Thursday, June 23, 2016

Similarly, though old fogeys like me have constantly been clamoring that pixel art and sprite-based artwork is =amazing= and that 3D games look like crap, that isn't actually due to the technology either.  It took me a long time to realize this actually -- and it wasn't until the second time that I read this article that I understood exactly what my stance on 2D vs 3D is or should be:

The 3rd strike vs SF4 example with Chun Li just perfectly illustrates why 3D can infuriate me so much, and once I actually sat down and PLAYED with SF4 and SF5 I was actually able to fully understand and "feel" why I love these sprite-based pixel artworks so much.  It's not that 3D sucks, or even that 3D games do weird things and give you motion sickness (though that is true).

It's just that the actual animation is worse.

The move animations in SF4 feel all "wrong" and again, it wasn't until I actually sat down and played these games side by side that I realized that it wasn't the 2D vs 3D thing that made it feel wrong.  It was just that the animations in 3rd strike have this sort of =crispness=, this "snap", this almost tactile "feel".

I noticed it most with Makoto's crouching medium kick:

When you use this move in 3rd strike there's a "snap" to it.  Where you can see Makoto crouching down, prepping her foot, then when it hits the opponent the animation freezes in place a little and your sprites jiggle a little bit, and that combined with the impact noise makes you FEEL the force of her kick and how it was blocked.  Also take a look at how she leans back into the kick because of her center of gravity, and the way that her headband flicks because of the movement.

Now look at the same move in SF4:

Here, instead of having a foot that shoots out and forcefully impacts the other guy, it almost looks like Makoto just sort of...lifts her leg up and assumes this weird pose.  Watching it over and over again, it really does look like she just lifts her leg up.  And that makes no sense!  I don't know what it is about the animation -- maybe the timing, or the way that her leg bends, or =something=, but all I know is that in 3rd strike I see a forceful kick, and in SF4 I see this weird leg lift thing.

And that's why 3rd strike looks and feels so awesome.  Because the animation is just GOOD.  It's well-animated, it's crisp, it's consistent, the foreground and background is clearly delineated, and the ranges of all of the attacks make sense.

I'm sure the same good design could have been done with a 3D engine -- I have no idea how, but I think it could have.  But it sure as heck wasn't.  Yet when the masses see SF4 they get really hyped because it's in 3D and it looks "new", "fancy", "hi-def", and all that jazz.  They don't get bothered by the fact that what was previously a great-looking kick has turned to a wimpy leg lift.

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