AuthorTopic: Is pixelling as art dead in games?  (Read 13241 times)

Offline AdamTierney

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Is pixelling as art dead in games?

on: November 06, 2006, 08:04:29 am
Pixelling is pretty much dead in gaming outside of mobile and handheld Nintendo systems, and it just seems like so much of that is awful. There's the occasional Boktai, but most handheld games seem really cobbled together in terms of art design; even if the individual aspects look okay (animation, BGs, models, HUD), it's rare to find a pixel game with cohesive art direction, where every piece compliments the rest.

Are we over the hill in terms of great pixelling in games? Will it ever hit the creative height it did in PC games decades ago? Have you seen or played anything with art that really blew you away? Have you seen/played anything recently that surprised you in how awful it looked? And what are your feelings on the subject in general? Wherever possible, try to support your thoughts with examples and images from games below.

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Offline .TakaM

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Re: Is pixelling as art dead in games?

Reply #1 on: November 06, 2006, 08:32:01 am
2d console games, really the only one I play currently is street fighter 3rd strike on the xbox
nicely organised site showcasing the graphics: http://www.newwavemugen.com/~zweifuss/index.htm
definetly my favourite fighter, great controls, great backgrounds and I love the sprites
but really thats about it as far as modern(ish) 2d console games go..
but ofcourse Im still showing plenty of love to classic snes games, and while not many of them are absolutely beautiful, like you said each piece seems to compliment the next, perhaps just now-adays developers are making 2d games with 3d versions in mind :'(

2D games are pretty much dead on consoles, but I highly doubt they will ever dissappear completely. sure I'd expect many years to go by with no 2d games on consoles but I'd never rule out the possibility, the niche alone of a 2d game showing up in a generation of 3d games is a pretty attractive prospect and would attract a lot of attention.

edit-
also four swords adventures, even though a lot of it was pre-rendered, everything fit together nicely, and it seems like it wouldve been fun to be a part of the team that made the game
« Last Edit: November 06, 2006, 08:56:49 am by .TakaM »
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Offline AlexHW

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Re: Is pixelling as art dead in games?

Reply #2 on: November 06, 2006, 08:38:29 am
I believe part of it has to do with the developer's continuous search for the next wow factor which overlooks any disciplinary efforts towards restricting oneself and focusing upon specifics.
It also has to do with big teams, dividing the work, in hopes to maximize the work flow and put out more stuff. When you have a bunch of people working on seperate things, you tend to get mixed results.

now, if people can get over their thirst for being wowed with technology and artificial things, and look for the natural beauty, then I believe pixel art would be more accepted/welcomed. It is an art which has a direct connection to a persons mind and intentions, and it is not like other game art which is cold and connected to computation.

Offline ptoing

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Re: Is pixelling as art dead in games?

Reply #3 on: November 06, 2006, 01:03:49 pm
It is an art which has a direct connection to a persons mind and intentions, and it is not like other game art which is cold and connected to computation.

I call bullshit on this. Any well done art, no matter what medium, be it traditional, pixel, cg, 3d, gameart shows intentions of the maker and so forth.
Pixelart is special in how it's created, as in working directly with the smallest possible screen element, but well done 3d needs just as much care on another level.
There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

Offline Lawrence

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Re: Is pixelling as art dead in games?

Reply #4 on: November 06, 2006, 02:35:59 pm
I don't think "pixeling as art is dead in games," as you put it. Over time, the more technology advances the larger & broader the group of people who develop creative output on/with that technology. Just look at journalism. 'Professional' journalists have every right to be profoundly shitting themselves in furious fits of enduring panic because their jobs are slowly being replaced by normal citizens who do the journalists' paid jobs in their own spare time (mainly thanks to the glorious growth of the internet), something you wouldn't have seen happening 10 years ago. I think we'll see something like this in other industries including video games. It's already happening, there are 2D pixel games online you can download already, developed in this manner, I think it's probably just a matter of time before it becomes easier for a growing number of potential 2D pixel game developers to reach a sustained, large audience. I believe the Wii harbors a similar altruistic philosophy. Again all this is probably true for 3D game development, but if I'm not mistaken 2D based games aren't as time consuming to make.
Or on the other hand, all this could all be a load of bollocks.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2006, 02:45:04 pm by Lawrence »

Offline Helm

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Re: Is pixelling as art dead in games?

Reply #5 on: November 06, 2006, 02:44:35 pm
Not exactly. A lot of 2d badly drawn programmer-art games are around, since that's the platform they can code in and that's what they end up making. Pixel art expertise needs some sort of scene to grow. and the scene usually is around commercial releases.

Offline Lawrence

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Re: Is pixelling as art dead in games?

Reply #6 on: November 06, 2006, 02:56:50 pm
I think the the Wii's virtual console will probably be a benefit because I imagine it will be incredibly cheap for independent developers to publish games on it, and in the Wii's iTunes-style Virtual console, poor games will go unnoticed and good games will prevail and receive a large audience. I think this is the necessary 'scene' and it would be commercial enough to be successful.

Offline Helm

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Re: Is pixelling as art dead in games?

Reply #7 on: November 06, 2006, 02:58:13 pm
Yes that's an interesting thought. We'll see it in action I guess.

Offline pkmays

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Re: Is pixelling as art dead in games?

Reply #8 on: November 06, 2006, 03:01:53 pm
Consoles started out in 2D, now they're all 3D. Handhelds started out in 2D, now they're moving to 3D. What's left? PDAs? Maybe watches in the future. Ah well, anyone who doesn't get into pixel art thinking it isn't a niche market these days is in for an upleasant surprise. That's not to say everyone should abandon developing pixel skills, but realistically anyone who wants some long term job assurance is going to need to have solid 3D skills.

Offline Helm

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Re: Is pixelling as art dead in games?

Reply #9 on: November 06, 2006, 03:43:10 pm
Quote
now, if people can get over their thirst for being wowed with technology and artificial things, and look for the natural beauty, then I believe pixel art would be more accepted/welcomed. It is an art which has a direct connection to a persons mind and intentions, and it is not like other game art which is cold and connected to computation.

By the way I don't agree with this at all. I think pixel art reminds the viewer where it is coming from (computers) more than next-gen 3d and as such, the aesthetic weight of 'this is made on lifeless computers' should be aknowledged by the artist, and negotiated smartly in his art. I'm not saying 'draw robots!!' I am saying, draw whatever you want, natural beauty, whatever, but always keep in mind it's put out through the filter of a machine. When this is underlined and understood as much as the topic of the art, whatever it may be, there is meaninful juxtaposition, almost a dialogue in pixel art that is very compelling, in my opinion.

Offline AdamTierney

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Re: Is pixelling as art dead in games?

Reply #10 on: November 06, 2006, 06:05:42 pm
I think art is in the errors. For me, the reason 2D pixel work is generally more recognizable as art of the individual than 3D is because we can see all the little pops and quirks in the animation that aren't perfect or expected. 3D is a mixture of keyframes and automation, which sucks a lot of the error out; In 2D, the goal is more to make something visually engaging. In 3D, the goal is to make something correct. That said, 3D can be just as wildly artistic as 2D, it just tends to be less often because models have to follow simple rules to function in animation (limbs have to connect, elbows and knees have to exist, etc). Take a look at something like Psychonauts, and the models are beautiful and creative:



They're still a little restricted compared to the concept art, or perhaps their potential as 2D pixelled art, but it's close. Also unless a developer is thinking outside the box, their character model doesn't fluctuate much or at all during animation. The character is created, and then they're moved around, as opposed to pixel animation where the individual frames can make for an animation as consistent or inconsistent to the original model as the artist wants.

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Offline Helm

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Re: Is pixelling as art dead in games?

Reply #11 on: November 06, 2006, 06:22:10 pm
Yes the problem with 'whacky' design as in Psychonauts is the lack of imaginative squash/stretching in the animation. They feel like hollow boxes moved around. Maybe in the future this'll be adressed more with more liquidy animations where deformation will look better and be easier to deal with. I found Psychonauts to be vastly uninspired-looking in action, though I can tell the concepting and even still shots hold some sort of aesthetic coherency and interest.

Offline Dogmeat

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Re: Is pixelling as art dead in games?

Reply #12 on: November 06, 2006, 06:34:43 pm
Just face it. Pixel art in games is nearly dead. The only place you really see it any longer is in the UI design, because you want it to be crisp and look nice. I really don't see the purpose in pixel art in games anymore. Do you really think these multi-million dollar gaming companies think to themselves "you know, pixel art sure is swell, we should try and make a game using it because it's such a great form of art." no, they think "everyone seems to like 3d blobs this year, heres a concept, combine the 2, make money.."

Good pixel artists are rare
Pixel art games are expensive

Back during the empire of Interplay even combining the 2 technologies, it took forever to get a game out. These days development cycles are half what they used to be, maybe even more.

Face it gents, pixel art is a hobby, nothing more.
Daisuke Nagano Yokoyama

Offline ptoing

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Re: Is pixelling as art dead in games?

Reply #13 on: November 06, 2006, 06:45:17 pm
I don't think it's errors that make art, that would be a bit much. Tho small errors add charm. Both is doable in 2d and in 3d, some things easier some less easy, both forms have their pros and cons.

The problem atm. is games having no mentionable art direction or being boringly realistic looking.

Windwaker, Ico, Shadown of the Colossus, Viewtiful Joe, Okami, Katamari Damacy even stuff like Ikaruga. Clear well thought out art direction, works well, looks gorgeous.

It's just that publishers want stuff that sells and not stuff that looks interesting in terms of breaking new ground artistically.
There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

Offline AdamTierney

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Re: Is pixelling as art dead in games?

Reply #14 on: November 06, 2006, 09:26:47 pm
Yes the problem with 'whacky' design as in Psychonauts is the lack of imaginative squash/stretching in the animation. They feel like hollow boxes moved around. Maybe in the future this'll be adressed more with more liquidy animations where deformation will look better and be easier to deal with. I found Psychonauts to be vastly uninspired-looking in action, though I can tell the concepting and even still shots hold some sort of aesthetic coherency and interest.

I totally agree. Even though the environments, characters, story and situation were all bizarre and fun, the movement was all very grounded. The same could be said for Viewtiful Joe, which had amazing models and art style but pretty bland animation.

Art direction seems to be pretty impossible to keep ahold of in a licensed or scheduled game. Speaking from experience, I can work with the pixellers and background people a little to decide things out, but at some point it all becomes improv in order to make the deadlines. A lot of what's cool in pixelled licensed games ends up being happy accidents or the ambition of the individual artists, rather than an overarching artistic design. On the other hand, many first party games (like Boktai, and almost anything by Nintendo) seem to do this effortlessly. Their backgrounds and animation don't just match the sprites, they bring out the best in one another. I wonder if there's a different approach the developers behind these games are taking, or if it's really just a matter of having that extra time to experiment collectively and shape the individual art styles.

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Offline Helm

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Re: Is pixelling as art dead in games?

Reply #15 on: November 06, 2006, 09:37:33 pm
Extra time sure, I theorize. But also, that they actually employ people doing art direction that review art and keep it all together?

Offline ptoing

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Re: Is pixelling as art dead in games?

Reply #16 on: November 06, 2006, 09:56:30 pm
Well, art director, massive ammounts of concept art and preproduction, lots of revision of stuff and massive amounts of time.
A game with solid character design and such, but not really artistically groundbreaking, is God of War which has a good amount of bonus videos about the making of on the disks. VEry interesting to see what amount of work goes into a game like this.
There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

Offline Ryumaru

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Re: Is pixelling as art dead in games?

Reply #17 on: November 06, 2006, 10:16:29 pm
i honestly believe, that it may not be completely dead yet, but it will be soon. i think that the real evolution of pixelart now belongs to us: the ones taking pixelart from its roots of just game art and making it into an artform.

Offline Helm

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Re: Is pixelling as art dead in games?

Reply #18 on: November 06, 2006, 10:30:51 pm
I don't think pixel art would ever hope to be anything than a curiosity as a fine art medium. Don't get your hopes up, if you did. CG art will eventuallly be accepted in the fine art community proper, simply because everybody will start painting like this and doing things on computers that can't be done by hand. But pixel art, as distinctive as it is, will never get a lot of people trying it. Big pixels scream RETRO to people and retro has a small audience always.

Offline Ryumaru

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Re: Is pixelling as art dead in games?

Reply #19 on: November 06, 2006, 11:10:49 pm
whos to say the pixels have to be big? even if people started making pieces the size of cg paintings( impractical yes, but so is doing an oil paintting with painter or photoshop etc on your comp) the underlying foundation will still remain merely because of the fact that the image was manipulated at the smallest screen element.

Offline Helm

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Re: Is pixelling as art dead in games?

Reply #20 on: November 06, 2006, 11:20:59 pm
Nobody would do a huge piece and apply pixel techniques to every little bit. It's just insanity. But even if they did, in the eyes of the public that'd just be CG, just good insane-detail CG. Is that what you hope pixel art will be in the arty crowd? If you can't see the pixel, you're misrepresenting Pixel Art.

Offline Souly

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Re: Is pixelling as art dead in games?

Reply #21 on: November 07, 2006, 03:37:33 am
My friends believe that pixel art is unintresting.
They don't like to see the pixels, they don't see the beauty from something made with limited colors where I do.
This is probably because I'm a pixel artist.

Today the demand in games is for 3D animation.
The average person now a days does not find pixel art attractive.
They play games just for the graphics.
I have had chats with MANY of gamers and they base games on the graphics not the originality or the game-play.

Offline Xion

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Re: Is pixelling as art dead in games?

Reply #22 on: November 07, 2006, 05:17:56 am
I have had chats with MANY of gamers and they base games on the graphics not the originality or the game-play.
They're not real gamers.

Offline AdamTierney

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Re: Is pixelling as art dead in games?

Reply #23 on: November 07, 2006, 06:06:44 am
Nobody would do a huge piece and apply pixel techniques to every little bit. It's just insanity. But even if they did, in the eyes of the public that'd just be CG, just good insane-detail CG. Is that what you hope pixel art will be in the arty crowd? If you can't see the pixel, you're misrepresenting Pixel Art.

I've seen pixel pieces that are just that - massive pieces using an ungodly amout of colors, but with the same technique and self-restriction as our works. I've even seen them posted here occasionally. But as amazed as we are when we click them and see all that careful dithering, no one else cares. It might as well be a jpeg to Average Joe.

Offline pkmays

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Re: Is pixelling as art dead in games?

Reply #24 on: November 07, 2006, 06:32:36 am
Which is why the average Joe's opinion should mean about [] that much to a pixel artist. It's like showing up at a Harley Davidson convention and trying to show off your Kawasaki Ninja.

Offline Ai

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Re: Is pixelling as art dead in games?

Reply #25 on: November 07, 2006, 10:26:07 am
whos to say the pixels have to be big? even if people started making pieces the size of cg paintings( impractical yes, but so is doing an oil paintting with painter or photoshop etc on your comp) the underlying foundation will still remain merely because of the fact that the image was manipulated at the smallest screen element.
I must comment that doing such a thing, thinking in that way, would just be mental masturbation. The significance of 'pixel art' at the least depends on the significance of each pixel; necessarily the more pixels in the picture, the less pixel-artish it is, and the more colors in the picture, the less pixel-artish it is.
Don't you feel that your artistic endeavours should achieve something? Filling a huge hole with a teaspoon is more masochistic than artistic.

I do feel that there is room for some middle ground. something that is CG-scaled while sharing aesthetics and stylisms with pixel art (such as restricted colors, custom dithering, fine color control, reasonable precision, shading quirks, clean AA)*. I spend a fair amount of my free time working on technology for this, and my art is targeted toward it. In my assessment, that's as close as you're likely to get to truly large pixel art.

*maybe someone would say, 'that's Oekaki'. Oekaki is sort of a bastardization of both. the only 'mixed' technique is (non-custom) dithering. What I mean would be sort of like doing a CG designed expressly for pixel-art, so that in it's final throes it would seem pixelartish near everywhere, and only considering the piece as a whole would testify to its hybrid nature.
If you insist on being pessimistic about your own abilities, consider also being pessimistic about the accuracy of that pessimistic judgement.

Offline Ryumaru

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Re: Is pixelling as art dead in games?

Reply #26 on: November 09, 2006, 10:17:11 pm
woah woah woah, apparently yall got the idea that the pieces that i  talk about shouldnt have those things such as pallette conversation, and proper pixel tech. without those, it would of course lose the pixel art value.

Offline Dusty

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Re: Is pixelling as art dead in games?

Reply #27 on: November 09, 2006, 10:51:12 pm
In the gaming world, even if the game is good, the first selling point is going to be the graphics. Sure, there are the gamers that appreciate the gameplay first and the graphics later, but those games hardly ever get the widespread talk they need to get to make themselves known. It's always the flashy, good looking, eyecandy games that get all the attention. And sadly, pixel art isn't considered "flashy eyecandy" to the majority of gamers. They can't look at pixel art as we do here and appreciate the style, limitations, the technique it takes to work with pixel art. I think that pixel art is dying, at least in the gaming world, because the only reason people did dealt with it, is because it was all they had. Now that it seems 3d is taking over most of the gaming mediums, there is no need for 2d.

Offline Helm

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Re: Is pixelling as art dead in games?

Reply #28 on: November 09, 2006, 11:37:22 pm
Quote
I've seen pixel pieces that are just that - massive pieces using an ungodly amout of colors, but with the same technique and self-restriction as our works. I've even seen them posted here occasionally. But as amazed as we are when we click them and see all that careful dithering, no one else cares. It might as well be a jpeg to Average Joe.

Actually outside of the demoscene - and boy, do they stretch what would be considered pixel-level detail to the limit - I haven't seen any such piece posted, really. I haven't seen 640x plus pixel sized pieces, finished, detailed ALL-OVER with the same skill and attention as smaller pieces. Care to post links?