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Ouli

Pixel art & VP games

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One of my favourite kinds of art is pixel art whether it's looking at it or making in myself. It's especially nice for RPG or dungeon style games. I was wondering though, how well it can combine with the VP genre. I've seen some RPG and dungeon elements pop up in games here and there yet pixel art seems to be rare. Is it unpopular for a reason or has it just not caught on yet?

 

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I could be wrong, but this is just from what I have observed and tend to feel myself.

Pixel art for games in general seem to be an outdated medium. While in the past, the technology to make smoother lines or even realistic or 3d renderings did not exist, or weren't that practical. As technology grew it seems to have made making higher res mediums more practical and producible. And people tent to gravitate towards smoother lines and shading than blocky.

Granted there are some games that still use pixel like appearances, but most seem to not make appeal to the modern aesthetics. I do not like minecraft-like 3d rendered pixel mix, but seems a lot do like the mix of most modern medium with the older original. I know that's not what you were talking about here though.

It seems very hard to make pixel art appealing to today's audience. Gaiaonline (as much as i am very bitter about them in general) seem to have got the pixel art to appeal to modern audience. That seem to make the transitions between pixels feel smooth and less blocky yet also retain the pixel art over painted feel. Habitica on the other hand went back to 8 bit. It is very ugly if you ask me. The avatars and most pets do not look appealing to me at all and most items look the same just recolored since there is not a lot you can do with such limited pixel space. And to me that got boring real fast, but seems some like it. I'm not sure tho i never looked into specifically how people feel about Habitica's art.

I feel pixel art is a very tedious medium (I like making it too but it's pretty difficult do to the hard and pointed edges). However, I do feel that if you create a nice balance or new way of using the medium of pixels it can be refreshing to look at rather than feel too old school.

I mean unless your target audience is specifically people who grew up on pixel games and want to re create that nostalgia. But if you ask me that is limiting your target audience too much. However, I am not a business owner so what do I know. This is just assumptions from what I have witnessed and learned in college.

With that said, if you wish to appeal to a younger audience you have too step into their point of view. They are not being raised on pixel games any more, to them that is old history. They now experience high res 3d renderings and now potential vr renderings first. You should keep that in mind when working with your pixel medium if you wish to appeal to younger generations. Maybe add more gradient areas to your pixels, maybe add something new and undone with pixels to your finished pieces.  I wouldn't give up on it, I think pixels as a medium can be good, they just got put down by modern artists due to the new technology and mediums out there.

If you are going for a nostalgic feel, you can , just know that younger generations won't have the same connection as older generations.

I am not saying let go of pixels as your medium of choice. I am saying decide on your target audience and use their expectations and the aesthetics there were are are raised on to implement how you are going to use pixels as a medium to create art that appeals to the expectations and aesthetics, or breaks them in a new way.

I would look for how people talk about the art style in games with the medium you are interested in using as well as of popular games. What does your target audience currently like, what to they not like. Try to keep the reviews or comments that re at most maybe 2 years old to keep it relevant to how people potentially feel about it today. Their feelings can change and it helps to see how others might be trying to predict where the next appeal will go.

I wish you the best! I love seeing new ways artists use the available and older mediums or mixing them!

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Pixel art is great for certain tasks. Namely it allows to animate characters easily. Current VP games don't provide animation or possibility to control a character, so there's no specific reason to use it there. 

@CuddlySpider

Let me disagree. Pixel art is extremely popular today. It's experiencing a rebirth since indie games became popular. Just recall games like Stardew Valley or Starbound.

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I think you're both right.
There's been a drop in popularity as newer technologies became available. Pixel art got as big as it was back then as it was due to limitation, they only really had pixel art to make games with. Computers and consoles back then could only handle so much. after 8-bit I think 16-bit came. Nowadays though there's a lot more you can do with pixel art even. Older games have a limited amount of space and a limited pallette but now you can add more colours and have more space provided you're up to the intensive task of making pixel assets. That leads to a lot more new styles for pixel art. And yes! Lots of indie-games use pixel art. I've seen a lot of new styles come up lately by indie game-makers. Indie-games got big lately.  : D

Some people like the old-school pixel styles, others like modern pixel art. I guess it's still up to taste to a big extent though.
There's a charm to pixel art if done well.

Here's an example of pixel art from Digimon World Dawn. It's kinda VP save that it's a console game rather than a browser game but yeah your digimon are basically like pets that you go explore with and you get into fights with wild digimon.

image.png.fdcec9c5ad4b47025a2f3b0a3d268a36.png

While I can't see 8-bit work well for a pet based or human avatar based site unless they're fine with being small, which is not bad at all if you're running it for pure fun.
Maybe something like the above could work for browser based pet games. Animated would be really cool but a still pixel image could also work. There could be customization if it was as big as the bigger sprites above, I think. If not a full blown game with exploration etc.. I think it could work for adopts..wait yeah now I remember Dragon Cave.

Probably difficult for a browser based VP but I though I'd show a screenie from a game called Owlboy. This is more modern pixel art.

image.jpeg.d03115bb5a83fabced40fd17421bd73e.jpeg

It's got a much smoother feel than most pixel work from before 2000 yet still retaining that pixel feel.

And one of the most beautiful pixel games imo I've ever played,
image.jpeg.b547903a4bb85e2331dda9575522ee35.jpeg

Pokemon mystery dungeon sky. The characters stand out well against the softer environment.

There's lots of ways to go. If done well enough I think there is lots of potential for a pixel game to be popular among those who usually play games in other styles even in this day and age.

It's pretty nice how many different art styles and techniques exist. Pixel or otherwise.


 

Edited by Ouli
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I think nostalgia is definitely bringing a lot of people back to old school type games.  There is some really beautiful pixel art out there.  If you want to check out a pet game with really gorgeous pixel art, check out Magistream.  

Edited to add an example: ff5c5fc06866659eb14b9ff1023e7f978dd7d629

Edited by Kesstryl
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@Kesstryl

That looks very pretty! I explored the site a bit. Lots of lovely pixels! They even have drawings alongside the pixels in some of the bestiary entries. Thanks for sharing this! ^^

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6 hours ago, Ouli said:

@Kesstryl

That looks very pretty! I explored the site a bit. Lots of lovely pixels! They even have drawings alongside the pixels in some of the bestiary entries. Thanks for sharing this! ^^

I've taken it upon myself to collect the very ones you are talking about.  It's the first 50 or so creatures in the Bestiary that have the extra art.  I'm guessing it was difficult for them to keep up with doing that, so newer creatures no longer have it, but a lot of the newer creatures has exceptionally detailed pixel art.  That site has been around for a long time, but still has a good active following.  My main point was you can create a niche game, and who knows, you might generate a good following from the nostalgia crowd, or even introduce younger generations to something that would be new for them.  Pixel art can be really gorgeous and inviting.  I think you should make the game that you want to make, and let it draw the kind of crowd you want it to draw.  If your goal is to just make money, then go with newer technologies and art, but if your goal is to make something you love, then do what you love.  I'm developing a text based really old school PBBG and don't expect a huge turn out for it, but I'm loving what I'm doing, and to me that is my reward for making my game.  I think when you really care about what you are doing, it will make the product shine more.

If you joined up on Magistream, send me a message there and I'll add you to my friends list and send a couple free pets :)

Edited by Kesstryl
typo
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@Kesstryl

Good to hear that about the site and its creatures. Thank you!
I'm busy working on some projects atm so I decided not to join but look around instead. If I ever do join I will let you know.
Thanks again though!

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