Nofsinger: Video Games Industry "Dazzled by the Bling"

Are you bored with beautiful games? Alright, okay, I know — just because they're pretty doesn't mean they're empty-headed. But you've gotta admit, after all these years, and for all the passionate chatter about gaming "growing up," there's still a kind of funky-smelling obsession out there about the way tomorrow's games are supposed to look...as if they weren't games at all.

Games don't have to look like anything, right? You don't play an image. A piece of sculpture doesn't have "fail" states. A photograph doesn't tally a high score. Maybe I'm hung up on semantics here, but I don't think so, and if I'm reading High Voltage's chief creative office Eric Nofsinger right, neither is he.

Speaking to Edge, Nofsinger says he thinks the games industry's "become dazzled by the bling."

We've all got stars in our eyes for Hollywood, with twenty, thirty, forty million dollar budgets over night and hundred-person teams working for years on titles without ever running a P&L to see if anything could support that.

One of the biggest slices of a game's design budget is its art, from the fine synthetic weave on a futuristic body suit to the deeply detailed wounds on the side of a shell-scarred building to making sure stuff like the pores on Prophet's face in Crysis Warhead are sufficiently pocked and pitted.

To quote a reader over at Joystiq back in April 2006:

Color me nonplussed. Since when did "pore-visibility" make a game play better?

Eyelids and earlobes and five o'clock shadow aren't games. Neither are volumetric clouds, motion blur, god rays, and soft shadows. Or, for that matter, a bunch of pretty high-dynamic range sunsets, even if they're backgrounding Andre Hyppolite as his parametric skeletal body swaggers past the edge of some ambient occluded shantytown and out into Far Cry 2's sultry parallax occlusion mapped safari-scape.

I can appreciate the sleek, sexy curves of something newfangled as much as anyone, but I'm increasingly cool toward yesterday's ideas in tomorrow's sexed-up clothing.

How about you?

Matt Peckham still plays 2D wargames from first-class designers like SSG and AGEOD . You can follow his IGO/UGO moves at twitter.com/game_on .

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