Amazing Pixel Art With Christina

Pixel art indie game dev

I spoke with Christina-Antoinette Neofotistou about her journey in game dev…

1) When and why did you become a game dev?

I’m still not a gamedev. Or alternately, I’m a gamedev with no fun games to my name. I’m a gamedev because I say I am. I decided when I was in elementary school, on a commodore c128. I was determined to make a game with it, and the SPRDEF sprite editor was very user-friendly. So I spent days making sprites of robots (mainly ripoffs of the two robots from Capcom’s SideArms, one of my favorite childhood games).
Pixel art indie game dev
Later I discovered Klik n Play and similar game engines, Multimedia Fusion and eventually Construct 2. There is a pattern there: I don’t care about learning to code properly. Language syntax holds little fascination for me, it’s the art and underlying logic that I care about.

Gamergate and other misogynistic backlash against female geeks and women gamers and gamedevs has seriously made me consider leaving gamedev. Even without organized harassment movements however, sexism is still strong in both the gamer and gamedev communities. That said, I can’t think of any other hobby or occupation that makes me half as happy, so I keep at it 🙂

2) What inspires your pixelart? Which piece is your favorite and why?

More and more, I’m learning to love the blockiness of pixels. I like to celebrate them, instead of try to hide them. I’m finding that pixelart the tool has more techniques than have been exploited by pixelart the movement. Recent developments in modern pixelart such as cluster theory have been very helpful and allow for stronger pixelling.

My favorite piece so far has to be this Golden Axe demake for the PICO8. Done over the course of a week and using the 128x128px and 16 color palette limitation of the PICO8 console was challenging and rewarding in equal measures.

Pixel art indie game dev

3) What are your favorite tools to use and what advice would you give in using these tools?
Photoshop CS5 and Aseprite are my favorite tools for pixelart. My advice is platform-agnostic: don’t try to pixel merely as if it’s a small resolution painting. Instead try to think about pixel placement. There’s (optional) rules on pixel placement if you’re so inclined. Some of those are discussed on this very inspirational thread: http://pixelation.org/index.php?topic=8110.150

4) What are your thoughts on preserving careful artistic expression with all these modern tools for automation on the market?

Pixelart can’t be automated, it still needs a personal touch. That said, why would you want to do pixelart anyway, if you’re interested in fast solutions? Pixelart is a slow and calculated, even masochistic technique. That’s most of its charm.

5) Its cool that you run @pixelsWeekly. What gave you this idea and how has it come along (matured) into what it is now?

I don’t have a lot of time to run @pixelsWeekly so it has a lot of downtime, and hasn’t come a long way or matured at all. The reason behind it though is that I want us to have a chance to focus more on slow, calculated, even masochistic technique. 😀 Take the time to appreciate pixels. Pixel Dailies @Pixel_Dailies is amazing for inciting creativity and for working fast, which are essential qualities for pixelart as well.

6) What has your ludum dare game jam participation taught you and what was your workflow like during these jams?
Workflow for a jam is always just frantic work, especially if you do it solo. Lessons I’ve learned from my 10 ludum dares so far are:

  1. I don’t know enough about game design and how to make a game fun, so I need to study and practice it all the time (and I do)
  2. implementation is always slower than you expect, even when you’ve tried to deliberately calculate all the delay. I might be stumped by music, code or graphics, and for a game jam time is an extremely valuable resource.
    c. making a game during a jam is exhilarating!

7) What is your biggest lesson learned from your game dev journey?

That I need to get a lot better at it, and that it’s what I’ve always wanted to do.

Here are two mockups for a pitch I was asked to make to Cartoon Network for a Steven Universe game:

Pixel art indie game dev

Pixel art indie game dev

Some dinosaur portraits for a trading card game I’m working on:

Pixel art dinosaurs indie game dev
A mockup for a pirate jrpg in only 64×64 pixels

Pixel art pirates indie game dev
Another Steven Universe inspired mockup, just for fun, using all the colors of the garish CGA palette.

Pixel art steven universe indie game dev

Make sure to follow Christina on twitter here to see some more awesome pixel art!

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