Although I’ve only played the first two of these “point and click” adventure games, the interview intrigued me because he pointed out that artists that can produce high-quality 2D digital background art are in short supply these days.
Personally, I’m kind of sceptical about this claim – since I’ve played at least a few relatively modern games with high-quality 2D graphics (eg: “Deponia” springs to mind for starters, as well as a few hidden object games ). But the article is still absolutely fascinating because Charles Cecil talks a lot about the differences between 2D and 3D artwork in computer games. Seriously, it’s well worth reading.
Anyway, one of the great things about both old-style “point and click” games and modern hidden object games (and, to a lesser extent, 1990s sprite-based FPS and platform games) is that they are some of the most artistic genres of computer game out there. Unlike modern mega-budget games, they don’t focus on making the graphics as drearily “realistic” as possible.
Initially, this was probably due to the limitations of computers during the 1990s. But, by using stylised 2D graphics, these games often had much more of a “personality” to than modern “realistic” games ever will. Because the 2D graphics were created by an artist, each game contains it’s own unique art style. Not only that, the “cartoonish” graphics make these games almost seem like a comic book that you can actually interact with.
In addition to this, the fact that these games look obviously unrealistic lends them an imaginative and fantastical quality that you don’t really see in games with “realistic” 3D graphics.
Because these games use stylised 2D artwork, they can also include far more detailed and complex settings than many low-mid budget 3D games can. After all, if an artist is spending a fair amount of time on making interesting art then it makes no difference, in terms of cost, to paint a vast cityscape (with lots of amusing background details) than it does to paint a few basic rooms.
In other words, these games have the same level of creative and imaginative freedom (eg: what the author Matthew Reilly calls “the unlimited budget of the imagination”) as novels and comics do. “Realistic” 3D games, on the other hand, only have about the same level of creative and imaginative freedom as movies and TV shows do.
Likewise, the slow-paced gameplay in old “point and click” games (and modern hidden object games) means that the player has time to sit back and admire the game’s artwork in a way that they wouldn’t in a more fast-paced game. And, yes, these games are works of art. Here are a few screenshots from various old and modern games to show you what I mean:
Finally, if you are an artist yourself, then seeing 2D artwork in computer games can be a really amazing experience, since seeing someone else’s art “come to life” in a computer game can make you think about your own artwork in a much more vivid and much less “static” way.
Not only can it be a powerful way to remind yourself of the sheer amount of storytelling potential that art can have, but it might also prompt a few inspirational daydreams about what an adventure game in your own art style might look like. Even though you might never get the chance to make this game, daydreaming about it can provide you with a lot of artistic inspiration.
Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂