So we used to use a metaphor: a barrel which holds water, a wooden barrel has all these pieces, and you use a frame to put them together. Each piece is for a different aspect of the game — one is for the graphics, one is for the sound, one is for design — and if any one of those is short, the water that you can hold is only up to the shortest part. And the water is the satisfaction of the player.
If you have terrible graphics, and everything else is great, the player will probably just keep saying, “Oh, the graphics suck!” But, meanwhile, if you have really wonderful graphics — like real graphics — but the gameplay sucks, they will still think the game is mediocre, because the gameplay sets the cap.
So, as a small team, there is no way that we can create a cap, a taller piece than a commercial game, but our goal is to keep every piece at the same height; so it could be even higher than some of the commercial games.
Wise words from Jenova Chen in a nice interview with Brandon Sheffield conducted at the Game Developers Conference where we met Mr. Chen for the first time. A very enlightening way of illustrating what we were trying to say in point 3 of our Realtime Art Manifesto, and a nice thing to keep in mind when working on a small budget and staring at those immense blockbusters in utter disbelief.