Thursday, August 22, 2019 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Why Spiderweb’s Games “Look Like Crap”

Jeff Vogel (via Dare Obasanjo, Hacker News):

The key problem here is that, when most people say, “Your art looks bad,” what they mean is, “I want art that is good.” They mean, “I want AAA-quality art.” And I can’t make that. Not even close.

I have had games where I worked very hard to improve the graphics, spending a lot of time and money, and they really did look better! But when I released those games, the vast majority of people who had said, “Your games look bad.” STILL said, “Your games look bad.”

[…]

When you spend more money, you need to increase sales to match those expenses. Make sure you have a good chance of doing this, and make sure you can stomach the risk.

[…]

That is why all of my games have a more generic fantasy style. I have to work with a lot of different artists. It’s the nature of the business. Thus I have to write games in a way that the artists can be replaced. The generic style this requires is not ideal, but it is necessary.

Update (2019-08-29): Jeff Vogel (tweet, Hacker News):

Basically, my blog post said, “Some people like my art, but I am still super-bad at art. Always have been. Fixing the problem costs time and cash, and I don’t have any of either to spare. So that’s why our games look bad.”

I got a lot of questions about this. Good questions. Why can’t I afford art direction? How much does art cost? Why don’t I do this or that smart thing? So that’s why I’m writing this. I want to answer the good questions.

2 Comments

Jeff Vogel also has a great GDC talk on this topic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=stxVBJem3Rs

I remember playing Exile in the mid-90s. It's amazing to think that they're still around, still making the same kinds of games.

I really need to find the time to play all the Geneforge games. Love the story, just keep getting sidetracked into other things.

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