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PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2016 12:31 am 
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tepples wrote:
Perhaps the art style is an artifact of 3 colors and the pixel count.

But you have those limitations in all NES games. And yet, even from the very first NES games, only four have this style as well. All the other games look totally different.
Especially "Kung Fu" bugs me: It has a large sprite (16 x 40) and it is based on an arcade game. But for some reason, they chose the style of the sports titles character.

tepples wrote:
Does the sprite in my NES project template have a similar enough style?

There is a bit similarity.

koitsu wrote:
This wasn't apparent to me from the screenshots or any aspect of your original post. I'm not going to get pedantic, but "why do these games share this style?" is not the same question as "Does anyone see a similarity between the protagonist in all of these separate games?"

But don't you think that my statement
DRW wrote:
Most other games have their own style. "Pro Wrestling" and "Urban Champion" don't look like "Kung Fu" at all. And "Gumshoe" and "Gyromite" are totally different anyway.
is a clear giveaway?

If this was about the pixelated box style or about the relationship between box style and in-game sprites, wasn't it strange to you that I said that "Pro Wrestling", "Urban Champion", "Gumshoe" and "Gyromite" do not share that style? They use the same pixelated artwork as all black boxart games. So, how can there be a misunderstanding when I say that "Tennis", "Soccer" and "Kung Fu" share a style that these other four games don't?

koitsu wrote:
When you have 8x8 to work with, and a limited palette, there comes a point where everything is going to "look similar".

That's the ironic thing: I don't see much similarity with the other games. For example, "Balloon Fight" and "Ice Climber" don't have that style in my opinion, even though they still use generic-looking characters. But they use more cutesy-looking characters with stubby legs and large noses. And the wrestling guys, the "Gyromite" professor, the "Gumshoe" guy and Popeye are totally different characters anyway.

If all of these games looked alike, I would understand. But what is strange is the fact that there are 30 black boxart games, and from these 30 games only four have that style. And from these four, three are part of the same series, so it makes sense. But one of them is completely different and based on a pre-existing arcade game, yet they chose this style, even though they gave the "Pro Wrestling" characters their own style.

Maybe there are more games in this style that I have forgotten now. Maybe it's a style that originated in certain arcade games. If anybody knows another game with that style, let me know.

koitsu wrote:
It's pretty obvious, however, that many of the first-generation NES/Famicom games reused graphics or made very small/minor alterations to them when used in a different game. Not just the fonts either.

That's also an interesting thing: It's not a clear reuse. The tennis player, the soccer player and Thomas from "Kung Fu" are not a copy & paste job. Their size and body stance is different enough so that each of them probably had to be done from scratch anyway. So, there's not much reusing here from a technical side (like the fireballs in "Nuts 'n' Milk" being the same as in "Mario Bros.".

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2016 4:49 am 
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DRW wrote:
Especially "Kung Fu" bugs me: It has a large sprite (16 x 40) and it is based on an arcade game. But for some reason, they chose the style of the sports titles character.

The arcade game is in turn based on a film called Wheels on Meals. They might have redrawn the graphics for two reasons: A. fewer colors on the NES, and B. not wanting to have to license Jackie Chan's personality rights. So instead they had Tall Sports Game Character stand in.

DRW wrote:
For example, "Balloon Fight" and "Ice Climber" don't have that style in my opinion, even though they still use generic-looking characters. But they use more cutesy-looking characters with stubby legs and large noses.

Like Donkey Kong and unlike these sports games, Balloon Fight and Ice Climber have a black background and a smaller pixel count. Villager (Balloon Fight)* is 13 pixels tall without the balloons, shorter than even small Mario. Popo (Ice Climber) is 20 pixels tall, and some of the stubbiness comes from the bulk of his parka: he'd be only 18 pixels tall without its hood. And with the black background, they can use color 0 for eyes and shadows and the like, leaving have room for two non-dark clothing colors. The Soccer characters are a bit taller (23 pixels) and thus have more room for long bones, plus they need one dark color to set them apart from the background.

As for why the old games are stubby in the first place: I think Nintendo wanted to make all limbs at least 2 pixels wide in order to distance its product from the 1-pixel-wide limbs seen in pre-Crash games such as SwordQuest series (Atari 2600) and NFL Football (Intellivision).


* Revealed as such in Super Smash Bros. For.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2016 2:03 pm 
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DRW wrote:
But don't you think that my statement
DRW wrote:
Most other games have their own style. "Pro Wrestling" and "Urban Champion" don't look like "Kung Fu" at all. And "Gumshoe" and "Gyromite" are totally different anyway.
is a clear giveaway?

As already stated: no, it wasn't to me. If it was, why would I have listed off all the games which had pixellated/mosaic'd box art, and denoted which were "sports" titles? My point was to demonstrate to you that your initial post was phrased in such a way that my response was warranted -- and apparently I misunderstood your point/focus. That's perfectly OK, now I understand what you're focused on. I was trying to convey to you this premise: "your initial post wasn't very clear, specifically what it was you were focused on. Thank you for explaining it better!"

DRW wrote:
If this was about the pixelated box style or about the relationship between box style and in-game sprites, wasn't it strange to you that I said that "Pro Wrestling", "Urban Champion", "Gumshoe" and "Gyromite" do not share that style? They use the same pixelated artwork as all black boxart games. So, how can there be a misunderstanding when I say that "Tennis", "Soccer" and "Kung Fu" share a style that these other four games don't?

There was nothing strange about it to me. To me, all of those games, sans Pro Wrestling (I already covered this), certainly have box art that strongly resembles in-game sprites. As for the 2nd part of your question: again with the term "style". Let's recap once more: "Why do these games share this style?" is not the same question as "Does anyone see a similarity between the protagonist in all of these separate games?"

I'm still waiting to find out if you asked Nintendo, and if so, what they said, and if not, why not. Nobody is definitively going to know definitively other than them -- and let's not forget those involved in making/releasing titles 30 years ago might not be around for much longer. All the rest of us can do is speculate.

DRW wrote:
That's the ironic thing: I don't see much similarity with the other games. For example, "Balloon Fight" and "Ice Climber" don't have that style in my opinion, even though they still use generic-looking characters. But they use more cutesy-looking characters with stubby legs and large noses. And the wrestling guys, the "Gyromite" professor, the "Gumshoe" guy and Popeye are totally different characters anyway.

And therein lies the beauty of art: everyone sees something different.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2016 2:26 pm 
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What stands out the most for me in this style is the complete lack of shading or outlines, not the shapes or proportions of the characters, so I consider many of the early NES games to belong in this group. Even SMB, for example.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2016 3:01 pm 
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koitsu wrote:
There was nothing strange about it to me. To me, all of those games, sans Pro Wrestling (I already covered this), certainly have box art that strongly resembles in-game sprites.

That's exactly what I mean: I was talking about the idea that "Tennis" and "Soccer" have a style that "Gyromite" and "Urban Champion" don't have.
Therefore, it is absolutely impossible that I was simply talking about the pixelated style of the cover artwork. Because "Gyromite" and "Urban Champion" do have that style.
It makes absolutely zero sense to exclude "Gyromite" and "Urban Champion" while including "Tennis" and "Soccer" if you're simply talking about the pixelated cover artwork.
So, when I say that "Soccer", "Tennis" and "Kung Fu" share a style that "Gyromite" and "Urban Champion" don't share, how can this ever be considered to be simply about the pixelated artstyle when all mentioned games have the pixelated art style?

tokumaru wrote:
What stands out the most for me in this style is the complete lack of shading or outlines, not the shapes or proportions of the characters, so I consider many of the early NES games to belong in this group. Even SMB, for example.

Well, yeah, this is a separate property of these old games.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2016 3:58 pm 
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koitsu wrote:
I'm still waiting to find out if you asked Nintendo, and if so, what they said, and if not, why not.

Are you serious? Why should I ask Nintendo? Do you really believe some bored intern who writes those generic "Thank you for your request. We always appreciate interest in Nintendo bla bla bla" would actually give me a meaningful answer?

I mean, even the game designers have forgotten half of the stuff that they invented themselves:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhBJq9pc4qo&t=1m20s

In this video they talk about an old abandoned concept from "Super Mario Bros.": Mario flying in a cloud.
Their punchline: "You can now do that in "Super Mario Maker"." As if that was some novelty.

They literally forgot that this concept was used in "Super Mario World" from 1991, a mere six years after the original game. But no. "You can now do that in "Super Mario Maker"."
(Yeah, in the same way you can "now" choose between different fighters in "Street Fighter V", instead of having only one player character like in "Street Fighter I".)

And judging from the cloud's physics, it's clear that the developers of the game based the cloud feature on the one from "Super Mario World" and didn't come to the idea of implementing that feature independently from "Super Mario World" after digging up some old "Super Mario Bros." design documents.

So, the most important people of the company don't even remember objective features from their most famous games. And you seriously ask me if I have written Nintendo (which in this case would mean: some random employee who has never seen a line of code or drawn a pixel of artwork) about some minor stylistic detail from some basic NES titles? Really?

koitsu wrote:
All the rest of us can do is speculate.

Well, I asked the question because maybe someone does have any further information. Or maybe someone knows, for example, about arcade games, from Nintendo or another developer, that use the same art style, proving that this specific sprite style was more common than I think.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2016 4:21 pm 
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I actually do think that the three games mentioned do have some common stylistic choices in their sprites, and that it was interesting for DRW to point out. There's a lot of ways to make a human head in a 3-colour sprite. Figuring out why it happened might be an impossible question (DRW has a lot of impossible questions for us), but it's not at all impossible to talk about what's similar between the three.

1 pixel eyes, 1 pixel nose, 2 colour clothing with the non-dominant colour doubling as hair, body proportions that aren't too distorted compared to a normal human body. There's a lot in common here that's by no means required by the format.

Probably a better way to illustrate how they are similar would be to also show images of the other games you are comparing to that are different?


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2016 4:40 pm 
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rainwarrior wrote:
Probably a better way to illustrate how they are similar would be to also show images of the other games you are comparing to that are different?

Sure, I can do that:

Above: Same style.
Below: Completely different styles.


Attachments:
Comparison.png
Comparison.png [ 2.66 KiB | Viewed 1283 times ]

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2016 5:11 pm 
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Yes, I am absolutely serious about asking Nintendo. I'm going to be very stern/brash for a moment and propose something:

If possible (if not, that's OK!), please turn off or tone down your austism level (please don't make me cite references for this, there are several from you) and hear me out. I'm going to outline this bullet-wise. Please don't respond to each/every bullet, just read my words in full and let them stir around in your brain for about an hour.

* Where's the harm in asking Nintendo? If you get a crappy template response, you can at least say "oh well, I tried", document/save their response, and consider other avenues (keep reading).
* If there was ever a time to ask them, now would be it, especially with the company focused partially on "retro" stuff (i.e. marketing aware that hipsters love retro things). Asking now is better than 10 years ago, where they had less of a focus on NES/Famicom things.
* The people responsible for said box art and character designs are only getting older/won't live forever. Nintendo Co. Ltd. is much more likely to have answers than Nintendo of America.
* There are several other approaches and I'm happy to help you in your endeavour! I have 4 or 5 people on Twitter who I'm friends with that might actually know, or at least know who to ask -- two of which are VERY art-focused.

Okay, that covered:

rainwarrior's post, as usual, sums things up pretty good. Your question is interesting to ponder, definitely, but it is of little interest to me. End of the day, I couldn't care less, and default to Occam's razor as an explanation when there's nothing definitive. But that's me, not you, and I respect you wanting to find the answer (especially because I LOVE hearing about 80s Famicom/NES development from actual developers and those involved -- Diggin' in the Carts LITERALLY made me cry because they tracked down actual game music composers and interviewed them. God bless Nick Dwyer... and I feel so honoured a blog post of mine prompted him to track me down and talk to me personally!)

But arguably, I could point to this shot from Kung Fu and argue that Sylvia looks very similar to the players in Tennis and Soccer -- just remove the pony tail and shift the eye over a pixel. The style even looks similar to Tepples' leg-less people fetish. I see these similarities and I think "that's nice" and my brain stops pondering it. But that's me. So like I said: art is in the eye of the beholder, and much of early game sprite/graphics were copied across multiple games with minor alterations (how much evidence do you need? Really!).

P.S. -- Check out what the Europeans got for box art on Pro Wrestling. I'm jealous.

P.P.S. -- Random thing I've realised: it's becoming harder and harder to find nearest-neighbour screenshots of NES games, or at least ones which aren't either a) using Eagle or some other god awful "edge smoothing enhancer", b) awful quality shots from an RF-based capture card, or c) using JPEG with high compression. Sometimes I wonder if I'm the only one who prefers resizing that results in a "blocky" look. For NES/Famicom, SNES/SFC, and Genesis/MD, I cannot stand "filtered" results.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2016 5:56 pm 
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There is no harm in asking Nintendo, but it's a matter of being realistic: When you write me and ask me stuff about my upcoming game, I could give you a detailed answer. But when I write Nintendo, first of all, I wouldn't get Miyamoto or any of the other important people to answer my mail personally. I mean, that's just utopian. So, I would be stuck with some generic employee. And how shall this person ever answer me in a meaningful way, especially regarding such an obscure topic?

You might have a chance that you can get people to bring this up when they interview Miyamoto or any other Nintendo designer himself. But in a simple mail: No chance.

The thing is: I'm not 10 years anymore. I don't write a letter to Nintendo with the illusion that the creator of Mario reads my text and tells me some anecdotes.

But I'm old enough to know how the world works. And big corporations giving long and interesting answers to individual e-mails if those e-mails contain such a very specific and obscure topic: Nobody in such a company has the time researching this stuff.

Yes, there's no harm in writing Nintendo. There is no harm either to look for 100 dollar bills on the ground when walking to the bus. But you won't see me constantly looking down when I walk along the street. Because the chance for both situations is very, very small.

This has nothing to do with autism. This has to do with the fact that I'm long past the age where I write a letter to some big singer's fan club and expect the singer himself to read and answer my letter.

I don't need to try to write them and archive their unhelpful reply later. I can dismiss the chance right away, simply because I know how companies work. If Nintendo actually answered trivia questions in the way you propose here, don't you think people would have already found out by now and bombarded them with questions, opening websites that list all that recent trivia knowledge?

Also, the situation is still different from tracking down individual artists, programmers or musicians of old games via their personal e-mail addresses or Twitter accounts. If you can name me an individual designer of the NES version of "Kung Fu" and I found his e-mail address, I would surely write him.

koitsu wrote:
But arguably, I could point to this shot from Kung Fu and argue that Sylvia looks very similar to the players in Tennis and Soccer -- just remove the pony tail and shift the eye over a pixel.

Erm, yes, of course she looks similar. Because that's a character from the very game that I compared to "Tennis" in the first place. What's your point?

koitsu wrote:
The style even looks similar to Tepples' leg-less people fetish.

Well, yeah, that's true. But I ignore homebrews here because we're all fans and our style might be inspired by the big games from the past. So a private homebrew developer using a similar style as an official Nintendo game is not really that remarkable. I mean, just have a look at the sprite in my avatar:
Attachment:
Avatar.png
Avatar.png [ 1.55 KiB | Viewed 1267 times ]

Notice something?

koitsu wrote:
and much of early game sprite/graphics were copied across multiple games with minor alterations (how much evidence do you need? Really!).

That's exactly where I disagree. You don't see a bunch of Nintendo games where the character looks like Mario. And the style from "Pro Wrestling" is only used in "Pro Wrestling" and nowhere else.
If it actually was the case that many sprite styles are shared over many games, then I wouldn't ask this question. But I asked the question because from 30 black boxart games, only four of them shared a common style.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2016 7:41 pm 
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I've tried to help, even offering to contact several people further in the know (other historians, some of which have direct connections to original Famicom developers at the time), as well as offering recommendations of things the OP could do to find an answer to his question. These have been ignored or argued against as, I think (unsure), "impractical". The window of opportunities offered are now closed given the attitude presented; I am no longer left with the belief that the actual answer to the question posed is actually what matters, but rather a strange enjoyment that comes from what appears to be bickering. Good luck in your endeavour. I look forward to one day reading the definitive answer to this mystery!


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2016 8:17 pm 
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I don't necessarily endorse DRW's tone. I'd be interested in what your contacts have to say about what led to the graphical style of these early NES games.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 27, 2016 1:07 am 
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Writing messages to developers from the '80s hoping for a personal response isn't a total pipe dream:

Image

However, it may indeed be more difficult to get a meaningful response from a large corporation that is still active.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 27, 2016 3:05 am 
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koitsu wrote:
The window of opportunities offered are now closed given the attitude presented

Calm down, you drama queen.
I don't understand you: On the one hand you say that the topic is not impotant enough for you. On the other hand, you act all whiny because I don't want to do some serious research.

Guess what: The topic isn't that important to me either. I thought it might be a neat little observation that we can have a small chat about.
Who knows, it would have been possible that someone shows me games for other systems (e.g. the arcade) where this style was common.
Or maybe someone who knows about art could have analyzed that the style in "Kung Fu" is different after all.
It was just a small thought that I threw in for some light conversation. I didn't plan to make this a huge project where I ask you to ask other people to track down Famicom developers to ask them that question.
Can you tell me the e-mail address of a Famicom developer? No? Then there's really no need to make such a fuss about it.

For the record: It's not me blowing this topic out of proportion by suggesting stuff like contacting multi-million dollar companies or to get a whole network of people to move just to clear up some random throwaway question that I probably won't think about anymore in a week anyway.

mikejmoffitt wrote:
Writing messages to developers from the '80s hoping for a personal response isn't a total pipe dream:
[...]
However, it may indeed be more difficult to get a meaningful response from a large corporation that is still active.

This confirms what I said myself:
DRW wrote:
But when I write Nintendo, first of all, I wouldn't get Miyamoto or any of the other important people to answer my mail personally. I mean, that's just utopian. So, I would be stuck with some generic employee. And how shall this person ever answer me in a meaningful way, especially regarding such an obscure topic?
[...]
Also, the situation is still different from tracking down individual artists, programmers or musicians of old games via their personal e-mail addresses or Twitter accounts.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 27, 2016 8:09 am 
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DRW wrote:
Calm down, you drama queen.

You know who you're talking to, right?

DRW wrote:
It was just a small thought that I threw in for some light conversation.

A word of advice: no one here cares about light conversation. By how you keep insulting people for not fully understanding you, you'd think this conversation were life and death.


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