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Post-Realism Minecraft

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avatar superbatprime
Level 47 : Master Skinner
My name is superbatprime and I'm a texturepackaholic.
I change texture packs more often than you change underwear.

My days are spent hunting, loading, examining and analyzing the work of Minecraft texture pack artists all across the great expanse of the internet, I love exploring my single player world, a world I know so well, with a totally new look and feel.
16x16, 128x128, 256x256, 8x8, I'll try them all, I judge not upon resolution but upon artistic merit, concept, execution and how deceptively friendly their Creepers look (Summerfields pack... GUILTY!).

...and that leads me to the point of my rambling, the end of the age of realism.

Let me expound on what I mean by 'the age of realism'.
A long time ago the first attempts at creating texture packs yeilded modest results, in general packs stuck to the 16x16 res with only very few adventurous pioneers breaking the resolution ceiling and producing 32x32 packs and then to the shock and awe of all who beheld it... Misa's Realistic 64x64 pack was released.
The first of it's kind, a true breakthrough, a revolution in fact.
Extreme Flower gathering... Misa's Realistic 64x64 pack.

Suddenly the goalposts moved, the objective now was to inject as much realism into Minecraft graphics as possible, the next milestone (imo) was the arrival of the LB Photorealism pack which topped out at 256x256 at it's highest res.

These two high quality packs alone (imo) had the effect of causing the inevitable floods of imitators to begin mass production and suddenly everybody and their dog were hunting down stock photographs of grass and gravel for their 'Uber-realismpack'.
HD photorealistic packs were de rigur, they were all the rage, they lagged the hell out of the game at times but who cares?! MY CHICKENS LOOK LIKE CHICKENS AND MY DIRT LOOKS LIKE DIRT!!

But the heady rush of wood that looked like wood and diamonds textured with photos of actual diamonds couldn't last forever.
For me, the self confessed texture junkie it was a case of ambiance.
Y'see... Lower res packs by their nature tend to be (in general) bright and vibrant even when the themes are dark in nature, very often reflecting the old skool style of sprite and pixel art of games from the 8 and 16 bit era.
Doku's work is probably the most famous example of the style.

Photorealism packs tend to be less bright, less vibrant. Because the colors and tones reflect reality they are far more muted, the dirt far more "dirty", the greens less sharp, the stone more grim and hard.

The very qualities I had previously lauded in photo-realistic packs were now depressing the hell out of me.
The crunch came when I finally got around to pulling the Xaiwaker pack out of my big folder o' texture packs(tm) and banged it into the game.
The clarity of the graphics, the simplicity, the lucidity of execution and design hit me like a bomb... The colors children, oh the colors! This was not an attempt to recreate the world outside, this was art, this was expression!
Is expression not the very essence of Minecraft? Is it not the very air we breath?

At that point I abandoned photorealistic packs and returned to more concept driven creations, Glimmar's beautifulSteampunk pack, Lordtrilobite's superbly detailed Norsepack, the quaint and charming Jolicraft and the unsettling but superbly realized homage to Lovecraft known as the Mythos pack (will it ever be finished? Pray to the Elder Gods). I favour packs with character, packs that have the idiosyncratic eccentricities of their creators woven through them, packs that say something.
Glimmar's Steampunk pack.

Battered Old Stuff by ozBillo, a WIP 64x pack with real character.
Can't wait to see this one completed.

Ever the keen observer of our collective Minecraft consciousness, I noticed a gradual drift from HD packs striving for photorealism to them attempting more and more to use the higher resolutions for higher forms of expression.

At the time of posting this I'm reading the official MC forums and a highly detailed photorealistic 128x128 pack is receiving a less than stellar reception... a distinct collective 'meh' can be felt in the air with one poster saying the concept has been "done to death".
It's a good pack, well executed, but nonetheless the apathy is palpable.

To be honest I had been thinking about writing this blog for a few days now, but that "done to death" comment was the proverbial straw that galvanized me into action, I guess I'm not the only one that feels this way.

To finish I feel I should point out that I am in no way saying that photorealistic texture packs have no place in Minecraft or are redundant in anyway, far from it they are a valid form of texture pack and always will be.
I personally still load up Misa's pack from time to time and enjoy walking through the lush forests avoiding the utterly terrifying Creepers.
What I am saying is they are not the be all and end all of high resolution textures for Minecraft.

With amazing vector work like Sphax's purebdcraft clocking in at an insane 512x512 for it's max res and incredible tributes like the Okami pack by postermahn, the doors are open for high concept artistic HD packs that we have not yet begun to even imagine, we don't need to limit ourselves to reality...
Sphax's PureBDCraft 128x128

When not switching packs faster than a speeding bullet superbatprime's preferred choice is Eld's 16x16 Eldpack.
While waiting (hoping) for Eld to update, my current default pack is the beautifully atmospheric Summerfields 32x32 pack.

Super Disclaimer!
The contents of this article reflect only my own ill informed, self righteous opinion and my ignorant ramblings are in no way meant to insult or degrade the work of artists whose abilities I have no hope (or intention) of ever trying to match, my respect for all texture pack artists is immense and genuine, you all have my deepest thanks for making Minecraft a better game.

04/05/2012 4:52 pm
Level 1 : New Crafter
Thanks for the plug, superbatprime.
I put a lot of effort into Battered Old Stuff and it's great to get some positive feedback :)
04/05/2012 6:12 pm
Level 47 : Master Skinner
Hey thank you for making it.I really like that pack and I'm a sucker for those B movie posters.
It's a 64x64 that a lot of higher res packs can't touch in terms of ambiance and detail.
It's obvious that it was a true labour of love and that is reflected in the quality and richness of the pack.

Thanks again. ;)
03/10/2012 3:43 pm
Level 22 : Expert Mage
You are like me. I also switch texture packs VERY often. I have an in-game texture pack switcher for that reason. I would like to recommend a texture pack to you. The flavorful 16x16 texture pack Isabella Texture Pack is one of my favorites. Try it out if you haven't already.
03/10/2012 6:18 pm
Level 47 : Master Skinner
Oh wow, can't believe I missed that one... thanks for the tip. :)
03/11/2012 1:03 am
Level 22 : Expert Mage
You welcome Sir.
02/29/2012 7:33 am
Level 24 : Expert Spelunker
Nice article!
02/29/2012 7:46 am
Level 47 : Master Skinner
Thank you kindly. *tips hat* :)
02/29/2012 8:09 am
Level 24 : Expert Spelunker
A true

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