What is the attraction of PS1-style visuals?

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Re: What is the attraction of PS1-style visuals?

Post by AmissaAnima »

Nash wrote: Wed Feb 01, 2023 1:52 pm Nobody said Cultic is a PS1 styled game. In fact, it was specifically stated "non-PS1 related case". The game was merely mentioned in the conversation, as an example.
Ah gotcha, I seem to have mistakenly jumped the gun as an desperate attempt to join the discussion.
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Re: What is the attraction of PS1-style visuals?

Post by Graf Zahl »

Nash wrote: Wed Feb 01, 2023 1:24 pm To be fair though, IMO, games like Cultic and Dusk are good games. The substance is definitely there. The visual polish though, whew. At least in Cultic you could turn off the crunchy filter.
The assets still look garishly awful, as if the protagonist has vision problems. That game definitely falls on the weird side - the visuals are neither retro nor modern, they are their entirely own thing. Sadly for me that 'thing' is not good.
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Re: What is the attraction of PS1-style visuals?

Post by KynikossDragonn »

As I've mentioned previously on other threads; Cruelty Squad literally... LITERALLY has a shader with filename of "psx" that it uses on some (but not all) of the actors in the game that causes the faces to wobble around and "snap" to imprecise coordinates.

I like the game for inexplicable reasons but I do find it incredibly silly we even need all these vertex and fragment shaders to even purposefully render things this way, damn what OpenGL and Vulkan want us to do.

There are a lot of games from the 90's era of MS-DOS that have very, very specifically geared palettes to produce a certain look. And in some games the palette completely changes based on the level you're playing which I like being used here because it results in a different camouflage pattern to be on the weapons and hulls of all the robots:


Still 256 colour graphics but with voxel terrain. MMX instructions are used to smooth the voxels to a insane degree, the entire game looks like playdoh as a result.

I personally think this game (Gunmetal) is a good example of getting away with 256 colours only, in 1998 no less:
ImageImageImage

Most of the "modern retro" stuff doesn't really come anything close to this kind of aesthetic. A lot of them just seem "try-hard fake" to me by comparison.
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Re: What is the attraction of PS1-style visuals?

Post by Graf Zahl »

KynikossDragonn wrote: Wed Feb 01, 2023 3:51 pm I personally think this game (Gunmetal) is a good example of getting away with 256 colours only, in 1998 no less:
ImageImageImage
There's an awful amount of dithering in these images, though. Neither Doom nor the Build engine games ever had this problem.
KynikossDragonn wrote: Wed Feb 01, 2023 3:51 pm Most of the "modern retro" stuff doesn't really come anything close to this kind of aesthetic. A lot of them just seem "try-hard fake" to me by comparison.
I think that term perfectly nails it.
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Re: What is the attraction of PS1-style visuals?

Post by KynikossDragonn »

Graf Zahl wrote: Wed Feb 01, 2023 4:09 pmThere's an awful amount of dithering in these images, though. Neither Doom nor the Build engine games ever had this problem.
The skyboxes tend to suffer dithering problems, but I'm willing to chalk that up to whatever image editor they were using at the time. Some of the skybox dithering isn't that horribly offputting. I think the dithering in some of the level textures helps with things not looking too "smooth".

The lookup-table translucency doesn't result in any dithering though. The translucency in Gunmetal is really well implemented whenever it shows up. Transparent explosions, muzzle flashes and even windows.
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Re: What is the attraction of PS1-style visuals?

Post by leileilol »

Of the 5th gen consoles, PSX's the easiest to mimic in shaders. Just screw your UVs up a bunch and apply a dither then clamp it to 15bpp - done. It's also the best selling console of it's generation and still had market presence in the 2000s, so there's been a lot of fond PSX exposure.

Saturn on the other hand has a lot of different limitations that are hard to fake - the quads-only texture mapping, the single-layer stippling, and the funky vertex color blend that goes on. and then there's the N64's GL 1.1-like with potato texture cache with 3 point filtering, dithered textures and many layers of filtering on top of that and I don't think i've seen much of that happening in retro throwbacks. (about all of this is omitted in any official emulated rerelease)


as for the retro effect grumbling topic, I hate how most 'paletted' attempts look like the browser web safe/MacOS 256 color palette gets applied and accepted at times (not too different from all the old 'a scanner darkly' posterization 'cel' pixel shader craze from 2004 on). I blame 'aesthetic' influencers on social media, shake cane yell cloud here etc. 256 color VGA had 6-bits of color precision, not 3 etc
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Re: What is the attraction of PS1-style visuals?

Post by Professor Hastig »

leileilol wrote: Thu Feb 02, 2023 1:40 am Of the 5th gen consoles, PSX's the easiest to mimic in shaders. Just screw your UVs up a bunch and apply a dither then clamp it to 15bpp - done. It's also the best selling console of it's generation and still had market presence in the 2000s, so there's been a lot of fond PSX exposure.
I do have fond memories of the PS1 - but that definitely excludes its technical deficiencies.
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Re: What is the attraction of PS1-style visuals?

Post by Scripten »

Graf Zahl wrote: Tue Jan 31, 2023 11:41 am If you ask me, this kind of nostalgia without actually understanding this era of game development and how people worked back then is somewhat misguided. Back in the day it was considered the greatest achievement not to fall victim to the technical limitations of the poor PS1 hardware or 8 bit palettes on non-accelerated graphics, developers desperately craved for better solutions and wanted to leave these behind as quickly as possible.
I'd argue that it's less misguided so much as a different type of nostalgia entirely. It's not a desire to recapture the things that transcended "average" at the time, but embracing the holistic experience of playing whatever was available; good, bad, and ugly. It might help to think about it more as an attempt to recapture the blurry, half-formed memories of the end user as opposed to trying to recreate the industry as it was from the POV of those embedded in it.
Graf Zahl wrote: Tue Jan 31, 2023 11:41 am A game that flat out embraces all the PS1's technical limitations to brazenly show them off would have been considered an oddity, while managing to get around them was considered a great achievement.
Sure, but the limitations of today don't naturally recreate those aesthetics. That means that, if your artistic goal is to evoke the feeling of an older generation of games, then you need to consciously design your assets/engine to match.

And I think a lot of the nostalgia our generation (and Gens X/Z for that matter) experiences is due to how transient our media was. Hell, at this point in time, games preservation is doing worse than the burgeoning film industry of the early 20th century: you can watch extremely old movies in effectively the same form as when they were released, but I would bet that well over half of the games created prior to 2010 are inaccessible to the layperson. Even emulation can only go so far, because so many visual tricks of the 16-bit era relied on quirks of CRTs, and for all that VMs and Wine can run many old Windows games, there are so many which simply don't function anymore. Companies come down hard on archival resources while simultaneously losing their own archives, or refusing to release or even port them. So people simply create and consume art that mimics those experiences that were lost instead.
Graf Zahl wrote: Tue Jan 31, 2023 11:41 am So this entire trend seems very weird to me - it simply does not fit into my view of the 90's and I am quite certain that the people behind it are at least one generation younger.
I think the difference is not necessarily that vast, or at least less about age than circumstance. I'm in my early thirties, but my family was fairly poor, which means that I was a kid during the 90's with an exposure to that console generation that was largely sporadic (PC gaming, with shareware and massive bargain bin disks, is another story). I didn't get to play the hottest, best games, and simply did not have the ability to select for "good" games of the time, so I played whatever was available. Granted, people straddling the Gen X/Millennial border have a different set of experiences than myself as firmly mid-millennial, but plenty of that also comes from class, region (rural east coast US for me), and such.
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Re: What is the attraction of PS1-style visuals?

Post by Graf Zahl »

Scripten wrote: Thu Feb 02, 2023 9:42 am I think the difference is not necessarily that vast, or at least less about age than circumstance. I'm in my early thirties, but my family was fairly poor, which means that I was a kid during the 90's with an exposure to that console generation that was largely sporadic (PC gaming, with shareware and massive bargain bin disks, is another story). I didn't get to play the hottest, best games, and simply did not have the ability to select for "good" games of the time, so I played whatever was available. Granted, people straddling the Gen X/Millennial border have a different set of experiences than myself as firmly mid-millennial, but plenty of that also comes from class, region (rural east coast US for me), and such.
Like I said, it's an entire generation later. I was a creator back then - for me those limitations mattered as what they were not a reminder of good old times but something the producer did not want the customer to see. I guess that as childhood memories these things have a completely different effect.

And yet, it still sells the PS1 (and the 90's) short. It was so much more than wobbly and chunky graphics which seems to be the primary focus here.
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Re: What is the attraction of PS1-style visuals?

Post by Scripten »

Graf Zahl wrote: Thu Feb 02, 2023 10:37 am
Scripten wrote: Thu Feb 02, 2023 9:42 am I think the difference is not necessarily that vast, or at least less about age than circumstance. I'm in my early thirties, but my family was fairly poor, which means that I was a kid during the 90's with an exposure to that console generation that was largely sporadic (PC gaming, with shareware and massive bargain bin disks, is another story). I didn't get to play the hottest, best games, and simply did not have the ability to select for "good" games of the time, so I played whatever was available. Granted, people straddling the Gen X/Millennial border have a different set of experiences than myself as firmly mid-millennial, but plenty of that also comes from class, region (rural east coast US for me), and such.
Like I said, it's an entire generation later. I was a creator back then - for me those limitations mattered as what they were not a reminder of good old times but something the producer did not want the customer to see. I guess that as childhood memories these things have a completely different effect.

And yet, it still sells the PS1 (and the 90's) short. It was so much more than wobbly and chunky graphics which seems to be the primary focus here.
All fair points. Honestly, I figured that most of the oldest folks on the forums are only about ten-fifteen years older than me on average, which feels more my generation than the last. You're right, though, there is definitely a different experience despite the smallish gap, similar to folks who are closer to their mid twenties and were barely toddlers by the end of the nineties. All this probably goes to show that "generational" shared experiences are fewer with the modern pace of culture.

I suppose we'll be seeing people trying to recreate whatever today's current aesthetic is in a few decades. I'm not particularly looking forward to the piss filter era of gaming getting its retro treatment in another few years. :lol:
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Re: What is the attraction of PS1-style visuals?

Post by Graf Zahl »

Scripten wrote: Thu Feb 02, 2023 10:49 am I suppose we'll be seeing people trying to recreate whatever today's current aesthetic is in a few decades. I'm not particularly looking forward to the piss filter era of gaming getting its retro treatment in another few years. :lol:

I doubt it. The 90's have one huge advantage: Technology was sufficiently advanced to handle more than 16 poorly fitting colors but not advanced enough for photorealism. Of all computing eras it is the one for which asset creation would be easiest. Move ahead another 10 years and the playing field has changed completely. Around the mid 2000's creating cheap games that look state-of-the-art became an impossibility. I don't think it is a coincidence that it is also the time when the industry went from a geek-driven culture to capitalism-driven abuse.

So, I fully understand why these years are what people want to recreate in their own ways and why a game like Doom will never die, but like it always is with such things, some people will fail to understand the essence of what makes this so appealing. If you want to have my outlook on the future: These projects that define themselves by trying to replicate the limited technology will eventually fizzle out - but I don't really expect this retro trend to die out, but I expect it to gain a bit more professionalism.
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Re: What is the attraction of PS1-style visuals?

Post by Kinsie »

What's the attraction of punk music, anyway? It's just dudes with busted instruments shouting in a poorly-lit basement that spells like spilt, stale beer! They totally lack the professionalism and sheen of, say, Nickleback.

---

Ugly, broken, ancient technology is a deliberate, intentional artistic choice to bend the more traditional low-poly retro look into dark places. Precision application of a lack of precision can help make environments offputting, disturbing or just grimy and grungy as fuck in ways that a "clean" render wouldn't be as effective at. Sometimes, the wrong way is the right way.
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Re: What is the attraction of PS1-style visuals?

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And yet, some punk bands eclipsed that cliché as their careers advanced.
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Re: What is the attraction of PS1-style visuals?

Post by Scripten »

Graf Zahl wrote: Thu Feb 02, 2023 11:04 am I doubt it. The 90's have one huge advantage: Technology was sufficiently advanced to handle more than 16 poorly fitting colors but not advanced enough for photorealism. Of all computing eras it is the one for which asset creation would be easiest. Move ahead another 10 years and the playing field has changed completely. Around the mid 2000's creating cheap games that look state-of-the-art became an impossibility. I don't think it is a coincidence that it is also the time when the industry went from a geek-driven culture to capitalism-driven abuse.
True with today's tooling solutions, but I would wager that AI is the cat let out of the bag. For all its issues (and boy are there many), it is a great equalizer in performing a significant chunk of labor. Creating NPCs, randomized or via a few sentences of description, with sufficiently detailed features will likely become routine even for a solo developer. I don't doubt that a lot of the personality and originality will be sucked from certain spheres alongside, but the possibility of high-fidelity asset creation with minimal effort seems on the horizon.
Graf Zahl wrote: Thu Feb 02, 2023 11:04 am So, I fully understand why these years are what people want to recreate in their own ways and why a game like Doom will never die, but like it always is with such things, some people will fail to understand the essence of what makes this so appealing. If you want to have my outlook on the future: These projects that define themselves by trying to replicate the limited technology will eventually fizzle out - but I don't really expect this retro trend to die out, but I expect it to gain a bit more professionalism.
That's an optimistic viewpoint and I hope myself that it's the case, though primarily for catering to my own personal preferences, if we're being honest. From what I've seen of Phantom Fury, it does seem like this is the case in at least one example.
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Re: What is the attraction of PS1-style visuals?

Post by Graf Zahl »

Scripten wrote: Thu Feb 02, 2023 1:49 pm True with today's tooling solutions, but I would wager that AI is the cat let out of the bag. For all its issues (and boy are there many), it is a great equalizer in performing a significant chunk of labor. Creating NPCs, randomized or via a few sentences of description, with sufficiently detailed features will likely become routine even for a solo developer. I don't doubt that a lot of the personality and originality will be sucked from certain spheres alongside, but the possibility of high-fidelity asset creation with minimal effort seems on the horizon.

That may be - but I expect this to become a very divisive issue. Being computer generated, those assets will very likely be described as "artificial" and "soulless" and their use be frowned upon.

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