Thursday, 25 March 2010

The judgement predicament of audio and graphics.

The answer to this blog is probably going to be that the game industry dug this hole all by themselves and that we now have to live with it.

Since we released the first teaser of Penumbra: Overture in 2006 we have always received the expected comments "the graphics suck", "looks dated", "hmm, is this running on the Wii?" and so on and on. This has also echoed back in reviews, only with a bit more elegant phrasing.

Now four years later, the same pattern (slightly less to be fair) repeats for the teasers that we have released of our upcoming game, Amnesia: The Dark Descent. We have upped our graphics game, not only in technical fidelity, but also tremendous efforts has been made with the design and creation of the graphics, far above any of the Penumbra games. Sure, the game industry has taken the graphical technology and fidelity even further during this period, so our efforts are minimized by this. But even so, we have at least tried.

During the same period we have also enjoyed comments such as "the voices are great", "best music evah!", "the ambient noises scared me shi*beep*less"... again, repeated in reviews only with more elegance. For the Amnesia teasers so far this continues, with an almost 100% successful comment ratio for the audio. This is great! But it also puts a core problem out in the bright light, how different the audio is judged compared to the graphics.

I am not going to try and come up with any ideas as to why. That would be going beyond the introduction I make in this blog post. However, as the person in charge of the audio for our games, I feel compelled to give some details about the creation and technology behind it all. How the audio is made, who makes it, what resources we have to spend and what sort of technology that is used. As an independent developer, the resources are very limited, for graphics and even more so for audio.

For Amnesia I do most of the sounds, Mikko Tarmia creates the music and a new friend of ours, Tapio Liukkonen, makes the sounds that requires more time and skill. We also work with AudioGodz to get the voice acting done for the game. The money that we spend on audio is the bare minimum that we can afford to hire these people for as a short timespan as possible.

During a whole project I spend less than 20% of my time creating sounds, this is very little when thinking about the importance of the sounds in our games. I have to cut down on how carefully I create these sounds, I have a library of sound effects that I use to mix and I also record my own raw sounds. If any professional sound engineers were to see how I worked, they would laugh and take pity on me. At times I record things in the room where I have my computer, sometimes directly in front of it, from a noise ratio perspective this is a big NO. But with little time at my disposal, that is what I do.

With this in mind, I would say that the creation of the sounds can be quite sloppy, but in my own defense, having done sounds for games since my first attempt (menu music) in 1997, I think I have some experience and tricks in my pocket to rely on for an improved result.

The main computer that I use when I work with creating levels for Amnesia, including implementing the sounds into the game, is quite old. The sound card is a Soundblaster Live! from 1998, making it similar to what a Geforce 1 is for graphics cards. It has some capabilities that could be comparable to those of graphics cards, such as hardware support for effects like EAX (echo for example) and it can do 5.1 Surround sound. Other than that it is well, pretty old.

The sound technology is rudimentary in our games - play, stop, fade, pan, output 32 or so channels and apply some basic effects (the echo, all tough this is not implemented in Amnesia yet). That is basically it. Try to sum up the graphical features of a game engine this swiftly if you can!*

I could probably go on, but I think that the picture is getting quite clear, that from a resource, effort and technology perspective we are really limited in the audio department. But despite this, the ideas, design and how we implement the audio in the game has so far been very well received. I would argue that we are doing the exact same thing (ideas, design and implementation as key) for the graphics, only with more care and resources, but to an extent in vain.

For a first person type of game it seems that the audio is judged almost purely by the effect, mood and purpose, while the graphics are as far as I can tell, almost solely judged on a basis of technology and production value. There is also a side of it where the audio in comparison to other games does not matter as much for the overall "judgement". While for graphics, the key comparison is how it compares to other games, regardless of development budget.

Why is this? Is it like this? Does it matter? Any comments except good job on slamming the audio of your own game?

*In all ego-fairness we DO have a lot of sound effects in our engine, for example a pretty advanced system for physics sounds. But these features do nothing special to the sounds other than changing volume and pitch. It is pretty much like having cool water effects in 2D pixel graphics. Yet, since it does the job, nobody seems to bother.


31 comments:

  1. aha I'm playing through Black Plague now (just finished Overture) and I'm actually impressed by the graphics (maybe the ps2 has deprived me), if they were any better I probably would not be able to play it on my iMac. The audio is probably the most immersive I've heard from any horror game (including SIlent Hill), sometimes I forget there is music even playing because it just blends in so well with the atmosphere. Other times the music seems to speak for Phillip when we know he's scared as piss, the moods created through the audio is close to perfect. I think its great you sometimes literally create your own sounds and I respect frictional games even more for it! SONIC BOOM!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Disclaimer: This is all just what I think, none of it is fact.

    Simple sounds can be enough to trigger mental associations with the concept you are referring to, much the same way that a cartoon drawing can represent a real character. This means something that only vaguely resembles the sound you are going for can be enough to seem realistic.

    There's the fact that the ear's fidelity is just so much lower than that of the eye. To make something seem real to the eye thus requires much more work than it does for the ear.

    The realness-threshold is different depending on the listener of course. A trained listener (a musician, composer, sound designer, audiophile) will be much more aware of the details of a sound, and will need a deeper level of detail to keep things believable. But here's the thing: Many people don't really learn to listen, not on a conscious level at least. They experience sound on a superficial level, and will surely not care for things that they cannot perceive. You have to learn (or be taught) to perceive something before you can appreciate it. People often don't know what they want. I think a big part of the audience won't know they wanted high quality, fine-grained, interactive audio in their games until they are presented with it.

    As a result of all this I think audio-tech for games is on a level comparable to what full-motion-video and sprite-based 2D animation were for graphics decades ago. You record/create static data, and play it back in a layered, very linear fashion. This is totally not in line with the rapid development in graphics technology. And, while I can understand the bias, I do think the ear has been criminally ignored. There's just so much potential there, left completely untapped! As such it it really brightens my day to see a big post on this very issue.

    The field where audio-tech *is* cutting edge is in the studios of the musicians and sound-designers themselves. Their software is currently at a level comparable to all the shader-model-4, DX11 mumbojumbo that games have. The only difference is that they still pre-render their content for games, while the trend for graphics is to do more and more at runtime.

    Here's what I'm working on: Today's musicians have a large library of software tools for real-time, live performance. Why don't we just appropriate that marvelous technology and build it into a game engine? To this end I am working on integrating the SuperCollider environment into the Unity engine. This will allow complete real-time control over (and generation of) all in-game sound. It will allow sound designers and composers to have all the rapid-prototyping capabilities that game programmers have when designing games, because sound can be completely sculpted while the game is running.

    Will this take some extra CPU cycles? Definitely. But I would gladly sacrifice a couple of high-end shaders to bring some crucial in-game sounds to life.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm not sure what they are complaining about, the graphics look great to me!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Graphically it only matters that everything "fits" together in a coherent fashion, you guys do that very well.

    Soundwise, well, sometimes less is more. Rent "Paranormal Activity" and listen to the highly effective yet very minimal sound track for a clear example on how very little is actually needed to create an effective and creepy sound-scape.

    As long as you aren't tapping your mic on your desk to record footsteps, you should be fine.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Honestly, even though the Penumbra games looked a little "dated", everyone who has ever played them has enjoyed them. When people play Frictional Games' games they aren't looking for the "OMG C.O.D. KILLUR!!!" they are looking for a more deep and enriching experience.

    True gamers looking to step into the thick tar smeared hollows of dimensia and insanity will pick up Amnesia no matter how it looks.

    Various other high production values often draw people towards games like the Penumbra series anyway. I know when I first picked it up after watching Helloween's Let's Play, the things that drew me to it were the: A.) Interactivity + Physics B.) Great lighting effects. C.) Deep and enriching story. And finally D.) The sound design.

    Graphics, while important to some degree (we don't want to be walking around the MS Maze Screensaver with the diarrhea walls) it is more about how they work together to improve the overall experience. The graphics of your guys' engine, while not next gen or whatever, work perfectly fine to achieve what you set out to do. As long as you can do that, you are all good.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Pfff, I really think that all your games looked great when they went out! Maybe they were not at the top of eye-candy games but people telling that it could be a Wii game obviously don't know about what they are talking about, neither game reviewers/testers.

    And as bob said: what's important is that "everything fits together in a coherent fashion".

    For me, you did a really good job; even better, knowing that you are a small team of independent developers. Keep up the good work!

    ReplyDelete
  7. The graphics look awesome to me. I have high hopes for this game. Keep up the good work!

    ReplyDelete
  8. OP: "For a first person type of game it seems that the audio is judged almost purely by the effect, mood and purpose, while the graphics are as far as I can tell, almost solely judged on a basis of technology and production value."

    Actually, the effect of the graphics IS the main criterion for the critics of it - how the game visually presents itself; only, with all the new technology, our standards are higher now. Remember how you reacted when you saw something like 3D Tekken for the first time - all that blocky characters, horrible textures - and yet, you probably marveled at how realistic it seemed back then.

    The thing is, as Lovecraft said, that the one who receives the story (who reads a novel, or the one who plays a game in this case) needs to be prepared to a certain level of engagement, needs to be ready to fire up his/hers imagination in order to truly appreciate it (and, perhaps, by engaging, to contribute to the experience). Not many people can do this, at least not from the start.

    Bottom line, although many might find the game intriguing, few are willing to give these other qualities a chance, once they decide that the isn't visually what they expected it to be.

    What most people don't realize is that even a graphics engine that has limitations or is not a state-of-the-art product CAN produce beautiful visuals, even visuals with ARTISTIC value, in right hands. Combine that with other achievements of the game, and you can have quite a good game overall.

    Just remember games like Silent Hill (PSX). Sure, the graphics are not a near match to today's games, but even today - that fog engulfed town looks beautiful, and the visual representation of the Otherworld still makes you profoundly uneasy. (Partly because your brain reconstructs what the low resolution hides.) But, there's so much more to this game than that.

    P.S. Also note that the now-famous fog in Silent Hill is a result of someone's brilliant idea to use it to conceal the limitations of the engine, but also to incorporate it in the story, and use it as a visual means to create a SH-specific atmosphere.

    ReplyDelete
  9. we live in the time of bio-asceticism (bringing Foucault's term), a time that overestimates the pure technics chasing a visual epiphany - remembering that "technic" and "aesthetic" have the same greek origin, and indeed every art is preceed by technic. but pure tech is soulless, is heartless, just a tool with no edifying intention 'behind' it.

    pure technic is like Avatar and the new 3D cinema: a bunch of stunning technology achievments but a poor movie... Das Weise Band (the white ribbon), in black&white, is much better.

    Penumbra is a great game, not a great graphic program. and afterall, fucking gamers want games or beautiful simulacras?

    Frictional, keep the great job and know that are many people who prefer inteligent games like yours - find them, sometimes, just depends on the scope of advertising. but i know they are out there, like me.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I know, this is a totally different topic, but i think these two words fit very well here: games connect!

    I mean, there are still so many people in this world who think that games are just trash, just "mindless" hobbies, nothing more. But look at this, look at where we are right now, watch what is happening here in this blog: educated and intelligent people are discussing the technology and artistic meaning of games.

    The, so called, "cultured" people don't accept and don't respect the work behind these games. Someone needs just to publish a game like CoD:MW2 and all games become "killer games". Where comes this hate from? Why are people still making these idiotic prejudgements?

    Anyway, look at the advantages of this blog:
    1. we have something like a "direct contact" to people behind games

    2. we get answers from these people, which we otherwise wouldn't get, because most designers and producers just want to sell their "products" and they don't really care what we want or like or whatever. for this thomas, jens and all other team members really deserve thousands and thousands of thanks

    3. people get connected. but not just any people, we have people from different locations, with different backgrounds, with different jobs and so on, i don't know what their jobs are for example, but we all have something in common, we all see and understand the meaning and the importance of games. because games are a lot more than they were 10 and 15 years ago. it started with tetris and stuff like that and now look where we are right now... we have games like Penumbra and Silent Hill, but also games Heavy Rain and Shadow of the Colossus... all of these are not just good games, but also very important. important for story writing (influence, inspiration), they are a very useful "waste of time" (:P), because they've reached an "educational level" these days, which means that we can learn a lot from the stories, symbols and messages inside/behind them and... again... games connect people!

    When we all think about these advantages, how can so many people still be against games? When we already use them as a source of education, why are still so many people trying to underrate the importance of games?
    We could almost say that they, whoever they are, want us to stay as uneducated as possible, so they can control us!?
    Don't get me wrong, but people who _understand_ and _know_ what is happening in this world, such people don't vote for criminals like Bush! -

    ReplyDelete
  11. @pelosdias: Seconded.

    If you ask me, the problem with graphics in gaming is twofold: First, most people involved in gaming (both developers and critics) think about visuals in terms of technology. It's all particles and shaders and normal maps and whatnot --Aesthetics be damned. Which ties to the second part of tje problem: The ultimate goal is photo-realism. I for one think all this "realism" thing is a cancer (and not only in graphics, but let's focus), and it's one of the (many) things that anchor gaming in the putrid waters of a stale, mouth-breathing, adolescent form of entertainment. We have the technology to create worlds that push the boundaries of the wildest imagination, and yet all our efforts point to make it so that a screenshot resembles a photograph.

    To me, good design is way more important that technology, and can even trascend a poor/dated graphics engine. For all I care, stuff such as The Void, The Path or Braid are the best looking games of all --motherfuck Crysis and Metro 2033 and even my (very, very beloved) S.T.A.L.K.E.R.'s with their god rays and whatnot.

    In fact, I very much prefer a good design dressed with a "bad" or "dated" graphics engine to an overdone "good" graphics engines. You know, when it seems like the designer failed to realize when they should've f'ing stopped applying shader effects.

    Psychonauts remains just about the best looking game of all times in my book. BioShock, on the other hand, is an outstanding, mind-blowing piece of work in terms of design. However, in terms of execution it's a flat-out piece of shit. Yeah, I said that. Simply put, I f'ing hate that f'ing obsession most developers seem to have with f'ing bump-mapping. I hated it since the first time I saw a pre-release screenshot for Doom III, and time hasn't made me hate it any less. Sure, brightly lit leather and well-polished metal look awesome, but when the skin of your human characters appear to be covered in saran wrap, something is not working there.

    But that's me, an artsy faggot whose opinion clearly don't reflect what gamers as a whole want =(

    ReplyDelete
  12. To me, the difference in gamers emphasis on graphics vs audio quality in games boils down to a few observations.

    1. Graphics are more available
    The graphics quality of a game can easily be communicated in mere seconds through images in a magazine, a short glimpse of teaser or gameplay video viewed whilst walking past 3 m away from a widescreen display at the games shop or stills on the internet.

    Almost the same with animations, it only takes seconds to make up an opinion on whether the motions look convincing, cool or entertaining.

    Furthermore, when you actually play a game, you often interact *only* with the visuals, the audio is there only as a "decoration". Take away the audio and you can still play the game. Take away the video, and the game is not playable anymore. (It's worth to mention, though, that especially in your games, audio cues really play a huge part when hiding from the enemies or trying to gauge when it's safe to peek out from cover)

    2. Audio requires time and interpretation
    On the other hand, appreciation of the audio qualities requires more time and setup. Speakers require a quiet environment and sometimes good headphones is the only solution to have any chance of really be immersed in the audio. It is too much to require from most situations apart from when you're in front of the PC at home.

    Good audio has to "support" the visuals and fit to what we can see on screen. Good audio provide audible weight and hardness to the thrown stone and audible texture to the damp cavern walls and, along with carefully chose music and interactivity, provides an extremely suspenseful atmosphere seldom found in other media.

    In Overture and Black Plague, in addition to the lighting and overall visual quality, the motion blur effect really made the game seem much more real to me. (Maybe because of my poor framerates).

    Also, in the audio department, appropriate use of echo according to the current surroundings really helps on the immersion.

    3. Suggestions for further improvements
    What currently breaks the illusion somehow is the absence of audio occlusions where things sound more muffled depending of walls or objects placed between the player and sound source.

    A slight improvement here could actually make it possible to accurately react to sound and interact with sound input only. Imagine game mechanics where the player has to use his ears to accomplish some task like escape from a darkened cellar by staying as far away from the rasping breath of it's chained up mutant dwellers (occasional flickers of light revealing the horrendous nature of the surroundings). Or to carefully walk across a creaking wooden bridge in the dark, judging whether the next step would be safe by sound alone. Or, as you slowly open the door, the sound of the enemy changes from muffled to clear, revealing that he's standing right in front of you. The snarl made from afar by the oncoming dogs from Overture, really worked a bit like this since you heard where the were coming from before seeing them.

    Try walking around blindfolded in your home for an hour or two (if you haven't already) to hear how well audio input can actually define the environment.

    And, above all, keep up the good work!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I'd say this is mostly marketing and mentality problem. Nobody whines that Happy Farmer has shitty graphics, millions of people and dollars pour like rain. That's because nobody who plays it _expects_ it to be "teh crusis" - its target auditory is casual, people that know nothing about games except solitaire, bejeweled etc and rarely have specialized graphics cards.

    On the other hand, Penumbra and Amnesia are 3D and targeted at hardcore gamers - who do judge by the polygon/special effects count and expect every new game be the cod/crysis killer.

    I think the negative comments don't matter all that much because people who post them are not your target auditory.

    Have you tried to use some graphical tricks to make the picture "scarier"? Like in the Silent Hill - in all series I think there is neat stuff happening with the walls in the other world.

    ReplyDelete
  14. @infidel

    Haven't you played the Penumbra-Series? I think it's already scary enough and they use their own great ideas, which is good in my opinion. Otherwise we would have a SH-Ripoff.

    ReplyDelete
  15. As an engine programmer myself who has been interested in this very issue, I have to say that this is all part of a much bigger picture. During the past decade, games slowly made a transition from an entertainment medium to a money-making device, not only for game developers, but also for CPU & GPU manufacturers who used games as a means to sell their products nobody would have any needs for otherwise. I mean I bet that some 80% of the total number of PC users on planet Earth don't need quad-core machines and beefy graphics cards and they wouldn't be buying them if it wasn't for games and all this hype surrounding them. When three years of game development effort and hundreds of thousands of dollars sums up to a chart in a CPU / GPU benchmark, it's not hard to see that games are here to help the cash flow and not to entertain us.

    ReplyDelete
  16. @ Ashkan

    So you think that this is the reason, why most companies, manufacturers and critics aswell communicate the so called "essential importance" of graphics in games?

    Sounds logical, if you ask me. Because graphics have become one of the most important categories in reviews. If they themselves wouldn't care so much about graphics, consumers would be less interested in that aswell. Actually it would be interesting to know (in numbers) how many consumers decide to buy or not to buy a game, because of the reviews. I bet the numbers would be something around 80%.

    ReplyDelete
  17. @Mario
    You misunderstood me. The effects in SH were given as an example. There's much more you can do with some clever programming tricks when having limited financial resources.

    @Ashkan
    @Mario
    Judging from your words my guess is you're both reading hardcore game sites therefore your understanding of games market is biased towards that category. Hardcore gamers tend to wave away huge numbers of people playing casual games made by companies like Zynga on crappy office computers and generating insane cashflow for them.

    ReplyDelete
  18. @ æclipse µattaru
    Quote: "Simply put, I f'ing hate that f'ing obsession most developers seem to have with f'ing bump-mapping. I hated it since the first time I saw a pre-release screenshot for Doom III, and time hasn't made me hate it any less."

    That's because they don't know how to use it, and often overuse it. (They shouldn't always do something just because they can.)

    ReplyDelete
  19. Well, actually i think that graphics can be very important aswell, but it depends on what you're doing with them. Watch for example "The last Guardian", i mean... that game is pure beauty. I'm sure that it would be still great with lower details, but damn, the effect is even better with those graphics.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHzHoMT5eRg

    ReplyDelete
  20. @ Mario
    Nobody denies that. But this is all cosmetics - superficial things that have little value on their own, without a good basis. In the case of games, the fundament of it all (IMO) is the story and the way it is presented to the player(s) - including the creative and smart ways of integrating these concepts into the gameplay. But, if the team approaches the game other way around, putting the priority on all the technical stuff, and neglecting the essence - then all the fancy mumbo-jumbo can be in the way, preventing the true qualities of the game to emerge.

    I believe that the time when the story was but an excuse for the gameplay is behind us. With more "serious" games, we now want a rich, smart story, filled with art and philosophy. Some people will certainly appreciate this more than others, but ALL of them will feel that there's something really special about that game.

    ReplyDelete
  21. The link that Mario provided (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHzHoMT5eRg) is an example of somewhat better usage of bump/normal mapping - note how they didn't use it quite everywhere. But it also has some issues that other modern games have - problems with the lightning model, and, in some cases, the overdone bloom effect. The key, IMO, is to be subtle with these effects.

    ReplyDelete
  22. @Anonymous: Completely agreed. Bump-mapping can be a very nice resource when used properly, and not like they do in, say, Mass Effect --man, those faces are scary =(

    @Ashkan: I've seen that happen time and time again, and it pisses me off to no end. Especially since the hardware developer will bail out of the project as soon as the game hits shelves, neglecting any further support/optimization.

    Cryostasis comes to mind. It was whored out to be Nvidia's poster child for PhysX, and we ended up with a horribly unoptimized story-based game that requires more horsepower than tech-demo-games such as Crysis; which is all sorts of ridiculous, since the kind of people that play something like Cryostasis are rarely the kind of people that have 1000+ dollar gaming PCs.

    Hence, Cryostasis ended up being meh'd by the mainstream press for being slow-paced and not Crysis-level pretty, and pissing off its intended audience for playing like a slideshow on even the lowest settings.

    ReplyDelete
  23. @ æclipse µattaru

    I share your view in almost all points, and is our kind of players that must push the game industry forward, to the limits of game narrative.

    I think (or hope) games will go like Graphic Novels. First it was all about childish super heros, but one day the readers grow up and want something more... then things like Maus, Watchman, Sandman showed up.

    [sorry the bad english, I'm brazilian].

    ReplyDelete
  24. I don't want to bother you or something, but i'd love to see a new trailer or at least new pictures of Amnesia, if it's possible. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  25. I haven't thought about budget as much as I should've I guess. I thought the music in MW2 was incredible, and - turns out, they hired Hans Zimmer to do it. Haha. Well what do you know? That's a whole other league all of a sudden, Hans' won what? Like eight academy awards for his work in music? That's ridiculous. Why should small independent games (like you said) with an entirely different budget and timeframe be compared to that?

    It doesn't make any sense, but we do it anyway.

    ReplyDelete
  26. @Tora

    First, you have a beautiful face, let me tell you that...

    Now to the topic. Well that's the "mainstream" and that's what they want us to think and care about. The better it looks and the better it sounds, the better is the whole package, that's what they communicate even if it's not the truth. Young people are easier influenced by that, because they aren't that choosy and they take everything if it looks good enough.

    ReplyDelete
  27. As for me I take it this way: I play games to have FUN, not stunning visuals. If I want good graphics I take a look out the window or whatever.

    Most today's games are all about gfx and not playability and for me such games are simply boring. PPl are telling me "so what it's not that fun as a game, but look at the graphics!" - what's the point in that?

    ReplyDelete
  28. My friends all think I'm insane because I enjoy games that delve into story more than cutting-edge graphics. The first major video game i ever played was Croc 2, and that game is still my favorite game, and not because of the graphics (which were impressive back in the day), but because of the humorous and touching story.

    Now, my taste in games has expanded a little (Heavy Rain, Bioshock, Penumbra :), and Portal), but what I look for in a game hasn't changed at all. Heavy Rain is all about the story, and about immersing the player into an aesthetic pleasure while creating a dark, layered atmosphere, and they succeeded. Bioshock is certainly not the most aesthetic game I've encountered (there was a review that said that the graphics in Bioshock 2 were worse than the graphics in the first one, i beg to differ), but the original Bioshock had a deeply immersive storyline, and a pretty good plot twist in the middle.

    The Penumbra series, after I bought it and was able to say auf wiedersehen to the demos, quickly became my favorite games, and it certainly wasn't because of "graphical failure." (One of my friends called the series that, but then I had him sit down and play it. He changed his tune pretty quickly from, "Graphics suck," to "This game was amazing! I loved the use of design elements in this game!"

    Portal is, hands down, one of my favorite puzzle games of all time. The concept of the game was simple, and Valve's Source Engine, while not graphically superior to, say, MW2, provides the aesthetics necessary to enjoy the game.

    There's no need to overkill the graphics, unless you're doing it to cover up a weak and flawed storyline (see MW2)

    Finally, as proof that amazing graphics aren't required, Spiderweb Software is a small independent game company that makes RPGs. I hated the genre until I played their games. Their Geneforge series is their superior storyline, and I highly recommend it. The graphics are very dated, but that doesn't hinder the games in any way whatsoever.

    Frictional Games, I am a teen gamer. I see games like Heavy Rain, Bioshock, the Penumbra Series, Geneforge, and Cold War (Mindware, Runseoft game. Conspiracy game with Penumbra-esue graphics. Check it out!), and I see solid story lines and aesthetically pleasing games. I see Modern Warfare 2, the upcoming Alan Wake game (the ideas look good, but I don't like how they're being presented), and the new Turok game, and I see a (in the case of Alan Wake, potentially) weak story wrapped in shiny new graphics. I value the experience more than the aesthetics, and if a game can keep me entertained with a great story and characters you can connect with, then I will buy that game. Frictional Games, you got me hooked onto your games. I think that, because story should rightfully be what counts in a video game, that you have set a bar for most companies. Continue to do that.

    ReplyDelete
  29. I always liked Penumbra graphics. They were always more than enough for my taste. There was never a moment when I though they could be better. Only some models gave me that thought, but I quicly forgot about it when the game itself re-immersed me into it. I know there's flaws in the graphics, I can see them, but I can live happily with them if the game surprises me like it did.

    I'm the type of person that prefers a game that doesn't destroy my immersion when noticing fps drops from any other game that constantly harasses me with performance issues, forcing me to go tweek stuff in the options, thus remembering me that "it's just a game I'm playing".

    I find it amazing how some people can cry that this game is bad cuz the graphics are sh***t but then they cry because that other game is too heavy for their PC. And some even have the nerve to admit that they loved Final Fantasy 7 with all their heart but they'll never mention how sh*****ty the models were in there.

    I definitely would prefer that all games had such crappy models as Final Fantasy 7 and as much fun as it had, than the current situation where graphics are state-of-the-art and bla bla bla, but games are so boring and futile...

    ReplyDelete
  30. I have come to not care so much for graphics anymore, all i want is atmosphere and the feelings i get playing games, and im sure this will blow my mind yet again as penumbra did : ) keep up the good work guys : )

    ReplyDelete
  31. I know that this is an old post. I've beaten Amnesia and just wanted to let you guys know that the audio was so well conceived that I've had friends play that sound effect that plays when one of those creatures is chasing you and it makes me flinch and double-take.

    The graphics are not on a Crysis scale but your game I've found is far more immerive than any AAA title I've ever played.

    Your audio has disturbed me.
    Mission accomplished gentlemen.

    ReplyDelete

SiteMeter