How profitable is spriting currently?

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How profitable is spriting currently?

Postby Amuscaria » Thu May 17, 2018 5:20 pm

Out of curiosity, how much of a demand is there for spriting in retro-style games these days? A colleague suggested I open a Patreon to help support my art hobby, but I'm unsure how much of a profit motive there is with games almost entirely made in 3D these days, or if having a Patreon account obligates me to certain deliverables or not. Any info would help.
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Re: How profitable is spriting currently?

Postby leileilol » Thu May 17, 2018 5:43 pm

Ever seen the Switch indie game scene? :)
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Re: How profitable is spriting currently?

Postby insightguy » Thu May 17, 2018 5:47 pm

for making a new game with other people or being subcontracted to do work? There is always going to be a demand for retro, and judging by your time here, you won't have trouble convincing others to hire you (though please do be careful)
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Re: How profitable is spriting currently?

Postby Rachael » Thu May 17, 2018 5:47 pm

"Retro" games have suddenly surged in demand, so it is probably really profitable these days, but expect that to taper off in the long run. However, the skills behind spriting, like drawing and pixel manipulation, will always be in-demand, as artists are always needed for a multitude of technical graphical disciplines.
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Re: How profitable is spriting currently?

Postby Reactor » Thu May 17, 2018 6:47 pm

Welp, from what I see, sprites aren't in that great demand, as they're somewhat easy to make. However, there's a constant shortage of models. I'd say the reason is that you can make a sprite out of a model by hard ripping, but you can't make a model out of a sprite under no circumstances. So what I meant to say is, even if you have nothing else than MSPaint, it's extremely easy to make a sprite out of something you see in a game/on a webpage.
Animating a sprite is of course, a whole different kettle of fish. It can be excruciatingly difficult.
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Re: How profitable is spriting currently?

Postby NeuralStunner » Thu May 17, 2018 7:08 pm

Reactor wrote:So what I meant to say is, even if you have nothing else than MSPaint, it's extremely easy to make a sprite out of something you see in a game/on a webpage.
Well yes, most people could jsut convert an image into another image. But this is about as meaningful as "anyone can draw stick figures, but not everyone can paint the Sistine Chapel." :shrug:

Making art is "easy". Making good art is not. (To be fair, making good art isn't necessarily a requirement - Check out bargain-bin titles on Steam or look at the work of Rob Liefeld.)

To dd to what Rachael said: Even if the "retro bubble" bursts, there'll probably be other avenues in the industry... if you don't mind selling your soul to some freemium mobile game studio. :P
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Re: How profitable is spriting currently?

Postby leileilol » Thu May 17, 2018 7:16 pm

^It's only "easy" when your artist is named Goog L. Eimasearche which obviously can't do the same for models.

Hell even making 3d models is an easy thing to do for the "retro fps" games these days, if less-than-quake for quality in any Oshry-overhyped piles are any indication. As long as it looks vaguely "retro" as if 90s PC games had less-than-Wolfenstein texel density, it can be a living to do way less than my blender timelapse videos...
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Re: How profitable is spriting currently?

Postby insightguy » Thu May 17, 2018 7:35 pm

leileilol wrote:Goog L. Eimasearche

Who is this artist? I can't seem to find him

leileilol wrote:As long as it looks vaguely "retro" as if 90s PC games had less-than-Wolfenstein texel density, it can be a living to do way less than my blender timelapse videos...

More "zeitgeist retro" than "retro retro". I don't mind either, but you do seem to have some ire against "zeitgeist retro" which I can't fully understand. Please explain?

NeuralStunner wrote:To dd to what Rachael said: Even if the "retro bubble" bursts, there'll probably be other avenues in the industry... if you don't mind selling your soul to some freemium mobile game studio. :P


IMHO, the bubble can be prolonged if good quality products come out of it that are not necessarily the same.

to clarify: retro covers a lot of genres, shooters, platforming, etc, and certain retro styles tend to take weaker engines and make them beautiful giving smaller studios a fighting chance, so there is also the cost of making it to be a consideration as it is honestly cheaper to make good sprites than do high quality and well animated models (then again, the cheapest is buying it from an asset store... but we're talking about quality here)

It will eventually stop being a selling point but it will still be there
Last edited by insightguy on Thu May 17, 2018 7:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How profitable is spriting currently?

Postby Rachael » Thu May 17, 2018 7:38 pm

Store bought assets are not bad. What degrades their quality is how they are used. But keep in mind - even Triple-"A" companies use them - often their products are considered higher quality, however, when the studio develops their own assets.

Remember, whether you are indie or triple-"A", you have to evaluate cost vs gain. What do you really gain by hiring an artist - spending hundreds of dollars on their wages - when you can buy the same thing for $20 in an asset store?

This is why asset flips are a cottage industry. The assets used typically are really good assets, but when you see the same shit, over, and over, and over, and over, you're going to realize you've seen the same shit over and over and over again. The quality of the game is horrible - yes - and it's a very low-effort product from the peddler - but it is also an intelligent way for them to utilize their resources for maximum gain.
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Re: How profitable is spriting currently?

Postby leileilol » Thu May 17, 2018 7:40 pm

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds is the most successful asset flip of all time. Not much imagination required for grassy field hide and seek with guns. Sets a bad precedent for creative artists unfortunately...

insightguy wrote:More "zeitgeist retro" than "retro retro". I don't mind either, but you do seem to have some ire against "zeitgeist retro" which I can't fully understand. Please explain?

When you're a 30something and/or older and had gamed in the 80s-90s, you can smell the pretension from a mile away and that's a big potential alienator. Why do you think Ion Maiden has so much wide praise? They totally didn't bank out on just having an old style while they have genuine design talent backing it up. They don't have to constantly market themselves as "we're a 1996 game yes we're 1996 we're so 1996 kids this is what we did in 1996 we had the quake on the floppy's". A similar good example is Shovel Knight. There's a decent game in there and it doesn't have to go all "we're a lost NES game!!!" to make it big for the attention. The eregious "lost nes game!!! by jimmie fallen" Dark Void Zero on the other hand was........eughghg. there's your dusk/strafe parallel

What you call "Zeitgeist retro" I call "retrodorxplotation"
Last edited by leileilol on Thu May 17, 2018 8:30 pm, edited 9 times in total.
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Re: How profitable is spriting currently?

Postby Rachael » Thu May 17, 2018 7:41 pm

leileilol wrote:PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds is the most successful asset flip of all time. Not much imagination required for grassy field hide and seek with guns.

Exactly.
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Re: How profitable is spriting currently?

Postby Chris » Thu May 17, 2018 8:46 pm

insightguy wrote:More "zeitgeist retro" than "retro retro". I don't mind either, but you do seem to have some ire against "zeitgeist retro" which I can't fully understand. Please explain?

I can't speak for leileilol, but I get annoyed at many "retro indie" titles since it's often an excuse for low-quality low-effort products. When I think of a retro game, I don't think "poor quality by today's standards", I think "impressive work for what they had at the time". Games that pushed hardware or gameplay beyond what people expected. The original Star Fox, Donkey Kong Country, Perfect Dark... all retro by any standard, but the amount of effort put into them to work as they did shows through in the end product. There's a reason people keep wanting another Star Fox game despite the recent games being poorly received, or why DKC's soundtrack is some of the best work in the industry (with some impressive visuals to boot) despite the SNES's limited hardware.

And it's not as if it's only because of them being established studios. Indies can do it, as evidenced by Shovel Knight, Owl Boy, Dust: An Elysian Tale, Slain, the recent Wonder Boy remake, etc. Being retro does not preclude putting effort into the game, but often it's just people grabbing Unity, making/finding the smallest pixel sprites (or lowest poly models) possible, and slapping together platformer or shooter mechanics without knowing anything about what makes the genre fun to play, and then just calling it "retro" as if it makes up for its shortcomings.
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Re: How profitable is spriting currently?

Postby insightguy » Thu May 17, 2018 9:05 pm

leileilol wrote:What you call "Zeitgeist retro" I call "retrodorxplotation"

Oh OK, for a second I thought you did not any game that attempted to do retro, not market them selves at on the surface level. My mistake

honestly DUSK and STRAFE are not bad games IMHO, but you have a point about how they are not 100% retro in any way, Zeitgeist retro maybe but not "retro-retro"

Just to clear things up:
  • Zeitgeist retro: a modern game with style, setting, graphics, and some gameplay taken from retro games Ex: DUSK, Amid Evil
  • Retro Inspired (A.K.A. Retro-Retro): A take on retro concepts that work and place with modern day "sensibilities" (an attempt to take out bad things from the original) Ex.Shovel knight, ion maden
  • Retrosploitation: any of the above done poorly and without care, all surface level to cover for a bad game. Ex. too numerous to list

How off am I?

EDIT: Mixed some words up so I fixed them and added more for clarification
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Re: How profitable is spriting currently?

Postby Kinsie » Fri May 18, 2018 2:24 am

To ACTUALLY answer Amuscaria's questions:

1.) Pixel art patreons can do pretty well.
2.) Patreons let you charge either per-month or per-"release", so you can find a schedule that fits you and doesn't drive off potential money-throwers.
3.) There's a huge demand for well-done pixel art in indie games, so if you can get together some kickass original work you probably won't have much in the way of trouble finding freelance gigs. Of course, you'll need to network a bit, and that's where Twitter and various indie dev-related hashtags on it, local indie dev meets, game jam events etc... can really come in handy.
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Re: How profitable is spriting currently?

Postby Amuscaria » Fri May 18, 2018 3:08 am

Kinsie wrote:To ACTUALLY answer Amuscaria's questions:

1.) Pixel art patreons can do pretty well.
2.) Patreons let you charge either per-month or per-"release", so you can find a schedule that fits you and doesn't drive off potential money-throwers.
3.) There's a huge demand for well-done pixel art in indie games, so if you can get together some kickass original work you probably won't have much in the way of trouble finding freelance gigs. Of course, you'll need to network a bit, and that's where Twitter and various indie dev-related hashtags on it, local indie dev meets, game jam events etc... can really come in handy.


Neat! Thanks!
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