No Time To Play

Weekly Links #181

by on Jul.30, 2017, under Case study, News

Hello, everyone! The XYZZY Awards announced their winners early this week, for once without a ceremony. Oh well. In related news, Choice of Games interviewed Christopher Huang about his new commercial game for the platform, and Jason Dyer writes about yet another edition of Adventure.

Speaking of events, itch.io marks the Ludum Dare taking place this weekend with an article on development tools, which also expands on their treatment of fantasy consoles from a few days ago.

In the way of game design discussion, we have a treatment of distant backdrops in adventure games. Not much to comment there, unlike with this retrospective of SimCopter and Streets of SimCity. Which has a lot to say about the importance of making games with a soul, but the bit that hit me the hardest was — again — about graphics:

Empirically, the 3D graphics industry has homogenized since 1996 and stranded SimCopter outside the pale of rendering convention. Fewer development houses write their own renderers. Unreal, CryEngine, and Unity all offer similar features based on the same academic research. SIGGRAPH attendance has declined since New Orleans ‘96. These factors combine to give SimCopter a one-of-a-kind graphical style.

Which, you know, does much to explain why so many modern games blend into an amorphous mass the moment you take a couple of steps back from the monitor. Never mind the industry’s terminal risk aversion and lack of imagination. Dear indies, don’t make the same mistake. Emulating the looks of classic gaming systems is fun, but can only take you so far. Dare to innovate.

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1 Comment for this entry

  • fluffy

    I think the problem with graphics innovation is two-fold; first, we have all this great infrastructure there that lets you do just about anything you want, and because of that it becomes a lot easier to just use the built-in shaders and materials and so on, and experimentation is a lot harder thanks to the combinatoric explosion of how things can go wrong or weird or whatever.

    Second, people get too caught up in nostalgia for how things were, replicating things that they half-remember (often badly) without trying to bring anything new to the table.

    I like to take a look back while also making steps forward. You’ve seen this with Little Bouncing Ball, how I stuck to simple 70s vector-style graphics but doing things that would have been impossible on systems of the day (tonemapping, realtime reflections, etc.); while not all of the games in Refactor are going to take that approach (e.g. I’m planning for “Strangers” to be straight-up SNES for the most part) I want to at least pay respects while also making new things as I go.

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