I was wondering recently why I like pixel art so much. Be it just a looping scene from an artist or a game like Qora or Hyper Light Drifter, pixel art seems to play my emotions like fiddle.

I thought it could be because that’s what I grew up with. My first games were pixely ones on my old DOS computer or the NES. Nostalgia is a hell of a drug and acts as a lens to distort the past even when we’re experiencing it in the present. If you show Duck Hunt with the old orange NES controller to a 30-something gamer and a 10-year-oldĀ  gamer, one of them is going to be way more excited.

While this might be the case, which would be sad because that means that the era of pixel art will be closing in a few decades, I think it might be because pixel art doesn’t focus on hyper-realism, as redundant as that may sound. Pixel art by definition will not represent the real world very well, so instead of showing facial micro-expressions to convey emotion, it needs to build a mood around the scene you’re seeing. Likewise, the labor involved means that every object, shadow, lighting change, and twitch of a cat’s tail was done intentionally to add to the piece.

Once the mood is set, the viewer tends to project more emotion onto it, filling in the blanks with bits of their own experiences that fit into the world they’re watching. The emotions become more personal since they’re slightly unique for every viewer. That means every time I play Hyper Light Drifter, I put myself into the game even more so than if I was able to craft a perfect likeness in Fallout 4 and watch myself killing Super Mutants and running away from Preston Garvey before he can give me another sidequest. Likewise, when the graphics are reduced to pixel art a game company can’t depend on them to draw as many people in, so they put more effort into the story. With these two elements combined, better story-telling and a more unique and emotional visual experience, the game sucks me right into it’s rabbit hole.

There’s exceptions to every rule. There’s pixely games that are just terrible, I even made one for school. But Qora is similar to Dear Ester in that they are both largely “walking simulators” with emotional stories, and yet I’ve played Qora a dozen more times even though Dear Ester is far more realistic. Contrawise, FarCry 5 seems like it had a great story right up until the mo-capped actors had played their part and I was dropped into the game to do the exact same thing I had in the last 4 games; break stuff, kill people, and gather up a resistance. Just a faceless force of nature being told what to do through a walky-talky and formulaically checking off boxes until the bad guy was taken out.

In the end I guess time will tell where pixel art stands in the digital age. It might always have a niche following and put out new art every few years for people like me to enjoy. Or it could be shut out by more conventional forms of art and better selling video games. Who knows. I’m not too sure where I was going with this, but maybe you feel the same way and now you know you’re not alone.

Advertisements

Brink

For many of those who live in chaos, the allure of riding the crests between hurricane and calm seas and the rapture of feeling in control of the storm, is enough to make them spurn the promise of peace.

Brink

Forces of Nature

Love is like the tide.
Like the gentle lapping of waves on the beach.
It’s tireless, eternal, patient, waiting for us to come to it.

Hate is like a hurricane.
Like the monstrous thundering wind and rain.
It’s powerful, consuming, loud, drawing all attention to itself.

But once the hurricane is gone, the tide still hasn’t stopped. It puts the beach back to the way it was and keeps on it’s track, day after day. All you have to do is go to it.

Forces of Nature

How Heavy Is The Dark

How heavy is the dark
That light will fall before an instant
Giving way to inky curtains
Unless the guard’s ever persistent

How heavy is the dark
That follows souls through cycled days
Wearing, grinding, gnashing, waiting
Draining their light day after day

How heavy is the dark
That brings despair and deathly trance
That takes it’s toll without a glance
That never gives a second chance

How heavy is the dark
That it can take the stout and brave
Exhaust them with it’s patient hunger
Weighing, waiting ’til they cave

How heavy is the dark
That drives the desperate to the light
A single point that lifts the night
A gun
A bullet
A flash
A life

How heavy is the dark

 

Note: I had this idea and threw this together. I reserve the right to come back to it and do it better because I don’t like it as it is now, but then I never do like what I write do I? Still, there’s room for improvement, so once I’m better, so will it be.

How Heavy Is The Dark

Getting started: anger and altruism.

I don’t know what to blog about. My life is pretty much just work and my son right now. I don’t have any hobbies or anything I’m particularly good at. But they say that the only way to get better at writing is to write, so here’s some writing.

I felt really down yesterday, and that extended into this morning even though it usually doesn’t. Sleep is restarting the computer when it’s running slow, or so it has been until now. This revelation led to a pretty crappy two days so far. And because of the way I think about things, I always wonder if other people are going through the same thing and just sucking it up better, or if I really have a problem. Only time and professional help can tell. Unfortunately everything costs money and I don’t have that, so I’ve been procrastinating looking for help. I should really do that this week. We’ll see.

I tend two have two operating modes which are angry and placid unless I am otherwise inebriated. The anger usually comes from small frustrations and it burns out of control. Fortunately it’s also exhausting and I can’t stay mad for more thanĀ  maybe a hour, usually less, before I will literally fall asleep. These experiences have made me come to think of anger like a drug. At the time, it feels great. Getting anger our fills you up with energy and makes your mind fully awake. Adrenaline does that I suppose. But then afterwards you feel foolish and promise yourself you’ll never get out of control like that again. Wash, rinse, repeat.

It’s a terrible cycle, and an addicting one which only lends itself further to the explanation that anger is a drug. So maybe, sometimes, if you have an anger problem, it really does warrant being treated like an addiction, especially if that’s what it takes for you to get help. Anger will tear apart a family, lose you your job, and destroy your health just as readily as a drug addiction. I’ve seen what anger can do to a family. It’s not something I’ve ever wanted to see repeated.

It also seems to me that I am selfish. Though I like to think of myself as selfless, as I’m sure most people do, I’m not. I do a lot of things selfishly, and so do you. So does everybody. They say there’s no altruism in nature and I wholeheartedly agree. Whenever I do something for someone else it makes me feel good. I do it because helping makes me feel good, and it is only a side effect that it helps someone else as well. I think that when we use the term “selfish”, it’s usually people who act just the same way, but the person they’re helping is themselves. Condemning that behavior is great for building a society where people can work together and achieve more than they could on their own. It’s part of how we got this far as humans already. Plus, I’m not saying we shouldn’t frown upon it. I just think we should take a closer look at ourselves so we can understand why we undertake selfless actions.

If what you’re doing doesn’t benefit you in any way, you don’t want to do it, you’ll feel crappy about losing whatever it is you’re going to lose for doing it, and the only possible reason for you to do it is that logically it will benefit a community or individual that means nothing to you, that could be pure selflessness, actual altruism. But let’s be real, when’s the last time that happened? If given the choice between one of two groups of people dying where one is your kid and the other is 5 random kids, picking your kid is selfish. You’re letting up to five other families experience that kind of loss instead of just yourself. At the same time, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who wouldn’t make that choice the selfish way, and I’m pretty sure we all understand why. But if you want to make someone uncomfortable, ask how many other kids there would have to be for them to let their own kid die. Narrow it down to an exact number that they feel their kid is worth more than. It’s a great idea for the next time politics comes up around the dinner table and you want to change the subject.

That’s all I’ve got for now. Until next time, cheers.

Getting started: anger and altruism.