So while artists love Final FantasyKazuko Shibuya was tied to the technical limitations of gaming consoles from the 1980s, Neofotistou and Medeiros enjoy the nature of the puzzle-box using an almost unlimited set of art-creating tools defined by self-imposed constraints rather than technology. This discipline is what separates modern pixel art from its predecessor, says Neofotistou. “What if, using the limitations of NES, I can make the pixels on the screen look better than any NES artist at the time had the knowledge, skill, time, or budget to do?”
Not only does pixel art have creative implications, it also opens new doors for the way games are made, says Medeiros colleague Maddy Thorson, who has become prominent as a writer and designer Celeste.
“Pixel art is such a small file size that we can keep all the gameplay graphics Celeste in system RAM, ”she explains. CelesteThe infamous difficulty is built around the concept of trial and error, and the player will die so often while playing that the game has a cheeky death counter. Storing graphics in RAM allows the player to restart immediately after he dies, reducing frustration and adding to “Ooh, I’ll get it next time!” a feeling that makes the game so addictive.
It also allowed Thorson to adjust and reload levels without restarting the game, helping her create CelesteIntricate design levels and a platform perfect for pixels. “It’s so fast with pixel art.”
While Thorson says she has prototyped ideas for 3D games, pixel art remains the most comfortable medium for Extremely OK Games. “It’s about choosing our battles,” she says. “When do we stay in the comfort zone, and when do we go out?”
Retaining pixel-art graphics for the next Extremely OK Games title, a “2D explor-action” game called Earthblade, allows the team to spend its ambitions on elements such as level design, combat and narration. Medeiros laughs as he recalls reading fan comments online about how Celeste can run on retro gaming hardware. That’s not possible — even if the game runs at a resolution similar to Game Boy Advance. With a familiar visual basis, Medeiros and Thorson bring their worlds to life in other ways, including tricks that didn’t exist during the ’80s: graphic elements that shatter the typical 8×8 grid layout, realistic lighting, scrolling background layers, and impressive special effects.
There is a loud part of the community that is dissatisfied with modern pixel art games like Celeste adding visual reflections to the basics defined decades ago, says Neofotistou. But for her, it is a sign of media development. And she sees an opportunity for more graphic styles to follow the path paved with pixel art. “It’s a reinvention of the AAA gaming point by indies, and it’s very exciting.”
Similarly, Medeiros expects an increase in games inspired by PlayStation’s * Tomb Raider- * low-poly style graphics. Just as pixel art has picked up new tricks and discarded nonsense, these 3D games will also be refined for a new audience. “It’s much more important to make games that look like you remember games that look like that at the time, not real recreation, ”he says.
Once dominant and then rejected, pixel art has been revitalized by artists like Neofotistou and Medeiros. Encouraged by the growing tide of indie game development, their work reveals a mature medium that stays here. Just as the simple pixel art of the 80s gave way to the more sophisticated techniques of the 90s, a similar evolution is happening now that pixel art is being rediscovered as a modern technique. Technological limitations lie in rags; the canvas of possibilities is infinitely wide for the future of the media.
“Pixel art should not be considered retro,” says Neofotistou. “We use the tools that are most appropriate for the vision we are trying to implement.”
Medeiros sees a future for pixel art that is full of experimentation and new techniques. Even if the current movement of pixel art disappears when this end of the indie game boom is over, says Neofotistou, creating things with pixels cannot and will not disappear. We’ve barely scratched the surface of what pixel art can offer as a creative medium.