First of all I want to say that I am a HUGE fan of graphics techniques, envelope pushing engines, power, and everything that makes a game look gorgeous. I research it on a regular basis. I look at the latest techniques, the latest advancements in GPU tech, and the latest up and coming engines. From polygon to point cloud data to voxels to ray tracing engines. I LOVE all of this stuff. Absolutely love it.
Having said that, there is something that has been driving me crazy for years and that is this obsession with resolution, partly driven by the PC crowd and manufacturers desires to sell high end GPUs without major upgrades. I really feel this has made the gaming world a stupid or ignorant place or BOTH when judging graphics and power.
It's beyond ignorant, so ignorant that gamers have forgot what actually make up your graphics. I don't even know if you could place it in the top 5 categories. Nobody ever freaking talks about anything else anymore.
How about polygon count or geometry in general? Is a 1080p game running 10 million triangles per scene more technically impressive than a 720p game running 2 million triangles per scene(with everything else being the same)? What do you get if you look at that 2 million triangle game when you see it at 1080p? A more CLEAR view of a lower polygon game. Characters will look less rounded. Less objects. Less detail in every other aspect of your game. The only thing you get is a more clear picture. Does that aspect alone, represent a better looking game? You have a more clear view of a shittier looking game.
Have gamers forgot about this?
How about lighting engine? Is a 1080p game running a shadow map driven lighting engine a better looking or more impressive game than a 720p game running a fully dynamic global illumination engine? I would argue a real time path traced game at 720p which will soon start popping up is going to wipe the floor with a rasterized game even at 4k resolution! I would take a game running an engine like Brigade at 720p without noise any day of the week before I would take a rasterized game at 4k. No doubt that Brigade game is likely going to be more impressive in every single aspect than that 4k game and will look better overall.
How about physics?
How about simultaneous enemies on screen?
How about draw distance?
What about animations?
Oh and here's a thought. How about actual texture asset resolution? Do you guys ever pay attention to this? You know, the actual textures that gets UV mapped and pasted on your character or object in the game. What is the resolution of THAT texture? Are all at the minimum necessary res in order to even support the game's main resolution? That matters just as much when it comes to resolution. If your game is running at native 4k but your assets are 1080p textures and you are looking at it through a 4k resolution do you think you truly actually have a "native 4k game?"
What about things that actually -you know - make up your graphics? Not just the screen filter through which you see your graphics, because that's all resolution is. A clarity measurement. Not the actual objects, or 3D geometry, or effects or any of the graphical components that are far more important. It's driving me nuts to see the dominating topic of graphics, or power, be resolution.
And here's a interesting idea for those that are actually interested in the future of graphics. The best looking games in the future, will be those that don't actually rely on traditional image textures at all. At any resolution. Textures are static. They will never scale properly to higher resolutions. They don't actually display true 3D data that can be manipulated or played with in a video game. The clear and definitive way, when you have actually reached the holy grail in graphics, is when you can actually dump textures as you know them out the window and begin adding that detail in through actual 3D geometry or 100% procedural textures. Then it can actually scale properly. If sculpted out of geometry, that geometry can actually cast shadows properly within a dynamic global illumination engine, or reflect things, or be taken into consideration by a physics engine. If you plan on buying that 4k TV and buying a stout GPU that can actually pull it off, but the game is covered in textures meant to be displayed at 1080p, then when you scale it up, all you will most likely see is just the additional flaws you couldn't really notice before.
For the love of god, stop this shit internet! Just stop it! Resolution is not the be all end all of graphics or what makes graphics look good or technically impressive. It really isn't and you are missing the forest from the damn trees if you begin using it as the measuring stick for graphics or power. There's so many more exciting and more important aspects of graphics that should be discussed and are not. There are devs pushing gaming tech and graphics in really important areas, that actually matter much more and everyone is just busy counting freaking pixels.