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Why so many pixel games?


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#1 nicko786

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Posted 17 February 2016 - 04:38 PM

I've recently started learning GameMaker and have a game in mind I want to make (platformer) and was wondering if there was a reason so many games in the showcase seem to be pixel based graphics? Is there a reason for this, or just preference? I'm not a pixel artist but think I can draw well enough to make my sprites non-pixel (vector? HD? Not sure the term!). 


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#2 Suspense

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Posted 17 February 2016 - 04:47 PM

Because pixel graphics are nostalgic to a lot of the people learning to program at the moment. They are also easier to work with and create.


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#3 nicko786

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Posted 17 February 2016 - 04:54 PM

Yeah, I agree. Just wasn't sure if there was maybe even a technical reason that it's preferred or if it really is just preference/nostalgia. 


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#4 TheSnidr

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Posted 17 February 2016 - 05:14 PM

It's a stylistic choice. Pixel art is an art form - some keep it simple, while others take it to the extreme (like Owlboy, which is made in GM). GM supports vector art and sprites of practically any size, so unless that's your preference, there's no reason to stick to pixel art.

 

Sticking to pixel art has nothing to do with skill level.


Edited by TheSnidr, 17 February 2016 - 05:14 PM.

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#5 RangerX

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Posted 17 February 2016 - 11:01 PM

I am also of the opinion that while pixel art has been the only "medium" once in the past, today its simply an art style. There are tons of games of that art style just like there are tons of indie games that also aren't. Its a matter of preference. 

Go with the graphic style that pleases you first. 


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#6 Khao

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Posted 18 February 2016 - 11:50 AM

Not to mention there's a few fun bonuses for it. Like, computer resources. Having every single sprite and background fit into a single texture page, consuming a ridiculously tiny amount of ram, as well as your game only being a few megabytes in size is kind of beautiful.


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#7 chance

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Posted 18 February 2016 - 12:10 PM

Some modern pixel art is so detailed that it's nearly indistinguishable from vector art, at first glance.  With hyper-fine details and full color palettes.   Beautiful artwork with incredible attention to detail.

 

Not being an artist myself, I tend to distinguish between low-res art and high-res art.  Instead of pixel versus vector styles.


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#8 Yal

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Posted 18 February 2016 - 04:05 PM

There's a HUGE difference between pixel art and pixel graphics, even when you take that art is subjective into account. I die a little bit inside when someone call the graphics in the Five Nights At Freddy's minigames 'pixel art' or even '8-bit'; the graphics have too many colors - disqualifying them from the 8-bit stamp - and very obviously mixes up several pixel resolutions - disqualifying them from being pixel art - not to mention they are ugly as hell. :P You might argue that Lone Survivor doesn't technically have pixel art either, since it uses dynamic lightning effects with color interpolation, but at least it avoids most of the cardinal sins; I would call it a pixel art game but not a retro game - again a pretty big distinction a lot of people tend to not make. There are retro pixel art games, often made because of nostalgic reasons, there are modern pixel art games, done because the designers want to cater to the player's imagination but don't see any reason to weigh themselves down with limitations, and... there are games with programmer art, FNAF and Undertale being the two most famous examples. :P

 

(Undertale's graphics are a lot better, though, partially because Toby Fox eventually got help by a graphics artist and partially because he didn't intentionally try to make them as bad as possible)


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#9 seanMombo

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Posted 19 February 2016 - 03:50 AM

well to be fair, five nights at freddies does have a commodore 64 style segment to it.


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#10 Ninety

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Posted 19 February 2016 - 04:02 AM

That's what she's talking about, those minigames in particular. I think.
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#11 Alpaca

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Posted 19 February 2016 - 04:42 AM

My next game that I will be working on will be pixel art, as I have never done one in that style before. Having said that, I probably won't be able to start it until next year after my current major project is completed.

#12 Yal

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Posted 19 February 2016 - 08:54 AM

That's what she's talking about, those minigames in particular. I think. 

 

Yes.

Five Nights At Freddy's minigames

 

(Emphasis mine)


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#13 Xer0botXer0

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Posted 19 February 2016 - 04:46 PM

It's a stylistic choice. Pixel art is an art form - some keep it simple, while others take it to the extreme (like Owlboy, which is made in GM). GM supports vector art and sprites of practically any size, so unless that's your preference, there's no reason to stick to pixel art.

 

Sticking to pixel art has nothing to do with skill level.

Who is the artist for owlboy ??


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#14 kupo15

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Posted 19 February 2016 - 05:49 PM

Probably because people think that's all they can afford or do. With a really small investment you can get good non pixel graphics. I find it annoying that indie games has been synonymous with pixel games or pixel everything because that is all I see.

 

The funny part is that this form of stylized pixel art they are trying to achieve if paying an homage to retro style is not something that the retro devs were thinking of or how they would actually look. I saw an interview with Ken Lobb and he mentioned this saying that back in the old days, these pixel sprites are being rendered on CRTs which actually blends pixels together compared to current monitors and tvs so you wouldn't be seeing all of these pixels. He also said that devs back then tried their best to push graphics by removing visible pixels as well so these indie games that try to replicate these graphics aren't really doing it correctly. Its basically become an art style that was created from a wrong impression of retro graphics


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#15 Suspense

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Posted 19 February 2016 - 06:46 PM

Probably because people think that's all they can afford or do. With a really small investment you can get good non pixel graphics. I find it annoying that indie games has been synonymous with pixel games or pixel everything because that is all I see.

 

The funny part is that this form of stylized pixel art they are trying to achieve if paying an homage to retro style is not something that the retro devs were thinking of or how they would actually look. I saw an interview with Ken Lobb and he mentioned this saying that back in the old days, these pixel sprites are being rendered on CRTs which actually blends pixels together compared to current monitors and tvs so you wouldn't be seeing all of these pixels. He also said that devs back then tried their best to push graphics by removing visible pixels as well so these indie games that try to replicate these graphics aren't really doing it correctly. Its basically become an art style that was created from a wrong impression of retro graphics

 

It's not really created from an inaccurate perception of graphics. It's created for the love of that feel.

 

It doesn't matter the intent of the game designers during those eras. The end result was the pixel style that many try to replicate today. Some may do it better than others, but those who choose to do Pixel games in that setting want the feel of the classics. Intent of the classics is irrelevant.


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#16 RangerX

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Posted 19 February 2016 - 07:31 PM

Probably because people think that's all they can afford or do. With a really small investment you can get good non pixel graphics. I find it annoying that indie games has been synonymous with pixel games or pixel everything because that is all I see.

 

The funny part is that this form of stylized pixel art they are trying to achieve if paying an homage to retro style is not something that the retro devs were thinking of or how they would actually look. I saw an interview with Ken Lobb and he mentioned this saying that back in the old days, these pixel sprites are being rendered on CRTs which actually blends pixels together compared to current monitors and tvs so you wouldn't be seeing all of these pixels. He also said that devs back then tried their best to push graphics by removing visible pixels as well so these indie games that try to replicate these graphics aren't really doing it correctly. Its basically become an art style that was created from a wrong impression of retro graphics

 

 

- Well, 2d games with simple pixel art IS the easiest you can get for making graphic. This shouldn't be your only motivation to choose an artstyle when you create a game though.

 

- Retro games aren't about giving homage to the work game makers tried to achieve back then, its an homage to old games through the PLAYERS eyes. The nostalgia feeling induced by replaying a game that is made to feel like those old games were graphically speaking.


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#17 kupo15

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Posted 19 February 2016 - 07:38 PM

It can also be from a love of that era...I don't dismiss that at all. You wouldn't purposely use those graphics today if you didn't want to evoke nostalgia. My point was that what we consider retro pixel graphics today isn't really what it actually was back in the day. Today has very stylized pixel graphics and the hardware is so different that you need to do more than just create pixel are to attempt to completely replicate pixel art style. This bit was just an observation I heard from Ken Lobb that I thought was interesting, that's all. The interview is here if you are interested...don't remember where he talks about this

https://channel9.msd...w-with-Ken-Lobb


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#18 chance

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Posted 19 February 2016 - 08:22 PM

The funny part is that this form of stylized pixel art they are trying to achieve if paying an homage to retro style is not something that the retro devs were thinking of or how they would actually look.  (snip)

 

Yeah, it's funny how nostalgia works.  Retro imitations can take on a style of their own, well beyond the original.   It started as simple imitation, but like Suspense said, the original style has become irrelevant, as modern pixel art has grown into its own art form.

 

I think the steampunk movement has a bit of this tendency too.  What started as pure imitation has grown into something unique.


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#19 Yal

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Posted 19 February 2016 - 08:24 PM

It would be really interesting to hear Mike Dailly's opinion about this, by the way, since he is one of really few devs active back in the retro days that is also a GMC member. (*cough cough*)


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#20 Ninety

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Posted 20 February 2016 - 12:32 AM

I'm making two pixel art games. Has nothing to do with nostalgia.

 

Pixel art has become its own art form. It's not always the "easiest way to make graphics". Complex pixel art is much much harder than basic vector art, and vice versa.


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#21 RangerX

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Posted 20 February 2016 - 01:18 AM

It can also be from a love of that era...I don't dismiss that at all. You wouldn't purposely use those graphics today if you didn't want to evoke nostalgia. My point was that what we consider retro pixel graphics today isn't really what it actually was back in the day. Today has very stylized pixel graphics and the hardware is so different that you need to do more than just create pixel are to attempt to completely replicate pixel art style. This bit was just an observation I heard from Ken Lobb that I thought was interesting, that's all. The interview is here if you are interested...don't remember where he talks about this

https://channel9.msd...w-with-Ken-Lobb

 

Yes I agree with you there that's for sure. :)

At the end of the day, going pixel is an artistic choice just like any other. And for me, there's never enough pixel games :P


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#22 Loaf

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Posted 20 February 2016 - 02:12 AM

Pixel art preference isn't unique to GameMaker, but the indie community in general. 

 

Sticking to pixel art has nothing to do with skill level.

 

I don't know about that. Yes, you don't necessarily choose pixel art because you are unskilled, but I believe pixel art is often chosen by people who are unskilled because it may not require much skill.

It is true  that "pixel art" is a broad term that can describe anything from a 16 x 16 tree to a 2000 x 2000 hyper detailed cityscape, but the observation by nicko786 is not about impressive works of art created pixel-by-pixel. We're talking about low resolution pixel graphics. There are a mass of indie games in this low resolution pixel style and it grows every day.

 

I believe it is for these reasons, and I speak strictly of the common wave of low resolution pixel art seen in many hobbyist / indie games today:

  • Pixel art is accessible, as it requires no fancy software, little to no technique or prior knowledge, and does not require a drawing tablet or any fancy hardware because it is not drawing in the traditional sense. It is a process that is more like putting a mosaic together than painting.
  • Unlike painting, it is easier to undo mistakes, and the sprites only have to imply shape and form while foregoing finer details that are essential to most other art styles. This makes pixel art extremely forgiving, and fast to work with.
  • The popularity of retro gaming (thanks to both nostalgia and an appreciation for the progress of the past) allows modern day games to be visually compared to the classic titles of the past. This means you can align your product with the praised styles of the past at a fraction of the effort once required, as opposed to doing a poor job with the cutting edge graphical styles of today.These older games were built during a time of greater graphical limitation, but today they can be replicated very easily.
  • Pixel art allows for simpler game design overall. Pixel art games often do not require rag doll animation / physics systems, advance lighting systems or texture manage, complex collision systems, complex NPC path finding, or anything whereby games with a higher level of visual detail are likely to demand greater accuracy in other details. This is because the low resolution style of pixel games creates a blocky, simplistic world that can lack finer details mechanically. This is good news for entry-level game developers, and also a reason entry-level friendly game engines are associated with pixel games.
  • Pixel art has become the 'norm' for indie gaming communities, and there are a lot of not-so-artistic people who treat it as a safe option. It is rare for a person to be a good programmer and a good artist. Those who try a different style are less likely to find praise in indie communities, which are dominated by very defensive pixel art fans.

 

I think pixel art is grossly overrated. I prefer to work with a style that is experimental and honest to my abilities, even if it comes out looking quirky. Sticking to retro pixel art isn't very progressive.

 

Choosing to work with simplistic, low resolution pixel art is by no means a bad thing. It doesn't necessarily mean you are unskilled, or that you are unimaginative, but it can mean these things. Simple pixel art must suit the design of the game. If you are always sticking with it, whatever the game idea, it could be a sign that you need to be more daring.


Edited by Loaf, 20 February 2016 - 02:16 AM.

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#23 Zuurix

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Posted 20 February 2016 - 11:27 AM

Pixel art? No.

Even the best pixel art feels old and generic to me. There's too many games with pixel art.

 

I think that every game should bring something new to the world.

It's hard to bring something new, when you use art style that was already old ten years ago...


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#24 CzarSquid

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Posted 20 February 2016 - 01:53 PM

I choose pixel art because it's really easy to animate and can be fine tuned. Gamemaking is already a challenge with trying to get the programming done. The last thing I want to do is spend a ton of time on making art that on a game that possibly won't go anywhere.


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#25 aamatniekss

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Posted 20 February 2016 - 02:30 PM

I hate when people say pixelart is the easiest art-style. Sure it's easy if you're making crap art, and that's what it is mostly when people start making games. But it's about the same with vector art or with anything else. There really is no difference, if you want actually good art, be it pixel or vector or hand-drawn or whatever, it's hard.


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#26 TheSnidr

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Posted 20 February 2016 - 02:40 PM

It's a stylistic choice. Pixel art is an art form - some keep it simple, while others take it to the extreme (like Owlboy, which is made in GM). GM supports vector art and sprites of practically any size, so unless that's your preference, there's no reason to stick to pixel art.
 
Sticking to pixel art has nothing to do with skill level.

Who is the artist for owlboy ??

Snake, who also happens to have made the highest rated pixel art piece at Pixeljoint:
colossal_katamari.png

Edited by TheSnidr, 20 February 2016 - 02:40 PM.

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#27 RangerX

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Posted 20 February 2016 - 02:46 PM

Pixel art? No.

Even the best pixel art feels old and generic to me. There's too many games with pixel art.

 

I think that every game should bring something new to the world.

It's hard to bring something new, when you use art style that was already old ten years ago...

 

 

That is hard to pull off, no matter your artstyle choices.

And pixel art is not "old". Its just an artstyle nowadays. Its like 2D versus 3D design. Just 2 different approach but each one is entirely valid. If we'd go by your logic there, some black and white photo, or sepia style would be old and generic since we have colors now. Its not the case, its just different styles. You have the right to not like a style though. ;)


Edited by RangerX, 20 February 2016 - 02:49 PM.

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#28 CzarSquid

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Posted 20 February 2016 - 03:11 PM

@RangerX I admit that before making games I thought pixel art was just an "indie fad". That the games were, somehow, lower quality because of sprite art. Then I actually started to make games and realize exactly why it's chosen that way. When the tables are turned, those complaining now have to make art for their game. It definitely changes their perspective.

 

As such, I've actually given games that I wouldn't normally play a chance. I actually look for pretty sprite art now. This one game, Towerclimb, is amazing because there is so much amazing gameplay in it but I would never played it because it "looks cheap". Funny how that works out. Towerclimb is now my favorite games of all time.

 

One thing I do want to say about sprite art is that it needs to follow art principles. You can't avoid that. Good sprite work is actually just as tough as any other art work. The difference is often you got a smaller canvas to work with.


Edited by CzarSquid, 20 February 2016 - 03:11 PM.

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#29 themonster

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Posted 27 February 2016 - 05:59 PM

I have respect for Pixel Artists, is a form of art, full complex, beautiful,
 

There is another pixel Art : "cheap.....or I cannot draw pixel art" is a big difference, If the game play is good!

I have no problem having fun playing pixel-art games


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#30 Zeddy

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Posted 27 February 2016 - 11:37 PM

Smaller images have a greater niceness-to-work ratio than bigger images. A 4-frame walk cycle may look fine for a 16x16 sprite, but will be stiff and jagged with, say, a 64x64 sprite.

 

Bigger images means more details added so the sprite doesn't look basic and empty, and more frames needed for smooth animation. It's an exponential increase in workload, time, and money. Pixel art is the only artstyle that doesn't look like rubbish in the context of small image sizes, so its favoured more.

 

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#31 Funkey

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Posted 13 March 2016 - 04:12 AM

By 'pixel' I presume that you mean 'Low resolution pixel'. It's easy to pick up and learn, looks decent with some practice, you don't need any special tools like drawing tablets and is easy to work with.


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#32 Dylzer98

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Posted 13 March 2016 - 05:24 AM

Hi nicko786,

 

The reason to probably why there are so many pixelated games developed in Game Maker is because it is an easiest way of making characters and pixeled games. Therefor, many people use it to create retro-style games


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