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Retro styles & immersion (axcho )

Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
« Reply #15 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 is, I think it's a good place to start. Smiley
Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
« Reply #16 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!
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Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
« Reply #17 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 Wink )

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.
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Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
« Reply #18 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. Smiley
Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
« Reply #19 on: February 04, 2010, 03:47:28 am »

I just came across a couple Flash games with interesting photograph-based styles: Record Tripping and 4 Differences.
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Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
« Reply #20 on: February 04, 2010, 10:16:50 am »

You, guys! Stop dancing about architecture Smiley
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Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
« Reply #21 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.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2010, 01:17:33 am by ghostwheel »
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Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
« Reply #22 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. Wink

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 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...
« Last Edit: February 05, 2010, 01:37:28 am by axcho »
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Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
« Reply #23 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.
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Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
« Reply #24 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.
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Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
« Reply #25 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.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2010, 12:57:08 am by ghostwheel »
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Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
« Reply #26 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.
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Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
« Reply #27 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'.
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Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
« Reply #28 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.  Cheesy
Re: Retro styles & immersion (axcho )
« Reply #29 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.
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