Interesting Articles

Jeff Vogel: “Why All Of Our Games Look Like Crap”

We’ve been writing indie games for a living for 25 years. My wife and I run a humble little mom-and-pop business. We make retro low-budget role-playing games that have great stories and design and are a lot of fun.

Also, they look like crap.

The first game I released, in January of 1995, looked like crap. It achieved financial success (among the blind, apparently), which funded many more games that looked like crap, enabling me to build a solid reputation.


love vogel. had such a wonderfully confusing time with games like exile 2 back in the 90s

What fascinates me here is that the guy seems to think he is telling me news.

That’s not at all what I gleamed from the fan comment.


Spiderweb Software rules so hard

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The good thing about pixel art is that both programmers and artists can make it. The bad thing about pixel art is programmers don’t know what the difference between their art and the artist’s is.

I would say if he wants to make games for the sake of introducing his dreams into the world, rather than to make money, then the art does matter. But he then says that this is the aesthetic he likes, so I don’t think it’s a money vs ideals thing.

I think World of Warcraft looks really bad, now at least. Like, deformed cartoons with uncanny valley movements and animations, insanely stretched FoV, everything super saturated and brights and darks scattered randomly, blurred textures. But there are a lot of people who think WoW looks absolutely amazing.

For people who actually play games and not just gaze upon them from the sidelines, I think unfortunately the issue with the art is mainly perception - these people have internalized “ugly games look like this” and “pretty games look like this” without any real critical discrimination. It’s the opposite the problem the developer has.

Avernum 3 looks decent, but the new one, Queen’s Whatever, just looks dreadful. I suppose I’m not the target here, though, but man, those 3D face models.

I just looked up Queen’s Wish, and lol, wtf Jeff Vogez? I got it when he was making 10x games using the same general art. But like, that art was reusable. It is very suspect that he’ll be able to reuse this art style for more games. MAYBE it’ll help kick off because it looks different than the new 3/4 view AAA RPGs, but like…

Wow this Queen’s Wish look is wild

I love spiderweb software but his games look like dogshit because they don’t have an immediately readable and interesting style, it just comes across as “pre-rendered 3d ultima” which is I think the objectively ugliest possible art scheme you could have. Some emphasis towards a house style that isn’t just aping the worst of early CRPG graphics in a nostalgic way would be nice.

To be clear, I think the individual art assets look fine. I just hate his house art style. The more fidelity he injects into his games, the worse they look.

Also his older games look better than his newer ones lol. Exile has a much more distinctive and cool look than Avernum

His games lately remind me of A Valley Without Wind, which isn’t a positive.

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I actually am mostly on Voegel’s side here because I love a plurality of shonky aesthics.

But if he made his game in a super low rez style that looked like Ultima 1 it would probably be just as easy to put together and be way more aesthetically coherent and maybe even get press for having a unique retro art style.


Also it would look better if he choose low Rez pixel folks or made all the environmental graphics out of like, screenshotted unity assets instead of the super weird mix I’m seeing here.

actually, yeah it would be really fucking cool if jeff literally just made stuff that looks like exile 1-3 again

i am trying not to bash Queen’s Wish because it does actually look pretty neat mechanically but it also has extremely garish aesthetics, it’s pretty much impossible for me to actually like that style


Like I’ve seriously given thought to making an RPG maker game in Ultima 1-3 style because it would be really easy to create an evocative weird fantasy world at low resolution.

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Jeff if you’re literally just aggressively trolling people with your grafix you can just say so, that’s what the little niche audience that you are cultivating wants to hear anyway