I remember when video games were little more than pixelated characters bouncing about the screen. That was a simpler time: no one really talked about the power of a particular physics engine, or whether or not a game was ?realistic? enough, because it didn?t really occur to most of us to ask. It wasn?t something we considered a vital element of our gaming experience. Games were fun distractions, simple escapes from reality. They weren?t, in most cases, all that realistic, though some were quite complex and in-depth.
And that was perfectly alright.
We?ve witnessed something of a metamorphosis in the past decade. Realism?s the word, and everybody?s buzzing about it. A graphics engine that lets you see the sweat beading on your character?s forehead; a physics engine that can accurately predict how kernels of popcorn will hit the floor; artificial intelligence that actually reacts in a realistic, human fashion; all these are symptoms of both the march of technology and the acceptance of video games into mainstream culture.
It?s not difficult to understand why things have been progressing in such a fashion. After all, it?s a far simpler thing to immerse oneself in a title if the environment within feels like it?s a living, breathing world. People want realistic games, don?t they? They want an RPG Game where they can go and build a homestead near where they just killed that dragon; a shooter which makes them feel like they?re actually on the battlefield.
Yes and no.
On the one hand, ?realism? in the case of an open-world game means that the freedoms granted to the player could be positively staggering. Better AI means more enjoyable, more challenging gameplay. Better graphics means, well?.
Basically, it means that games have the potential to get better and better.
On the other hand, we?re not going to experience clear sailing ? not by a long shot. For one, the obsession with making games more ?lifelike? could result in developers and publishers losing sight of what?s important ? entertainment and narrative. In the worst case scenario; the games industry could develop something known as The Hollywood Syndrome: pumping out a bunch of soulless, hyper-realistic games that give us little aside from impressive graphics.
There?s also the fact that the push towards graphical realism in gaming will, like it or not, be fraught with obstacles. I?m sure most of you have heard of the uncanny valley. That?s going to get worse before it gets better, folks. When it comes to pretty little pixels or blocky 3D models, it?s fairly obvious they aren?t human. Sure, they aren?t always that nice to look at, but they also don?t inspire spine-shitting terror.
The problem here is that, as game characters become more and more human, we?re forced to focus more and more on the tiny elements that make them inhuman ? something as simple as a verbal tic or the lack of proper eye movement could have you staring at a soulless, dead-faced terror instead of your character?s love interest. Erik Kain of Forbes put it best ? better graphics don?t always mean more realistic graphics.
As for AI, well?we?ve still got a long way to go, either way. Obscenely long development times don?t exactly help matters ? but that?s a topic for another day.
What do you folks think?
HyperX Cloud Pro Gaming Headset
How does the new HyperX Cloud Pro Gaming Headset from Kingston stack up against the competition?
Eight of The Most Memorable MMO Dungeons Ever Designed
Dungeons are a staple of the MMO genre; large-scale challenges requiring co-operation and co-ordination between anywhere from five to a few hundred players to adequately complete. Of course, not all are created equal, and some stand head and shoulders above their peers. Today, I'd like to tip my hat to those few legends, those instances that'll stick with us for years to come as shining examples of how to do dungeons right.
Ten Of The Best MMORPG Songs Ever Heard
In many ways, an MMO is only as good as its music. Many of the best and most memorable moments in an MMO invariably have a song associated with them; a piece of music which brings the memories flooding back the moment it reaches one's ears. Today, I'd like to pay homage to some of those songs - and some of those moments. Here, for your listening pleasure (and in no particular order, I assure you) is a list of some of the best songs ever heard in an MMO.
Facebook's Purchase Of Oculus VR Isn't The End Of The World
For those of you who've been living under a rock, Facebook recently purchased Oculus VR to the tune of $2 billion. Understandably, backers and developers alike were rather unimpressed, calling it a betrayal. As for me? I've never been more excited.
Seven Of The Worst Things You Can Say In League
If you've played league, you've probably encountered at least one toxic player. If you haven't, there's a good chance that YOU are the toxic one. Don't believe me? Ask yourself if you've ever said any of the following...
Six Reasons You Should Be Playing Dark Souls II
I've been playing a lot of Dark Souls II lately - and you should be too. Say what you will about the game's flaws, it's still arguably one of the best action RPGs released in the past several years. If you're up for a bit of a challenge, it's well worth the buy. Don't believe me? Let's talk, then.
Eight Reasons The Elder Scrolls Online Will Be Awesome
As you're all no doubt aware, The Elder Scrolls Online - currently in open beta - will be launching in a few months or so. In light of both the new release date and all the hype surfacing around it, I've decided that, over the next two weeks, I'll be looking at all the reasons to look forward to it...and all the reasons we shouldn't.
League of Legends or DOTA 2?
The debate between Dota 2 and League of Legends has been raging almost since the two games were first released. But which game is REALLY the superior of the two?
Ten Fictional Settings That'd Make For Awesome MMOs
Let's look at a few settings, worlds, and stories I'd love to see made into MMOs. I'm sure you'll agree, all the entries on this list have the potential to be downright awesome.
MMO Year In Review: 5 of 2013's Biggest Dick Moves
People are dicks - particularly on the Internet. While that shouldn't come as any great surprise, occasionally we come across someone whose level of sheer dickery reaches legendary proportions. As we move into 2014, let's take a look at a few such individuals from the previous year.