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Question: 16px versus 32px sprites

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So, I'm at an impasse atm. I'm trying to decide if I want to continue using 16px tiles (medium. 8px small and 32px large) in my 2D game or go for 32px tiles (16px small and 64px large). The pixel scale in my game is currently x3, but I'm thinking about setting it down to x2 (but without reducing the screen size of the sprites).

 

On one hand, I love Zelda 3 and how clean it looks (which is why I'm interested in 16px, because I'm going for clean colors with minimal noise). But on the other hand, I'm looking at games like Seyken Crystal Kingdom and I'm loving the higher resolutions. Only problem is that I'll have to spend up to 4 times as much time on each individual sprite. Then again, creating a single 16px sprite doesn't take too long and meteoric/4 is still pretty fast, I guess. Thinking about Braid and Spelunky (remastered version), I'm seeing some very nice visuals but I'm concerned that I might bite over more than I can chew for those resolutions (if I'm gonna draw the art myself).

 

I don't know, what do you guys think? If you were me, what would you do? Is Zelda 3 a good, solid bet (as long as I can keep it clean) or do I need to get out of the stone age and into modernity? What are the less-obvious benefits and downsides of drawing higher resolution pixel art over lower resolution, from a visual artist's point of view?

 

(Edit: As for 64+ medium tiles, this is not viable for my game due to the scope and a more "abstract representation" I'm intending for my game (i.e. leaving stuff to the player's imagination).)

Edited by Madolite

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Personally, 32px sprite, 8bpp indexed color is my absolute favorite style for 2d games. I don't think I've ever actually considered the relative times of making the two. On the one hand, the '4 times' figure seems off, since drawing doesn't take much longer for 32px, and blocking in colors should take roughly the same amount of time. On the other, I'm sure it takes a lot longer, since 32px sprites demand shading and detail and sometimes hand dithering.

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I think the Zelda 3 looks perfectly fine.  The Crystal Kingdom provides for more detail, but that's not necessarily better or worse.  In choosing one over the other, aside from the production concerns, perhaps consider the feel that each approach would lend to the gameplay.

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I guess I'll just continue playing around with a basic number of 16px sprites and then flesh out the assets once I've decided if it feels good enough or if I need to change the sizes.

Edited by Madolite

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Generally, what I would suggest is that you try both. Maybe do a sample screenshot or just a couple of sprites in each style, and then compare. See how long the one style takes compared to the other and which one you like better.

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I'm using 32 px myself currently. I think it solely depends on your art direction. I'm going for something more in-line with a mature/realistic feel, and 16 px feels a bit raw and ultimately somewhat cartoony or too abstract.

What's your style?

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I'm using 32 px myself currently. I think it solely depends on your art direction. I'm going for something more in-line with a mature/realistic feel, and 16 px feels a bit raw and ultimately somewhat cartoony or too abstract.

What's your style?

I'm more on the cartoony side, at least for this specific game. )

Edited by Madolite

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I think you can fit in a lot of good stuff in 16 px. Depending on your cartoon style, 32 px might come in handy mostly for rounder shapes ala manga.

Also very useful to squeeze in an extra outline if you need a lot of contrast (assuming a very animated gameplay).

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I think the majority of your audience will prefer a more modern (32) style. There are haters of the retro craze, including myself at times, but it's more difficult to hate modern graphics so long as they're good.

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Could you not use the higher resolution, but keep the simple shapes and lower colour-count of the smaller resolution? That way you (I would imagine) wouldn't increase your workload as much, would keep the art direction that you've been going for, and would get clearer, higher-resolution graphics.

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