I've just been looking at possible methods of creating arcade style graphics in Maya and I have stumbled across a piece of modelling/animation software called Qubicle. Qubicle is a piece of software specifically for creating 3D pixel art. Furthermore, anything that is produced in Qubicle can be exported to Maya, as there is a Qubicle plug-in available, meaning that character rigs can be rigged and animated manually for better results.
Here is an example of what can be done using this software.
Although it is only possible to create pixel-style graphics, the software seems to be very versatile, allowing the user a lot of control over the design of the final outcome. This will be useful as I still want my piece to have a 3D feeling and I want the characters to be believable and allow the audience to engage with them.
On the website, it does not say very much about the possibilities of making the texturing more vibrant, but I assume that can be done by exporting to Maya, as this particular piece, PIXELS by Patrick Jean has a variety of texture, varying in colour, brightness and opacity. Observe.
Another consideration that I will need to make regarding this software is that the ability to convey genuine expression in characters is rather limited; and my characters will need to convey quite a lot of expression, particularly towards the very beginning and very end. This could possibly mean that this software may only be suitable for modelling/animating the environment. The particle system in Qubicle could also be useful for some pieces of animation such as certain moves during the characters' battle.
However, I may need to resort to more traditional methods of modelling and rigging my characters and rely more on very good texturing to present these characters as credible arcade characters, yet still convey a sense of humanity. I will continue to investigate methods of doing this and I will perhaps become more knowledgeable when I get in touch with people that have a thorough knowledge of texture art.