How long have I waited to hear these words from a game developer?
"...it's all about graphical design, artistic design and direction; not only about high-resolution textures and bump-mapping." --Tomasz Gop, Senior Producer on The Witcher 2
I'm glad there are developers who push the limits of graphic technologies. It's thanks to them that we have the options presently available. But sometimes it seems too many developers fail to recognize that the tools and resources already commonly available enable greater results than are typically seen.
Limits do not always affect creativity adversely. Restraint can be a catalyst for invention.
It's like the evolution of console hardware. Every year, Xbox 360 developers make better use of the hardware than they did the year before. We need people to push the boundaries. But most are better served by exploring the untapped potential of what we already have.
I'm a musician. After thousands of years of use, we're still finding ways to arrange the same 12 notes into exciting new forms of music.
Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata and Ode to Joy, Michaelangelo's David, Da Vinci's Mona Lisa — countless works by their contemporaries are far more complex, yet far less popular. Complexity of design is meaningless to most audiences. It's the refined effect that matters. Simple designs can be powerful. It's like the beauty of a child's love: simple, uncomplicated, but Earth-moving.
Art directors should focus on effect, not on tech. What can you achieve with last year's graphics capabilities?
If you want a concrete example, look at World of Warcraft.