When will indie devs put in the effort to have sprite quality on par with Metal Slug?
It's 2016, people!
I think perhaps when you say this you're counting mediocre or just barely passable 3D as good 3D, or you just have no idea how hard it can be to make good looking 3D.
Just imagine for a moment all the effort that must have gone into making Vagrant Story or Conker's Bad Fur Day or NiGHTS into Dreams look as good as they manage to, and yet any vaguely pretty 2D game of the time looks much better.
When you make 3d assets, you can more or less re-use them all the time or even just use the rigs for other stuff.
When you make good 2d art, you more or less juts use them for one thing or any level that fits the aesthetic. Metal Slug has a limited amount of levels that you play over and over again because its an arcade game. Most games aren't like that.
>spending effort improving graphics
>when that effort could be put toward improving gameplay
I fucking hate the 3D modelling and animation meme. As a person that spent time taking a class for such things I utterly despise it compared to the things you can get out of spritework and hand-drawing.
Low-poly's got a neat niche though.
It's true though. It's a hell of a lot less time-consuming considering how many corners you can cut through borrowing assets and camera tricks. It's almost like the difference in time spent learning how to use a longbow to how to use an automatic machinegun.