It's the same Conrad in the bright green jungle level that he is on the almost-full-black-and-neon death tower level. Selout? Nope.
True. But Flashback is an "artsy" game, where they were allowed to design things however they wanted right from scratch...which is like the holy grail of actual projects. Awesome if you get a chance to do it (which you do if you're working on your own stuff), but professionally, it's insanely rare. They were allowed to dress Conrad in colors that would work with the backgrounds and were allowed to get artistic with the shades and such used in the backgrounds. It's one of those situations where you don't need it, and so you definately shouldn't use it, but it's pretty rare to be fortunate enough to be in that situation it seems. Say Conrad belonged to CompanyX, and CompanyX said at the end of development "We've changed Conrad's design...now he wears a green jumpsuit (that happens to be a shade similar to your jungle, so you can't deviate and make it dark green or whatever)", it's like, agh, heh...that's when you're stuck busting out selout.
In fact, SNK sprites are so contrasty and saturated, they can work on the 12 or so backgrounds of their games without much problem) if you do so.
heh...as I was reading the first part, I was going to reply with this. That's the thing, is that SNK can get away with it because of their high contrast/saturation...which is great, for their style, but games shouldn't be limited to having to have neon vibrant colors and huge contrast in shades. Sometimes you want a low-saturation/low-contrast look for your art style (watercolor type effect to the game's graphics). Pumping up the saturation/contrast will ruin the effect you're going for. It's like black outlines...they're great in cases where the art style you want to go with is a cartoony type look, but if you're shooting for realistic stuff, the black outlines will ruin that and you need another solution.
This stuff sticks out to me because on my current project, I started out with a really fast art style that used black outlines and few colors, but could be done quickly...a few months down the road (this is after I've got some 150+ sprites done already in this style), I'm told by higher-ups that they've talked it over and the style is too cartoony, make it more realistic. I'm thinking "crap crap crap" and I had to revamp the style to use way more colors and different contrast/saturation and such. But at this point, a good chunk of backgrounds are already made and it's taking days out of development time to go back and recalibrate all the art, so we can't really do that. Ergo, I needed a solution, and selout fit the bill because it's pretty much guaranteed to work (even if it's not the ideal look I'd want if I were in charge of all the art decisions).
Again, I'm not saying selout is the way to do everything, but I'd say it can solve a good 90% of situations where the other 10% can be solved by big artistic design decisions, so I consider it an extremely useful tool to have in a person's arsenal (even if you just use it as a base for another technique (going lighter with the selout instead of darker), understanding the concept can help you choose that...like studying realistic anatomy before you draw Marvel characters). It's sort of like duct tape, heh...might not be pretty, but often, it gets the job done.
On an semirelated note (haven't had such a good debate about pixels in ages), Tsu, would you consider sticking around in this forum, and pixelation, when it comes back?
I'd sort of like to, in that I miss discussing this stuff...but in all honesty, I don't think you'll see me around much. I'm on a computer all day long at work doing pixel art, and I'm being paid so I can't be reading/responding to threads while I'm at work, and when I come home the absolute last thing I feel like doing is turning on my computer at home and doing the same thing I was doing all day, heh...I don't want to burnout or anything because now I'm being paid to do this stuff so I can't just take a break if I get tired of looking at pixels.
I'm mainly updating the tutorials again because I've learned a bunch of new stuff (or how to explain old stuff) and I want to share that info with other people. What they use it for, or whether they agree with it or not (if it starts a debate, that's awesome as far as I'm concerned, because in the end we all benefit from looking at pros and cons of a concept), or if it just gives people something to read while they're eating a bowl of cereal, I don't care, heh...I just want it to be out there floating around. Theoretically, other companies could read my tutorials and learn some stuff they didn't think of and out-pixel me, but I welcome the competition, 'cause at the end of the day I play games as well as make them, and I want to play sweet-looking games.
It's like the Nintendo DS...fancy little system. Basically a GBA, but the one thing it has that obliterates the GBA is alpha-blending. Finally, we can use multiple levels of translucency in a sprite. That means some SERIOUSLY awesome effects can be made...I'm talking you can go into Photoshop, airbrush a swipe, add sweet glows all over it, and kaboom, it comes out like that in-game. We figured out a nice way to do it with our current project, and I'm abusing the hell out of it. Unfortunately, we didn't figure it out until halfway through development, so it's not as huge a part of the game as I'd've wanted it to be if we were planning for it from the start...but I'm cramming what I can in there. I plan to do up a tutorial on special effects (fire, glows, lightning, water splashes, etc.) explaining my method and how you can abuse it on the DS, because it's great...but at the same time, I download the trailer for Castlevania DS (so we're talking Konami here) and even THEY aren't using this new ability as well as they could. Maybe it's 'cause it's first-gen, or maybe it's 'cause they have so much art that they just can't fit it, I don't know, but I do know that DS games can look bloody amazing.
Same time though, the DS screen poops on a lot of things that look beautiful on a PC screen, heh...not nearly as vibrant as, say, the PSP.
I've actually forgotten what I was originally talking about, heh. Basically what I'm doing right now, I've been typing for like 20 minutes...I don't have time to be doing this, so I probably won't be around much.
Just updating the tutorials was my only intention.
At least use temporary selout colors. After you get a look at the background artists tiles, collect the tiles that you think your sprite will be set against, then use a filter to average-blur the tiles to get a middle color
Again, ideal world situation, heh...temporary colors don't work when the publisher is hounding you for screenshots (I had to make a TRAILER for a game before we even had sprites loaded on-screen, heh) that can spend 2 months going down the line at their company for approval and come back saying "change it all". The game industry is jading me.
But, if you're on a platform where things aren't as bright, you depend more on having a character with more texture than the background, or the faithful use of black outlines, since GBA doesnt have a high enough screen res to make selout that important.
My personal rule is that if the system is a handheld that doesn't have an absolutely beautiful screen (PSP does, everything else is generally crappy in some way and doesn't look like a PC monitor at all), black outlines are the way to go. Combine that with less-saturated background colors (with no black outlines, only colored) and intense character sprite colors, and everything'll stand out nice and beautiful, and the black outlines will help keep your graphics separated...but out of 3 projects I've worked on so far, all 3 I've had to get rid of the black outlines in favor of color ones...which I think is crappy, but I don't get to make the rules, you know? If I could sit down the president of whatever publisher we're working for and say "hey look, here's why this is better...", I could probably get my way and make a sweet looking game...but this stuff gets decided by some random people in suits having a coffee break and BSing about the last golf game, heh...or so it seems at least.
Again, my opinions these days are all based around what I've run into in the industry so far. I'm not real happy with it (the industry as a whole), because I think people making important decisions are often people who shouldn't be going anywhere NEAR those decisions (but what industry ISN'T like that, right?)...but this is how it seems to go. One of the projects we were working on, our whole art team (including the lead) wanted to go with and totally envisioned a Flashback/Out of this World style to everything...it would have been beautiful artistically. But then we get word back from higher up the chain that they want it "to look like Diablo" (which is pre-rendered, on top of being ugly and nothing like what we were thinking to start with). We just didn't get to make the decision, even though we all believe that ultimately the game would have looked better in the end. This is crap no one told me before I got into the industry, and I thought any stories I heard about it were just exaggerated. Alas, heh.
How exactly do you pronounce Tsugumo?
Wing it. I do.
Anyway, like I say, great discussion going on (I think we're all sort of agreeing, but stressing different angles of it so we don't run into a bunch of "this is the only way to do things" static thinking), and I'd like to keep going with it, but I'm going to have to bail from this thread, aside from answering a few misc questions now and then. Just can't dedicate a ton of time to doing this, and I can't keep myself from rambling out these page-long posts, heh. Hell, I didn't even bust out sprite rips and screenshot close-ups and stuff for examples and this thing is already ridiculously long, heheh...
So adios for now, all, and again, it's great to see the community still kicking. I'll probably be lurking in the shadows wherever it moves to.