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animaniac

why didn't Double Fine jump the retro style game train?

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gemini rue, lone survivor, home, superbrothers... pixellated games seem to be all the rage these days (for my greatest pleasure) and become hits by focusing on the mood and story rather than graphics.

why hasn't Double Fine developed such a game? considering Ron Gilbert's and Tim Schafer's backgrounds, fans would have rushed to buy a game in the style of Lucasarts games. Sure, the Double Fine Adventure could fit this description, but the aim seemed to be a more developed art style from the start.

could it be because Double Fine preferred to focus on 3D, major games? and do you think Double Fine could develop games in the style of monkey island or day of the tentacle, and market them for a few bucks?

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Tim Schafer said he didn't want DFA to be an adventure game museum but the team wants to develop the genre further. I think doing a pixelated game would be one step backwards and maybe this "new" adventure game will increase the popularity of adventure games again.

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I wouldnt have backed DF if they were going to make an old school pixelated game.

I love all the old lucas arts games and play them at least once or twice a year but that's mostly because im used to them and nostalgia, but i wouldnt want to play a new game today with old looking graphics.

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I'm sure they thought about it, but they probably felt that it might not fit with what they wanted to do. A lot of consideration goes into the overall feel of a game, art aesthetics is one of those things. It's a game by game process how things turn out artistically as they want each game to have its own unique look and feel to it. I don't think it's because they wanted to focus on 3d games, it's because they found an artistic look that they felt meshed well with the game idea that they're making. They could probably do games artistically like Monkey Island or Day of the Tentacle but again it comes down to what they feel works well with the current game they're working on.

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There is often also a reason why those games go for old school pixellated look and that is money.

It is allot cheaper making an old school pixellated game then going full HD resolution.

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Although there is a certain impressionistic quality to pixel art that has its charm, it's really more the nostalgia factor that appeals to people, and I think Tim didn't want to sacrifice whatever aesthetic vision he and the artists had for the sake of nostalgia.

I think ultimately Tim had this idea in his head for a game that would look like a Nathan Stapley painting and pixel art is simply not the best way to achieve that. I think he wants to make something that looks as good as a 2D game can with the resources they have.

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I love pixel art. I use it in the games I make and I like games that have it. But I think it would have been a massive mistake to use it in this project. As well as everything else that this project is, it's a chance to show the world that you can make a graphic adventure game that feels like the old games in the important ways but is nevertheless a modern game made with modern tools and all the advantages they bring to a production.

Of course, Double Fine isn't the only company making high-res adventure games right now, but they're certainly the highest-profile example, and if the end result of this project was a game that looked like it could have been made 15-20 years ago, I think that would have sent the wrong message. It would have been seen as an admission that this type of game only appeals via nostalgia, and it would have been open to criticism that a game which raised over 3 million dollars looked like it was made with decades old tech.

I kind of see this game as a little glimpse of what 2D LucasArts adventures might have looked like today if they'd continued to make them.

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"retro" style games are pretty modern, really. I think nostalgia has perverted the idea of pixel art, most games back in the day didn't have giant blocky characters.

http://i.imgur.com/ESehC.jpg

Stylistic choice plays a big part in it, but I do think pixely "retro" art is mostly used for reasons like budget constraints or lack of drawing skills.

That being said, I think Gemini Rue is retro done right. That game looks fantastic

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Double Fine is trying to move games forward, not backward.

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Double Fine is trying to move games forward, not backward.

Double Fine is making an old-school adventure game.

Also, let me quote what a wise man once said (yeah... it was me :P):

"see it this way too: there's a point in stepping back sometimes. Progress often looks linear when you look back, like the way things happened was the only possible one. Adventure games have evolved a certain way since the 90s but going back on that time and observing it in relation with everything we know today, trying to see how much of it is relevant as new think and not merely as a 'museum piece', might reveal alternative paths that were hidden until now. We may end up seeing that things could have evolved differently 10 years ago and we may find such pats worth exploring. You will find the strongest tree branches closest to the ground so sometimes in order to really change your direction you need to stop climbing and start descending"

Sword & Sworcery for example, might be pixelated but its overall style feels nothing like a 90s game.

But I suppose the answer on why they didn't use such a style in this case is because they decided that it wasn't appropriate fr what they had in mind.

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Stylistic choice plays a big part in it, but I do think pixely "retro" art is mostly used for reasons like budget constraints or lack of drawing skills.

That being said, I think Gemini Rue is retro done right. That game looks fantastic

Perhaps so, you but what better reason? I have the choice between hiring a great artist to do my art, and which I can't afford, and doing it in high resolution,and which I am not technically skilled enough to make it look good, or use pixellated graphics which I am technically skilled enough to make look good. It's a no-brainer for me.

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As a player I really don't see the appeal of pixel art. I can understand it from a game creator POV, but I don't think I'd ever prefer it over good higher res art.

Stylistic choice plays a big part in it, but I do think pixely "retro" art is mostly used for reasons like budget constraints or lack of drawing skills.

That being said, I think Gemini Rue is retro done right. That game looks fantastic

Perhaps so, you but what better reason? I have the choice between hiring a great artist to do my art, and which I can't afford, and doing it in high resolution,and which I am not technically skilled enough to make it look good, or use pixellated graphics which I am technically skilled enough to make look good. It's a no-brainer for me.

I agree. I certainly could make okay looking pixel art games that I never would be able to with "real" art. I suppose DF just has enough art talent that there's no need for this.

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Double Fine is trying to move games forward, not backward.

Double Fine is making an old-school adventure game.

Well, both are right, since they´re trying to move the old-school adventure genre forwards. If you´ll look at games like Gemini Rue, there´s nothing new or fresh about that at all, while DF seem to be thinking a lot about how to evolve gameplay mechanics in point&click; adventure, and adding modern 2D graphics to it.

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Double Fine is trying to move games forward, not backward.

Double Fine is making an old-school adventure game.

Well, both are right, since they´re trying to move the old-school adventure genre forwards. If you´ll look at games like Gemini Rue, there´s nothing new or fresh about that at all, while DF seem to be thinking a lot about how to evolve gameplay mechanics in point&click; adventure, and adding modern 2D graphics to it.

I'm not arguing against that, I'll just note that Gemini Rue used (mostly) established genre conventions to present one of the most intriguing stories I've ever seen in a game. So since their focus was somewhere else, and it worked well, it was the proper approach. You don't have to revolutionize everything, you need to maintain some familiar elements so that you won't alienate the audience you want to communicate with.

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looking back at day of the tentacle, they had really succeeded at making animations that felt like cartoons and not just sprites.I never felt this playing telltale games, even the 2D ones (I never played Grim Fandango). I really wonder how a 2D game make by the DOTT team would look like today.

another very interesting alternative is Ghost trick: it's not using sprites, it's using unshaded 3D models. combined with the pixellated resolution, it feels like perfectly animated sprites, and it looks AWESOME!

ironically, the DF game in the last humble bundle was psychonauts, a 3D big budget game, among almost exclusively retro stule games! even more ironic is the game Host master, playable from the DF home page, which would be the perfect template for a full retro style game.

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I'm not arguing against that, I'll just note that Gemini Rue used (mostly) established genre conventions to present one of the most intriguing stories I've ever seen in a game. So since their focus was somewhere else, and it worked well, it was the proper approach. You don't have to revolutionize everything, you need to maintain some familiar elements so that you won't alienate the audience you want to communicate with.

You don´t have to revolutionize, but if you feel confident that you can do both that and deliver a satisfying gaming experience to the fans of the genre, I think you should go for that. I mean, everything we´ve seen so far from the documentaries is DF going back to the old games to see what worked and what didn´t worked, so I can´t see that this is them throwing away too much of the familiar elements.

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Personally it's good that DF is doing old schoold game with modern take on art and gameplay. The indie adventures using pixelated art are fine for what they are, but I've noted the with the art style the developers usually end up repeating all the design mistakes made in the past as well. They can't get over the old school in order to make the games actually better in design and gameplay, which is something DF at least intends to make better while staying true to the point and click genre.

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I don't get the appeal of pixel art, I knew it was a risk backing the project but was super happy when they showed it wasn't going to be.

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Double Fine is making an old-school adventure game.

Yeah, it's about reclaiming some of what we lost. Although I do think there's a need to reevaluate the genre and try different things.

Part of why adventure games died is because:

A) They couldn't really find their footing in 3D, and 3D adventures were either only superficially distinct from 2D adventures, or they were actually clumsier and worse.

B) They never really evolved much after a certain point.

The possible exception to this was the Tex Murphy games which had branching story-lines, context sensitive verbs, and a functioning 3D world that could be explored freely. Most of these innovations are still really uncommon in the genre, let along anything new SINCE then.

All we've done since then is try to take things away. Take away verbs, take away inventory combination, take away the ability to explore freely... Basically just a race to find how "dumb" is perfect for today's gamer. I think it was really a mistake.

I'm off topic, I know.

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Pixel art and hi-res art need different but partly overlaping skill set.

Still, I'm not sure good pixel-art is much cheaper than good hi(/medium)-res 2D art. They both need time.

Also pixel art was done because technology had limitations and you had to work hard to over come those...

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Also pixel art was done because technology had limitations and you had to work hard to over come those...
This.

The pixellated graphics of the old LucasArts games were not because they were trying to set a style. It was simply because computers weren't as powerful then as they are now (I can't believe I need to say this ;P).

I'm not in any way putting down games with pixellated graphics, though. I think they can be just as good as games with higher resolution art. I'm, personally, looking forward to playing Resonance when it's released on the 19th.

With all the talented and capable people working at Double Fine, I think it would be a mistake to go with pixellated graphics for DFA.

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It was simply because computers weren't as powerful then as they are now (I can't believe I need to say this ;P).

say that to my netbook... I have a hp 311c that can run telltale games perfectly, but for some reason some 2D games are really slow. braid, super meat boy and binding of isaac were almost unplayable for example. so yes, this design choice is not only cosmetic, the low price plus the compatibility with all devices ensures the widest audience.

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Because they had a different aesthetic vision for the game. Jumping on whatever visual bandwagon is in-fashion at the time is worth it only if you literally have no other visual concept you want to run with.

Let's face it, when have Double Fine ever been associated with chasing after the latest fad or following the crowd?

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Sometimes I feel "retro" style is an excuse for lazy design. Ex: Mutant Mudds.

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I definitely love good pixel art, and I know tons of my coworkers at Double Fine do too. There's certainly no reason we couldn't explore that style some day! For this project though, it was pretty important to make something that feels forward-looking even while it retains the key parts of what makes classic adventure games great. I think most adventure fans would agree that it wasn't the pixel art that was the fundamental thing that made those games great, even if that art was often wonderful. Pixel art was used in all kinds of genres, whereas the notion of controlling a strongly-defined player character through an engrossing story and engaging puzzles, with fleshed-out dialogue and narrative, largely at the player's own pace--those are the things that were most unique to the great adventure games, and the things we're looking to recapture.

Also, on a separate note, it was important that the amazing artists we have working on this game were able to do plenty of experimentation to arrive at a style that is expressive for them and that works with the project as a whole, rather than simply handing down an already-decided category of art. There will be a lot more updates about that specific process yet to come!

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...the notion of controlling a strongly-defined player character through an engrossing story and engaging puzzles, with fleshed-out dialogue and narrative, largely at the player's own pace--those are the things that were most unique to the great adventure games...

Yes! Also, I would add to that a rich and interesting world to explore and the ability to change that world, sometimes in unexpected ways. Example: one of the most satisfying parts of Quest for Glory IV was the way your actions had an effect on the village, even if (or maybe because) the results were occasionally bittersweet.

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I do like cool retro/pixel art styles, but I feel games like S:S&S EP, and Fez, and a bunch of other games, pretty much nailed it and is no need to add one more game like that--for us. At least, I couldn't think of something new to add there.

The question is, what is really "retro?" At the time we made those games in the 90s, we were not making pixelated art because we though it was cool. Our artists were making the best-looking art that was technically possible! So in order to be true to the spirit of that era, we should make the best-looking art that is technically possible now.

Also, I really like Bagel's art style and I want to make a game that looks like his paintings.

Ta da!

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I do like cool retro/pixel art styles, but I feel games like S:S&S EP, and Fez, and a bunch of other games, pretty much nailed it and is no need to add one more game like that--for us. At least, I couldn't think of something new to add there.

The question is, what is really "retro?" At the time we made those games in the 90s, we were not making pixelated art because we though it was cool. Our artists were making the best-looking art that was technically possible! So in order to be true to the spirit of that era, we should make the best-looking art that is technically possible now.

Also, I really like Bagel's art style and I want to make a game that looks like his paintings.

Ta da!

I'm in no position of asking for favours, but still, if you're going to have flashback scenes at any point, could you consider using pixel art? I've found it amusing when people use a certain eras visual style to represent when it was, such as grayscale, sepia tint, technicolor oversaturation, grainy etc.

With all the talk about choosing a visual style, have you considered using 2? one for the girl one for the boy, and have them overlap the "closer" they get? or maybe more to reflect their change? I suppose that you have, though I'm more curious about why and why not.

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I do like cool retro/pixel art styles, but I feel games like S:S&S EP, and Fez, and a bunch of other games, pretty much nailed it and is no need to add one more game like that--for us. At least, I couldn't think of something new to add there.

The question is, what is really "retro?" At the time we made those games in the 90s, we were not making pixelated art because we though it was cool. Our artists were making the best-looking art that was technically possible! So in order to be true to the spirit of that era, we should make the best-looking art that is technically possible now.

Also, I really like Bagel's art style and I want to make a game that looks like his paintings.

Ta da!

Yeah, part of what's important to me about these adventure game kickstarters that are popping up is that we want to say that adventure gaming is more than just a relic of the past to occasionally be put on display, but that it should be a legitimate, ongoing part of the gaming landscape that we were wrong to leave behind in the first place.

If high quality adventure games were more commonplace in 2012, a pixely one might be a charming throwback. But right now I want to see a bunch of people out there making the best looking, best sounding, best playing adventure games that they can, and I want them to reach as many people as possible. This is our chance to bring something back.

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Also, I really like Bagel's art style and I want to make a game that looks like his paintings.

Ta da!

Like a boss!

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