Thursday, March 24, 2005

Graphics vs. Art Direction

The other day, I posted a link to this Grumpy Gamer post about the graphics for the new Zelda game. Joystiq now has an equally grumpy rebuttal. Generally, I agree with the Grumpy Gamer position that the quest for more realistic graphics tends to lead people away from more interesting art styles. However, having seen the new Legend of Zelda trailer, I have to say that my problem is less with the realistic graphic and more with the inconsistent art direction... which brings me to my point. I think that we're basically at a point now where advances in graphics will be pointless without good art direction.

With advanced engines, such as the Source engine, the Doom 3 engine, or Unreal 3.0, readily available to developers, art direction is going to be the difference between one pixel-shaded, normal-mapped world and another built on the same technology. To me, art direction is the [graphical] difference between Doom 3 and Half-Life 2. Though HL2 has what most people would call "realistic" graphics, there is a very subtle and very powerful direction to the art that reinforces all of the other elements of the game.

Have to get back to work now... Perhaps I'll update this post later with a more complete breakdown of art direction in the new Zelda trailer.


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