While I got a significant amount of work done on the combat prototype for Star Revolution over the weekend, it still isn’t quite ready. So in the meantime, I’m polling the audience!
When I wrote Inaria, I used a 512×384 video mode. This is kind of low-res, and I did it on purpose. I wanted the pixels to be a bit…chunky. I wanted you, the player, to be able to see individual pixels. I did this because I wanted to evoke a sense of the older RPGs that I was honoring.
And last night I was reading Masters of Doom again during compiles when I came across this passage:
Richard Garriott, a.k.a. Lord British, the son of an astronaut in Texas, spoke in Middle English and created the massively successful graphical role-playing series of Ultima games. As in Dungeons and Dragons, players chose to be wizards or elves, fighting dragons and building characters. The graphics were crude, with landscapes represented by blocky colored squares: a green block, ostensibly a tree; a brown one, a mountain. Players never saw their smudgy stick figure characters attacking monsters, they would just walk up to a dragon blip and wait for a text explanation of the results. But gamers overlooked the crudeness for what the games implied: a novelistic and participatory experience, a world.
Inaria is a pointer to a pointer. Its blocky graphics are trying to evoke a previous style of game which, in turn, tried to evoke a world rather than accurately represent one.
Is that even possible nowadays? Quake started us down the road from evocation to representation and we’ve been barrelling down it for years, but will we ever arrive? And if we do, will it be possible for small teams to make the trip, or will it necessitate 50-60 people for three and a half years? That’s what Oblivion required…
And here’s the question that is pertinent to me…can we ever go back? Does this sort of evocation still work? And will it work even on newer players who have never played a game in 320×200? Who don’t know what VGA is?
Basically, I’m asking this: Do you think Star Revolution in a lower resolution will evoke older space opera RPGs, or will it just look really stupid?