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    PlanetQuake | Features | Articles | Classic PQ | Doom: Because First Impressions Last
   

Doom: Because First Impressions Last Is Too Much Detail a Good Thing?

By Magnus JansÚn

Lately I've been noticing an increasing interest in detail in games. Both from myself and others. Who hasn't dreamed about playing Quake in the screen resolution and detail seen in those Quake 2 screen shots? I know I have. I always think about how good everything will look when my 3D card arrives. I have come to hate the 320x200 resolution. I hate sacrificing framerate in order to have that higher detail. Detail. We all strive after higher detail. "Wow, look at those Prey shots. They have much larger textures, and look almost photo realistic!" Yes, that┤s right. Soon we will not be able to tell the difference between "Blade Runner" and the newest 3D game.

Doom: Because First Impressions Last - By Magnus JansÚn

But (and listen up now 'cause here is the punchline): Where is the fun when everything is handed to you on a plate? What is left to your imagination when everything is photorealistic and running at 1024x768+ resolution?

Check out the paintings below:

Which one gives you the most impressions? Which one gives you a sense of: "I recognize that place, that mood" feeling? I don┤t know much about art (hey, who does when you are moving in the "subjective zone«"), but I do think that the picture by Claude Monet (the one to the right) is the one.

On the other hand, which one gives you the lust to dive right in to it, because it is so damn cool? The one to the left (by Caspar David Friedrich), surely.

"What the heck has this got to do with Quake?", some of you might say. Well, here is another pair of pictures:

Let┤s say that we were to give ten Doom fans (with artistic skills) instructions to paint the Arch-Vile. I bet we would get ten completely different Arch-Viles. Because the 320x200 resolution left room for individual interpretations. It┤s called Impressionism. The same artform as Claude Monet.

If you were to give the same artist the task to paint the Fiend, I'm sure the result would be much more coherent. This is because of the increased detail. Both of resolution and as a result of the step away from sprites. The same high detail we see in the romantic painting above.

I┤m not saying that Quake is crap (perhaps most of you even understand that I love Quake over all other software on Earth), but I'm saying that from an Impressionistic point of view, Quake is a step back in time. And I'm not sure that it is completely harmless. Every little flaw in architecture is instantly spotted. When nothing is left to the imagination (visually), then the gameplay becomes all the more important. The "kill monster-kill monster-get key-kill monster-gameplay" does not suffice.

On the bright side though, it seems as if the masters at id are working on it. From what we've heard about Quake 2, there will be much more tactics involved. And maybe, just maybe, they haven't given up that last Impressionistic touch: I'm talking about gloom. All the Quake 2 screen shots show a pretty gloomy places. And gloom, the absence of light, has always tickled the imagination, leaving room for individual interpretations (read: FEAR!). The gloominess may have started as a way to boost performance, but fortunately it looks like id is going to keep it even though it is no longer necessary. This is something that we don't see in the Diakatana screen shots.

But in the end, it's all about how much fun the game is. You know it, and I know it.

...Or as Sandy Peterson of Id Software puts it:

"... I, myself, don't rate a game's qualitie on the basis of its technology. I realize that sounds funny, coming from id Software."

(Sandy Peterson left id shorty after this article was submitted -Frags)

Magnus JansÚn

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