To pixel art or not to pixel art?

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  • So my game "Psi" is on Greenlight and Kickstarter now. I am hearing some criticisms of the art style on Greenlight so I'm considering changing the graphics up a bit. I know that most successful indie games go in the pixel art direction. Below I have 3 images. The first is the original, the 2nd is pixel art and the 3rd has an adobe elements filter on it. It would take me a day to switch to either of these looks. I would be interested to hear from the community which they think is best. Thank you my friends!




  • I guess with pixel art that the user's brain gets to "interpolate" what isn't there so that's kind of fun.

  • The first is fine in my opinion, the 2nd just feels like we draw 1 on N pixels and stretch, I don't like it at all and find it to be cheap pixel art style, it is not crisp and clear like older games, it is just processed at a lower res it seems, you cannot even read the Extreme cold, just ... I cannot say yes to that.

    The third one, errr... maybe, the picture is not enough to see how that will feel.

    You have gone with one art style, you can't simply switch out to another one without reworking it, when a game does actual pixel art, it is done to be pixel art, not converted from a picture to feel like it.

    Just choose what you think represents the game, not what people think they want, or what successful ones do blindly like that.

  • If I went with pixel art, I wouldn't just downrez - why waste all of that perfectly good memory? I would spend some time and do it right, it just seems that pixel art gets a lot more slack. It's SUPPOSED to look crappy, LOL.

  • More than the art or style itself its important to match every element with the same art style.

    You should just pick the one your most comfortable with and stick.

    Pixel art helps by narrowing the options (less colors solid edges etc. but you must build from zero to get it right. Avoid filters it shows (in a bad way).

    I would Pick the first image/style as defined by the main protagonist. A Solid color and "fury" details to represent shape. Apply it to everything. The danger poster, The graffiti letters, The blood blobs on the ground don't match.

    The health bars don't match to but if you match it with all the GUI elements it might work do.

    I do like the main protagonist art, I would be disapointed if she can´t do something with her boots.

  • Thanks for the input. You don't like the boots, eh? I heard that somewhere else today.

  • I do like the boots! But since they stand in the characters outfit, as much as the V on her head, I expect that they do some trick.

    V -->PSI

    Boots--> Stomping ground for greater PSI effect or something

    Otherwise have the boots black like the gloves. Again is all about consistency.

    Just my 2c, dont get cought in nitpicking.

  • it just seems that pixel art gets a lot more slack.

    Well if you make ugly pixel art, people will still not like it. The problem isn't you not using pixel art, it's simply how the game looks. The colours you are using are very dark and dingy and the overall presentation of the game feels quite outdated. Obviously, there's the animations that everyone keeps moaning about, but that can be fixed easily.

    I'd say update the colour palette and give the art "more of a comic book thick lined cel shaded look", as someone commented on your greenlight page.

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  • You may want to read this article by an incredible artist on the struggles of creating good art. He mostly talks about pixel art vs HD graphics, but also touches on what makes animations good or bad. It may be a good read if you are struggling with which direction to go, or how to improve what you have. ... pixel-art/

  • #2 is not pixel art and no it's not supposed to look crappy...

  • You are confusing pixelising effects with pixel art..

    Basically: ... d917f0.jpg pixelise effect, ugly when used innapropriately, like you second pic, it is unclear, and looks rather bad. ... nky-15.jpg pixel art, it is clear, it is fine, it does not look like crap, low res sure, but it clearly was designed to look like it.

    Your second pic, clearly we can see it is a screen with a pixelise effect and, tbh, I would not play with that enabled, if you want to do a pixel art mode, do it right.

    Even simpler, just look at some earlier 8 bit era consoles games ... at-002.jpg

    You will see what pixel art should look like.

  • I think the more pixelized style of example 2, though not the same as true pixel art, still works better for your art style. It adds a coherence and consistency that the first image lacks. The effect in the third image does too, to some extent, but in an off-putting way IMO.

  • I feel for you taking some hard reviews, especially after putting in so much work and for so long...

    I think that your art style is quite unique (that's not a good or bad thing) but it doesn't seem to fit any genre of comics I recognize (I don't read that many comics, so I am totally prepared to be wrong about this). My point being that, with such a non-mainstream style of character drawings, you are not automatically appealing to a majority of potential players who are looking for eye-candy. When you're looking to market anything, you have to strike a balance between selling your soul to appeal to the mainstream and satisfying your inner-artist.

    My advice would be to think carefully about the style of the characters (what you have is not to my taste, to be honest, but you don't need follow my advice here). You could maybe make it work in the current style if you had some real killer animations. Lots and lots of smooth eye-pleasing animations would bring people begging to get some of your game (as long as the game-play is challenging as well... if it's 1/2 fun to play with just substitute blocks then you're on the right track; if it's boring as hell then you're betting too much, perhaps, just on how it looks).

    How you go about that is up to you - my advice would be to investigate Spriter because it's integration into c2 is awesome (if you don't just export the spritesheets) - it's really easy to create smooth animations and animation transitions. Which is what your game doesn't have today. Also, I know others have mentioned this as well, the characters take up a lot of space on screen - that's ok for a comic, where the characters don't move, but it's not so good for a combat video game...

    I don't think it's as simple as just swapping out some pixel art and then it'll be "job-done". Also, as I have learned, you need to get feedback from people who are prepared to be openly honest with you, so you can address any gameplay concerns before you go to market. Perhaps too late in offering this advice, but find some people who aren't concerned about hurting your feelings and get them to play through what you've done.

  • I believe you are going the wrong way in trying to improve your art. You are trying to fix fundamental flaws in it by applying some automatic post process effects, and that will simply not work. The underlying flaws will still remain, doesn't matter what post process you use.

    Please don't take personal offense, but your style reminds me of someone who learned how to use a graphics software and still doesn't have matured enough it's artistic skills. It looks a lot like some graphics from the 90s, that in todays standards seems a bit cheesy and outdated.

    In your current attempt you tend to overuse gradients and effects, use to much pure colors (full black, full white and pure RGB colors), and are not very fortunate in establishing priorities within your scene. The danger sign that is supposed to be a detail in the background have as much highlight as the characters (if not more). The characters doesn't have enough contrast with the background, and their instances seems a bit stiff. Everything is so high contrast that looking too much time to it may give the player visual fatigue.

    I think that if you went with a more comic style with flat colors like your avatar, the result would be much more pleasing and interesting. Maybe Comix Zone may be a good starting reference.

    I suggest you try to find more references of styles that you like, and then take some time to study them and rationalize why they work and what aspects are the most important to convey their aesthetics and to make them look good. Then apply your findings in your own art asking feedback to players. If you are too short on time, then maybe you should consider hiring an artist to help you in your project.

  • "I think that if you went with a more comic style with flat colors like your avatar, the result would be much more pleasing and interesting. Maybe Comix Zone may be a good starting reference."


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