What do you think about pixel art for vn?

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What do you think about pixel art for vn?

#1 Post by tohtamish » Tue Feb 07, 2017 7:47 am

Would you perceive such art? For example, "Final Station" - arcade platformer game, but could be such style in VN? With long story... Will you accept such art if the story is a good drama?

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Re: What do you think about pixel art for vn?

#2 Post by Mammon » Tue Feb 07, 2017 7:55 am

I haven't seen it before, but I think it could work as long as it's done right. Of course, that would mean that you can't skimp out on things like less relevant characters by making them incorporeal voices or black sillhouettes, and you'll probably have to make the pixel art a bit more detailed than in your example (f.ex. Lisa (the joyfull) levels of detail) for expressions. A 5x8 pixel(?) size sprite will not look that great if it covers a sprite-size field of the screen.
Or you could do something like combining RPG & ren'py mechanics if you're ambitious. Not sure how difficult that would be even if you were to simplify it by doing things like never actually giving the player wasd control.
Morinoir wrote:Have you seen wadanohara and the great blue sea? It's hybrid rpg vn (but mostly on rpg side) and the creator used full pixel art for game asset including Cg. You may get some inspiration from those game =)
Oh, that's an even more detailed but also an even more pretty pixel art style!
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Re: What do you think about pixel art for vn?

#3 Post by Katta » Tue Feb 07, 2017 10:03 am

Personally I consider pixel art to fit only retro style games, but there seem to be a lot of people who like it.

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Re: What do you think about pixel art for vn?

#4 Post by nyaatrap » Tue Feb 07, 2017 10:55 am

Don't you have an ideal image when you use it? It could be an answer. This can be good, or bad. From the point of view from outside, I can only say it's depend.

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Re: What do you think about pixel art for vn?

#5 Post by morinoir » Tue Feb 07, 2017 11:09 am

Have you seen wadanohara and the great blue sea? It's hybrid rpg vn (but mostly on rpg side) and the creator used full pixel art for game asset including Cg. You may get some inspiration from those game =)

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Re: What do you think about pixel art for vn?

#6 Post by Sonomi » Tue Feb 07, 2017 11:54 am

Personally, I am a fan of pixel art and could see myself playing a story based game using that style. My question is whether or not you intend to still use character portraits. There are quite a few RPGs that have tiny sprites for the characters and a "visual novel" mode to deliver the story. It typically has at least one portrait per character and a textbox just like you would find in a regular visual novel.

If you do, I can think of two examples of pixel art character portraits. One is VA-11 Hall-A, and the other is a game called Cerulean.

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Re: What do you think about pixel art for vn?

#7 Post by gekiganwing » Tue Feb 07, 2017 4:29 pm

If pixel art makes sense in the context of the story, then sure, why not. Think about questions such as "Does it blend well with the story's themes?" or maybe "Would it be a good idea for the art to deliberately contrast with the story?"

Most elements of Half-Minute Hero are played for comedy. This includes the art style, which switches back and forth from somewhat realistic 2D to 8-bit pixel art. Overall, the game is about revisiting ideas from '80s / early '90s games and reworking them into faster-paced games.

There's an untranslated OJLVN called Dotokoi in which the protagonist is cursed, and starts the story seeing people as pixel art characters. It sounds amusing. (It might potentially be a humorous, PG-rated riff on Saya no Uta.)

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Re: What do you think about pixel art for vn?

#8 Post by wyverngem » Tue Feb 07, 2017 4:34 pm

Katta wrote:Personally I consider pixel art to fit only retro style games, but there seem to be a lot of people who like it.
I agree with this about it feeling retro, which means that it's going on nostalgia and evoking emotions of when a person played in that style. There are some well made retro games that are visual novels and pixal art. Yet, pixal in general just reminds me of the old jrpg.

I know there's a lot of work that goes into making Pixal art, but to me it's kind of cheap looking and I don't connect the classic jrpg style with Visual Novels.

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Re: What do you think about pixel art for vn?

#9 Post by pyopyon » Tue Feb 07, 2017 4:37 pm

I love it! I can only think of one game that's executed it -- Cerulean, and it's an absolutely beautiful game, made for SuNoFes (Summer Novel Festival) a few years back.

I wish more VNs gave it a try, but I understand it to be mad time consuming among other things.
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Re: What do you think about pixel art for vn?

#10 Post by Tyrantauranox » Tue Feb 07, 2017 6:38 pm

Pixel art is a tough sell for me. That's not limited to VNs, though. I've played games that could only support four different colors on-screen at once. I feel like I've paid my dues in full :)

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Re: What do you think about pixel art for vn?

#11 Post by Katy133 » Thu Feb 16, 2017 9:28 pm

I would be very interested, as there's very few VNs that use pixel art (I can only think of VA-11 HALL-A).

There are a lot of games that I love that use pixel art. And games like Undertale, Stardew Valley, and Fez are games that have forms of gameplay (or dialogue textbox use) that have similarities to visual novels.

If you want to make a game using pixel art, I'd say go for it!

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Re: What do you think about pixel art for vn?

#12 Post by Virelai » Fri Feb 17, 2017 4:31 pm

I agree. Pixel art is still new in the context of VNs? Generally because I feel like people don't really find aesthetic value in them. However, if executed correctly (with a great plot line ofc), you can go really far with pixel art.

I'd suggest incorporating a little of both (if you have the resources to do so). Meaning, a little bit of traditional "realistic" artwork you may see, (maybe the CG's? If you plan to put any in), and pixel art within the normal sprites. That way, people that enjoy both art styles will be pulled into the VN, and you'll get a larger audience?

Anyways, whatever you decide to do, good luck!

If you find yourself or your team more interested in pixel art, you can always use one of those free-to-use sprites from websites.
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Re: What do you think about pixel art for vn?

#13 Post by FriendlySenpai » Fri Feb 17, 2017 6:01 pm

Pixelated visuals typically hurt my eyes, which is why I have yet to play games like Undertale, even though it's apparently got some amazing story. So if a visual novel used pixel art, I'd definitely shy away from it.

Also, it feels weird for a VN to have pixel art when art quality is such a vital part of them. Only three things truly matter in VNs: the story, the art, and the OST. There are no major gameplay elements to include, like with RPGMaker stuff, and it's not like you're including animated scenes to drain your budget, so to use something that's typically regarded as lower-tier art feels kind of iffy. Like it's something you're only doing to either save costs or to set yourself apart from the rest of the games in the genre.

I wouldn't suggest mixing art styles, though, as another user suggested. If you're going to choose an art style, keep it consistency. Mixing up pixels and traditional VN-style art would be a mess.

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Re: What do you think about pixel art for vn?

#14 Post by Laniessa » Fri Feb 17, 2017 9:59 pm

I really don't like the insinuation that pixel art is 'lower tier art'. It might be regarded as retro and old, but there is an artistry to it. It's not just slapping dots onto a screen. This being said, there are, uh, several levels of pixel art? I grew up in the GBA-era so I'm going to be focusing on the level of detail they had on the GBA.

Also, hi! I'm one of the creators of Cerulean, which was mentioned twice in the thread! I'm going to admit that I actually have a hard time calling it a proper pixel-art VN myself, since all I really did was work with a binary pencil and limited anti-aliasing. In hindsight, the resolution was far too high, but it was my first foray into actually producing pixel assets. I'm really happy to know people remember us though!

I am going to admit right now that I'm not a pixel artist. I am a digital painter. Even so, I only have the utmost respect for pixel art! (In fact, if you have a good few minutes, I recommend reading this post about 'pixel tax' and how modern gamers feel like pixel art is worse than higher res stuff despite the difference in the level of artistry.)

I think people are forgetting that VNs are pretty much RPGs but stripped of the, uh, gameplay sections, but with more advanced branching and dialogue choices. (It's a bit more complex than that, but...) RPGs still have the traditional character portrait and textbox, at least a lot of the time!

And, well. We have tons of pixel RPGs from the past which are gorgeous.

First things first, I remember playing this from Yuri Jam last year! Pixel art VNs exist, I'm sure.

Next up, are we going to forget Ace Attorney?! People!!! You can't deny that the game is like a visual novel. All the games other than the ones for the 3DS are pixel sprites, what with the limitations of the screen resolutions. I've attached some of my favourites.
terry-normal(b).gif (129.78 KiB) Viewed 3008 times
adrian-book(a).gif (68.98 KiB) Viewed 3008 times
klavier-forwardhair(e).gif (65.89 KiB) Viewed 3008 times
More traditionally, we also have 999 for the DS.

Players complained when the series went 3D (for good reason) in the next installment, VLR. Reasoning? "Despite" being pixel, it still looked a lot better. (They actually went for 3D because pixel sprites was too much of a toll on their budget.) It depends on the execution, and while the 3D transition for the Ace Attorney series was quite nice, the Zero Escape series was not. (I'm willing to bet they spent a long time trying to get AA5 and AA6 to look the way it is today.) Even then, I have areas where I prefer the original 4 Ace Attorney games in terms of art.

Moving on, small portraits for other RPGs. My favourites are Megaman Battle Network and Final Fantasy Tactics Advance!
Here's some portraits from FFTA.
Aand some from Megaman Battle Network!

I find these very charming! They use a lot of dithering in the FFTA sprites to give the illusion of roundness and softness, while in MMBN they just flattened most of the forms. They both convey the information well, and they also lineup with each game's overall aesthetic; FFTA is a fantasical, softer and magical game, while MMBN is modern, bright and silly.

I was going to attach more examples, but I got a bit carried away! There are other games worth looking at as well - Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town, Tokimeki Memorial 1... Conversely, pixel art is really respected by me because it was an artform made from limitations, but artists have made amazing things despite of the limitations. Lately, the insistence of using limited palettes, the fact that every pixel is hand placed, makes pixel art possibly the tightest artform used in games - a single pixel can make the image look wrong, so each one is important. The limited palettes give the overall image harmony. (Depends on who's the artist, of course.)

There is something else to consider when we have pixel art - something we didn't implement in Cerulean - which is the fact that pixel art is small. In both image size and file size, I mean. And that means... animations! Ace Attorney of note has really, really great animations with the pixel sprites. HD visuals don't do that, except for Live2D, 3D models, and potentially really painstakingly drawn ones. Please tell me if you've seen the last kind in visual novels. I'm sure it is in part because of the memory limitations of game cartridges in the past, but I believe there is an element of ease in animation sprites compared to fully rendered visual novel sprites. (I'm not talking about simple cel-shading as in anime.)

Is it really a regression if, by lowering the resolution, we are allowed to have actual movement and actions by the character? I believe the amount of character that the Ace Attorney sprites gave just by the animations is vitally important to the charm of the AA games.

And look, I found a VLR screenshot to compare to the 999 game. Is the first image really better than the second image because it has more pixels?

And in case you couldn't tell, OP, I believe there is merit in a pixel art style VN! I don't do it because it's harder to accomplish myself. I've tried! But if you have a good pixel artist and you can make it aesthetically pleasing, why not! You might alienate an audience. But you'll do that with anything you go with, so if you think it's worth it, go for it. I'm definitely more on the side of being attracted to pixel art!

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