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Using graphics technology to create unique styles more

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It seems like most graphics technology and shaders and such are only used to achieve more realism, and sometimes nice cartoony effects. I think we as graphics programmers should also use this technology more to create unique and weird things, experiment with them! So I made a graphical argument about that:

The endless possibilities of art styles

I'd like to hear how you think about this!

Some parts of the presentation:



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This is mostly an art issue, not a tech issue. As a graphics programmer I don't come up with a bunch of shaders, bestow them upon the artists, and say "here is what you must use to achieve your artistic vision!". Instead I create frameworks and tools which the artists can use achieve the look they want, and also implement new features based on their requests. I mean if you're a creative, artsy sort of guy and you want to find new ways to use tech to realize your artistic vision then go for it! But myself and most other programmers I know are engineers, not artists. They work at solving tech problems, not art problems. So I'd imagine that you're talking to the wrong audience here. [wink]

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he's not talking to the wrong audience. because art only exists with the right tech behind it. if all the programmers strive to implement crysis, then the artists get bumpapped shiny surfaces and nice oceans even if they might not want it.

but mostly, he talks about not constraining yourself to the typical thing: copying the existing things. try new stuff. best: together with your artist.

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Original post by davepermen
he's not talking to the wrong audience. because art only exists with the right tech behind it. if all the programmers strive to implement crysis, then the artists get bumpapped shiny surfaces and nice oceans even if they might not want it.


If a programmer implements some useless water tech and the artists wanted something else, then that's a communications/management problem. Programmer workload should be driven by artist/designer feature requests, not the other way around. I don't know where you work, but I don't just sit around implementing whatever I think is cool because I saw it in Crysis.

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Original post by dehebo
I agree, wrong audience.

Art Leads and the like further up the chain decide on what look they want

No no no! If the graphics programmer says that something cannot be done, than the art lead will look for something different. Like the Dufy slide below, most people I show this to immediately say this is not possible in 3D. But it is: I have come up with a way to do this, and that way is a combination of shaders and post effects and thus very technical. An artist wouldn't be able to find that solution and most graphics programmers would just say it isn't possible!

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I found your blog entry quite interesting. However, I think you are asking a somewhat obvious question - the reason that people aren't trying these styles out is that they aren't really readily available. It is kind of like saying "why didn't I think of that" after seeing a genius invention - because it takes someone special to find something truly unique and implement it.

With that said, there is also some negative commercial points to doing things like this as well. When you consider how many people 'get' and enjoy modern art, and then take the intersection of that set of people with those that play games, then you are limiting your audience quite a bit... That can be bad for business, even if you are developing a niche product.

Don't get me wrong - I would love to see more games with unique visual styles. However, it takes someone with an artistic background in addition to a technical background to really make some progress on this type of work. Those are not usual qualities for one person to have... Perhaps you can be the first of the renaissance graphics programmers [grin]!

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Though not a "new" style, the ink art in SFIV was very impressive. Lots of people wanted a good part of the game to have that style. Whether or not it would work is another story. However, I think people are very open to different artistic styles as along as they are presented properly.

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Quote:
Original post by Oogst

No no no! If the graphics programmer says that something cannot be done, than the art lead will look for something different. Like the Dufy slide below, most people I show this to immediately say this is not possible in 3D. But it is: I have come up with a way to do this, and that way is a combination of shaders and post effects and thus very technical. An artist wouldn't be able to find that solution and most graphics programmers would just say it isn't possible!


If we were in pre-production for a project and our head artist came over with that picture and said that was the look they were going for, I would do the necessary research, prototyping, and legwork to figure how close we could get to the visual target. Then we would sit down, and work out the logistics regarding how long it would take to get it fully implemented, how much tools work would be needed, how long it would take the artists trained in the new tools, etc. Then we would weigh all of that against the need for the new tech, and how much time it would take away from other important tasks. I would do all of that because well...that's my job. I don't know where you get the idea that "most graphics programmers" wouldn't follow the same procedure that I just outlined.

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Quote:
Original post by MJP
Quote:
Original post by davepermen
he's not talking to the wrong audience. because art only exists with the right tech behind it. if all the programmers strive to implement crysis, then the artists get bumpapped shiny surfaces and nice oceans even if they might not want it.


If a programmer implements some useless water tech and the artists wanted something else, then that's a communications/management problem. Programmer workload should be driven by artist/designer feature requests, not the other way around. I don't know where you work, but I don't just sit around implementing whatever I think is cool because I saw it in Crysis.


artists can only put to use what programmers create for them. if they just implement the next crysis, then that's what the art will look like.

and if i look around in these forums, and see how most games look, developers mostly implement "crysis".

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Quote:
Original post by Oogst
It seems like most graphics technology and shaders and such are only used to achieve more realism, and sometimes nice cartoony effects. I think we as graphics programmers should also use this technology more to create unique and weird things, experiment with them! So I made a graphical argument about that
I wonder why you don't lead by example. On one side you're saying you want to have more diverse graphic styles, on the other side your "Proun" game uses oldschool radiosity lightmap baking, like Quake1 had, like Mirror's Edge and even some iphone games like Jet Car ( http://a1.phobos.apple.com/us/r1000/033/Purple/b4/40/31/mzl.hrtvoaoc.320x480-75.jpg ) use.

I think Jason Z got quite a good reply to your question:
Quote:
It is kind of like saying "why didn't I think of that" after seeing a genius invention - because it takes someone special to find something truly unique and implement it.

that's why everyone (including you) creates
- more realistic looking (baked) light
- light beam effects like crysis
- more realistic realtime shadow techniques

I think the only company that really approaches new directions in rendering technology is ID Software. Their mega texture, volume shadows etc. don't look superior by far, but it's still a unique experience to play their games.
Other companies/games have more or less the same direction, differently implemented, with art quality of very different levels, but nothing that would 'wow' me because it's 'soo new'

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Strong, unique rendering style? A few examples:

Kirby's Epic Yarn:




Limbo:




Fantasy University:




You'll find huge diversity in art style once you leave the shoot-em-up-of-the-week teen demographic. The relative lack of artistic merit in mainstream/AAA titles is not a function of technology, but rather of marketability and direction.

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Original post by davepermen
artists can only put to use what programmers create for them. if they just implement the next crysis, then that's what the art will look like.


But that's not how professional programmers work. Are you even reading anything I'm writing?

Quote:
Original post by davepermen
and if i look around in these forums, and see how most games look, developers mostly implement "crysis".


Fine. If you want to pass judgement on all graphic programmers based on some demo you saw on the gamedev forums and what you *think* happens behind the scenes at major development studios, then go for it. I will stop trying to offer you insight.

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Original post by Krypt0n
I wonder why you don't lead by example. On one side you're saying you want to have more diverse graphic styles, on the other side your "Proun" game uses oldschool radiosity lightmap baking, like Quake1 had, like Mirror's Edge and even some iphone games like Jet Car ( http://a1.phobos.apple.com/us/r1000/033/Purple/b4/40/31/mzl.hrtvoaoc.320x480-75.jpg ) use.

In the end technology is just a tool. Almost anyone who sees Proun tells me it has such a unique graphical style. I agree that it doesn't use any innovative tech to do that, but my point is mainly that people should try more unique styles in general. Tech is a tool that is needed for certain styles, but some other new styles can be created with current tech. So unless you think Proun looks like a ton of other games, I would say Proun is an example of the point of my slides.

Quote:
Original post by MJP
If we were in pre-production for a project and our head artist came over with that picture and said that was the look they were going for, I would do the necessary research, prototyping, and legwork to figure how close we could get to the visual target. Then we would sit down, and work out the logistics regarding how long it would take to get it fully implemented, how much tools work would be needed, how long it would take the artists trained in the new tools, etc. Then we would weigh all of that against the need for the new tech, and how much time it would take away from other important tasks. I would do all of that because well...that's my job. I don't know where you get the idea that "most graphics programmers" wouldn't follow the same procedure that I just outlined.

Although Kirby and Limbo are great examples of unique styles, most other games are still either realistic or standard cartoony. I guess almost all professional graphics programmers will have the same positive attitude towards these things as you have, but still the result is that games with unique styles are far and between.

I guess what I am trying to say is that coming up with new styles on the spot is difficult. To get more innovation, a lot of experimenting for experiment's sake will have to be done, I think. Small demos and small games that show special ideas. Whatever works and is applicable can then be used for the bigger games. Radical innovation is bigger projects is just very difficult, I think, because of all the riscs that come with it.

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Quote:
Original post by Oogst
Quote:
Original post by Krypt0n
I wonder why you don't lead by example. On one side you're saying you want to have more diverse graphic styles, on the other side your "Proun" game uses oldschool radiosity lightmap baking, like Quake1 had, like Mirror's Edge and even some iphone games like Jet Car ( http://a1.phobos.apple.com/us/r1000/033/Purple/b4/40/31/mzl.hrtvoaoc.320x480-75.jpg ) use.

In the end technology is just a tool. Almost anyone who sees Proun tells me it has such a unique graphical style. I agree that it doesn't use any innovative tech to do that, but my point is mainly that people should try more unique styles in general. Tech is a tool that is needed for certain styles, but some other new styles can be created with current tech. So unless you think Proun looks like a ton of other games, I would say Proun is an example of the point of my slides.

so you're saying your technology is the same everyone else creates and it's the artist side that makes it look unique? I think the same, I can take UDK (+lightmass) and feed it with your art and it will probably look the same.
doesn't that make this whole thread where you argue that graphics programmer should take responsibility for the art style pointless? shouldn't you rather address your issue towards artist?

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Original post by Krypt0n
so you're saying your technology is the same everyone else creates and it's the artist side that makes it look unique? I think the same, I can take UDK (+lightmass) and feed it with your art and it will probably look the same.
doesn't that make this whole thread where you argue that graphics programmer should take responsibility for the art style pointless? shouldn't you rather address your issue towards artist?

This is kind of nitpicking. I do think coders should make more technology for unique styles. And I also think artists should design more unique styles. Proun is only an example for the latter, that is true, but my point is that both artists and coders should do this. Here on Gamedev, I am obviously addressing the coders and you are right that Proun is not an example of this.

I am by the way also working on several pieces of technology that make unique styles possible, they are just not in Proun.

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Some programmers are more Artistic than others and some Artists are more technical than others. What I mean is not every programmer is suited to creating or contributing towards an art style.

The larger the commercial project the more difficult it is to have a different style. Its very hard to convince a publisher that anything other than the previous biggest selling game is the way to go. Most invoation visually is from smaller indie projects and a few Japanese developers that have strong creative leads and backers that arent afraid of different styles.

Oogst, "we as graphics programmers" maybe should of read as "we as developers"
A good post though!

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Original post by mikiex
Oogst, "we as graphics programmers" maybe should of read as "we as developers"
A good post though!
I think you're right, or maybe even like "we as technical artist", as he uses 08/15 tech from the programmer's point of view, but tries to make it look like just a few games have been done before.

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You're right, the article as a whole is aimed at both graphics programmers and game artists. But since I posted it here on Gamedev, I tried to focus on the programmers in my post here. I also posted it on CGTalk, which is more for the artists. :)

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