The Importance of Graphics

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Here’s our next episode in the design aspect series. We’ve talked previously about gamedesign and about music. Graphics also have a certain importance in games.

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Graphics is everything you see on screen. The details, the animations of the characters, background, foreground, basically the visual that the video game produces. Graphics are there in the game to make you see the game. Both interface (menus) and game graphics make (in most cases) the game. In some cases only the interface is the game.

It depends really on what type of game, whether certain graphics fit for them, or certain styles. Extra visuals such as backgrounds and foregrounds in multiple layers or sprites added to spells, weapons or for example burning tires will help the overal graphical presentation of a game.

Styles
There are many styles when it comes to creating graphics:
– Photorealistic,
– cartoonish / handdrawn
– cell shaded
And this can all be done in either 2D or 3D.

I prefer if a developer sticks to one style in a game. As soon as you start mixing two or more styles it can become a complete mess and it’s not very pleasant to look at. There are also many creative ways of using visuals to interest a gamer to buy the product.

But are graphic really all that important?
Some gamers will argue it is, while others choose game play over graphics. A game with the most beautiful graphics but with absolutely no gameplay will fail. Yet, a game with moderate gameplay and bad graphics might survive it. For a hardcore gamer though, gameplay is more important than graphics. It’s best is to have a good mixture of both really.
I’m neither saying that graphics don’t play any role at all. They definitely can add to the detail and the ambience of a game. For example a horror game will not be scary without shadow effects, creepy dark places, scarce lightning and blood.

Details
As for details we talk about at what detail things are included in the graphics. You could draw for example a racecar on a road circling around without anything else, or add more detail to the scene and add trees and flowers to the sides of the road, clouds and a sun in the sky and other cars on the road for more detail.

Animations
Animations to for example a character, a racecar or the environment add to the ambience of the game. It also adds to your immersion and experience in the game. You will feel more immersed, sucked into the game when you can see your character in full detail and with life-like emotions and movements. To me character animation should be smooth. Jaggy or clipping movement is no fun to look at. The animations can help to determine the position of the character aswell.

Conclusions
Graphics can be divided into interface, animations, visuals, background and foreground and help to the give you a greater immersion in your gameplay experience. Whether gameplay or graphics are more important is a difficult and much discussed subject as opinions quite differ about this. Apart from personal opinions, also the gametype is deciding for how graphics should be like.There are three styles you can create games in and they can be done in both 2D and 3D. cartoonish and cell-shaded are actually of the same type, just that cartoonish is something for 2D while cell shading is cartoonish in a 3D environment. Mixing styles isn’t a good idea, as borderlines between for example photorealistic and hand-drawn are clearly visible.
There are games that are purely based upon texts (Multi User Dungeons for example or web based games).

One thing is for sure: without any form of graphics (whether that is just display of simple texts or full 3D graphics), you have no game to play at all.

The Game Mistress

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