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polygon fetishism
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glossolalia



Joined: 04 Mar 2008

PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 9:08 am    Post subject: polygon fetishism    Reply with quote

we covered this a bit in the "ugly but pretty thread," and it was briefly but HOTLY DEBATED in the bottom of page one of the ff4 thread, but i'd like to discuss it a little more. is it time for the low-poly look of the 32- and 64-bit generations to take its place with 8- and 16-bit sprites as a legitimate game art style in its own right? are there artists out there making intentionally austere 3d models, ala pixel art? what are some games that use those big jutting sharp triangles to their advantage? games with abstract-by-concept aesthetics like darwinia/rez/cubivore don't really count, or at least they're not what i'm looking for, which is the attempt to represent reality or preconceived art with hopelessly limited/inadequate resources in a effectively abstracted way, as the best pixel art does. no more heroes, sin and punishment, and star fox 2 have been mentioned:

sin and punishment



no more heroes


star fox 2



the ds ff remakes have a certain charm, in places, though i doubt chibi is what anyone involved in the original had in mind:





any others? comments or pictures welcome.
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unhappy days



Joined: 05 Dec 2006

PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 9:42 am        Reply with quote

space station silicon valley!



It's probably not the best example, but I think the visuals definitely have a minimalistic quality going on there. I love that game!

edit: really love that game
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Brooks



Joined: 08 Apr 2007
Location: places

PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 9:58 am        Reply with quote

The LBAs do for me, still:



Edit: Linkage for more character shots.


Last edited by Brooks on Sun Aug 03, 2008 10:11 am; edited 1 time in total
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bloody heartland



Joined: 15 Feb 2008
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 10:04 am        Reply with quote

I was a Saturn Owner, this was my war:


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Nikolas Payne



Joined: 27 Apr 2008

PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 10:36 am        Reply with quote

That's how Rival Schools looks in motion?

As someone who's never played it, wow.
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Schwere Viper



Joined: 14 Feb 2007
Location: Western Australia

PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 1:42 pm        Reply with quote

Mr. Brooks wrote:
The LBAs do for me, still:

*video*

(img)

Edit: Linkage for more character shots.


I've always been interested in trying those games, and that's the first time I've seen it in motion. I don't find it ugly, just...really, really bizarre. Twinsen's Odyssey looked like this too, didn't it?
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dark steve
secretary of good times


Joined: 04 Dec 2006
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 1:49 pm        Reply with quote

bloody heartland wrote:
I was a Saturn Owner, this was my war:

I remember how this animates :D
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sam



Joined: 28 May 2007
Location: osaka

PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 3:13 pm        Reply with quote

the first game i can remember seeing and thinking it turned the low-poly aesthetic into an advantage rather than limitation was interstate 76.





i don't know if early 3D could ever be elevated to the level that spritework is, though, simply because 99% of the time it doesn't look anywhere near as deliberate. blurry textures and jagged lines are almost always objectively ugly, whereas sprites have never really had that glass ceiling to break through - the limitations are more rigidly defined, so the art is easier to appreciate in its own right.

but sure, now people are pushing for 'photorealism' an awful lot of the time games like no more heroes certainly deserve appreciating. i like that they jettisoned all semblance of detail or quality out the window in favour of a really really awesome shadow system.
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chevluh



Joined: 05 Dec 2006
Location: Switzerland

PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 3:44 pm    Post subject: Re: polygon fetishism    Reply with quote

glossolalia wrote:
are there artists out there making intentionally austere 3d models, ala pixel art?


The answer to that is...



of course.

http://tomtallian.com/pages/tf2.html

There's a whole thread dedicated to this on Polycount:
http://boards.polycount.net/showthread.php?t=41232
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Maztorre



Joined: 04 Dec 2006
Location: Ireland

PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 3:47 pm        Reply with quote



Vagrant Story uses low polygon counts incredibly well, where every character has a wonderful, chiselled silhouette, which is given further emphasis by the (far ahead of its time) rim lighting around the characters. The technique was used again for much the same purpose in Team Fortress 2, which also has extremely strong visual appeal with relatively low-polygon characters and environments.

What is really effective about all these 3D titles from the early days right up until now is creating characters and objects with easy-to-read silhouettes and profiles. Part of why everyone could visually read StarFox despite the extremely limited palette was because every enemy was built out of shapes that anyone could process and interpret as dragons, hopping frogs, butterflies. Panzer Dragoon completely embraces this idea by populating its world with incredibly alien-looking creatures, yet the player can still visually interpret the abilities and purpose of the games bestiary of bio-organic vehicles and battleships easily. It uses extremely stark, often asymmetrical silhouettes, which stand out against the background, coupled with colouring that heavily contrasts the world (whites and light greys most often, with deep reds and oranges for enemy shots or missiles).

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Focus



Joined: 04 Dec 2006

PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 3:49 pm        Reply with quote



I appreciate what Twisted Metal 2 did. I'm not sure about the technical workings behind it, but the fact there was an "okay looking" architecture that could be blown up into "chunks" was impressive for the time. Just something being sawed apart in certain locations, throw a few bad explosions on top of it and chuck the pieces across the screen. I can see how a developer would use the same technique to make something look "vintage" or "retro" or something like that.

Edit: They are probably not polygons, though. Rough 32-bit spritework?
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Takashi



Joined: 04 Dec 2006

PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 4:18 pm        Reply with quote

sam wrote:
blurry textures and jagged lines are almost always objectively ugly
mid 70's, early 80's 2D was surely not "pretty" either by those standards. It took 20 years to have machine hardware that would let people display more or less what they wanted. So they went and did Mortal Kombat.
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dark steve
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 4:28 pm        Reply with quote

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Bo 0



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PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 4:44 pm        Reply with quote

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sam



Joined: 28 May 2007
Location: osaka

PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 4:50 pm        Reply with quote

Takashi wrote:
sam wrote:
blurry textures and jagged lines are almost always objectively ugly


mid 70's, early 80's 2D was surely not "pretty" either by those standards. It took 20 years to have machine hardware that would let people display more or less what they wanted. So they went and did Mortal Kombat.


well yeah, that's pretty much my point. early polygon art has clearly evolved into what we have today because of the hardware, you can draw a line taking in the introduction of texture filtering and resolution and polygon counts etc.

i don't know if you can really say that about, say, the leap from 8-bit to 16-bit graphics, though - a good-looking NES game is working on completely different levels to a good-looking SNES game. i think it's easier to view those games in context than it ever will be for early 3D stuff.
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manmachine plays jazz
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 5:00 pm        Reply with quote

early 3D is at its most glorious when things are going horribly wrong, and the level starts collapsing into itself.

second life is pretty beautiful in all the wrong ways like that.(nsfw) also, the star fox nightmare hacks, if anyone can track them down.
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glossolalia



Joined: 04 Mar 2008

PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 5:04 pm        Reply with quote

Maztorre wrote:
What is really effective about all these 3D titles from the early days right up until now is creating characters and objects with easy-to-read silhouettes and profiles. Part of why everyone could visually read StarFox despite the extremely limited palette was because every enemy was built out of shapes that anyone could process and interpret as dragons, hopping frogs, butterflies. Panzer Dragoon completely embraces this idea by populating its world with incredibly alien-looking creatures, yet the player can still visually interpret the abilities and purpose of the games bestiary of bio-organic vehicles and battleships easily. It uses extremely stark, often asymmetrical silhouettes, which stand out against the background, coupled with colouring that heavily contrasts the world (whites and light greys most often, with deep reds and oranges for enemy shots or missiles).

yes, this is the kind of thing i wanted to hear. good character design is often constructed by combining basic shapes, so there's no reason this shouldn't carry over to the 3d realm quite naturally.

good low-poly terrain is a bit more difficult, though. it seems to me the era between the ultrasparse star fox/interstate style and modern hi-res texture bump-mapped clarity hasn't much to recommend in it.

what are the games in vision's post? especially the middle one.
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Brooks



Joined: 08 Apr 2007
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 5:21 pm        Reply with quote

City of Lost Children PC/PSX game in the middle there.
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spinach
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Joined: 04 Mar 2008
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 5:43 pm        Reply with quote

silent hill - the fog, the demons, the simple streets and buildings - that game turned every PSX limitation into an advantage
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Takashi



Joined: 04 Dec 2006

PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 5:48 pm        Reply with quote

glossolalia wrote:
good low-poly terrain is a bit more difficult, though. it seems to me the era between the ultrasparse star fox/interstate style and modern hi-res texture bump-mapped clarity hasn't much to recommend in it.
Wing War? That's what horrifies me. We had nice, long distance rendering and then we dived head on into thick, black fogland where we couldn't see 10 meters ahead.
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dark steve
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 6:15 pm        Reply with quote

pixelantes better step fucking back
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dementia



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PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 6:23 pm        Reply with quote

vision wrote:


how was that city of lost children game anyway?
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glossolalia



Joined: 04 Mar 2008

PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 6:32 pm        Reply with quote

Takashi wrote:
glossolalia wrote:
good low-poly terrain is a bit more difficult, though. it seems to me the era between the ultrasparse star fox/interstate style and modern hi-res texture bump-mapped clarity hasn't much to recommend in it.
Wing War? That's what horrifies me. We had nice, long distance rendering and then we dived head on into thick, black fogland where we couldn't see 10 meters ahead.

oh man thanks for linking this thread. i wasn't aware there were new fragile screenshots out, it looks lovely!

i collected the best of that polycount thread:

definitely one of the most-bang-for-your-triangle models i found. the complex texture is cheating a bit, but i love the palette.


nice n boxy. you could probably have a few dozen of these zipping around on a ds.


once again, not sure how this would go over without the high-res texture, but as is it's pretty intriguing.



adorable.


a perfect translation, the cartoonish exaggeration intact.


also adorable.


considering the texture on this is only 128x128, and the polygon count is in the 300s, it's pretty nice. sort of looks like the ssbb mario model ds style.

since i'm on a cave story kick:




brilliant use of low-res texture to simulate thatching. looks sega-ish, somehow.
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Last edited by glossolalia on Sun Aug 03, 2008 8:00 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Tulpa



Joined: 31 Jul 2008

PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 7:11 pm        Reply with quote

Guys, Darwinia had excellent landscapes.



also Sacrifice had excellent character design, it still looks good.
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tacotaskforce



Joined: 04 Dec 2006
Location: Logical, Practical

PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 8:13 pm        Reply with quote

dementia wrote:
how was that city of lost children game anyway?


About as bad as adventure game logic has gotten.
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chevluh



Joined: 05 Dec 2006
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 8:55 pm        Reply with quote

Tulpa wrote:
also Sacrifice had excellent character design, it still looks good.

I saw two problems with Sacrifice. First their LOD scheme meant every character looked like a sandbag most of the time, and they recycled meshes quite a bit, which meant the different gods tended to have near-identical-looking units only colored differently.

Which is a pity because Sacrifice was awesome. Never managed to beat the last mission with anything but an all-James wizard though.
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wasted potential



Joined: 19 Jul 2007

PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 9:22 pm        Reply with quote

One has to wonder how Virtua Fighter 3 would have fared had it stayed on the Saturn:






Actually, I don't have to wonder, I know it probably would have stole Tekken 3's thunder, critically at least.

It's hard to believe that 3D is coming from the Saturn.
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Tulpa



Joined: 31 Jul 2008

PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 9:37 pm        Reply with quote

chevluh, up close a lot of the units looked stunning though.

I never got very far in the game because I often lost interest in the gameplay.
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Toptube
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Joined: 23 Apr 2007

PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 9:57 pm        Reply with quote







There's dev video that does a fly through of some of the areas and shows of various character models, but I can't find it. Anyways, the texture work here is really good, combined with strong imaginative design = a slick looking game.
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Takashi



Joined: 04 Dec 2006

PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 10:27 pm        Reply with quote

wasted potential wrote:
It's hard to believe that 3D is coming from the Saturn.
It isn't. That's the Model 3 game without the normals that make it look smooth, apparently from a Model 3 emulator?
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Toptube
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 10:27 pm        Reply with quote









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Dark Age Iron Savior
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 10:30 pm        Reply with quote

Toptube, I don't think that's quite what this topic is looking for.
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bloody heartland



Joined: 15 Feb 2008
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 10:39 pm        Reply with quote

That's a pretty good IC thread, aside from Brandon being overly dismissive. Huh.

I used to think of early 3D as satan, but this thread is bringing me around. Most of the stuff that works seems to embrace the concept of papercraft models: texture design is really important here, be solid shading like Virtua Fighter (still glorious) to Wipeout's slightly fancier pants.
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Toptube
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 10:40 pm        Reply with quote

there are a couple of Wii and PS2 games in here, as well as the IC thread that is linked.

Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver did some pretty awesome stuff on the PS1. Its not strikingly beautiful, but has large streaming environments and when you shift to the spectral plane, the world physically changes on the fly. This guy doesn't capture it REALLY well, but you can get a feel for what's going on.


Last edited by Toptube on Sun Aug 03, 2008 10:57 pm; edited 1 time in total
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glossolalia



Joined: 04 Mar 2008

PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 10:42 pm        Reply with quote

yeah toptune, those are pretty and all but there's none of the sense of economy/technological restraint we're interested in. there are tons of fancy lighting/atmospheric effects for one thing, and in bg&e even the parts of the models that are meant to be angular have been smoothed off. EDIT: no more heroes pulls off a couple of fancy effects, but it's still got much more primitive character and terrain models than either of those games.

i think quote makes a much better 3d model than a sprite, now that i take a closer look at it.
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Last edited by glossolalia on Sun Aug 03, 2008 10:45 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Tulpa



Joined: 31 Jul 2008

PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 10:43 pm        Reply with quote

Toptube, the problem with Beyond Good and Evil is that the main character is probably the least interesting design in the entire game. Not only is she generic by normal video game standards, but she's really bland compared to the rest of the game.
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bloody heartland



Joined: 15 Feb 2008
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 10:48 pm        Reply with quote

Takashi wrote:
wasted potential wrote:
It's hard to believe that 3D is coming from the Saturn.
It isn't. That's the Model 3 game without the normals that make it look smooth, apparently from a Model 3 emulator?


There was a WIP version on the Saturn - not stock, I think it needed some kind of upgrade.

That could be prototype footage?

I think the main enemy of early 3D is CLIPPING. Nights into Dreams was ruined by the massive clip-in. I've seen sprite flicker do the same to some 2D games (R-Type on the Master System is maybe the worst) but early 3D games seem to suffer a lot, lot more.
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bloody heartland



Joined: 15 Feb 2008
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 10:49 pm        Reply with quote

glossolalia wrote:
yeah toptune, those are pretty and all but there's none of the sense of economy/technological restraint we're interested in. there are tons of fancy lighting/atmospheric effects for one thing, and in bg&e even the parts of the models that are meant to be angular have been smoothed off. EDIT: no more heroes pulls off a couple of fancy effects, but it's still got much more primitive character and terrain models than either of those games.

i think quote makes a much better 3d model than a sprite, now that i take a closer look at it.


I disagree, I think there's a sparseness of economy and design that makes it as least as stylised as no more heroes. It stood out on release.
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glossolalia



Joined: 04 Mar 2008

PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 11:01 pm        Reply with quote

bloody heartland wrote:
I think the main enemy of early 3D is CLIPPING. Nights into Dreams was ruined by the massive clip-in. I've seen sprite flicker do the same to some 2D games (R-Type on the Master System is maybe the worst) but early 3D games seem to suffer a lot, lot more.

one thing pixel art has that low-poly graphics never will is that twee precision sam kind of talked about, how everything fits and has an absolute size and position in a tiny grid of tinier squares. there's something inherently... gross about triangles bumbling through infinite space in comparison. perhaps, as pixel art is usually bigger, more colorful, and more stable now than it was in NES days, we'll someday see angular 3d graphics minus all the clipping, pop-in, and camera nightmares that plagued those early days.
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Family Computer



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PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 11:02 pm        Reply with quote

Tobal must be discussed in this thread.
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Toptube
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 11:02 pm        Reply with quote

Anachronox









Lots of clashing lines and patterns to make everything standout and give depth. Thats the Quake II engine modified for more colors.


Last edited by Toptube on Sun Aug 03, 2008 11:12 pm; edited 1 time in total
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