Posts Tagged ‘nostalgia’

This ability to transport the player to impossible worlds is what I love about video games, and it’s what great art and entertainment has been achieving for thousands of years. It’s also why I don’t worry too much about the rise of Facebook and iPhone games turning these sorts of experiences into dinosaurs, rendering them obsolete and then extinct. As a species, we will always want to visit new places, born out of the imaginations of our most creative minds; we will always want to be immersed in worlds other than our own.

Steve Gaynor, source


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If you asked me at the start of the summer if I was an ngmoco fan boy I probably would have told you yes. Their level of polish and craftsmanship towards their games fascinated me and getting to meet their president Neil Young at the past GDC was a real treat.

At the start of the summer they had just released WeRule and had announced God Finger would be arriving in a few weeks and I couldn’t have been more excited.

But as the summer comes to and end I find myself respecting them less and less as a company. Why? Well with the release of WeFarm a few weeks ago it has become apparent to me that ngmoco is no longer interested in making fun, compelling, high quality games like they use to. Instead they are content with pumping out re-skins of systems that create traffic to their Plus+ network.

From a business standpoint you have to applaud them. They are making boat loads of money but I miss the early days when they made boat loads of money because they made awesome games.

If anything, this experience has made me more determined to not let money get in the way of me making video games. I wouldn’t mind being successful, but I’d hate to “sell out” and start pumping out clones so I could roll around in piles of money.

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I love pixel art. There’s something about the way a couple of squares of color can represent so much that astounds and delights me. An art that was once a necessity because of limited pallets and processing power has taken root in the minds of young and old gamers alike.

I grew up on pixels starting with my cousin’s NES playing Super Mario and their old computer stuggling to understand MULE. As I grew, so did technology which paved the way to bigger and better graphics. Yet, as the world slowly became more and more obsessed with poly counts and screen resolutions I still felt a connection pixels.

Don’t get me wrong, I can admire a beautifully rendered game as much as the next gamer, but it doesn’t get me going the way a good pixel game can. There’s just something about pixels that I (and hopefully you too) love. Ars Technica posted an article a few weeks ago which interviewed three different game artists who work with pixels to try and tease out why we love pixels so much.

Gary Luken (better known as Army of Trolls) pegs it as nostalgia stating, “A lot of the people commissioning this type of art grew up playing 2D games so it’s in their hearts, a love for pixels.” He also thinks pixel art is timeless, in the sense that pixel art hasn’t really changed much since it started, “what looks great in pixels now looked great back in the ’80s arcades.”

Atom Saltsman (better known as Adam Atomic) disagrees. Saltsman believes that pixel art’s attraction comes from its abstraction. “Pixel art is the king of communication and abstraction, which are the twin hearts of game art.” Saltsman’s game Canabalt is a perfect example of this belief combining simple mechanics (jump to avoid obstacles) while still being abstract enough that players can create their own story about the bizarre world Saltsman has created.

Richard Grillotti and Miles Tilmann (of Pixeljam Games) offer a third opinion on the subject. In their experience making games the two creatives discovered that young kids are also attracted to pixel art. The two say kids like pixel art because it, “is somehow inherently cool looking and the 8-bit sounds are also quite fun to listen to.” They don’t deny that nostalgia has played a roll in bringing the pixel back to mainstream culture, but say there’s more to it than that.

While I think its hard to pinpoint exactly why we like pixels one thing is for certain: pixels might be old, but it they are here to stay.

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