8-Bit Art: Is the Future of 3D Video Game Art in the Past?
Posted by Dabney B. on Tuesday, March 26th, 2013
When it comes to technology, we tend to think that bigger is always better. We want more RAM, more terabytes, stronger graphics cards, a higher resolution, and more Mbps. When it comes to artistic creations, however, newer isn’t necessarily better.
Retro video games are back in a big way. Well, I’m not really sure if I said that correctly. Can we really say that retro games are “back?” Considering that Mario was first introduced only a few decades ago in 1981 and hardcore graphics are a fairly recent invention, it’s not really accurate to say that old-school games ever left in the first place. They’ve always been around with their grainy, pixelated graphics. Now, they’re going through a major overhaul.
Consumers are willing to pay big bucks for new remakes of their childhood favorites. Just take the classic isometric roleplaying video game, for example. Games like Planescape: Torment and the Baldur’s Gate franchise helped raise a generation of gamers. Now that those gamers are all grown up, they’re dying for a nostalgic remake of their old beloved games, but with a few added bells and whistles.
Baldur’s Gate Enhanced edition is a simple remake of a true classic. Project: Eternity brings back old isometric fantasy video games, and Shadowrun Returns harkens back to the gritty role-playing game set in a dystopian future. These video games borrow some of their aesthetic from old-school games where pixelated characters were the norm. These are three major examples of nostalgic throwback games from just one genre. There are literally dozens of other video game genres, with each one spawning a collection of retro remakes.
So, as you’re designing your next 3D model, you may want to take a step back and keep in mind that there’s beauty in simplicity. Rather than creating an incredibly intricate 3D model that’s a perfect snapshot of real life, you might want to try creating an 8-bit hero.
I think the perfect example of this fusion of modern 3D technology with retro video game art styles comes from Wreck-It Ralph, where artists had to create pixelated and realistic versions of their main hero.
The beauty of art school is that it teaches you a wide range of artistic styles, from modern-day precision to old-school pixelated art. What’s really tricky is figuring out how to fuse both of these art styles into a cohesive product, marrying the highly stylized and odd proportions of retro games with the precision of modern-day hardware. Do you have what it takes to make Sonic the Hedgehog look old and new at the same time? Can you create a character that’s both nostalgic and ground-breaking?
No? Well then that, my friend, is why we go to art school.