AuthorTopic: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!  (Read 173240 times)

Offline Helm

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #110 on: June 07, 2010, 03:30:59 pm
But about the idea that there could be a middle point between pixel art that hides its pixel artiness (demoscene) and the low-barrier entry of retro pixel art (it's made of a few squares!), where the appeal is in the crisp, controlled and sharp form and shape, how about it? Something that is neither retro-nostalgia "IT LOOKS LIKE AN ATARI!!!" or the other end of "OMG IT LOOKS LIKE OILPAINTING"? Any thoughts? In my ideal space it's somewhere below Fool's level of rendering and somewhere above stuff like this.

Basically I think there needs to be a reduction of dependence on anti-alias, especially where it starts veering towards vector-like art. Dithering is a good idea where it can sort of be visible at 1x zoom, single pixel speculars are good but single pixel noise is bad. And on the other hand the subject matter should be expansive and brave, not just 8-bit looking character/game art. Of course, banding is the devil because banding == carelessness, lack of control and forethought on how clusters work together.

Offline Darien

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #111 on: June 07, 2010, 10:40:59 pm
I think there could be a lot more interesting stuff done with low resolution work, like superbrothers--I wouldn't say their stuff isn't retro at all, but I would also say it is also anti-retro

Offline Helm

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #112 on: June 07, 2010, 11:24:19 pm
I love superbrothers but how is it anti-retro? Not saying it isn't specifically, I'd just like to hear your argumentation.

EDIT: as an addendum to my position on my post before this, also another way to create 'gateway' pixel art that emphasizes sweet sweet control and beautiful pixel clusters without making it look like demoscene oilsoup is - besides working slightly sharper/with less aa than some of us are used to - is to enforce a mandatory x2 zoom on some pieces. In pixelation we have the zoom script and the sharpixel css, but not every place on the internet does. I think people being able to see the pixels at at least x2 zoom would get them to appreciate them more than they would if they were 'doing their job' and faking infinite resolution/oil painting pastiche, sometimes.

Like this for example, is the opposite of what I'm talking about. Looks good at 1x zoom because it's so heavily photoreferenced/aa-smoothed but looking at it at 2x zoom makes it look worse, the pattern dithers break the planes and make the whole thing look flat, there's banding in the aa and so on. No offence to dawnbringer of course and I'm sure a lot of dedicated pixel artists can see the artistry... but besides wowing outsiders about how 'holy shit, is this even pixel art, this looks like a photo!!!!!'... what is it doing at 2x zoom that makes it good pixel art?

What I think I'm getting at is that in order to get more people to appreciate the medium, the medium itself should not only welcome scrutiny but give positive returns for the attentive. At 2x zoom a lot is apparent about technique that isn't at 1x zoom. At 5x zoom the pixels are so large there's not a lot of technique left to talk about (retro pixel art) but where is the median?
« Last Edit: June 07, 2010, 11:31:30 pm by Helm »

Offline Darien

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #113 on: June 08, 2010, 04:48:05 am
Well to answer that I think I'll have to try to explain what I perceive to be retro pixel art.  There are a lot of examples that would work just as well but I'll pick a screenshot from snake's Owlboy:



To me, this is about as retro as it gets.  Not timeline-wise, as we have pixel art that references C64 or Atari or art, but in terms of intention or goal.  Owlboy seems to be trying to elicit from the viewer the reaction of "hey this looks just like SNES!" or perhaps more accurately "this looks just like SNES but better!"  And most pixel artists out there, it seems to me, are going for the same reaction, even if they aren't actually making a game and are just making sprites or mock ups.  That "I wish I could play this" reaction, which seems to aim specifically as though these pieces of pixel art were something you could have popped into your SNES at one point.  These styles deliberately appeal to the viewers (and the artist's) nostalgia, which is, I think, incredible indulgent.  Which is fine; I can't deny that I look for a download button when I see a screenshot like this.  I don't know snake's story but I imagine it goes like this: he got into pixel art because he wanted to make games like he used to play when he was young; over the years he got incredibly good, even better than most of the old 'masters' and still makes art like he wanted to see in a game when he was young.  That may not actually be snake's story, but it's a common enough story regardless (it would be my own story if I had ever gotten good at pixel art).  Most of the old talented pixelation members are still making big-headed sprites or muscly warriors or the like as though there is nothing else to do with the medium, and that's what most people want to see.  To me, this sort of continuing progress in technical skill is, while impressive on one level, ultimately boring, because most of the art is still focused around the sensibilities of games from the 90s.  In my view not much better than the 'bad pixel art' stuff Gil was talking about that focuses completely on the nostalgia trip.



(from DESIGN REBOOT HD)

But superbrothers... it is retro, to an extent, and I wont say it isn't indulgent at all--I think you'd be hard pressed to find any art that isn't indulgent in one way or another--but it seems much more self conscious.  The left screen looks a lot like a videogame, and superficially looks like it is all retro--it's lo-fi, you can see all the pixels in a relatively simple style, and it is some sort of warrior we like we could see in an old-school RPG.  But I can't imagine that existing when I was a kid.  It's anti-retro because it doesn't appeal to nostalgia like Owlboy does because nobody made games that looked like that back then--and I don't think many people would have liked to see it back then either--most people wanted a prettier Zelda or a more badass Contra or an upgraded game of choice.  It eschews old game sensibilities like the bright colors or big muscles and heads or dramatic poses.  I guess I see it as anti-retro because the big pixels make me want to say "just like old games" but when I look at how it's presented I just think, no, games weren't like that at all.  



I had a lot more trouble articulating that than I thought I would... I'll continue to think on the subject.
« Last Edit: June 08, 2010, 05:54:54 pm by Darien »

Offline Jad

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #114 on: June 08, 2010, 06:55:59 am
Most of the old talented pixelation members are still making big-headed sprites or muscly warriors or the like as though there is nothing else to do with the medium (...) . 

I .. I, really, no, or ... ? Is that really so? Muscly warriors? Isn't that just a sorta bad example. You could've said 'game-y art' and I'd have agreed with you.

To me, this sort of continuing progress in technical skill is (...) ultimately boring, because most of the art is still focused around the sensibilities of games from the 90s. 
Haha, yeah. Games from the 90s (or rather, nerd pop media from the 80s/90s, esp. japanese) is a never-ending source of goodness and fun for me. Whenever I think I've lost interest in anime, something from 85-95 pops up and makes me love the shit of it - whenever I think I've lost interest in games, I find a game from the 90s that makes me all giddy. For me this is not about nostalgia, it's about the whole culture - something that existed before has died down now, but for me there is no reason to keep it so. The games and media from back then feels so incredibly fresh and intersting to me, for me it's just a matter of creating media that melds with my own interests and sensibilities. I want to kick off from there, but evolve it and release the potential that lied in the game and media of that style. I'm glad others are doing the same! But yes, of course, it does get boring when noone feels like surpassing their old masters, but just copy them over and over. But still, people are getting better and better at pixel art. If these people didn't exist, the art form and skill would be completely DEAD now. The oh-so-omnipresent graphics of seiken densetsu 3 wouldn't be something boring that everyone has learned to copy - it'd be a relic of time, and a proof of craftsmanship that NOONE possesses (sp?) anymore. I'm so happy it isn't so. ; u ; (way more words than I'd have needed to get my point across, but I'm at work and don't have time to write short things)

In my view not much better than the 'bad pixel art' stuff Gil was talking about that focuses completely on the nostalgia trip.

Except that Gil was talking about horrible art that believes that being retro is an excuse for being so.

You're talking about excellent art, that you feel maybe should excuse itself for being too retro. (as in, copying something existing instead of going its own way with the aesthetic, I think...?)

I think the latter is much much better.
' _ '

Offline alspal

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #115 on: June 08, 2010, 08:19:35 am
NOONE possesses (sp?)

Almost, it's "NO ONE possesses".


Offline Reo

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #116 on: June 08, 2010, 01:44:38 pm
On the topic of snake and owlboy:

interview with snake where he talks about why owlboy looks like it does and also about pixelart in games, surprisingly fitting for this topic.

http://www.gamereactor.no/grtv/?id=7181&l=GDC

Offline Darien

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #117 on: June 08, 2010, 03:34:26 pm
Most of the old talented pixelation members are still making big-headed sprites or muscly warriors or the like as though there is nothing else to do with the medium (...) . 

I .. I, really, no, or ... ? Is that really so? Muscly warriors? Isn't that just a sorta bad example. You could've said 'game-y art' and I'd have agreed with you.

I originally wrote "muscly demons" but I didn't want to take such a direct knock at st0ven.  But I don't think "game-y art" really approximates what I mean... superbrothers can be very game-y (and remember my intention with that post was to explain why superbrothers was anti-retro, not just to say why I've been bored by recent retro pixel art).  I think "game-y art that still clings to 80s or 90s sensibilities" is closer to what I'm talking about.  And that's what stops superbrothers from being strictly retro for me--the way it, I think, very deliberately doesn't play into those old school sensibilities.

Offline Helm

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #118 on: June 08, 2010, 04:55:44 pm
Darien thanks for your explanation. I do not personally agree that Snake's art for Owlboy looks 'like Snes art'. For me stuff like this looks like SNES art. RPG portraits, little jrpg characters, sideways views for brawlers or fight scenes with all the mauve and purple tints and over-rendered shapes. Snake's shading style in Owlboy is decidedly new-school, very sharp, not that much anti-alias. His color choice is not oldschool because it's quite austere. I see snake's art coming from a capcom appreciation background but as far as owlboy goes  I think it goes beyond that quite a bit. I do not look at Owlboy art and think 'this is like what I could have on my Mega Drive (I didn't have a snes)!' at all. What I mentioned plus that there are no visible grids and tile boundries is enough to put it decidedly outside the retropixelart context. Put it next to Cave Story and you'll see my point.

About superbrothers, whereas people would have liked art like that in the past is not the point. That you could sorta find art like that (I agree that it's not the same but it hearkens back to some paradigms) on the c64 and especially the Atari with its quadriplewide pixels means that people will recognize the nostalgia. I do think superbrothers art starts at least at a nostalgic base but then yes, according to what project they're working on, it might move against those nostalgic preconceptions. I cannot say for anything in specific because I haven't played their game yet.

So although I found your points very interesting, I cannot say we've come to an understanding.

Offline Darien

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #119 on: June 08, 2010, 06:18:39 pm
Perhaps to say Owlboy looks like SNES and superbrothers doesn't look like old games was a little simplistic... of course there are many ways that Owlboy is new school just as there is a lot of new pixel art that doesn't look like it was lifted off a Mega Drive or SNES.  I guess when I said Owlboy "looks like SNES" I meant mostly in terms of attitude toward itself and where it comes from, rather than technical rendering--perhaps that it is very comfortable with itself in continuing and expanding upon the tradition of old 2D games and game art.  Superbrothers on the other hand seems to me to have a different attitude... one that is a little less loving toward its roots, maybe.  It doesn't look like an old game to me because I never saw that attitude before.

Quote
So although I found your points very interesting, I cannot say we've come to an understanding.

That's okay, I haven't thought about these subjects much before and so I am still trying to come to an understanding with myself.
« Last Edit: June 08, 2010, 06:20:18 pm by Darien »