Article Why do Gamemaker users settle for pixelated graphics?

Discussion in 'Game Design, Development And Publishing' started by fxokz, May 2, 2017.

  1. fxokz

    fxokz Member

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    Hey everyone.. Haven't posted here in a while but have had random thoughts about gm here is one of which. When i think of gamemaker, I automatically think of 32x32 collision squares, 16x16 sprites, mario, pac man etc etc...

    Why are there so many old/pixelated looking games made by us? Is it because people would rather settle for something theyre familiar with or just following trends they notice or even just something that is easy? Or is it because the language cant handle greater visuals as well? Was gamemaker made specifically for these sorts of gfx?

    Why don't we see too many games made with gamemaker that look like this?
    [​IMG]

    but instead we see this style too often:
    [​IMG]

    Now of coarse there are some amazing pixelated games as well such as Hyper Light Drifter and there are also beautiful non-pixelated games made with gm like Orphan etc etc.. there are some gems deep underground.

    But yeah.. can anybody answer the question to why people settle for pixelated rather than expanding to more impressive looking visuals?
     
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  2. zendraw

    zendraw Member

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    becus pixelatin is easy, and its not an art.
     
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  3. zbox

    zbox Member GMC Elder

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    much more work (or money) to produce good looking hd graphics
     
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  4. JackTurbo

    JackTurbo Member

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    It takes lots of time/effort/money to create high quality hd art.

    Teams with lots of resources tend to opt for more industry standard engines like Unity.

    Decent looking pixel art can be done with much less time/effort/money so are often preferred by hobbyists and teams with small/nonexistent budgets. GMS' simplicity and ease of use tend to attract these sort of users.

    Pixel art is also quite fashionable these days.

    Running at low res and scaling up is very resource efficient which means you dont need to optimise your game all that much.
     
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  5. Sanil

    Sanil Guest

    Producing HD graphics require a lot of time money and other resources, most of which can only be managed by companies that are already pretty well established. With that being said most of the Game Meker community is actually just individuals or a small group of individuals that usually don't have the resources to create graphics like those mentioned above. That is why Game Maker has an image of pixelated graphics rather than HD graphics

    Hope this cleared it up:):)
     
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  6. JackTurbo

    JackTurbo Member

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    Also for what its worth, no pixel art in my game :)
     
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  7. Tsa05

    Tsa05 Member

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    Your signature, OP, is done in a pixel style :p
    But yea, time, money-- there's also a sort of...how to word it... "automatic nostalgia" effect. People are used to seeing old timey pixelated platformer games and the speedrunning community has breathed new life into older games. By using a style which people immediately recognize as being "lke those games I used to love to watch or play," your game gains a kind of atmosphere for free.

    No pixel art in any of my games and apps thus far, though I'm considering it for a future speed-run-friendly game :)
     
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  8. YellowAfterlife

    YellowAfterlife ᴏɴʟɪɴᴇ ᴍᴜʟᴛɪᴘʟᴀʏᴇʀ Forum Staff Moderator

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  9. Carnivius

    Carnivius Member

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    Settle? I could do HD art if I wanted but I just prefer pixel art. I prefer creating it, I prefer playing games that have it. I don't really care for a lot of HD 2D artwork. I find it often kinda hard to make out what I'm supposed to be looking at and often they make the sprites or fonts far too small to be readable.

    Even when 2D HD stuff is done really well and clear like in Shantae : Half Genie Hero I still find I far prefer playing the previous games in the series with their quality low resolution pixel art.
     
  10. DukeSoft

    DukeSoft Member

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    I think they do it because its easy and cheap? I mean not all, there are some "pixelated" games that look _really_ good;


    I'm working on one with HD textures and sprites right now;
    [​IMG]

    Keep in mind that all sprites and textures there are scaled down to 0.25, so that if you zoom in it looks good (I'll have to work on mipmaps to prevent the crunchy look and make it smooth, but yeah).


    But I agree. A lot go for the simple 32x32-ish look. I don't like most of those games either.
     
  11. Yal

    Yal GMC Memer GMC Elder

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    Pixel art is less work per unit of quality for small sizes and more work per unit of quality for big sizes, vector or paint art has a constant work-per-unit-of-quality ratio no matter what size you make them in. Considering how many devs make everything themselves, it's understandable corners has to be cut somewhere... the more time you spend on the graphics or music, the less you've got left for the code.

    Also, using SMB1 for comparison is misrepresenting pixelart when there's stuff looking like this readily available.
    upload_2017-5-2_17-9-54.png

    Also, considering (judging from your signature) that you don't understand pixel consistency or proper kerning (not to mention you're using the style you're slandering...), I wouldn't really care about your opinion on graphical trends that much in the first place. If you're really having that good taste in graphics, why don't you go make a HD-art game yourself instead of complaining that the people that actually creates something uses the wrong style? Go ahead, try it. Maybe that answers your question. We'll be waiting.
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2017
  12. Regniwekim

    Regniwekim Member

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    Using pixel art makes it much easier for someone with little artistic ability to create something passable. See the term programmer art for more details.
     
  13. Genetix

    Genetix Member

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    For myself personally, I prefer 8bit and 16bit graphics. I've spent some time working on 3d modeling with Unity but ultimately find that my passion is creating games like Mario and Zelda. I was also born in the 80's so might different then a lot of the younger users here.
     
  14. RichHopefulComposer

    RichHopefulComposer Member

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    "Settling."
    Lmao, get that weak **** out of here. I'm making a pixel art game because I love how it looks. I'm not settling anything. :'D

    99% of HD 2D games look like ****ty flash games. Good pixel art is just as much work (or more) than the HD stuff you're thinking about. =)
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2017
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  15. zendraw

    zendraw Member

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    also i do think game maker cant handle somthing better, graphically speaking. for instance im yet to find a dynamic shadow engine that wont drain my pc with a couple of lights, and just a bunch of lights, nothing else. on the other hand, just recently i was reminded of F.E.A.R. and installed it again on my pc, has alot of going on, also great lightning and atmosphere, and runs perfectly. from my experience with game maker, if you want somthing more then a object/grid oriented game, you better seek somewhere else. im not sayn you cant achive somthing else in game maker, im sayn you will have to go to roundabout ways that you cant hope to optimise to simply achive some effect.
     
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  16. Lukan

    Lukan Gay Wizard Freak

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    I'm not really "settling" for Homestead.
    I mean, I think @Ninety is capable of doing higher res art. But the game would look.... Wrong to me if it weren't pixel art.
    It captures the feeling of the game I'm basing it off of, and without that it would set the whole game off.
     
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  17. rIKmAN

    rIKmAN Member

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    You're right - why didn't I think of this before?

    I'm just gonna go and knock out some artwork that is the quality of Ori - I mean it only took a studio 4 years to make and received multiple awards and nominations for being the best in it's class in multiple fields including animation, art direction and was the Xbox console "GOTY" .

    You've made me feel really lazy for not matching this standard as a solo dev working in my spare time...
    Shame on me, in fact shame on every GM dev out there for not matching this standard - wasters the lot of us! ;)
     
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  18. Samuel Venable

    Samuel Venable Time Killer

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    It's because of a lack of talent in drawing skills or not having the time to make more detailed / high-def graphics.
     
  19. Ninety

    Ninety Member

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    This is pixelart:

    [​IMG]

    And this is HD graphics:

    [​IMG]

    "More impressive". "More talent". "Not settling".

    Yeah.
     
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  20. Samuel Venable

    Samuel Venable Time Killer

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    Yes just think of how much more impressive that first image would be if even more detailed.

    High def doesn't necessarily mean more detail - it's up to the developer to take advantage of every pixel available.

    I'm not siding with him, I'm just saying I see where he's coming from.

    Also, I don't see that many pixel art games with as much detail as that knight you posted. I don't think that is a fair representation of an average dev's ability in pixel art.

    Drawing talent isn't something everyone has, and I certainly don't have it - a realization I came to when I decided to make my first pixel art game, "Key to Success", and I like that game a lot more than my failed attempts at HD.

    I had much more time to focus on the gameplay this way, which I enjoy doing.
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2017
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  21. RichHopefulComposer

    RichHopefulComposer Member

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    Not to be rude (because I think you're a cool dude, truly.), but: are you ****ing kidding me? How do you get more detailed than PIXEL LEVEL DETAIL?!
    No, I wouldn't be more impressed if the first piece wasn't pixel art. Because it'd take me six hours to paint something like that in "HD," and about 5,000 hours to recreate that pixel art piece. Holy **** people have no idea how drawing works. Art classes should be compulsory for all twelve years of school. The average level of ignorance of how all of our art and entertainment is made is inexcusable.
     
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  22. Samuel Venable

    Samuel Venable Time Killer

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    Make it 3 times that size and fill in the gaps of repeated colors with more shading. That would make a killer poster, and I mean a BIG one - lol.
     
  23. Ninety

    Ninety Member

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    Does that first image display a lack of talent? Or even a lack of time?

     
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  24. Samuel Venable

    Samuel Venable Time Killer

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    No, but what you posted isn't what the OP is talking about at all. I don't mean to get on anyone's bad side, so I'd rather leave this topic before I get jumped on.
     
  25. RichHopefulComposer

    RichHopefulComposer Member

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    Ha. It'd look fine at 3x the size without any added work, because the detail is so dense. If you want it to be more "detailed" than that, add a blur filter to it after you resize it - that's literally all that separates pixel art brushes from "HD" painting programs anyway.
     
  26. Samuel Venable

    Samuel Venable Time Killer

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    Yes, but what happens when you make pixel art but so big? It eventually becomes HD. Blur effect or not.
     
  27. Samuel Venable

    Samuel Venable Time Killer

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    449×592 is the size of that knight drawing, now resize the canvas and draw a castle behind him - suddenly it's HD.

    I really think you guys are misunderstanding me, (or the OP, for that matter). He mentions 32×32 tiles and 16×16 characters. That knight drawing is huge compared to what the OP is really talking about, and has much more room to be detailed. 32×32 or less obviously doesn't have the same kind of room for detail, and doesn't need as much talent or take as much time - that's all he's trying to say.

    No need to get defensive, we agree on this more than we disagree, if you read what I'm saying in how it is meant to come across.

    Edit: sorry, I meant to add this on to my post above instead of making a double post.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2017
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  28. sitebender

    sitebender Member

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    As so many others have said... easy and cheap. I can produce a lot of 16 x 16 or 32 x 32 art in a few hours and animate them maybe 10 per hour at 32 x 32 and 3 per hour at 64 x 64. I have no art talent outside of pixel art. If I did, I'd go big or go home. One day I will get back there, I've even managed to use high quality art packs to make a HD platformer... but its not my art.

    Also as an older generation of gamer I'd rather play the 8 bit or the 16 bit. The HD stuff still looks gorgeous, but it gets to be a distraction when playing.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2017
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  29. Samuel Venable

    Samuel Venable Time Killer

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  30. zendraw

    zendraw Member

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    actually the second image is more pleasing to the eye, that much sharpness and detail doesnt mean better artwork. espetially for games it can get in the way very easily.
    if by chanse you put that knight fully animated in a game it wuld simply be confusing and ugly.
     
  31. Samuel Venable

    Samuel Venable Time Killer

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    ^Also bear in mind detail doesn't necessarily mean high contrast. Part of what would make the knight so confusing in a game would be the level of solid black outlines used for everything, if put over a background with just as many solid black outlines - it would blend in a little too much.

    (Even then, I must say I still like the knight image much much better than the other picture, but that's just me)...
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2017
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  32. zendraw

    zendraw Member

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    my point is its too much info for the eye to not be bothered too much with the appeal of the game. its like watchin an MLG video or somthing. its great for what its worth, but i prefer a smooth painted game visual instead of a very detailed pixelated game, but i do like pixelated graphics, Batman for the nes, Gremlins 2, Solbrain, TMNT Tournament, all great games visually. they dont have alot of detail but they have enough to send the message and not be a nuisense, but an attraction and leave a clear and pleasent mark in my mind, where somthing like Owl boy or w/e it was, i remember a pixelated mess and nuisense. more is greed and annoyng, not better. if you cant deliver your message simply, you have no message to deliver.
     
  33. Ninety

    Ninety Member

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    I posted that knight picture not to suggest it would be used in a game, but to point out that pixel art isn't limited to basic 16px tile sets. Blacklemon, your first post said pixel art was "easy". If that's the case, I'd like to see you recreate that. ;)

    Pixel art can be easy and quick or it can be hard and time-consuming. HD art can be hours and hours of skilful painting or it can be 5 minutes with a cracked copy of Illustrator. There is nothing about either format that locks you into a particular level of detail or a certain style. Neither is inherently good nor inherently bad and it's childish to pretend otherwise.

    Don't confuse accessibility with ease. Sure, anyone can open up MS Paint and make Pacman with the default colours. It takes a truly talented artist, drawings on practice and art fundamentals, to make something impressive. You'll notice that actually good pixel artists will never, ever tell you it's cheap and easy to emulate the greats.

    I'm also aware that OP was probably trying to address a particular trend of low-red pixel art games. However the thread has turned into one about pixel art in general, so that's what I'm addressing.
     
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  34. JacobV

    JacobV Member

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    I think there's a lot of reasons why devs go for pixelart. For me, I use it because it's quicker and more fun to draw. You can produce a massive tileset in a few hours (at least, if you're going for a minimalist style) and begin building levels with it right away. There's no need to code in complex autotiling systems either, which helps a lot for people like me who tend to enjoy working on gameplay code more than technical code. It's a style that works with my strengths and constraints, and looks pretty nice in the meantime. I can make a whole scene in under a day.

    [​IMG]
     
  35. Mystborn

    Mystborn Member

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    I definitely think it just looks better in many cases when it comes to 2d games (as long as it's done right). Obviously there exceptions (looking at you Hollow Knight), but in general I stand by that opinion.
     
  36. Geoff Jones

    Geoff Jones Member

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    Its a style and very popular one. I love good pixelated graphics. There's just something about it... the crispness and the simplicity. @JacobV 's post is an excellent example of doing more with less.
     
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  37. Ethanicus

    Ethanicus Ethan L!

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    I'm using pixel art in two of the three games I'm working on at the moment, in differing capacities.

    The first, Dreamer, I'm using it because I'm going for a flat-color style that ironically would look lazy if it weren't pixel art. I was also aiming for nostalgia and I think the style really benefits that.
    The second (which is secret), I'm using a fairly hi-res pixel art style, also for nostalgia's sake. That's not to say I'm just making nostalgia-leech games, I just think it tends to draw people in visually.
    I am also making a mobile game with an ink and watercolor art style, because it looks good thematically.

    I can't defend it for everyone, there are absolutely people (myself at first included) who use it due to limitations in software, skill, etc. There's not really any blanket answer you can get for it.
     
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  38. Wraithious

    Wraithious Member

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    99.999 % of my games are, well, neither pixel art or hd, but are usually real life pics I take while hiking and cartoonize them and then mix in some (fairly poor) hand drawn stuff scaled all wonky in game haha! The other reason is to avoid huge backgrounds by using real life pics. I make every part of my games from start to finish myself and I'm learning allot more on graphics as of late. I personally don't like the small pixel art look just because it just looks so blocky and cheezy, but for allot of people I've talked to they go crazy for the pixel art! maybe it's the nostalgia of back in the day or something that hooks people I really don't know but I'm gonna stick to my plan but try to get better at it and make some cool looking hd games. and on the other hand if you visit sites like twitch and watch what people are playing most all of it is farrrrr from pixel art, it just gives you the feel of being in the game rather than watching a block attacking a 3 branched tree. many in this topic have pointed out that pixel art can be stunning and the pic above of that night proves it can be done and done beautifully but it's always the large characters and backgrounds that make it work, which is costly on all levels. it's funny how the knight pic was compared to the absolute worst hd pic I think I've ever seen (is that really hd?) and the op did the exact opposite in his original post with the hd art looking like a movie theater screen at a 19.5 to 1 ratio with little mario down below. By the way tho, I hear android is coming out with 2 new screen resolutions of 19 - 1 and 19.5 - 1, so I guess it's back to the scaling drawing board I go!
     
  39. FrostyCat

    FrostyCat Member

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    Rather than accusing GM users of sticking to pixel graphics, I prefer looking into why people who use other graphics styles tend not to use GM. Look at GM's support for vector, skeletal, extra hi-def raster and 3D-modelled graphics. How well are they maintained, developed and supported?

    Diversifying the style of products produced by GM requires diversifying GM's support for techniques and technologies that underpin them.
     
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  40. zendraw

    zendraw Member

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    Ninety, things that you cannot or have no skill in are hard, things for which you have the skill, are easy. it doesnt matter wether its about pixelatin or painting or fighting or w/e. and thats one of the reasons i dislike when people talk about effort when the question is skill, things that you redraw, require skill, what i understand by effort is, having a vision [i will restrain from usin idea cus its very abused in my opinion] and trying to create the most clear representation of that vision. thats thousands of shots in the dark just to hit the bullseye and what i call effort, and art, skill alone has no meaning nor count as art. you can be very skillful but if the only thing youve drawn is 'fanart' in short, your not an artist in my book. i can appriciate some1`s work for what it is, but that doesnt mean it shuld impress me, when what i look for is what message does that author has.

    for example, the vision that im trying to show through Castle Ambush, i got through hittin the punchin bag. and what its supposed to show is awareness and value of your actions, when you act it resonates and prepares the next moment for you, and if you act in doubt you fail and get cornered by the circumstances. but the classic turn based method doesnt reflect what i was trying to do, thus the real-time aspect inbetwean turns, for instance if your faar enough of a bandit with a crossbow, you can dodge his bolt. but i wuldnt say that that game fully represents what i was trying to show with it at the stage it is in.
     
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  41. GMWolf

    GMWolf aka fel666

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    Too much misinformation here in this thread, some good stuff, yes, but mostly misinformation.

    To anyone reading this thread, don't assume any of it is true.
     
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  42. Micah_DS

    Micah_DS Member

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    I go for pixel art for a number of reasons:
    • It's better than HD for various precision-based gameplay
      (i.e. this usually entails scaling up pixels so the player can discern each pixel, plus there are usually challenging and precise movements required that leave little room for error)
    • Chunky pixels can actually make for a very appealing clean and crisp look
      (this obviously depends greatly on the style of pixel art)
    • Less VRAM than HD and smaller file sizes
    • Drawing good HD without a tablet is a pain (I don't have a tablet.. yet.. it may also be a pain WITH a tablet, haha)
    • Generally speaking, you can get more out of a simple palette with pixel art than you can with HD
    • Creating and managing palettes is generally much easier with pixel art
    • And lastly, one of my favorites: The visual simplicity can hit a sweet spot which allows the player to focus on the gameplay without graphical distraction, yet the graphics can still lead the player's mind to "fill in the blanks" with detail.
      It may be my ignorance talking, but I expect this is harder to pull off with HD graphics. In any case, you can pull it off with proper pixel art and I love it... now if only I could make proper pixel art. :p
    For the most part though, I mainly favor pixel art because I haven't had the time or resources to learn to draw more HD stuff. Great HD game art is mind-blowing and I do enjoy it, but it's a better use of my time to go for pixel art.

    I say this because I make my games all by myself - I don't have a team. So, rather than taking a ton of time learning to make higher detailed art and be down a bunch of development time, I'd rather just make a game with placeholder pixel art and program it with a future higher res game in mind, then - when finished - I could hire a 'real' artist to work with me to replace all the graphics.

    All that said, I've recently been pushing myself to get my pixel art skills to higher levels, since sometimes I just won't be able to afford an artist and I don't want my art skill to drag my games down.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2017
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  43. JackTurbo

    JackTurbo Member

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    Im curious Fel, what are you refering to as misinformation? I ask because to me this thread seems to be predominantly people airing opinions, rather than representing their posts as facts.
     
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  44. lolslayer

    lolslayer Member

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    I think that most people that use Game Maker work alone. Because you CAN work alone with game maker. Because of that programming is simplified you can more easily program a game and take less time doing it. But that still doesn't mean that you have as much time to work on art as a dedicated artist.

    Pixel art is also faster to create, so with less time on hand you can still create a lot of art assets.
     
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  45. GMWolf

    GMWolf aka fel666

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    What.
    Speak for yourself. I've gotten many lights to work in a game just fine.
    Even made a 2D 'volumetric' shadow engine with normal maps that could easily have 10+ lights on screen on an 4th gen Intel HD chip. Those where high quality shadows too (with dust effects, and penumbras, etc).
    Or learn a bit of computer science and understand where you are hitting bottlenecks.
    I blame GM for a few things when working with it, mostly the lack of name spacing, but now we have shaders and vertex buffers, you can achieve most graphical effects.

    I now work with other engines (loving libGDX at the moment) and its the same story. You need to understand a bitbof cs.
    Sure, you will hit the grojnd running with something like unity, but the philosophy is completely different.
    Anyone can acquire skill. No one is born with it. Just dedicate time to it.
    Again, you can acquire skills.
    Effort is how much time you pour into a skill.
    This has been made very clear to me recently, working in a team project.
    Team members would say that they didn't understand an aspects of programming, and so did nothing, leaving it to me. At first I thought they where quite dumb not to figure it out. Then I learnt they only spent 30mjnutes working on it, whilst I had just sunk 5 hours straight working my end of things out.
    They aren't dumb, they just didn't put as much effort in to it.

    Spending lots of time and effort drawing fan art will improve your skill. But its still effort, and art. (Its called fan-ART after all...).
    Prior effort, or skill means your future effort yield better results. Its the whole idea behind improving your skills.


    Tl;dr
    Stop attributing peoples success to skill. Acquiring that skill is effort. Whether it is through a hobby, training, etc.
     
  46. fxokz

    fxokz Member

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    well i didnt expect this topic to explode.. i did expect to get slammed by a couple of people though.. and i agree. theyre really good points.. ill maybe one day attempt to decipher this mystery on my own and come back with a few answers.
     
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  47. sylvain_l

    sylvain_l Member

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    just my 2 cents;
    for me big difference between pixelated art (what most dev art goes for, as I do) and pixel art.

    GMS2 has access to the same technologies then UE4 : directX 11, openGL. So in theory; you could get the same results, would just take you a lot of effort as you'll have to code everything yourself; while in UE4 it's mostly just a few clic away: everything for 3D has been optimized, tooled (material editor, 3D model and animation import out of the box, light engine with backed lightning for static light, and so on). Big assumption being made: I don't know the ovehead of GML vs. blueprint, just assuming they are on a par...
     
  48. JackTurbo

    JackTurbo Member

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2016
    Posts:
    824

    Thanks for clarifying, I see what you're getting at regarding the technical stuff.

    Also regarding the skill issue, I couldnt agree more. When people tell me "you're so talented at art/design, I could never do that" it makes me wanna pull my hair out.

    I'm (reasonably) good at art because I've been drawing as a hobby for twenty years.
    I'm (reasonably) good at art because I've put in thousands of hours of practice in.
    I'm (reasonably) good at art because I spent 4 years at Art School

    Calling it a product of talent ignores the work that went into learning it and strips it of the achievement it actually is.

    n.b just using me as an example, the same is true of all artists I'm sure.
     
    Rin-Rin, Ethanicus and GMWolf like this.
  49. zendraw

    zendraw Member

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2016
    Posts:
    1,365
    Fel, i was talking about effort in creativity, in being able to materialise a vision, im not denyin that you need to put effort in the act itself. here you constantly see people with great ideas and skills in either aspect of game dev, yet somehow they end up not realising those ideas or realise them poorly. or just copy some other games design/mechanics and put custom content. being able to realise a project is also a skill in a sense that you aquire through effort. and thats the part i dislike in 'fanart' like i sayd i can appriciate the work for what its worth.
     
  50. Niels

    Niels Member

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2016
    Posts:
    825
    I like the ast
    would take about 10 years to animate this ;)

    but to answer the OP:

    Graphics like Ori and the blind forest takes a lot of time to draw (if you have the skills), it's not that gamemaker is limited by pixelart, it's more that most gamemaker projects are made by 1 person or a small team with no budget
     

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