Why adding 3D graphics to games was a bad idea

vbt

Staff member
I'm getting a bit sick of 3D graphics. When 3D was first invented, back in the early cretaceous period, the first-person shooter, the flight sim and the RPG all got better.


But platform games got worse. I used to quite like Sonic the Hedgehog but all the 3D versions did was make me get lost and feel sick. And Tomb Raider? A gorgeous woman in tight clothing running round shooting endangered species with automatic pistols? What on Earth is there not to like? The camera control, that's what.


I sometimes think that my favourite things in World of Warcraft are the 2D graphics that make up the icons. (I'm a healer so that's often all I see.) 2D graphics are reassuring. They tessellate neatly, they don't get covered up by annoying foreground clutter, they don't need to worry about lighting or shadow and they don't break up into horrible low-resolution mosaics when you get too close to them.


Collectible trading card games are successful, partly because of the very real aesthetic appeal of an array of beautiful cards laid out before you. Beautiful two dimensional cards. World of Warcraft already exists as a TCG variant. I'd like to see a computer version of the TCG. Magic: The Gathering did this and it was mostly awesome.


But maybe we need to squeeze the constraints still tighter. Why not a one dimensional game? A single stream of coloured pixels scrolling past you, that must be manipulated according to certain rules. There are lots of puzzle games that would work well in this format and I'm not the only person to have thought of this.


One obvious advantage of this format is that it doesn't take up much space on your screen. If you can play defender in your web browser favicon, you could easily play a 1D game in the horizontal ruler underneath your toolbar. And lo! A whole new way to waste time at work would be born. And Lord knows, you can never have too many of those.


Pretty much the only problem with this vision of the future is that, if 1D games became popular, it wouldn't be long before we would see 3D versions of them. First using forced-perspective isometric displays and then eventually fully 3D coloured worms, spiralling off into the Z-plane with the second joypad or nunchuk controller required just to steer the camera


Source : http://www.techradar.com/news/computing/why-adding-3d-graphics-to-games-was-a-bad-idea-489087
 

mtxblau

Mid Boss
So, the basic problem is with 3D is the camera?


Granted, not all 3D games get it perfect but that seems like a fairly weird nit to say that all 3D games are a failure. Further, it's true that some franchises haven't made the jump well (think Sonic, as s/he mentions) but others have been fantastic (Mario, GTA). Methinks this guy is waxing nostalgic a bit too much. There have been plenty of terrible 2D games.
 

Amon

Staff member
The number of good 2d games vastly outnumbers the terrible games that is to say unlike the 2d games. Camera controls in Sonic have been crap after Sonic World in Sonic Jam (they were good there). I would like to see a lot more mainstream 2d games though, bring back games to their 2d glory. Games like Metroid (not that 3d metroid is particularly bad, they did a good job of it, but Super Metroid is still my fav), ecco the dolphin, Sonic DEFINATELY (not that the 2dish sonic on the ds is any good) etc etc etc Zelda/Link. It just seemed like with the limitations of the graphics 2d presented more time was spent on gameplay and story. Seems dev'rs these days are spending more time on graphics than the actual game and gameplay. I mean how much better would decent 3d games be today if an extra year was taken not to improve graphics but gameplay.
 

mtxblau

Mid Boss
Seems dev'rs these days are spending more time on graphics than the actual game and gameplay. I mean how much better would decent 3d games be today if an extra year was taken not to improve graphics but gameplay.


But that's not a problem inherent to 3D games, but developers trying to make a buck.


I doubt a game like Grim Fandango could've been as visceral or amazing if done in 2D. Contra didn't make the jump to 3D well, but I would argue the Red Star captures its spirit.


I guess I disagree that 2D games are inherently better. Looking back on the NES, Mega Drive and atari, gameboy advance/sp/ds collections as a whole I also disagree that there are more bad 3D games than good ones.
 

ExCyber

Staff member
mtxblau said:
But that's not a problem inherent to 3D games, but developers trying to make a buck.


I doubt a game like Grim Fandango could've been as visceral or amazing if done in 2D. Contra didn't make the jump to 3D well, but I would argue the Red Star captures its spirit.


I guess I disagree that 2D games are inherently better. Looking back on the NES, Mega Drive and atari, gameboy advance/sp/ds collections as a whole I also disagree that there are more bad 3D games than good ones.
I have to pretty much agree with this. In fact, I think the overall quality has gone up rather than down. People tend to forget that there was some truly awful stuff published back in the 8/16-bit days; these days it seems like a game at least has to be mediocre to get published (the bottom end of Wii and DS shovelware feels like a somewhat recent regression in this regard, though).
 

dibz

Boss
Staff member
ExCyber said:
I have to pretty much agree with this. In fact, I think the overall quality has gone up rather than down. People tend to forget that there was some truly awful stuff published back in the 8/16-bit days; these days it seems like a game at least has to be mediocre to get published (the bottom end of Wii and DS shovelware feels like a somewhat recent regression in this regard, though).

Agreed, another game I can think of that I quite enjoyed personally was Power Stone -- while there are certainly 2D games that are somewhat similar, I don't believe it could have been done quite the same way in 2D.

As for Wii and DS shovelware, honestly, I'm not sure what the problem is. Ignore it, it's not meant to appeal to real gamers anyway. Let the publishers make that quick buck that they can hopefully put towards better games. There are plenty of quality Wii and DS games as well, I highly doubt anyone goes to a store for Mario Kart and accidentally comes out with the latest Hannah Montana game.

I see no reason the same consoles can't share different target audiences, can't we all just get along. Halfway kidding on that last bit.
 
There's two key factors at play here.



1. Game mechanics

2. Graphic style







1. Game mechanics.



This is basically whether the gameplay itself is 2D or 3D. For instance, a 1st person shooter is simply only playable in 3D. And there have been some great 3D FPSes. Also, simulation games like flying and driving from a 1st/3rd person perspective have seen much improvement as 3D engines better match the more "realistic" gameplay.



However, just because every game *can* be 3D nowadays doesn't mean that *should*. What developers don't understand is that a 2D platform is just as valid of a gameplay mechanic as a 3D platform. But because the consoles can pump a trillion shaded textured polygons a second means we have to use that for every game, which means they only bother to make games based on 3D game mechanics.



There have been good 3D platformers. But there have been many more excellent 2D platformers. Platforming in 2D gameplay mechanic is still a worthwhile concept for a game. Developers just don't seem to care.



Even though FPSes tend to work better in 3D, it doesn't mean the 2D FPS (like NES Punisher or Cabal or T2) isn't also a valid gameplay. And just like 2D platform is an entirely different gameplay mechanic and gameplay experience from 3D platform, so is 2D FPS from 3D FPS. But the developers don't seem to understand that they are *different* gameplay styles that can coexist. They seem to think that 3D is purely an upgrade from 2D, and 2D is purely a downgrade from 3D, and therefor 3D is the successor and 2D is no longer necessary. But it's not true, because they are entirely different styles of gameplay, and both have value.



The game engine used in the original 2D (faux 3D) road rash series is a completely different game engine than the full 3D incarnations. And again it is clear that they are simply different, and the 3D is not the successor with no turning back. This is evident in the fact that the fun factor of the gameplay on the original 2D versions is far superior to the game play on the 3D offerings.



And don't forget that the 2D (spy hunter, micro machines) and ISO (R.C. Pro-Am, Rock'n'Roll Racing) gameplay mechanics for driving games are also completely different gameplay mechanics from the 3D driving games, and like the previously mentioned styles, have been completely abandoned these days. But again, the gameplay mechanic is unique. 3D driving is not an upgrade from 2D driving. It's a completely different mechanic altogether. The 2D gameplay can still provide unique and fun game experiences.



And like the Playstation's ignomonious D-Pad and button-layout, some specific gameplay mechanics that simply suck and have done more to destroy gaming than E.T. continue to be reused ad-nauseum. Basically I'm referring to the 3rd person platformer/shooter. After 13 years and thousands of games, nobody has yet managed to design a camera that doesn't suck a full 34 feet. I'm pretty convinced by now that it's near impossible. It can only be developers complete ignorance of other options for platformers gameplay mechanics that allows them to continue to churn out every new game to use a 3rd person view.







2. Graphic Style.



Ignoring gameplay for a second, there are basically two ways to make graphics. Sprites and texture mapped shaded polygons. It just so happens that 3D gameplay most easily fits with a polygon graphic engine, and 2D gameplay tends to be associated with sprite-based graphic engines.



Polygon-based graphic engines have several limits. For one, they abide by real-world physics and optical properties. But games aren't real, and it's not always necessary for the optical physics of a proper 3D environment to be emulated in a game. They also suffer from morphing. This is where the 2D textures are wrapped around 3D surfaces. Sure there's a gazillion tricks to make it look more realistic. But there's still no 3D engine that you can't look at and instantly tell it's 3D graphics. They also suffer from zooming. The texture is a fixed size, but since the world is often free-roaming, you can end up zooming in optically to objects beyond the resolution of the textures, resulting in blurry effects or jaggad features.



Sprite based graphics have different limits. These are mainly resolution and color, but also memory which limits how big the on-screen sprites can be. But the artist can draw anything (within the resolution and color limits) and animate it in any way they want. There's no concession for having to model the shape or motion with polygons and physical models. It's easier to aminate 3D movements using polygon graphics, but you can simulate any motion with 2D graphics just by creating a series of frames of animation. You can even make sprites photorealistic. And you don't have to model the physical limits of a sprite with a polygon shape first.



Polygons are limited by the triangle filling power of the processor, which is why early attemps on the 1st gen 3D systems (saturn, 3DO, PS1) were awful to look at. Though I've always had a sweet spot for the simple un-textured polygons of the SegaCD/32x era.



Sprites are limited by the color palette of the graphics processor. Sure on the atari and 8-bit systems, we didn't get much to look at, so gameplay took precedence. And that is why nearly all of the 2D gameplay styles (block-puzzle-clone, breakout-clone, mario-clone, commando-clone, gradius-clone, xevious-clone, contra-clone) were perfected during this era. And almost all of the key franchises that are still being reitereated today originated during that era. But by the time we got 16-bit systems with 100s (wow) of colors., we got some very nice looking sprite-based graphics.



What would 64-color sprites possibly give us that photorealistic lighted textures can't? Color, and contrast! Low-color sprites tended to use brighter, bolder colors, and also used colors further separated from each other in the color spectrum. It made things moke more interesting and catchy to the eye. It provided more contrast and texture to the pixture, to see the harsher edges between colors and features. Sure 16-million are nice, but if it just means using 1000 shades of brown and grey in your 3D FPS, I don't call that pretty eye-candy.



Even the SNES sometimes used it's high color palette to its disadvantage. Take the Super Mario All-Stars for instance. The original block-based sprites of SMB on the NES had bright color and contrast. On the SNES SMB, all the blocks use the larger spectrum of colors to blend the colors on the blocks together. The reduction in texture and contrast makes the game feel more washed out, smooth, and less colorful.



That's not to say that a high color palette can't be good for a 2D game. For instance, some of the 2D fighters on the dreamcast used high-color count and still looked great, like Fatal Fury MotW or SFA.



I personally think that much of the 'prettyness" of 2D sprite graphics peaked on the Saturn. They still used lots of color and contrast in the graphics on that system.



But some of the mid-color games still make exellent eye-candy today, such as the Sonic games on the Genesis, and many of the Genesis shooters, like Eliminate Down, Hellfire, and Musha.



But it doesn't end there. Remember the graphcs style and gameplay mechanic are independent factors. What happens when you put 3D graphcs on a 2D gameplay? Well, if you like 2D gameplay, you get the gameplay you like. However, you're stuck with the problems of 3D graphics, which is that you have to form the shape out of polygons first, and then wrap textures around it. It simply never will be as pretty as 2D. For instance, all the recent 3D versions of 2D shooters (raiden, darius, castle shikagami, r-type etc) just don't have the detailed, colorful look of the old sprite-based versions. Sure you can create a bunch of cool effects with the new graphics engines. Volumetric rendering, transparency, light effects, etc. But all it really tends to do is clutter the screen so you can't tell what's smoke or lighting effect, and what's an enemy bullet coming your way. Sometimes 2D game mechanics are easier and less confusing to play with sparser, simpler sprite-based graphics.

 

antime

Extra Hard Mid Boss
Jedi Master Thrash said:
There have been good 3D platformers. But there have been many more excellent 2D platformers.

Has there, really? There's been a shitload of mediocre ones, but excellent ones?


Even though FPSes tend to work better in 3D, it doesn't mean the 2D FPS (like NES Punisher or Cabal or T2) isn't also a valid gameplay.

Cabal was third person perspective, and I'll take Gears of War over that any day. Games like Operation Wolf lost most of their appeal if you didn't have a lightgun or the arcade's cabinet-mounted gun.


The game engine used in the original 2D (faux 3D) road rash series is a completely different game engine than the full 3D incarnations. And again it is clear that they are simply different, and the 3D is not the successor with no turning back. This is evident in the fact that the fun factor of the gameplay on the original 2D versions is far superior to the game play on the 3D offerings.

The rendering technique is irrelevant, if it's the design that's bad.


Sprite based graphics have no limits. (...) Polygons are limited by the triangle filling power of the processor

Sprite graphics are severely limited by the amount of memory required to store the frames. They are also just as bandwidth-limited as polygon-based systems, although the limits manifests themselves slightly differently (eg. flickering or disappearing sprites).
 
antime said:
Has there, really? There's been a shitload of mediocre ones, but excellent ones?

Actually I"d say there's been a shitload of horrible ones! I think I even have a post about that somewhere. After the success of Mario and Sonic, developers when 2D platformer mad and cranked out shitty game after shitty game. But it's just the sheer quantity of 2D platformers that came out between 86 and 96 that means that there will of course be a large quantity of crap. But some of the most excellent platform games were also created during that time.

SMB, DDP, SMB3, StH1,2,3,K,CD, contra, contra 3, SOR, metal slug, earthworm jim, cool spot, comix zone, aladdin, castlevania, battletoads, TMNT2, ninja gaiden, DKC. There's a lot of other very good ones, but these ones definitely top the excellent list.

And as you can see, they all are series that they continue to (and fail to) make attempts to create 3D platform games based off of. The 3D contra, EWJ, castlevania, and sonics are pretty universally reproved. Sure some 3D marios and NG games have been successful. But they are completely different gameplay animals from the original. They are similar only in name, and do not in any way provoke the same style of entertainment as the originals (not to say they don't invoke a new style of entertainment, it's just an unrelated style).

The 3D platform games we get these days tend to be either:

RPGs masquerading as platform-action games

- These are those platform games that pretend to be action-platform style, but really all the action is scripted by cutscenes. You perform one action like pick up a coin or find a lamp or kill an enemy, and advance through the sripted game engine. The new Wii Mario Galaxy is like this. Sure the gamplay engine is amazing. But the "action" is so scripted and too quest-like, that beneath the surface it still lacks something. Sure it's good in its own right, but it's not the same as having to go beginning to end stomping shrooms and dodging hopping turtles. Mindless, but addictive!

Hach'n'slash masquerading as platform-beat'em'up games

- These are the games that are completely mindless. You just mindlessly jam the attack buttons and wiggle the analog stick while you wait for the 3D engine to slowely animate your sword back and forth and fight through endless waves of regenerating baddies. Sure there were hack'n'slashers in the 2D days as well (and games like Super Smash TV were quite fun too). But it seems that the real genra of beat'em'ups which required more deliberate action, evasion, ans special moves (like SOR and final fight) has been completely supplanted by the hach'n'slash genra.

Of course there are more traditional 3D platform games, like SA on dreamcast, rayman 2, klonoa, pandemonium. But 20 years from now, people will still play SMB and StH 2D on their cell phone ocular implants. How many 3D games haven't been lost in the quest for improved graphics? Seems that once the PS3/XB3/WII are out, the fanboys are ready to forget all the old shitty graphics of the PS2/XB/GC.

Cabal was third person perspective, and I'll take Gears of War over that any day. Games like Operation Wolf lost most of their appeal if you didn't have a lightgun or the arcade's cabinet-mounted gun.

It is true that there were few good 1st person shooter 2D games. Really, the only game that I rate as "excellent" is the NES punisher. Never a game has been made that quite matched the perfect "balance" of that game (kind of like no 3D FPS has recreated the perfect "balance" of the original doom). But T2 is darned fun anyway. And there's a PAL-only game for Genesis called Bodycount that's pretty cool, and it supports both the menacer and mega-mouse for 2P fun. But yeah, most of the 'fun" ones were light-gun based. Like lethal enforcers, that's quite fun. Oh, there was a PC game for Predator 2 in the 90's that was 1st 2D shooter, and that was really cool, and used the mouse to point and shoot.

The rendering technique is irrelevant, if it's the design that's bad.

Very true. And I think that's kind of our point. That due to the requirement of having cutting-edge graphics, as the fanboys will refuse to pay any attention to something with yesterdays look, gameplay comes in second, or third too often. (and by "fanboys", I'm just using that to refer to the small selection of people like a couple of posts I saw on the linked blog above where they're like "how can you actually enjoy playing a 2D game when there are 3D games now? You must be a geek who needs to get laid". I mean those kind of people...).

Sprite graphics are severely limited by the amount of memory required to store the frames. They are also just as bandwidth-limited as polygon-based systems, although the limits manifests themselves slightly differently (eg. flickering or disappearing sprites).

You are correct. I was posting late and didn't have much time to edit. You could see the spelling errors as well. I have correct that part of my post, as well as most of the glaring spelling errors.
 

mtxblau

Mid Boss
Jedi Master Thrash said:
RPGs masquerading as platform-action games

- These are those platform games that pretend to be action-platform style, but really all the action is scripted by cutscenes...Sure it's good in its own right, but it's not the same as having to go beginning to end stomping shrooms and dodging hopping turtles. Mindless, but addictive!


The problem, as it were, with 2D platformers is that it's the same thing over and over, just different levels. Does that make it bad? Depends on the viewpoint. If we're waxing nostalgic - no, 2D is better than 3D. But if you're not into mindless repetition, 3D is better than 2D. Don't get me wrong, Sonic 2 is an amazing game but there isn't very much distinguishing each level gameplay wise. By different standards, it's a pretty crappy game.


Jedi Master Thrash said:
it seems that the real genra of beat'em'ups which required more deliberate action, evasion, ans special moves (like SOR and final fight) has been completely supplanted by the hach'n'slash genra.

God Hand, Yakuza, Spikeout, Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu, State of Emergency and others exist. Yakuza 3 is almost out. It's a niche genre. It's been supplanted because there isn't a huge demand for it. The inherent problem with beat 'em ups, outside of the several leaps in logic required to buy the premise of the game is that it's mindlessly repetitive and incredibly static, even moreso than 3D games. The AI for beat 'em ups are severely constrained. Fighting games are much more popular, at the expense of beat 'em ups.


Jedi Master Thrash said:
That due to the requirement of having cutting-edge graphics, as the fanboys will refuse to pay any attention to something with yesterdays look, gameplay comes in second, or third too often.

110% disagree. Take Megaman 9 which has sold remarkably well. Or Street Fighter HD remix. These games exist because there's a demand for them.


More telling: look at the sales figures for the Gameboy/Advance/DS. Games for those systems are largely 2D, not 3D, and the sales figures for those consoles and games absolutely dwarf the current gen 3D systems. In fact, while people complain bitterly about 3D sonic, there are amazing 2D games available for the advance and DS which stick to the old sonic roots. It's unlikely that Nintendo will go the way of the PSP and focus on portable 3D gaming because surprise! - there isn't a demand for it, and the numbers bear it out.


Jedi Master Thrash said:
After 13 years and thousands of games, nobody has yet managed to design a camera that doesn't suck a full 34 feet.

I thought Jak & Daxter's camera was perfect. If I'm not stuck with just platformers, I'd say Gungrave (PS2), MGS (PS1), Gunvalkyrie (Xbox), Max Payne 1/2 (any), Oddworld, and Splinter Cell's were great, just to name very few.


Jedi Master Thrash said:
What happens when you put 3D graphcs on a 2D gameplay? Well, if you like 2D gameplay, you get the gameplay you like. However, you're stuck with the problems of 3D graphics, which is that you have to form the shape out of polygons first, and then wrap textures around it. It simply never will be as pretty as 2D. For instance, all the recent 3D versions of 2D shooters (raiden, darius, castle shikagami, r-type etc) just don't have the detailed, colorful look of the old sprite-based versions.


The problem is that you're applying this in a vacuum. Using your logic, Atari games look just as good as 2D Saturn games - of course, they don't. They evolved. Looking at the microcosm of 3D gaming that is GTA III to GTA IV, you can see that 3D games are evolving - very rapidly. From Atari to the Saturn was 1977 to 1998; from GTA III to GTA IV it was only 2001 to 2008. Looking at Mass Effect and Bioshock, I'm not the least bit worried that we won't get there in the next decade.


I maintain that this whole 2D vs. 3D is nostalgia and not actually recognizing the flaws of 2D gaming as a whole. You can easily spin the criticisms of 3D onto 2D and be very glad that we're out of the dark ages of the 70s/80s/90s. And that's from a person who keeps buying copies of said 2D games, and playing them more frequently than 3D games. Looking at my collection, there are too many 3D games that simply cannot be done in 2D; there's no equivalent, and if it were attempted, the results would be unsatisfying.
 
mtxblau said:
The problem, as it were, with 2D platformers is that it's the same thing over and over, just different levels. Does that make it bad? Depends on the viewpoint. If we're waxing nostalgic - no, 2D is better than 3D. But if you're not into mindless repetition, 3D is better than 2D. Don't get me wrong, Sonic 2 is an amazing game but there isn't very much distinguishing each level gameplay wise. By different standards, it's a pretty crappy game.

I think this hits on the definition of a video game. Or more properly, what do you want to get out of a video game? And there has been a large shift in what people want to get out of their video games over the last few decades, though it's unclear if it's driven by the gamers or the industry (for example, is top-40 music the top-40 because the majority of people independently chose that music as their favorite out of the full spectrum of available music, or is it the top-40 because that's the only thing they play on the radio?)

In the 70's/80's, people generaly wanted the arcade experience. Gameplay that would be intense or difficult for a short period of time, but was fun or addictive enough to keep bringing you back for more. This was the era of gaming when you could just plug in a game, play it for 5 minutes, and then go do something else, having obtained a complete, fullfilling gaming experience within those 5 minutes. Some of those games were by definition repetitive. Most had only one level that just got more difficult with each wave. But the simple gameplay created the addictive style that makes many of those games still fun today. Sure I'm not going to spend hours playing them. But every once in a while, I still get a craving for 5 minutes of Kaboom, Breakout, Millipede, Jr. Pac-Man, BurgerTime, Moon Patrol, Joust, Dig-Dug, Tetris, etc.

In the 80's/90's, people generally wanted levels. They wanted games with a goal, and you had to go through stages to reach the goal. Platformers, RPGs, Shooters, all met this definition. They evolved to have more stages, more types of enemies, more types of spells/attacks, etc.

In the 90's/00's, people started wanted a cinema experience. They didn't want to pop in a game for 5 minutes and have fun. That's "old-skool" gaming. Modern games are more like interactive movies. Generally a 3rd person view so you can see the whole scene like a movie. Lots of story and cutscenes and orchestral music. Gameplay is more like following a movie script than addictive action.

The funny thing is that this style of gameplay that is popular now is really inherited from early 90's FMV gaming. Even though most people make fun of the simple gameplay of FMV gaming, where the gameplay was locked on rails. But in reality, most of the new 3rd person games are just as much locked on rails. Left, right, up, down, moves you around the screen. Hit a button at the right time and a pre-scripted action takes place (talk to someone, hijack a car, whatever). Only difference is that instead of FMV, it's 3D graphics.

Where does that leave platforming? Basically the best platform games of past had steady action balanced with deliberate movements, and were paced by relatively short levels. Now, you either get all action (hack'n'slash style), or all deliberate with long levels (RPG style). They just don't make games anymore that use the gameplay mechanic of short levels with steady action.

Personally, I've never been a fan of any RPGs. I want my video games to be something I can have a fullfilling, fun experience in 5 to 30 minutes. Not something I have to invest 100 hours into, and do tedious tasks like get jobs, talk to people, and kill the same regenerating baddie 500 times to up my experience once level. So you can see why the styles of games that I prefer just aren't being made anymore.

Also, I think that the best 2D platformers, the ones I consider excellent, weren't as repetitive. They offered up something different every few levels to keep it interesting. For instance SMB3 had a very good variety of stages. That game is probably the epitome of 2D platforming. Also, EWJ mixed up a lot of weird and different levels, keeping it from getting too reptitive. And some games conjured up bonus levels to mix up the game a bit, like the different bonus levels in Sonic, or the 7-up bottle levels in cool spot. Even contra had the into-the-screen style and the side-scrolling style every other level. But Battletoads probably takes the cake with it's insane collection of level ideas. It's hard to even define that in a strict platform sense.

The inherent problem with beat 'em ups, outside of the several leaps in logic required to buy the premise of the game is that it's mindlessly repetitive and incredibly static, even moreso than 3D games. The AI for beat 'em ups are severely constrained. Fighting games are much more popular, at the expense of beat 'em ups.

I do agree. Alone a beat-em-up can quickly get repetitive. However, I think that the beauty in beat-em-ups is the fun 2-player experience. Which is also something that's generally lacking. In atari and NES days, nearly every game had 2-player options (and even if it wasn't simultaneous, since the game lives and levels were short, trading-off was still fun). But even starting in the 16-bit days, I noticed 2-player starting to disappear from games that would have definitely benefited. Especially in shooters, though it's likely they just couldn't render 1 more sprite on-screen anymore. The beat-em-ups usually don't rank as "exellent" on my list above. I only included SOR because the music is legendary, and TMNT2 for the aforementioned kick-ass 2-player experience.

But even with fighters, 3D or 2D, the quest to keep "improving" them is driving them into insanity. I liked the old days when you could memorize a list of 6 special moves and 3 combos and a fatality in an hour and then kick butt with the character. But nowadays between the list of 50 normal moves, counter moves, blocks, reflections, partner attacks, etc just overwhelms. It's like the new-style shooters that just saturate the screen with stuff and bullets so you can't tell what's going on anymore. Sometimes "more" isn't always "better".

More telling: look at the sales figures for the Gameboy/Advance/DS. Games for those systems are largely 2D, not 3D, and the sales figures for those consoles and games absolutely dwarf the current gen 3D systems. In fact, while people complain bitterly about 3D sonic, there are amazing 2D games available for the advance and DS which stick to the old sonic roots. It's unlikely that Nintendo will go the way of the PSP and focus on portable 3D gaming because surprise! - there isn't a demand for it, and the numbers bear it out.

I was specifically leaving portables out of this. I definitely acknowledge that 2D is living on strong in the portable arena. But we're talking about the abandonment on the home consoles.

I maintain that this whole 2D vs. 3D is nostalgia and not actually recognizing the flaws of 2D gaming as a whole. You can easily spin the criticisms of 3D onto 2D and be very glad that we're out of the dark ages of the 70s/80s/90s. And that's from a person who keeps buying copies of said 2D games, and playing them more frequently than 3D games. Looking at my collection, there are too many 3D games that simply cannot be done in 2D; there's no equivalent, and if it were attempted, the results would be unsatisfying.

Well, it's my view that 2D (platform, shooter, driving, etc) is a completely different gameplay mechanic, and that it can provide a valid gaming experience different from 3D game styles. I enjoy 3D games. I just wish that the 2D styles could continue to live on home consoles, so we don't have these kids questioning your virility for being able to find enjoyment out of a simpler game of yesterday.

At one point in my life, I even sold all my 2D games and only bought new games that had 3D in them. I was obsessed with 3D, because it was new. The genesis couldn't do it, but the new systems could. I'd say even now I probably own more 3D games and play more 3D games than 2D games. It's just that usually, once I finish a 3D game, I'm done with it. The graphics are greata nd the gameplay fun enough to play through. But rarely does it have that addictivity that makes me want to keep picking it up months later to play a little. However, the 2D games I have tend to have more addictive properties and more replayability. That's why I tend to collect 2D more. They last in my collection longer, even after I complete them. While I enjoy playing though the fancy 3D games on my projector, but keep rotating in the next one once completed.

Of course the majority of the 3D games that I find to be the best are either driving or flying styles. A solid 3D engine can make these games extremely fun.

But even when it comes to driving games, where I prefer a good 3D engine, the fanboys still can't let me be. If the gameplay is good, the gameplay is good and I still enjoy playing it. That means I still enjoy the first need for speeds on the PS1, and thunderstrike on the sega CD, X-wing and Tie Fighter on the PC, and even virtua racing. But some people will make fun of you for bothering to play yesterdays 3D driving game when the PS3s 3D driving games have such superior graphics and realistic physics. But to me, fun gameplay is fun gameplay, whether the physics are as realistic or the graphics as high-def.
 

antime

Extra Hard Mid Boss
Jedi Master Thrash said:
I think this hits on the definition of a video game. Or more properly, what do you want to get out of a video game?

Personally, entertainment.


In the 70's/80's, people generaly wanted the arcade experience.

No, what they got was the arcade experience. There's a difference.


But in reality, most of the new 3rd person games are just as much locked on rails. Left, right, up, down, moves you around the screen. Hit a button at the right time and a pre-scripted action takes place (talk to someone, hijack a car, whatever). Only difference is that instead of FMV, it's 3D graphics.

That's still two more degrees of freedom than a 2D platformer. Left, right moves you around the screen. Hit a button and a pre-scripted action takes place (jump). Only difference is that instead of FMV, it's 2D graphics.


Where does that leave platforming? Basically the best platform games of past had steady action balanced with deliberate movements, and were paced by relatively short levels. Now, you either get all action (hack'n'slash style), or all deliberate with long levels (RPG style). They just don't make games anymore that use the gameplay mechanic of short levels with steady action.

The level structure of old games was dictated by technological reasons, not a deliberate design choice. As technology and developer skill advanced, the direction was always towards bigger, longer levels until the transition screens were gotten rid of entirely.
 

mtxblau

Mid Boss
Antime touched on a couple points, I'm going to touch on the others.


Jedi Master Thrash said:
I noticed 2-player starting to disappear from games that would have definitely benefited. Especially in shooters, though it's likely they just couldn't render 1 more sprite on-screen anymore. The beat-em-ups usually don't rank as "exellent" on my list above. I only included SOR because the music is legendary, and TMNT2 for the aforementioned kick-ass 2-player experience.


This has a lot to do with the buying habits of gamers. Bearing in mind that most gamers are within the ages of 18-32 and grew up with these old school games, beat em ups have trended 1 player, lengthy games storyline based games and the multiplayer games aren't as captivating when you have the myriad of multi player FPSes and MMOs.That being said, the Red Star is awesome. Buy it.


Jedi Master Thrash said:
Sometimes "more" isn't always "better".

It's a matter of 'getting your money's worth' and not repeating oneself. We could be rereleasing the game games over and over with new levels, but that isn't sustainable for anyone.



Jedi Master Thrash said:
I was specifically leaving portables out of this. I definitely acknowledge that 2D is living on strong in the portable arena. But we're talking about the abandonment on the home consoles.

You can't leave portables out of the conversation anymore. At this point, the gameboy line might as well be considered a home console. For many people, the DS/GBA is their only console. To me, if I were looking at your issues I'd say do yourself a favor and buy a DS or a GBA. There is no lack of awesome 2D games on both consoles. Did you know that the sequel to Guardian Heroes and Gunstar Heroes appeared only on the GBA? I didn't, until this year. Both are excellent.





Jedi Master Thrash said:
so we don't have these kids questioning your virility for being able to find enjoyment out of a simpler game of yesterday.


I don't give a rat's ass about their opinion and neither should you. They get enjoyment out of such things like 'Jackass - the Movie'. For them, GTA III is the greatest game ever.
 
antime said:
No, what they got was the arcade experience. There's a difference.

True, and that's what I touched on in my first paragraph with the top-40 analog, about whether it's popular because it's all there is, or because it's legitimately the preferred option?

Only difference is that instead of FMV, it's 2D graphics.

I should warn you I'm also one of those extremely rare individuals who loves FMV games :) Rebel Assault, Ground Zero Texas, Microcosm, and Road Avenger are a few of my favorites.

The level structure of old games was dictated by technological reasons, not a deliberate design choice. As technology and developer skill advanced, the direction was always towards bigger, longer levels until the transition screens were gotten rid of entirely.

True. But as levels got longer and features bigger, it became harder to just plug in a game and have some fun. I thought it was bad enough in the genesis/snes games where you had to sit through 30 seconds of splash screens for every publisher and developer remotely associated with the game. But by the time the saturn/playstation era came around, we started having games where you have to navigate through 10 different menus and 2 minute long animated FMV splash screens for all the publishers and developers remotely involved before you can even start playing.

mtxblau said:
It's a matter of 'getting your money's worth' and not repeating oneself. We could be rereleasing the game games over and over with new levels, but that isn't sustainable for anyone.

I've thought about the "money's worth" thing a lot. 15 years ago I would have paid 50 dollars for a 2D platform game with 8 levels. But even now as a collector, I cringe at having to pay more than 8$ for a game. I just couldn't imagine being able to release an old game like millipede and charge 40 or 50$ for it. The standard worth of a 40$ game these days is one that gives you at least 12-36 hours of gameplay, with 20+ levels/tracks/players/cars/etc. A game with only 1 level and 30 minutes of gameplay just can't add up.

However, there is still a place where these games prosper. There are a lot of budget game houses that are still creating these short, direct-to-action games. They're mostly on PC. You can find some as the bargain titles in stores, and the rest are all on-line. One particular place I recently discovered is eGames. With a name like that you'd think it has to suck. But they're actaully publishing a lot of really good old-skool games. Lots of shooters and arkanoid clones (a couple of my favorite types). I discovered them when I picked up Magic Ball Adventures PC at half-price for 5$. It's a 3D arkanoid. A bit too easy, but a very imaginative take on 3D break-out.

The only thing that gets me though is that 99% of the budget games are all columns clones. There are so many different kinds of fun puzzle games. Why is it that only columns-clones get 99% of the releases? Why can't get get 100 bubble bobble clones! Or a chu-chu rocket 2 or something.

You can't leave portables out of the conversation anymore. At this point, the gameboy line might as well be considered a home console. For many people, the DS/GBA is their only console. To me, if I were looking at your issues I'd say do yourself a favor and buy a DS or a GBA. There is no lack of awesome 2D games on both consoles. Did you know that the sequel to Guardian Heroes and Gunstar Heroes appeared only on the GBA? I didn't, until this year. Both are excellent.

The problem is that you can't play them on the big screen. That's how I like my games. Big controls and big screen. I have lots of portables (game gear, lynx, nomad, GBA, PSP), but they're just for when I'm in the car or on vacation, when I can't have a big screen anyway. At least the original gameboy had the supergameboy so you could play those on the big screen. But I've never gotten into the pea-green graphics. There's a few good games though. Kirby's block ball and Kirby's pinball are really good puzzle games. It's a shame they never made "real console" versions of them, so I could have the bigger screen size.

I only knew of the gunstar super heroes GBA, which is supposed to just be a port of the genesis game. I have sonic advance 3 I found for like 5$ somewhere. The problem is most of the good GBA games are still going for 15-20$ at the used joints. I kept planning to wait until the average priced dropped to 5$ before I started collecting. Plus the GBA is like the worse system ever. You can't play the thing unless the screen is in direct sunlight. I think the new models are supposed to be better though.

And the PSP's d-pad is utterly unplayable. The buttons are so far separated from each other that it's impossible to do any fast-twitch gaming. There's lots of fun looking games for the DS, but don't have one of those yet. Is there anyway to play those games on the big screen? Some kind of s-video out hack you can do?

I don't give a rat's ass about their opinion and neither should you. They get enjoyment out of such things like 'Jackass - the Movie'. For them, GTA III is the greatest game ever.

I got jaded when Lego Star Wars came out on the PC. It required a new video card with pixel shader 2.0. It was just so absurd, because they could have just made it a graphics setting option to enable or disable the feature, and made the game still work with 1-month old graphics cards. In the old days, they used to give you all the graphics options so you could make the game run in software-only rendering all the way up to latest and greatest direct 3D. On the website they said that the game wouldn't be the same without the latest graphics feature. And I say the gameplay would have been the same, pixel shading or not.
 

mtxblau

Mid Boss
Jedi Master Thrash said:
However, there is still a place where these games prosper. The only thing that gets me though is that 99% of the budget games are all columns clones.


Wiiware is really good with this. http://www.nintendo.com/wii/wiiware

Wiiware is separate from the virtual console. XBLA has this too but the targeted audience seems to be a bit different. I don't know about the PS3.


Jedi Master Thrash said:
The problem is that you can't play them on the big screen.

Gameboy Player: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game_Boy_Player


I imagine there'll be one for the DS... eventually. There are obvious issues that I don't know how they'll be worked out.


Jedi Master Thrash said:
I only knew of the gunstar super heroes GBA, which is supposed to just be a port of the genesis game.

I read that. It's not a port. It's the same story, but none of the levels are the same. And graphically, it's even better than the genny version. There are some nits, but it's a good game. Though, I'd take advanced guardian heroes any day. There are a lot of geek out moments in AGH.


Jedi Master Thrash said:
I think the new models are supposed to be better though.

This is just my opinion, but the gameboy micro is the greatest portable in the history of portables. I absolutely love mine. The SP is supposed to be decent. At least with the SP you get backwards compatibility - the micro is GBA only.



Jedi Master Thrash said:
I got jaded when Lego Star Wars came out on the PC.

Yeah... that got me jaded on PC gaming. I've stopped entirely. There's very little on the PC that makes it worth spending that much money. And having bought GTA IV for the 360 and seeing how many problems PC owners have been having pretty much confirms the end of high end PC gaming for me.


Sins of the Solar Empire proves you don't need a workhorse machine to enjoy a game.
 

antime

Extra Hard Mid Boss
Jedi Master Thrash said:
I've thought about the "money's worth" thing a lot. 15 years ago I would have paid 50 dollars for a 2D platform game with 8 levels. But even now as a collector, I cringe at having to pay more than 8$ for a game.

Right, so where's the incentive for anyone to make games like that? Making a 2D game isn't that much cheaper, but people just aren't willing to pay the price asked. It's a common complaint in developer interviews.


I got jaded when Lego Star Wars came out on the PC. It required a new video card with pixel shader 2.0. It was just so absurd, because they could have just made it a graphics setting option to enable or disable the feature, and made the game still work with 1-month old graphics cards.

Like most things, it's a question of costs versus benefits. Redoing a graphics engine designed around shaders can take a lot of work, and it can be impossible to economically justify the effort compared to what would otherwise be a pretty straightforward console port. Besides, pixel shader 2.0 is six years old tech by now. Similarly the 2D Castlevanias are still using some sprites from the SNES version; they do stick out but drawing new ones just cost too much. That was also why it took Capcom so long to up the resolution of their Street Fighter sprites. (BTW, the official Lego Star Wars site only lists pixel shader and vertex shader 1.1 as requirements.)
 

dibz

Boss
Staff member
I see a lot of putting the current state of games on developers in this thread.

Rather, I think we need to look at publishers. I noticed someone said that "developers don't understand 2D" (Okay, not their wording, but its on page 1, and I don't feel like going back). On the contrary, I'm sure quite a few developers understand this.

However, save for very few privileged developers, their understanding doesn't mean a damn. The publishers pay the the bills, and you can bet they give a rats ass about what they don't see on flowcharts for market conditions and the like.
 

Amon

Staff member
IIRC Sony hated 2D games in NA when the ps2 was out and only wanted 3d games for it. I could just be spitting out bullshit but I think I read that somewhere, maybe from working designs but then again that it could be bull.
 

antime

Extra Hard Mid Boss
That was certainly true when the PS1 came out, as they tried to differentiate the Playstation from what had come before.
 
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