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Topics - Indigo
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1
Challenges & Activities / Hexquisite Corpse 4 (on pause)
« on: March 07, 2019, 08:01:51 pm »
HEXQUISITE CORPSE COLLAB IV

               
                                                                           
                               


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General Discussion / GDC Art Jam 2019
« on: March 05, 2019, 07:20:17 am »
It's that time of year again! We're hosting another art jam at GDC.  Details and info here:
www.pixelation.org/gdc

Hope to see some of you there!
-Dan

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Pixel Art / Isometric explorations
« on: January 30, 2019, 11:11:33 am »
Hey guys, it's been a while.  Been playing with some isometric stuff lately for a game idea.  Figured i'd dump it here as I go to gather some feedback.

Tonight I started making a pine:

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Pixel Art / MOVED: Software recommendations?
« on: September 08, 2018, 08:46:37 pm »

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General Discussion / Pixelation 2.0
« on: August 27, 2018, 07:24:38 pm »
In the Community Updates thread, I mentioned that we've been considering new software for Pixelation.  We heavily investigated a few options, some of which were quite a radical departure from a forum in terms of format, including Mastodon.  After great feedback and further reflection, it's clear the current format is largely working for us and instead of looking to radically change it, we should look for ways to refine it - codifying some of the ways we operate into built-in features,  removing a bunch of things that aren't necessary for us, and perhaps adding a few new features that would embrace what pixelation is.  Unfortunately, there is no great out-of-the-box software that suits our needs, so I've decided to start writing something from scratch.  This is no small task, and there's currently no timeline for how long it will take, but I think it will be worth it in the end. In the meanwhile, I figured I'd start this discussion so you can help shape what it becomes.

Here's the design philosophy we've been working towards:
  • Minimal Friction
    In addition to making pixelation a better place for current users, we also want to be drawing in new artists. This means we should reduce the friction and anxiety by joining a new community.  It should be easy to register, and easy to jump in and participate.
  • Easy Sharing
    It should be easy to share content on pixelation on social media with built-in share options to help draw in new users.
  • Immediate Content
    We are a community about art, yet it takes several clicks to even see any - diving in an out of threads to find what's interesting to you. We can do better. It should take zero clicks before you start seeing content.  Not only does this simplify things a lot, it also makes it a much more exciting website to browse for new visitors.
  • Mobile Friendly
    Today's modern era is mobile.  Browsing on mobile should be as pleasant as browsing on a PC
  • Long-Form Posting
    The ability to write long, rich-text, posts have been a staple of what makes pixelation valuable as a platform for knowledge and critique.  We plan to keep it that way.  No character limits, full BBCode (or equivalent) support.
  • First-Class Images
    This is where traditional forum software fails us. Images should be a first-class feature of the forum, providing thumbnails, gallery views, and featured banners all automatically.
  • Searchability
    Pixelation has always been a great repository for knowledge, and it should be easy to search for that content.  Tags have been working well for us and will be built in as well as easy linking to a pixel-wiki for common principles.
  • User Appreciation
    Part of finding good content will be aided by a Karma system.  Users will be able to like posts/replies that showcase good feedback, information, etc.  This should also encourage better quality critique.  Featuring a thread will be a built-in feature as well.  Moderators will be able to mark a thread as featured just as easily as stickying a thread.  Featured threads will automatically be shown in the forum's banner on the front page, and you can sort threads by featured to get a quick overview of notable content.
  • Moderation Tools
    We should keep good tools to moderate content to keep the quality high and not devolve into an off-topic mess
  • Personalized Content
    You should be able to follow the content you care about to keep up with new updates.  The home view will be a feed of content that you specifically follow.  You can follow threads, or specific users to see all their posts (follower/followed stats will not be surfaced).
    In addition to the public boards, each user will also have a private "portfolio" board that only they can post to (but others can reply).  This would be an extension of a user profile and is where you'd post finished works to act as a gallery/portfolio, or where you can post things like sketch journals or dev-logs - basically anything that doesn't need to be broadcast to the forum at large.  When you follow a user, you also see this content.
    You can decide how to view the forum content; as a feed of latest posts, traditional thread listings, or as a thumbnail gallery.  Clicking on each of these will take you directly to a traditional thread with linear-comments just like you're used to.
    There will also be 3 color themes available; light, dark, and classic pixelation purple
  • Collaboration Tools
    Stretch goal: a lightweight image editor for quick critique without ever needed to leave the site.  Quickly make red-lines or color adjustments in your reply post
  • Extensibility
    Stretch goal: A platform for apps that are sandboxed to a thread.  This would be used for internal activities.  Much like writing a chatbot for something like discord, users can interact with the app through posting a comment.  A great example for this would be the Hexquisite collab - imagine a built-in thread app for this activity, where claiming and submitting tiles is done automatically

With all that said, I welcome any feedback and ideas.  Here is a non-functional prototype design to get a feel for what we've been working on:

Demo: https://artboard.netlify.com/

Screenshot (click to view full size):

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Pixel Art / MOVED: A question to the pixel art veterans!
« on: August 16, 2018, 08:18:55 pm »

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General Discussion / Community updates
« on: August 10, 2018, 07:08:28 pm »
So a lot has happened recently and I'd like to summarize here for the record:

We have disassociated the discord from the forums
Initially, the idea of having an official chat sounded great for re-engaging the community.  However, in practice, it became problematic for a variety of reasons.  I suspect it actually reduced participation in the forums.  The culture of the chat shifted drastically from the forums, so much so that it hosted a dedicated politics channel that often fostered bigotry and antisemitism.  To compound that issue there was a disagreement within the mod staff about how to handle it - if at all.  Moderating a chat would be a daunting responsibility due to the constantly flowing nature of the discussion, even if we didn't have disagreement within the mod staff.  It became clear that having an official chat was a failed experiment for pixelation.  It has become quite an active community in its own right, and I wish it the best of luck in the future, but it isn't what pixelation is.  If we can't moderate our chat in the same spirit as pixelation, then we shouldn't be hosting one.

We need to review our rules/guidelines on the forum
In light of the above, It's clear that sometimes leaving things to interpretation can lead to misalignment in the leadership.  Rallying behind a point as ambiguous as "Don't be an ass" can have different meanings to different people.  We need to review our rules and guidelines and develop new ones that are more proactive and specific to the behavior that fosters a good and inclusive learning environment for artists.

Helm and Ptoing have rejoined as Moderators (at least temporarily)
The concerns brought up by Helm and Ptoing were part of the reason these changes are happening.  While we are working through these new changes, I've brought them back on board to help shape the future of pixelation.  Having had such pivotal influence in the development of pixelation in the past, they are always welcome here.  Due to life and other responsibilities, their long-term participation might be limited, but they'll be helping for the time being.

New moderators
As you're already aware, resulting from these changes some moderators have decided to step down including Crow and Cyangmou.  Both have been extremely valuable assets to pixelation in the past and I am sad to see them go amidst this drama.  I was hoping to minimize the amount of drama the community was exposed to, but oh well.  I wish them the best.  To fill the gaps, Kiana and Elm have joined to bring fresh eyes to pixelation's moderating staff.

The long-term future of pixelation
Setting aside all of this, Pixelation has a much larger problem.  It's dying.  It has been for quite a while actually.  My efforts some time ago to revitalize the forum with a renewed focus on activities, board restructuring, and the new theme has largely failed.  Pixelation used to be one of the few major hubs of the pixel art world.  But the truth is that while pixelation has dwindled over time, the pixel art community in large has been exploding elsewhere.

There has been a lot of discussion about why this might be the case.  A big part of it, I believe, is the format. The format of an online forum such as this is antiquated for today's standards. Things have been trending towards social platforms providing more immediate feedback such as Tumblr and Twitter, which is why it's no coincidence the pixel art community has been thriving on these platforms.

We are currently exploring new software for the future of Pixelation, currently heavily investigating Mastodon.  Mastodon uses the format of Twitter but is entirely decentralized allowing us to run a dedicated instance that we can customize to our liking.

Switching to a new format would be a BIG change for pixelation, and might even fragment the community, but if we're thinking long-term, that might be the best move.  How to transition to the new format is a whole discussion itself; should we archive the forums?  Run them side-by-side? Just make a hard switch?  We need to think more about these things and I invite discussion about it.

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General Discussion / Scheduled Down Time 11PM Pacific Time
« on: July 27, 2018, 07:46:23 am »
We are moving pixelation to a new host.  The move shouldn't take much more than a couple hours.  If there are issues with the forum after the move, please post in this thread to let us know

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Devlogs & Projects / Index Painter
« on: June 11, 2018, 06:01:15 am »
So it's been 4 years since I wrote about my HD Index Painting technique and there was a huge amount of interest - more than I could have imagined (over 73,000 notes on tumblr alone!).  Generally speaking, people were excited at the possibilities it presented, but the common feedback I kept receiving was it's simply too complicated and cumbersome to use in practice for most people, not to mention it required expensive professional software to even try.

The idea of making a dedicated app for this process started pretty much immediately after publishing my article, but at the time, I determined it wouldn't be a viable endeavor.  I was deep in the midst of working on Chasm on top of my day job, leaving me with very little spare time.  And even if I had more time, the vast majority of work would be in recreating basic photoshop-like features such as their excellent dynamic brushes, as well as the table-steaks of any good image editing software such as undo-redo, layers, selection, transformations, etc - all before even starting to work on the pixel art aspects at all.  I wasn't sure how to approach making it with my limited programming knowledge, and it wasn't even clear to me how large the market would be for a specialized tool such as this.

Quite a lot has changed in that 4 years that has made me reconsider the idea.  Chasm is near complete and will soon ship, meaning my free time is about to become more open.  More and more indie games have adopted the technique and it's been wonderful and fascinating to see how they've applied it and hearing their success stories of how it benefited their speed and workflow.  It's become clear that if such a tool were to be available, there would be a decent market for it.  I've also become a more competent programmer since then, getting more experienced with next-gen web technologies such as node and react, as well as graphics pipelines/shaders which would be necessary for this project.

So here we go!

I'm building a dedicated HD Index Painting application called Index Painter (working title) built in Javascript using Node, React, and WebGL, and it'll be bundled as a stand-alone desktop application using Electron.

Recently there's been a resurgence of new pixel art tools in development, and some extremely excellent newcomers such as aseprite and pyxel edit.  It's important to me that this project doesn't become just more noise in the market.  As such, it has the following design goals:

1) Index-painting focused
It doesn't need to compete with other pixel art applications, nor should it.  Instead it should focus on what it has to offer which is completely unique and unavailable in other programs - namely the ability to HD index paint.

2) Simple workflow
The complicated layer stack that Photoshop required was obviously too much hassle for most, but *any* workflow that deviates too far from standard pixel art workflow will likely alienate and push out potential users.  Ideally the workflow should feel completely comfortable to traditional pixel artists as well as digital painters and shouldn't involve convoluted steps or modes to switch between.  If you want to pixel traditionally, grab the 1 pixel pencil tool.  If you want to index paint, grab the soft brush. simple as that. There should be zero friction transitioning between the two, instead, it should feel like one seamless process.

3) Familiar/flexible user interface
Too often, pixel art applications either re-invent the wheel or are stuck in archaic paradigms when it comes to UI/UX. It's important to me that this tool adopts modern standards and feels familiar and easy to approach for new users.  The interface needs to be streamlined and unopinionated; adapting to your preferences and workflow.

In this stage of development, I will be pushing preview builds up to the web to get early feedback, but at some point I will likely transition to a pay-what you want beta phase with a downloadable build.

The preview will be pushed here continually:
https://index-painter.netlify.com/

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General Discussion / GDC Art Jam 2018
« on: February 20, 2018, 11:15:15 pm »
We're hosting another art jam at GDC.  Details and info here:
www.pixelation.org/gdc

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