To pixel art or not to pixel art?

Discussion and feedback on Construct 2

Post » Fri Jun 05, 2015 8:23 pm

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.
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Post » Fri Jun 05, 2015 8:42 pm

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.
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Post » Fri Jun 05, 2015 9:12 pm

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.
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Post » Fri Jun 05, 2015 9:37 pm

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.
Last edited by Animmaniac on Mon Jun 08, 2015 8:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post » Fri Jun 05, 2015 9:43 pm

"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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Post » Fri Jun 05, 2015 9:59 pm

You will always find criticism on how your game looks/feels from other people.
To like something is strictly subjective. If you want a more serious opinion. I believe the third image actually helps your style look more in the line of comic art which actualy goes well with the overall game and story as I've seen on the videos of your game.

However don't base changes like that on what people tell you its your game, it's your baby and it should look like it should. If making a modification takes away from the game leave it as is. If it improves it do it. However game experience should not be based on how it looks but how it plays ... I for one would consider those (serious)critics that aim at game mechanics and control improvements, in order to further polish your game, over those who will just shoot down your style. Just my two cents. Hope it helps a bit tho. Best of luck!!
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Post » Fri Jun 05, 2015 10:01 pm

I think the gradients you're using crashes hard with the line art. Imo gradient tools and photoshop filters in general tend to make things look cheap: You can tell it's a computer that did the work and not a human being.

If you're going for a comic look with line art and colors filled in I recommend you have a look at Darkest Dungeon. Check out their dev videos, I remember at least one of them have the artist go through how he does some of the inking and coloring for the characters.

Beyond that, be mindful of color hue, color values(brightness) and color ramps. Colors, when not handled right, can pull your artwork down in all kinds of ways. For one, saturated colors will always draw attention to themselves. You have a lot of saturation in your background which competes with your player and enemy sprites for attention. That's not good. The interactive objects, *that's* what you want the player to pay attention to.

Except for neon-lights and other self-illuminated objects we rarely see full-on saturation in the real world. In fact, the less an object is illuminated by light, the less color-saturation it will seem to have. When you're out at night you've no doubt noticed that things seem to be a lot less colorful than in broad daylight. That's because our eyes don't pick up colors nearly as well with poor lighting. The darker colors in your art should reflect that: Cooler colors (red -> purplish, green -> cyan etc) with less saturation. It's also a good idea to vary your color ramps according to this principle. Have a look at these:

Dull, unrealistic:

More interesting to look at, closer to reality:
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Post » Sat Jun 06, 2015 1:17 am

A great example of GOOD pixel art game on C2:


And no, it doesn't look bad. In fact, it looks AMAZING in its aesthetics.

Good pixel art is damn hard.
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Post » Sat Jun 06, 2015 2:03 am

wow.. I only read the first page of comments from Steam.. but I can't believe how many people are commenting critically.. you have some serious buzz.. maybe not the buzz you want, but people are talking about your game! so, even though things might seem negative, you can spin this around...

as for the art... don't change your art style! I'm no artist (I dabble) and I consider myself more of a producer-type. but your art seems good to me, I mean, what the hell is "good" anyway? Art can be whatever. If you have confidence in it.. just be like.. "hey, here's my art.." who cares what people say.. they'll look like idiots when your game does awesome and everyone starts copying your art style... I mean, does it look amateur? I don't know.. who cares.. if it does.. that's the games look.. just stick with it and trust in what you can do. Yes, things look bad when you try to do things you aren't really good at.. this is true for anything art related. So just do what you can do... Consider a high school kid that draws in his/her notebook all day.. say that art is "subpar".. but you make a game out of that art.. that would be so cool.. so who cares if it's "good"!

Now your animation seems to need a little work... just get an animator involved.. find an animation student or something. They can even just fix the current animations you have. Also things like how the character transitions from left to right doesn't look great...almost like you cut some corners (you probably didn't but that's what it looks like).. . the stopping and starting.. I would try to get that tightened up and smoothed out. It will only help your art style..

The other art comment is.. I'm not sure what it is.. but the characters seem to be "on-top of the background. It doesn't look like they sit in the environment really.. not sure if that is your "line quality" (too much outline) or shading.. I don't know.. but they feel kind of paper thin... maybe you can change the line quality (at least on the edges of the sprite).

I think also your willingness to be open about who you are what you are all about is opening you up as well.. I don't think it's a bad thing..but I would not respond to negative comments... that's just pulling you into a direction you won't be able to return from.. ala Phil Fish...

seriously good luck.. I think you need to just find confidence and also try to distance yourself from the game itself. The game isn't "you" so don't be offended by anything. It's hard to be so close to something and look at it with an objective eye. Gamedev is a long and winding road of learning...
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Post » Sat Jun 06, 2015 2:36 am

Hey Psi, sorry to see a lot of criticism on a project you have worked on for a long time. I know the feeling, but it is good to see you are willing to make changes to improve it. I'm sure it will be for the best.

Everyone has their own opinion of course but I like the original graphic style and think you should stick with it. The 80's comic book look is your point of difference, if you redid it with proper pixel art you would lose the nostalgia aspect and the heart of the game imo.

I won't nitpick, but there are 2 big issues that stick out when i watch the video. The first is the screen size.


As a beat-em-up game, I personally would like *at least* this much extra space on the screen to be able to navigate through enemies and plan my moves instead of just reacting to whatever pops on the screen (might need to widen the browser a bit to see the full image).

The second thing is how your hero carries herself (pose and animations). You can tell a lot about someone by the way they stand and move. Most of the time she is slightly bent forward which to me portrays anger and generally isn't a flattering position for her. Why is this important? Well, this is very sexist but I feel like she should move more elegantly/gracefully. To be more specific, she should move in poses that accentuate her features and make her look sexy (especially since she is outfitted with a skin tight costume instead of armour that is designed to be functional).


Straighten up her back to have her in positions that convey confidence. When animating, it might help you to select a strong pose like an attack position (the point of impact for example) and work backwards bringing her to the idle position. Change the running animation to a walk (keeping the back straight for the majority of the cycle), this would suit the speed she moves at much better in my opinion.

Again, all just my opinion, for the most part I think you have a great project and wish you the best of luck moving forward.
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