Let’s Talk About: Graphics

arcadehero September 19, 2019 4
Let’s Talk About: Graphics

It’s been weeks in the making, but after hours and hours of recording, editing and splicing video clips, gifs and photos together, it’s time to talk about: graphics.

Why talk about graphics? Well, without them, we don’t have any “video” in our “video games.” Are they the most important aspect of a game? Not the most, but they still are important. Otherwise, no one would be hiring teams of artists and driving progress on technology to produce more photo-realistic appearances and effects.

To discuss, I sat down with Bryan “Azrial” Adler a couple of weeks ago to dive into the subject. While the audio could have been produced just as a podcast (something that I haven’t done in a while), it makes more sense to do this as a video, given the theme. The original recording went for about 1h45m, but because that’s so long, I cut out a section on arcade history. Instead of droning on with an info dump in that regard, you can look at this reference page for that data.

One thing I wanted to add that isn’t in the video is that bad graphics can hinder interest in a game. Justice League: Heroes United is one good example that I should have brought up. I loved that a company had tried to do a beat ’em up in 2009, but it really was tough to get past the bad look and some control issues. If a game looks like hot garbage, then players core and casual often will stay away from it. If a new game looks like it’s 20 years old, I’ve found that it struggles to earn in locations that have a big casual audience. This is a problem I’ve noticed at my location with some indie games. I love the indie games themselves as they are great and fun to play. But unfortunately, a casual audience ignores whatever doesn’t look modern. That isn’t an issue in a different location though, but does go to how you capture a wide audience beyond just slapping a license onto something.

Without further adieu, here’s the video:

What do you think? What are your favorite graphics in arcades these days? What is your favorite special effect? When was the first time you were impressed by the graphics in an arcade game? Let us know!


  1. Da Flex September 20, 2019 at 11:57 am - Reply

    The conclusion is right: Innovative indie games often have a graphics problem. That’s why I invest serious time in my 2D/3D graphics. I’m using the “Blender” tool for 3D, and it can render great 2D graphics, too. My first visual impressive video game was “Space Harrier” with it’s big monsters and fake 3D.

  2. Dustin Wilcox September 22, 2019 at 9:13 am - Reply

    Couldn’t agree with you more, Da Flex. I adore 2D art, but not all indie games have done it perfectly. As much as I appreciate the folks at Slackerz–seriously great people–their Galactic Battleground piece looks sort of like an Adobe Flash game.

  3. mrjbrpg September 22, 2019 at 5:59 pm - Reply

    Thinking about the graphics from the video, ti does make sense that the technology available should be utilized to capture great deal of attention and distinction so that it does not get reduced to only a few curious followers.

    When I looked at the 16 bit era of video games with graphics in mind, it allowed for a greta deal of artistic freedom to better define their own palette and style, which is the constant trend for any video game. Earlier graphics with less palette had to be creative with what they got.

    As for the 3D element, the importance of distinguishing by style is more prominent as there are a lot of methods to achieve specific styles, whether it be fake 2D, distorted 3D, or even playing around with perspective and orthographic to achieve different feats.

  4. Da Flex September 23, 2019 at 1:37 pm - Reply

    Another little fact from my practice: The voxel style, as known from Minecraft, is unique and popular. Problem: It increases the amount of vertices a lot (two-point line -> stairs), so it’s hard to implement on mobile devices. Many indie studios stay away from 3D in general, because it’s much more work.

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