Tron Knotts recently brought up the “style over realism” matter in videogames. I for one agree with him; This new generation’s videogame consoles are geared towards replicating our world around us in virtual form, not creating a unique visual flair. I also believe that things should be exaggerated, over the top. Yet we see fewer and fewer games with an “original” visual experience to give the player. Why? For one, it’s easier to model off of real-life than come up with an original piece. The reference material that you must develop surrounds you. You can literally walk throughout your ideas, and it’s as easy as going outside. It also keeps it farther away from being an “art-house” game; an innovative game with a certain style that does not connect with the mainstream audience, usually making it an under-appreciated gem (for example, Psychonauts).
Some say that “games were more creative back then”. Well, that was because they had less to work with. They could not create perfect looking humans or objects, so they had to settle with an often creatively deformed character or entity, giving it an inventiveness that is not necessary in our times as our tools to work with are indefinitely more powerful to use.
Now that realism is starting to become more practical to you, how do you deliver a creative game with a solid financial chance for success to the mainstream audience? Look no further than Bioshock
Bioshock is a very realistic game. Everything has been modeled to fit in conjunction with a look that we have grown accustom with, real life. Yet the developers used this sense of realism to create a magnificent world that would seem impossible, yet makes it seem all too real. The sense of practicality in the environment gives you an immersive experience that is dedicated to the player’s interaction and exploration. Nothing seems out of place. If a passage is blocked, then it appears to you that something happened there, not that the programmers decided not to let you go there.
Creativity and immersion don’t always go hand-in-hand, and many look to immersion to satisfy their need for excitement. And as such, you do not see many visually different games. So do not get mad at the developers, because in the end, it’s all for the money.