Hi-res vs. lo-res

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  • I'm a big fan of lo-res (also known as 8-bit) game art, but also enjoy newer game with more hi-res. This topic doesn't cover the large production 3D games, but by hi-res I mean these cartoonish kind of games (pixel art but with higher res). An example of what I mean: Angry Birds vs. Flappy bird.

    My question is: Are there any studies, ratings etc. that shows what's preferred by the majority? What are the pros and cons between the two considering visual looks? Till now I've been designing with easy 8-bit techniques, but consider using vector based software instead to create art of higher quality.

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  • I think what you mean with hi-res is vector graphics. It has some advantages, the most obvious one is that it's easily scalable compared to pixelart that can't be scaled at all without losing some of it's appeal.

    Vector graphics is typically animated with tweening (or in-betweening) which is an animation technique usually seen in Flash games and movies. The downside with tweening is that the animations can look incredibly robotic and stiff compared to traditional animation where you have complete control over things like contracting muscles and stretched clothing. Though that's not to say tweening is bad, Castle Crashers is a good example of tweening done right compared to tweening done poorly, for example realistic proportions using skeletal animation, unless very skillfully made it will look robotic.

    Pixelart also have its downside, for example it can't be easily tweened, so traditional animation is almost imposed and that eats up lots of resources and time. And like I said above, it's not particularly scalable compared to vector graphics. It also has a stigma for being the "lazy" way to present graphics since pixelart has the false preconception of being easy to produce, but just like any other kind of visuals, producing professional quality pixelart is very tough and takes time and artistic skill.

    Those are the two biggest differences I can think about at the top of my head. I'm not sure about whether more people prefer one over the other since taste is a very subjective thing.

  • If you read my first post, I mention vector as hi res. I know all technical differences very well, but I'm more asking about the impression by the players. What they tend to prefer.

  • That's highly subjective I'm afraid. Study your specific target audience and go from there.

  • You could also traditionally animate at higher resolution and avoid some of the rigid look of some tweened animation. I've seen a lot of the game dev community just in love with pixel art, but the novelty is gone. There is a smaller niche that likes it, but the general public complains about it--even beautifully-done pixel art. Your art style will help determine your audience/market, and pixel art limits you there.

  • This is just my opinion based on reading articles, listening to youtube personalities, etc.

    When 8-bit(and similar) graphics made the comeback a few years ago it was good, but even then a lot of people didn't like it simply because personal taste(and that's ok).

    Since then the market has been over saturated with this graphic style, so now you might actually get more out of using hi-res/vector/"normal"/whatever you wanna call them graphics.

  • In my opinion it is more dependant on the games mechanics: If you use a concept which actually resembles the style of the old classics retro graphics never get old.

  • I think people are tired of retro style graphics, not specifically pixelart. Pixelart is the medium not the style per say.

    For example Eitr, Tower57, Mother Russia Bleeds, Megasphere and others have gained a lot of traction and good press/attention (some even got big stage presence on E3), and most if not all of those games have are made with pixelart though they utilize very modern techniques like dynamic lighting and shaders.

    When people say they are tired of pixelart they mean this or this but they rare critique this or this.

    The former utilize a tired style (Realm of the Mad God, Sword and Sworcery), this style has been utilized an incredible lot outside of their original sources and I can understand why some people are tired of them. The latter though have gained almost no negative attention because their artstyle is unique and fresh (or brings life to an old but not often justified style like Tower57). Not to toot my own horn but I am yet to gain a single negative remark about the visuals in Razzia and that game has been around since January on various forums and social media. I wouldn't be too worried about using pixelart unless you use a tired style.

    I think my point with all of that is that there's nothing wrong with pixelart because it's simply the medium that you use, most people are tired of specific styles, not the means of which you produce that style. And it also helps to understand your target audience, it's futile to market low-grade graphics to an audience that expect better but that doesn't mean that low-grade pixelart visuals is a small niché, in fact the market for that kind of visuals is quite large, if you know where to look.

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