After several rounds of seeing games in my game development portfolio class, I;ve begun to ask myself why do so many of the games struggle to achieve an acceptable level if visual quality. As a graphics programmer this is something that concerns me greatly because often times our purpose is to facillitate the best looking game possible. So why then do many student projects fail to achieve a professional level quality in their aesthetic?
It would be simple enough to argue that academic programs with a smaller pool of artists will be the driving factor behind poor game aesthetics. I think the issue goes a lot deeper than this for a couple of reasons, but having a stronger artist community will indirectly be associated with better looking games. The reason I think this is that it takes a large slice of the team to make a visually pleasing game. Programmers need to have good animation controllers and neccessary shaders, artists need quality textures and animation, and designers need to create levels that allow players to take in the aesthetics of the game properly.
So in the end, I almost feel like the greatest obstacle to good looking student games is a general lack of caring, which almost seems a little harsh. However, I think students too readily cave to only just scraping by with their games for class. This is why a strong artist community will have a strong impact, because not only will artists have better resourcces and expectations for their artwork, but they will also know when their programmers and designers are screwing them over.
All in all, I hope to see more good looking student games in the future.