AuthorTopic: [Discuss] So what's the big deal with people and "nonstandard" pixelart?  (Read 8482 times)

Offline MysteryMeat

  • 0100
  • ***
  • Posts: 1997
  • Karma: +1/-0
  • "The new alternative to q-tipping your cat!"
    • mysterymeat
    • spoiledmysterymeat
    • View Profile
    • My rad art blog!
I'm sure you've seen the arguments. People will be playing risk of rain, having a jolly old time. They post about it on some imageboard or forum, and immediately you get people yammering about "1 pixel limbs" this or "unfaithful color schemes" that.

I'm curious why it all matters.

There's certainly arguments to be made for authenticity (which I'll address later), but should that be holding the entire medium up to these strange guidelines on what is or isn't pixelart? As long as it looks good, what does it matter?

For example, let's take the recently-release Hyper Light Drifter:



Visually, HLD is great. The colors work well and the art style is appealing, at least in my opinion, which granted is a your mileage may vary situation.
Still, I've already run across people calling it out as "pseudo-retro 1-pixel limb indie garbage" to pull a quote, and this is a sentiment I've seen leveled at many games before.

The most common reasons I've seen leveled at these kinds of pixel art styles is that it's not "authentic" or that it's just fake-retro garbage, usually citing the 1-pixel limbs or use of gradients. While I have no idea about the latter, the former's been a thing since the earliest days of the medium onwards, though it fell largely out of fashion as the graphical arms races began to build speed.

Still, it strikes me as kind of a weird thing to nitpick about so long as the art looks GOOD.
Even Fez, for all it's flaws in and out of the game itself, looks good and is recognizably "pixel art" in style, despite how often it cheats.

Why is it such an issue?
PSA: use imgur
http://pixelation.org/index.php?topic=19838.0 also go suggest on my quest, cmon
MAJOR BORK TALLY: |

Offline 0xDB

  • 0011
  • **
  • Posts: 873
  • Karma: +0/-0
  • Dennis inter-is.
    • dennisbusch_de
    • http://pixeljoint.com/p/1287.htm
    • 0xdb
    • View Profile
    • 0xDB
One is entitled to like what one likes regardless of "the internet"s opinion about it.

I'm curious why it all matters.
It does not.

Why is it such an issue?
It is not.

Still, it strikes me as kind of a weird thing to nitpick about...
Then why make a thread about it to spread the (supposedly negative) exchange of peoples meaningless opinions about something on the net? Or to put it differently: You are making it an issue and you are the one who  decided that it mattered enough to you to write about it. It's not that something matters in itself, it only does if it affects your self. The real question to ask yourself is not why it matters or why it is an issue but how someone else's opinion(the internet's collectively perceived "negative" opinion in this case) about something affects you.

...so long as the art looks GOOD.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It comes down to personal taste (and personal judgement). Like what you like, dislike what you dislike. Let others do the same. It need not affect you (unless it is of course on a matter of life and death or anything "serious" which could have negative impacts on your well being).

Offline MysteryMeat

  • 0100
  • ***
  • Posts: 1997
  • Karma: +1/-0
  • "The new alternative to q-tipping your cat!"
    • mysterymeat
    • spoiledmysterymeat
    • View Profile
    • My rad art blog!
I made the thread because I hear the argument a lot and haven't really been able to get a real discussion on it.
I worded the op rather poorly yeah, but I want to discuss this.
PSA: use imgur
http://pixelation.org/index.php?topic=19838.0 also go suggest on my quest, cmon
MAJOR BORK TALLY: |

Offline Atnas

  • Moderator
  • 0100
  • *
  • Posts: 1071
  • Karma: +2/-0
  • very daijōbs
    • paintbread
    • paintbread
    • View Profile
People commonly project their desires to protect the perceived value of their own art or ideas by making attacks on art or ideas they do not empathize with. If they looked past their ego they'd understand what makes the artwork successful. Maybe they value the ability to draw, so a poorly drawn piece of art confuses them when it becomes popular. 

Hating popular things is easy to do if you attribute value to the social response/popularity a thing receives.

Once upon a time, I found myself in the youtube comment section on a 15 year old male vlogger who makes content geared towards younger teenage girls. A commentor (revealing himself to be 19 and male) was talking shit about the vlogger, questioning why he was so popular, and calling any of the vlogger's fans sluts and whores for no reason, going on for hundreds of comments. Anyway, it's the same guarded emotional response to skinny 1px legs. This 19 year old guy had to know why the vlogger was popular: photogenic, deep voice, wealthy, slightly older than his target audience and thus relatable to them, all things impressionable 13 y/o girls tend to idolize. Instead of investigating why he felt attacked by the existence of this vlogger, he formed a negative emotional response.

So sure. Maybe some people have a reaction to 1px legs because they think its the 'easy way out' as opposed to their sets of values. They'd never... 'stoop to those levels', they'd find their own solution of representing a leg. They don't look past it and wonder if the leg simply isn't important to that artist's work as they don't find thing a or b important to their own work. Or maybe anime or cartoony art offends them. It's 'too simple', it doesn't have the merit of their much more detailed, gritty style. They would be ignoring the subtlety of carefully crafted simplifications and its power to communicate concepts bold and clearly. Or maybe people who love bright colors and cartoony art find more realistic or detailed art to be 'too grimdark/tryhard, needless noisy detail'. They would be ignoring the depth you can only find in minutia and intricacy.

In any event, all of these are just where people choose to draw their own line of whats acceptable to them or not. It's willful ignorance. Hyper light drifter has precise color composition and a lot of work went into that. But it's not something people will see if they can't look past the importance they're attributing to legs or gradients, and why that personally offends them.

Also, there's no 'cheating' in these games that use gradients because there's nothing to cheat. The only place in the entire universe where there's a definition of pixel art that could be cheated are places like the pixeljoint gallery that have acceptance rules. Those rules exist nowhere else, and definitions of stuff like pixel art mean nothing anywhere else.
« Last Edit: April 06, 2016, 08:45:59 am by Atnas »

Offline MysteryMeat

  • 0100
  • ***
  • Posts: 1997
  • Karma: +1/-0
  • "The new alternative to q-tipping your cat!"
    • mysterymeat
    • spoiledmysterymeat
    • View Profile
    • My rad art blog!
That's a pretty solid explanation on the why it happens and that's really fascinating to me as a prospective psychologist, but as an artist I'm curious if there's an actual argument to be made for these criticisms too.
PSA: use imgur
http://pixelation.org/index.php?topic=19838.0 also go suggest on my quest, cmon
MAJOR BORK TALLY: |

Offline yrizoud

  • 0010
  • *
  • Posts: 330
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
"pixel art" can be meant as a medium, as a craft. There are skills common to many visual art media, like color theory and anatomy, and some very specific to the pixel medium, like anti-aliasing and sub-pixelling. A lot of neo-retro games are completely oblivious of ALL these, and thus are very poor examples of the best that could be made from the medium. If they manage to be good games anyway, well, so good for them. But then some people start thinking that dubious artistic choices are part of the recipe for success.

Offline Phoenix849

  • 0001
  • *
  • Posts: 73
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • olegklishinart
    • http://pixeljoint.com/p/45959.htm
    • View Profile
    • olegklishin.com
I always felt I were too dumb and uneducated to have a valid opinion on this topic. One of the main problems I see is that "1px limbs" style is very easy to replicate, and pixel art in general helps to mask your insufficient artistic skillset a lot. So there're a lot of people doing this because it's "easy", while lacking experience of making good and consistent gameart as a whole. The result is often messy and incoherent.

Of course that's unfair towards people who put a lot of work into their games. Hyper Light Drifter sure took a lot of thought and passion towards it. I totally love art direction, but have problems with clarity, terrain readability and general level of visual noise. Maybe it's a professional "purist disease" that causes me to nitpick at certain minor things no one will notice.

In general I've seen very few discussions of this outside of pixel art communities, and I'm sure that absolute majority of players won't even notice things we are talking about.

You can also check comments here, particulary response by FlyGuy:
Quote
I don't know if I would consider this "next level" although it looks amazing.. but I do agree with beetleking and Thu about the popularity of a certain style that I personally think has infected indie pixel art games. And I think it's because many of the artists working on these games have recently picked up pixel art because of the fad. They might not fully understand all of the techniques that have been created through millions of hours of experimentation by experienced pixel artists. Not to say it looks bad, it's just boring at this point. It's time for something new.
A common approach with this "lazy style" (for lack of a better term) are skinny sprites. (Once again, some can look good, but I believe a lot of them choose to pixel like this due to a lack of experience, or simply because everyone else is doing it.) Another thing you might see is a lot of banding, a whole lot of unnecessary colors, stray pixels, and generally what pixel purists would consider sloppy form...probably becuase less time is spent on each asset in order to get the product to launch date faster? Here are some examples.. Sword and Sorcery, Riot, Paradise Lost, Gods Will Be Watching, Witchmarsh, Galactic Princess, Curious Expedition, Irkalla... Then there are games that don't really go the whole skinny sprite route, but alter it a little, they generally still use most of the same fast/messy techniques for tiles/backgrounds. Project Rainworld, Hyper Light Drifter, A.N.N.E., Super Time Force, Crawl.. Like I said, it can still be done tastefully. And some of these examples might be reaching a little..But It's hard to argue that the style in each of these games is drastically new or aren't "HEAVILY" inspired by each other. This argument could be used with 3D games as well (like Call of Duty), so all of this might just be me wasting my breath.. I think the frustration of only seeing a certain style be really popular is what might cause people like Thu to try something else. I applaud him...I for one am bored of the skinny sprites and messier backdrops.

UPDATE:
As for personal input, I think one of the most important pixel art strength is good detail simplification, stylization, clarity and coherency. That's why I dislike glow post-effects, stray pixel noise, overlay gradients and palettes with millions of colors. It's not playing to pixel art strength in my opinion. To my taste "1 pixel limbs" is mostly a fad for people who think that pixel art is "style", "cheap" and "easy". And I found Sword and Sworcery to be frustratingly boring and pretentious. But that's just me, I've met plenty of artists who think otherwise.

I may be too damn stupid to understand cluster theory or arguable cases of banding and consider them too elitist to my taste. I think it all comes down to personal preferences only. Pixel art "rules" are mostly advocated only by a small number of people on pixelation and pixeljoint and may be highly subjective. Though they were suggested by people far, far more experienced, skilled, clever and educated than me, so I at least grew to respect them.

Closing thought: do whatever the hell you want, your life and art are only yours to command :)
« Last Edit: April 06, 2016, 03:09:14 pm by Phoenix849 »
Art portfolio and social media links: olegklishin.com

Offline DawnBringer

  • 0001
  • *
  • Posts: 51
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
If your only metric for graphics is "visual pleasantness" then what does pixelart or anything else have to do with it?

Offline trough

  • 0001
  • *
  • Posts: 66
  • Karma: +1/-0
    • View Profile
1-pixel limbs [...] fell largely out of fashion as the graphical arms races began to build speed.
Nice pun.

Offline Cyangmou

  • 0011
  • **
  • Posts: 929
  • Karma: +3/-0
    • cyangmou
    • http://pixeljoint.com/p/32234.htm
    • cyangmou
    • View Profile
    • Pixwerk Homepage
Some people like a thing.
Others don't like that thing.

Some people talk shit about stuff they don't like.
Some people don't talk at all about stuff they don't like.

Every opinion is equal.
You can't change opinions.
You could slowly educate people, if you think your opinion/arguments are superior. If they are people will believe them over time.

If you create anything though, there will always be a person who dislikes it and if the thing is popular enough the amount of people who dislike it is greater in numbers too.

In fact it doesn't matter, as long as you have your own, very strong opinion about things you value.
It could get a problem if you take general consensus "e.g. popularity" as measurement for "quality".

People who say something is not good either have some very good arguments to make and you should listen to them carefully, or they talk total trash and don't have a more educated opinion on the topic than avarage.
You should try listen to the first group of people, and blend out the second group, because their rage isn't worth your time usually.
"Because the beauty of the human body is that it hasn't a single muscle which doesn't serve its purpose; that there's not a line wasted; that every detail of it fits one idea, the idea of a man and the life of a man."

Dev-Art
Twitter