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It has been a while. I had to get settled into school once again, so that took priority over this. But now I“m back, and ready to talk about gaming. With that, let“s go back to the past and talk about retro games and why they are so important and impactful now. The retro gaming scene is a bit different. Why is it when games can look like this, or this, that games end up looking something like this? When tools are limited, people get creative about how those tools are used. It“s like if a child wants to play with a sword, and doesn“t have a plastic or rubber sword to play with, that child will grab a stick. If there“s no stick, then the child will form a chopping motion with their hand and pretend that the arm is the sword. Retro gaming taps into this mindset. Streets of Rage, a side scroller on the Sega Genesis, had an abundance of moves for using only 3 buttons. Looking at some games today, there is practically button overload, even though buttons are generally used for 1 or 2 functions. This limited capability (in terms of just more than hardware and buttons) is something that the indie games are capitalizing on. And indie games are creating a ton of buzz nowadays. You can also press in the sticks like they're buttons. With simplicity however, usually comes difficulty. Games today are certainly hard, but I generally don“t find them punishing with the exception of certain parts. Mega Man for example, I tend to find rather punishing while playing through the game, dying and continuing multiple times before getting to the Wily Towers. Streets of Rage is incredibly hard, especially once you put the difficulty settings higher. I“ve died a lot playing Vanquish too, but it was usually during a boss, or if I was screwing around. Have games really become easier, or have I become that much better? Another factor that retro games use is the pure imagination of these games. This generally leads to their charm. Usually this is seen in their bright or contrasting colors, or how over the top some of the games are. The games of old seem to take that imagination and run with it as far as possible. I“m not saying games today don“t have imagination, but there is some aspect of games today where they wouldn“t fit in with the games of the 8 or 16-bit era. Look at Jack Cayman. His character design is rather cartoonish, with his overly muscular build and mechanical arm, but other aspects of him are made to look realistic. Jack looks like he“s straddling the line of cartoon and realism, whereas someone like Sonic is clearly on the cartoon side. On the consumer side lies the fact that information is more widely available. Now you can watch videos and read tons of reviews before deciding to make a purchase. Before the internet starting sharing everything, you had magazines, word of mouth, and maybe the back of the case to get you enticed. I think a lot more experimenting happened on the consumer side with limited information available to them. However, a limited number of genres were also successful on certain platforms. Side scrollers were EVERYWHERE, but first person shooters were the rare commodity on home consoles for a while. The last factor I will talk about in retro gaming goes with the actual limitation of hardware, stamina. Less saving was around, and not every game used a password, so you had to bust your butt and blast through the game in one sitting. It“s not necessary to do so now, but I do find myself loving the fact that I can sit there for a few hours undisturbed and just play the game, even though I“m nowhere near done with it. Maybe this is one reason why I love gaming so much, and not the escapism and vast worlds that I explore. I'll explore other aspects of retro gaming in the next few entries. Hope you enjoyed this one, and I apologize about the long wait.
Video games have always been a hard medium to truly define. When a game is creatively constructed with artistic values, whether due to a lack of opportunity for realism or simply a desire to be the game developer version of Leonardo Da Vinci, video games can come off as a legitimate form of art. But then there are those modern games that are built to be realistic, proving to be more like interactive movies or real-life simulations than anything else. But is that a good thing or a bad thing? Should game developers aspire to make their games more realistic or should they be focusing their art direction to something more unique to the medium? Creative Art Direction There was a time when games really couldn“t pull off such the realistic flair you see today, turning to more unique means of art direction to compensate the limitations they had. This, of course, gave gamers an experience neither real life nor any other medium could provide. Whether you were a hero fighting for the fate of the world in an RPG, a young traveler on an important quest in an adventure game, or aâ€¦ermâ€¦plumber saving a princess from a giant turtle-dragon in a platformer, these games always had a unique look to them that still hold up to this day. But over the years, with such rapid advancements in technology, more and more games take a more realistic approach to art direction. In my many years as a gamer, however, born into a SNES lifestyle thanks to my older brother, I“ve come to really appreciate games that take a more creative approach. This could be a manner of things, such as the beautiful art-in-motion styles of games like The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and Journey, the crafty styles of games like Paper Mario: Sticker Star and Kirby“s Epic Yarn, or games like Lone Survivor and Cave Story that use retro styles to remind us all of what makes the classics so timeless. Whatever the case, these creative art styles really make me feel that games deserve to be labeled as â€œartâ€ alongside â€œentertainment.â€ Realistic Art Direction That“s not to say that I don“t like games with a more realistic appeal to them, though. I mean, some people prefer abstract paintings to realistic sculptures, but that doesn“t stop either from being works of art, does it? Of course not. With video games, a lot of the time, the more realistic of the bunch tend to feel more like interactive movies or real-life simulations than what the more unique-looking games provide in the visual spectrum. But hey, some people prefer movies and real life to paintings and the like, and I“d be lying if I said I don“t enjoy watching movies or going out and about in that thing they call the â€œreal world.â€ It“s also sorta like choosing between watching an anime series and watching a live-action TV show. On the one hand, you“ve got a show you can better relate to, although I sure hope you aren“t a serial killer or anti-heroic meth cook. On the other hand, you“ve got a sort of art-in-motion show, watching drawings (beautiful if pulled off well, like Studio Ghibli) moving around within a certain story, and with a lot of room for the abstract. And I find both styles highly entertaining in their own right. In gaming, however, you“re in control, and sometimes I feel like realistic games try too hard to be interactive live-action movies or TV shows that the more artistic side of gaming is sometimes shunned (Roger Ebert, anyone?). I guess it must be the artist in me, but when it comes down to it, my bread and butter (mmmâ€¦) in video game art direction has to be the more creative type. By that, of course, I mean that I tend to prefer games that seek out a unique art direction that other games don“t normally have. I still enjoy playing more realistic games that provide a more cinematic and/or â€œreal worldâ€ experience, but I admire game developers that really take their art form seriously and try to do something different in their medium, and I would like to see that more often. Developers like Nintendo and thatgamecompany love doing that, and that“s one reason I tend to like their games a lot. With that said, both directions have their places in the world of gaming, and I wouldn“t give up either one.