Sunday, October 30, 2011

Graphical evolution

Perhaps more than anywhere else, the evolution in complexity of 3d graphics can be seen in video games. While movies like Toy Story offered reasonably detailed characters right at the outset, video games simply couldn't. Consoles were severely handicapped by the need to constantly update graphics in real time on machines with limited power. However, the capabilities of game consoles have improved quickly, and so have game graphics. It's incredibly evident in these two screenshots of the character Mario, one from Super Smash Bros on the Nintendo 64 (from 1999) and the other from Super Smash Bros. Brawl (2008) on the Nintendo Wii. 

In the older picture, The polygonal shapes that form Mario's body are incredibly obvious. His gloves are nearly diamond shaped. His eyes, eyebrows, buttons and mustache are flat textures, and the rest of his body is textured with solid colors.

In the newer picture, his eyes, eyebrows, buttons and mustache are modeled, rather than being seemingly painted on. His gloves are detailed and his fingers are individually modeled and animated. While some polygonal edges are occasionally noticeable, generally, his form is rounded and smooth. The texture on his overalls goes from a flat shade of blue to detailed denim and the buttons have some interesting shaders applied.

One thing I've noticed in many newer games is that as characters get more realistic, colors tend to get more muted. This is also evident in these two pictures of Mario and is largely a stylistic choice.

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