Experienced Points: MAXIMUM COLOR

By Shamus Posted Friday Apr 1, 2011

Filed under: Game Reviews 74 comments


There’s this scene in Star Trek: Voyager, where the character Neelix realizes that his era of usefulness has come to an end. He was guiding the crew through a section of space, but eventually they reached the edge of his knowledge. Going ahead, he didn’t know any more than they did. (The fact that he was an annoying idiot regardless of his navigational knowledge was not discussed.) I think I have reached the same point.

Up until Half-Life 2, and even as recently as Fallout 3, I would have technological insights on the games that I played. I could spot walls that had been placed, not for the sake of the gameplay, but to cull unwanted details from the scene and give the computer a break. I could identify and explain visual glitches, artifacts, misaligned textures, and other problems. My years of 3D modeling and coding gave me an unusual perspective on what games were showing us. But my knowledge has stagnated in the last five years while the industry has charged forward, and I have almost no understanding of today’s engines and how they do what they do. For me, the Cry Engine 3 is now indistinguishable from magic.

I can still comment on the game from an artistic standpoint, though.


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74 thoughts on “Experienced Points: MAXIMUM COLOR

  1. Cerapa says:


    Nah, but seriously, I read the last blog entry, went back to the front page and voila, a new entry. And I dont have the time to read the Experienced points. Damn your timing, why couldnt you have waited 5 minutes!?

  2. guy says:

    I’m one of those guys who generally mutters vaguely at graphics engines regardless of quality, plus I dropped out of the bioshock spoiler warning viewers because everything was too damn brown, so I’m probably atypical even among people who agree with you.

    Regardless, yeah, more color. Apparently the reason they avoid color is due to issues with making them look realistic, but I am not a man who cares.

    1. Hitch says:

      The BioShock Spoiler Warning had video? I thought it was an audio podcast. I’m sure I didn’t actually see any of the game.

      1. guy says:

        They had this program to randomly vary shades of brown and green for people who like to stare at things.

        1. Adam P says:

          And occasionally there was some pipe dream.

          1. Veloxyll says:

            And bees.

    2. Someone says:

      I always thought Bioshock was mainly blue.

      1. Specktre says:

        A few sea colors–blue, green, and–if I remember correctly–the inside of Rapture was mostly brown.

    3. K says:

      There is nothing realistic about no colour. Leave the building (or just google for pictures of cities or places), walk around. You will see that the majority of things is anything but grey. It’s just lazy or bad art, because we think of concrete first when we try to draw buildings.

  3. Irridium says:

    I agree, more color is a good thing. I remember during the Fallout 3 SW, I wanted you to just be done so we wouldn’t have to watch you guys go through another god damn brown corridor. It was better at the end of Broken Steel, where some simple color changes had DRASTIC effects(like the bright-blue energy shields, the orange lighting, the red and greens of laser weapons shooting)

    And there’s an explanation for everything Shamus.

    A wizard did it.

    Unless its a really big thing, in which case two wizards did it.

    1. Jarenth says:

      Two wizards taped to a Large Hadron Collider.

    2. krellen says:

      I’m sure I said it at the time, but it bears repeating: I live in a desert (of the “ruined wasteland” sort Fallout specialises in) and see way more colour on a daily basis than I’ve seen in all those wasteland brown shooters combined.

  4. Robert says:

    After they exhausted his knowledge of the local systems and civilizations, they put Neelix to work in the kitchens.

    So…make me a sandwich.

    1. Ben says:

      [pedantic trekkie]
      They were using Neelix in the kitchens as the “morale officer” from when they picked him up in the pilot.
      [/pedantic trekkie]

      1. Veloxyll says:

        He also was the ship’s quartermaster, since they don’t need one in Federation space because Replicators. Neelix, being a merchant before he joined Voyager, actually had some knowledge of inventory management. I think he also took over Hydroponics after Kes left.

        1. MichaelG says:

          But was he or wasn’t he an annoying idiot? It seems like you are missing the point here.

  5. scragar says:

    Shamus, can I ask for something? I’ve recently got myself a fancy new phone with the internet, but it lacks support for highlighting things in the way a normal browser does. Could you make a stylesheet for mobile devices that displays spoilers without the background matching the foreground? It’s not hard:

    @media handheld { /* rules for handheld devices */ }

    1. Alexander The 1st says:

      I assume this is for WordPress specific?

      Is there an appropriate pure-CSS/XHTML 1.0 (Served as text/HTML) version that works properly?

      I’ve been stuck on this, and the internet is at large…inconsistent.

      1. scragar says:

        Actually that’s basic CSS, the media selector has been around for years, firefox 2 used to support them, as do all modern browsers and mobile devices.

        The most supported options include screen(desktop, internet tv and laptop), print(print preview as well), handheld(mobiles, ipod etc) and projection(guess when you’d want this).

  6. ccesarano says:

    I know a lot of people didn’t like it and felt it had no depth, but after seeing Sucker Punch this weekend Zack Snyder reminded me a lot about the sort of things video game developers pay no attention to, and a lot of it is in environment and scenery. This fact was only further pointed out when watching the Making-Of featurette on the Kick-Ass Blu-Ray, particularly a shot where they mentioned going to a gun store and purchasing everything so it could be hung up on the wall of Big Daddy and Hit Girl’s home. When your regular viewer sees it, they’ll just acknowledge “oh look, guns!” and focus their conscious attention elsewhere. Imagine how a video game just takes repeat elements and plasters them all over environments.

    Granted, video games have to develop whole worlds rather than specific rooms and scenes where you have 100% complete control over what is scene and how. Still, I feel like if game developers studied what directors do and how they do it then there might be some lessons to be learned. And by “study what they do” I don’t mean ripping off techniques for even more cut-scenes (besides, it’s not like you’d actually grasp the meaning of those shuts in your cut-scenes, like in Citizen Kane when Charles Foster is cloaked in shadow as he reads his hypocritical Declaration of Principles).

    At the very least, though, color is something that is very valued, and I think more developers are taking note. Homefront, after all, is a very colorful game despite being a generic modern-day shooter.

  7. Friend of Dragons says:

    What I’m really a little curious about is how they have the time to do make all this art… I mean, it can take me a several hours or more to make a single fairly well-detailed model, and while I am very much a rookie at 3d modeling and I expect I will get much faster at it with experience, I nevertheless don’t see how they can create worlds this detailed without spending a mind-boggling amount of time on it. But maybe I’m just slow at it.

    1. Adam P says:

      They have armies of artists. You’ll see in games maybe 12 programmers of various descriptions, but then several dozen artists. And then 4 people on QA, but that’s a different matter.

    2. guy says:

      They like to reuse content, and they do indeed have maybe 40 artists working for years. Plus, I think they might be able to shift more of the load onto the software than you can, because they can afford really high-end software.

  8. Neil Polenske says:

    I always wondered how the art directors for those bland looking shooters feel about this. Logically, one would reason that an art director for any standard AAA title would have a significant amount of experience and education in the artistic fields. Shamus is a programmer by trade and he gets these basic fundamentals of visual concepts, so it’s unlikely the art director does not. Ergo they are either voluntarily ignoring them or being forced to.

    1. Kanodin says:

      I’d assume someone from higher up gave them inflexible demands on what sort of aesthetic to have and they just have to do the best possible within those confines.

      1. K says:

        Blaming the higher-ups isn’t a valid reason to have an ugly game if you’re the art director. Nor is it in any non-military organisation (if not following orders to the dot results in getting shot, that IS a valid excuse). If you do a job, it is YOUR responsibility that the result of your job doesn’t suck. Anything else is just the easy way out, and no better than “my dog ate the homework”.

    2. ehlijen says:

      Not sure how easy it is to keep your enthusiasm up and running when you have to do ? levels an hour for 8 hours a day on a regular basis according to someone else’s design plans.

  9. potemkin.hr says:

    I agree that the color scheme is important for the athmosphere of the game, but there is one thing obviously time forgot: Hand-drawn art (2 examples: Baldur’s Gate 2 [URL]http://goo.gl/g2V6I[/URL] and Broken Sword [URL]http://goo.gl/VORC1[/URL])
    Those games are almost magical with their drawing style, and i can’t simply understand why no one has tried making a hand-drawn game in the past 10 years.
    I couldn’t care less for flashy graphics (yeah, they have a short WOW! effect, but that’s it more or less), but those hand-drawn graphics games have “that something” that gives them lasting beauty and appeal, I could just look at the graphics and appreciate it like some painting.
    Once you see such a game, it’s not something you’ll forget, remember my words… :)

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Hell yes!A huge +1 on this.

    2. Veloxyll says:

      Drawn art doesn’t work as well in 3d games. Things in Baldur’s Gate are drawn just like a painting, with a simple pass/fail movement mesh over them. When the camera is mobile, it takes a lot more effort to make it pretty; for instance, how long it took Blizzard to make Azeroth flyable was mostly due to needing to redo the design of many areas to make them viewable from any angle.
      Sadly 3D just doesn’t work as well for pretty artwork based design.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        But 3d is not something you must have.What did 3d add to neverwinter nights?What did 3d add to heroes of might and magic?Or,check out something newer:Lara croft and the tomb of light is a great game,even though its playing field is just an isometric 2d maze.Having your game be 3d doesnt automatically make it better than 2d games.

        1. Josh R says:

          And Yet It Moves is entirely real life textures and hand drawn figures i believe, though it is an indie title.

        2. X2-Eliah says:

          The opposite is also correct. Praising 2D for the sake of 2D is equally ridiculous, and saying that a 2D game in general is better than a 3D game is also nothing short of hipsterism/elitism.

          What did the GTA gain when moving to the 3D (GTA2 -> GTA3)? I’d say a whole damn lot. What did shooters gain when moving from side-scrolling 2D to full 3D? Again, a whole damn lot.

          You’re by no means the worst offender, but I am genuinely sick of this recent indie/oldschool hipsterism/elitism that manifests in “2D rocked, 3d sucks” and “All new games are crap compared to old games, proof: [bad new game]-[famous games of the decade of appropriate generation]” and “the worse it looks, the better it is, you just don’t know crap”.

          On your point – BG2 was near the pinnacle of 2D technology. NWN was first in many aspects, for testing the scene. Do you think modern 3D RPG games (Divinity, DA:O, Witcher) would be better in 2D?

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            The opposite is true,but thats not the point.The point is that art>better graphics.2d game drawn by a good artist will always look better than a 3d game drawn by a bad artist.

            The things gta got when it became 3d didnt come just from its change in graphics.Same goes for shooters.Compare shank with mindjack,for example.Is shank better just because it is 2d and mindjack is 3d?Nope,its better because its a smoother game,with better gameplay and better visuals.Would it be any better if it was just turned into a 3d game?Probably not.

            1. X2-Eliah says:

              To a certain limit. I’d say that there is a technical bar – unique for every person, of course – below which no amount of artistic capacity can save it.

              What I mean is.. If Da Vinci had to paint Mona Lisa in 256×256 pixel resolution with 4-bit colours, It would not look good, despite his skill. The technology of canvas and paint is somewhat required to make it look good.

              Now, does that bar lie in 2D/3D separation? Certainly not. However, the shift between the dimensions coincides closely with the shift in overall technology where that bar lies for many people.

            2. modus0 says:

              “2d game drawn by a good artist will always look better than a 3d game drawn by a bad artist.”

              Anything drawn by a good artist will look better than something drawn by a bad artist.

              1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                That is my point.Just because you shine it up with technology wont disguise the fact that the artist who did it sucks.

          2. Tizzy says:

            Somehow, 2D graphics gave more of the RPG’s that I enjoyed playing. I have enjoyed games like NWN and Kotor, but I was very aware of the consequences that the graphics had on the gameplay, and I was not happy with it.

            I would not recommend 2D for many other types of games.

        3. Taellosse says:

          I assume you’re referring to the Live/PSN title “Lara Croft and The Guardian of Light” there. It’s worth noting that, while the game takes place in an isometric view, it’s still done using a 3D engine–the same one, in fact, they used for Underworld. They just fixed the camera further away and made it immobile except in cut scenes.

          Arguably it doesn’t strictly need to be in 3D, but it is (honestly, it was probably cheaper to build the game in an existing engine than start from scratch with a whole different artistic direction).

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            I know that it is in 3d,but like you said,id doesnt have to be.The whole background couldve been done in 2d and no one would notice.So you still can use hand drawn art for many things in modern games.

        4. Tizzy says:

          Indeed, I really felt like NWN took us a step and a half backwards in terms of aesthetics. To make it worse, the camera range was really poor, going only from adequately far to way way too close. At close range, this managed to be both impractical for gameplay and to show off how ugly and simplistic the models really were.

          And I’m sure it took hours of hard work too! But please use your energies towards a more rewarding result!

  10. potemkin.hr says:

    I agree that the color scheme is important for the athmosphere of the game, but there is one thing obviously time forgot: Hand-drawn art (2 examples: Baldur’s Gate 2 [http://goo.gl/g2V6I] and Broken Sword [http://goo.gl/VORC1])
    Those games are almost magical with their drawing style, and i can’t simply understand why no one has tried making a hand-drawn game in the past 10 years.
    I couldn’t care less for flashy graphics (yeah, they have a short WOW! effect, but that’s it more or less), but those hand-drawn graphics games have “that something” that gives them lasting beauty and appeal, I could just look at the graphics and appreciate it like some painting.
    Once you see such a game, it’s not something you’ll forget, remember my words… :)

    1. Nidokoenig says:

      Well, the basic issue is that you can’t really do hand-drawn in 3D. It’s worth noting that when Okami went to such lengths to replicate a hand-painted look, people loved it. The fact that 3D is a huge resource drain and they could be funding hundreds of 2D games for what they throw at AAA titles is a whole other argument. Now I’m wondering if any 2D shmups have a cover system.

      The other thing about hand drawn is that, if something’s been hand-drawn, your brain is primed to analyse it and seek meaning for why this thing looks like it does. If you just go for realism, the end point is people shrugging and just getting on with it, they’ll only notice when you mess up. At it’s very worst, you can draw the ugliest game imaginable and people will look at it just to understand how it can be that ugly, ask themselves why it came to be like that. At it’s very best, it says something more than “this is a thing”, and that something more is at least partially under the artist’s control.

      One thing I’ve sometimes wondered about the “real is brown” trend is, is this something to do with the geographic distribution of US developers? Now, I live in the UK and have never been outside of Europe, so all of this is second-hand to me, but whenever I see people on forums moaning about how Fallout 3 is a desert when it should be overgrown with green, people who say the first two were brown deserts and brown mountains will be shot down with “That’s what California looks like if you don’t irrigate it, DC is different.”. I have this vague impression that many US developers are on the west coast, and so when they go on a field trip to see some real places without significant development near them, they see vast quantities of brown and harsh sunlight, and thus we get brown and bloom in realistic games. Feel free to explain how hilariously inaccurate my impressions are.

      1. modus0 says:

        “That's what California looks like if you don't irrigate it, DC is different.”.

        Depends on which part of California you’re talking about.

        South of San Francisco, that’s more or less accurate. But the Northwest coast (around Eureka) is a lush, green area, with truly impressive tall pine trees (which just so happen to be… green…), along with a plethora of green undergrowth that doesn’t require human intervention to maintain. Heck, even a few hundred miles inland, in the area between Lake Almanor and Mt. Shasta has plenty of green.

        So, it’s only a portion of California, and anyone who thinks the entire state is just as brown as the LA area should visit the northern part of the state (except along the Nevada border, where there is a lot of brown, and blueish-grey sagebrush mixed in with the green).

        1. Peter H. Coffin says:

          The important point is that that’s still not where the game designers are. “Oh, but not all California looks like that” doesn’t really address the point.

      2. Bobby Archer says:

        I’d argue that even un-irrigated desert doesn’t look as monotonously brown as most of these games present it. I’ve been out in the Nevada desert and nothing out there looks as monochromatically brown as these “realistic” games. Even when you don’t have blue sky (and it’s rare in my experience that you don’t have a blue sky) and sparse green foliage, there are differences in hue and saturation between sand and dirt and rock and mountain. It’s beautiful country and has its own palate.

        I think the problem comes more from a decision on some level that “brown is real” or, more likely “brown is gritty.” The easiest and cheapest way to make everything brown is to just slap a brown filter over the whole shebang. It’s also the most monotonous and boring way, but that is less of a problem for them when 90% of their competition does things exactly the same way.

    2. TSED says:

      Games are still being made in 2D and hand-drawn. Machinarium is one that I find absolutely gorgeous.

      1. Matt K says:

        Agreed. That was one of the best games I’ve played in a long time.

    3. MrWhales says:

      Agree’d. Thats why when i first ventured into Minecraft, i tried to stay away from the texture pack scene. I saw them as frivolous. And besides, you can’t say vanilla-minecraft isnt beautiful. I’ve sen landscapes there that would rival anything on Earth.

      I remember something i read(probably a Shamus work) saying that the games industry will pop like the film industry did back in the 60/70’s and went from big budget crap titles(frankly) to the more indie side, and now look what we have. I want this to happen with gaming, because it will help this whole situation cease to exist..

  11. orangeban says:

    Just a heads up Shamus, don’t know if it’s just me but the caption thing in the tab bar of your website still says Trains are the New Cool. Did you miss that out when changing the website back?

    1. Zukhramm says:

      Noooo, don’t point it out, I was hoping it would last forever!

    2. X2-Eliah says:

      Well, they are.

  12. Someone says:

    I have a question that kinda-sorta correlates with the part about graphics engines.

    I am currently studying computer science, and I’m striving to, one day, achieve a level of understanding of digital technology that will allow me to look at my desktop PC and, instead of a magic box wot splashes colored squares across an LCD screen, see and understand an intricate system of interconnecting processes that go on within. The question is: how long does it take, in this day and age? Is it actually possible?

    I’ve heard people say that entire careers are based on knowledge and application of just a tenth, if not a hundredth, of what is going on inside a modern-day PC. Is it so complicated I shouldn’t bother trying to understand it all?

    There seems to be a problem for an aspiring computer scholar these days, very similar to a problem that arises for a casual or a non-gamer that tries to get into “hardcore” games, which has been discussed at length on this very site. It seems that the old guard engineers and programmers started studying back when computers couldn’t do much, learned the basics of their operation and worked their way up as computing expanded and gained more complexity. But if you are trying to learn “about computers” today, you don’t have a clear starting point, and are overwhelmed by thousands of layers of systems, interconnections and complexities, spanning vastly different areas and sporting vastly different methods, all of which seem to be important to know your way around to understand the big picture. And, of course, you have to understand the big picture to make sense of much that is going on in it’s separate parts.

    Am I making sense? I hope I am, this is a very big concern to me.

    1. Ben says:

      Thats a complex question and its really a question of how complete of an understanding are you talking about. As a very general answer if you want to understand the basic underlying concepts thats not too difficult. For example as a CS major you’ll probably take a course on assembly and basic processor architecture, pipelining, caching, etc. This won’t tell you how modern processors work exactly with all the specialized optimizations however this will give you an idea of in general how things are working.

      In terms of your more general point I’m not sure I agree, abstraction is generally a good thing. There is no need to reinvent the wheel repeatedly or for that matter even understand the wheel often times. The important thing is to understand what something does and how to make it work well and generally that knowledge will come with experience. There is definitely some benefit to understanding the underlying systems however how much of a benefit is in my mind an open question.

      1. StranaMente says:

        Even if I don’t know much about how computers work, I think that we managed to get to a level where specialization is key to work with computers, as in “you have a general understanding of how a computer works, but you don’t need to know a transistor work to make a software and viceversa”.
        Like in other subjects, as medicine, law, biology, you may even understand all, but it’s better if you focus on just a thing at a time.

    2. X2-Eliah says:

      As a first-year CE student, I see your point, and agree – at this time, the entire system is so complex that you can’t do without a lot of abstraction, and the details are plentiful enough for a lifetime of studying.

      Finding a good starting point is a massive issue, imo – which isn’t really handled perfectly most of the time.

    3. some random dood says:

      One thing to watch out for – if you want to get into graphics programming, you had better hit those maths books too (matrices especially).
      One thing I hear is that the Computer Studies courses these days are nothing like they used to be. They seem more about training people to use Office software, and very little about what goes into making that software work. If you are serious about learning the nuts and bolts of the hardware underlying the computer that allows the computer to work, you will probably need to do most of that in your own time (haven’t checked, but maybe Wikipedia may have decent coverage – I know it’s fashionable to knock the project, but on tech stuff I’ve usually found it pretty good).
      Quite how detailed you want to get – from the bits and bytes and boolean logic on NAND gates on processors, to the abstracted object modelling in software… It *is* a huge range of topics with many ranges of specialisation. Yes, you can spend your whole life in one small subset of the computer field, and most people do. Compare to the medical profession; the GP is a general practitioner who has a smattering of knowledge about the medical field, and then you have the specialists each looking in depth into one particular aspect of the human animal.
      I’d recommend reading around the general area, and when you find one aspect (whether database design, OO-programming, graphics engine work, business systems design, chip programming, etc.) to concentrate on what you enjoy.
      Or, for better job prospects, learn to be a plumber/electrician/brickie… (something that cannot easily be out-sourced to a cheaper country)

    4. wtrmute says:

      As a professional programmer and graduate from a Computer Engineer degree, I can tell you this: If it doesn’t seem like you have a good starting point, then you probably don’t have a good school. I would venture that you would probably need to go through a few classes, namely Digital Electronics, Computer Architecture, Data Structures, Operating Systems, and probably learn a programming language — your Uni will certainly have one which will teach you Java or whatever. If graphical interfaces particularly mystify you, then another class on User Interfaces; if it’s the Internet in general, a class on Computer Networks. Each of those were single-semester classes in my school, but some may spread through two or three semesters on yours. They provide enough background that you will, with a bit of conscious effort, be able to analyse any sort of process that goes on inside your machine.

  13. Jeysie says:

    I’ve never been a fan of 3D even now, and you touched on the main reason why… we went from ugly polygons to photorealism that’s ugly because it’s dull/bland. There’s not a lot of 3D games I’ve seen that approach the artistry of the great 2D games of old. Even the VGA-era Sierra and LucasArts graphics still are more visually appealing to me than the average 3D game nowadays. (And when LA did do 3D… Grim Fandango is an example of how to do it right, and while Escape From Monkey Island is a much weaker example it’s still at least colorful and fun.)

    It’s funny that TSED mentions Machinarium above… I’m busy playing that myself recently, and the graphics are absolutely beautiful and feel like a breath of fresh air after standing around in smog for too long.

    …yes, I’m a crabby graphics Luddite.

  14. X2-Eliah says:

    Yeah, completely agreed with you on this one, Shamus. The lack of colour diversity is really annoying in the later games. Funny you should mention Bioware, though.. DA2 had a number of decent lighting tricks in places, but of course, there were a number of utterly drab & dreary environments too (Dalish camp map, where green was not green?).

    Anyway.. At this moment, the main thing stopping me from replaying Fallout 3/NV or ME2 or GTA4 or DA:O is the fact that I already know that the entire goddamn game will be in the same goddamn tone and same 16 shades picked from one spot of the 16m colours my monitor could be showing.

    Bah, I say. BAH.

    1. Jennifer Snow says:

      Really? I thought Sundermount was a nice cool green contrast to the other areas, which were pretty much either a.) city or b.) beach + rocks. And I think it was meant to feel dreary–it’s full of undead and revenants and malevolent spirits. It used a lot of the same palette of colors as Michael Whelan used in the Summer Queen painting, where he said he intentionally set out to create a mood that was very dark, but also warm and summery.

      I just wish they hadn’t made 95% of the elves so freakishly ugly.

      1. X2-Eliah says:

        Veloxyll is pretty much explaining what I meant below. Yeah, the zones have distinct differences, however, inside the zones themselves they were – as self-contained areas – horribly monotonous. Every area had one major tone, and a few slight variations on that, and that’s it.

        1. Jennifer Snow says:

          It is generally an artistic mistake to have too many contrasting colors in one composition, though, and most of those areas ARE salted with the occasional highlight, particularly Lowtown which has all those nice orange hangings.

          1. X2-Eliah says:

            I wonder if it is an artistic mistake to go by artistic rules and ignore what normal people say as feedback.

  15. Jennifer Snow says:

    It’s interesting that you point out Crytek’s voyage into the land of color, because this is almost precisely the same conclusion that the art designers at Bioware came to when they went to do Dragon Age 2–that Origins was way, way too brown. DA2 is also full of color and contrast.

    1. Veloxyll says:

      Not so much per zone though. Sundermont is Dark Green, Docks are Sandstone brown, Hightown is Granite grey, Darktown is dark, Lowtown is another stoney brown and all the caves are copy paste with grey walls and red ground. The Deep roads were still all red or all blue though, the colours were never mixed.
      It wasn’t the oppressive monotones of Dragon Age 1, true, but I still wonder if they could’ve done more with colour, especially to contrast the ground with the walls. Of course it also didn’t have the oppressive grind that is the Deep Roads, for which I am very thankful.

  16. StranaMente says:

    Again Shamus is right. Let’s start saying that even the contrast between earth and sky is enough to create interesting landscape. Even in the desert: let’s take a look at this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Judea_2_by_David_Shankbone.jpg a picture from wikipedia of one of the most … well “desert” deserts you could find. The ground is grey, there’s is no vegetation at all (which is weird even in a desert) and there are no big rocks, it’ mostly gravel. But the shadows of the cliffs and the contrast of the much saturated blue of the sky is enough to make this landscape endearing.

    Now take a look at this other desert: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Baja_California_Desert.jpg . It’s much more similar to the one in fallout 3. But the saturation of the colors is pretty low. Greens and browns are much more alike and the outlines are much less defined. The shadows are dim and the view is cluttered with things.
    This: http://stranamente.deviantart.com/art/Fallout-3-203260936 is my take on how things can change simply altering hue, saturation, contrast.
    Everything may look sharper, neater. Overdo it and it become clustered again. But with some fine tuning it gains a lot.

  17. Zak McKracken says:

    “For me, the Cry Engine 3 is now indistinguishable from magic.”

    It really saddens me to see you give up on this :(
    I wish your engineering instinct would make you go and collect the missing information, find out how all of this works, and then tell it to your audience here.
    But I guess that time would be spent more efficiently on other stuff, so I’ll have to live with it.

    … but … maybe?

    1. Adam P says:

      Well, if Shamus is right in that Cry Engine 3 is in fact magic, then learning how it works would be like… well, like learning magic, I suppose. I imagine it would have practical applications outside the field of software, too. Think of the possibilities with D&D!

      1. Zak McKracken says:

        One more very good reason for Shamus to ponder the truths behind Cryengine 3!
        Thanks a lot for bringing that up.
        Damn, now I’m almost in a state to go and study this beast myself … must … use … discipline powers … have to … do actual … work! ARGH, this is killing me!

    2. StranaMente says:

      Actually, from what I read around, it looks much like games from 2-3 years ago, because it uses the same mechanics of those games.
      Infact it uses directx 9, which is a thing most people complain about Crysis 2 (I’m pretty ok with it, since I can barely play with it as it is).
      I saw the xbox version of this game too, and at medium-low settings I can say it’s identical. That means, that the game isn’t coming from the future, but from an improved version of the past.
      So, maybe, it looks no different, because actually it isn’t really different.

  18. some random dood says:

    Yes, I know this is supposed to be about graphics in computer work, but just wanted to say thanks for this footnote from the Escapist article – “*I’m talking about George Lucas, the filmmaker who was active in the 70’s and 80’s, not the famous toy magnate of today. I don’t know why, but people are always getting those two guys confused”
    I suppose it was definitely worth making clear – follow the examples of design from the original GL, and not follow the pattern of copying older works, juicing them for as much money you can get and not bother with decent design ma originality… Oh wait. EA. Activision. Too late :-(((

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