EQ2 graphics wrap up.

Ah sweet victory. Not the worlds most exciting World Series, but a win is a win. Rolling rally time, woo hoo! And Sunday can’t come soon enough now, with the clash of the titans scheduled for 4:30pm (Pats vs Colts for those that do not follow the NFL). Good times for New England sports fan.

Just some final thoughts today on the whole EQ2 graphics debate to wrap it all up, here goes. I think more than technical aspects, it’s the overall style that does not sit well with me. Having played a bit more this weekend, I think I’ve figured out exactly what irks me. It’s not the overall that’s bad, as in many cases the graphics in EQ2 look really good, but all too frequent, you will see something that looks wrong, and it will completely break the illusion the game is going for. Being petty here now, but in Darklight woods, the trees have very fake looking roots at their base. The gf first pointed it out, and when I stopped and actually looked at it, she was right. They just look odd and out of place. Everything else is high quality and well designed, and then the base of the tree looks like a few large single colored polygons. Again, being very petty, but it’s there.

I almost feel like the graphic style SOE went for in EQ2 should have been reserved for EQ3. What I mean by that is that the very lifelike realism approached would most likely work much better in a year or two than it did back in 2004. With more graphic power, the aspects of EQ that are intentionally realistic would be much closer to that then they are now, and as a result the parts that are aimed to look more fantasy would stand out more. Right now the parts that they aim to look very realistic often end up looking plain and boring, and you wish more of the game looked a bit more ‘fantasy’. I think this is due more to the limitations of the technology than to a preference for WoW-like cartoon graphics. Vanguard certainly goes for a more realistic style, yet you don’t hear a lot of complaints about its graphics, and I believe a large part of it is due to the realism in that game still looking good.

If you know how chain mail is supposed to look, it’s easier to find fault with it when a game does not deliver, yet when an artist is drawing up some fantasy creature, you can’t look at it and say ‘oh look its missing some detail in its face’, mainly because you don’t have a point of reference due to the creature being fictional. As long as you can deliver on the look of the realistic parts, your fantasy bits will be that much more impressive, giving the player something to look at and be amazed.

3 Responses to EQ2 graphics wrap up.

  1. Brad says:

    A while back, I did a brief analysis of the two games using the machinima term “the Uncanny Valley,” which helps to explain exactly the feeling you’re having – more realistic, less appealing.

    http://www.conquestgames.net/2006/02/22/game-design-the-uncanny-valley/

  2. syncaine says:

    That’s a great post, and basically sums up the feelings I have for EQ2. In my opinion, EQ2 falls directly into the valley, while WoW hits that perfect spot of ‘life like’ yet clearly fantasy. I think LoTRO takes advantage of the technology advances, but tries to stick to the WoW style rather than the EQ2 style.

    If nothing else, Oblivion somewhat ‘proves’ the valley theory. Not once did I look at the characters in Oblivion and feel nearly as odd about them as I do about EQ2, yet SOME of the faces in Oblivion do give you that eerie feeling, especially some of the faces possible in character creation. At the same time, others were right on and you just accepted them as great looking characters. Strange how the mind works…

  3. tipa says:

    Well, technically, the original article compared LotRO and EQ2, not WoW and EQ2. The graphics are way too different to compare, and I personally like WoW graphics, so you won’t hear me insisting EQ2 is better. I believe EQ2 could learn something about making fantasy LOOK like fantasy from WoW, while not necessarily losing their less-cartoony style. While playing WoW, I never forget I am playing a video game. While playing EQ2, sometimes, the places seem real, even if the characters don’t always support that.

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