In my search for a solution to make my graphics scalable I heard a rumor about Nintendo having released their pixels-to-vector algorithm as open source! Could this be true? I haven’t found any reliable information of this yet.
What I am talking about is something like Johannes Kopf and Dani Lischinski had developed and described in their paper Depixelizing Pixel Art. Sadly, their solution is not available for public and it seems that I end up looking this paper after every search attempt… There is something going on at the SNES scene, for example xBr 2.2, but real time shaders aren’t exactly what am looking for.
Here is an example image of how difficult it is to make use of old 8-bit graphics in a modern game development. The first image on the left was drawn way back in the late 80’s. It was the first attempt to create a heavy infantry icon to our game, then called Warmaster for Amiga OS. The second to the right is just a doubled image of a later SVGA-version for Windows. Third image is a experiment with HQ2X – an attempt to speed up the graphic design process. It’s better than the plain nearest neighbour scaling but we have to admit it lacks the detail and refinement of a hand crafted icon. Although pixel editing is slow and considered a skill from the past, we’ll have to stick to it unless there soon pops out a powerful pixel-to-vector-converter somewhere.
Long time ago we had a small game project called DragonWars. It was a strategy game using hexagon maps and hand drawn graphics. Unit graphics are nice but the problem with them is the size. Units are 16px * 16px which is way too small for today’s modern games. Therefore Juha has been playing around with different scaling algorithms to see how we could use those old graphics without the need to fully redraw them. The most promising algorithms have been Hq4x and Microsoft research center’s Depixeling the Pixel art -project (DPA from now on).
Hq4x is widely available while the DPA has no reference implementation available. What makes DPA more appealing in our eyes is the fact that DPA generates vector graphics from the raster graphics while hq4x just scales the raster graphics into new fixed size raster graphics. For our longer plans vector graphics would be ideal but for now we will have to stick with raster graphics and hq4x.
If Juha gives me his permission I will later post some example icons to this blog.
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