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What Ever Happened to 1990's Photo Realistic Games?


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What happened to the photo realism that was seen and admired in 1990's PC games like Toonstruck?  I also enjoyed Gabriel Knight 2 because of the photo realistic player and surroundings.


Gabriel Knight 2



Then came Gabriel Knight 3 and everything bizarrely changed.


I had assumed that we would get 3D photo realism by now, but we still get the cartoon effect.  Is there a legal reason to make sure characters do not look too real?  I would imagine they just need to get a player to stand on a turntable and then take a photo from every angle around them and mask the jpegs to a blank model and do this with every NPC as well.  However the games that came out afterwards focused more on the cartoon effect.  Was this simply a cost-effective measure, a gamble with new technology, or is there still regulations that prevent photo realism in video games?


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Those early photo-realistic CD-ROM titles were a big deal for a few years but dropped off for two reasons - one being the advent of real-time 3D graphics (which were much cheaper and simpler to produce than filming live actors and environments) and the waning interest in traditional point-and-click adventure games.

I think Phantasmagoria in particular was extremely expensive to make at the time (cost something like $5 million which was a lot for a game in the 90s).

These days there are a few games with live footage (such as Her Story), but for the most part it's simply not possible to make a modern AAA game using this technique as, without real-time graphics, the gameplay is too limiting.

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There are plenty of applications that model photo realistic graphics.

But the only place you find them used these days is in AAA games because smaller creators don`t have the money for the software, and many are so complex they are hard to learn outside of University. Computer games are also made for a range of machine specifications to sell to as many consumers as possible. So low spec machines (which are the most common) need to be taken into account.

GTA 6 will be the next major one to be announced.

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It's true that applications for creating photorealistic graphics are often associated with the gaming industry due to their resource-intensive requirements and the need for high-quality visuals. However, there are various software tools and platforms available that cater to a wide range of users, including independent creators and artists who may not have the same resources as AAA game developers. These tools have become more accessible over the years.

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