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← Technical choicesTilemap tutorial (part 1) →
  Art Style
Mon 5th November 2012 at 23:14   
Let's spend a bit of time on explaining what the art style of The 2d Game will be.

2D vs 3D

One of the big challenges faced by game developers is the time required to create assets.
Ghost Gobbler pictureBack in the early 80ies, most games were written by one single person who would write the code, draw the graphics and produce the sounds.
Due to the simplistic nature of these early machines, extremely limited graphical and audio capabilities, this was a perfectly viable situation.

At the end of the decade the situation had already changed quite a lot. The ruling machines were 16bit computers and consoles, most of these machines were able to routinely
display graphics using 16 colors or more simultaneously, and with enough memory to store hundreds of animation frames for in game characters and cut-scenes.
In the audio department games started using sample sounds and tracked music, requiring decent quality equipment to record and compose the audio track for the games.
At this point most games would have at least a team consisting of a dedicated programmer, a graphic artist and a musician.
Stormlord picture
Continue to the mid-90ies. The Playstation 1 has just arrived, the beginning of large scale texture graphics usage.
At this point most games require two or three programmers at least, just to handle the additional charge in term of game features and content, the need for custom tools, 3d engine development, etc...
On the art side, the presence of a CD ROM drive makes it possible for developers to store two order of magnitude more data than what was possible with floppies or cartridges. More room, more content, more artists.
Oh and the CD ROM drive happens to also be usable to play CD Quality musics, which means you can now afford to record real musicians in a studio and play the music directly from the CD.

The Witcher 2 pictureFast forward to now, few weeks before the Mayan apocalypse, and the average triple A game required hundred of persons working for two to three years.
Today The CTO of Epic games, Tim Sweeney, said in an interview that he expected games built for the next generation of game console to cost about twice as much as current generation game:
Their 3 minutes "Samaritan" technological demo took 30 persons during 4 months to create.

In order to compete for people's attention with all these mastodont game it is obvious that targeting bigger and better is not the way to go. Specially when one is alone to do it all.
This is the reason why The 2D Game will be in 2D and not in 3D: Crafting a large number of high quality 3D assets is an enormous task.


The Art Style

Deciding to go for 2D graphics is one thing. Deciding which type of 2D graphics is something else. 2D graphics can be in very large range of things, going to monochrome clip art to large paints, from vector graphics to pixel graphics.
The representation itself can be of many different types: Top view, side view, isometric or not, closed up or far, can use parallax effects, etc... The art style itself can go from ultra-realistic to simplistic as well.

I personally have a fondness for pixel art. I think some of the best vintage video games still look extremely good despite the size of the pixels when you look at them.
The talent of pixel artists is somewhat incredible, and if unfortunately I do not have the talent of the best, I still have some experience in the domain so it's just a question to get back on the saddle.

The current decision for the style of The 2D Game is inspired by the old role playing games available on 16 bit consoles, such as Final Fantasy™, Star Ocean™, Wild Arms™, ...

Expect some tilemap based game, with an overlay of animated sprites. Of course we are in the 21st century, so you shoul dalso expect some modern effects thanks to hardware accelerated OpenGL.

You can visit my Deviant Art gallery if you feel like looking at some of my old Atari ST pixel art.
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