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Old 09-02-2009   #1
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Default What's Your Style: Abstraction or Realism?

Once again, I'm commiting plagarism by ripping another idea from the GHZ forums. Somebody suggested a poll to gauge people's preference for the art styles of Sonic games. Although each game has its own unique visual signatures, all arguably fall under two broad catagories: The wildly abstract (Sonic 1, 2, CD, Chaotix, Heroes) and those with more realistic environments (Sonic 3+K, SA1, SA2, Sonic '06).

So, which of these sweeping generalizations do you prefer? What exactly is your style?
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Old 09-02-2009   #2
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I like the styles in the older games, they seem to catch my interest a lot more then the environments in the newer games.
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Old 09-02-2009   #3
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Oh, definitely abstract. Especially S1 Special Stage abstract. That's just trippy.
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Old 09-02-2009   #4
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How about a mix of the two instead? Colorful, vibrant worlds of trippy color with fantastic environmental detail should come off easily as something quite awesome.

Now as for character design.... What argument is there? Cartoony abstract designs are best. Still, you have to make it believable that that one character is the animal it is said to be. So far, they've done a good job with this despite Rouge looking quite ridiculous. I mean, really. Bat wings are the arms now, get it through your head, Uekawa.
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Old 09-02-2009   #5
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As far as character design goes, a more surreal bent definitely takes the cake. Fo' example, I think the disproportionate humans of Sonic Unleashed mesh so much better with Sonic and co. rather than the realistic (but considerably stiff) humans of SA2, Shadow and Sonic '06. And then there's the gapping difference between the colorful, animal-like badniks found throughout the series and Eggman's totally sterile-looking army in Sonic '06... Strangely enough, I never had such a problem with the similarly-designed GUN robots of SA2.

NOW, as far as level graphics are concerned, I can find merits for both styles... In some people's views, the role of videogames (as well as animation) is to exploit the medium and give the player an experience that's impossible in real life. That includes spiriting the player away to improbable locales, which are in no short supply in the Sonic series. Some of the most memorable levels are those which are far removed from reality... Green Hill, Spring Yard, Collision Chaos (and the rest of Sonic CD, more or less), the S3+K Special Stages, Hang Castle and Egg Fleet. All of these places are skillfully designed, completely ridiculous and wonderfully abstract.

While it's always fun to imagine Sonic glazing through some make-believe landscape, there's also something undeniably cool about the prospect of him traversing locales close to our own. Imagine, Sonic running down the side of a skyscraper, Shadow grinding the cables of a Golden Gate'esque bridge, Gamma shooting up parasols at the beach... What makes moments like this so tantilizing is that it feels so real that it's almost believable. It's our own familar world, sure. But with Sonic and co's exaggerated abilities, we can maneuver through it in ways we never thought possible.

If pressed for a choice, I'd say I prefer the realistic style. It's fun to gaze at the artistic frills of Sonic's more abstract titles. But it's always in the more realistic settings (specifically those of SA and SA2) that I find myself thinking "My God. Sonic is so friggin' cool."

GREG THE CAT makes an interesting point when he says that a mix of the two categories would be nice. I think Sonic 2 managed to get closest to that ideal. It has totally believable locales (ruins, a casino, a mountain system, an oil refinery, ect) but the graphics themselves are bright, colorful and geometric, akin to the more abstract Sonic 1 and Sonic CD.
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Last edited by Wombatwarlord777; 09-02-2009 at 10:59 PM.
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Old 09-03-2009   #6
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I'd like to see less realism in games. It just isn't that interesting. I play games for the fantasy aspect, I want to escape reality and immerse myself in another world. With the technology available today that allows developers to more easily simulate the look of real life, I'd even go so far as to say that focusing on realistic graphics represents a lack of artistic merit.
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Old 09-03-2009   #7

Realism in current generation games, and as you get farther back, abstraction.
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Old 09-04-2009   #8
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I like abstract things. It gives things their own charm. Being fit to specific guidelines just seems boring.
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Old 09-04-2009   #9
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Realism should serve so that the player can more easily understand the game. Abstraction should be used so that the player can appreciate it.

To elaborate, most of the classics we know use realism such as physics, gravity, objects based on real life so as to relate to some of the rules of real life (get stabbed by a sword to be hurt, running off a cliff will make you fall); this makes it easier for the player to learn now to play the game. Abstraction is used to separate certain aspects from real life, such as character art styles, level and character concepts, and special abilities. It's the combination of the two that makes a game both playable and a work of art.

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Old 09-04-2009   #11
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Greg and wombat make an excellent point, but I have always thought that making abstract or impossible stuff in games is a much more appealing concept.
I don't care how good Crysis looks, I don't want a cheap imitation of reality when I have it right here.
I'd like to see the full power of current gen consoles doing something incredibly out of this world, something yet to be seen, not something I can see here. How far you can emulate the real world (although we're far from perfection) has a limit, when you perfect it. Not so much with abstract stuff.
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Old 09-05-2009   #12
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Probably Abstract, They give off a fantasy-ish feel and do more of what Video Games were meant to be, An escape from Reality.
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