Is "2D-HD" the breath of fresh air pixel art needed?

justiceiro

Marlboro: Other M
So, guys, during the last decades, there was the growing sentiment in gaming circles like this one that pixel art was overdone by indies specially.

Enter the last night, another pixel art game, but had the idea of using modern effects for scrolling, smoke, light, etc. The game entered a limbo of development, but not before square enix thought they could make a game using something similar to it's concept, called octopath traveler. They them decided to call that artstyle 2D-HD and keep pumping out new games and sequels using that art direction, and even backtrack as far to rework old 16-bit era games to adopt this artstyle.

Since then, suikoden spiritual successor adopted that style too, and even indies jumped in the band wagon.

The idea is not without it's detractors, but managed lessen the sour taste the infamous ports of final fantasy on PC for a lot of people, to the point the biggest complain these days is why it's only on steam.


So, in short, my question is: did 2D-HD made you stop being such a pixel art hater?
 

BlackTron

Member
I tried to be into it back when Octopath came out, even bought the game, but ultimately I just wasn't into the style. It's hard to explain why, but it comes off as a garish monstrosity to me. I thought I'd get used to it, but nah. The two styles don't mesh for me, so things appear like cardboard cutouts in a 3D space instead of what I'd think of as "real characters" in a typical pixel art game. Like if Mario held up some shrinky-dinks in Mario 64, that's what it feels like lol. Not my cup of tea.

What is overdone by indies is poor pixel art games. Like it's some kind of badge of honor to look like a NES game or something. Bring back 2D like how Saturn did it, or Nintendo's best like Yoshi's Island and Mario RPG. That would take real work, but 2D is usually just used as a cop-out.
 

Kataploom

Member
Until they remove all the post processing Instagram filters, no... Like the idea is great but the amount of post processing makes me think they're ugly as fuck and that's the only reason I'm not buying those games
 
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Fbh

Member
It looks nice but it can often go too heavy on the post processing, and regular pixel art can look just as good or better.

I think the real factor in most of these looking good is that most of them have been made by Square so they probably have a higher budget and more technical support than your average indie game.

But then something like Sea of Stars looks visually nicer than all these 2DHD games IMO
 

SlimeGooGoo

Party Gooper
Not it's just prolonging something that should just go away already, this is not the 80's anymore.

Developers use the "retro" excuse just to reduce costs and get away with bad or cheap art.
Worse, they mix photorealistic lighting and effects with pixel art, which looks awful.

The only type of project that makes sense to use pixel art (not that "2D-HD" crap) is if you're going to remake an old game and improve its pixel art
Like this one for instance



Otherwise, for modern projects high resolution digital art is the way to go
(Ideally all remakes should be like the one below, offering the modern version and the old pixel art version that can swapped at any time, or offer the old game bundled together at least)

 

BlackTron

Member
It looks nice but it can often go too heavy on the post processing, and regular pixel art can look just as good or better.

I think the real factor in most of these looking good is that most of them have been made by Square so they probably have a higher budget and more technical support than your average indie game.

But then something like Sea of Stars looks visually nicer than all these 2DHD games IMO

I hadn't heard of this game but it looks really, really good.
 
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64bitmodels

Reverse groomer.
hand drawn will not be the standard for indies until we can find a way to make it without taking like a billion years for it to come out. quick reminder cuphead's DLC (not even a full game) took 4 years of development for what's like 3 hours of content
 

Graciaus

Member
There is a huge visual difference from pixel art and the 2d HD style. Usually if a person doesn't like it they just want everything in 3d. Remaking older games in it is great but new games I wish more did cel shading.
 

kubricks

Member
While I Iike the 2DHD aesthetic very much, the real reason I love it is because when old games are remade with this particular way, the gameplay elements are often preserved.
If you go 3D, the gameplay will almost always change drastically, which might work or not but certainly wasn't what I am looking for.

Seiken Densetsu 3 is a good example. While the new 3D version is fun and all, I would prefer it to be remake in 2DHD because of the gameplay.
 

cireza

Member
It's not great. Sometimes it will be fine, like Ori or Dragon's Trap, because there is a competent art direction behind.

Otherwise, it is often very meh-ish, like Monster Boy. Bland and boring.

Overall I find competent pixel-art in 240p much nicer and would not exchange it for these modern 2D graphics.
 

MP!

Member
I mean it was... but I sort of wish they would improve it each use
I just don't want it to get stale... I'm already less interested in it as an art style thean when it was first used
 
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It's not great. Sometimes it will be fine, like Ori or Dragon's Trap, because there is a competent art direction behind.

Otherwise, it is often very meh-ish, like Monster Boy. Bland and boring.

Overall I find competent pixel-art in 240p much nicer and would not exchange it for these modern 2D graphics.
DNF Duel looks absolutely fantastic
I think not everyone understands HD-2D as the same thing. :messenger_grinning_sweat:

For me, it's this particular artstyle.





I know a game like Ori is HD and also 2D but, for me, it's not HD-2D.
 

Holammer

Member
I love me some pixel art, actual pixel art that works within certain limitations of palette size and resolution. With multi-layered parallax scrolls, line-scrolling and rotation.
So naturally I hate the idea of 2D-HD with a white hot passion. The lighting, DoF and shader effects would have been impossible for era appropriate hardware and I could respect it if they tried to do the effects with traditional tricks and techniques.
It's just nostalgia bait wearing a grisly 2D mask. The recent Pocky & Rocky Reshrined and TMNT: Shredder's Revenge show how it's done proper like.

Specifically these types of games. Eww!
(DQ one is not as gross)



 

manfestival

Member
I think not everyone understands HD-2D as the same thing. :messenger_grinning_sweat:

For me, it's this particular artstyle.





I know a game like Ori is HD and also 2D but, for me, it's not HD-2D.
This? ehhh not a fan. Though I did eventually give up on octopath after like 10 hours. Though I am willing to give triangle strategy a chance since I love those types of games anyways
 

64bitmodels

Reverse groomer.
. The lighting, DoF and shader effects would have been impossible for era appropriate hardware and I could respect it if they tried to do the effects with traditional tricks and techniques.
you do realize the 3d polygons and textures ALSO would have been impossible for era appropriate hardware right? it's clearly not supposed to be replicating older hardware styles and techniques outside of the superficial stuff like the low res sprites and textures
Personally i like it, it's like looking into a little pixellated diorama. think most 3ds games with the 3d effect
 
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Holammer

Member
you do realize the 3d polygons and textures ALSO would have been impossible for era appropriate hardware right? it's clearly not supposed to be replicating older hardware styles and techniques outside of the superficial stuff like the low res sprites and textures
Personally i like it, it's like looking into a little pixellated diorama. think most 3ds games with the 3d effect
Objection! The games I showed as examples of 2D-HD I dislike could have been done on PS1/Saturn hardware, minus the DoF and other post processing effects (obviously).
Either way, I prefer a regular flat overhead view like Link to the Past or FF6 for my RPGs. Remember, I'm seething by merely watching those abominations. :p
 

Soltype

Member
I love me some pixel art, actual pixel art that works within certain limitations of palette size and resolution. With multi-layered parallax scrolls, line-scrolling and rotation.
So naturally I hate the idea of 2D-HD with a white hot passion. The lighting, DoF and shader effects would have been impossible for era appropriate hardware and I could respect it if they tried to do the effects with traditional tricks and techniques.
It's just nostalgia bait wearing a grisly 2D mask. The recent Pocky & Rocky Reshrined and TMNT: Shredder's Revenge show how it's done proper like.

Specifically these types of games. Eww!
(DQ one is not as gross)



Stole the words from my mouth.Wish companies would just spend money and make proper 2D games, all these weird attempts to circumvent the hard work just look cheap.
 

64bitmodels

Reverse groomer.
all these weird attempts to circumvent the hard work just look cheap.
my dude, this shit is harder to make than ACTUAL 2d lol. all of these environments look like immense detail was put into making them as faithful and accurate to the source material as possible while standing out.
I get you perfer the 2d stuff, i'm just tired of it because we've been getting that shit for 30 years straight. I don't care if it's "not broken" when we could have something more visually interesting and unique to look at
 

Soltype

Member
my dude, this shit is harder to make than ACTUAL 2d lol. all of these environments look like immense detail was put into making them as faithful and accurate to the source material as possible while standing out.
I get you perfer the 2d stuff, i'm just tired of it because we've been getting that shit for 30 years straight. I don't care if it's "not broken" when we could have something more visually interesting and unique to look at
It would be substantially harder to achieve this look consistently purely with 2D art. Sprites would have to be redrawn for numerous lighting situations alone.
 

Alexios

Cores, shaders and BIOS oh my!
Meh, lots of way better pixel art in the 16 and 32bit days, not to mention in modern games that exceed the limits of what was possible back then. Maybe engine wise it's neat, maybe not, I have no clue why (money) they chose to go for such low res characters with so little animation work done :messenger_weary:

Edit: no, nobody jumped on a bandwagon, save for a Chinese studio's one game (which also animates better tbh), games like Eiyuden Chronicle and indie pixel art games look way better. But I guess OP wouldn't be able to tell, can't even tell their own topic is coined HD-2D and not 2D-HD lol :messenger_weary:

Not everything doing 3D with sprites or pixelated textures copies Square, games like that were done in the 32bit days as well, with the likes of Xenogears and Grandia and even continued being made in far more modern times, with the likes of Trails in the Sky and Ys Origin/Felghana by Falcom :messenger_weary:
 
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Ev1L AuRoN

Member
I like the Octopath style, but I'm not a pixel art hater, so no, I don't think 2D needs a breath of fresh air now, it already happened with 16:9 aspect ratio and HD resolution allowing us to see so much more of the scenery.
 

cireza

Member
I think not everyone understands HD-2D as the same thing. :messenger_grinning_sweat:

For me, it's this particular artstyle.





I know a game like Ori is HD and also 2D but, for me, it's not HD-2D.
Personally I don't like this at all. It is way too blurry, and I strongly dislike blur. I don't like zooming on 2D either, it makes ugly uneven pixels.

But it is great if you enjoy it. It is nice to have some diversity in our visuals.
 

Mister Wolf

Member
you do realize the 3d polygons and textures ALSO would have been impossible for era appropriate hardware right? it's clearly not supposed to be replicating older hardware styles and techniques outside of the superficial stuff like the low res sprites and textures
Personally i like it, it's like looking into a little pixellated diorama. think most 3ds games with the 3d effect

It makes me miss my 3D TV. Can you imagine how great these would look on a 3D display.
 

Eddie-Griffin

Cancer the womens baby so we can pregnant the panda, we are looking for igloos tonight Are you sexy?
Pixel art is way worn out years ago, the refusal to do pixel art outside imitating the same eras of gaming instead of moving forward is what's hurting it. Where are the later console 16/32 pixel art? Where's the early 90's and mid-90's arcade pixel art?
 
Personally I don't like this at all. It is way too blurry, and I strongly dislike blur. I don't like zooming on 2D either, it makes ugly uneven pixels.

But it is great if you enjoy it. It is nice to have some diversity in our visuals.

Yup, low res sprites need to be aligned on a pixel grid. Looks like crap when you have unevenly sized pixels and they don't line up.

You can get away with it when things are in motion, but you need to at least round position when stuff stops moving.
 

Shifty

Gold Member
No. Good pixel art is just good art, and good art is transcendant.
Unfortunately it's also hard, so you see a lot less of it than you do stuff that's easy to produce because it's mimicking an era that had simple graphics by necessity.

As an example, Battle Axe didn't need a fancy shadereized aesthetic to make quality pixel art; just a talented artist who cut his teeth in the Amiga era:


HD-2D itself is good and bad. Octopath looks very pretty on the surface thanks to all that fancy UE4 lighting and shading tech, but sacrifices image quality on the most important part - the sprites and environment textures - by drawing them with anti-aliasing and bilinear filtering.

The golden rule of displaying pixel art is to not compromise the spritework. That means displaying it at an integer scale with respect to the screen, or using mipmaps and anisotropic filtering in conjunction with nearest-neighour texture sampling to ensure that the edges are crisp in cases where integer scaling isn't possible, i.e. due to 3D perspective or rotation. It also means rendering at the hardware's native display resolution to make sure no additional scaling happens elsewhere in the pipeline. The only one of these that Octopath does is drawing at native resolution, and that's only on certain platforms.

Antialiasing is trickier to solve for, but can be implemented in such a way that doesn't fuzz up the underlying art. Post-processing techniques like UE's stock FXAA and TAA are no good for this, since they can't differentiate between texture edges and geometry edges, so at the very least you have to use hardware MSAA. UE can do that if you enable the forward rendering pipeline, but Octopath chose not to for whatever reason. The Last Night is on the cutting edge here - they built a fully custom shader-driven solution, and the results speak for themselves.

So while I think there's some merit to a style that riffs on 2D spritework in a 3D world with all sorts of fancy modern effects, it's not some kind of pixel art messiah, and needs more games to get it right on a technical level.
 
No. Good pixel art is just good art, and good art is transcendant.
Unfortunately it's also hard, so you see a lot less of it than you do stuff that's easy to produce because it's mimicking an era that had simple graphics by necessity.

As an example, Battle Axe didn't need a fancy shadereized aesthetic to make quality pixel art; just a talented artist who cut his teeth in the Amiga era:



HD-2D itself is good and bad. Octopath looks very pretty on the surface thanks to all that fancy UE4 lighting and shading tech, but sacrifices image quality on the most important part - the sprites and environment textures - by drawing them with anti-aliasing and bilinear filtering.

The golden rule of displaying pixel art is to not compromise the spritework. That means displaying it at an integer scale with respect to the screen, or using mipmaps and anisotropic filtering in conjunction with nearest-neighour texture sampling to ensure that the edges are crisp in cases where integer scaling isn't possible, i.e. due to 3D perspective or rotation. It also means rendering at the hardware's native display resolution to make sure no additional scaling happens elsewhere in the pipeline. The only one of these that Octopath does is drawing at native resolution, and that's only on certain platforms.

Antialiasing is trickier to solve for, but can be implemented in such a way that doesn't fuzz up the underlying art. Post-processing techniques like UE's stock FXAA and TAA are no good for this, since they can't differentiate between texture edges and geometry edges, so at the very least you have to use hardware MSAA. UE can do that if you enable the forward rendering pipeline, but Octopath chose not to for whatever reason. The Last Night is on the cutting edge here - they built a fully custom shader-driven solution, and the results speak for themselves.

So while I think there's some merit to a style that riffs on 2D spritework in a 3D world with all sorts of fancy modern effects, it's not some kind of pixel art messiah, and needs more games to get it right on a technical level.

I generally agree with you but Battle Axe is not a good example. That game is an embarrassment of cut corners. The art in it really isn't that great.
 

Synless

Member
Not it's just prolonging something that should just go away already, this is not the 80's anymore.

Developers use the "retro" excuse just to reduce costs and get away with bad or cheap art.
Worse, they mix photorealistic lighting and effects with pixel art, which looks awful.

The only type of project that makes sense to use pixel art (not that "2D-HD" crap) is if you're going to remake an old game and improve its pixel art
Like this one for instance



Otherwise, for modern projects high resolution digital art is the way to go
(Ideally all remakes should be like the one below, offering the modern version and the old pixel art version that can swapped at any time, or offer the old game bundled together at least)

You just hate SE games. Not a chance in hell does P&R look better than say, Live A Live. That other art is subjective, personally I think it’s too clean looking and bland.
 

Holammer

Member
Pixel art is way worn out years ago, the refusal to do pixel art outside imitating the same eras of gaming instead of moving forward is what's hurting it. Where are the later console 16/32 pixel art? Where's the early 90's and mid-90's arcade pixel art?
They exist, but funny thing and somewhat counter-intuitive aspect of Pixel art is that's very expensive. Increasing resolution or amount of colors ramps up the work load & cost.


As for the best examples out there I would recommend. All of these are as good as peak 16-bit and 32-bit console pixel art & arcades.

 

Eddie-Griffin

Cancer the womens baby so we can pregnant the panda, we are looking for igloos tonight Are you sexy?
Some of those are just cleaner res older gen stuff, but some of those are legit. Issue is though is that they aren't common, even among indies or small studios that can actually do it.

Looking around there's all kinds of templates, tools, some of which allow you to customize your pixel art, most likely many Indies are using these, which makes them cheap to produce, which may be why we have so many in the similar styles.

There was this one pixel art game in an older styled mixed in with flashy graphics that looked pretty cool, forgot the name of it though, not sure if it ever came out, the last something I think.
 

kiphalfton

Member
I hate the look of Octopath Traveler and Triangle Strategy. Conversely I love the look of DBZ Legacy of Goku II, Legend of Zelda Link to the Past, and the GBA Pokemon games.
 

buenoblue

Member
Not it's just prolonging something that should just go away already, this is not the 80's anymore.

Developers use the "retro" excuse just to reduce costs and get away with bad or cheap art.
Worse, they mix photorealistic lighting and effects with pixel art, which looks awful.

The only type of project that makes sense to use pixel art (not that "2D-HD" crap) is if you're going to remake an old game and improve its pixel art
Like this one for instance



Otherwise, for modern projects high resolution digital art is the way to go
(Ideally all remakes should be like the one below, offering the modern version and the old pixel art version that can swapped at any time, or offer the old game bundled together at least)


Exactly! I love old games and have a few old consoles and a mame cab that i play regularly. My gripe is those games back then we're pushing the graphical boundaries of the tech back then. I love stuff like Ori, Cuphead and Rayman legends cause they just look great for the tech at the time and are not trying to replicate old shit.

On a side not a few years ago at work I said to a colleague I had an idea about doing pixel art using each pixel on a 4k screen instead of the usual blocky low res pixel art. The detail worould be amazing, photo realistic even! My colleague said isnt that just what pictures movies and modern games do already. Oh yeah 🤣🤷‍♂️.
 
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