—Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols, or, How to Philosophize with a Hammer
And, of course, no one has noted the connection between great graphics and great mechanics (or between bad graphics and bad mechanics, for that matter). Indeed, anyone who reads regularly about games is regularly bombarded with the absurd idea that there is no connection at all between them, and even worse: that it's precisely the games with the worst graphics that have the best, and most "innovative" mechanics. But I'll be talking about the myth of "innovation" in another essay; let's focus on the graphics-mechanics connection for now.
So the first piece of bs I will debunk is the common dimwit saying that "the gameplay is more important than the graphics!!!1" Or even worse, that the graphics don't matter at all lol. But I will show that mere graphics RESOLUTION practically DETERMINES mechanical COMPLEXITY lol. It's really not that hard to understand. You've heard of Go, right? The resolution of a Go board is 19x19. Do you have any idea what would happen to the mechanics of the game if we HALVED its resolution? The complexity would nosedive lol. It would practically fucking collapse. And if we reduced it to 1x1 we'd kill the game lol. No resolution means no game — nada, zilch, kaput — get it, internet "indie" frothing retard? The idea that graphics have nothing to do with mechanics is so absurdly stupid that we should be locking up in asylums whoever seriously propounded it (i.e., essentially everyone writing about games today besides me and Recap). Indeed, what follows from the example I just gave is that increasing mechanical complexity REQUIRES increasing resolution, since if we bumped up the chess board resolution it is obvious that we'd bump up the game complexity (and EXPONENTIONALLY so, moreoever). And as for aesthetic complexity, you'd once more have to be a retard to fail to grasp that increasing that ALSO requires increasing the resolution, otherwise the best visual artists would be just as happy to work with 240p pixel art as with 4K tablets. ALL of mankind's greatest works of visual art are IMPOSSIBLE at low resolutions, and if one could decree that we could only view visual art (inc. paintings etc.) at 320x240, the entire history of art (including cave paintings) would have been butchered beyond recognition. Indeed the greatest painter of all time, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, is the greatest partly because his paintings are so detailed (i.e. so high-resolution) that viewed from a certain distance they look like photographs (if one ignores their fantastical elements, of course, which are the reason why these paintings are artworks in the first place, as opposed to the illustrations in a chemistry textbook, which aren't). And that's just painting! If we reduced the resolution of cinema to 240p, we'd kill the entire artform! Only some cartoons would survive, i.e. movies for children and emotionally stunted people. We'd even almost kill literature, since reading a book on your Super Famicom would be an excruciating experience.
Back to videogames, all you have to do is take a look at my 1962-present Game of the Year Awards to see the proof of what I am saying in its full glory. The list is UTTERLY DOMINATED by games with superb production values. Platinum Games is one of the most prolific developers on the list, and its games are so beautiful that even wallpapers from them dominate wallpaper galleries. Can you imagine what Bayonetta, Vanquish and Metal Gear Rising would look and play like with "indie" graphics and aesthetics? I am not even going to mention strategy and tactics games, in which it should be obvious even to dimwits that low resolution = low complexity. Good luck porting Civilization or Planetary Annihilation to your Mega Drive lol. And good luck preserving the atmosphere of your precious "Dark Souls" with graphics made by the Super Meat Boy team. Crytek, the very dev studio that took FPSes out of corridors, and Ubisoft, the very publisher that made FPSes free-roaming, are both gigantic "graphics whores". Itagaki, the man who made the reigning 3D brawler for nearly a decade, is a gigantic "graphics whore" too. The best Zelda ever is also the most stunning Zelda. Your precious Naughty Dog is a "graphics whore" studio too. Divinity: Original Sin, Baldur's Gate II and Planescape: Torment are the best isometric WRPGs ever, and they were also the prettiest and most graphically advanced games in their genre on release. Half of Jet Set Radio's and Killer 7's value is in the aesthetics. Same goes for Cave's shooters and all good fighting games ever, believe it or not. Or do you think it's also a coincidence that the most complex fighting game ever, Guilty Gear XX Accent Core +R, is part of the very series that introduced high resolution graphics to fighting games? Or that this series is also one of the most beautiful ones? The overriding concern of the Street Fighter II developers was to make the game with the BIGGEST sprites ever; i.e. the most HIGH-RESOLUTION sprites. Read some interviews with the team and you'll see. And it was precisely this increase in resolution that inspired, and ALLOWED them, to increase the complexity of the moves and mechanics to an unprecedented degree, and thus create a brand-new genre that inspired countless successors and imitators and brought joy to millions of people around the world. You think fighting game mechanics would have been possible with tiny, squishy 8-bit sprites? Then play Nidhogg lol. And then write an essay explaining to me why SF2 had a billion sequels and rip-offs, and Nidhogg has none. Even its own sequel increased the resolution and improved the graphics lol. (Not that it made any difference of course, when the developer is so incompetent. But I am just pointing out that even the "indies" themselves are forced to improve the graphics when they try to improve the mechanics, quite simply because there is no other way to significantly improve a game's mechanics.)
Or should we talk about how Shenmue was the most expensive and graphically advanced game when it was released? Should we talk about Metal Gear? Sure, Mount & Blade was great, but it would have been even greater with proper graphics, which is why the dev made Warband, and have you seen the sequel? But it makes sense that people who are so stupid that they think that graphics have nothing to do with mechanics would be confused by the differences between the simple concepts of "necessity" and "optimal solution". Mount & Blade's graphics were a NECESSITY, because the dev couldn't AFFORD anything better. If he could have, he would have, and the moment he was able to, he did, and now he's busy ratcheting them up as high as he can get them, just like any other real developer.
Are all these coincidences then? You seriously fail to see a pattern here? Is this pattern not worth investigating and analyzing then? But what can you expect of people who praise The Binding of Isaac... Of people who can even bear to install that game at all, let alone play it...
Ultimately, graphics, and therefore resolution, reach to the very core of videogames: the concept of "interactivity". Interaction is a two-way street: the game pings you, and you pong back. Or you ping the game, and it pongs back. But the degree of complexity of the game's response to you is determined by THE DEGREE OF COMPLEXITY OF THE GAME. If the game is a simple, stupid coin-toss, it doesn't matter how deep and intelligent you may be, since the interaction is constrained by this low degree of complexity, and will therefore necessarily be stupid. A simple game can only allow for a simple interaction, i.e. a shallow one. And since the ONLY way you have of interacting with the game is THROUGH YOUR SCREEN, the degree of complexity of the screen is essentially identical with the degree of complexity of the game lol. How fucking hard can this be to grasp you fucken "gameplay"-worshipping retards? Granted, you INPUT commands through your keyboard or mouse or controller or whatever, but the game OUTPUTS its response through your fucking screen! And if that fucking screen has a resolution of 1x1, all you're gonna get is a solid color, no matter what buttons you press. Conversely, if you want to get back a deep HUMAN-LEVEL response, you will need a monitor that can display a HUMAN-LEVEL face lol. For real, retards! That's how deep the rabbit hole goes!
So the whole sorry business reaches its peak when the dimwits try to bring "emotions" into it. And yet the deepest human emotions all hinge on human interaction, and human interaction is so inextricably linked with human facial expressions that we deem it necessary to give human faces even to our robots and AIs. Think about that for a moment. Maybe all those neckbearded men-children furiously scribbling about videogames on Twitter, 280 characters at a time, should try reading a psychology book sometime, before trying to opine on human psychology? For it is clear that to reach the deepest emotions, videogames will require VR with photorealistic resolution, among other things. Let's say that again: PHOTOREALISM is REQUIRED for DEEP EMOTIONAL connection. If you are getting deep emotions from 8-bit sprites, you are FUKEN RETARDED, MATE, mentally-stunted to the level of a baby that cries for no reason, simply because it's a baby and that's what babies do. If your emotions function the same way a baby's do, you literally need to see a therapist, and possibly take some drugs too. The cat is out of the bag on how retarded you are, and soon enough scientists will be canvassing gamers' libraries on Steam with your total "indie" game count and "indie" game playtime proving to them a perfect correlation with your IQ to the point where we won't even need to IQ-test you anymore: your playing habits will tell us exactly who you are (just like a dog's play habits tell us with perfect certainty that it's a dog). We tried to be tactful, we tried to be nice, but science is science, and progress is progress, and there is no holding back the truth anymore, and if the truth hurts you, so be it. YOU have hurt videogames too, and even art as a whole, to an immeasurable extent with your bs about graphics not mattering — I have explained in my Genealogy at great length to what cosmic extent you have hurt art, and even culture and civilization — so it is time we and culture and civilization fought back a little, and exposing your dirt-low IQ is a good start. Your Braid was already ridiculed by the great film critic Roger Ebert as having narrative "on the level of a wordy fortune cookie", and it's the same with every single other "indie" game that's touted as "deep", and on Insomnia we have by now built a veritable library of reviews eviscerating the most popular "indie" titles as the dirt-poor abortions of crap games and pseudo-games that they all are [ > ].
"But novels manage to move us emotionally with mere words!!!!1"
But these are HUNDREDS OF PAGES of words, retard! And you are seriously comparing Proust's prose to Jonathan Blow's? Is your IQ like 80 or something? Have you ever even READ a fuken book, let alone Proust's? But in my ultimate essay on emotions in games, I even plan to show that you haven't. I will conclusive PROVE that no one who writes about games today except me reads books. It's going to be a riot!
And to get back to the by-now obviously FUNDAMENTAL and INEXTRICABLE connection between "graphics" and "mechanics", or, more properly, between aesthetics and mechanics (since "graphics" are included in the concept "aesthetics") — or, more philosophically, between form and function — have you noticed how my website is the prettiest and most elegant videogame website ever? You think it's also a coincidence that it belongs to the greatest videogame theorist and critic ever?
There is no fundamental disconnect between form and function; only short-sighted people think that there is; the form is merely the outward manifestation of the function, and if you are smart enough you can tell a great many things about a book from its cover. If you are a moron, on the other hand, you can go on mindlessly bleating that "you can't tell a book from its cover", while the rest of us proceed to spend our entire lives doing precisely that, since it's extremely helpful. Indeed the only kind of person who could seriously believe that you can't tell anything about a book from its cover is someone who... doesn't read books, and therefore understands nothing about them (or about anything else, for that matter).
So keep your ugly games to yourselves, and don't be surprised when we call them out as ugly, and when that judgement SUFFICES for us to write your game off entirely, without even bothering to play it. It is high time that UGLY art was EQUATED with BAD art, plain and simple. The idea that ugly art could be good — WHEN THE ENTIRE POINT OF ART IS BEAUTY LOL — is so laughable that it could have been taken seriously only in a society that is SICK TO THE CORE, or at least a society that, in an era of weakness, was subverted and became dominated by sick elements. But the great cleansing fire is coming, and my essays are in the vanguard of the attack. Believe it. And if you think the above analysis is radical, wait until you read what I think of the connection between ugly taste and ugly people. But that's not a subject for women and children; or for mere gamers for that matter. That's a subject for men. That's philosophy, and therefore, off-topic here.
"The Greeks, who were very subtle in such things, designated the wise man with a word that signifies the man of taste, and called wisdom, artistic and practical as well as theoretical and intellectual, simply 'taste' (sophia)."
—Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human: A Book for Free Spirits