I always ask myself and come to the conclusion of Gameplay > Graphics. Sure in a perfect world I would want both but that doesnt always happen. Aion SWG AOC SwTOR name all the MMO and still I end up back playing Ultima Online. **** graphics but a simplified gameplay that surpasses even the most complicated and indepth games out today. Should developers step back and create a not so pretty game.
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Gameplay and graphic quality are separate entities and there is no reason that you can't have both.
It almost seems like what you're saying is that if modern games were developed with poor graphic quality they would somehow have better gameplay. I don't believe so, I think they would just be crappy looking games with the EXACT SAME gameplay.
I think the real problem here is that modern development concerning the gameplay has changed for what many PC gamers consider the worse, and those changes had nothing to do with graphics, but for appealing to broader (dumber) audiences.
I think it's easy to forget sometimes that many of the games that we consider to have awesome gameplay also had cutting edge graphics at the time. There is no reason this still can't be the case.
Pub16 killed it for me. I dealt with Trammel, Factions (which was sometimes cool - certainly better than the "factions" modern games have), and Runic Weapons. But the change in skill gains and the scrolls just were too much. I left right before they tried to implement a class system and make the game into a horrible attempt at a Diablo II clone.