Gameplay Must Come First?

GamesIndustry.Biz tells about LucasArts’s Chris Williams who says that “Gameplay must come first”. He says:

I don’t believe that someone is going to go out and spend the kind of money that it’s going to cost to buy a new system just for the pretty graphics.

Williams continues:

LucasArts has worked really hard to develop new technology that we think is fundamentally going to change gaming at the core. That includes creating simulated rather than animated characters which react differently according to context, and new physics effects for more realistic visuals.

I’m not 100% sure what kind of technology they are talking about… but “new physics effects for more realistic visuals” belongs most likely to the “pretty graphics” section rather than about “better gameplay”. The interview is going to be published tomorrow so we are left to see what happens, but my guess is that LucasArts continues the same path big companies are already doing: improving graphics. (I’m slightly exaggerating here.)

…which naturally leaves space for the rest of us indies: to focus bringing innovation in games.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. They’ve opted to use NaturalMotion – a dynamic human movement simulator – for the upcoming Indiana Jones game. It’s a really exciting technology (at least, on video,) and I look forward to seeing it in games.

    In my opinion, there’s pixel shaders, and then there’s physics. I could care less about pixel shaders (any stylism can win out on any hardware these days,) but IMO physics and physical simulation is integral to an immersive experience. I don’t think it’s fair to lump them into the eye candy category, especially considering that they can actually influence gameplay, unlike pixel shaders. (Okay, I suppose flashlight simulation would impact gameplay, but I digress…)

  2. And by less money, I don’t mean budget games necessarily. I mean that a player doesn’t need to invest hundreds of dollars to play a game.

  3. I read somewhere this past week that some report says most people will buy the next-gen consoles for the graphics, which I find weird but probably accurate.

    Of course, graphics aren’t everything, and a video game crash can occur if the mass market spends a lot of money upfront for gaming experiences that aren’t fun. Indies definitely have an opportunity to pick up the slack by providing more value for less money.

  4. Williams seems to miss the point of what you can do with physics simulations. Some games use physics simply to improve the visuals by adding in non-interactive physically simulated elements other games. Other games, take Gish for example, build a whole new game mechanic around it. There is a lot of room for indie games to create innovative or emergent gameplay with physics.

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