In a world where flash tends to override substance, the "Father of Final Fantasy " certainly makes a good point.
Hironobu Sakaguchi recently spoke to Iwata Asks and addressed the current state of video games on both a technological and artistic level. Sakaguchi was with the Final Fantasy franchise up through FFX, and then created his own studio, Mistwalker, which gave traditional RPG fans two great titles: Lost Odyssey and Blue Dragon (both only on Xbox 360). The team's most recent game, The Last Story , is for the Wii.
But even though he hasn't given the Sony RPG fans any love, Sakaguchi still has a lot to say concerning this emphasis on high-definition graphics.
"Now that high-quality graphics rule supreme, you can reproduce what you want to communicate visually, but at the same time, I don’t know how to put this, but there’s an element that’s slightly excessive about it all… You end up communicating too much to the player."
If you don't understand what that means, he's talking about "telling" rather than "showing." When relating a story, you're not supposed to spell out everything that happens; such a tactic only results in a turgid, boring, uninteresting droning of facts. You have to know the essentials, of course, but the reader (or in the case of video games, the participator), should be seeing much of the "action" in his or her mind's eye.
But Sakaguchi is convinced that photo-realistic images simply "tell" too much and in truth, games don't need them at all.
"To be honest, I think that the HD images which have become mainstream in the TV industry are, for me personally, still rather over the top for the world of video games. There’s a tendency for developers to allow all their energy to be diverted into maintaining the high quality of the graphics."
Well, that's probably true, but I certainly believe high-quality visuals can be used correctly to tell a compelling story. Look at Heavy Rain , for instance. Not every game with fantastic graphics sacrifices artistic elements like dialogue and storytelling; just consider Uncharted . But we do understand his sentiments…to a point.
Now, how's about Lost Odyssey 2 ?