Thursday, 13 June 2013

Breaking the norm: Indie games

Here's a question: Do the graphics in games have to be photo realistic and detailed in order to qualify as good graphics and deliver immersion in gameplay?
Answer: Certainly not and I know enough games to cite my claim. I also don't have to point out that there are many gamers out there who can say the same. Keep in mind that by saying this, I'm not saying that games shouldn't look photo realistic or detailed, just that they're kind of overrated. Now let me bring in the games i.e. games delivering photo-realistic and detailed visuals along with games that don't.

Back in 2008:
Gamer1: "Holy cow! did you check out that new EA/Crytek IP Crysis?! it looks spectacular!! and that nanosuit looks swell!"
Gamer2: "I know! it's a PC exclusive, take that console freaks!! look at the freaking graphics, this is going to be awesome!!"
Now back to the present:
This was the dialogue between most PC gamers back then when Crysis was shown, Crytek even released a demo to show proof of the game's photo-realistic tenacity to those wanting to test it. It was a great demo, it even managed to land an impression on me so much that I bought it (oh look! proof that game demos actually help market a game).
Lets take a look at the gaaaaaaaame:
Isn't that amazing? the details, lighting & ambient occlusion and AA; surely these days, certain games boasting such visuals are sighed up on mostly because all that visual glory is just for looks, no actual gameplay improvement. But we're not talking about gameplay, let's focus on graphics. Let's look at another game called Fez, it's an Indie platformer, a completely different genre but speaking in terms of graphics, Fez's environment similar to that of Crysis i.e. it has trees, landscape, greenery, small buildings etc.
Here's a picture of Fez:

Would you look at that, it's just abstract, 3D pixel art but it's so beautiful. I don't know about you out of the two pictures I've got to say that this one, this particular one below really grabs my attention. It looks so amusing: I mean it obliterates the need for photo-realism or detailed visuals in a game.You don't have to be a videogame connoisseur to notice that. And guess what? this game was made by one person! Phil Fish. (Despite this, I didn't buy this game yet - it will have to wait since my wallet hasn't exactly been nice to me these days).
Let's look at some more games, how about the critically acclaimed Journey.
Journey is known for its immersion and serenity it offers players despite its short campaign, graphics were one of the major factors for simulating the serene and peaceful experience, so that game company along with some help from Sony Santa Monica Studios left no stone unturned when it comes to its visuals. The grain animation, the lighting, terrain and wind physics were done immaculately enough to say that immersion has been achieved but wait here's another game that does the same job without most(almost none of them) of the visual perks that Journey has.
Yes, Proteus is the game that defies that norm. It offers a calm and serene experience with plain 3D art and simple sprites orchestrating a beautiful environment. I have played both Journey and Proteus enough to make such a statement. I will talk more about Proteus later but I believe I've made myself clear.

                                            Not to say that photo-realism isn't an admirable trait, game developers need to rethink the idea of it. The legions of upcoming and already established Indie developers have really made us question ourselves about what we look for when we think about graphics in a video game - It's definitely not just photo realism or to render better more finer details, there's more. This has also paved way for faster development time and developers can focus on the actual core gameplay elements, particularly for indie developers. I'll conclude this article with some Indie games which are definitely worth checking out:

            You've seen a screen shot, now you've got to play the game, it's available on steam for 9.99$. Two words: Grab it.

           Braid is second in place of the best puzzle games I've played. I don't know if you like the puzzle genre but regardless I recommend you give Briad a shot, there's a playable demo on steam.  

Super Meat Boy 
           Tough but fun.

Hotline Miami
           Again, tough but gratifyingly fun.

           A beautiful piece of work
                                     These games should kickstart your Indie gaming life, you will understand the hype surrounding Indie and even make you look forward for more.


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