While I got a significant amount of work done on the combat prototype for Star Revolution over the weekend, it still isn’t quite ready. So in the meantime, I’m polling the audience!
When I wrote Inaria, I used a 512×384 video mode. This is kind of low-res, and I did it on purpose. I wanted the pixels to be a bit…chunky. I wanted you, the player, to be able to see individual pixels. I did this because I wanted to evoke a sense of the older RPGs that I was honoring.
And last night I was reading Masters of Doom again during compiles when I came across this passage:
Richard Garriott, a.k.a. Lord British, the son of an astronaut in Texas, spoke in Middle English and created the massively successful graphical role-playing series of Ultima games. As in Dungeons and Dragons, players chose to be wizards or elves, fighting dragons and building characters. The graphics were crude, with landscapes represented by blocky colored squares: a green block, ostensibly a tree; a brown one, a mountain. Players never saw their smudgy stick figure characters attacking monsters, they would just walk up to a dragon blip and wait for a text explanation of the results. But gamers overlooked the crudeness for what the games implied: a novelistic and participatory experience, a world.
Inaria is a pointer to a pointer. Its blocky graphics are trying to evoke a previous style of game which, in turn, tried to evoke a world rather than accurately represent one.
Is that even possible nowadays? Quake started us down the road from evocation to representation and we’ve been barrelling down it for years, but will we ever arrive? And if we do, will it be possible for small teams to make the trip, or will it necessitate 50-60 people for three and a half years? That’s what Oblivion required…
And here’s the question that is pertinent to me…can we ever go back? Does this sort of evocation still work? And will it work even on newer players who have never played a game in 320×200? Who don’t know what VGA is?
Basically, I’m asking this: Do you think Star Revolution in a lower resolution will evoke older space opera RPGs, or will it just look really stupid?
This is a question I’ve asked myself. I love the look of SNES style RPG’s and wish there were more games being made with similar styles.
As far as being popular with people that have never had the luxury of playing these style games, I’m not sure. One hand, there are a lot of younger kids playing exactly this style on the handheld consoles, but on the other hand you have the “if it’s not 3d I won’t play it” crowd.
How about a high-res look inspired by the vector graphics of yore? Thin green lines against a black backdrop!
It would evoke a sort of “old school” feeling which works particularly well in the cold depths of outer space.
Hmmm…that sounds good, but all suggestions must take into account my inherent lazyness.
I too vote for the vector graphics look. Geometry Wars has proved that this style is still considered hip, and personally I love it. How much more difficult would it be?
I’ve been running text mode demo contest for over 10 years now – http://taat.fi/tmdc
When I was starting 10 years ago, people considered text mode lame, saying either that it’s impossible to do anything cool in it, or saying that it’s just another framebuffer, and there’s nothing cool about it.
10 years later.. http://pouet.net/prod.php?which=20105
Anyway, I don’t think low-res is immediately “bad looking”, even if you disregard the nostalgia / ‘retro’ thing. The game is what matters. (And you can always add a bloom filter over it to make it “”next gen”” =))
Partly depends on the art aspects. If the art looks good in the low resolution i’d say it would work. As far as people liking low-res graphics you’ll find it’s mostly to do with nostalgia. You like it because you remember what you played as a kid, and have sort of a romanticized view of these types of games and graphics.
On the whole I don’t think people would much care what the graphics are like if they’re done well. The ones that really do care are on cutting edge technology and reall if you want to do a game for them you should do a game for them (with all the graphical goodness they expect).
However if you’re just creating a game for the over 20’s and people that just really aren’t computer geeks, then low res is perfectly acceptable.
On a personal note, I prefer the simplicity of low res in a lot of respects, it’s alot more eye pleasing, partly to do with the fact that the two halves of my brain aren’t fighting over whether it’s real or generated. (When this happens you sort of dislike the look of alot of 3d graphics that are “just real enough”). Partly because of the nostalgia. Mostly when i look at low res 2d art my brain goes “hey that’s a style, that’s really 2d, there’s no faking reality here”
sorry for such a long post.
It’s a tough call. I’m not sure if I would try to go with a “nostalgic low-res” look or not.
On one hand, you have people who really dig that style. There is a definite audience for low-res graphics (mostly people who have played PC games in the 1980s to about the mid 90s.
On the other hand, more and more people are looking towards graphics as one method of determining whether or not the game is “professionally done”. Inaccurately or not, the majority of people nowadays judge games on appearance. Or at the very least, someone checking out your game through the screenshots on your site might very well be persuaded or disuaded from downloading the game solely on it’s visual appeal.
Based on this, I’d say make the graphics to the best of your ability.
I think with graphical representations, you’re once again dealing with the Uncanny Valley, only this time with the whole world rather than just humans. Space is not something we experience, so I don’t think there’ll be too much of a sense of “realism” but at least there may be “realisticism” an attempt to approximate what realism would be if we were in space.
I think it’s largely a zero sum game which is why I always advocate going for the “stylish.” Certainly “old school” is a style. You could go Vector and mimic a look not unlike the displays in the old Star Trek movies (specifically the Kobayashi Maru sequence in Kahn). You could go with flat-shaded planes that might look like Tron or Silpheed.
The important distinction of something like Geometry Wars is that even though they’re doing vector graphics, they’re using all sorts of modern tricks to pretty it up and they’re operating at modern resolutions.
I there’s something to be said for flat-shaded planar ships in a reasonably pretty starfield. You might think about doing some kind of simple pixel or vector-based particle effects to simulate the “oceans” of space and hyperspace or whatever.