Why is pixel art like CryptoPunks still popular?

After a year of baptism, the NFT market has become more mature under several ups and downs. It is not difficult for careful collectors to find that more and more professional artists and creative teams have begun to participate, and they have brought “Hollywood-level” NFT works. For example, Prime Ape Planet, NFT Bored Bunny by artists from BMPC, and the much-anticipated HAPE, C-01, and more. It is a stark contrast to the pixel art that was previously considered crypto-native.

Some people think that pixel art comes from the community, and representatives like CryptoPunks, Worldwide Webb, and CyberKongz represent not only the creation of pixel art, but also the spirit of encryption and originality. Some people also think that 3D technology has reached the level that the naked eye is indistinguishable, and the pixel-style NFT is more because of the technical compromise in the early stage of metaverse development. The 3D NFT is our performance to meet the technological development.

So is pixel art imprisoned due to technological development, or is it an extension of people’s “nostalgia” emotions? In “The Pixel Art Revolution Will Be Televised,” Aidan Moher delves into how pixel art has come to this day through an interview with the pixel artist at Extremely OK Games.

Rhythm BlockBeats translates the original text as follows:

The Land of the Wind, developed by PLAYING CHUCKLEFISH, brought me a feeling of returning to my hometown, which is unprecedented for me. Immediately after its first reveal in 2018, I was drawn to this Zelda-esque adventure element, colorful narrative, and complex and diverse character relationships. But most of all, he amazed me with his gorgeous scenes and high-precision environments built from pixel art.

After the official release of the game in 2019, my brother described “The Land of the Wind”: “The world it creates is like the world we grew up in.” “The Land of the Wind” also entered the game platform of Extremely OK Games. Previously Azure and Eric Barone’s massive farm simulator Stardew Valley (also from CHUCKLEFISH) also joined the platform. They cleverly use the retro aesthetic of pixel games to cater to nostalgia. This makes Extremely OK Games a fast-growing gaming hub focused on pixel art. While many of these games appear to work on Nintendo and Sega gaming systems as well, in fact Extremely OK Games are able to offer more sophisticated graphics optimizations and gameplay.

But at a time when people are chasing realism and super-powerful 3D engines, how can a strange pixel game like “The Land of the Wind” make such a deep impression? The developers of these games believe that pixel art is not just an outdated product, nor is it any longer a technical compromise and limitation. Rather, it is a thriving art form that is at the same time inseparable from video games. After Sony and Nintendo tried to kill him 25 years ago, pixel art has seen a resurgence, largely thanks to the popularity of indie games like Cerulean and Land of the Wind. The popularity of pixel art is not only because of the nostalgic charm, but also as a bridge to undertake modern games.

four pixel ideas

“Pixel art has many similarities with Impressionist paintings,” says pixel artist Pedros Medeiros from Extremely OK Games in Canada. Pedros is also the visual artist for the game Cerulean. Known for his pixel-block and Impressionist style, his artwork is often more engaging and emotionally charged than many triple-A masterpieces with sky-high budgets and world-leading technology.

Like Monet’s Impressionist paintings, pixel art requires players to fill in the blanks with their own experiences, forming a uniquely personal relationship with the creator. Pixel art is inherently limited by the canvas. Unlike other types of visual art created with brushes, watercolor pencils, or 3D polygons, pixel art creates a block of color (pixel) at a time. Usually pixel art canvases are low resolution. Cerulean’s protagonist, Madeline, doesn’t even have a real in-game face. “It’s only four pixels,” Medeiros said. “But the player sees a face, right? They see a different face than I see.”

I grew up in the 1990s when Nintendo was making eye-opening 3-D adaptations of its Mario and Zelda series. And Sony is aggressively suppressing 2D pixel art games on its new PlayStation. Despite exceptions like Castlevania X: Symphony of the Night and Water Margin 2, the connection between pixel art and players has been killed by businesses chasing new technologies.

Christina-Antoinette Neofotistou, a pixel artist with decades of experience, said: The boom in indie games over the past decade has given rise to pixel art. “Many small teams with smaller budgets can also develop the equivalent of ‘3A’ masterpieces in the 1990s. “

Neofotistou is an illustrator, animator and game developer. He is known for his participation in the production of the animated film Pixel Wars. Before that, he also participated in the game of the same name of “Slam Dunk: The New Legend” produced by Warner Bros. The game’s screen is composed of colorful pixels, and the game style is reminiscent of GBA’s classic game “Street Fight”.

“Pixel art is essentially solving geometric problems,” Neofotistou said. Pixels are like the tiles of a mosaic, overlapping and overlapping each other, outlining an ideal shape into which one’s will is incorporated. The artist uses the simplest way to decipher a difficult problem. And the end result is often amazing “how did they do this artwork with so few pixels”

Many of Neofotistou’s inspirations came from Susan Kare, the icon designer for Apple’s first computer, the Macintosh. Also a pioneering pixel artist. She has created many classic game works such as “The Secret of Monkey Island”, “Sand Tool” and “Prince of Persia” and so on. She herself was heavily influenced by Pre-Raphaelite and Golden Age illustrator Beatrix Potter. In her view, this constant flow of inspiration shows that art can transcend time and medium.

Both Medeiros and Neofotistou believe that pixel art is not a style, but an artistic medium, and it is up to the artist to incorporate his own style into it. It’s not hard to see by comparing the gameplay of Azure and Land of the Wind, both are pixel art, but their tones, textures and visual impact are uniquely defined by the creators. “The use of pixel art as a medium, like oil paint giving way to watercolor paint, ebbs and flows with trends,” says Neofotistou. Nostalgia is a market demand for a generation that grew up in the 80s and 90s with disposable income. The price of pixel art is generally low, and at the same time, it grows with these users, so artists and fans naturally expect it to return to the mainstream again.

“I feel like some games use nostalgia almost as a pillar,” says Medeiros, explaining that he believes pixel art can break away from nostalgia and create new experiences. Artists like Medeiros and Neofotistou have created new changes in their long careers. These changes are breaking gamers’ expectations for modern pixel art.

“There’s no denying that pixel art games evoke nostalgia,” Medeiros admits. “It’s the same with even modern games.” But anyone who entered Cerulean out of nostalgia was in for a pleasant surprise. Although there are many players who are nostalgic for the game because they were in that era, there are still many players who were born after the “8Bit” style, and they were also visually inspired, thus forming a warm response. As such, Medeiros deliberately avoids relying on nostalgia when designing the game’s visuals. “That’s not the feeling our game is trying to convey.”

Times have changed

The limitations of the unique display hardware on CRT TVs created pixel art. Low resolution, saturated fluorescent colors, and low-frequency signals allow pixel art to extend more creatively. On the other hand, modern pixel art is redefined by artists based on ultra-clear high-resolution displays. Such as OLED, they have changed the way artists create and bring new opportunities and challenges.

Neofotistou recalls: “Looking back at the early days, when many pixel artists saw low resolution and pixel quality as a creative impediment, they all preferred higher resolutions, but artists who did not accept the constraints could not To raise their level to another level, artists should be able to create more works with limited resources and tools.”

Although Kazuko Shibuya, an artist like Final Fantasy, once admitted that he was limited by the technology of game equipment in the 1980s, he regretted it. But Neofotistou and Medeiros prefer to create their own art through a combination of different tools rather than art defined by technology. This is also what differentiates modern pixel art from its predecessors. Neofotistou said: “If based on Nintendo’s conditions at the time, the same technology, the same time, the same budget, I still have the confidence to be able to do better than Nintendo’s artists at the time.”

“Not only does pixel art have creative implications, it opens up new doors for making games,” says Medeiros’ colleague Maddy Thorson, who is also a writer and designer on Cerulean.

“The game in pixel format, because the file size is very small, so we were able to store all of the game graphics for Azure into the computer’s memory,” she explained. The entire game of “Blue” is built around the concept of “trial” and “error”, which is also the most heinous difficulty in the game. Players will “die” frequently because of difficulties. There is a very “shameless” death counter in the game, and game graphics are stored in system memory, so players will restart the game immediately after “death”, reducing frustration, and because ” The number of “Counter” increases, which will make players feel “addicted”.

perfect pixel

Pixel art once dominated, then abandoned, and is now being reinvigorated by artists like Neofotistou and Medeiros. Their work, inspired by the indie game studio boom, has evolved into a full-fledged medium that’s here to stay for a long time. Just as the simple pixel art of the 80s was replaced by more sophisticated technology in the 90s, a similar evolution is taking place and pixel art is being rediscovered as a modern technology. The limitations of technology have been shattered, and the future of media is full of endless possibilities.

“Pixel art doesn’t need to be classified as retro,” says Neofotistou. “The tools we use are the best fit for the vision we’re trying to achieve.”

Medeiros sees the future of pixel art, which is full of experimentation and novel techniques. Even if the current pixel art movement goes away at the end of the indie boom, things that use pixels don’t and won’t go away. “We’ve only touched on the most intuitive level of what pixel art can offer as a creative medium,” Neofotistou said.

“From ancient Greek and Roman mosaics to stained glass, to cross-stitch, weaving, and bead art, to dot-matrix printers and cheap LCD displays on the front of buses or rice cookers, placing scattered dots on a grid to represent an image, This practice is not going away anytime soon,” Neofotistou described.

Art is an ever-evolving medium that builds on the past and explores human experience and imagination as new styles and techniques become popular. With those arcade and smartwatch watches with LCD screens thanks to mosaics and stained glass, the pixel art of the past is influencing creators to create new experiences for the games of the future.

Posted by:CoinYuppie,Reprinted with attribution to:https://coinyuppie.com/why-is-pixel-art-like-cryptopunks-still-popular/
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