AuthorTopic: Commercial Critique May 06: Demon's Crest  (Read 15378 times)

Offline goat

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Commercial Critique May 06: Demon's Crest

on: May 01, 2006, 11:26:37 pm


For those new to commercial critiques, this is an activity where the community selects something, usually a game, containing interesting examples of pixel art.  We then discuss the pixel art as a group, analyzing and dissecting techniques that work for the art, and techniques that don't, in order to learn and grow and all that warm fuzzy stuff.

This time it's Demon's Crest, by Capcom.  For better or worse, few people have a neutral opinion of this game's graphics.  Set in a gritty theme and style similar, although superior in execution, to other Capcom platformers at the time, is this game a shining example of what some consider to be a golden age in gaming, or a mere iteration in Capcom's Generic Occult-Fantasy Platformer Machine? 

Finding screenshots for critique:

- Screenshots of this game are available at different review sites and whatnot, but perhaps the best way to get them is to grab them yourself.  The ROM of this game is available for download in quite a few places.  As for emulators, I recommend zsnes.

- I started a bit of a study on this game a while ago that I left unfinished.  Some screens I grabbed of the early game for examination are here.

I would have loved to kick it off with some critique but as you can see I'm already running a little late, expect my opinionated perspective soon though :p
« Last Edit: February 20, 2011, 11:05:34 pm by ptoing »
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Offline vedsten

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Re: Commercial Critique May 06: Demon's Crest

Reply #1 on: May 02, 2006, 12:06:02 am
I wasn't too happy when DC was picked, but just looked at it again and i must admit the gfx are pretty damn sweet.
I don't think i'm capable of doing any critique, but I like a good comercial crit, so I thought i'd get the ball rolling w. a couple of screens.
Might try doing some c&c tommorow tho









Offline Crazy Asian Gamer

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Re: Commercial Critique May 06: Demon's Crest

Reply #2 on: May 04, 2006, 11:36:23 pm
I'm not quite so fond of the game itself (I think the concept is extremely unpolished and rather bland), but these stills vedsten posted really shows the overall quality of the art in the game throughout...
WHICH IS TOTALLY COMPLETELY AWESOME.

(The Dragon is insane. So insane, in fact, it deserves its own paragraph.)

Other than that, it uses most of your standard pixel techniques to create some sort of... crazyass pixel art... game... wow.
I would point out the texture of the concrete wall. It repeats frequently, especially on the leftmost bricks. However, despite repeating so much, DC still manages to EFFECTIVELY eliminate the grid.
The fire highlights to the mouth of the flame thing is cool, too.
The ground has got to be one of the best platformer platforms I've ever seen. The usage of color conservation + the feelings the recycled "musty" yellows generate = 0WN4G3! And skeletons are definitely better than any plain ol' marble, grass, dirt, run-of-the-mill platform.
The main sprite crams in a HELL of a lot of detail. Its hue-rotating colors add subtle nuances to the character.
And then...

The Dragon. Damn. Note the dark blues used to balance out the rest of the piece. Yellow, tan, and white highlights used appropriately... and a very nice shade of bronze. Note its decomposed internal organs, so skillfully placed. Breaking monotony. Note... well, the entire Dragon, because damn, when I saw that thing animated...

There's a really great usage of colors next to the entrance of the shop. the green and orange hues really mix in outside light into the shop. The window light shows bending of light as it passes through certain mediums, and the back wall gets to benefit from the greens and oranges as well (not to mention the whole room is sorta highlighted with that dank green).

And uh... that's all I feel like doing/ am capable of looking at. DC is an amazingly sexy game. Indeed.

Offline Darien

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Re: Commercial Critique May 06: Demon's Crest

Reply #3 on: May 07, 2006, 06:40:07 am


Thought I'd take a look at some sprites first.

On first look at them, I notice that, besides the red in Firebrand, there either seems to be no hue shifting or either hues that vary back and forth, so I'm lead to believe there was no thought of it when making these.  The shifts on Firebrand aren't that drastic either, and it's not on the Earth Firebrand as well, though that could possibly be because the spectrum of the brown earthy shades is so narrow. 

I played around with the hues and saturation a bit:

           

Nothing drastic, but I think it makes them a little more interesting.

Another thing I noticed, instead of having the usual lighter shades are saturated and darker are unsaturated, Firebrand's red skin does the opposite, and goes to 100 percent saturation on only like the 3rd dark shade.  I'm supposing this is because unsaturated red turns to brown, and as they were hue shifting with the Firebrand sprite they already had yellow hightlights, so they needed to up the saturation to make excentuate the redness.  In the others they don't need to be as drastic but they still increase saturation with  as the shades get darker, or there doesn't seem to be any method in altering saturation.

All this may be useless if the artists just didn't have the same amount of freedom as we do because of some possible SNES limitations or something.  Can anyone confirm this?

Offline Akira

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Re: Commercial Critique May 06: Demon's Crest

Reply #4 on: May 07, 2006, 07:05:13 am
from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snes#Technical_specifications
Quote
# Video

    * Picture Processor Unit: 15-bit
    * Video RAM: 64KB
          o 64KB of VRAM for screen maps (for 'background' layers) and tile sets (for backgrounds and objects);
          o 512 + 32 bytes of 'OAM' (Object Attribute Memory) for objects; 512 bytes of 'CGRAM' for palette data.
    * Palette: 256 entries; 15-bit color depth (RGB555) for a total of 32,768 colors.
    * Maximum colors per layer per scanline: 256.
    * Maximum colors on-screen: 4,096 without alpha and 32,768 (using color arithmetic for transparency effects).
    * Maximum colors per sprite: 128
    * Resolution: between 256x224 and 512x448. Most games used 256x224 or 512x224 pixels since higher resolutions caused slowdown, flicker, and/or had increased limitations on layers and colors (due to memory bandwidth constraints); the higher resolutions were used for less processor-intensive games, in-game menus, text, and high resolution images.
          o Resolution 512x224 named pseudo high-resolution is sometimes used for color blending between two sprites with dithering technique. For example: Kirby's Dream Land 3 (aka Hoshi no Kirby 3 in Japan)
    * Maximum onscreen objects (sprites): 128 (32 per line, up to 34, 8x8 tiles per line).
    * Maximum number of sprite pixels on one scanline: 256. The renderer was designed such that it would drop the frontmost sprites instead of the rearmost sprites if a scanline exceeded the limit, allowing for creative clipping effects.
    * Most common display modes: Pixel-to-pixel Mode1 (16 colors (4-bit) per tile; 3 scrolling layers) and affine mapped Mode7 (256 colors per tile; one rotating/scaling layer).

So your edits should be fine as long its within the 15 bits.
I like the high sat edits myself. Maybe it was just artist preference?
From the screenshots it seems that the mid ramp saturation adds a bit of a pop and helps to define the major shapes when see on a dark background while not providing too much pop that the characters stick out abnormally.

EDIT: The less saturated colours also make the sprites seem scummy and dirty rather than nice and clean :P
« Last Edit: May 09, 2006, 05:53:54 am by Akira »
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Offline Lick

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Re: Commercial Critique May 06: Demon's Crest

Reply #5 on: May 08, 2006, 12:05:18 am
Perhaps it was also to destinguish the main character with the side characters (I haven't played the game but they seem like villains to me). Or they worked longer on the main character..
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Offline Xion

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Re: Commercial Critique May 06: Demon's Crest

Reply #6 on: May 08, 2006, 03:16:52 am
Quote
EDIT: The less saturated colours also make the sprites seem scummy and dirty rather than nice and clean :P
Look at the world they live in. Of course they're not gonna seem nice or clean.

Offline Darien

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Re: Commercial Critique May 06: Demon's Crest

Reply #7 on: May 09, 2006, 05:21:21 am
True, I have not considered how the edited sprites would work in conjunction with the backgrounds.  Though I dunno that the less saturation makes them seem less scummy. 

As far as the backgrounds go, though, when viewed as a complete whole, they leave me wanting more.  I'll probably look more into this and the rest of the game once finals are over. 

(I'm hoping finals and the end of the year crunch are what's contributing to the lack of action here.  Also--Commercial Critique Challenge, anyone?  If no one else wants to set one up, can I? I just think people will be forced to think about the art in DC more actively when they try to emulate it.  Also, great stuff for portfolio's, I'm betting.  We already see from the Popeye boktai sprites that developers like it when artists can adapt to different styles.)

Offline Skulkraken

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Re: Commercial Critique May 06: Demon's Crest

Reply #8 on: May 09, 2006, 10:48:11 am
This might be the wrong place to ask, but why not base the next critique on a commercially released game that was put out into the market with utterly horrible pixel art, complete with grids, gradients, and whatnot?  A commercial critique challenge could be included wherein pixelers attempt to salvage and redeem said art.

Offline Darion

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Re: Commercial Critique May 06: Demon's Crest

Reply #9 on: May 10, 2006, 02:42:43 am
Because the criticism would already be so obvious? Probably so bad that no one would know where to start.

Its more of a challenge.
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Offline Lick

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Re: Commercial Critique May 06: Demon's Crest

Reply #10 on: May 10, 2006, 08:36:03 am
[ot] Well, it's a community-thing so the point is that people can participate. If you draw the line so high, I don't think people can join in. Besides, even though the graphics of this game are very high quality in terms of pixel art, I think a more stylized game would be more appropiate to discuss. Sorry for being [/ot]
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Offline setz

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Re: Commercial Critique May 06: Demon's Crest

Reply #11 on: May 10, 2006, 04:18:55 pm
This might be the wrong place to ask, but why not base the next critique on a commercially released game that was put out into the market with utterly horrible pixel art, complete with grids, gradients, and whatnot?  A commercial critique challenge could be included wherein pixelers attempt to salvage and redeem said art.

What I personally like about commercial Critique is it teaches you techniques and such that you can use, taking on a game with horrible art wouldn't teach me much at all.

And to make this post not useless, I would say they spent the most work on the graphics that you see the most [demon sprite and it's various forms] and not so much on the backgrounds as a whole, but rather one screenfull at a time. Or a background that you'd have to sit there and see awhile [boss fights] I'll play through and grab some screenshots soon, though I don't know enough to be able to tear them apart.

Offline ptoing

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Re: Commercial Critique May 06: Demon's Crest

Reply #12 on: May 12, 2006, 05:14:26 pm
Another thing I noticed, instead of having the usual lighter shades are saturated and darker are unsaturated, Firebrand's red skin does the opposite, and goes to 100 percent saturation on only like the 3rd dark shade.

That is physically correct, human skin does the same. Just take any photoof a human and colourpic the shades and look at the saturation. The lightest colour on a white person is a whitish pinkish redish colour with perhaps a bit of yellow, and white is as desaturated as it gets. The furster into the shadows you go the more saturation you normally get.

There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

Offline Helm

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Re: Commercial Critique May 06: Demon's Crest

Reply #13 on: May 12, 2006, 11:34:35 pm
Bah what you just said totally is up to the lighting conditions on the human flesh, and specific phenomena like pigmentation of the skin and subsurface scattering of color.

Offline ptoing

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Re: Commercial Critique May 06: Demon's Crest

Reply #14 on: May 13, 2006, 02:47:59 am
Yes sure it depends on the lighting, but it's the case in general with human skin, SO BAH YOURSELF!

There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

Offline ndchristie

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Re: Commercial Critique May 06: Demon's Crest

Reply #15 on: May 14, 2006, 10:14:51 pm
ive found that, living in a more or less all-white region there are typically white-whites, yellow whites, pink whites, and warm (orange/brown) whites, and the differences are very, very easy to spot.  everyone though has a variety of tones on and under the skin that make for a huge amount of variation.  as highlighting is concerned, the more light is on something, the more 'true' it will be to what its natural saturation is, but everything can be distorted, especially if the light is not white.  in terms of patterns in this, saturation in my experience neither heightens nor lessens based on any real set rules that ive been able to discern.  low-sat colors (in white light) can gain saturation in shadows, and high-sat colors (in white light) can lose saturation in shadows, its all tricks of the light to me.  anyone can set me straight if they like :P

thought: perhaps, since shadow hues move towards the hue of the air (does this fall under atmospheric perspective? i just know it as a foundation of color theory), the saturation values in shadows also becomes that of the light reflecting off the air between the viewer and what is seen, therefor able to be more saturated or less saturated than when viewed in normal white light?
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Offline Helm

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Re: Commercial Critique May 06: Demon's Crest

Reply #16 on: May 16, 2006, 04:55:44 pm
Dunno who can help you with particulars of light, but I just felt the need to point out pure white light is something that doesn't exist in nature (except I guess, lightning bolts?), it would take a fluorescent lightbulb or something, you know, clynical bathroom light whatever to get that. It's very harsh and unflattering light.

http://www.itchy-animation.co.uk/light.htm

this remains a good guide. light is complicated

Offline Esker

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Re: Commercial Critique May 06: Demon's Crest

Reply #17 on: May 21, 2006, 07:10:19 pm
Dunno who can help you with particulars of light, but I just felt the need to point out pure white light is something that doesn't exist in nature (except I guess, lightning bolts?), it would take a fluorescent lightbulb or something, you know, clynical bathroom light whatever to get that. It's very harsh and unflattering light.

http://www.itchy-animation.co.uk/light.htm

this remains a good guide. light is complicated

Actually that's a very good guide, thanks for posting it.