Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Old and New Graphics

As I've said before, I wasn't all that impressed with the graphics in Age of Conan. Therefore, I was relatively surprised that I really, really like the look of Dreamfall, which is an older adventure game made by Funcom.[1]

Of course, Dreamfall has a number of advantages over Age of Conan. It's a single-player game with few models on screen and smaller locations. It also uses bright colours, and has that vibrant look that I enjoy.

However, I think a bigger factor may be that Dreamfall is an older game, published a couple years ago. My system is fairly new, and so I can crank all the video settings to maximum. In Age of Conan, I can't push the settings all the way up, and have to settle for medium quality.

It begs the question: is 100% of older graphics better than 50% of newer graphics? Maybe one reason I preferred WoW's graphics is that I can run the older graphics at near-maximum, and that provides a better experience than newer graphics at medium.

I had a similar reaction a while ago, when I played Deus Ex: Invisible War. I played it a couple of years after it was published, and on newer hardware. Again, I was able to crank the graphics to maximum, and I thought it was a really good looking game.

Maybe it's harder to get all the different elements of a graphics system working together perfectly at the mushy middle quality. Maybe the contrast between quality of different elements is a factor. I mentioned that I was very impressed with Conan's water. Did the quality of water diminish how I viewed the avatar graphics? Would it have been better if the water quality was intentionally degraded to match the other graphics settings? Would that have provided a better overall experience?

I'm not sure, and I'm not really into computer graphics. I just found the difference in my visual reaction to two Funcom games to be interesting.

[1] As an aside, Dreamfall and its predecessor The Longest Journey are superb adventure games. I'm still working on Dreamfall, so please don't post any spoilers.

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