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Modern games and their fetish for realism and the colour brown [roundtable]
The idea to thes realism part of this thread came to my while posting in the Games that resonated with you-Thread. anandxxx made a similiar thread earlier this year about how modern games are to clustered graphically which lead to the brown part.

So first things first. There seem to be two major trends in modern gaming. A graphical push towards more realism and a spin of the colourpalette towards brown/grey. This is further strengthened by the common consensus that colourful and non-realistic graphics (be it cel-shaded, cartoony or something completely different) are only for kiddy games.
What irkes me about this trends is that, to me videogames always were great because they were NOT like real life.

Running around as a neanderthal man riding dinosaurs that spit energy balls to defeat a huge one eyed brain/plant thing after riding a skateboard seems perfectly normal in a videogame despite the sheer absurdity of it all.

Running around as a soldier shooting terrorist/evil guys/civilians in a realistic setting seems more like watching the news than playing a videogame. (this is even moreso due to the trend of making video games movie like which sucks by itself)

Sometimes this fad with realism is taken quit a bit too far. Some may have heard of Morgan Webb and her problems with Super Mario Galaxy. She said it is too cartoony. And I really don't know what to say to that because, it is a MARIO game. Does she really want Mario to go all out on realistic graphics with a nice touch of brown on everything?
But I'm jumping to conclusions I cannot really draw so let's start from another point of view.

I think the only reason you can play Mario games without being disgusted is because they are in a comic style. Mario would be one of the most visually brutal games ever created if you put it in realistic graphics.
Mario games only work in cartoony graphics (deBlob, the Katamari series or the Kirby series are also such games). Furthermore cartoony/cel-shaded graphics allow for much more absurd gameplay ideas because the developer can create everything he wants without the fear of it looking weird or out of place(like the scene in Heavy Rain where you climb through the maze of electroluted cables or the scene where you can cut of your fingers, or where you crawl through the tunnel full of broken glass. Also the "hey I almost was electrified and have severe burnings but no problem I can always have sex with you idiotic codependent woman!"-scene. A wolf with a burning wheel on his back who also happens to poop flowers would be kind of weird in a realistic setting.

So to some extent I think the trend towards realism holds back the creative possibilities of developers while on the other side open a window for new stuff. For example the (now canceled) game "Six Days In Fallujah". It was set in a real war situation and maybe could have been able to transport the terrors of war without looking kind of goofy over the top like the Call Of Duty Series.

So to tackle the topic of brown greyness. This trend that brought us beautiful views like Killzone 2, Resident Evil 4, Gears Of War and many more.
This trend is not necessarily a bad thing. It's just bad for the diversity in games. Maybe it's just me but when I see random pics/gameplay footage of modern ego-shooters I have problems to seperate one from another. Maybe a slide turn of the colour palette once in a while would make it easier to actually make your game stand out. Crysis and Far Cry2 did this with greeniness (if that is even a word). So maybe to change up the look that has been sticking with first-person shooters especially try out some other colours (there are quiet a few of them!) Mr.Gamedeveloper!

I don't know if this is a somewhat structured entry but nonetheless. What do you think about the focus on realism and brown stuff in the gaming world today?

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Posted: 12/16/10, 12:57:57  - Edited by 
 on: 12/17/10, 01:44:12
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Neither of those games is easily accessible. I love games and can be quite open but neither of those intrigued me at all. I'm not into the style of game VP offers and BK wasn't a real platformer anymore. There are reasons (and IMO very reasonable reasons) why these games flopped.

I loved Kameo and thought PDZ was (at the time I thought this at least) decent. Neither looked very realistic. And I think those two flopped as well.
Posted: 12/16/10, 15:09:53  - Edited by 
 on: 12/16/10, 15:12:55

Well the artstyle of LittleBigPlanet is realistic. If you look at the environments they all look very realistic.The main protagonists are the part were it strays away from the realism because..well they are puppets.

I think being a jump n run game on PS3 or 360 isn't really helping sales because outside of the Wii that genre seems to be quiet unpopular. Some are conviced that JnRs are kiddy games because the almost all get E ratings and only M rated games are for grown ups of course...but that is another topic for another thread I think.
Posted: 12/16/10, 15:37:02

Mhh..I guess you're right. There is only only shooter I can think of that doesn't incorporate a realistic artstyle and that is Borderlands, but even Borderlands is dripping with brown eventhough it is cel-shaded.

Prince Of Persia is another one that changed art styles. OK the cel-shaded one was talked down for its artstyle but that was to be expected.
Posted: 12/16/10, 16:11:22

What do you mean, "talked down for its artstyle"? Must be a literal translation of a German expression that doesn't quite work.

Prince of Persia 2008 didn't sell too well because, well, it wasn't that good a game, and the series never sold gangbusters to begin with, even when it started out with its grey/brown/light blue palette.

The most offensive brownification I've seen so far seems to be SSX, but then again all we've seen was a teaser, so there's still hope I suppose.
Posted: 12/16/10, 16:22:19  - Edited by 
 on: 12/16/10, 16:23:20
I learned that in art, realism is the art of depicting real life moments as they are, sometimes it's mimetic, it doesn't have to be. Mimesis is the art of copying a definable or particular aspect of the natural world. Of course there are many inherent problems with that, since you can make Cerberus seem real when we all know its. Naturalism is the art of depicting nature as it is. Now Let me give you an example:

Dürer. Third Class Carrier. Realistic.

A panel on the Sistine chapel- Michaelangelo. Naturalistic.

Yes, current gen graphics have been pushing towards a more gritty, naturalistic, or mimetic look. The biggest offenders are of course FPS' by and large and Grand Theft Auto to single one out. With that being said, I mentioned in another thread that a lot of users here choose to focus on the bad only. Look at Uncharted- even though it's supposed to be a naturalistic look, it doesn't seem gritty (because not every part of life is, although sometimes it seems that way). Ratchet and Clank beautiful game and art, fOwer (enough said), and more recently Enslaved. Furthermore, who the cares what Morgan Webb thinks? You like your games, play them. They're goo-- they're great games regardless of what some fools might say.
Posted: 12/16/10, 16:38:58  - Edited by 
 on: 12/16/10, 16:41:53
A trend towards brown, gray, and realism is a myth. A lot of folks like to focus on the "brown" and "realistic" games like Gears of War and Call of Duty, but those games, while incredibly successful, are but a small fraction of the gaming industry. There has NEVER been a better time to be a gamer than right now. There is so much choice and variety in the industry at the present time....so much so that my head hurts thinking about all the awesome games that I probably won't have time to play.

Just a small sample of games I'm looking forward to in 2011. It's easy to focus solely on the biggest games in the gaming world and forget that there are hundreds of titles released each year and many them are successful, despite not pulling in Call of Duty-caliber sales numbers. The industry is NOT moving towards realism and dull colors...it's continuously moving towards more and more variety. As far as I'm concerned, this is the best generation for games as a whole, no question.
Posted: 12/16/10, 16:51:48

Yeah that was a rough one. I meant that people looked down on it because it was cel-shaded (hope that works better in english, the term "ego shooter" is also a german thing I guess :D)


Good to know! I wasn't aware of the difference, but I'm not really an expert in arts I just like to look at them (even if I like artists like Dali and van Gogh more than say Michelangelo). And I know, that there are many many many titles out there that don't use the brown/grey colour sheme that's why I included FarCry2 and Crysis.


That's one massive post :D
And no one said that we're in a bad time to be a gamer. I just wanted to point out that the "biggest" games use this particular colour sheme. I think it's common sense that there are many titles out there with unique artstyles and colour shemes like 3D Dot Game Heroes or Little King's Story.
Posted: 12/16/10, 19:43:24

Super Mario Galaxy is a big game. Uncharted is a big game. Zelda is a big game. The Last Guardian is a big game. Fable is a big game. And none of them use the "brown and gray" color scheme and only one of them aims for realistic visuals. There's plenty of variety, even among the blockbuster releases. And when you factor in smaller retail games and downloadable titles, there's an insane amount of unique content to choose from.
Posted: 12/16/10, 20:02:38  - Edited by 
 on: 12/16/10, 20:06:12
I think we can all trace it back to one game. One game that ruined this industry forever for us fans of colorful worlds and bright skies.

Ocarina of Time
Posted: 12/16/10, 20:12:10
No way. No. Way.

OoT had a great style and atmosphere throughout, and there were a ton of vibrant, lush, and/or colorful areas from start to finish (the entirety of the Kokiri Forest, Hyrule Field, Hyrule Castle Town, Jabu-Jabu's Belly, Lake Hylia, shops in the Castle Town like the mask shop, bombchu bowling, shooting gallery...). Not to mention a huge amount of ridiculous, silly, or exaggerated characters from a design standpoint: Mido, the carpenters & boss, the running man, Talon, Ingo, Great Fairies, Dampe, Gorons, King Zora, the frogs, Happy Mask Salesman, Deku Scrubs, and Koume & Kotake. And of course, the game's slightly abstract visual style extends to its humor, such as waking Talon up with a cucco, Darunia's dance, the Goron hug scene, and Ruto's endless advances.

Don't blame stupid industry decisions of today on OoT's slightly more realistic approach. The game's style was perfectly in line with what the series was leading up to at that point, and kept things light and interesting enough to prevent it from feeling generic.
Posted: 12/16/10, 20:50:14
Kokiri Forest

Hyrule Field

Hyrule Castle Town

So... much... brown!
Posted: 12/16/10, 21:03:05  - Edited by 
 on: 12/16/10, 21:13:36
Thanks to Nintendo, I can easily ignore this trend.

This thread needs the Iwata laughs, where's DrFink?
Posted: 12/16/10, 21:08:56

I listed a number of retail HD games that don't fall under this stereotype. And there are plenty more as well....I just posted some trailers for games that came to me quickly.
Posted: 12/16/10, 22:09:13

Probably as many as there ever used to be, no? I feel we may be weighing an incomplete release list against, well, the totality of game releases from the NES to the GameCube, even if we don't mean to. Orbital managed to scrounge up a pretty good list quickly, that probably compares favorably to any other year you could pick.

Like, I don't know... 1998. What big releases came out in 1998? MGS (black, grey and brown), Ocarina of Time (BROWN OVERLOAD!)... what else? Grim Fandango I guess, it's somewhat colorful but hardly a big release.

*goes to check Wikipedia*

edit - Ha! Way easier than I thought. So excluding Nintendo and handheld games, you're left with... Spyro the Dragon, pretty much.

There are a couple of shooters like Half-Life or SiN that are more garrish than what we have today, as well, I suppose.
Posted: 12/16/10, 23:04:32  - Edited by 
 on: 12/16/10, 23:07:59

You do get that Pandareus is joking right?


So did I. No one said that ALL games follow this trend, just that there is a trend. I thought it was pretty clear that I was speaking of fpses/tpses (hence the Crysis FC2 examples and well..the mentioning of shooters in the opening post) as far as the colour palette thing goes.
So neither Skyward Sword nor Uncharted nor The Last Guardian nor MvC3 nor L.A Noire nor Kid Icarus really have anything to do with the subject o.O
And btw the most colourful games on your list (SS and Kid Icarus) aren't even in HD nor are they on 360 or PS3.

On Topic of realism. Orbital74's avatar made me think how weird Punch Out!! would look with UFC Undisputed graphics :D
Posted: 12/16/10, 23:10:00
Yeah I have to agree, this is a trend that has been ongoing since games were able to run 3D.
Posted: 12/16/10, 23:11:36
Oh, right I was referring more to realism, and may I point out that drab colours are inherently more "realistic".
Posted: 12/16/10, 23:22:45
One of the many things that made Enslaved great was that it was a post-apocalyptic game that looked colourful and was full of nature reclaiming the lands.
Posted: 12/16/10, 23:52:40
Twilight Princess is brown-centric. I think therein lies the root of my disdain.
Posted: 12/17/10, 03:41:00
Honestly I don't even notice it and I personally don't think it's nearly as bad as some people make it out to be. I mean look at the mother of all console games Halo... that game has all sort of bright colors going off everywhere. Many popular games do, though I don't disagree the general trend towards more "realistic" games leads to generally darker color palates.
Posted: 12/17/10, 07:19:09
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