be.

Why would you talk about your own little house as some kind of evidence of how it is for AAA developers. That's not exactly logical.
The company I work for is one of the largest suppliers of online gambling games in the world, with a staff of over 700, a massive art department and even more technical developers, distribution to practically every continent and profits to rival any AAA video game developer on the planet.

I'm not talking about my experience with my indie efforts.

What you see as breaking backs, I see as work. I don't seem to recall asking them to break their backs - and what I'm suggesting is that they spend time developing the game - rather than corrupting the industry.
They do what the market demands. It isn't the fault of the devs that the market is constantly sending strong feedback that better looking games generally sell better. There are exceptions that do well regadless, sure, but they are outnumbered by the general feedback loop that prettier = better.

The market is filled with people saying things like this.

From the start, it is clear that the graphics are not exactly what you would expect from a modern game.
Game looks fantastic to me, but the bar just keeps getting raised and people keep expecting more and more.

Sounds like MMOs with WoW graphics is the perfect recipe.
LOL! The models are lower poly, sure, but every single texture in WoW is hand-painted. That is even more work than if you start with photos as a base. WoW re-uses art in plenty of locations but there is still a ton of artwork in that game. Cartoon graphics does not equal easier to create graphics.

Indie game developer.

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May 24th, 2009, 14:41
Hold on a second, I need to pop some popcorn….
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