1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Greetings Guest!!

    In order to combat SPAM on the forums, all users are required to have a minimum of 2 posts before they can submit links in any post or thread.

    Dismiss Notice

Pixel Graphics Revisited

Discussion in 'UHall' started by Hemisphere, Jul 27, 2009.

  1. Hemisphere

    Hemisphere Always Present
    Stratics Veteran

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2002
    Messages:
    12,172
    Likes Received:
    1
    Not strictly pixel graphics, more of a mix of 3D, pixels, and general graphical wizardry, but I thought some of you might be interested in seeing some of the stuff I was working on recently:

    I just suffered a bit of an unfortunate loss so I'll be brief for now, but will be updating this thread with much more stuff in the future (If people are interested), and also would love to revive the vibe of the original pixel graphics challenge thread, in that if there are any recent ****ty graphics that you would like to see redone, or old graphics redone at a higher res, I'll give it my very best shot!

    I'll also be including some details of the production processes, and other interesting tidbits that will help those who would like to make stuff of their own. Hopefully there will be some contributions from others like last time too (Crysta? and others, I forget!)

    One of the major issues with Saphireenas original challenge (in my eyes, and also those of EA), is that it all involved an INCREDIBLY high workload, and also highly skilled artists, something which doesn't come cheap, and is presumably out of reach of UO's meagre art budget.

    What I would like to show is that a lot can be done to retain the style that UO's players are used to, on an absolute shoestring budget!

    Anyway, for now, some pics - later, some accompanying text :D

    http://img252.imageshack.us/img252/3994/characters3.jpg

    http://img252.imageshack.us/img252/6933/characterupdate2.jpg

    http://img89.imageshack.us/img89/5772/compm.jpg

    http://img517.imageshack.us/img517/6647/13610530.jpg

    http://img514.imageshack.us/img514/4062/trollm.jpg

    http://img136.imageshack.us/img136/3014/workspace4.jpg

    Not much more meaningful I can add for now without going into depth, but put briefly: that's how I would do it ;)

    P.S I know I should have taken more time to construct this thread properly, but I'm looking for something to lighten my mood atm! I will update this first post extensively.

    Edit: Updating first post with some more revant images:

    [​IMG]
    UO basket tribute, showing from left to right the original, my version, and the unprocessed render.
    [​IMG]
    Some random pieces I made for Illarion.
    [​IMG]
    Illarion hats
    [​IMG]
    Lute
    [​IMG]
    More lutes, this time again comparing the original render to the processed version
    [​IMG]
    Drums, this time demonstrating the lack of finesse on the unprocessed models
    [​IMG]
    Ditto backpack
    [​IMG]
    More Illarion stuff.
     
  2. Coldren

    Coldren Sage
    Stratics Veteran

    Joined:
    May 13, 2008
    Messages:
    741
    Likes Received:
    115
    First of all, let me say, I have the utmost respect for someone who goes out and actually does what they can to put their money where their mouth is, so to speak, especially for a game. And for that, I commend you.

    Second, I personally don't like the style of this artwork. I can't really explain it, it just doesn't seem to mesh well. Some others may like it, and that is well and good. As I said, I respect anyone who can actually go out and do something like this.

    But most importantly, the following quote caught my attention:

    If I'm not mistaken, Saphireena did all that work with nothing more advanced than Photoshop or Illustrator, in her free time. I could be wrong, but I seem to remember seeing that somewhere. In any case, I don't think she used anything so exotic that any graphics department wouldn't have something comparable. GIMP competes with Adobe as much as it can, and it's free. Hell, I'm not even an artist, and I have CS2 for my personal use.

    Furthermore, why wouldn't we WANT a skilled artist like her doing this? If all you want to do is get a cheap upgrade, I'm sure there are hundreds of cheap sweat shops in China or India they could outsource this kind of work to for pennies on the dollar. But in the end, I don't care what anyone says, you always end up getting exactly what you pay for.

    Rather than remake the client artwork (Twice now - Just referring to the artwork, not the UI or other features.), they should have used the mindset of quality of quantity. KR may appeal to some, and it is highly detailed at excellent resolutions, but all and all, I didn't see it's appeal. I'd wager the budget for work they did for KR absolutely dwarfed what could have been done to look like Saphireena's artwork.

    No, I believe the style and artwork we have is exactly what they wanted to give. I seriously doubt the budget played as much of a factor as you think it does.

    And my condolences for your unfortunate loss.
     
  3. SchezwanBeefy

    SchezwanBeefy Lore Master
    Stratics Veteran

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2009
    Messages:
    1,035
    Likes Received:
    0
    You did a great job working on this and I comend you for taking the time to do it, but I agree with the previous poster. I wouldn't enjoy the game as much with some of this art. I'm not sure what's the right word, but it looks... rough? to me.
     
  4. Hemisphere

    Hemisphere Always Present
    Stratics Veteran

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2002
    Messages:
    12,172
    Likes Received:
    1
    Well I'm not a professional artist - This is the first time I've made this sort of thing - I didn't make the character models either, but that wasn't exactly the point of the thread.

    It's strictly dabbling to discover the processes behind game art production. I remember EA long ago made a point of explaining that the reason that there was no new artwork (or that the newer artwork differed so much from the old) was that the original production processes were lost, or no longer understood by the current art team.

    It looks rough because it is rough. Most of it is in draft form and it's really more of a graphical doodle-pad than a representation of usable art, but there are a few techniques I've used which I think would be of great benefit when applied by people with a real artistic background.

    It's all about making the most effective use of time and resources to get the best possible result with a low budget.

    That's what I intend to explain in some more detail. I figured it would be of some interest anyway!

    Do you really think so? Saph detailed all her art on a pixel level, which made it stunningly beautiful (particularly seeing as she's a fantastic artist anyway), but for animations it would require a mammoth budget, far greater than that of KR.

    Anyway I guess perhaps art isn't such a pressing issue anymore, I don't really know as I don't play or even read Stratics that much, but there are a few simple steps (largely related to post-production image processing) that could be added to the production process (even using the existing KR resources), that would result in a much smoother graphical experience, at a minimal addition to budget costs, as at most it would involve a small amount of macro programming and flipping the switch to process the images.
     
  5. Uvtha

    Uvtha Grand Poobah
    Stratics Veteran

    Joined:
    May 24, 2008
    Messages:
    6,528
    Likes Received:
    2,914
    Well I for one think those look very nice, I would play a game with those graphics. Could they be improved? Sure, what graphics can't? But they have character which in my opinion is the most important thing.

    To me you can have the most awesome thing ever on a talent scale but if its not interesting who cares?

    Nice work! :D
     
  6. Vyal

    Vyal Guest

    [​IMG]

    Mmmmmmmm these are good pixels.

    Animations are cake, pixel animation can be done good by the lowest bidder.
    Figure 24 frames per char, then simple add layers to a paperdoll for 2d games.

    KR graphics are much easier they use 3d models then they use programs like sprite forge to turn them into 2d sprites so pretty much a 3d modeler can toss some sprites together in minutes VERY VERY cheap.
     
  7. Crysta

    Crysta Babbling Loonie
    Stratics Veteran Alumni

    Joined:
    May 12, 2008
    Messages:
    2,418
    Likes Received:
    73
    Try closer to 400-800 frames per character, per item equipped, per race, per gender. That's about what 2D uses. It was made in the same way as KR too.. high-res 3D models converted into sprite frames.

    Also, i'm no good with 3D so expect nothing from me. I'd rather see an exact replication of the original style, anyway.

    If a modeler really wants to help they need to study the original 2D frames closely and do their best to replicate the look and movements as perfectly as possible, only making the details more noticeable rather than adding to them or redoing them. The original UO stuff was done in.. uhhh.. 3D Studio MAX is the name i'm remembering but I haven't checked in a long time.

    I think Dennis Loubet's website still has the model of the Avatar from Ultima 8 on it, and the Ultima 8 stuff was the "primitive base" for the UO sprites.
     
  8. Vyal

    Vyal Guest

    no I promise UO won't use any more then 24 frames per direction and in uo thats s , n , w ,e , se, sw, ect.....

    Most 2d sprites use about 7 frames per direction i'm only giving the game a lil credit but I prolly shouldn't odds are it doesn't even use that many.


    This is your basic sprite, it has very fluid movements and you can't even see the frames skip at all when it's animated.

    [​IMG]

    then you would draw the hair with the client on another layer

    [​IMG]

    it turns out to look like this,

    [​IMG]

    UO graphics are done in the same way most likely with the same amount of frames and can be done very easily, I know what i'm talking about.

    Now since 3d models take less time to rebuild and add onto odds are for KR they are using a program like this

    [​IMG]

    Hope that helps explain things to ya crysta so you don't go thinking a single UO sprite has 400 frames.
     
  9. Fluffi

    Fluffi Slightly Crazed
    Stratics Veteran Stratics Legend

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2004
    Messages:
    1,351
    Likes Received:
    15
    I don't want to disrespect your efforts, Hemi: but let's be honest... tweaks to an ancient client will never result in anything more than lipstick on a pig.

    I've played Fluffi for more than 8 years, through every UO incarnation: Our latest, "new and super-improved" client is nothing more than a minor improvement on UO3D (which was hated by many - myself included.)


    A top-down isometric view will never have the same appeal to the modern gamer as a full 3D client, but I would be entirely happy with the POV if the graphics and interface actually IMPROVED.

    Our shiny new client lacks definition, the animations are poor, the interface is neither what UO veterans are used to, nor up to current day standards.

    UO, as it stands, may well continue as a niche-market game, populated by those of us who understand its' potential, (and who can live with the retrograde steps from UO2D (with legal addons)); but there is nothing in the new client which has the pulling-power of any modern MMO.

    We are thus doomed to die a death of a thousand cuts, as established players move away, and are not replaced.


    How terribly sad.
     
  10. Hemisphere

    Hemisphere Always Present
    Stratics Veteran

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2002
    Messages:
    12,172
    Likes Received:
    1
    Well, UO's characters most definitely use more than 24 frames for their walk cycles (5 directions times I think 8 frames? or 10, or even 12, definitely more than 24 anyway ;)), and what's more they actually have about 10 different walk cycles anyway (walk with one handed weapon, walk with polearm, walk in war mode, etc etc), but that's not even a point of debate, surely?

    To illustrate better what I'm talking about here, I made a small tribute to UO's basket graphic (none of the other graphics I posted so far had anything to do with UO, just my own personal projects)

    [​IMG]

    On the left is the classic basket, on the right is the basket I modelled in about 2 minutes, as it came out of the renderer. Seems vaguely reminiscent of some KR art I've seen - not sure how a basket looks in KR though..

    In the middle is the same render, with an additional 3-4 minutes of post processing: a bit of sharpening, colour correction, and some adjustments of the dimensions. It's not pixel perfect of course, but I don't think anybody really expects that - it looks like a UO basket and it took less than 10 minutes. It's even smoother and less pixelly than the UO basket, and as I understand it that's actually an attractive property to some people - especially those who like KR ;)

    So basically I used exactly the same production methods as EA used to make KR, but with a tiny bit more attention to detail, correct proportions, etc. In this case, the processing DID take longer than the modelling, but the model was an incredibly simple one. If I'd been making say, a dragon, the processing wouldn't have taken any longer - the increased workload/budget of making KR's art properly would have been insignificant on top of the rest of the budget - probably not more than 10%.

    As I said I guess the time for this sort of thread is past :( sad, but anyway, I'll get back to my own projects again.
     
  11. BloodstoneGL

    BloodstoneGL Guest

    I wish someone would do something with 2D Elf Hair. I mean WTF serisously?
     
  12. Hemisphere

    Hemisphere Always Present
    Stratics Veteran

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2002
    Messages:
    12,172
    Likes Received:
    1
    :heart:

    Please see BloodstoneGL's avatar for an appropriate response.
     
  13. BloodstoneGL

    BloodstoneGL Guest

    It looks like colored play-doh poop rolled on top of their head.
     
  14. Rwyan

    Rwyan Guest

    Well, if you think about, for every art asset in the game, it would take a significant amount of time to do this - already done with KR.

    It is one thing to create something and get it to look right. Its a whole other thing to do that, get it ingested properly into the engine and have it look and work correctly in the client. I'm sure each graphical object, even static objects, has multiple files associated with it(like an alpha layer and a layer associated with color).

    Add animations to the mix and it is just going to add more time, especially with art associated with avatars. In 3D you have to create the bone structure and rig it which is a job in and of itself. Oh, and then you have to animate lol. So now, you have to have a 3D model that looks fairly great from multiple angles. It also has to animate well from multiple angles. It really is a lot of work.

    I guess my point is, if it is that 'easy' to get something to look awesome, all of KR would look awesome.

    However, the work that you are doing, keep up with the experiments. I always enjoy seeing stuff like this.
     
  15. Hemisphere

    Hemisphere Always Present
    Stratics Veteran

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2002
    Messages:
    12,172
    Likes Received:
    1
    KR would look awesome? I think it "should", I don't know about would. That would be making the assumption that EA's artists are playing at the top of their game, which is quite hard to believe sometimes.
     
  16. Rwyan

    Rwyan Guest

    I've always wondered what happened between some of the initial KR screenshot releases and the actual launch. I wish I can find links soon, but I remember the characters looking in those(maybe they were just mockups made to look ingame?) much better than those we have today.
     
  17. Mitzlplik_SP

    Mitzlplik_SP Guest

    Stuff looks great Hemi.Even in rough draft form the models look better than KR models ever did.

    For me,thats the sticking point with KR AND SA. I freeking detest the char models. I couldn`t care less how they look in the paperdoll. IMHO the big thing that keeps peaple in love with UO is their charectors. Peaple spend countless hours trying for that shiny object they can adorn their char`s with.Why? Because they are recognizable from a distance. In 2d,the toons look REAL. When something is equipped it is not hard to know what they are wearing or armed with.For me,thats what will keep me in 2d forever at this point.

    I`m not going to stare at some wobbly dork that looks even worse when mounted when I can have my dose of realism in 2d. I try to give EA the benefit of the doubt most times,but after multiple attempts at making an (upgrade?) they still have not figured out that the UO world revolves around the charector. If peaple had a recognizable char (that didn`t require an imagination) all the rest of the graphical enhancments would shine even brighter. No one cares about the upgrades that SA DOES bring if the char models SUCK !!

    I will never change clients until my char looks somewhat real. I will not listen to the BS of how it can not be done in this day and age.:coco:
     
  18. Hemisphere

    Hemisphere Always Present
    Stratics Veteran

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2002
    Messages:
    12,172
    Likes Received:
    1
    Some stuff I made tonight (for a small online hardcore roleplaying game called Illarion: http://illarion.org/community/forum...2&start=0&postdays=0&postorder=asc&highlight=), it's a little scruffy again, as I'm hoping to overhaul a lot of their graphics and that means thousands of tiles ;)

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Again fairly Ultima inspired stuff (kilt, straw hats, floppy hats).

    Little touches seem to make a difference when aiming for a certain style - for example I don't use textures, at all, because I don't think it can possibly be worth using a texture for something that's going to be so tiny once ingame - any detail the texture once had will be lost in a mush of indistinguishable pixels.

    So for making cloth I use a lattice-work mesh, which in the renderer makes everything look like some sort of basket, but at "viewing size" gives the impression of some sort of woven fabric. Or at least that's the idea anyway - needs some fine-tuning, but I'm working on it ;)

    And you're quite right Mitzlplik, that is one of the coolest things about the older client graphics, is that somehow, despite most objects being *incredibly* small, you could work out what everything was, because a lot of care went into making sure that was possible (often involving editing on the pixel level).

    Classically all videogame artists were trained to do this.

    As I understand it though, (and probably the reason KR turned out the way it did), is with large scale commercial projects, a workflow is planned in detail before any artwork is even begun. That's probably the point at which the suits give the red or green light for the project to even happen at all. The devs, then have to plan that workflow in the most efficient way possible, with the least labour involved and the smallest amount of steps. If the renderer can be made to do all the work, why bother with post-processing? One less step to follow, makes the job seem easier, more achievable, whatever. End result: poop on a stick :loser:
     
  19. Minerva Foxglove

    Stratics Veteran

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2008
    Messages:
    683
    Likes Received:
    327
    I was certain this time it should look good enough to switch to SA client...

    So it was a pain to see the characters, esp on a mount. Also the paperdolls are extremely important to me. I cant have thoose hideously looking chars staring at me when I play. It spoils the feeling totally. I loved Saphireenas paperdolls too. They are alot better than our 2D ones .

    The rest of the new client is ok or ok-ish so im a bit sad now, just cant use it.
     
  20. Hemisphere

    Hemisphere Always Present
    Stratics Veteran

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2002
    Messages:
    12,172
    Likes Received:
    1
    Mmm ;) lutey tooty!

    [​IMG]

    (used a photo to model this one off - think I got quite a good likeness.)

    [​IMG]

    That's another thing that irks me, when people say "oh UO's graphics are so cartoony lololol windows 3.1! GO BACK TO TEH 80S!!1". If you try and make a decent graphical representation of a real object, at such a small scale, you lose so much detail in the process that it HAS to look cartoony if it's going to look anything like the object at all. Either it will look cartoony or like a 3D model, but why people would want a 2D game to look 3D is beyond me. In RPGs, 3D tends to try and look as lifelike as possible, and almost without exception, it fails. By rights, 2D should do the same, with an equal rate of failure.

    Better to fail at looking like perfection than to fail at looking like something that is in itself a failure.
     
  21. Gladius

    Gladius Guest

    In fairness the artwork you made has acquitted itself considering we have to keep into account the improvements are based on a shoestring budget.

    Point is well made and my compliments for your efforts.

    -G-
     
  22. Hemisphere

    Hemisphere Always Present
    Stratics Veteran

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2002
    Messages:
    12,172
    Likes Received:
    1
    Thanks :)

    And again, a comparisson shot from "out of the renderer" to "3 minutes of processing":

    [​IMG]

    Look at those cute little lutes.. like cyclops' heads, except one of them is sick, and generally uncared for ;) An Nox, An Nox!

    When you consider how much love a single graphic in a game like UO gets from all the players combined, over all the years that they will play it, it's actually a travesty that 3 minutes per item* can't be taken to tidy up the corners and make things good.

    btw I also have some homeless puppies to show you but they'll have to wait for another thread.

    * (or less, really! If you do all the processing at the end and you get the technique down it'd be mere seconds per item)
     
  23. AesSedai

    AesSedai Guest

    -Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes...
    Time may change me, but I can't trace time...

    - agreed.
    +1 one vote - for the eventual evolution of UO
    :)

    Step 1: Fix foundation
    Step 2: Add lipstick
    Step 3: See step 1, und repeat

    Step the nexus: Excellence

    UO will, as long as the will is...
    :)
     
  24. Lucy of Kenton

    Lucy of Kenton Seasoned Veteran
    Stratics Veteran

    Joined:
    May 16, 2008
    Messages:
    471
    Likes Received:
    21
    Well i for one am very impressed, image 89? the left dragon is v good.
    very garriottesque (if there is such a word) in their influence. keep it up as the seeds are good
    my main problem with uo 3d in any expansion is the scale of things ie your character stood by your door would never get through it as the char is two times bigger than the door and would also stick their head through to the second floor
    :danceb::danceb:
     
  25. LadyNico

    LadyNico Always Present
    Stratics Veteran Stratics Legend

    Joined:
    May 13, 2003
    Messages:
    14,719
    Likes Received:
    1
    <--- Just because some Saphireena pixels needed to be in this thread...
     
  26. Lady Aalia

    Lady Aalia Atlantic's Finest
    Stratics Veteran Alumni

    Joined:
    May 13, 2003
    Messages:
    816
    Likes Received:
    2
    I cant take credit for the pictures i am about to post, I saved them from the last pixel Thread and sadly i dont remember who did them...

    I wish i had saved the many unbelivable pretty outfits some had made or diffrent bodystyles...sadly i didnt...

    But here is what i did save...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  27. Lady_Calina

    Lady_Calina Lore Keeper
    Stratics Veteran

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2008
    Messages:
    903
    Likes Received:
    0
    Those are great hair graphics, and I love that kimono look!
     
  28. Hemisphere

    Hemisphere Always Present
    Stratics Veteran

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2002
    Messages:
    12,172
    Likes Received:
    1
    Also worth noting is that most of the meshes I'm making are INCREDIBLY simple - in fact if they were used in a 3D game people would laugh lonnnnnng and hard. They're sloppy, the proportions are bad, polygons flying all over the place, but it doesn't matter, because they're being designed with a single purpose in mind, and if they look good once they're in the game, that's all that actually matters.

    I wouldn't be at all surprised if a lot of budget/workload/effort is wasted on making UO's artwork "properly" in 3D (as if it were to be put into a 3D world). (of course the argument there would be that one day UO will have a genuine 3D client, and then they'll want the resources.. but how many times has that never happened? As the playerbase gets smaller, and each new update does little to affect this downwards trend, the chance of such an investment risk happening gets smaller too)

    [​IMG]

    I mean really, it looks like someone took a crap in my renderer and tried to cover it up with some cheese.

    But once it's scaled down and processed, suddenly what was once a mess of vertices becomes a decidedly less messy mess of pixels, which *almost* look like they were designed that way ;)

    With the bongo for example, it would be really cool to have some intricate carvings worked into the wood, as you might expect from a real one, but it's just not possible on such a scale, so why waste the time and effort it takes to make them, if in the end they're going to be squished down to a 25 pixel high block? Hmm?

    I could probably clean them up a little more, adding some detail, like pins around the side of the base, holding down the strings that keep the animal skin tight. "Hold on a minute, strings, what strings? There aren't any strings in the design" - no there weren't, but now there are some well defined lines of pixels, it looks like there just possibly could be, and a little added detail would help complete the illusion.

    Edit: And again, hopefully further demonstrating that quick and dirty can still be beautiful! (that's what I keep trying to tell her anyway ;))

    [​IMG]

    Looks a little flat possibly but it's supposed to be an "empty backpack" graphic, will modify the mesh for a "full" version.

    +some other bits and bobs from today, a spyglass, bar of soap, and a tinderbox. Well it could be any sort of small box or case really but it's supposed to be a tinderbox ;)

    [​IMG]