Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

A Brief History of (Video Game) Graphics

Posted by Rampant Coyote on November 24, 2014

wc1screenshot1These are fun to watch as either a gamer or as a game developer, this is a five-part series of short videos explaining the major revolutions / trends / milestones in video game graphics over the years. From vector graphics to bloom effects, it’s a pretty entertaining little set of videos. For us old-school fans, it’s just awesome seeing classic games that we remember so well as being representative of the effects touted here.

A Brief History of Graphics

I had something of a belated self-discovery when watching these videos. There were a few arcade games that I remember friends gushing over that I just didn’t “get.” I tried playing them many times to see what everyone else thought was so awesome, but in at least one case (Turbo), the game left me cold. In another (Moon Patrol), I thought the game was reasonably well-executed and fun to play, but I didn’t get its popularity. Watching the videos, I note that both games were pioneering in graphical effects.

So it would seem that my being less impressed by graphics than by gameplay has been with me for a long time. That’s hardly 100% – I can get wowed by the shiny just like anybody else, and probably hold more nostalgia than I should for the original Unreal than I should for that very reason. And hey, I dug lens flares that overwhelmed 3D games in the 1990s (the “light bloom effect” of that era). But I was also one of the minority of people who thought Quake was something of a failure next to Duke Nukem 3D. While being less impressive technologically, I thought Duke had far more interesting weaponry and tools for the player (and certainly a more interesting, um, attitude). And I was never a big fan of bloom effects.

As a game developer, unfortunately, this means I’ve got a blind spot for graphics, and I need help in that department. I can get so focused on gameplay that I don’t always recognize the line between “acceptable” and “unacceptable” on the visual front. Even as an indies with retro-style graphics, there can be a huge difference in quality. If you actually play (or watch a video of) Thomas was Alone, you can see there is some real artistry in the animation and presentation of the game even in such minimalist graphics.


Filed Under: Art - Comments: 2 Comments to Read

  • ottomobiehl said,

    Good find. I love stuff like this!

  • Cuthalion said,

    Just finished watching these after following the link from this post! Very interesting series. It helped emphasize for me the transitions and changes we’ve gone through.