We were having a chat in the office about art in games, and it sparked off a couple of tweets from @Escape_Studios last week. Basically, we were wondering how much the visuals, or game art, matter in the whole gaming experience. Does a game really need to look that great for people to enjoy it, or can how it looks be the difference between good and great?
From what we saw on Twitter, opinion is as divided as it was in the office. In the ‘nice to have, but not necessary camp’ was @I_AM_DAVE_COX with ‘Gameplay take about 65% so looks will be 35% if my math serves me well’ (it does, Dave), and @danlefeb saying ‘Art in games is similar to art in CG movies. e.g., Pixar movies look great but the story is what makes it (re)watchable’. In the ‘must have' corner was @ZOMGitsBC ‘If the art is good, you may play it purely for that reason, you think many people would play LIMBO if it wasn't for it's art’, and @DaveyMillar ‘I think gameplay and visuals are an equal in my decision to purchase a game. But I would purchase a game if it's a looker!’.
For my part, my love of art should scream it’s all about the look, but I’ve always felt that there’s got to be some meaning, some depth, in all art to make it great, and that’s the case with games as well – making it look good helps create a world gamers can get sucked into, but if the game play is clunky and the story is boring there’s only so many times you're going to try and play it before getting frustrated and stopping.
As usual what constitutes great looking art can be subjective and sometimes a simple game with basic vector graphics can as engaging as a tiltle such as Naughty Dog's Drakes Fortune. Having said that, as a huge comics fan as well (I basically run the gamut of most nerdy interests), I find it difficult to read a good comic if the art is bad, so I guess each medium has its tipping point for each individual.
Are you all about the look or do you need a game with some personality as well?