Semester 2 Week 2

time for some literature review!

amassed a large sum of links over the holiday so I figure it`s time to document and talk about them.

i should really be winding down on this front since semester 1 is over and now i`m onto the practical side of things, but i keep spying these relevant articles while browsing and cant help but bookmark them. i cant get out of the literature hunting mind state.

pushmo (or pullblox as it`s known in europe)  a first party Nintendo title for 3DS eshop. developed by the masterminds behind advance wars and the paper Mario games.

gameplay, consists of you pushing and pulling blocks to create a makeshift pathway to the goal at the top. later levels involving moving sets of blocks shaped like old NES sprites.

it`s a unusual way to reuse old visuals but it`s pretty great. it even comes with a level editor which is good fun. it`s really surprising that they`ve managed to squeeze an entire game out a mechanic which, in a Zelda game would be used for one room.

absolutely spot on

1:06 talks about a core group of developers who are re-examining retro visuals to discover the artistic merit within them. this `group` in question is of course all of the artists and developers i`ve looked at in this blog thus far.

1:58 jason rohrer gives a fascinating insight into the merit of the pixel. how it`s abstract and ambiguous so it gives all this room for viewer interpretation. akin to books I think.

I really should cover him more. i`ve played passage long before i started this research and his other games look quite interesting. especially the dsiware anthology.

08:40 they compare pixel art to mosaics and pointillism painting. I believe i`ve made the parallel to traditional painting and pixel art before. where how both are conceived from limitations but stay around because they retain an artistic merit and add to the visual language of their respective mediums.

aside from these great quotes, the entire video is worth watching. it covers a lot of areas and makes a fantastic argument for the merit of pixel art.

nearer the first set of posts, I thought about how the `retro` value of pixel graphics would or wouldnt appeal to a new age of gamers. younger gamers obviously have no nostalgic value to low fidelity visuals because they didn’t grow up with them, and I was fascinated by how people like that would perceive the art style.

there’s a snippet from a interview with phil fish which actually makes mention of something similar

“I had this class of kids come in yesterday morning, 12 to 15 year olds. First thing in the morning I was scared shitless. I thought these kids are going to tear me apart; they are not going to like this game, they are not going to get this game. They are not going to get like the nostalgia aspect of it,

because they’re too young, and I was certain that they’d be saying things like, “There’s no guns in this game?! What the fuck this is?” But no, they were like entranced by it, and they kept saying like, “This is amazing! I need an Xbox now.”

even more interesting, is the fact that fez`s gameplay is also quite unconventional. he mentions in the interview how the game actually has zero enemies or combat of any sort. quite the departure from the norm, and would type of gameplay the younger masses nowadays would be used to.

a while back, i played a flash game called super Mario bros crossover, and i`ve only just found out a sequels been made.

so many characters! even dark samus!

it`s a really brilliant way to mix up the age-old, standard retro gameplay. obviously something like this could never be achieved on the original hardware. it flirts between gameboy,SNES and NES aesthetics and i love it. there`s just an abundance of variety despite being somewhat familiar.

another game to mention, something that also experiments with the preconception of era`s and platforms.

all the way from 8-bit to 128-bit!

I`ve known about this game for a while, I havent bought it because the reviews were lukewarm, but i can admire it`s concept.

the game proposes an entire back catalogue of games for a fictitious character ranging from various eras. and you have to play through them all in succession with ever-increasing features, better visuals and more complex gameplay.

it`s truly fascinating to see a `franchise` imagined so literally and immediately. it`s a pity bit.boy was`nt a success because I adore this concept. it could serve as a brilliant form of iteration for games development.

i`ve spoken about demakes and this gives me a good excuse to show off pieceoftoast`s deviantart gallery

this is my favourite, i could really see portal working well in this style.

there are a lot of interesting mechanics developed in a 3D space which in some cases could be applied better in a 2D game world. portals mechanics are debatable but it would be interesting to see the result. I imagine it would help the accessibility factor considerably. his gallery also consist of dues ex, bioshock and mass effect art. all games I would love to play in this style.

another deviantart page worth blogging about is jnkboy

a 4 player sprite halo would be orgasmic

whenever I see concepts like this, it makes me sad that they aren’t real. halo hallmarks like vehicles, huge landscapes and advanced a.i could theoretically exist in a 2D shooter. i`m hoping to try to get some of these advancements into my bit.cops demo.

mutant mudds is now released in america and the positive reviews are flooding in. and they make mention of the advanced hardware accelerating the low fidelity visuals in innovative ways. here`s one such quote detailing that.

“When you play Mudds, there are a few things that stand out regarding the use of the 3DS hardware that push it to a technical level unreachable by older 2D games. Firstly, it runs silky smooth at what my eye believes to be 60FPS, which I can attest to being incredibly helpful in this genre.

a pullblox level from jools watsham himself!

Next, you don’t just play on one “plane”, if you will. I’ll attach some screenshots to help you visualize this, but you actually jump back (further away from the screen) and forward (closer to the screen), which couples with the 3D effect for some really fantastic visual nuances.”

I did the charitable deed of buying the soundtrack from the developer’s website and it`s pretty incredible. it strikes as a lot better than most of the music actually from that era. I think the reasoning for this, is that back then. composers were trying to find ways to`surpass` the limits of midi restrictions by copying instrumental sounds. whereas musicians who specialise solely in `chip` music, know their limitations and work as best they can within them.

this philosophy also applies to mutant mudds aesthetic. the game is unashamedly blocky and bold. the colour palette is extraordinarily vibrant and the 3D is integrated so successfully that feels like it`s always been a part of retro platformers.

a while back,I made mention of minecraft and how it`s aesthetic is clearly inspired by sprite visuals (albeit, rendered in 3D) there’s another game of that same ilk, that i`m hugely excited for.

the character animations are surprisingly brilliant. map looks great too.

using the simple geometry and visuals to it`s advantage, the title has randomly generated quests and worlds and town names and all sorts of stuff. i`m not a fan of random generation ins certain games as it can sometimes feel generic and impersonal. or contrast against a realistic setting. (see the quests in skyrim, or the brainless dungeon crawling in rougelike rpgs) but it seems to fit really nicely in `cube world`

it has a feature list that would be worthy of any full price game but keep in mind, it`s being made by an indie developer. I can`t get over how lovely voxel visuals look when combined with geometric lighting.

and that`s all of the links I have for now

since I finished the Tixel animation, i`ve already gotten to work on bit.cops. here’s some screenshots of the first level

the crates and walls are destructive and have various states of health.

here they are destroyed. the top player needs to hit that button to let the bottom player pass. yay, teamwork!

I was actually quite scared of working in the isometric style at first, but I`ve tinkered around with some Photoshop tools to help me get perspectives and such right

the game with also dynamically uses flat on 2D perspectives at times as well. aside from environments, I plan to use rotoscoping for character sprites. since humans are trickier to draw than cartoon aliens, i figure it should help production in the long run. instead of spending forever iterating body shapes and proportions. i`ve always been a  big fan of rotoscoping (another world and the last window series, love em) and this is the perfect opportunity to try it out. here`s a video from the now defunct Cing about how they did their rotoscoping for the last window sequel.

obviously my technique will be nowhere near as technical as this. I will, simply be tracing.

got some sketches with the bad guy designs, and some thoughts on my still-to-do boxarts of these theoretical games.

the bad guys will thankfully be ideal for palette swapping.

that`s everything for now. i don’t have any more classes sin semester 2 so hopefully work production will be full steam ahead!


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