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Author Topic: Deception: New background style  (Read 39663 times)

Offline DaveGilbert

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Deception: New background style
« on: September 11, 2010, 09:50:41 AM »
Remember this thread where I asked you if you all would mind if I lowered the production values of the next Blackwell game?  The response was a resounded "no", but I discovered something interesting when I set out to find a "cheaper" background artist.

Number one, low-res pixel art is a definite skill, and is strangely much more expensive than traditional HD art.  It was easier to find an artist willing to do cheaper high-res art than cheaper low-res art.

Number two, animation is just the opposite.  Low-res characters are much easier and cheaper to produce than their hi-res counterparts.

So to get the biggest bang for my buck, I would have to go with high-res backgrounds and low-res characters.  But then I was faced with a choice - do I downgrade the high-res backgrounds to fit the characters, or do I increase the size of the low-res characters to fit the backgrounds?

In the end, I decided that increasing the size of the low-res characters was the way to go.  The sprites are slightly simpler than Convergence, and that actually worked to their benefit.  Since they have fewer details, you don't notice the pixels as much when you increase their size:





Agree?  Disagree? What do you think?

-Dave
« Last Edit: September 11, 2010, 09:56:32 AM by DaveGilbert »

stevensonjr

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Re: Deception: New background style
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2010, 01:24:52 PM »
Hi Dave,

Let me give you some background to who am I and how I ended creating a login to answer to your agree/disagree question.

I found your blackwell games by total chance. I am a point-and-click fan, and doing some research I saw a link to the convergence game. I rapidly understood it was not the 1st, so I bought the complete bundle.I loved it. (still playing convergence, so please no spoiler ;o). Discovering the theme, the mood, the ambiance, the characters (love the cynicism of Joey...) I was more and ore deeply 'aspirated' in the story and decided I just like the work you did. On all the 3 releases. By the way give a huge thumb up to your voice actors. I never took the time to let you guys know of my satisfaction and how happy you made.

So now... to the point and to your initial question :
I never had a problem playing in low-res, this was even somehow nostalgic. However, seeing your 2 screenshots, I am negatively shocked by the contrast between the hi-res background and the increased low-res characters.
This answer obviously does not help you, but I would like to see a screenshot with the downgraded background, I am sure I would find it less disturbing.

Now you are the boss so you decide ;)

P.S : I would be honored to be part of the beta testers, as I always try everything in all the point-and-click adventures I do. I save before all dialogs to be sure I can try all combinations. I also save before every choice to see the difference in the dialogs like i.e stay or leave the party at the Park Gallery. So if you seek for testers, I am proudly accepting ;o)

Thanks for your time to read my lengthy post and sorry for any english mistake it's not my mothertongue as I am in Switzerland. (If you need a french accent english voice let me know too, I am playing theater in my hobbies ;o)

Offline DaveGilbert

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Re: Deception: New background style
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2010, 02:33:16 PM »
Hi Steven!  I'm still unsure which is the right approach, so thoughts like yours are really useful.  I actually did try downgrading the high-res art and keeping the sprites low-res with this result:



It doesn't look so bad in that image, but when it's blown up to full-screen size it gets *really* fuzzy.  The characters ended up having really sharp and defined edges while everything else is kind of blurry.  The characters might blend in a tiny bit better, but the overall effect is like looking through gauze.  That's why I decided to go with the other approach.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2010, 03:19:07 PM by DaveGilbert »

Offline jellobell

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Re: Deception: New background style
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2010, 01:03:42 AM »
I like 'em, though I've got to agree with steven that at first I was kinda surprised at the difference from Convergence.

All in all though I believe you made the right choice in sacrificing the character res for better backgrounds. After your post on how you were considering scaling down production values I was preparing myself for the disappearance of all those lovely New York setpieces, so I'm glad that they look as nice as they do. Also your use of character portraits, (which I see are still fantastic) makes the look of the characters themselves less of an issue.

Though I've gotta say Rosa's new sprite makes her look a whole lot dorkier than she did in Convergence.  ;D

Perry Simm

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Re: Deception: New background style
« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2010, 01:24:38 AM »
Hello Dave,

Let me say this: I personally love nothing more than the good old lo-res 320x240 pixel art, which may have to do with the fact that I'm playing adventure games for nearly 20 years now and get a nostalgic kick out of it. You may actually gain quite more mainstream appeal with HD backgrounds.

But, to be honest, I find the MIXING of art styles in different resolutions aesthetically very unpleasing. It just looks inconsistent and kind of chopped together. To me it kind of seems like the low-res characters in the screenshots came from a 1991 game and were thrown in a modern game, now looking around confused and feeling lost and frightened...

Just my personal impressions, I certainly unterstand your reasoning and I wish I could offer a solution for your problem.

Keep up the great work!

- Andreas

Offline frederic09

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Re: Deception: New background style
« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2010, 02:05:53 PM »
Greetings Dave,

I'm sorry to disappoint you, but i'm agree with Perry.

Mixing low-res with hi-res is really wierd.

I  suggest you should do/ask for "true" low-res backgrounds.

Even the "low-res from hi-res" background is still out of place.

But i hope you'll find a solution; and if you do well don't worry i'll buy the game as usual ^_^

Fred.

Offline Rognik

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Re: Deception: New background style
« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2010, 02:38:27 PM »
I might not be the right person to comment on this, but I really don't see what everyone else is seeing. I don't really have a problem with those large, low-res characters in the high-res background. However, I really feel I'd have a better idea with test videos. Seeing the still characters on the screen, they can blend in easily. It's when they start moving and trying to interact with the environment is when things really stand out.

I can sense your dilemma, with the background artists sloping one way, and the animation artists sloping the other. I think you're going to need some economic skills to maximize your production here. If it really is an issue that you have low-res with low-res or high-res with high-res, find out which total sum is lower, and go that way.

Finally, I have to say this. It seems like Rosa only changes her clothes once every six months or so. Smelly!

Offline DaveGilbert

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Re: Deception: New background style
« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2010, 02:58:22 PM »
This thread has been fascinating!  And yikes, I'm not sure which way to go here. :)  As with Convergence, I plan on making a stand-alone demo with the first location in the game.  What I can do is add a function to switch between the high-res and the low-res backgrounds and see what people prefer.

And Jellobell, Rosa is very much a dork. :)
« Last Edit: September 16, 2010, 03:00:34 PM by DaveGilbert »

DoraAreGames

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Re: Deception: New background style
« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2010, 04:35:12 PM »
I don't really have a problem with low-res characters. Yeah, expressive sprites are great, but you've always had great voice acting, and voice can convey much better than extra pixels. So personally, I don't have a problem with low res characters and sharper backgrounds.

The only thing I would offer about mixing the two (high and low def) is that the backgrounds in the shots you've provided are so sleek and shiny that they look like they're torn right out of a comic book, which sort of makes the sprites look out of place. This is actually more noticeable in the second screenshot for some reason; I think if Rosa and Joey had a little darker shading, considering the atmosphere, they'd blend in much better. Not knowing much about the nitty-gritty of production, I don't know how easy/hard it is to apply lighting effects to sprites that are (I think?) on a separate layer than the background.

Again, that's a nitpick, though; I'm not particularly fussy with my visuals, and I think the characters and the backgrounds look great. Pretty, and prettier respectively. Sorry I couldn't be of more help.

... I... I'm for whatever option gets the game released so I can throw money at you faster! :D

(PS. I love you guys. All your games are aces.)

Offline Igor Hardy

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Re: Deception: New background style
« Reply #9 on: September 16, 2010, 04:52:10 PM »
I think the screen with high res background + low res characters looks better of the two, just because it's nicer to have a sharper image. Nevertheless, the characters and backgrounds don't fit together very well on either of the screenshots and I don't have any ideas how could it be improved.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2010, 04:53:46 PM by Igor Hardy »
Watch the trailer for Snakes of Avalon adventure game. Coming July 2010!

Offline BlankCanvasDJ

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Re: Deception: New background style
« Reply #10 on: September 16, 2010, 06:03:29 PM »
I have to admit the difference is a little jarring in those screenshots. Such slick high-res backgrounds like that really seem to be calling out for high-res characters walking around in them (I imagine something similar to the ones in the recent Monkey Island remakes). But I'm holding off my final opinion until I can see it in action. It may not be nearly as big a deal as we think once the characters are moving around instead of standing still and saying "overanalyze me!"

Offline DaveGilbert

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Re: Deception: New background style
« Reply #11 on: September 16, 2010, 06:06:28 PM »
It may not be nearly as big a deal as we think once the characters are moving around instead of standing still and saying "overanalyze me!"

Heh.  Maybe nobody would have noticed if I didn't call attention to it. :)

Offline JohnGreenArt

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Re: Deception: New background style
« Reply #12 on: September 16, 2010, 09:15:49 PM »
Hey Dave,

Check your e-mail. There's actually a way to re-size the backgrounds to match the resolution of the characters without the lines getting fuzzy.

-John

dock

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Re: Deception: New background style
« Reply #13 on: September 17, 2010, 10:50:58 AM »
I'm generally not a fan of mixed resolution games, are here it seems that you've got conflicting style as well as the conflicting resolution. If you look at games like the later King of Fighters games, or Capcom vs SNK, they use lower resolution art for the sprites than the backgrounds, but they design it not to conflict, not to draw attention to detail, or indeed a lack of detail. Here you have a lot of gradients try to cover up the lack of information, but the resolution and clean lines only serve to highlight how empty the scenes are.

Here I'd say you have high resolution low definition backgrounds with low resolution highly defined sprites. A painting may use a fine paintbrush for the backgrounds, or it may use a coarse brush, but it seldomly has more definition than the foreground, especially if t doesn't have any detail to actually define. 

Just my two-pence on the subject :)

Offline chellethecat

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Re: Deception: New background style
« Reply #14 on: September 17, 2010, 01:53:22 PM »
I don't know what this says about me, but I'm just not seeing what others are. To me, it just really doesn't look that bad. I DO have to agree that something about Rosa's sprite does make her look a little more "nerdy" then I was expecting but that's about it.