Your Thoughts on Pixel Art

This is where you can deliberate anything relating to videogames - past, present and future.
Post Reply
User avatar
arry_g
Member
Posts: 718
Joined: May 20th, 2013, 12:45 pm
Location: Ashford, Kent (Sort of)
Contact:

Your Thoughts on Pixel Art

Post by arry_g »

So, if you have the time to indulge me I would like to know where people stand on pixel art in relation to videogames?
  • Do you feel it ever goes out of style?
    Do you have a particular era of pixel art you love and hate?
    Do you think indie games over-rely on pixel art?
    Do you want to see more?
    Do you want to see less?
The more you can say on the topic and the more diverse range of opinions, the better!

User avatar
Flabyo
Member
Posts: 3329
Joined: August 8th, 2013, 8:46 am
Location: Guildford

Re: Your Thoughts on Pixel Art

Post by Flabyo »

I know that I dislike it when people call modern pixel art '8-bit' when the number of colours at once that developers use now wouldn't even be possible on a 16-bit console, let alone the 8-bit ones.

I also really hate it when people rotate pixel sprites. It just looks wrong if the pixels aren't axis aligned, part of my brain screams at it.

I think it has some associations now with 'overly arty hipster indie game that thinks its deeper than it is', that can taint it in many peoples eyes, but as a conscious style choice I don't think it's something that will go out of fashion. I'd like to see people move past their fixation on it though, there's plenty of other art styles to go for that aren't the same as the AAA plastic doll look.

User avatar
dezm0nd
Moderator
Posts: 4010
Joined: August 28th, 2012, 9:48 am
Location: Leighton Buzzard

Re: Your Thoughts on Pixel Art

Post by dezm0nd »

1) Any art style can stay relevant if your game really lends itself well to it. FEZ is a perfect example, despite being 3D. Incredible use of pixel art.
2) Super NES pixel art is fantastic when Mode 7 is used. I love the effects used. I've always enjoyed the rigidness of the NES over the Master System, too.
3) I don't think there's an over reliance on it but I would like to see more 3D games being developed from indie developers.

User avatar
Alex79uk
Member
Posts: 6028
Joined: September 2nd, 2012, 12:36 pm
Location: Walsall, UK.
Contact:

Re: Your Thoughts on Pixel Art

Post by Alex79uk »

I like it, I think it looks good, but I agree it's possibly being overused at the moment - it does seem like every second indie game is using it. Personally, if we're talking visial styles I'd quite like to see cel-shaded make a bit of a comeback, that's not been used much in the last few years.

User avatar
magicjoef
Member
Posts: 630
Joined: September 2nd, 2012, 4:58 pm

Re: Your Thoughts on Pixel Art

Post by magicjoef »

Do you feel it ever goes out of style?
Back when the PS1 era was starting I was rather shortsighted and felt games were 'moving on'. But in general 2D pixel art has actually fared much better than those early 3D efforts, and has been embraced and used to really good effect in the modern HD era too. As dezm0nd already mentioned, FEZ took a retro feel and did amazing things with it. The art style in that game is as visually stunning to me as the latest blockbuster.

Do you have a particular era of pixel art you love and hate?
I didn't have an early home console and grew up with a C64. I actually have a bit of a love / hate relationship with the pixel art from that machine. Nowadays I have a fond nostalgia for it, but at the time they would always put the lush Amiga screenshots on the back of the C64 box, and I would always feel a bit let down at the reduced fidelity once it loaded up on my machine!

Do you think indie games over-rely on pixel art?
Not really. I think it has been an excellent way for some developers to get their work out there in a cost effective way, and can sometimes place the emphasis on a mechanical element of the game to be explored, for example Gunpoint. If a game is good I don't mind it being pixel art, and if there is a wide choice, all the better!

Also, I think there is a balance being struck now that tools like Unity are lowering the barrier of entry into 3D games. It means that developers don't have to go down a 2D pixel art route just because of their available tech, but will do so if they have a genuine idea / passion for it.

Do you want to see more? / Do you want to see less?
As above really. If the games are good then I'm in! There is such variety on Steam now that I think there is plenty of space for pixel art games.

User avatar
brutaldeluxe09
Member
Posts: 61
Joined: May 27th, 2013, 3:22 pm
Location: Nottingham

Re: Your Thoughts on Pixel Art

Post by brutaldeluxe09 »

I can completely understand why it's so prevalent because if you can code a bit but are unable to draw, pixel art is very accessible, yet it's probably quite difficult to master without any real artistic experience. Personally I love it, when it's done well, there's a depth from the expression and animation that I don't get so much with most other 2D art styles.

User avatar
Scrustle
Member
Posts: 1986
Joined: November 18th, 2012, 6:02 pm

Re: Your Thoughts on Pixel Art

Post by Scrustle »

I do like pixel art, but sometimes I do think it can get a bit overused. I think there is some truth to the idea that pixel art is sometimes used as a crutch for some indie developers who don't have good art. There are definitely a lot of ugly pixel art games out there. But at the same time, having that crutch doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing. If it can provide a relatively easy way for a developer to create something that looks at least halfway decent, then I suppose that's better than the alternative.

But good pixel art is brilliant. I've always thought it's somewhat like a modern form of pointillism, with the way it uses deliberate points of colour to make something that's more than the sum of its parts. Good pixel art doesn't need to rely on the nostalgia factor, and instead just uses it as its own thing. Personally, I'm not sure I have much of a nostalgia for pixel art in the first place. I started off playing games on a Game Boy, but it wasn't exactly the graphics that impressed me then. It hasn't aged that well either. But I never had a home console that wasn't 3D. Yet still I really like the look of well done pixel art, whether it's from the time when that was the cutting edge of graphics, or if it's being used as a modern stylistic choice.

In terms of going out of style, it definitely did at some point. As magicjoef alluded to, back when 3D was just starting to come in, pixel art was seen as old fashioned. It's why they went for that pre-rendered look with the Donkey Kong games, and why Symphony of the Night became a cult classic instead of a big hit on release. But now of course we have this revival of pixel art games coming from people who grew up with those old original games. I think we're starting to see the end of that too, as people have gotten over that kind of thing. Pixel art is still common, and will continue to be, but now I think we're starting to see more diversity again from indie developers, which is a good thing.
Flabyo wrote:I know that I dislike it when people call modern pixel art '8-bit' when the number of colours at once that developers use now wouldn't even be possible on a 16-bit console, let alone the 8-bit ones.

I also really hate it when people rotate pixel sprites. It just looks wrong if the pixels aren't axis aligned, part of my brain screams at it.
Definitely agree with this. For the style to work properly, you need to keep within a certain consistent set of rules. Cutting corners in ways that break the aesthetic is so ugly. The "8-bit" thing is just annoying ignorance. People thinking they're all cool because they're in to the "retro" games thing, when they have no idea what they're talking about.

User avatar
goatsnake
Member
Posts: 9
Joined: October 1st, 2013, 1:00 am

Re: Your Thoughts on Pixel Art

Post by goatsnake »

Well done pixel art (whether in games or just for its own sake) is a beautiful thing, and in general I tend to prefer more stylised art which restricts itself to some degree. I'd like to see a more varied range of 2D graphics in games though - something like Darkest Dungeon is a great example of non-pixel art that is every bit as striking, memorable and timeless as good pixel art in my opinion.

That being said, I don't actually play a lot of pixel art games, mainly because of the genres I usually play. I could look at Superbrothers: Sword and Sorcery screenshots all day though.

Also, there was quite an interesting discussion on this subject on a recent episode of The Geeks Guide to the Galaxy, which you can listen to here.

Post Reply