Notgames Forum

Creation => Notgames design => Topic started by: admin on January 26, 2010, 10:15:34 am



Title: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
Post by: admin on January 26, 2010, 10:15:34 am
Immersion to me has little to do with visuals. Realistic graphics do not guarantee immersion. Are picture books more immersive than novels? Players of Roguelikes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roguelike) say that the ASCII graphics are more immersive than an equivalent graphical version would be. Perhaps Scott McCloud (http://scottmccloud.com/2-print/1-uc/index.html) could tell you something about why that is (http://www.popmatters.com/pm/post/110740-applying-understanding-comics-to-video-games/).

For me the pixel style is a way to sustain a consistent level of graphical abstraction that is very versatile when it comes to combining handcrafted and procedural artwork. It is much less susceptible to veering off into the uncanny valley than, say, polygonal 3D. To my generation, pixel art is not retro. The retro games from my childhood were low-poly 3D creations of the N64 era. To me, polygonal 3D is retro, and frankly unappealing when compared to the elegance of good 2D pixel art. Perhaps I just prefer squares to triangles. To each their own. ;)


Title: Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
Post by: Michaël Samyn on January 26, 2010, 10:26:29 am
I guess "immersiveness" is the wrong word for what I meant. I mean, even books can be highly immersive. I guess I was referring to the more unique capacity of interactive graphics to simulate touch. I always try to create something that embraces the player. Books never embrace me. But I guess this is only about degrees of imagination. Not about hard oppositions.

So in the end, it's probably just a difference in taste. I think low-poly 3D can be great! :) But I don't think it should be revived in any sort of nostalgic way. I think we should learn to understand why Tomb Raider 1 looks and feels better than all its sequels. Not to imitate its graphic style but to find an equivalent in contemporary technology that has the same effect, or even improves on it.

And the uncanny valley shouldn't be dismissed so quickly. It's a very interesting area to explore!


Title: Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
Post by: axcho on January 26, 2010, 08:37:48 pm
Perhaps "kinesthetic" or "tactile" would be more what you had in mind? I think I see what you mean. Kinesthetic feel is very important to me in games, and I find it easiest to achieve that with 2D physics and a vector art style, as opposed to pixel art or polygonal 3D. However it seems that you are referring to something a bit different, though maybe related. Experiences that "embrace" you. I will think about that.

I think we should learn to understand why Tomb Raider 1 looks and feels better than all its sequels. Not to imitate its graphic style but to find an equivalent in contemporary technology that has the same effect, or even improves on it.

I agree, similarly for pixel art. The old retro games of the NES era do not appeal to me visually. I have no nostalgia for them. But I like pixels, and I like doing interesting things with them, like combining chunky pixels with realistic materials:

(http://fc03.deviantart.net/fs71/f/2009/360/0/5/0548cbda0d3ad0de414d12eb42374f7e.png) (http://brontosaurus.deviantart.com/art/The-Lake-Collab-148057902)

Good point about the uncanny valley, too. It is a powerful effect that need not be shied away from. I'll think about that more. :)


Title: Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
Post by: Michaël Samyn on January 26, 2010, 10:38:08 pm
Concerning big pixels, I'm also a bit worried about this:

Quote from: Emily Short
The graphics are the retro-pixellated stuff that has become obligatory for certain kinds of Art Game these days.

This is from a recent article on Gamasutra (http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/26721/Analysis_On_Aging_Death_And_Games.php). And you know Miss Short is right. In the very short time that people have been claiming to make art through games, most productions have had a similar visual style: simple, flat pixel graphics. Not as retro as some indie platformers but still.

I don't want "notgames" to be equated with "art games" because then it becomes too easy to reject what we are trying to do. The idea of "notgames" is much bigger, much more ambitions. We don't want to make it easy for the industry to dismiss us.


Title: Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
Post by: axcho on January 27, 2010, 07:44:32 am
Yes, I saw that. And yes, she is right.

And I'm using pixels for much the same reasons that so many other indies are using pixels. Because it's a lot easier on the game engine, the art pipeline, and the artist (or lack thereof). If I have only four weeks to make something, it will probably require that I use pixels.

I can see your concern about notgames being equated with art games.

Given that, what alternative art styles would you suggest? And how would these art styles be implemented?

Perhaps we could use this thread to discuss the possibilities...

I will begin.

Here are the non-pixel styles available to me, currently:

Simple stick-figure vector with bitmap effects:
(http://fc00.deviantart.net/fs50/i/2009/267/f/d/Engine_Prototype_01_by_axcho.png) (http://axcho.deviantart.com/art/Engine-Prototype-01-113456171)

Slightly more complex procedural vector art:
(http://fc00.deviantart.net/fs23/i/2008/017/7/8/Spring_Rain_by_axcho.gif) (http://axcho.deviantart.com/art/Spring-Rain-74849107)

Hand-drawn digital painting: (I suck at this)
(http://fc03.deviantart.net/fs19/i/2007/259/0/f/Komuso_rough_by_axcho.png) (http://axcho.deviantart.com/art/Komuso-rough-65081335)

Hand-drawn formline art: (very time-consuming)
(http://th00.deviantart.net/fs44/150/i/2009/125/7/0/Leaping_Velociraptor_by_axcho.jpg) (http://axcho.deviantart.com/art/Leaping-Velociraptor-121575891)

Photographs: (hard to use interactively)
(http://th08.deviantart.net/fs51/150/i/2009/333/6/4/Little_Red_by_axcho.jpg) (http://axcho.deviantart.com/art/Little-Red-145219159)

So, which will it be? What do you want to see?


Title: Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
Post by: Michaël Samyn on January 27, 2010, 09:38:28 am
I'm not going to choose an art style for you. But I don't think time concerns should be your only motivation (or excuse) for choosing one. I think you should choose an art style that is appropriate for the content that you're working with. Or adapt your content to the style you're comfortable with. A graphic style is not just a layer you put on top of things. It is an essential part of the work. We should use it to help express the things we're trying to get across.

Graphic styles are not neutral. Stick figures say that all humans are the same, or that your story is symbolic. Vector art expresses clarity, either rest or scientific neutrality. Hand drawings express a certain carelessness or focus the attention on the person of the painter (their unique hand). And photographs imply that what you are presenting is real, perhaps even documentary.

Since you're comfortable with pixel graphics, maybe you should tune your story so it fits. Maybe the story takes place in the past, or inside of a computer or on an old technological device. Maybe the characters in your game are squares and they join together to make shapes.

I guess our logic concerning time management is upside down at Tale of Tales: we would cut into the programming complexity in order to have more time for the graphics and the sound. But the two are not separate. Sometimes a little bit of programming can compensate for a serious lack in the presentation and vice versa. It's often a matter of choosing the best way to represent something (for instance, the easiest way to represent rain is playing a sound loop; it sure beats programming the visual effect of rain drops falling in puddles! ;) ).


Title: Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
Post by: axcho on January 27, 2010, 08:20:32 pm
I think you should choose an art style that is appropriate for the content that you're working with. Or adapt your content to the style you're comfortable with. A graphic style is not just a layer you put on top of things. It is an essential part of the work. We should use it to help express the things we're trying to get across.

I agree. And in the past, this is how I would approach the choice of art style. For something new like these notgames, pixel art seemed to me like it would be the most versatile, a common choice for art games, as you indicate. But I will make an effort to create something distinct and different from art games, and pick an art style that is appropriately different.

I do really like the variety of styles seen in the Flight comics anthologies, for example here (http://www.flightcomics.com/flight4preview/) and here (http://www.flightcomics.com/flight2_preview.htm). I'll take a look through those and see if I can draw any connections between the message or theme of each comic and its visual style.

Since you're comfortable with pixel graphics, maybe you should tune your story so it fits. Maybe the story takes place in the past, or inside of a computer or on an old technological device. Maybe the characters in your game are squares and they join together to make shapes.

Thanks for the suggestion. I may do something like this, depending on which idea I go with. I could see it making sense for an old technological device. Or who knows, maybe I'll end up making something with a focus on the natural world, using sketchy digital art and pieces of photographs...


Title: Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
Post by: axcho on January 27, 2010, 09:08:03 pm
Been looking around a bit more.

Here's an interesting article on Lost Garden, which you would probably hate, since it is written from a gameplay-centric, pro-retro viewpoint: The Neo-Retro Art Style: Savior of the game industry? (http://lostgarden.com/2005/06/neo-retro-art-style-savior-of-game.html) I can see how it might not be applicable to the notgames movement, but it's good to know why.

And another article by the same guy, about pixel art and how it's weird that it's now retro-fashionable and that people still use it, so you might like the article this time: Lessons from the Land of Pixel Art (http://lostgarden.com/2006/07/lessons-from-land-of-pixel-art.html). But the discussion in the comments is perhaps more interesting here.

Like this comment, by CosMind:
Quote
Psychochild and dave both hit on some very important points - the iconography and language of a visual art. as they both mentioned, pixel art is very strong in both of these areas. in relation, pixel art is also super powerful when it comes to expressing character emotion. just the sublest of tweaks to a pixels existence/color/position in something like a characters eyes creates a profound change in its attitude. i haven't really seen such powerful conveyance of emotion in 3d character art, yet. with a focus on photo-matching visuals, emotion becomes more subtle (like real life). the viewer must look harder to read a character's expression. in most cases (unfortunately), devers don't seem to be even striving to convey this emotion, but even when they do i've yet to see it measure up to the emotion that some masterful pixelled characters have transferred to me as i watch them animate/pose. no, i'm not holding on to the past. i love great art period - 2d, 3d, whatever. i just really haven't seen 3d art that has been able to achieve some of the things that pixel art has and still does (this holds true vica-versa, of course).

And an article, by Psychochild, in response to the one above: The programmer talks about art (http://www.psychochild.org/?p=179). In particular, this quote:
Quote
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, 2D art is more iconic. While there's something to be said for lush, detailed 3D graphics, it is very specific. Any good artist knows that the more iconic art can involve the viewer more. I have to supply a bit of the personality to that "mess of pixels" on the screen representing the hero. Whereas the modern games all have very distinct characters that you control, because they have to be very detailed to fit in with the rest of the game.

These quotes do a better job of explaining why I like pixel art. But obviously sharing quotes is not going to make my game look any less like an art game. We'll see. I might end up using pixels or I might not.

As for inspiration, I found another style that could be interesting to explore, though it might be too sterile and game-y. It's a sort of pseudo-3D effect with layered 2D shapes, something that I could probably do even with Flash. You can read about it at the end of this blog post: Some random artwork (http://lostgarden.com/2007/01/some-random-artwork.html)

(http://lostgarden.com/uploaded_images/Ansible-Mockup-766953.jpg) (http://lostgarden.com/2007/01/some-random-artwork.html)

Here it's used for very abstract and symbolic graphics, but maybe the approach could be used for more representational art as well. Even photographs? :P

And another inspiration source, at Cambrian Games (http://cambriangames.com/wordpress/). The art there is procedural, sort of a combination of vector and non-pixelated bitmap manipulations. I could do that.

(http://cambriangames.com/Neuron3_small.png) (http://cambriangames.com/wordpress/?p=99)

(http://cambriangames.com/Art2_small.png) (http://cambriangames.com/wordpress/?p=65)

(http://cambriangames.com/Evo_treesmall.png) (http://cambriangames.com/wordpress/?p=55)

(http://cambriangames.com/3dStuffSmall.png) (http://cambriangames.com/wordpress/?p=43)

(http://cambriangames.com/inksmall4.png) (http://cambriangames.com/wordpress/?p=40)

Reminds me of the artificial life stuff that I was interested in before I started making games. Maybe I could incorporate some of that as well...


Title: Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
Post by: Michaël Samyn on January 28, 2010, 12:02:19 am
The Cambrian stuff is very pretty. If you're into these kinds of generative graphics, maybe you should have a look around the Processing scene (http://processing.org/exhibition/) too.

The problem with "iconic graphics" is that they tend to be more suitable for funny stories than serious ones. Pixelated characters tend to look funny to me. Probably because, historically, they've been used mostly in somewhat comical contexts.

Ironically, this morning, Auriea and I had an idea for a 2D, almost abstract piece for the contest. Not sure if it's going to stick. We'll see.


Title: Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
Post by: axcho on January 28, 2010, 07:49:55 am
I'll get my imagination working on some Cambrian-esque graphics then! Thanks for forcing my brain open on this issue... :P


Title: Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
Post by: God at play on January 29, 2010, 10:44:59 am
There's a very, very old word for pixel art: mosaic.

I've recently formed the opinion that pixel art enchants so many people because it's essentially a mosaic.  I'm sure there are books that go into great detail about why a mosaic is so appealing.

Another option for art style is rotoscoping.  That's what I've been experimenting with a lot with lately.  Just trace over an image in Illustrator.  I personally want to explore pixel-art-like aesthetics using vector graphics, so I've been leaving the vectors aliased.  I would love to make 3d pixel art someday.

The reason why pixel art is often used for art games is because the games are experiments.  That means they have cheaper production values, and because aesthetic quality is so important, as you say, pixel art gives the most bang for its buck.  The highest quality for the least effort.


Title: Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
Post by: axcho on January 31, 2010, 02:43:19 am
There's a very, very old word for pixel art: mosaic.

I've recently formed the opinion that pixel art enchants so many people because it's essentially a mosaic.  I'm sure there are books that go into great detail about why a mosaic is so appealing.

Yes, yes! :D I had almost forgotten about that point. Pixel art isn't new. Mosaic isn't new. Mosaic doesn't have to be retro. Maybe I should see if I can find some books about why mosaics are appealing, I think they'd be fun to read... ;)

Another option for art style is rotoscoping.  That's what I've been experimenting with a lot with lately.  Just trace over an image in Illustrator.  I personally want to explore pixel-art-like aesthetics using vector graphics, so I've been leaving the vectors aliased.  I would love to make 3d pixel art someday.

Yeah, and I forgot about rotoscoping. I know IvoryDrive (http://ivorydrive.deviantart.com/) has done some nice stuff with that in games like Five Differences (http://ivorydrive.deviantart.com/art/5-Differences-66857094).

And 3D pixel art - like MineCraft (http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=minecraft) maps! :)

My artist brontosaurus (http://brontosaurus.deviantart.com/) is not only good at 2D pixel art, he's also made some really cool 3D MineCraft worlds out of variously textured cubes. Seeing the spaces he created in MineCraft is what convinced me of his skill in level design.

The reason why pixel art is often used for art games is because the games are experiments.  That means they have cheaper production values, and because aesthetic quality is so important, as you say, pixel art gives the most bang for its buck.  The highest quality for the least effort.

Definitely. Which is why you see it so much in art games.

I can understand Michael's insistence on differentiating the notgames movement visually here, but it is important to recognize that for many indies, pixel art is the path of least resistance and the choice to avoid it is not a decision to be taken lightly (nor mixed up with anyone's personal distaste for the style).


Title: Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
Post by: Michaël Samyn on January 31, 2010, 09:52:45 am
I understand the practical reasons. And it makes a lot of sense for indies to choose pixel art, especially for those to whom making games is just a hobby next to a day job (which doesn't leave them much time). But I see an enormous potential in interactive aesthetics that few are exploring. There so much that can be done with this technology, aesthetically. And the people with any sort of artistic inclination are dabbling with little squares. To me, it feels like such a waste! Without any sort of alternatives, the risk exists that realtime 3D will settle in pseudo-photographic aesthteics. And then there will simply be two styles: 2D mosaics for poor artists, 3D pseudo-photography for rich commercial companies. And that would be an enormous loss for the medium!

I'm not saying that everyone should be experimenting with realtime 3D graphics. But a few more talented developers wouldn't hurt.


Title: Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
Post by: God at play on January 31, 2010, 06:46:24 pm
I think that's a good attitude.  It's understandable to stick with pixel art, but there's a lot more we can do.

I've been slowly starting to gather material for a talk that explores the philosophy of modern artists and applies it to games.  I think there's a lot of room to explore different art directions, and even apply those directly to games (or notgames of course).

Impressionism, Post-impressionism, Cubism, Futurism, Dada, Bauhaus, Expressionism, etc.  There's a lot of potential here.

Assuming I can find a concept artist to help me with my Bridge game, I'll be starting with Impressionism. :)


Title: Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
Post by: Michaël Samyn on January 31, 2010, 11:52:03 pm
Impressionism, Post-impressionism, Cubism, Futurism, Dada, Bauhaus, Expressionism, etc.

Come on! Leave the old corpses alone! ;)


Title: Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
Post by: God at play on February 01, 2010, 08:04:20 am
I think it makes perfect sense to think about modernism when you think about art history before modernism and how it relates to games.  The whole goal before modernism was to achieve photo-realism.  And then when the camera came, that goal was fulfilled.

Now in the mainstream games industry the goal (for the most part) is to achieve photo-realism.  And even for those that aren't thinking about photo-realism, they're thinking in a renaissance sense of space, where the view is a window into a 3d world.

A pretty clear way to come up with a different direction than that would be to explore how modernists thought of space.

Considering how popular the impressionist style of concept art (http://www.goodbrush.com) is, I think it's a good place to start. :)


Title: Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
Post by: Michaël Samyn on February 01, 2010, 09:53:38 am
The whole goal before modernism was to achieve photo-realism.

Rubbish!
If anything, the "goal" was to get closer to god!


Title: Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
Post by: Michaël Samyn on February 01, 2010, 10:03:53 am
Why not build on top of everything we have? Instead of repeating the whole thing?

Now in the mainstream games industry the goal (for the most part) is to achieve photo-realism.

The goal of the mainstream industry is to make money!
(I guess money is their god, so in a sense you're right: they are the same ;) )

I don't think mainstream games are trying to achieve photo-realism anymore. If anything, they are trying to get closer to cinema-realism. And I do wish they'd already invent that 3D camera! Maybe then they can hire some actors for a change.

In the last years, however, AAA games have been moving away from straight-up realism. They have started to play a lot more with special effects, with stylized forms. Granted, often this is cheesy or only chosen for gameplay reasons. I think a lot of developers are starting to see that games that try to look realistic, simply end up looking kitschy and they are looking for a "style" instead.

And, indeed, old art styles like impressionism or surrealism, etc, can inspire. Much like they themselves were inspired by older art styles. But we should choose our sources according to what we are trying to accomplish in terms of content, and then build from there.


Title: Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
Post by: God at play on February 01, 2010, 11:03:30 am
Impressionism seems to me like an empirical look at how the cones in our eyes perceive light.  I think by operating at such a low level of perception, it gives the image a visceral quality.  And that visceral feeling would be a great compliment to a notgame experience. :)


Title: Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
Post by: axcho on February 04, 2010, 03:47:28 am
I just came across a couple Flash games with interesting photograph-based styles: Record Tripping (http://www.kongregate.com/games/dannotjohn/record-tripping) and 4 Differences (http://www.kongregate.com/games/Ivory/4-differences/).


Title: Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
Post by: Kaworu Nagisa on February 04, 2010, 10:16:50 am
You, guys! Stop dancing about architecture :)


Title: Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
Post by: ghostwheel on February 05, 2010, 01:10:53 am
There are two recent games with relatively crude and simple pixel/retro styles that are highly immersive. And I believe they are far more effective because of it than if they were highly realistic:

Judith: http://distractionware.com/blog/?p=759
The Hunt: http://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=10444.0
I would also include the original Silent Hill for PS1: http://www.gamespot.com/ps/adventure/silenthill/images.html?tag=gallery_summary;image_index

Notice all of these games and notgames are horror themed. They are also very grainy and/or pixellated and have a very short draw distance. What they don't show you or do only in a very sketchy manner is exactly what makes them scary. The more that is implied, the more your imagination fills in the missing pieces. Our imaginations are way better at imagining horror than when games/movies simply show it to us. The anticipation of what is out there in the dark and fog is the what is frightening. This draws you in better than highly detailed next-gen graphics. This isn't something you want in every interactive environment but they are well suited to horror.


Title: Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
Post by: axcho on February 05, 2010, 01:32:14 am
I was just thinking - maybe I should look at stage sets for theater and dance for inspiration, rather than movies and games. They are often minimal and abstract, but at the same time, physical and embodied, often symbolic, but not graphic.

Could be interesting. ;)

The more that is implied, the more your imagination fills in the missing pieces. Our imaginations are way better at imagining horror than when games/movies simply show it to us. The anticipation of what is out there in the dark and fog is the what is frightening. This draws you in better than highly detailed next-gen graphics. This isn't something you want in every interactive environment but they are well suited to horror.

Yes, exactly. The well-known comic (or graphic novel, if you prefer) Maus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maus) is another good example of using simple, non-realistic renderings to increase immersion in a serious story (cartoon anthropomorphic animals in the Holocaust, in fact).

Anyway, I'm downloading those games now...


Title: Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
Post by: Michaël Samyn on February 05, 2010, 12:44:09 pm
I'm all for stylization. But it should be done for aesthetic reasons that make sense in the medium. Not for economic reasons or to imitate other media.

I happen to think that the sensuality that you can create with textured 3D polygons is very attractive. That doesn't mean I want things to look realistic. I want them to feel realistic. As pointed out above, what is important is what happens inside of the player, not what happens on screen. But I think the connection between what happens on the screen and what happens inside of the player is important to design.


Title: Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
Post by: Jeroen D. Stout on February 05, 2010, 01:59:29 pm
It is quite difficult, I find, to truly choose a style. In my game (which I am nearly done with now) I have gone for a 'minimalistic' semi-low-poly world with somewhat monotone textures but with elaborate lightmaps - so my detail comes from there. Recently I started updating the icons on screen and noticed a somewhat classical woodprint-style worked quite well with it; to my surprise. But the style itself works quite well with me.

I think the problem is more that we have emerged, as a medium (or notmedium if you will allow me to be cheeky), in a world which is low on modern art styles and has a cousin-medium, film, which is not comparable in working style. The problem, if you will, is that no modern styles are that charming; if I ever have to work again with someone who thinks 'Alien' had a style applicable to games in general so-help-me-god I will scream.

The way pixel-art has emerged is different form what initially was - true, a mimicry of 8bit games is silly, but looking at things like I Wish I Were The Moon or Today I Die I think the pixel-medium is used in the same way Don Hertzfeldt uses quick (yet talented) pen-drawings. On that note, I used to love the era of (sorry Michaël) games such as Rayman 2, Beyond Good & Evil and Evil Twin: Cypriens Chronicles, which used a very flat polygonal style but had lush hand-drawn styles, making everything feel like a shoebox-world; in a very good way. I tried to copy that style in my earlier work at the Utrecht School of Art but I often got comments to move towards photo-realism and stop hand-painting my textures 'because you could see'. I should have retorted that I can see The Toiled of Venus is painted.

I really do not think pixel-art is bad, is my bottomline, because it is not a mimicry but a stylistic choice that enables very differing effects.


Title: Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
Post by: ghostwheel on February 06, 2010, 12:54:04 am
The photo-realism push is one of the worst developments in games. The workflow is also tedious, slow, ridiculously complex and expensive. And it's used in the most pointless context: mindless first person shooters. Great game genres like the that of the Myst series, where it could be use to amazing effect, are consigned to the dustbin and endless shooters and 3rd person hack 'n' slash stuff are all we get. The games industry has been trying so hard to imitate Hollywood and so far, they've done a bang up job of it. Weak derivative concepts and out of control budgets. Yay?

Anyway, I'm not saying photo-realism is a bad thing in and of itself but it's been wasted. But it mirrors the movie industry so closely (Disney abandoning 2d animation in a mad rush to make lousy 3d movies) it would be funny if it wasn't so sad.


Title: Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
Post by: Michaël Samyn on February 06, 2010, 12:13:50 pm
I'm a big fan of painterly realism. Call me old fashioned but I find a well made painting infinitely more beautiful and interesting to look at than a well made photograph.


Title: Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
Post by: Jeroen D. Stout on February 06, 2010, 03:20:53 pm
The photo-realism push is one of the worst developments in games. The workflow is also tedious, slow, ridiculously complex and expensive. And it's used in the most pointless context: mindless first person shooters. Great game genres like the that of the Myst series, where it could be use to amazing effect, are consigned to the dustbin and endless shooters and 3rd person hack 'n' slash stuff are all we get. The games industry has been trying so hard to imitate Hollywood and so far, they've done a bang up job of it. Weak derivative concepts and out of control budgets. Yay?

Interestingly enough, on the subject of Myst, when I played Myst IV I was puzzled as to why the Myst feeling was not there - I think Myst and Riven were very much a romantic realism, in the same way Amelie is a 'romantic realistic' film; a surreal premise taken seriously. Same goes for Syberia. Myst IV was realistic but felt as-if made by people who did not really have the heart.

I sometimes think that realism is a drive to remove the artist from the process - to have as judge for the work not the public, nor the artist, but a concept of 'realistic' that removes responsibility of judgement from everybody. The worst is that even this shoddy concept of realism is forsaken if it is not 'cool' enough; the only thing possibly worse than absolute nihilistic realism is this 'cool'.


Title: Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
Post by: God at play on February 06, 2010, 06:17:39 pm
Quote
Call me old fashioned but I find a well made painting infinitely more beautiful and interesting to look at than a well made photograph.

Yeah...paintings are so magical.  :D


Title: Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
Post by: ghostwheel on February 06, 2010, 07:37:25 pm
I'm a big fan of painterly realism. Call me old fashioned but I find a well made painting infinitely more beautiful and interesting to look at than a well made photograph.

Agreed! I love the look of painting. Photo-realism is it's own thing. Sure realism was achieved with photography but there's so much you can do with paint that you can't with photos.


Title: Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
Post by: axcho on February 10, 2010, 06:55:19 am
I especially like sketchy paintings where you can see the brushstrokes. :)

Could I make a notgame with a sketchy painted style?

(http://th08.deviantart.net/fs51/300W/f/2009/326/8/e/Future_by_thundercake.jpg) (http://thundercake.deviantart.com/art/Future-144469838)

(http://th00.deviantart.net/fs19/300W/f/2007/244/7/1/at_dawn_by_artbytheo.jpg) (http://artbytheo.deviantart.com/art/at-dawn-63869754)

(http://th01.deviantart.net/fs50/300W/f/2009/260/a/4/Alley_tranquil_by_leventep.jpg) (http://leventep.deviantart.com/art/Alley-tranquil-137288495)


Title: Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
Post by: Michaël Samyn on February 10, 2010, 10:06:22 am
I especially like sketchy paintings where you can see the brushstrokes. :)

Could I make a notgame with a sketchy painted style?

Well, I guess I'm a sort of modernist by saying this, but maybe you should try to find the equivalent of "sketchy" in whichever rendering technique you're using. In general I think we should try and find new forms of beauty in this new medium. But I'm not a purist, so I'm not radically against imitating other media, as long as it's appropriate and remains beautiful. If you're working in realtime 3D, I'd definitely recommend looking into post-process pixel shaders. You can achieve a lot of interesting effects with those. And the HLSL scripting language is not so difficult.


Title: Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
Post by: God at play on February 10, 2010, 07:00:44 pm
That's what I was planning on doing.  It should be a fun experiment.  I have a friend who's a genius graphics programmer, but I guess also a concept artist on the side?!  It's absurd, really.

Here's a concept he did for my epic story I've been working on for almost a year:

(http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2733/4307795041_4d20d65197.jpg) (http://www.flickr.com/photos/27571719@N04/4307795041/sizes/m/)


Title: Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
Post by: Ivan on February 11, 2010, 12:10:16 am
I just remembered a game that is (was?) in development on the tigsource forums. It doesn't seem like the devlog has been updated in months, but the first video posted of it I really enjoyed. Somehow I found its style very evocative and immersive even though it's very simple. Maybe it was the music. Here it is:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2OqQ6-ESp4

EDIT:
I found a video of some landscape shot with a camcorder by the same user in his channel. It's interesting to see the parallels between it and the game he was working on.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejsvalFW_DI


Title: Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
Post by: increpare on February 11, 2010, 01:49:17 am
Damn, can't think of his name, but I spoke to him down in at the jam cambridge.  He's not actively working on it, I think, though he does some work with Alex and Rudolf on their engine, and I think he was thinking of porting it to unity down at the jam.  Ah, yes, ed (http://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?action=profile;u=506) ( thread here (http://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=6168.0) ).  I think he'd appreciate it if you'd let him know you still have interest in its existence : )  Oh wait you did.  Cool.


Title: Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
Post by: axcho on February 12, 2010, 07:25:55 am
I just remembered a game that is (was?) in development on the tigsource forums. It doesn't seem like the devlog has been updated in months, but the first video posted of it I really enjoyed. Somehow I found its style very evocative and immersive even though it's very simple. Maybe it was the music. Here it is:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2OqQ6-ESp4

Wow, I do like how evocative and immersive it is despite the seeming crudeness of the style. It's interesting to compare with these with How Bees Work - I found the style in the video to be much more evocative, though only a few things were different, like the different ground textures and heights and the slight fog effect as objects recede into the distance.

Well, I guess I'm a sort of modernist by saying this, but maybe you should try to find the equivalent of "sketchy" in whichever rendering technique you're using. In general I think we should try and find new forms of beauty in this new medium.

Funny to hear that, coming from someone who hates pixels so much. ;) ;D

But I agree. My approach would not be to use some post-processing effect to mimic the appearance of sketchy painting on top of a polygonal rendering, but to replace the polygons with something entirely different. Like this (http://www.quelsolaar.com/love/screen_shots.html).

I want to try using a probabilistic rendering technique that is not built on triangles, but on networks of connected lines and flows of particles. I just don't know how it would work yet. :P


Title: Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
Post by: Michaël Samyn on February 12, 2010, 10:57:40 am
Well, I guess I'm a sort of modernist by saying this, but maybe you should try to find the equivalent of "sketchy" in whichever rendering technique you're using. In general I think we should try and find new forms of beauty in this new medium.

Funny to hear that, coming from someone who hates pixels so much. ;) ;D

I sincerely hope not. All these huge pixels that some game creators like using have nothing to do with the medium in its current stage! Yes, there was a time when the resolution of a monitor was so low that you could clearly see the edges of pixels. But that time is long over now. I have nothing against pixels. But let them be pixels! Pixels are the single units that make up the picture on a screen. And my screen has 1680 of them in a row, making each pixel smaller than a quarter of a millimeter. But the pixels in these retro games are far bigger! They are not pixels at all. They are squares or tiles (if you use the mosaic reference). They are not an intrinsic part of the medium (they only look like they are -which is the definition of kitsch in my book). Only small pixels are! :) Small pixels FTW!  :D

Also, we have always maintained that art made with computer technology does not have to be about computer technology.
Seeking for a unique aesthetic within the medium does not imply a sort of fetishistic purity for me. On the contrary. One of the computer's excellent qualities is its capacity for smoke and mirrors. Creating illusions is as much part of this technology as lighting up square blocks on a screen. I never bought the modernist "flatness" argument about painting. The canvas, the screen is not a destination. It's a point of connection.


Title: Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
Post by: edclef on February 17, 2010, 05:34:00 pm
Hey, I just found this thread (and forum!) from the youtube stats... I'm the Ed behind that video. It's nice to see the project mentioned like this, cos this "sketchy" feeling was a major goal. I might experiment with some postprocessing in future, although I'm not going to do any work on the engine/renderer until there's a lot more content in.

The flat block colours are the main "deliberate" part of the style.. the large texels/pixels :) are incidental (although deliberately consistent)  and the shoddy drawing is just lack of effort (at this stage).

Oh, and Ivan, that other video was deliberately taken as research for the project, although after the actual game video was posted.

Some day this project will get back on track... currently I'm just doing research type stuff. Like, ahem, "rural psychogeography", but maybe that's for another thread. I guess I'll post updates somewhere on here when there's something new to see..?


Title: Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
Post by: Kaworu Nagisa on February 17, 2010, 06:54:32 pm
@ axcho
I would say: go for it! Don't listen to Michael, he sounds really evil to me :D
The thing is, if you like it, if it inspires you, if you find it comfortable, it's your best choice. Who cares if it's new, old, inventive or experimental. If you like it you can make great thing out of it ^_^

@ Got at Play
It's awesome! Can you tell us more about the project? :}


Title: Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
Post by: Michaël Samyn on February 17, 2010, 08:24:24 pm
@ axcho
I would say: go for it! Don't listen to Michael, he sounds really evil to me :D

Good advice!  :-*


Title: Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
Post by: Kaworu Nagisa on February 17, 2010, 11:14:48 pm
 ;D

Wakarimashita!

;D


Title: Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
Post by: Víctor Marín on February 27, 2010, 04:06:27 am
About "brushstrokes" and graphicFX, check this game:

http://quelsolaar.com/love/screen_shots.html

I think you can still check it for free :).


Title: Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
Post by: Michaël Samyn on February 27, 2010, 09:52:56 am
Yes, we've been following Love for a long time. It's looks fascinating. But we were sorely disappointed when we discovered that the gameplay was about shooting each other. I guess a single person cannot be a genius in all fields.

Have you played it?
Can you play in it without doing the war stuff?


Title: Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
Post by: Víctor Marín on February 28, 2010, 04:25:51 pm
I have not played it for a while, but when I did mostly it was about modifying your environment to make it to your pleasure. I used to sculpt terrain around my town to make it look like a castle, or something else I had then in mind :). I think you could play it just this way, and probably there are not much games that let you modify the server in real time.


Title: Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
Post by: axcho on April 03, 2010, 12:32:48 am
I found a great blog post about why Heavy Rain's focus on "realism" works against it, Interactive Storytelling: What Heavy Rain Didn’t Learn from Edutainment? (http://www.artfulgamer.com/2010/03/07/interactive-storytelling-what-heavy-rain-didnt-learn-from-edutainment/)

Quote
That’s all to say – Stowaway succeeds where Heavy Rain  fails because it makes some space for the player’s imagination to complete the experience. Representational realism – whether it is an attempt at puppeteering the character through the controls, or an attempt at photorealism – cannot itself make a game worth playing or a story worth following. What we experience as real in a game has much more to do with the aesthetic exaggerations the developer makes in order to give a scene a certain flavor.