so during objective 1 where I did all the game examinations, I was covertly gathering intel from various developers who had worked in the field of retro art on new technology. I sent out feelers to~
- vblank (retro city rampage)
- roflgames/d-pad studio (owlboy)
- renegade kid (mutant mudds)
- wayforward (shantae)
- otherocean (dark void zero)
- superbrothers (sword and sorcery)
- rocketcat games (mage gauntlet)
- re-logic (terraria)
got about 3 replies so that should be enough for this objectives quota 🙂 superbrothers declined me politely, instead referring me to 8bit today (as thoroughly documented in a previous post) which was full of relevant content for my lit review so that was nice of him. still waiting on replies from a few people so if they get back to me i`ll be sure to upload their answers. okay first off, Kepa Auwae the creator of mage gauntlet from rocketcat games
- What factors influenced your decision to go with the 16-bit aesthetic? Was it a hardware issue since it was being develop on ios or an artistic choice because you like the style/or are proficient in it?
It’s an artistic choice. Very few developers really do that SNES-like
style, mostly it’s the Atari or early NES styles that are used.
- What were the pros and cons of working with the style?
Some people don’t like the style and will pass it up, the current
trendy style is a sort of Flash-game/family friendly fat animals sort
of thing. Pros for the style is that we stand out, and that it’s
quick to produce. Since the pixels are blown up to 2×2 size on the
iPhone screen, making it 1×1 instead would have been roughly 4 times
the work to produce the same sized sprites onscreen.
- Did you have any self imposed technical restrictions placed upon yourselves?
Not that I can think of, except we locked the animations to being
4-directional for this game, even though movement is 16 way (or in the
case of monsters, 360 degrees of movement).
- How did the style effect the budget and development time?
The style cut down the budget and development time. It also allowed
us to make a lot of content. We have many unique monster sprites. If
they were Flash-game styled or 3D, we’d probably have had to rely on
rehues much more.
many of the advantages mentioned here are echoed in various review outlets. such as the large amount of content and smooth controls. that`s an element i`d always forgotten to include as a modernisation advantage, the element of analog control versus the stiff d-pads of yesteryear. works for certain genres like platformers but for a top down rpg analog fits better. he also mentions something interesting, about more developers opting for a 8-bit style (gaijin games) which has always confused me, because 16-bit is more readable and aesthetically pleasing and also keeps the balance of nostalgic style. whereas 8-bit can come off as looking lazy if not done right.
mage gauntlet was smart to adopt the 16-bit aesthetic. playing brings back many fond memories of chrono trigger and secret of mana only with all the fancy bells and whistles that stronger hardware can provide. I seriously recommend you give it a look, seeing how it`s going dirt cheap on the app store.
next up, is Jools Watsham founder of renegade kid. I asked him about his upcoming platformer mutant mudds.
Q: What factors influenced your decision to go with the `retro` aesthetic?
A: It was a combination of personal taste, prior work experience, and development speed. I personally really like the look of well-executed pixel art. I have worked on many games as a pixel artist, so retro pixel art is a comfort zone for my skill-set. I knew that I was going to be creating all of the artwork, so sticking with an 8-bit / 16-bit art style meant it would be relatively quick to produce.
Q: What were the pros and cons of working with the style?
A: Well, like I said above: the speed of creating pixel art in the 8-bit / 16-bit style is fairly quick for me due to my prior experience in the field. It also makes the game look more “indie”, which is something I am fond of. I cannot see any cons to working with this style honestly. 🙂
Q: Did you have any self imposed technical restrictions placed upon yourselves in an attempt to emulate the feel of the 16-bit era?
A: The way I approached it was to be inspired by the 8-bit / 16-bit era rather than be restricted by it. I did not feel the need to limit the color palette or effects in order to make the game look authentically retro. I think the limited color palette I am used to working with (less than 16 colors per element) is the only so-called restriction that was adopted. But, I never found the need to use more than 16 colors on anything. So, it never acted as a restriction for me. It was important to utilize the advanced technology of the 3DS as much as possible to make the game as fun as possible for today’s audience.
Q: How did/does the style effect the budget and development time?
A: Due to the fact that it was just me as the artist it reduced the budget required. The art style also meant I was able to produce the art fairly quickly.
his third answer pretty much sums up area of research, about being inspired by the era rather than restricted by it. I would never have guessed that mutant mudds didnt adopt the strict original colour palette because the game looks so authentically retro. and using the 3D effect to make it relevant to todays audience was a clever move because it doesn’t detract from the style, it just enhances it. that and the market is starved of 3D content lately so this will help the title gain some prominence.
he said, he`s the only artist working on this full fledged downloadable title for the Nintendo eshop and that`s quite remarkable. I originally thought there was a team working on it. another huge plus for the style of visuals.
last one, got a reply from Jim Bottomley the designer of dark void zero from other ocean interactive
- what factors influenced your decision to go with the `retro` aesthetic?
- what were the pros and cons of working with the style?
- how did the style effect the budget and development time?