What kind of graphic style ? ( rough 1999 - 2004 )

I like a graphic style, where it came mostly from independand games and somehow cross retro. Roughy in 1999-2004 those graphic were common.

I have passion for old school game graphics.

Some examples:


Denzi painting stuff like that on opengameart.

How these graphic style is named and where could I find?

Neat. Reminds me a lot of hours spent playing Sid Meyer’s Civilization.

Are there examples in the art world or other commercial art (book covers, album/cd covers, other) that you find to be closely related? There is one artist and images in the back of my mind, but I can’t conjure up the name. What I’m thinking of doesn’t have the “tiles” but a lot of others aspects perhaps match. If I remember it I will come back and post.

I doubt that there is a good name for this particular style.

It seems that quite often, it actually resulted from developers not seeing a need to apply a particular style at all, instead trying to make do with the technology available to them while trying to at least convey what the things on the screen are even supposed to be.

Personally, I somewhat believe that the only reason people still like that style is because they associate it with the fun they got from the actual games back in the day…

A google image search for “90s style rts 2d game” seems to find at least some that might come close to what you mean?

What people do in the moment often seems to them to be normal or natural. But in retrospect, there are almost always identifiable characteristics that can be grouped together and given a name.

For example, certain forms of music for early games are now known as “chiptunes.” We didn’t know we were composing/creating chiptunes back in the day. We were just making use of the available tech, copying and influencing each other in the process.

Do people who like chiptunes now only like them because of the fun they had playing the original games? I don’t think so.

If the graphic style being invoked hasn’t yet been named, it’s probably only a matter of time before it will be. Most likely there are people deep into graphics who already have come up with terms for the different game art periods and styles.

It is roguelike - probably closest - but more advanced then few casual pixels.

Often comes ( not limited ) in isometric view.
Because modern indie games producing childish, not textured characters. ( Very budged option for animations. i.e. kenney assets )

More desired examples.


zezenia online, glory of fellowlands, homm3, avernum.

Oh definitely, no denying that.
The point I am trying to make there is:

This is a particular style that crystallized out because it actually resulted from the available technology only giving established composers a limited set of tools to work with and them trying to create actual art with what they have. Limitation can indeed be very conductive to creating great art or even just new forms of it, therefore…

…neither do I.

But this is art that was, despite the limitations, made to be pretty.

The reason I say that the kind of style we are talking about is not that is that a lot of the people making this game art did so without having the slightest clue what they were doing.

There were a lot of hobbyists and small-scale developers back in the day who quite simply had not yet found out that making games aesthetically pleasing might be a goal in its own.
Graphics were, I believe, often simply made with the idea of “has to hopefully remind the player of what it is supposed to be” in mind. No primary regard to actually making it pretty.

There are a lot of examples of game art from that era and even earlier which were definitely great and made by people who knew what they were doing, but those styles alreay have been named a long time ago.

What we are looking for here is -again, I assume- the “miscellaneous” category of that time, the stuff that was made to serve a purpose. “Functional” if you will.

All I am actually trying to say is that most people have fond memories of that category from a particular time only because it is what they happened to be exposed to.

Personally, I can very much appreciate most of the “named” styles, no matter how old, but I really dislike this particular one. The people who tell me they like it have so far always been the age to have played it at the time.

In conclusion:

I do not believe it has been named or will have a big enough comback to get a name now.
If there is or will be a name I suppose that name will have “90s” or similar in it, as it is a product of its time and much less so its technology.

See section titled “2.5D, 3/4 perspective, and pseudo-3D”

See section titled “Isometric 3D”