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Ice-Pick Lodge forums • graphics and graphics
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 Post subject: graphics and graphics
PostPosted: 07 Nov 2006, 19:17 
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07 Nov 2006, 16:20

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There are two ways in which the graphics of a game can be “great”: one is the technical level, the graphical detail in which the game can reproduce the reality of the world it presents, with all of its features, the weather, the lighting effects, the water reflections and so on, and the other is the artistic level, the way in which the game creates its reality.

The first is a matter of hardware thingies, of DirectX implemented stuff and clever programming; the second is a matter of artistic design.
The first one reproduces the world, while the second creates it.

I’m definitely a fan of the second and this is the way in which Pathologic is one of the greatest games I’ve ever played.
Sure, Oblivion looks great, the water, the grass, the detailed landscapes, the skies, the mountains, the sunsets, but it's no better than a trip to the country (apart from not having to stick your feet in the mud and the expenses of buying a horse). Artistically speaking it is far less impressive than its father Morrowind, for example.

The graphics of Pathologic are definitely outdated technically, but artistically are one of the greatest. Its interiors are nothing less than a paint exhibition; then there are the derelict houses with only the staircases remaining of the superior levels, a great metaphor of transcendence and for the rites of passage that the game challenges the player and its character to overtake. Staring at them gives you a sense of alterity, of a strange connection between two worlds, a feeling of awe in front of a world that is closely connected to something that you can barely feel and only guess from time to time, in a twisted corner of an infested street or in a dialog with one of the characters; that great feeling found in only the greatest games that there is more to the world than what it seems and there is always something out there that you cannot perceive, but could come down from the sky at any moment, gliding on those indestructible stairways and changing everything.
This is, in first person graphic design, the closest related experience to the one provided by the constantly changing streets of Sigil, in Planescape: Torment and its world of inconceivably unseen vastness. (Anachronox was something like that too, but there the thing was too technical, there was no mystery in it).
But what there was great storytelling, here is awesome graphic design.

And this is the way the graphics of a game can create a world, and not just render it in its high-tech beautiful features.

And the Polyhedron is simply one of the best designed buildings that I’ve ever found in a videogame, from the same family with that level in the gold version of Thief where you have to steal Constantine's Sword and there's that enormous room that you enter coming from the drain of the sink and then you have to walk through a series of twisted (scaled) landscapes, one of the pinnacles of level design and the Polyhedron comes very closely, adding to that a very good metaphor of bursting creativity, given to it by the fact that it is made out of its own blueprint, out of its own pure artistic reality, “no additives”, it is not even built, it’s torn out of the head of the architect and splashed on the sky in a mighty burst of artistic creativity powerful enough to make it real without the meddling of earthly materials, and this is the kind of creative might that has given us Pathologic.


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PostPosted: 09 Nov 2006, 14:01 
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03 Apr 2005, 20:32

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Location: Зараженная Москва

Just writting to sya, that I've read all above - just have no time to write a coherent answer. But nobody is forgotten. ;)
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