Shuuji Aizawa

unlikely beginning

I originally wanted to be a fashion designer. The college I was enrolled in was also fashion related. At that time, the only experience I had with video games was on an old Nintendo at my house, playing “TV Game 16”, I’m sad to say. Its fair to say I had zero interest in games.

Then, about five years ago my brother bought me a PC Engine. I played games like Kato-Chan and Ken-chan and The Kung Fu. I was pretty impressed. I thought it was amazing to see anime-like animation.

After that I wanted to try making my own game too. Right away I looked through the job ads and joined a software developer. The company I had joined mainly worked as a subcontractor for other game companies. We made a large variety of games… it was pretty much your run-of-the-mill software developer. (laughs)

the role of the pixel artist

My job is to create the graphics in a game. Depending on the situation I might also do character design, or work on the animation and presentation. Game art _is_ pixel art. But normal drawings and pixel art are very different.

The first big difference is that you can’t draw lines freely in pixel art. Because pixels are composed of small squares, straight lines are no problem, but curves are very difficult to draw. Things a pencil can do with ease can’t be done with pixel art. And yet, you have to find a way. In the end its just a question of getting used to it, and I’d say that after about a year you should be able to create half-decent pixel art. Recently, I did the art for the RPG Lennus. I really struggled with it: tears were shed.

RPGs require you to make large maps. To do this you use the same blocks (the smallest denomination of game art, an 8×8 unit) over and over, combining them to make a complete map picture. This way economizes on memory. If you do a bad job with this process, the map will appear dull and boring. Its very much like putting together a puzzle.

the future of pixel art

As game hardware evolves, the 30,000 colors we’ve been limited to will expand so that 16,000,000 colors will be available. The amount of pixels capable of being displayed on screen will also increase, so it may be that the age of drawing game art one pixel at a time will soon end. Naturally, the usage of actual art and movies will also likely become more prevalent in games. The era of pixel art is coming to a close. In the future game artists will be doing work similar to those who create anime.

I think that in the future, a visual presentation that wows players may become as important as gameplay. If that happens, the work that game designers have done up till now may be taken over by specialists with experience in the presentation style of movies, anime, and so on. The very way games are made is progressing.