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Interview: Crytek's Yerli On Why Graphics Still Matter

Interview: Crytek's Yerli On Why Graphics Still Matter Exclusive

April 9, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander

Following Crytek and EA Partners' unveiling of Crysis 2 in New York City, Gamasutra had the opportunity to chat briefly with Crytek co-founder Cevat Yerli to get more depth on Crytek's approach to the game.

Crysis was a game that a relatively narrow vertex of the market could experience due to its high-end PC requirements, and as such -- especially as Crysis 2 will be the showcase for the latest incarnation of the CryEngine development platform -- is it difficult for the game's developers to innovate on design when such a mandate has been placed on tech sophistication?

"Not really," Yerli tells us. "Creating IP is a challenge in any regards, whether this is a new IP -- or, as in Crysis 2, a reboot of an IP for different platforms. Challenge is always provided by the fact that we want to make an awesome game.

"We're known as a company that is about the leading edge in the tools and middleware business, and that's one arm of us," he continues. "The other arm -- probably the right arm -- is actually making games. It would be bad if you weren't making games, because then the tech wouldn't actually be proven as a game tool. What we're talking about absolutely works."

"Since the development of Far Cry, for me, it was always about getting efficient in designers' hands and empowering creativity," Yerli continues. "Technology fills in for what you don't do as a designer... you had to abstract the designer from the details, from the technology. There had to be an intelligence behind it."

People refer to those kinds of tools as "procedural," he says, "but it was always about abstracting an intelligent tool design."

Crytek will release Crysis 2 into an environment that wants to declare the high-budget console game a dinosaur in the face of digital and social gaming. A game like FarmVille, as is the common refrain of investors and venture capitalists, can garner millions of users and plenty of revenue without focusing on graphics at all.

"I think graphics matter a lot," Yerli asserts. "It depends on the type of game. If graphics and technology, AI and physics provide you a better experience but a challenge, then ultimately it does matter. You can get an experience out of Crysis 2 you just don't get anywhere else."

He poses: "The call to action for developers is look at your core experience and ask yourself: Is it worthwhile, the need [for] technology? Or is it just a matter of writing a Flash 3D engine and moving into other markets?"

"In my world of gamemaking, I want to deliver blockbuster, highly interactive, highly intense experiences for people that feel like they're in a Hollywood movie," Yerli explains. "And that's just not possible on another social platform where graphics don't matter."

It's "completely fair enough" that these markets exist, he says, noting the "huge potential" in other platforms and other gaming paradigms. "But a statement to say 'graphics don't matter' is to look at what you want to do, really. If I want to make an iPhone game, I can say it doesn't matter. If I want to make a Crysis 2 kind of game, I don't think there's a right or wrong answer to this question."

Moreover, Yerli sees "a lot of opportunity for higher end games" in the middle ground. "I believe if you look at emerging markets that are very big and highly growing... [there is] a potential strategic marriage of those platforms that can result in something bigger."

He urges: "Leave the tradition behind and look forward to what you can do with new technology... instead of looking at it as extremes."

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