first week ~ initial thoughts

well that`s the first week of fourth year over already!

got a pretty sweet timetable, only in Tuesday,Wednesday and friday. 4 day weekend woot

got three different lecturers teaching three aspects of the same project. Belinda`s class is 6 weeks of concept development to begin with and then afterwards preproduction starts. I like the content I saw in this class thus far, she was keen to encourage doodling, gathering inspirational images,videos and whatnot. and we got to see a video on ted.com about the creative process from an established graphic designer. good video, great site. it came in handy for the dacii project and I see myself using it more in the future.

research methods is taught by a nuclear physicist Colin Cartwright. I think this class is about the nitty gritty of research as he comes from a scientific background. he said if he were to summarise the module in one word it would be “investigation”

we`re going to learn how to compose research studys and questionnaires to gather the information we need. and how to actually write the research proposal and dissertation.

so yeah, research heavy it seems. that`s great, I love books me.

Dr Robins class is professional practise. which entails of pretty much the same thing as colin`s but in a less strict manner(judging by the tone) Robins a bit more knowledgable about computer arts in general so his input is invaluable. for the project pitch (which is a few weeks, can’t remember how many derp) it will consist of three things.

1.research domain and mind map

2.initial prject aim and objective

3.a personal statement.

I assume working on the project pitch is a big part of this class since I see it written down about 10 times on one sheet of notes for the lecture.

and that`s all I can summarise of the classes thus far as it`s only been the first week and I`m still feeling like i`ve been thrown in the deep end with no immediate goal, hopefully this blog post full or my drivel will go someway towards remedying that.

already grabbed some reading material to get me started on my realm of interest. I grabbed every interview and article i could find on wayforwards shantae series, as the style is extremely attractive/relevant and a copy of visualizing research. although knowing my work ethic, I wont read a word of that book until it`s time to start writing the essay. at least it`s in my possession for now. baby steps.

got myself a few pixel art tutorials. obviously being good at my chosen subject is important. I`m struggling to find more topical interviews about actually working with the pixel style in it`s heyday and any documentation from way back when. might have more luck in the uni library since any video game related books i found there spoke about 80-90`s video games exclusively. it doesn’t surprise me that all modern books on the subject are in use. it is abertay university after all.

here is a mind map. i drew my central interest (sprites) stemming off into subtopics, and issues of relevance yadda yadda. i`ll go over the point`s that are worth going into more detail.

nostalgia and new generation of gamers

do they even care? why should they, they are constantly vying for better and more realistic graphics. they don’t care about stylistic choices or nostalgic throwbacks. all they care about is if their latest brown military shooter realistically depicts a reloading animation. but they bloody should care about sprites! after all, it`s where the games that they play originated from. the heritage of their hobby if you will.

brownfare greyised 7

creating games with retro visuals but modernised gameplay might go some ways to remedying this and grabbing the attention of the masses. but I wouldn’t bet on it. besides, the indie and app market is diverse and all sorts of ideas can flourish.i imagine younger gamers must be in a confusing spot, nostalgia to them must be in the area of blocky Playstation 1 graphics, which of course have aged terribly, unlike well made 2D art (god bless being born in the 80`s) but anyway i`m just waffling, nostalgia`s a good thing to take into account regarding sprites.

the golden age of sprites

themes/well suited genres

for 2D games, certain genres thrive in 2D better than they would in 3D and that`s a really interesting issue.

for example, despite Contra and Castlevania being stellar series`s for Konami, they have never been quite as amazing in their 3D iterations. (hell,it took Hideo Kojima to make a 3D Castlevania worth playing) both these series continue to flourish in 2D as new contras and Castlevania`s continue to debut on handhelds and downloadable marketplaces (Contra 4, Castlevania:the rebirth)

super probotector, a delicious pixxelly beast of a game

it`s obviously down to the immediacy of the action. camera and controls are a more prevalent problem in 3D games. accessibility is also a related factor.

another issue! most of the time, new 2D titles forego the retro style in favour of their own look.

retro sprites or not I love me some good old-fashioned platforming

this is`nt exactly a problem as those games have been designed with those graphics in mind and they can end up being very unique and attractive. games need to be designed with all aspects kept in mind. a dark moody game like limbo probably wouldn’t have the same vibe if it were sprite based. i`m not sure how successful it would be to mix sprites and black and white. something to think about.

outland. a HD 2D game with a style all it`s own.

castle crashers is interesting. it`s a solid game but sometimes the artwork can be sketchy and sterile. there is often flat colours and misshapen lineart and lines that overlap. small criticisms sure but if the game adopted a sprite art style I actually think it would have benefit the game. it plays so much like streets of rage, why not look like it too?

great game regardless of aesthetics.

but it has nothing on the gale twins and their exploding bike!

life support

I don’t know whatever i`d qualify retro 2D games as `dying` but they certainly aren’t as commonplace anymore. obviously that`s the case, technology has moved on and so has artistic vision. however, the style can be exactly that. a style. people still make black and white films despite colour being readily available. and game designers could opt for the same philosophy. if a game is being made which is somewhat simple or `retro` in feel, then why not adopt a similar aesthetic.

probably not the best example for `quality` but the aesthetics were very nice.

pixellated graphics were a byproduct of limitations due to the way that systems render graphics on screen.and as consoles become high-definition and resolutions becomes so vast that you can’t count how many blocks are on a screen anymore it makes me feel like games have come such a long way.

videogames are still in their infancy as a medium. we shouldnt be so quick to forget

games could also be adopting the style alongside their modern ideals of `graphics` the bit.trip series has a very cool effect where once the player has lost enough health the graphics lower in res and devolve to the state of Atari graphics.

love the bit.trip games, but after downloading 3 of them to find out a cheaper compilation package was coming out left me pretty butthurt.

why don’t designers use this more often? or how about changing the era of graphics as a gameplay device rather than a visual cue for failure? a subject which could also stem into user interfaces. an unobtrusive way to signal a change.

furthermore!

retro graphics are a style which is completely different to our medium. now that`s something to be proud of and worth preserving. it didn’t comes from film or tv or radio (obviously) it`s something which is all our`s and is ours to preserve and utilise to further our industrys identity! (you can tell it`s a topic I`m passionate about when I use exclamations)

FURTHERMORE

lot`s of games are getting the HD remake treatment, i`m thankfull that many of these games have the ability to play in the original look versus the new one. it`s a good way to admire progress and the initial vision of the game.

monkey island was a game which sorely needed the HD treatment. although it was fun back in the day to imagine the detail in the game, like how you picture scenes mentally in a book.

technicalities

sprite graphics have one very distinct ability. and that`s that they are incredibly small in size. obviously due to their origins on less powerful hardware. this makes them ideal for online marketplaces like flash websites, wiiware, eshop, xbox live, etc etc because it means they take less time to download, bandwidth is an important factor in today’s market. less time to create and patch and develop content for. ideal for the ever evolving online marketplace. sprite content is quickly and easily created (versus other types of content) so it`s ideal for the markets where content is consumed and distributed equally as fast.

Megaman 9 was a hit across all consoles

another recent technological innovation is the advent of stereoscopic 3D graphics. now most people would assume that 2D games are irrelevant as they can’t be displayed in 3D but they would be wrong.

the background layers aren’t just aesthetic, you can hop back there and traverse them.

mutant mudds is an upcoming game for the Nintendo 3DS eshop, a digital download store. and after seeing various 3D screenshots and videos the style works great. retro platformer`s use a lot of parallax scrolling. basically layers of environment. some closer to the screen and some far away, they all scroll at different speeds as the player moves. and these layers are distributed at various 3D depths. it makes the game look like a pop up book.

Disney is back to haunt me!

sounds pretty cool right? definitely a game i`m going to pick up on release.

if gamers don’t care, why should publishers

of course, another reason we don’t see many retro games is because publishers wont publish them. and it`s easy to see why not, it`s a outdated style (on first appearance) and it is`nt really relevant (especially for licensed games eg movies,comic books)it may come off as a cheap gimmick or laziness on the developers behalf. i guess to change perceptions it would take a trailblazer to reinvigorate the genre. Megaman 9 is a good example of this, shortly afterwards Sega released sonic 4. it`s a shame the trend did`nt keep going. a retro sequel to Metroid or Mario would have been a very attractive prospect. however,this line of subjects is`nt exactly uplifting or wildly interesting. I think the `publishers` angle would be better suited for a gdpm student`s project. i`ll keep to the visual in mine.

not just games?

i might be going into a dead end with this, but I should ramble about the possibility of using sprite graphics for other uses. perhaps not medical equipment as information needs to extremely accessible. could you imagine heart monitors with sprite graphics?

“whoo 119, high score! oh wait, im having a heart attack”

so maybe not the best use, we do see the style in things besides video games though.

amazing.

there`s a really cool computer games museum in berlin which adopts the aesthetic for the decor. perfect for the subject matter.

man i`d like to give that place a visit

but then again, this is just coming back to video games. and that is the area I`m most interested in, so i wont branch out too much. gonna stay focused.

character

something I forgot to mention in the mind map but characters are an important part of sprite arts appeal. interestingly, Marios design was hugely influenced by the limitations of the hardware. his moustache only exists to separate his eyes from his mouth on the original tiny sprites, and he was red because of colour limitations.

how would this transition work backwards?

it would be really cool to see some contemporary characters like Master Chief, Marcus from gears of war or Nathan Drake animated as sprites. so yeah, character art is also very important in the realm of sprite art, not a focus however. I do enjoy animating 2D characters, but i also love drawing environments. so it`s  more an all-encompassing thing for me.

how much personality can you exhibit in the space of a dozen pixels?

immersion

another thing that was brought up,forgot to mind map.

i don’t believe there`s enough of a subject here worth chasing.game immerssion isn’t a viable thing that developers can bullet point or sell. it`s something that comes about from a well realised world and buckets of atmosphere.

it doesn’t get much more immersive then super Metroids moody caverns

or the final chapters in sonic and knuckles. intense stuff, lack of dimensions be damned

but it was worth mentioning that you don’t need an ultra realistic lighting engine and the latest physics engine to pull players in. sometimes all it takes is good pacing and story telling.

which is of course, hallmarks of a good game. so atmosphere is a result of brilliance in design,

and that`s all for now! that was,the mind map and everything stemming from it. still making progress with sprite artwork for me & faisals game, and I have three questions to answer for belinda`s class next week. i`ll prob blog about them shortly.

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One thought on “first week ~ initial thoughts

  1. . . . . . . but but but minecraft? the coals and redstone are spritey (I checked by walking round them).

    consoles with smaller processers such as the DS and Wii would probably prefer sprite graphics.

    I do like your ideas 😀

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