There are some effects in video game that really annoy me. Don’t get me wrong, most of the graphics are useful or at least useless and awesome, but there are some that are useless, annoying and just bad.
This one was used in the early days to hide the fact, that the content in the distance is not really there, because of the weak graphics hardware. But with current cards and LOD (Level Of Detail) this is no longer needed. When I wander around in some far of MMORPG, I want to see the next town I go to, not just a massive wall of fog and the gates popping up 5 yards before me. They could just show the skyline of the village or the walls or something.
This is even worth with mountains, mountains don’t just pop in. There are quite unmovable, they don’t jump at you from 30 yards away.It’s not that hard to render, about a hundred Polygons, maybe.
Real life rarely has distance fog. And it looks really stupid on a beautiful sunny day to be any kind of fog around. It’s not much that’s in the distance, some mountains, treetops and a church, if I could see that all is fine.
Pixelshaders are the new thing in the industry and developers are going to town with it. But they should remember: Use only when needed. They are very useful for some things, like night vision or tv-effects. The grain-effect in Left 4 Dead is sublime, it is not over the top and only noticeable when you look for it, but it adds a lot of atmosphere. Or the TV-screen-effect of Battlefield 2142, when you enter a turret. It moves random lines around and makes it look like some video transportation errors are going on, very nice.
But, and I can’t stretch this enough, some of them are really really iritating. Most first person games are guilty of this, like Far-Cry, the newer Call of Duty or even Prototype. When your health gets low, your screen gets dirty or turns dark or red-ish. This is most annoying, because when your health gets low you need more and better overview over the situation and get cover or something.
The sound is affected to, it gets silent you hear your (characters) heartbeat slowing down. This is not what happens to hurt people. They get adrenaline and are on the height of their senses, at least for a short while. They don’t just fade away. Plus it’s an ass-move gameplaywise. At the moment where I need my senses the most, they get taken away from me. Please bring back the health meter and leave my screen alone.
This is one where I can only grab my head and ask: Why? Although it is mostly older games like Serious Sam or my beloved Freelancer, why do there need to be lens flares in first person games? Does the character have cameras in my eyes or what? When I look at the sun, it goes brown and leaves after shadows.
I can get it a tiny bit for third person games, because they want to be like a movie or something, but camera operators usually try to combat lens flares, because it makes the movie look like, you know, a movie and not as if you are really there.
Lens flares of any kind in games or movies take away the immersion, it make the thing look less real, so why use resources to make it. You could just go back to Pong if you don’t want more realism.
This is my most hated effect of all, because it is overused, annoying, hurts the eyes and can’t be turned off sometimes.
Heaviest offender to my knowledge is Need for Speed: Undercover. Previous Need for Speed’s had it too, but this one takes the cake: It blurs the sky and distance objects. Have you ever driven so fast in any car that the sky was blurred? No, because you can’t, it is miles away and you would have to go mach 20 at least to see it blur on a very rainy day. Distance objects don’t blur, cause they move slower on your eye (or the projection created there).
The only thing blurry are the streets and maybe, maybe foiliage close to the road, but not the sky. What are they going to blur next? The sun?
Luckily in Need for Speed: Undercover you can turn it off by setting World Effects to off or minimum, which also removes the distracting glowing roads.