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Thoughts aloud 2: where technology takes us.

Discussion in 'Playground' started by drowling, Dec 13, 2006.

  1. drowling Gems: 4/31
    Latest gem: Sunstone

    Jan 20, 2004
    Likes Received:
    I don't have NWN2. But if I did, I probably wouldn't be able to play it, judging by what people are saying about system requirements. Even the Infinity games were slow at times. This leads me to question: why do games need more resources if they are becoming less interesting?

    Let's take Total Annihilation. Old game, very popular, used 3d rendering in software mode (!!!). As I remember it, it ran on a 166MHz machine with 32Mb ram. And no hardware acceleration per se. Now, the TA engine had practically everything a gamer could wish for in terms of interactivity (save the dialogs). It wasn't RPG, but could easily be converted.

    Now let's take Infinity - what has changed? First, the engine is now blitting huge bitmaps. Then it overlays them with more bitmaps (characters etc.). It also renders animated bitmaps. The scripting engine is also more complex, especially things like pathfinding which have to be done in a terrain made of arbitrary polygons. Also, the supposed 3D acceleration of Infinity always seemed to me to be a myth - I had the latest hardware, yet it never worked.

    Finally, the NWN engine (which is so unimpressive I don't recall its name) basically reduced everything to rendering processes. Don't have 3D acceleration? You'll die in software mode. Oh, you do have 3D acceleration but don't have [pixel shaders, etc.]? You'll die anyway. There is also something totally impractical in trying to do everything in 3D. For example, rendering a realistic tree will take thousands of polygons, and if the view of the tree doesn't change, one can use a bitmap instead.

    The cause of the drive is easily explained - manufacturers want to sell new cards and chips, and what better way to nudge the consumer towards buying those than to release games that actually need them? But has all the new hardware made us happier? I really don't think so.
  2. Half-elven Duergar Gems: 4/31
    Latest gem: Sunstone

    Nov 4, 2006
    Likes Received:
    NWN engine, you mean the Aurora engine? I had fun with it though...

    For games like HL2? Then yes, new hardware would make me really happy. In fact I upgraded my system (something I wouldn't have done for other games) just to meet the required system requirements when the game came out. But for games like NWN2? I think I'll pass.

    IMO, it's not a matter of how impressive a game's graphics is, it's a matter of playability. Heck Diablo is in 2D and it was hot. I can't even imagine D3 coming out like WoW. So yeah, you may be right. Newer games are becoming a bit too impressive that playability is somehow compromised.

    EDIT: NWN's toolset and engine have different names, the engine is called Machinima, IIRC. My bad :doh:

    [ December 15, 2006, 04:30: Message edited by: Half-elven Duergar ]
  3. Ziad

    Ziad I speak in rebuses Veteran

    Aug 3, 2004
    Likes Received:
    This is an old, old argument that is much older than 3D acceleration. I remember reading articles in CGW back in 1992 or so about how "new" (at the time) games are sacrificing substance for glitz. The trend is still the same (or has got worse, depending on how you look at it).

    The reasons for this are simple. One of them you have already mentioned - game requires new hardware so is pushed by hardware vendor, and hardware gets in turn pushed by game distributor to show off their technical achievements ("if it requires the latest graphic card then it MUST be good!"). Then there's marketing departments. Games with good graphics sell, so distributors assume that a game MUST have good graphics to sell, and spend most of the production money on graphics, leaving very little for anything else.

    Having good graphics can be a nice thing. There's something to be said for walking into a room (or area or whatever) and going "wow! this is good!" The thing is that you don't need massive hardware requirements to get good graphics. The Dig had some stunning moments both visually and aurally, and managed to pull the visuals off with a 320x200x8 resolution. NWN had this supposedly breath-taking engine, and to be honest I have to admit I was not impressed at any point by the visuals (and that's with all details on max). On the other hand, Unreal had some stunning moments, and it could not have pulled these off without 3D graphics. Then again the game ran well enough on software rendering...
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