Saturday, January 31, 2009

TZ doctrine tenet #18: Color is preferred

Before my college years (late 1990s and early 2000s), I was all about black and white. In late 1998, I learned to appreciate color. Color is the most versatile method of conveying messages and definitions. Color photography provides realism and creativity unmatched by sepia and black and white photography. Vibrant colors are better than shades of gray. Black and white and sepia just cannot hold a candle to full color. The human eye is drawn to color, while the bovine eye is drawn to black and white. Color carries more information than black and white. Color photography attracts readers, for color expands the audience by 80% over black and white. Color activates the right brain; black and white does not. I encourage school yearbooks and newspapers. All-color school yearbooks are on the rise, and because of that more yearbooks are sold. Switching to all-color has been a huge success for high school yearbooks. When I was attending school, yearbooks were in black and white. Full-color publications make places come alive. Most people love to see things in color. Black-and-white photography may be all right much of the time, but full color photography really captures the essence of the moments that will be fondly remembered for years to come. The analogy is: Black and white is to color as standard definition is to high definition.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

TZ doctrine tenet #17: Graphics do not break a game

In the wake of Mega Man 9, I am concerned about these retro fanboys complaining that video games were better before shiny graphics and stereo sound came along. Nostalgia factor is just pure politics and purely abstract. Retro fanboys are one of the most annoying fanboys in my opinion. One thing is that I hate chip music. As I love the video game Heavenly Sword and Lair, I had enough of those retro fanboys saying stuff like "gameplay is more important than graphics/sound" and "video games were better before flashy graphics came along." I have had enough of those 8-bit fanboys overrunning the gaming forums. They are just the mindless vocal minority who like to complain about what they think does not matter. Golden Axe: Beast Rider is a prime example of this case. Technological retroism is not the way. It is like being the wife of Lot, and it limits creativity. I do not consider myself what you call a "graphics whore." However, I do not like the idea of Mega Man 9, because of the message its fans are sending. I do not like 8-bit, but 16-bit is fine with me. 8-bit is overrated but 16-bit is tried and true with RPGs. The 16-bit Final Fantasy games were far more successful than their 8-bit counterparts. However, I do not want high-definition gaming to die.

The vocal minority of gamers believe that gameplay value is everything and graphics and sound do not matter. Gameplay is no more important than graphics and sound, nor is vice versa. Gameplay judgement depends on how you experience the video game. Retroism is a threat to the evolution of video games as an art form. The Mega Man 9 approach is not very productive. Capcom is not good at making great games with great graphics, but Konami, Namco, and Square Enix are. We should have new direction in gaming, not the same old thing from the 1980s. Graphics complement gameplay. It is unwise to focus on thing and neglect the other. A game that is all about gameplay value and nothing about graphics or audio only appeals to retro fanboys. The user feedback also depends on how a video game developer hires its people and how to user plays the games. Gameplay value is in the eye of the beholder.

E-on Software, Inc., the maker of Vue, should step in and make graphics development easier for video games, thus making Vue Game. That would reduce the cost of development. E-on Software, Inc. could be involved in the development of the eighth, ninth, and tenth generation consoles.

I am all for remaking video games into today's graphical standards, but I would not say that the original version is no good. Remakes are a great thing. A remake as I define it is any re-released game that makes a jump from low definition or standard definition to high definition, a jump from 2D to 2.5D or 3D, goes from lackluster 3D to photorealistic 3D, or a direct port that contains significant gameplay changes. Gamers have been begging and pleading for a high-definition console remake of Final Fantasy VII. That is because a remake done right takes everything we love about a video game and expands upon them, while keeping what is so enjoyable about the original gameplay intact. Full-fledged remakes enhance the gaming experience.

The most noticeable change in a remake is updated, more realistic graphics. As far as remakes go, there is no downside to redoing a game with more realistic graphics. The core game mechanics are basically the same, but everything gets more realistic presentation. There may be nostalgia factor involved in playing games the way you originally played them for the first time when you were a child, but in entirety, being able to play your favorite game with more realistic presentation style, such as photorealistic backgrounds, detailed character models, and enhanced color and atmosphere only adds to the gaming experience. Graphical enhancements also lead to other non-graphical enhancements and widen the variety, and open the door to things that are impossible to achieve in the original because of the graphical technology of the original's platform does not support them.

The Nintendo DS remake of the Famicom/NES classic Final Fantasy III. One great feature of the remake is the way each character gained a unique appearance. Fans of the original version of the game will remember that all four characters are basically palette swaps of each other, and their appearance was depends on their job class. The graphics technology of the NES days were too primitive to create four unique characters in a game with over 20 job classes. However, the Nintendo DS remake's graphical enhancement enabled the idea of four unique characters which consequently led to backstories and character personality development for them, which the original version lacked.

Raytracing will one day replace rasterization. It enables graphics and special effects that are too time consuming to implement in a rasterization environment. The video game industry has not yet gone into raytracing. When real-time raytracing becomes mainstream, rasterization will go the way of the dodo, and the focus will be balanced between graphics and gameplay. Final Fantasy should go the 1080p 3D Crystal Tools route. The mainline Final Fantasy games should be in 1080p 3D Advent Children quality graphics and symphonic soundtracks when real-time raytracing becomes a reality on the consoles. Therefore, when real-time raytracing becomes a reality, Final Fantasy I and II would be remade in 1080p 2D as downloadable games, and the rest of the mainline Final Fantasy games would be remade with 1080p Advent Children quality graphics. The 1080p 2D remakes of Final Fantasy I and II would be available for download forever on PC, on the next generation Nintendo console, and on the PS3 and PS4, and on the Xbox 360 and 720, and so on. Mario, Zelda, and Fire Emblem should also go the clear cut HD route. Castlevania should go the HD 2.5D route. Mega Man may go whatever route it wants to, but not overdo the same route.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Historic American Event

January 20, 2008, has been a historic American day. Barack Hussein Obama II has been sworn in as the 44th President of the United States, and as the first African American President of the United States. Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr., has been sworn in as the 47th Vice President of the United States and the first Catholic Vice President of the United States. The inauguration was packed with about 2 million people. I saw only part of the inauguration coverage. I originally intended to miss work for the inauguration, but I was talked out of that decision. I watched 20 minutes of the NBC coverage, which includes the Presidential swear-in, on the job. However, I did watch the last hour of the inauguration coverage. Meanwhile, my father recorded the NBC coverage of the inauguration. Obama's parents did not live to see this historic event, but his mother-in-law did.