Official Thimbleweed Park Forums

Remastering old games: do more resolution and colors make the graphics better?


I have to agree in principle around the idea that a game should probably not be remade or remastered at all. Short of making it work on existing hardware. The trouble lies in that emulation only gets you about 90% accuracy at most, and remaking the engine requires a lot of work, for a game that people already played and there’s no secrets to discover.

Hence I’m more inclined to let a “remake” pass if the spirit of the original game is intact, and it’s not simply being remade to monetize it.

One of the issues with using something like DOSBOX to emulate hardware is that it doesn’t machine-cycle accurately emulate a legacy 8088/80286 PC, it emulates a DOS environment with only some upper-bounds on the CPU emulation. So you will NEVER get an accurate emulation of any PC game on DOSBOX, and in most cases, you don’t want to, since that would also mean having the floppy/cd-rom/mechanical hard drive loading speed of a legacy system that was never even a consideration when those games were made. So getting a game to work on DOSBOX still involves just as much finagling with configurations that a legacy PC would have, if not more if you want to make the game look and sound like it was designed, and not simply PC Speaker and/or Adlib music.

SCUMMVM on the other hand takes the “remake the engine” approach, and this works for some games, it means that it has to be aware of every bug and work-around in the original engine. So for many games (especially SIERRA games), this means that you have to be aware of which bugs exist in certain games/platforms, and either keep the bug in for accuracy, or try to fix it (if it would normally crash the game.)

Neither are really an appropriate way to play the game like it was intended, hence it may be better to start a new game from scratch based on the original game’s content, maybe even replicating the look and feel of the original game, but not re-using the original game assets at all. At that point you may as well expand upon the original game since disk space is not as much of a premium as the original game was. In many old floppy-disk era games, content was cut or dummied out to fit a disk replication budget. Even when CD-ROM came along, most of that space was filled with speech, and often at a compression and sampling rate that is embarrassing by todays standards. If something like Ogg Vorbis or Mpeg I Layer 3 Audio was available then (which MP3 was in fact available in the late 90’s) the software implementations of the time were simply not up to task and required a high end system to play just the audio.

The same can be said of texture compression now as well. Early 3D cards didn’t have it, then every card produced since 1998 pretty much required it and the patents on that only expired this year. Now GPU’s have 1-8GB of RAM and compression is a bad idea for UI Widgets and 2D style content. Likewise 8-bit textures haven’t been a thing for quite a while and attempting to use them simply generates a 32-bit texture anyways, so trying to take advantage of 8-bit tricks like palette cycling simply isn’t possible on current hardware. Some other trick like a 1-dimensional texture with a shader, must be used to do that, or streaming them like they were tiny videos.

At any rate I think the larger problem is that a lot of proposals for remaking a game are really a bad-faith argument to monetize an old IP, and use that IP’s built in audience. You see this kind of thing with art/comic anthologies right now, where the anthology with a big name artist, results in a lot of sales because of that artists fanbase. Do you really want the same three games remade every 7 years like what happens with films and TV shows when the IP holder changes hands, and the content platform changes too much to run the previous one? I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m not willing to buy the same game for 3 different consoles and a PC every 7 years because the console changed or Windows/MacOS changed and it can’t play the old one.


Some people already played.


Btw. I gave the demo of Gibbous a try and already at 1440x720, the background art looks like a relief to your eyes and brain. Once you double the res and antialias properly, the jaggies could be gone too.


@ideal So I’m guessing you don’t think TWP is the best-looking game of 2017?


It was the best looking adventure I’ve played in 2017, but the best looking game from 2017 was The Witness.

But now we’re in 2018, already close to 2019.

Magical pixels
  Garish colours and primitive art
  spark imagination


I’m generally not a fan of a comics-like style for these type of (more serious) adventures.
E.g. games like Indy and BASS I prefer in a realistic style. But something like this would very expensive in HD, low-res can look very realistic without AAA budget.

Considering this and The Last Door are really extremes regarding low pixel count your tolerance doesn’t seem so bad. And you enjoyed TWP, right?

Yes, they are doing a great job!


I still tend to agree though with what @LowLevel said about The Darkside Detective that the lack of facial features of the characters enhanced the deadpan style of the humour.


There exist good serious/adult comics out there and they work pretty well. You might not be used to it in an adventure yet, but as soon as it will be done in convincing ways, you don’t want to go back. This is an aspect Schafer got right. Depending on how you create the graphics, it also doesn’t get more expensive and low res doesn’t look realistic at all.

Of course I enjoyed TWP but it could have been even better in proper high res or if a few things would have been enhanced. The presentation was pleasing with some very nice spots but it wasn’t perfect, and going fullscreen, scaled a pixels to too large sizes already. Presenting a new low res game on a conference from 2019/2020 on, won’t be too much fun. But the premise was different for TWP (… in your drawer), so I’m fine.

The scene with the woman sitting on the bank looks nice and makes you thinking of AVS2 and a remaster of The DIG (although I would prefer a new SF adventure instead). The character moves too slow, the inventory usage is a little bit unfortunate and so far I don’t dig the dialogues and the humor this much, I have no idea about how satisfying the puzzles will be but they have moving clouds. I’ll give it a try.


Broken Age is beautiful, but that’s a lot more expensive.

If we’re talking about something like DotT or Full Throttle, to me those are just different, inherently neither much better nor worse. Though I hasten to add that they easily could have been so. much. worse. That they aren’t is a testament to Double Fine.

I would suspect it’s actually a fair bit cheaper to produce that style than proper (original DotT) pixel style. You’re skipping the step of painstakingly translating that style into pixels. Yes, you’ll still need to tweak things, but the pixels need further tweaking as well.

Incidentally, the Double Fine remasters look a lot sharper and better (read: proper UHD or “4k”) than several fairly recent pixelated, jaggy, low-res HD products.

HD = low-res
4k UHD = not quite as shabby as HD
8k UHD = finally approaching something almost acceptable

But as a visual style, low-res retro late 2000s HD just doesn’t do it for me. I think it would almost always be better in 4k UHD. So in that sense I can understand where you’re coming from.


I was intrigued by the woman figure throwing herself from the rooftop.

Then after looking more closely, I spotted the few pixels that put her legs back safely onto the roof.

That is why low resolution pixel art is art.
Just like “classic” art (paintings & stuff), your personal interpretation and new things you discover by looking more closely or for years and years are just as important as the original work.

To continue the comparison, HD graphics is more like photography - which can also be an artform, naturally.

By itself HD graphics or pixel art are just two established forms for artists to express themselves. Just like with pixel art, that doesn’t mean that anyone can produce consistently interesting/beautiful/intriguing/… pictures by picking up a small piece of paper and a limited amount of color pencils.

Interestingly, pixel art started out as a historical technical limitation.
But so did B&W photography.

Pixel art is more like classic comic drawings/pencil drawings.
HD art is more like photography.
But just because you learn how to use pencils in kindergarten and everyone has a camera in his phone these days doesn’t make us all artists… the same goes for computer graphics. The availability and access to the techniques changes over time - allowing more people to play around with them. But that doesn’t turn all of them into artists.