And don't get sensitive about pixel art; it's just not a selling point. Fez wasn't interesting because of the art. Minecraft wasn't successful because of the 'art'. Games are good or bad based on their content, and if there's so little content or you're such a hipster 'has pixel art' is a selling point, the game is obviously pretty lacking.
I'm not sensitive
about it, I did read a lot more venom into what he was saying though. It wasn't personal sensitivity as much as it was professional indignation. It's not like 'achieving modern graphics' is complex, or automatically even LOOKS better. Pixel art isn't easier to do than World of Goo or Angry Birds flash-esque stuff. It's a billion times easier to draw something like Castle Crashers flash art than it is to draw Symphony of the Night 32-bit pixel art, in my experience. When I was working with some boned characters I was able to make a very satisfying run and walk cycle in a day when it was a nightmarish effort to do it pixel by pixel.
It just seemed like an entirely unreasonable
criticism, like calling an interest in stage plays a hipster bit of nostalgia for not giving modern special effects and settings. Given the examples he gave of 'modern graphics' I can see that's not the case, but it just seemed wonky. There's nothing un-modern about pixel art (companies haven't stopped using it) but I will grant that using a garbage art quality
(like, say, 8-Bit shitgraphics) and using that to disguise terrible gameplay is a terrible thing.
Pixel art, as an aesthetic, isn't automatically and indistinguishably hipster or a fad or banking on nostaglia or anything. It can be, but it's not like we can make legitimate criticisms about all variety of 2D and 3D art. I wouldn't say "3D Modeled Art" is a selling point either. I don't check out a title and go "Whoah, it uses 3D rendering. Badass." I'd say if it looks good, it looks good, and that's the selling point. Shitty 3D art from the PS1 era certainly isn't a selling point either. I'd rather a company work in 2D than 3D if that's what ends up looking better. And pixel art has a place there, you CAN make it look really pretty. But if you want to be taken seriously you need to make sure your art looks nice. If you're going to work with pixels then make sure you're doing a modern look. I contend it can be done in such a way that it looks lovely even without nostalgia glasses on.
You cannot really deny that the whole 8-bit pixel style Spectrum-whatever type of graphics is making a comeback. Indies existed beforehand. World of Goo, Penumbra, Lugaru, Machinarium -just to name a few - and somehow they managed to have pretty modern graphics, even taking into consideration their art "department" is one-two people. Certainly no pixel stuff.
That we can agree on. 8-bit art can
be pretty if you go for Sword & Sworcery style, but I think the real problem here is (as I said above) not that it is pixel art but that it is shitty pixel art using a retro style to disguise poor gameplay. Making it a "throwback" game and not a homage using modern ramped-up aesthetics shouldn't get you any extra points.
You gotta distinguish between the look and the art aesthetic used. They used a shitty pixel art aesthetic but if they hadn't they'd have used a shitty hand-drawn aesthetic or a shitty Unreal engine aesthetic because they made a shitty looking game and that's what they were going for. Machinarium looks nice because it is drawn in a beautiful style, but if it had been a shitty hand drawn style I don't think it being "modern" would earn any points over a game that legitimately looks painterly in a pixel art style.
Just don't hate an entire aesthetic, it would make you look ignorant. But it's legit to say that making something in 8-bit form, unless you do an amazing visual job, is pretty lame. 8 bit is a restrictive style and no fun to draw in. The only reason to do so is because you're a pretentious twat or because you've decided to pretend to be a pretentious twat to draw attention away from the fact you couldn't come up with anything more original than what people used to come up with back when they had like 5 bits of memory to play with.