Is pixel art too over saturated?

Though I love pixel art its getting kinda old and im not sure if I should pursue something else with my game or keep with pixel art since its so easy


Good art is good and bad art is bad regardless of the style.


[Bad is bad, good is good](https://youtu.be/q4EwZGeVtXQ?t=15)


Thumb Wars‽ Childhood memories unlocked lol. Fr tho, don't consider saturation. Just make it something that you'd want to play in spite of a Steam library backlog staring at you


Nice interrobang usage.


Agreed. But I'll add that humanity is often more interested in whats "in vogue" as opposed to whats "good". Even more so when it comes to art where even the concept of good and bad are blurry. Pixel art will always be a high percentage of indie games as long is it remains the easiest and cheapest form of graphics to make. So i expect that the market is and will remain heavily bent towards pixel art but whether or not thats a problem is a personal thing.


I'm not sure you can get much older then pixel art, it's been around in video games for over 40 years. However, most of the time that I see pixel art nowadays it is done poorly. There are some very easy novice mistakes to make specific to pixel art: 1. Mixed size pixels, this is by far the most common where someone will have an asset with pixels of one size, and then another asset with pixels of another size. This to me is very obviously low quality and comes from using pixel art in engines that support much higher resolutions. 2. Rotated Pixels, this happens often when there are swinging or aiming mechanics in a game. The dev often just takes the pixel sprite and applies an arbitrary rotation to it in the higher resolution engine. Pixel art is not easy to do well, but it is easy to do poorly. It has the lowest barrier to entry for any asset style, but that does not mean it also has a low skill ceiling. There are plenty of amazing looking games out there made with pixel art, however there are also plenty of amazing games out there made without pixel art. There are also terrible games out there made without pixel art. Whatever you decide, don't use pixel art just "because it is easy". But if you need to use pixel art because it is easy, use it "because it lets me focus my time on other things". That way if something else comes along that you like the look of better it is easier to reprioritize.


While it's true that mixed size pixels and rotated pixels are an easy way to make your game look cheap (especially when paired with an unattractive UI or just programmer-art), it isn't always the case. Stardew Valley and Terraria both look good despite not being pixel perfect because in general they have a cohesive visual design with consistency to when and where these kinds of things show up in the game's art. Abandoning pixel perfection comes with some user experience benefits as well. The pixels in these games will often be displayed so large that being unable to move characters less than 1 in-game pixel will feel pretty bad to play. The main thing I would urge developers to do is to simply be constantly aware of the pixel sizes of the sprites in their game. Bad results typically come from developers who just don't pay attention to this aspect of their art at all.


Definitely agree with this. There's certainly a level of charm to true pixel-perfection, but I've seen some really spectacular examples of mixed texture size, and the important bit is just making sure that everything feels cohesive (for example, maybe characters and environment have the same size / alignment, but effects or fog, etc, have more pixel density).


Yup. Celeste is the epitome of this. The art is pretty basic. But with proper stylization and color theory. it managed to make simple art look good.


> There are plenty of amazing looking games out there made with pixel art, however there are also plenty of amazing games out there made without pixel art. I would also emphasize that there are plenty of amazing games with poorly done pixel art. Vampire Survivors broke every rule in the book for pixel art best practice but that didn’t stop it from being a runaway success.


I believe the VS art all came from the Unity asset store, hence the sort of hodge-podge look that everything has. Definitely was a game that succeeded in spite of its looks because it's just so much fun I think, although there is a certain charm to the derpy appearance.


>It has the lowest barrier to entry for any asset style, but that does not mean it also has a low skill ceiling. I adore the way you put that. Been figuring out exactly the same thing.


>Mixed size pixels There are some historical exceptions like sprite scaling in arcades, and SNES's Mode 7.


Those 2 issues drive me insane, though the latter can be done well, and the former can only be done well while things are animating like tboi. If I can add 2 more- 3. Not snapping things to the grid properly. If you want subpixel precision in your game that's fine, but when something stops moving make sure it's aligned to the pixel grid please. 4. Even easier to solve and extremely easy to notice- scale your pixel art properly! When different pixels of the same texture are different sizes it drives me mad! Just use a shader! Or render using nearest neighbour to a virtual screen slightly bigger than your monitor (which is also an integer multiple of your default resolution) then use linear filtering to draw it to your monitor. This last one is actually the most frustrating issue. It's so easy to solve, it's so noticeable when it isn't, and no-one on the internet talks about it. And for whatever reason it's really fucking hard to find any resources on it that aren't uneducated idiots pretending like integer scaling/camera resizing are the only solutions.


Recently playing Monster Sanctuary recently, I think it' pixel and its done pretty well. Not sure if its 100% pixel though.


Pixel art is easy, *good* pixel art is not. That being said, IMHO there are genres/themes that work better with pixel art than 3D, and viceversa.


And genres where both compliment one another


Pixel art has an incredibly large skill range. You can put out garbage and have it still be visually understood. Or you can put hundreds of hours into a landscape that can stand against fine art oil paintings. One game that comes to mind that I don't hear praised often is Children of Morta. It's a roguelike done entirely in a pixel style published in 2019, and it represents an incredibly mature iteration of pixel art. The attack animations pop, they're clean, and they have a great sense of movement. The backgrounds make great use of subtle coloring; they're unobtrusive, yet highly ornamented. Great pixel art is still effective, it's just easier to put out bad art.


I'm not much of a pixel artist, although practiced a lot, and can do decent looking statics, but doing good-looking animations is incredibly hard. Missing one pixel/subpixel is enough to make it look off. Good pixel art movement is hard because you need to apply the same principles of traditional animation but with big squares where changing color is half of the movement. ​ Try different things. Search for what you like to do or think looks unique. Almost everything is overused anyway.


You should go for whatever style you feel more confident with. Regardless what style you pick someone will not like it, so best not to overthink it and just use something you feel can look good and won't bog you down in trying to develop a new better style. However I also have to add that first you should focus on making a good game and not rely on art being the only selling point, and I would worry more about the combination of genre and art style than just the art style. By that I mean if people see yet another pixel art platformer it needs to offer something to stand out of the crowd and market it around that. That's my take on it at least.


Deppends on how good pixel art is. Take something like Owlboy or Blasphemous and they will always keep great classic look. So pixel art and 2d tend to be less contemporary vs 3d. So tho i think 3d is more efficiant there is advantage to use pixel art


I think many successful games have demonstrated that the type of art used for game assets is less relevant than having good gameplay. However, whatever style you choose it should be consistent and your game should have a unique selling point. (A new original idea, an existing gameplay mechanic with a twist, etc...) I think it's easier to have a consistent style in pixel art and not look amateurish that's why it's often chosen. If you go the hand drawn way it's very easy to fall into a flash era looking esthetic which might signal your game as cheap at first glance. In conclusion, I think you shouldn't worry about whenever pixel art is saturated or not.


Yes. And it does not matter. All normalish art styles are getting over saturated and the ones that don't are either pain in the ass to make or look way too weird. (I am an idiot that was just looking at the steam's new games page for few minutes to make a conclusion that might suck a lot. Open steam and make your own)


Yes, it is oversaturated. Same way as electro music is oversaturated, same as painting is oversaturated and same as fictional novels is oversaturated. Yet people still buy them.


Same way indie games are oversaturated.


Nope, but bad pixel art is. If you can keep size, detail and everything similar it would be awesome. Risk of rain returns is an example


I think Pixel art is evergreen in games. Games with good pixel art still get solid response on Twitter (check #pixelart hashtag) and Reddit (r/pixelArt). They are quite easy to promote there. There are indie publishers who are constantly looking for games with good pixel art (ChuckleFish or TinyBuild for example). So it's still viable nowadays.


I believe yes. 90% of r/gameassets is pixel art (and another 10% is 3D). While only a minor share of successful games use pixel art, even if only indies are considered.


In short, yes. Stylish pixel art, no.


Nah… realistic is the over saturated one


your art style being saturated is only a bad thing if your game's art style is its hook. if people are supposed to play the game because of its gameplay & its art style is just there to facilitate that then it doesn't matter in the slightest


I do think the style is overdone, mostly because the **2D pixel-art action-platformer with puzzles** is the hello world of indie games. When I hear someone is making yet another one, I could not be less interested. It's fine to do as a first game, a learner project, but it's unrealistic to believe anyone else will want to play it, let alone pay for it.


Yes, unless something looks as good as dead cells but even then the game was made in 3D to look 2D. Now just regular old pixel art then yeah it’s a tough sell, you will have to do something unique especially if you make it a 2D platformer.


I just don't like pixel art, and I'm unlikely to play any pixel art game just because I feel that vibe is not for me. If you accept there's people like me and you still want to make pixel art, fair, then go for it. But I just prefer other methods of graphic scope-downs such as silhouettes, cards, text-based, something abstract, or a cool creative solution I haven't thought of. Dig the double pleonasm in ***too over saturated*** btw


Isn't it interesting that you get downvoted for politely expressing a personal preference? This is what Ste Pickford ([https://zxart.ee/eng/authors/s/ste-pickford](https://zxart.ee/eng/authors/s/ste-pickford)) wrote in the foreword to the book *Sinclair ZX Spectrum: a visual compendium* (2015): >I don't like pixel art. > >I don't like the modern trend for indie games, pop videos and adverts aimed at 30-somethings to be drawn in a fake, chunky, fat-pixel art-style that's all spindly legs, deliberately wonky outlines and millions of shades of pastel colour. It's a weird nostalgia for a graphic style that never existed.


I wasn't one of the people who downvoted them, but it's possible that people interpreted /u/Teupfleup's comment as not understanding pixel art. That remark from Ste Pickford is a perfect example of the all too common way people misunderstand/misrepresent pixel art. Pixel art is about hand picking every color and hand placing every pixel, most pixel art isn't that garish pseudo-Atari retro style he is describing. Most pixel artists would agree with the second portion of what he said, but if he is claiming that is the state of pixel art then he is sorely mistaken.


I have done a fair bit of pixel-pushing in my day (A few years back, I dug out old amiga sprites of mine older than some of my colleagues), but that was before modern computers made the whole practice obsolete. It's still fun to do, and I'm impressed with what skilled pixel artists can accomplish but the fact is that it's an artificially imposed limitation and unless your pixels display 1:1 (ie no magnification), it's a contrived style. At that time "jaggies" (obviously pixelated edges) were considered ugly, and something that should be avoided or disguised as much as possible, and I have a hard time letting go of that view, so magnifying graphics in order to deliberately produce jaggies puzzles me. Why would you want visible pixels when we finally have the resolution to hide their existence completely? Pixel art isn't a selling point for me, rather the opposite. Are there any games with "real", ie 1:1 scaled hand drawn pixel art? The only place I've seen it used is on a tangentially-related website, and it actually looked quite good.


>the fact is that it's an artificially imposed limitation and unless your pixels display 1:1 (ie no magnification), it's a contrived style. And plenty of people like it. >Are there any games with "real", ie 1:1 scaled hand drawn pixel art? Very few. Maybe some fighting games would be what comes closest. The reason being is that it would probably be the most laborious and least efficient way to make game art possible, pixel art's convenience and low barrier to entry scales extremely poorly with sprite size and total number of assets needed, and at some point you're not even gaining any of the stylistic benefits of pixel art so why even bother?


There are so many styles mixed into the concept of "pixel art", is there an established vocabulary for them? I mentioned jaggies (the main thing I have against it) but there are other features which should be possible to replicate without the jaggies. Compare the owlboy screenshot r/TexturelessIdea linked to, to [Obliterator](https://openretro.org/image/ff978e01d33406bb57eec257dfc4b8e827bbea33) which has a different style. When I zoom out to 50% so I can't see the individual pixels, both are immediately recognisable as having the hand-drawn pixel art look. The pixel art style goes beyond the pixels.


Most pixel art game I see today are like that. But my game Tower Swap uses only 1:1 hand drawn pixel art with no rotation or scaling. Except exactly 90 degree rotation, and exactly 2x scaling for previews in menus. The game is on a 320px-380px wide grid (always a number that divides evenly into the phone’s physical pixels) and cannot use sub pixels. This is a physical limitation actually because its a JavaScript game and it runs in a html canvas with only that many points. If I made it use all your phone’s pixels it would lag on some devices. The game is a success and profitable.


It's fine to not like pixel art, I'm not trying to convince you to, but I just wanted to make it clear that the quote from Ste Pickford horribly misrepresents the artform. If you look at the [top selling pixel art games on Steam](https://store.steampowered.com/tags/en/Pixel%20Graphics?flavor=contenthub_topsellers) that quote describes precisely 0 of them. Games such as Terraria and Binding of Issac predate that quote, and Stardew Valley, Owlboy, and Secrets of Grindea had widely publicized screenshots available. My only complaint was with the misrepresentation. I didn't mention it explicitly in my first post, but another problem I had with the quote is that it lumps pixel art together with retro aesthetics. The problem he is alluding to is people shooting for a retro aesthetic but creating art that couldn't have even been run by the systems they are trying to mimic, but he also threw in jabs at just plain bad pixel art. We are currently seeing retro art in the style of the original PlayStation starting to become more popular, and some of those games have similar problems with anachronisms. The problem is a lack of clear artistic vision, and often times skill, not the art form itself. If you think [this](https://cdn.cloudflare.steamstatic.com/steam/apps/115800/ss_65ddfa576ec0d5ba823cb8ab88383b829fc35c89.1920x1080.jpg?t=1659086154) looks ugly, that's a personal preference, but the quote you shared tries to make it seem like only the worst artists in the world make pixel art.


Owlboy is beautiful, personally I think it'd look even better without the pixelation. Just because we're not used to seeing [handpainted art that's not pixelated](https://imgur.com/gallery/dqLdT), that doesn't mean it's not possible. Admittedly, Owlboy's D-Pad studio probably didn't have Ghibli's art budget, and even if they did, it wouldn't increase their earnings, so the decision to go pixel-art seems the right one, at least from a business standpoint.


The pixelation is intentional; it's not some limitation they can't overcome, and it's not a budget issue. Games like Hollow Knight or Cuphead use more traditional 2D animation. The difference is that with pixel art you choose the resolution before hand and work at that resolution knowing that the art you make is pixel for pixel exactly what will appear on screen. With something like Hollow Knight's art, you draw it at a higher resolution and down-sample it to a few common resolutions that people can select from in-game, and the game uses anti-aliasing to reduce pixelation. Good pixel art usually starts as traditional animation that is drawn over, and you do your best to manually choose the best color at every pixel to represent as much of the detail as possible with what few pixels you have. Pixel art as good as Owlboy's takes more skill and effort than traditional animation not less. All it takes for pixel art to not look pixelated is for the artist to stop on the second to last stage and let an algorithm do the down-sampling then turn on anti-aliasing in the engine. It's like how painters might do an underdrawing before they paint the final image. You are free to prefer the underdrawing, but saying that they made a painting because they don't have the skill and/or time to do line-art is just factually wrong.


I have no doubts about Owlboy's artists' skills, but budget/effort is about more than just the number of steps in the process. I'd agree that Owlboy's backgrounds are detailed enough to be comparable to non-pixel art paintings in terms of fidelity. You can put a lot of details into pixel art as well (well, if the pixels are small enough). But other artistic and technical decisions matter too - much of Owlboy's background is repetitive - they're often closer to textured shapes than actual paintings, something like what you'd see in a Ghibli movie. It's not a problem, a game can get away with much more than a movie, but it helps. Although I'd argue Cuphead is much better in this regard. Maybe this is a point where the pixel art decision actually works against them, in terms of cost-benefit. If they really have to work the way you describe, Cuphead's artists could actually work faster than Owlboy's. This may be why they had to make the background graphics at least somewhat formulaic and repetitive. Then there's animation decisions - Owlboy's animation is good for a pixel-art game, but its characters and parts of backgrounds use are animated at a low framerate, with much simpler animation and smaller sprites, at least compared to really great animation like Cuphead's. But it fits the style and it helps the budget too, win-win.


Drawn art is easy as well, and has been around even longer. 3D models can be easy as well. That is if you're okay with stick figures, generic shapes, or going for an amateur look.




Pixel art should only ever be used where it fits the style & theme or where no other option is viable when releasing or prototyping an otherwise great product.


I think it's increasingly being taken over by Vector art as the "easy" option for people learning to make art as they make their first games, so maybe now is the tame to jump on that bandwaggon :D


Everything is over saturated.


Just not true! Some genres/tags the odds are very much on your side. There are very different levels of saturation across the tags of Steam.


Good point. What genres and tags would you say are among the less saturated?


I think [this](https://games-stats.com/steam/tags/?sort=revenue-median) is a great tool for assessing that.


My opinion (and it is just my opinion) is that yes, there is too much pixel art. I'm to the point where if I see a game is pixel art, I swipe/scroll right past it as low effort. It might be the best game ever made, and the pixel art might actually be high quality and well-coordinated, but I don't really care. I'm just tired of looking at it.


It’s the lack of variation that’s the problem.


Try out 2d 3d Like arcane, puss and boots (the new one, clone wars)


If you want to get a job in game dev, learn both pixel and 3D.


Use Midjourney for art inspiration bro


im waiting for a good concept of 3d pixel art game


i was actually planning on making one lol




yes but different like old school and something that dont look like rpg maker in 3d, like FPS version of diablo and all stuff is pixel art textures on 3d models


I personally tend to prefer more unique art styles, but you can also do lots of different things with pixel art. Blasphemous looks very different from Stardew Valley, for example


I like it, but yeah, it’s a bit oversaturated nowadays. It’s perfectly acceptable for a quick and fun game you want to make, but it’s really tough to stand out and be commercially viable.


Just adjust the colour if you think it's too saturated.


No i mean like, saturated as in over used


It was a joke.


Vampire survivors worked. I'm sure pixel art is still fine.


Pixel art is a blanket style that actually has infinite styles inside it. Just take a look at games like Axiom Verge and Octopath Traveller and notice how they're completely different artistically even though they're both pixel art. If you're tired then it's best to not make your game in a style you're not feeling is gonna work for you, but that has nothing to do with the style itself being over saturated. It's just got that are tired of it.


It depends on your game. There's other styles besides pixel art.


No, if there's a style that's overused is 3D 3rd person, the amount of pixel art games out there dwarfs when compared with the staggering amount of 3rd person 3D games.


If you think pixel art is easy then I guarantee your pixel art is not very good...


These days it feels like that everything in video games is over saturated. Just look at how many games are put out each week. Ain’t nobody got time for that.


If you're asking this question then I can probably assume you're not confident your art will stand out. If that's the case you can try to break the mold. You could apply the art style to genres where it's rarely seen. You could perhaps draw a different art style and perhaps give your game a hand drawn/painted look. Or you could simply outskill the competition with the most epic art ever. No pressure. Of course the most important thing to ask is what would the pixel art style bring to your game. If there's another art style that complements your game better then you don't have to limit yourself to said art style. Video games are a multifaceted interactive media of entertainment. As such it's often a team effort. Keep the scope in check. If you get a sudden burst of inspiration, take notes and save it for a bigger and more ambitious future project. It's easy to get caught up in the perfectionist grind where nothing is ever good enough. Whatever you choose to do, let this be a learning experience. If you're starting out then it's better to count every sale individually.


Nothing is worse than a bloated, triple AAA title that's 3D and you have to compensate as the player model can't quite interact correctly with the environment. 2D at least lets you stay within what's playable and not a gaseous mess like 3D counterparts. I *hate* games like Skyrim, L4D, or Red Dead because they stand for realism yet miss the mark completely. "Our games are so buggy but they're charming. Aren't they great?" A game shouldn't take 80+ mods just to become playable. God save Rockstar's soul for locking that shit in.


Because people don't know and/or their engine does not support it.


probably just do whatever you find you have a talent for, if you're the one doing the art.