Thursday, August 22, 2019

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 RSS · Twitter

Jeff Vogel also has a great GDC talk on this topic:

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.

Leave a Comment