Discussion: Why retro?

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Post » Sun Jan 25, 2009 3:05 am

[quote="dfyb":39zgh1fe][quote="megatronx":39zgh1fe]edit: btw. CHECK THIS OUT -> Pole's Big Adventure - Japanese Trailer 2 - new original game for wiiware by SEGA. [/quote:39zgh1fe]
wow that looks awful... looks like a mario ripoff released 20 years ago that nobody, even then, would want to buy.[/quote:39zgh1fe]

I think it looks cool, if only in a WTF kind of way. Not very challenging though. I definitely don't mind the art, but you really have to wonder just how big SEGA's balls are to go making a spoof of a Nintendo game... for a Nintendo console. And I do agree with megatronx, this should be freeware.

Also, there needs to be more Western themed games, there really aren't enough of them.

For an example of a decent retro styled indie game that's actually being sold on a console, and made by a real indie developer, check out Johnny Platform's Biscuit Romp. It's a pretty fun puzzle platformer, and it's only a measly 200 points (on the 360).
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Post » Sun Jan 25, 2009 4:37 am

Some interesting points raised, thanks for your input everyone. I think it's interesting megatronx that you say retro games are "fun, fast, challenging and simple to control" - none of them are attributes specific to retro games - non-retro games can be all of those things too.

I like your analogy for graphics and gameplay, deadeye - "pepper on the steak". Poetic :)
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Post » Sun Jan 25, 2009 5:51 am

[quote="Ashley":206fslw7]I think it's interesting megatronx that you say retro games are "fun, fast, challenging and simple to control" - none of them are attributes specific to retro games - non-retro games can be all of those things too.[/quote:206fslw7]

While it's true that they can be, and some actually are, it's a gap that seems to be getting wider as time goes on. Like Mipey said, it's a bloat issue.

I also see many nuschool games that look absolutely amazing, but have gameplay and design flaws littered throughout. Clunky interfaces, odd controls, glitchy movement, or are just flat-out buggy. It's like they're holding the content in higher regard than the core... polished turds, in other words. Games with no soul.

I believe it's because developers are spending so much time and money on the content that the core gets neglected. This is especially true with the movie tie-in games you see (but then again, movie tie-ins have always suffered from this).

I also think that games in general just aren't as "pure" any more. Again, because companies spend so much on the content the want you to see all of it. What you end up with is one long tutorial that holds your hand through the entire game. As an example of a "pure" game, I'd cite the original Metroid for NES... it was just about perfectly balanced as far as challenge goes. It didn't hold your hand at all... it was just you vs. the game.

One last thing I've noticed about retro styled indie games vs. hi-res indie games... the retro styled ones are almost always more "forgiven" by critics and the general public. The more polished your game is, the more likely people are to nitpick at it. For example, Eternal Daughter is lauded as one of the best indie platformers in recent years. It has a pretty large fan base... just about anyone who plays it is satisfied. Aquaria, on the other hand, has a disproportionate number of detractors. It was made by the same person, and was even billed as "the spiritual successor to Eternal Daughter." By all rights is a far superior game as far as the art, technology, depth of gameplay, etc. are concerned. And even though it's seen it's fair share of success, you will find that a larger percentage of people who've played Aquaria as opposed to those who played Eternal Daughter didn't like it or complained about it's flaws. I believe it's because the closer you get to "professional," the less forgiving people are in regards to your game.

It could be that you get more complaints for a paid product than you would for a free one, sure... but I don't think it's just that. I think people are just more willing to overlook a game's flaws if it's presented in a more "home-made" or "lo-fi" way.

Or it could be that fancy looking graphics just get your expectations up about a game more so than lo-fi graphics. You expect the gameplay to be as amazing as the visuals, but that rarely turns out to be the case, and so you end up disappointed.
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Post » Sun Jan 25, 2009 11:12 am

[quote="deadeye":1qqr1xlq]Aquaria, on the other hand, has a disproportionate number of detractors.[/quote:1qqr1xlq]
I suppose that might just be a side effect of it's success. It could also be that because it's professionally made, it gains a wide audience, and from a wide audience comes critics, since you inevitably can't please everyone. I have a feeling if you look for them, you can find detractors for any game ;)
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Post » Sun Jan 25, 2009 11:23 am

It's hard for me to answer this question since I started gaming late SNES/early PSX.

Well, it's much easier to take the NES route then the hi-res 2D route for many reasons, but I guess it's more to do with nostalgia than anything else. 8-bit games seem to have more of a classic feel to many, since plenty of gamers grew up playing them. It's also much easier to make a great looking retro game than a decent looking hi-res 2D game.

Many people disliked (in comparison to the old NES titles) the new Megaman games, as more powerful consoles allowed for more advanced gameplay and for a different and more current style of design. This led to each iteration feeling less and less like Megaman as the advances weren't for the better of the series. Capcom then announced Megaman 9, which kept true to the old NES title. It came out and people loved its old, simple gameplay. I was never a massive Megaman fan, but Megaman 9, even though it has NES-style art, looks sensational especially compared to later 2D/3D titles.

But advances are mostly always welcomed. A good example is New Super Mario Bros. for DS. Keeps true to the retro gameplay, but also brings in welcomed additions.
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Post » Sun Jan 25, 2009 2:56 pm

like someone said before, because retro games have an unexplicable quality to them. It's very difficult to give a high res game this quality. It's like asking: why do some people love vintage cars? they were loud, ineffiencient, bulky, and inferior to todays modern sportscars. Well some people just don't like those modern cars, or maybe they do, but they still hold retro in their heart.

I also beleive that people like retro in the 2d gaming scene because it has proven itself ( with releases like metroid,mario, megaman etc.) to be fun, and able to tell a tale with simplicity.

high-res 2d is still a bit more niche, and is only starting to prove its worth (world of goo etc.) as having the ability to create a "great" game with heart and gameplay as the main features.
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Post » Sun Jan 25, 2009 3:08 pm

Now I remember... "Sword of Aragon", that was AWESOME. I'm trying to recreate the awesomeness in Construct.
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Post » Mon Jan 26, 2009 3:25 pm

I've often wondered about this myself... and I still haven't worked it out. I love maximum resolution, with elaborate graphics... why make a game that plays good but looks like a turd when you can make a game that plays good and looks more like a polished turd instead?

I say make it big. And if it doesn't fit on your monitor, then buy a bigger monitor.

~Sol
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Post » Mon Jul 27, 2009 6:40 pm

Certainly, I think lot of it is to do with the designers graphical abilities, or at least the time it takes to produce them. Most indie devs are one or two people with little to no budget, and are unwilling or incapable of creating huge amounts of hi-res artwork for a game. The smaller you make your graphics, the faster you can produce them. Certainly, for some of my projects I've used incredibly tiny screen resolutions in order to build much bigger worlds, with very low-res graphics. Look at Nifflas' games; they're about as small as they can get whilst still being visable, and yet he's used this to create intricate and absorbing worlds and an engaging art style.

Another problem, certainly in my case, is familiarity. You know where you stand with traditional low-res sprites: 16 x 16 blocks making up rooms, and the user simply scales the game up to their monitor size and it's all fine. With a high-res game though, you lose these restrictions, and then where do you start? Do you make the game at its maximum resolution, then somehow scale it down to fit smaller monitors? Or do you design it to fit the average monitor (1024 x 768 is, I think, still the most widely used resolution) and scale it up, risking the graphics looking blurry on high-res displays. How do you go about making it scale anyway? It's certainly something I'd like to look into. I'd like to do a high-res game, with lovely high-def artwork 'n all, but I wouldn't really know where to start. It is certainly a large technical barrier that may persuade the majority to stick with what they know, low-res retro graphics.
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Post » Mon Jul 27, 2009 9:37 pm

[quote="chaosmaster":2l4hwpal]Certainly, I think lot of it is to do with the designers graphical abilities, or at least the time it takes to produce them.[/quote:2l4hwpal]
For a while I thought I was alone in that thought. Phew.
With a limited indie budget (usually consisting only of allocated TIME) one has to choose carefully. Since gameplay is what really matters, graphics usually get a big cut (and audio too).

I did release some unfinished work here (rocket-days) with fullscreen effects (two alpha blended layers) and whatnot and was told that it ran too slow and I should take em off.
Also, there's the long-standing argument over motion blur.

I'm all up for stunning 2D look. Scaling up is not really an issue (unless that bug of enlarging window still remains :P) as there are tools to scale to any resolution. Of course it doesn't improve as 3D does, but it's just as it would look on the original resolution but with better edges.

All that said, once you go commercial people apply commercial standards, which are running sky high.
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