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11-09-2007 @ 4:23PM
I think Blizzard's conservative approach to 3d graphics is one of those design principles that makes this game as great as it is. The focus is on gameplay and a massively broad install base, which means low system requirements. Look at the principles that go into designing Nintendo games, which are so fun and almost never laggy.Games that focus on eye-candy generally have nothing more than fresh graphics to offer to the player. I've studied Blizzard's model format in excruciating detail, and it's quite capable of very high-end visuals. In fact, the particle system in WoW is among the most flexible and powerful in the industry, based upon the particle systems in 3D Studio Max. And you may not realize it, but that's probably one of the most subconscious appeals to playing any given class, the exciting splash of color and light that encourages you to unleash your arsenal, rather than sit around and stare at torches and water. Focusing on eye candy is a very shallow and cheap method of making a game seem interesting, but the fact is that once you get over the novelty, you find that those games typically offer nothing new or truly exciting to the player, and should be focusing on playability (high framerates) and replayability (content).I enjoyed playing the original Quakeworld Team Fortress more than any FPS since the late 90s, complete with mario-style running-in-place animations, stiff blocky modelling and horribly pixelated textures. The snappy physics and fundamentally simple rules were easy to master, and forced you to focus on tactical and strategic methods to win - which is what games should be, rather than tacky art galleries. A grenade went where you threw it, your crosshair was where your bullet went, there was a lack of pointless geometry within which to get stuck and your hand-eye-coordination and speed was more important than your system specs.Modern "realism" elements offer nothing to gameplay and only frustrate players. Given the choice, who wouldn't immediately uncheck head bobbing, grenade bouncing, randomized projectile landing, stance change delays, ridiculously granular bounding and collision boxes, reloading delays, flashlights and weapon kickback effects for good old fashioned reflexes and speed? Obviously there's a class of player who enjoys horribly simulated realism, and there are about 1000 identical and equally boring games coming out each year that appeal to them. These incremental annoyances are all that these companies can come up with to differentiate themselves from each other.
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