AuthorTopic: KOF XII Dot Art  (Read 15983 times)

Offline Gil

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KOF XII Dot Art

on: August 17, 2009, 08:38:14 pm
http://kofaniv.snkplaymore.co.jp/english/info/15th_anniv/2d_dot/art/index.php

Be prepared to weep. When advertising meets pixel art. I'm very unimpressed by the graphics presented in the gallery. The marketing speak is just laughable. Rotoscoping is apparently used for the very first time in this game! Exciting!

Offline Atnas

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Re: KOF XII Dot Art

Reply #1 on: August 17, 2009, 09:34:03 pm
There was some discussion about this in the OT thread before it was translated. I recently saw it posted on a blog somewhere and read a comment like "omg these guys are gods i love japan". or something. I guess that's what they want people's reactions to be..? I'm not weeping because I don't really play fighting games, but I agree it's horrible. If you look at their steps, it actually gets worse as they "refine" the sprites because they're adding a lot of cruddy blurring between colors. And then they display the old sprites at some ungodly NN upsampling which would leave people to believe it actually might be an improvement over the old methods.

Offline ptoing

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Re: KOF XII Dot Art

Reply #2 on: August 17, 2009, 09:42:05 pm
The marketing is bad, and the art is generic looking. Tho that said, it is ok for what it is. I reckon they have tons of frames and quite a big artteam of which many probably are not super awesome animators. So to get consistent results this works.

Gil: This is not rotoscoping. Rotoscoping is only tracing over life action.
There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

Offline Helm

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Re: KOF XII Dot Art

Reply #3 on: August 17, 2009, 09:43:13 pm
The effect is interesting, it's pretty depressing to see all this marketing speak about ART MADE OF DOTS, THEREFORE MADE WITH SOUL and then you see there's little to no pixel-level precision and control that didn't come from working with 3d models and then banding terribly on top. Also the time they spend on these, if they're telling the truth, it's really too much!

Offline Gil

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Re: KOF XII Dot Art

Reply #4 on: August 17, 2009, 09:54:28 pm
The game will probably play and look fine, I just don't buy the crap that this is the culmination of pixel art as an art form as the site states.

I compare their work method to rotoscoping, because they work over another animated medium. The difference with rotoscoping is that they can already add style elements to the animation which should make it more believable, but still a lot more stale than traditional keyframing. They also make it look on the site as though they're the first people working this way, which is simply not true.

And they really really need someone to explain them how pants work and look, because after all these years, they still don't get it right.

Offline junkboy

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Re: KOF XII Dot Art

Reply #5 on: August 17, 2009, 10:34:46 pm
Rotoscoping is apparently used for the very first time in this game! Exciting!

Didn't SNK use to rotoscope quite heavily back in the day? I'm pretty sure I've read about that somewhere..

Offline Gil

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Re: KOF XII Dot Art

Reply #6 on: August 18, 2009, 12:00:23 am
That was supposed to be sarcasm :p

Offline Kren

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Re: KOF XII Dot Art

Reply #7 on: August 18, 2009, 01:53:02 am
Iori Hair looks more like a helmet, seems like they ruined the character :/.

Offline CharlesGabriel

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Re: KOF XII Dot Art

Reply #8 on: August 18, 2009, 03:40:18 am
I see it more or less something normal... not as impressive for the type of technology they use, but I have no complaints about it on the professional level... now that I have been extracting color palettes from old snes games (which has lead me to do a lot of sprite study and observation along the way), I have to admit it's really impressive how colors are placed and used, same as the style of characters made in fighting games specially from Capcom and SNK.

By the way, this is the first time I ever heard of rotoscoping... where do you guys learn all those terms, cause that's the type of stuff I'm yet to read (or find where to read it since no one includes any of this stuff in pixel art sites nor tutorials) about...

Offline Gil

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Re: KOF XII Dot Art

Reply #9 on: August 18, 2009, 05:14:46 am
You pick em up in certain articles. As far as I know there isn't an extensive list of techniques somewhere lying around. You come across them after reading a lot I guess.

Rotoscoping:

An actor performs the animations needed, these are filmed. The keyframes are extracted from the movie and the animation is basically traced over these keyframes, then colored.

Example: Snowhite by Disney (I know no game examples, because they are usually very low in quality). As suggested, some of the older SNK games might have used them.

Work method in KOF XII (presumably):

3D model is created and then animated (probably from live action reference, maybe even 3D rotoscoped). The keyframes are extracted from the 3D model. The artist traces and works over the 3D keyframes.

You can see the similarities, which is why I called it rotoscoping.

Offline HughSpectrum

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Re: KOF XII Dot Art

Reply #10 on: August 18, 2009, 07:28:59 am
Quote
(I know no game examples, because they are usually very low in quality).
What about the original Prince of Persia?  The SNES version looks especially nice and seems to be based on the original animation frames judging by a speed run I watched of it recently.

Offline CharlesGabriel

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Re: KOF XII Dot Art

Reply #11 on: August 18, 2009, 09:05:00 am
You pick em up in certain articles. As far as I know there isn't an extensive list of techniques somewhere lying around. You come across them after reading a lot I guess.

Rotoscoping:

An actor performs the animations needed, these are filmed. The keyframes are extracted from the movie and the animation is basically traced over these keyframes, then colored.

Example: Snowhite by Disney (I know no game examples, because they are usually very low in quality). As suggested, some of the older SNK games might have used them.

Work method in KOF XII (presumably):

3D model is created and then animated (probably from live action reference, maybe even 3D rotoscoped). The keyframes are extracted from the 3D model. The artist traces and works over the 3D keyframes.

You can see the similarities, which is why I called it rotoscoping.

I see. Thanks for the information.  ;D :y:

I have done my fair share of reading, but only stuff like tutorials... and the rest of what I know it's basically practice and observation. I haven't really read articles, maybe about two of them of pixel art... I'm going to take my time and start reading a couple, to pick up some of those terms, I'm in a state that I need as much knowledge as I can about pixel art heh...

Offline Beoran

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Re: KOF XII Dot Art

Reply #12 on: August 18, 2009, 10:27:56 am
Well, I'm already glad that they didn't go for 3D art and went for 2D. OK, their technique may have been "impure", but the problem is that very high resolution pixel art simply takes a lot of time, probably too much time for a commercial game, to create 100% by hand in a pixel-puristic way. 
Kind Regards, Beoran.

Offline Reo

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Re: KOF XII Dot Art

Reply #13 on: August 18, 2009, 11:18:01 am
but the problem is that very high resolution pixel art simply takes a lot of time, probably too much time for a commercial game, to create 100% by hand in a pixel-puristic way. 
Too much time?
it takes over 6 months for each character...

Offline Rosse

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Re: KOF XII Dot Art

Reply #14 on: August 18, 2009, 06:10:38 pm
rotoscoping> I don't think rotoscoping is a bad technique per se. I played the old (DOS) Prince of Persia a lot and I still think the graphics fits the gameplay and mood perfect. So I think it's more of a misuse of the technique than the technique itsef (which noboy claimed here, but whatever ;)). Flashback worked great too, but I never played it that much like PoP.


About KOF. Personally, I think the backgrounds are way more ugly than the sprites, which I find just mediocre. There's a very interesting paragraph in "DOT creation":

Quote
Why construct a 3D Model?
Creating animation patterns for 2D characters was, until now, highly dependent on the skill of the artist assigned to the character. The results could often vary wildly depending on the animator, and to fix this, we developed our animation motions with 3D models in order to standartize every character's moves before anything else. This eliminates individual style differences among the artists and ensures a high level of quality behind every move in the character's skill sets. It also saves the artists from having to draw 2D rough drafts for every frame of animation. The resulting rough pixel art is extremly detailed but still far from original goals, so the 3D models are used primarily as a reference for animation and detailing.

First, let's divide the discussion into animation / pixeltech talk (just like we would critic an animation here on pixelation). In the quoted paragraph, they talk mainly about the quality of animation. If I interpret what they are talking about, I think they are right. Apart from creating coherence, "Tracing" over prerendered 3D Animation (from a decent animator), creates better results than "from-scratch" work from a bad animator. But in return, the animation is just as good as the 3D animator. And I think we all agree, that hand-drawn animation has the ability to create animation which has that magical feel, which most of the modern 3D stuff lacks (Of course, it all depends on the animator).
What I want to say is, that using animated 3D models as a base is a efficient way to produce decent animation without having very experienced 2D animators (which are probably rarer than 3D animators these days). To this point, I'm not talking about the polishing of the single frames, just the animation by itself.
So talking about the animation, I think they did a good thing (mediocre), but if they talk about godly animation, I think they don't deserve this rank. The animation is pretty stiff compared with older fighting games animations. Remember all these bouncing boobs in the SNK games back then (I'm not a supporter of bouncing boobs!)? In this KOF the boobs are nearly frozen. Well, maybe it's a stylistic choice (realism? Character design?), but I assume it's because of the stiff prerendered 3D Models. And maybe more eye-catching, the falling skirt, which behaves very unnatural for me.

If we want to talk about the pixelquality, I think they didn't do a very special job. I think they did a good job of producing coherent results (a coherent look over all the different characters). But pixelquality wise, I think the didn't paid very much attention to the single pixels. Banding is a term which was used very often. Another thing I noticed is the lack of antialiasing of self-shadows. Why is that? It gives the impression of a fast rendering job by bad artists. Just like the color departement in the old animation films. Lots of people which colored the cells without thinking (because they are paid per cells and thinking reduces the output).
You can call me silly, but I state that it's possible, today, to code filtes/shaders that can render similar looking sprites from 3d models even on the fly. Think of "hinting" in Fonts these days. A similar technique could be used to prevent important details from disappearing. Other algorithm could be used to create nice looking edges and curves. The color quantization could be done on the fly or in preproduction by good artists. I don't say computers can create great looking pixelart, but they can produce mediocre pixelart on the fly which is probably similar to what we see in KOF XII (maybe that's a topic for itself, but whatever). To work 16 month on a single character of this quality animation-wise and pixel-wise is a waste of time and money imho (the used time is probably an advertising-lie).


But what bugs me the most about KOF XII are the fugly backgrounds. Okay, if they are 100% animated, everywhere, then maybe they have a reason to use a 3D base (but overanimated backgrounds would only be annoying, tho). The design is way to noisy for a background, the characters are fugly 3D-shaded puppets, the architecture is mostly boring and the mixture with 2D painted, 3D rendered and pixeled doesn't work as a single piece of artwork. Thinking of all these amazing pictures fool has uploaded on pixeljoint lately makes my artist- and pixel-heart cry. Maybe they spent all their love and soul already on the genious sprites?

Offline Gil

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Re: KOF XII Dot Art

Reply #15 on: August 18, 2009, 07:02:04 pm
I more or less agree with what you said Rosse.

I just want to add the following: you could say that the lower quality isn't a problem because we are talking game art, deadlines, etc. At 400 frames per character, I guess 6 months would fly. 6 months x 25 (work) days = 150 days for concept art, 3D model, 3D animation and 400 frames. That's probably like 4 big frames a day at least, which is a huge undertaking.

In any case, the main problem might be overmarketing here. I do think that the banded overrendered colors could have been handled better. It's very jarring when looking at the folds in pants, which look like pillowshading meets banding. This might be a very good game for a commercial critique if we can extract the resources somehow from that player. It would be interesting to see if someone can prove that less is more.

Offline sonic_reaper

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Re: KOF XII Dot Art

Reply #16 on: August 19, 2009, 07:45:28 pm
I'm not really sure why you guys are complaining.  All Japanese companies act and talk in a similar manner in their marketing ("we're the best", "never done before", "pinnacle of 2D/3D", "yada yada yada").

If you've seen the game in motion, it actually looks pretty good.  Certain characters though, for some reason, just animate like ass (Leona and Mature, for example), while others are more or less, genius, IMO (Andy and Ash, for example).  It's funny that they say this technique eliminates discrepancies between styles and quality, when, it's very apparent that that's still occurring in the game today.

Offline blumunkee

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Re: KOF XII Dot Art

Reply #17 on: August 19, 2009, 09:05:31 pm
The KOF games have always looked like ass and have always had stiff animation. This new game just makes it more explicit.

I would have prefered it if they just made the graphics in high res using anti-aliased brushes and different opacity layers. It would go faster and look better in the end. This art is hurt by all the disadvantages of pixel art and doesn't employ any of the advantages.

Offline Ryumaru

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Re: KOF XII Dot Art

Reply #18 on: August 20, 2009, 09:06:13 am
I might be the only soul here that likes these sprites.. quite a bit :x

edit: I don't know if it applies as much with all these fancy new plasma t.v. screens and such but personally one thing that attracts me to these sprites is that the cast shadows have absolutely no AA on them, and all other shadows are naturally( albeit banding I agree helm) blended as the form turns towards the light source. The way older t.v.'s showed pixels, the banding would turn into seamless soft edges and the cast shadows would be wonderfully crisp but not ugly.

If you don't like this art, Goro will have his way with your boobs anyway.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2009, 09:15:17 am by Ryumaru »

Offline HughSpectrum

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Re: KOF XII Dot Art

Reply #19 on: August 20, 2009, 09:51:15 am
A high definition TV is in reality much like a computer monitor.  It'll display pixels crisp if you play, say, an SNES game on it, so there sadly won't be any CRT adjustment of pixels here.

I agree, I like the sprites, but I also agree they can be so much better with proper treatment of pixels.  I do like the animations based on what I have seen of YouTube vids (then again YouTube vids are of questionable quality.)

This marketing of pixelling with soul is probably aimed at fighting game purists shunning Capcom for making SF4 3D.

Offline Corsair

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Re: KOF XII Dot Art

Reply #20 on: August 20, 2009, 10:54:05 am
I think the biggest crime here is that in spite of all the time spent on it, the game *still* feels very half-assed.
I also have strongly negative feelings towards many of the "new" character designs. I can't quite put my finger on it, but ever since falcoon got a job, every new character introduced just comes off as insipid and tacked on.
Falcoon, I just want you to know that I think your designs are terrible. TERRIBLE.

Anyways, the whole "dot art" flyer looks like a fairly typical arcade flyer akin to what you would have maybe seen in the early 90's. It's pretty silly no matter how you look at it.

Offline Tuna Unleashed

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Re: KOF XII Dot Art

Reply #21 on: August 20, 2009, 09:38:00 pm
I loved the animation in the older KOF games. often the accuracy was stunning yet the moves were still flashy and crazy.

Offline ptoing

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Re: KOF XII Dot Art

Reply #22 on: August 21, 2009, 01:13:43 am
Also I like how the top of Raiden's clothes looks like drawn onto his body. Nice bit of craftsmanship there.  :n:
There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

Offline blumunkee

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Re: KOF XII Dot Art

Reply #23 on: August 21, 2009, 01:19:15 pm
There's a alternate color where his top and emblem are flesh colored. Looks like they did that specifically so he could go shirtless.

Offline ptoing

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Re: KOF XII Dot Art

Reply #24 on: August 21, 2009, 06:16:38 pm
still lame, could have been done better even if made for colourswapping. I don't approve.
There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

Offline JaViS

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Re: KOF XII Dot Art

Reply #25 on: August 21, 2009, 06:40:17 pm
Well guys I'm tired, you are filling your mouths with words telling a lot of bullshit about the graphics of the game. But I really want to see you doing something better!

Comon' do something, show me you are better than them, 1 sprite only, in HD, an stance animation,

Show me you can do better or stop talking bullshit


"still lame, could have been done better even if made for colourswapping. I don't approve."

Who are u to approve or not something!
« Last Edit: August 21, 2009, 06:42:26 pm by JaViS »

Offline ptoing

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Re: KOF XII Dot Art

Reply #26 on: August 21, 2009, 07:47:31 pm
[...] But I really want to see you doing something better! [...] Show me you can do better or stop talking bullshit

See Javis, this is the beauty of critique: you do not have to be as good as the person you are criticising, you merely need to have enough understanding of the subject.
I am not a musician, tho I can still tell if a certain piece of music is poorly made.

The difference is that here many people are very good pixel artists and if given the assignment to do something like this could do as good or better.
To be fair the team making KOF is under a timeschedule which probably is quite tight so more power to them for doing things in a streamlined way which does require minimal back and forth communication to approve stuff since there is a really simple style guide.
The main problem I am having is the high talk they are spouting on their page, which is marketing yes, but total nonsense.
The art in KOF is so streamlined and robotic in execution that there can not be much talk of soul.

Who are u to approve or not something!

This reply was a bit tongue in cheeck and sarcastic, next time I will add some kinda smiley  :crazy:
Of course I am in no place to tell anyone what they should do unless I would be in their team heading the art direction.
That said, I worked on games where we had colourswapping which was quite complex, but that would require extra communication between the coder(s) and the artist(s), which I take there is no time for in such a big streamlined game.

My suggestion to you is not to take everything you read on the internet at 100% face value and not get a knot in your pants if someone attacks something you might be a fan of. It will make your live a lot less stressful.



To the people who said the times estimated are hilarious, have you actually calculated it?
Let's see:

1 working month = 20 days
6.5 month = 6.5 x 20 = 130 days

1 normal working day = 8 hours
130 days = 130 x 8 = 1040 hours

1040 / 500 frames = 2.08 hours per frame.

Roughly 2 hours to clean up frames as big as the ones here from the 3D render to a flatshaded 2D look or to do the gradiation and whatnot pass seems a fair time assessment to me.
There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

Offline CharlesGabriel

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Re: KOF XII Dot Art

Reply #27 on: August 22, 2009, 03:29:23 am
Well guys I'm tired, you are filling your mouths with words telling a lot of bullshit about the graphics of the game. But I really want to see you doing something better!

Comon' do something, show me you are better than them, 1 sprite only, in HD, an stance animation,

Show me you can do better or stop talking bullshit


"still lame, could have been done better even if made for colourswapping. I don't approve."

Who are u to approve or not something!

I love many of the old work, however this isn't as great as they make it sound it is, really... as everyone says, it's a bunch of smooth talk for marketting purposes... they are making it sound like it is the ultimate form of pixel art... which is not, that's what people mean though. I understand your reaction... and it reminds me of the reason why I don't join game fan-forums... cause you either agree on liking something or agree, if not you get all the fans attacking you. Face it dude, we're all different... some people here think their talk is bullshit, just like how you think these protests against that talk is bullshit... get my drift? gnight.

Offline Arne

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Re: KOF XII Dot Art

Reply #28 on: September 08, 2009, 12:48:08 pm
Ignoring pixel optimization issues, I actually like some of these. Their take on Athena with the thick thighs and cute face is at least close to the spirit of the original design (something which is rare). Their shapes/lines are reasonably dynamic, and I prefer the use of flat shadow and light with a saturated edge over the muddy linear gradient chrome poop we saw early in the 16 bit era.

As for the pixel art-ness... these sprites are pretty huge so there's a lot of barren areas with not a lot of detail. Smaller sprites have more places for clever pixel optimization, perhaps? These huge sprites have a weird [too flat/smooth] look, like nothing new and interesting comes from the larger size (they give me the same feeling I get from clicking on an interesting thumbnail, only to discover that the high rez image is a boring smooth airbrushed thing barren of detail). Also, the large size of these sprites kind of promotes banding. It seems to me that the shadows could have used some darker areas (or interesting fill light) because they look a bit flat now.

It's interesting that they use Athena in that article, because that game is my current redesign project.  Graphically it's pretty OK I think. It has some interesting designs and simple colors. The characters are poorly brought to life though, with stale animation and quirky movement. The (arcade) intro is brilliant.

Also, a public LOL @ JaViS

Offline junkboy

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Re: KOF XII Dot Art

Reply #29 on: September 08, 2009, 01:57:18 pm
Somewhat OT:

You probably know this already, Arne, but SNK did their own little revamp on Athena a few years back, a japan-only cellphone game. Really nice-looking in my opinion, especially since they kept the chubby 80s design on Athena herself. Looking forward to seeing your take on it though.

http://game.snkplaymore.co.jp/mobile/i-mode/special/athena_ft.php

Offline Arne

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Re: KOF XII Dot Art

Reply #30 on: September 08, 2009, 04:01:41 pm
I saw that. I thought the pixel art looked really good until I saw a close up. I can't find that many screens from it though. Japanese promo sites have a tendency to publish small badly mangled pictures.

This was one of the better ref pages which I came across when doing research:
http://homepage3.nifty.com/foruser/athena/index.html

World of Spectrum had some obscure material from the Speccy port:
http://www.worldofspectrum.org/infoseekid.cgi?id=0000307

The first chunk of links on this site has some fun magazine scans:
http://gamedic.jpn.org/museum/tirasi/genre.htm

My Athena project is pretty new. I've poured most of the time into research and playing the games (Arcade/NES), so I only have a few first iteration scribbles and brain farts:
http://androidarts.com/athena/

Offline Helm

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Re: KOF XII Dot Art

Reply #31 on: September 08, 2009, 09:12:07 pm
As for the pixel art-ness... these sprites are pretty huge so there's a lot of barren areas with not a lot of detail. Smaller sprites have more places for clever pixel optimization, perhaps?

actually, it's really beautiful when something large is properly hand antialiased and banding is minimized... a pleasant tension between large flat space and concentrated pixel wizardry.