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The Comparative Value of 2-D Vs. 3-D Graphics In Games

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the tetris-vs-quake dept.

Graphics 107

GameSetWatch is running a feature discussing the value of graphics styles in games. The authors point out that while certain genres, such as first-person shooters, benefited immensely from the advent of 3-D graphics, some types of games didn't handle the transition as well. A player's perspective, and his interaction with the game's camera, can often make or break an otherwise excellent release. "Before making the full jump to 3D, many genres made a move from classic 2D to isometric 2D as an intermediary step. For example, the original Civilization had a traditional top-down grid view while Civ 2 had a three-quarters isometric view. While this new perspective gave the game world a more life-like appearance, the change did come at a cost to the user's game experience. Namely, distances are much more difficult to judge on an isometric grid as the east-west axis takes up twice as many pixels as the north-south axis. To solve this problem, for Civ 4, our 3D perspective actually hearkened back to the original game as we showed the game's grid straight ahead and not at an angle. The easier the players perceive the grid through the graphics, the better they can 'see' their possible decisions."

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"hearkened?" (2, Funny)

The Ultimate Fartkno (756456) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881693)

Oh, come on...

---edit

I am SO glad I decided to doublecheck before I hit the post button. Who knew I'd been wrong about how to spell a word for the last 20 years?

Re:"hearkened?" (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25881973)

fuck me

I just cut a very loud, very long, very smelly fart. I guess the only positive thing I can say about it is that I didn't shit my pants. But the stench is nauseating. Like rotten flesh.

Re:"hearkened?" (2, Informative)

RuBLed (995686) | more than 5 years ago | (#25882035)

Well it seems that Soulskill is keeping up with his Bible reading...

Joking aside, here's the definition [merriam-webster.com] .

Graphic transition has nothing to do with it (1)

Hojima (1228978) | more than 5 years ago | (#25882897)

I know many people don't like their rts in 3D, but Homeworld is an utterly amazing game. That being said I could imagine the game being just as fun in 2D, though it would loose its artistic value, and would thus be slightly less appealing. Then comes the sequel with jacked graphics and features, but a loss of that nostalgic feeling that the old one had. Not long after I started pondering why, I came with a very quick conclusion. Although I was playing a 3D rts, the controls and interface had turned it into more of a 2D game. There wasn't the feeling of depth, or the sense of no defined "up direction". The formations had even been taken out, further reducing 3D strategy. I realized that if the sequel had come out before, I wouldn't be such a Homeworld fan. In the end, 2D/3D just changes the art and availability of improvements, but you have to know what you're doing. An example of a 2D game that would appear to have a tough transition from 2D to 3D is MMM (momentum missile mayhem). It would be very tough to imagine a 3D system that would have the predicted chain reaction of chaos that you get from a well placed shot, which is essentially the essence of the game. In the transition I thought of 2 options would make and break the sequel. 1: You give the player an fps view of the game which would hinder you ability to see the incoming vehicles for better chain reactions and thus turning the game into an utter failure. 2: You make the strip that the vehicles trek into a spore-esque globe that can allow you add an amazing array of new features. But it would not be able to stop there, as some features would be critical. The game must allow you to see more than one part of the globe at the same time, otherwise stray vehicles could get past your line of sight. Then you would have to add features to get those stray vehicles to concentrate on the action. Then you can add all the cool features and cool artwork, such as projectiles that bounce up high for added crushing affect etc. If the game does not have the correct improvements, the transition will obviously fail, but if it's someone who knows what they're doing, the transition is usually an improvement in art and features that can be made available.

2D is most likely best (2, Insightful)

keithburgun (1001684) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881781)

2D gameplay is generally best when playing on a 2D surface. All the problems come about from the discrepancy between 2D gameplay on a 3D surface. -Keith -www.expensiveplanetarium.com

Stickers are most likely best (3, Insightful)

Ostracus (1354233) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881957)

"2D gameplay is generally best when playing on a 2D surface."

Chess as a peel'em and stick game.

Re:2D is most likely best (1)

Poltras (680608) | more than 5 years ago | (#25886985)

Mmmmh...

[generic statement] [insightful karma whoring] [shameless plug]

Welcome to Slashdot. Here's your card.

Age of Empires a great example (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25881803)

Age of Empires and Age of Empires II is a great example of this. A great game that goes down the crapper in later versions trying to "go 3D."

Re:Age of Empires a great example (2, Informative)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881897)

>>Age of Empires and Age of Empires II is a great example of this. A great game that goes down the crapper in later versions trying to "go 3D."

You mean Age of Empires III, right? I and II were 2D.

And, yeah, I totally agree. Moving to 3D made the game worse.

Along the same lines, I'd say that Super Mario 3 was better than the Super Mario for the N64, but game companies always have to have the latest buzzwords or they think people won't buy it (and they may be right -- I bought Force Unleashed for the PS3 instead of the Wii since the Wii's resolution is so blocky).

While the main reason people do 3D instead of 2D sprite games these days is that 1) 3D scales (you don't have to have individual artwork for each resolution level) and 2) You don't have to animate each frame individually, you can do "2D" games that are actually 3D, but presented in such a way that the player doesn't need to worry about depth. Civ IV did a very nearly perfect job with this, with the exception that when you zoomed out, it sucked the map back onto a globe which obscured most of the map you were trying to zoom out to look at.

Re:Age of Empires a great example (2)

jaxtherat (1165473) | more than 5 years ago | (#25882009)

While the main reason people do 3D instead of 2D sprite games these days is that 1) 3D scales (you don't have to have individual artwork for each resolution level)

You could do this way more easily with Vector Graphics

and 2) You don't have to animate each frame individually, you can do "2D" games that are actually 3D, but presented in such a way that the player doesn't need to worry about depth.

Again, Vector Graphics

Re:Age of Empires a great example (1)

pizzach (1011925) | more than 5 years ago | (#25882117)

Or the third option: one large bitmap asset that you just scale down and do fancy "mode 7" tricks.

Re:Age of Empires a great example (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 5 years ago | (#25887863)

That doesn't work, because once you scale down small enough you start getting weird interpolation artifacts. For example, imagine you have a set of two pixel wide alternating stripes. What will it look like when you scale it by 2/3s? Icons and fonts are usually hand-tweaked at smaller sizes for exactly this reason.

Re:Age of Empires a great example (1)

pizzach (1011925) | more than 5 years ago | (#25890665)

True, but this wouldn't be any worse than a vector image or a 3D model with good algorithms.

Re:Age of Empires a great example (1)

complete loony (663508) | more than 5 years ago | (#25882189)

I think the point the OP was trying to make was; in 2D sprite or vector animation you have to draw the character moving from every perspective. But if you animate the character in 3D, you can still render the character on a flat plane at run time, but you don't have to duplicate the animation effort.

Re:Age of Empires a great example (2, Insightful)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 5 years ago | (#25882479)

Which also covers brand-new perspectives.

Consider a 2D game, say an RPG -- so you add all sorts of animations. Emotions, attacks, etc...

And you add different customization options. Clothing, various weapons and armor...

Now, what do you do when you add horses to that mix? Sure, vector is going to help a bit, but you're still probably going to be drawing fundamentally different pictures, at least for the pants (and maybe the weaponry), otherwise it's going to look stupid.

The question is whether this is going to be more work than moving some props around in 3D. Having not done the work, I can't really say, but I would think that 3D is easier -- especially as you start to think of more possible perspectives and movements.

In 3D, you could suddenly decide to make your character shrug, and not necessarily even test all the different clothes and weapons to make sure they look right. In 2D, a shrug would be a difficult proposition -- again, without making it look ridiculous.

Oh, and the "retro look" is a cop-out. There's nothing stopping you from doing the same thing in 3D as well -- just look at the Wii.

In-betweening (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#25901579)

Again, Vector Graphics

But in order to make your Vector Graphics character face any direction, you need to give your vertices three-dimensional coordinates instead of two, so that the system knows how to move the vertices when they're between the stored positions. Such a Vector Graphics engine is called (yes) a 3D engine.

Re:Age of Empires a great example (1)

Kokuyo (549451) | more than 5 years ago | (#25883377)

I'd also like to submit fighting games like Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. If they want to do something about shitty graphics, they should have gone vector based or something but this 3D crap is... well, crap.

Then again, there is a distinction to be made. After all, Soul Calibur (and we don't talk about IV. It never happened and if it did, it was a spectacular pile of fail) can hardly be compared to Street Fighter. Mortal Kombat should never have tried to go 3D. It's a different sub-genre altogether.

Re:Age of Empires a great example (3, Insightful)

grumbel (592662) | more than 5 years ago | (#25884201)

Along the same lines, I'd say that Super Mario 3 was better than the Super Mario for the N64,

I disagree. Not because Mario64 is better, but because *both* are damn good. The thing to realize is simply that 2D isn't 3D and visa verse. You can't really do 3D gameplay in 2D and neiher can you do 2D gameplay in 3D (well, you can, but it will most often feel ugly and restrictive). None of them is better then the other, they are simply very different forms of gameplay, with 2D being much better for clearer graphics and straight forward gameplay, while 3D is better for more complicated exploration orientated stuff.

The annoying thing is that almost all developers see 3D a a 'must have', so you see close to zero 2D games on the big consoles, the DS still gets some, but even there 2D is slowly dieing out for no good reasons, on the PSP its already as good as dead. I just wish that there was more stuff like Braid or Wario Land: Shake It!.

Re:Age of Empires a great example (1)

Dynedain (141758) | more than 5 years ago | (#25894501)

I'm going to disagree with you. The camera angle system in Mari64 was a nightmare leading to all kinds of clipping and camera-in-wall problems.

Mario Galaxy is much better about handling the camera, and rarely do I find myself reorienting it. Ratchet and Clank did a good job as well. I think that's the big discussion here is that 3D for 3D's sake generally isn't an improvement in and of itself. But adding to the gameplay, without causing undo hassle is a requirement for 3D in games to be successful.

Re:Age of Empires a great example (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 5 years ago | (#25895925)

>>I disagree. Not because Mario64 is better, but because *both* are damn good.

I think Mario64 was fun, sure, but I haven't played a 3D platformer that "works" as well as a 2D platformer. The problem is, in 3D, you have a lot harder time hitting the platforms. Even LittleBigPlanet has this problem - they solved the 3D platformer gameplay issues by trying to map it down to 2D, but retained enough 3D to make it annoying to play. The only real gameplay issues with LBP, in fact, come up when you're trying to move left and right on the screen at a certain depth, but the game "helpfully" slides the character to the depth it thinks you should be at.

Sony's alleged 2D ban (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#25901665)

The annoying thing is that almost all developers see 3D a a 'must have'

Even more annoying is that the console makers agree. If your game used 2D graphics, and it wasn't a straight port of a well-known arcade game released in North America, Sony Computer Entertainment America would more than likely decline to license your title.

Re:Age of Empires a great example (1)

McGuirk (1189283) | more than 5 years ago | (#25890793)

"I'd say that Super Mario 3 was better than the Super Mario for the N64"

I'd disagree, personally, but on a more objectional level, I'd have to say they're different types of games. Similar to LoZ: LTTP and OoT, they're arguably the best two games in the series, but they have very different play styles.

Honestly, I'd say that they're not really comparable beyond a notion of fun had when playing them.

Age of Mythology is 3D but great (1)

Lord Lode (1290856) | more than 5 years ago | (#25898827)

It's 3D but you can't rotate the camera unless you turn an option on. Normally, all you can do is zoom. I prefer the 2D gameplay with the 3D graphics so that at least your soldiers look nice no matter what direction they're standing.

Re:Age of Empires a great example (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#25885987)

What exactly do you mean? Being in 3d doesn't change the game mechanics any. It's still a top down RTS. If you never touch the camera, it might as well still be the same old isometric game it always was.

In the CAD World... (4, Funny)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881823)

...distances are much more difficult to judge on an isometric grid...

This is great fun to try to solve when a 3D CAD user moves an element "only" 500 feet away (temporarily, so s/he can re-use it later, and then forgets it) in the X-Y plane, but it goes 6 billion kilometres away in the Z dimension, making the graphic environment slightly larger than the solar system.

What usually happens then is that the wildly out-of-proportion 3D model is appended into visualization software (along with hundreds of others) and it's near impossible to figure out why the designed facility is so hard to find in the blackness of space.

Re:In the CAD World... (1)

KlaymenDK (713149) | more than 5 years ago | (#25882753)

Oohh I wish I had mod points for you! (And I'm so glad I'm alone in my office just now.)

Thanks mate, I can always need a good laugh.

Re:In the CAD World... (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 5 years ago | (#25885401)

It happens with 2d CAD as well. People leaving dots and bits of crap out in the middle of space mean that you may have to print a couple of hundred drawings and can't just say plot extents. At least the vendors fixed the issue where the center of very shallow arcs caused the same problem.

I've seen most of the evil people can do to CAD designs. I once threatened to replace a guy's machine with crayons, but was told he'd think he was a design checker and cause even more damage.

Re:In the CAD World... (2, Funny)

ovoskeuiks (665553) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889853)

CAD people shouldn't mix metric and imperial measurements like that. Unless of course you work at NASA

I want 2d metroid back (5, Insightful)

not already in use (972294) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881829)

Metroid was better as 2D. I thought Zelda was too. I can understand if they want to throw most of their weight behind 3d titles because they sell better, but I think new 2d titles of classic series would be cash cows on something like the virtual console, and cost a lot less to develop. Your only option to play good 2d games is on a hand held. No thanks, the last thing I need is to start at a 4 inch screen a foot from my face after 8 hours of looking at a computer monitor.

Re:I want 2d metroid back (5, Insightful)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881853)

One thing I hate about the transition from 2D to 3D is, especially in 3-rd person games, how controlling the camera becomes as important as controlling the character.

Look at how many Playstation games have one stick for controlling the character and the other stick for controlling the camera, which just isn't an issue with a 2D game.

Re:I want 2d metroid back (1)

famebait (450028) | more than 5 years ago | (#25884557)

Amen to that. But it's mainly a question of bad design/ignorance.

The (necessarily 3rd person) 2D levels have always been specifically designed for easy viewing from a 'static camera'. Otherwise you would hardly ever see your character. Somehow people manage to forget this aspect of level design when they move to third-person 3D.

Unless you have some amazingly awesome automatic camera controls, or are willing to spend on levels that are well-designed for well-placed static 3D cameras, you better stick to the only two easy options: static 2D cam or first person 3D.

Re:I want 2d metroid back (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#25886003)

So? You can control your head and feet independently, what's wrong with implementing that in a game?

Re:I want 2d metroid back (1)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 5 years ago | (#25887381)

So? You can control your head and feet independently, what's wrong with implementing that in a game?

That would be a FPS, and that does work well.

I don't usually run around with my eyes 10 feet back and 10 feet in the air with the direction that my feet move based on where my "eyes" are.

Re:I want 2d metroid back (2, Insightful)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888565)

Look at how many Playstation games have one stick for controlling the character and the other stick for controlling the camera, which just isn't an issue with a 2D game.

I'm not replying to dispute your point, but your comment here reminded me of something that's semi-on-topic, here. 2D scrolling games did have a camera, and that camera did cause problems. We never really percieved it as a camera because a.) it was 2D and the metaphor didn't really make sense until it we saw it in 3D and b.) the problems were far less prevalent in 2D than they were in 3D. Still, though, they were there, and we noticed them. Remember when Super Mario 2 came out and everybody oo'd and aa'd that you could go back to the left side of the screen? What about Super Mario World? The shoulder buttons shifted the screen to the left/right. In Super Mario 3, you had some stages that were auto-scrollers, which presented their own challenges. Zelda II, Double Dragon, R-Type, all these games had their own style when it came to how the screen scrolled.

Again, this isn't a dispute of your point, I just thought it was interesting that the 'camera' concept seemingly came from 3D but really it didn't. It's just a lot tougher with depth.

Re:I want 2d metroid back (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 5 years ago | (#25882007)

Agreed on Metroid, but at least they're still making 2D Metroid games. I want more 2D Mario, 3D Mario was a fscking travesty (I know they made New Super Mario Bros, but that's one game in the past 18 years. Hardly adequate.).

I don't agree that Zelda was better in 2D, though. I enjoy Zelda in 3D much more than I did in 2D.

Re:I want 2d metroid back (4, Interesting)

7Prime (871679) | more than 5 years ago | (#25882041)

I agree and disagree. In the case of both series, my favorite games are 3D, but the 2D games really had their merrit, ESPECIALLY metroid. Metroid Prime is probably my favorite game in the series, however, it's the only 3D Metroid that I thought was anywhere close to being as good as Super Metroid or Zero Mission. The other 3 3D metroids (if you want to even count Hunters) were pretty terrible (well... Prime 3 had it's moments).

Zelda, I have to completely disagree. I think the nature of that series really made it shine in 3D. Since it's a more epic, cinematic adventure game, with less attention on action, and more on problem solving... adding a third dimension really opened up a lot of new possibilities in their puzzle creation and navigation... not to mention expanding the epic/cinematic feel. Twilight Princess, Majora's Mask, and OoT far surpassed their 2D counterparts, and I think the team really learned a lot about good storytelling as the series progressed (especially Twilight Princess), while Link to the Past and Minish Cap have their charm, I've been forever greatful for the mainstays of the series going 3D. The exceptions were Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass, which I thought took the series in an unbelievably boring direction.

All-in-all I think that Nintendo has been the best company to make the transition from 2D to 3D. I really trust their judgement in the matter. Metroid is Retro, who as creative as they are, do not have the 3 decades of experience behind them in game production, and sometimes end up tripping over themselves. However, Mario Galaxy, and the Zelda series really proves to me that they really know how to make the jump from 2 to 3 dimensions while a) keeping the games as easy to control as in 2D, and b) knowing what to change and what to keep when making the transition.

That's the thing. Some companies throw everything they've done previously in the series away, and basically create a new series with the same characters. This means that the series suffers, once again, from the same basic learning curve as any new series. Other companies try to keep everything EXACTLY the same... and in the process make a game that is completely out of its own dimension. The wise game designers are able to pick and choose elements that work well in the transition, and throw out the old.

RPGs don't count, however... pretty much every RPG can be done well in 3D, since the lack of timed action means that precise control is not an issue. Not that every first in an RPG series to go 3D is great (I'm not a huge fan of FF7 when compared to the games on either side of it, for instance), but there's no reason why 3D should hinder that genre. That pretty much goes for adventure too, with some exceptions.

Re:I want 2d metroid back (2, Informative)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 5 years ago | (#25884405)

I don't think Zelda was very cinematic before it turned 3d, it was less linear and more about exploration.

Phantom Hourglass was way better than the 3d Zeldas though too damn easy. Then again, all somewhat recent Zeldas are too damn easy since the damage you take doesn't grow much while your HP and the healing items you carry increase a lot and in any Zelda after the first two there are tons of breakable things to get hearts from instead of having to beat up enemies to get health back.

Re:I want 2d metroid back (1)

7Prime (871679) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893087)

First of all, I don't see Zelda's difficulty coming from the action elements, but more from the puzzles and problem solving. After the first two games, the creators were obviously more concerned with making an interesting adventure game with action elements, than the other way around. As a long time RPG and adventure game fan, I tend to agree with their direction. However, the action is intrinsicly tied in with the problem solving, which makes for a lot of interesting and difficult gameplay.

I thought Phantom Hourglass was a joke... only Zelda game I've never finished. The temple of the ocean king was absolutely horrible. People had problems with Majora's Mask's timer (though I didn't)... but that was about an hour-and-a-half. I'd take Link to the Past, Minish Cap, Link's Awakening, as well as ALL the 3D games (including Wind Waker) over it. Let Capcom go back to doing the handheld Zelda's, Nintendo seems to forgotten how to do a good one.

Re:I want 2d metroid back (1)

default luser (529332) | more than 5 years ago | (#25901163)

I have to agree, Phantom Hourglass is the first Zelda in a long time that I didn't finish.

Two things that really irked me:

1. There was no obvious forward progression. I kept having to go back to the same damn dungeon too many times to count, and every time it was the same dungeon with a few more levels accessable, and a clock to annoy me. No, I don't mind going back to a dungeon again if say a large event occured in-game that changed everything. But Hourglass is just repetitive for the sake of making the game seem longer.

ADDENTUM: if you're going to make a game THIS damn repetitive, do us gamers a favor and put in a quest log. If I so much as put the game down for a week, I had no freaking idea where I needed to go next.

2. The touch screen control is a bad idea for a top-down Zelda game, PERIOD. The problem is, some items benefitted from the interface (boomerang, bow and arrows) while others suffered (swordplay, movement), but overall the gameplay got worse. I say leave in the drawing gimmicks, and give me back my buttons.

Hell, I'd finish Zelda II before Hourglass.

Re:I want 2d metroid back (1)

GrayNimic (1051532) | more than 5 years ago | (#25895373)

Not that every first in an RPG series to go 3D is great (I'm not a huge fan of FF7 when compared to the games on either side of it, for instance), but there's no reason why 3D should hinder that genre.

FF7 seemed like an example of 3D graphics, not of 3D gameplay, imo. The movement environments were all essentially 2D, but instead of sprites with a top-down or isometric view, we had polygon-based models and a viewpoint that varied between scenes (isometric, "behind the head", angled, etc) without feeling jarring. The movement space was all things that can be done in 2D, from what I remember - it's not like having a ladder is a 3D revelation, and running in a circle with spokes is likewise a 2D movement arena that can just look more interesting when a 3D perspective is used.

But overall, FF7 was 2D gameplay with 3D artwork. Was there anything specific in the gameplay that I'm just forgetting that actually used the 3D nature?

(I contrast this with something like Mario64 or even Super Mario RPG: The Legend of the Seven Stars (isometric SNES game), where the extra degree is used for movement and does functionally impact gameplay elements (more difficult jumps, more places to look/consider/track, etc).

Re:I want 2d metroid back (1)

7Prime (871679) | more than 5 years ago | (#25901867)

Actually, I want to take that a step backwards. I think that FF6 was actually fully 3D gameplay with 2D graphics. The game attempted to portray a very real 3D world on a 2D plain... sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. But I think that 3D gameplay was already there before FF7. These are RPGs we're talking about, so the difference in gameplay between 2D and 3D isn't exactly going to be all that noticable in the first place. But I would say that there's more difference in the presentation of a 3D world between FF5 and FF6 than there is between FF6 and FFX. It was the first game to really explore height as noticable dimension. Tons of stairways up and over objects, buildings that you could walk behind, etc. They struggled with 2D hardware, which is why I'm so eager to see a 3D DS remake (FF4 was good but FF6 would be the biggest benefitiary of a 3D makeover, because it was already concieved in a semi-3D way). FF7 changed it's graphical format to make each camera angle uniquely fitting to the environment, but besides that, it didn't really change anything from FF6s concept of space.

Re:I want 2d metroid back (2, Funny)

nkh (750837) | more than 5 years ago | (#25883951)

And I'd like PETA to create Meatroid, a Flash game where Samus would cook parasites from different planets. The hentai version would have a few takoyaki recipes for tentacular action. THAT would be great!

Re:I want 2d metroid back (1)

MogNuts (97512) | more than 5 years ago | (#25884069)

I have to say I agree completely. The new Bionic Commando, which is 2D but utilizes 3D, ends up being the perfect implementation. That's what I hate about the new 3D games--always dealing with the camera. Another one--Castle Crashers--is a nice 3D RPG that is 2D. That said, anybody have any recommendations of any more good games (for the PC preferably, and definitely no handhelds like the OP) that meld 2D and 3D like the aforementioned? Especially RPGs or strategy games with a good story?

Game recommendations (1)

Jabbrwokk (1015725) | more than 5 years ago | (#25890333)

anybody have any recommendations of any more good games (for the PC preferably, and definitely no handhelds like the OP) that meld 2D and 3D like the aforementioned? Especially RPGs or strategy games with a good story?

Well, I don't know how much 3D-2D "melding" you're looking for, but The Witcher for PC uses the Aurora engine (same one which powered Knights of the Old Republic) with some significant modifications. The game lets you play in over-the-shoulder mode, for a closer-to-the-action perspective, or you can zoom out and play from an isometric perspective, making it more like an old-school PC RPG (Ultima series, e.g.). The whole game is 3D and has an excellent story, non-linear gameplay and lots of choices to make, things to do and women to woo.

Also, the Warhammer 40K Dawn of War series is a 3D strategy series, and lets you manipulate the camera as much or as little as you like, your choice. Play it in a Starcraft perspective, or zoom in to the battlefield to watch your space marines hack an Ork to pieces with a ripper.

Re:I want 2d metroid back (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 5 years ago | (#25884339)

Metroid Prime was very good, I didn't like the sequels much though (Prime 3 is pretty much like Fusion in terms of linearity and the containers you could get kinda sucked since you use the E tanks for almost everything and the missiles and ship missiles were practically useless after the first few packs). Zelda suffered a lot from going 3d IMO, the puzzles got much dumber since it turned into matching the item to the special thing on the wall though maybe a bit of that is the age of the franchise too (shooting a statue in the giant eye with an arrow may have been surprising in the first game that did it but by now players just shoot anything that looks remotely like a target). 2D Zeldas tended to have more ambiguous level elements so it wasn't all about "hey, there's a grapple point, let's grapple it!" and the combat was less about targetting and stuff while in most of the 2d games bosses were also more than just spamming the dungeon item until you hit them three times.

Then again we're complaining here while Wario Land is on the store shelves...

Tomba? (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 5 years ago | (#25884795)

Who remembers that game, IIRC it was a 2d game however there were some minor 3d aspects to it, and it was one of the best platformers I've ever played

3 words (1)

MasterOfMagic (151058) | more than 5 years ago | (#25885079)

Mega Man 9

Re:I want 2d metroid back (1)

poot_rootbeer (188613) | more than 5 years ago | (#25886127)

I think new 2d titles of classic series would be cash cows on something like the virtual console, and cost a lot less to develop. Your only option to play good 2d games is on a hand held.

Or, as I'm sure you must be aware by now, on something like the Virtual Console?

Mega Man 9. Geometry Wars.Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix (...Alpha Championship Edition Zero Alpha II). They're all newly-released 2D titles playable on the big screen, made possible by the reduced development and distribution costs of a 'budget' channel like WiiWare or Xbox Live Arcade.

It's a great time to be a "retro" gamer right now.

Re:I want 2d metroid back (1)

not already in use (972294) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888817)

I have both mega man 9 and geometry wars, and I think they're great. They're not comparable to games like metroid, though.

Worms (4, Insightful)

ozphx (1061292) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881837)

The Worms series suffered greatly from 3D. The extra degrees of freedom made craters and other hazards much less of an obstacle (side-stepped!) - and stray ordnance was much less likely to hit anything hilarious.

I've been playing around with Entanglar [dunnchurchill.com] lately - which is a 2D physics / multiplayer library. Hopefully I'll be rich off the next Geometry Wars, and I will donate my considerable riches to the person who can troll twitter in the funniest way possible.

Re:Worms (1)

theheadlessrabbit (1022587) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881899)

actually, 'geometry wars' is some of the most fun i've had on my NDS.

its also a perfect example of 'game-play first' kind of game design. the particle effects make the visuals interesting enough to hold their own against today's FPS, but its still button mashing greatness.

zelda: phantom hourglass (also for the NDS) is, in my opinion, another example of 3D done well in a game. it is a 3D game, but its overhead view is almost 2D.

i'm sick of playing games that look fantastic, then get horribly boring after 15 minutes of game play.

Re:Worms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25882061)

"i'm sick of playing games that look fantastic, then get horribly boring after 15 minutes of game play."

So sex is out for you, huh?

Re:Worms (1)

theheadlessrabbit (1022587) | more than 5 years ago | (#25882391)

"i'm sick of playing games that look fantastic, then get horribly boring after 15 minutes of game play."

So sex is out for you, huh?

what? sex that lasts MORE than 15 minutes?

I'm posting on slashdot from my parent's basement.

if i were anywhere close to a woman, i'd likely be finished well before ubuntu had even finished loading on my system.

(i would have said 'vista', but that's more than enough time to do it twice)

Re:Worms (3, Funny)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 5 years ago | (#25883197)

You're saying that sex has bad gameplay? Try it before you bag it bro! [Edit] Oh, btw, you gotta try the multiplayer, the single player game's just a tutorial.

Re:Worms (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 5 years ago | (#25884423)

Most games get boring way faster than 15 minutes because the first hour or two consists of the intro and tutorial. Once you get through the slump of a story that shouldn't have thrown so much at you so early and a more time consuming version of the manual that seems to be insulting your intelligence you can finally start learning how to play the real game (which tutorials never teach you since they seem to be so occupied with buttons that they won't bother with strategies and other things that go beyond what the quick info card could hold).

good in some games, bad in others (4, Insightful)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881849)

The advantage of 3D graphics, even without zooming the camera, is that it means you've gone away from the limits of the sprite sets. Consider how silly top-down flying games like Star Control looked when the ships could only point in eight directions. You fire your gun and the shot passes to the right of the target, turn one click, now it passes to the left. Ridiculous. IF this ship were rendered, you would have a true 360 degrees of rotation without creating an intolerable number of bitmaps.

Like anything in games, you can use too much and too little of the right tools. Dawn of War was pretty neat to look at but most of the capabilities of the engine were wasted. Yes, it's very cool to do in-engine cut scenes and yes, it's cool to be able to zoom right in and look a unit in the eyes but there's simply no time to do that when playing a frantic battle. There's not even a playback feature so you can see the results of your handiwork from the ground. No, you zoom in like that and you lose the ability to play properly. In the end it is a cool yet useless feature.

The thing that developers have kind of forgotten from time to time is that some play mechanics work in 3D, others don't. Others disagree with this but I never thought Sonic worked in a 3D format, it was always meant to be 2D. You can use 3D to render it but the camera should remain fixed and it should be a side-scroller. Was never a Mario fan so I don't know how they feel about the classic versions versus the 3D ones but I would imagine that they feel like entirely different games. Of course, we know why this happened in the PSX/N64 era. 3D graphics were the new thing and management pushed the mandate that everything should be 3D, period, just like Ted Turner colorizing old classics.

I like that they brought up Advanced Wars. The beauty of that game is that it looks great on the small screen and does it using techniques familiar to us from the SNES days, just with higher bit depths. But the core gameplay is there, the graphics look great, and the game accomplishes exactly what it set out to do and looks good doing it. I can just imagine some designer coming into the sequel and getting all gaga over making it 3D. Nope, it ain't a 3D game, never was and never should be. There's many good 3D combat games that could be made but they wouldn't be Advanced Wars. If that's the game you want to make, go make it and leave AV alone.

Re:good in some games, bad in others (2, Interesting)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881907)

There's nothing wrong in using 3D where 2D usually goes. The problem appears when you try to use the mechanics wrongly, as you note.

Take star control. Render said ships in 3D, but keep the view mechanics the same... problem solved! And the game looks better now too!

Re:good in some games, bad in others (1)

grumbel (592662) | more than 5 years ago | (#25884241)

One however has to be careful with that. In games like Contra or similar games using 3D models instead of sprites can make the collision detection pretty unpredictable and using 3D backdrops in combination with 2D gameplay can often feel very restrictive and unnatural, something that you don't get with classic 2D sprites. Of course much of that trouble can be avoided when handled with care, but I have seen quite a few 2D games with 3D sprites that I would have preferred with 2D sprites instead.

Re:good in some games, bad in others (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25882099)

Vector graphics != 3D graphics. What you mean is that Star Control would look better with vectors instead of sprites. And yes, it might also look better with 3D vectors, but that would mean turning the game into 3D, changing its nature and not necessarily for the better. That's what TFA means.

Style (or tech) over substance is a big problem in the present-day computer game industry. Designers don't even seem to consider what fits the scenario, and pick the latest most hip visual tech in a knee-jerk fashion to the detriment of the result. I was cringing and laughing simultaneously when I discovered that the South Park game was in shaded 3D even though old-fashioned 2D sprites would have been a perfect match to the attitude of the series.

Re:good in some games, bad in others (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25882627)

South Park, the show, is shaded 3D. It is much easier to make and animate 3D models than it is to animate sprite based graphics.

Re:good in some games, bad in others (1)

grumbel (592662) | more than 5 years ago | (#25884661)

Incorrect, South Park is for most part 2D vector graphics [spscriptorium.com] .

Style vs. Functionality (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25882133)

This will reinforce and reiterate the above. If you bring it down to the basics, it's mostly a question of style vs. functionality.

You can have a 2D game that looks 3D. (Pre-rendered sprites, etc.) And game play will still be pretty much as it was without the 3D look. So it's a style choice, and if done well it can make things look nice.

Likewise, you could have a 3D game that has the render engine set up to produce cartoon lines and cell-shading. Yet it's obvious from the mechanics and gameplay that it's built on a 3D engine.

The thing that should be considered first and foremost is the mechanics. Will 3D space benefit the gameplay, or will it water it down or make it too hard or confusing? If not, just make a 2D game but give it the 3D look (if desired) via the artwork. Going the other way is even more of a style choice. Cell shading can look wierd based on the light dynamics or color pallette, so it's actually more things to work out on the content side design wise. Although if you're doing something based off an existing comic or cartoon with an established look, the cell-shading might not be a bad idea.

Re:good in some games, bad in others (2, Interesting)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 5 years ago | (#25882649)

I would imagine that they feel like entirely different games.

That much isn't always bad. Not a great example, but Duke Nukem 1 and 2 were kind of "meh" for me -- could never really get into them. Duke 3D was a whole different story, and if Duke Nukem Forever does come out, I'll play it.

And for some things, like Zelda, it really feels like an evolutionary change -- like yes, this is the same game, but that's the natural direction for them to take it. Ocarina of Time is still one of my all-time favorites.

I don't disagree about some play mechanics, but it is somewhat a matter of taste. I do, however, find myself agreeing with the sibling poster that 2D games, rendered in 3D, work very well -- Beyond Good & Evil worked very well as a 3D game, but I doubt I'd want to play the little air-hockey minigame in 2D. Maybe I'm just spoiled by fancy graphics, but it just seems right in 3D.

Re:good in some games, bad in others (1)

asb (1909) | more than 5 years ago | (#25882703)

The advantage of 3D graphics, even without zooming the camera, is that it means you've gone away from the limits of the sprite sets. Consider how silly top-down flying games like Star Control looked when the ships could only point in eight directions. You fire your gun and the shot passes to the right of the target, turn one click, now it passes to the left. Ridiculous. IF this ship were rendered, you would have a true 360 degrees of rotation without creating an intolerable number of bitmaps.

The things you describe have nothing to do with the "number of dimensions" a graphics engine uses. Asteroids, for example, is 2D and has a rendered ship. If you have been grown in 3D it can be possible that you consider the restricted movement in some 2D games a limitation. On most 2D games the limited movement is just part of the game play. Game play consists of many things. Free movement is not an absolute value that guarantees improved game play.

Why should we care about the number of bitmaps? If the game works, then it works and the number of bitmaps should not be an issue to anyone.

BTW, all the older "full 3D" FPS games pretended to provide free movement but still did not allow the character to do the simplest ordinary things (like climbing on top of things). How ridiculous would that be?

Re:good in some games, bad in others (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#25899093)

Why should we care about the number of bitmaps? If the game works, then it works and the number of bitmaps should not be an issue to anyone.

Having to hand-draw more bitmaps means less time to work on other parts of the game.

Re:good in some games, bad in others (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25883321)

IF this ship were rendered, you would have a true 360 degrees of rotation without creating an intolerable number of bitmaps.

You can do arbitrary 2D scaling and rotation in hardware on the Game Boy Advance and the DS.

The problem isn't 2d vs 3d, it's the tools you have to work with.

Re:good in some games, bad in others (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25883469)

3d graphics have nothing to do with the number of directions one can point a space ship in. It's a hell of a lot easier to scale and rotate a few bitmaps than to build a whole 3d renderer.

Re:good in some games, bad in others (2, Informative)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 5 years ago | (#25883541)

I have to disagree with you.

I'm a VFX artist so I use a lot of 3D to solve problems. And I also use a LOT of 2D to solve problems.

First. You can have one sprite rotate an infinite number of degrees without ever entering the third dimension. If it's an isometric top down view. Just rotate the sprite. There. Done. A "Sprite for each direction" has been outdated for decades. Next you're going to be saying we need a unique sprite for every screen position. ;) I kid I kid.

Secondly. I think that we're extremely under utilizing our super fast graphics optimized desktop systems and consoles. Pre-Rendered content will by and large look better. It can be put onto a render farm and baked for days on end. We have gigs of ram and 7200rpm hard drives. Our systems can easily handle a gorgeous super sampled sprite with 10,000 frames of animation. I think sprites are under appreciated. Load up Baldur's Gate 2. It still looks great. I'm terribly addicted to Fallout 3. But Fallout 2 still looks pretty good 10 years later. That's thanks to sprites. I would love to see some HDRI sprites rendered with silky smooth animation. Especially for Turnish based games.

Third. And by this point I'm pretty much not even responding to your post just rambling FYI in case you're trying to figure out what I'm responding to... :) 2D allows you to cheat things much easier. You can pour detail into 2D. You can't pour detail into 3D. Because everything has to "work". Want to increase the detail on a building in the background in 2D? No problem have a matte painter touch it up in an hour or two. Want to increase the detail on a building in the background in 3D? Well... now you have to actually put in that detail... and make it work. It's infinitely more difficult to cheat.

Lastly 2D lets you get infinitely more stylistic. In 3D everything has to be procedural. It goes back to having to be "right" and actually "work". A painterly style requires a nightmare of work in 3D. In 2D it's easy. You paint it.

Even if we could render out of Renderman, Mental Ray or Brazil right now in real time games still wouldn't look as good as movies without the final 2D Polish. It's the composite that can take a shot that in 3D rendered out looking like a video game and sell it as photo-real.

2D is the underutilized and under appreciated workhorse that I think needs to be re-evaluated by game companies. 2D has come a long way just as 3D has. There isn't a false dichotomy between "Modern 3D Game" and "SNES looking game". You can have a 2D Game which is visually more photoreal than a 3D game. And you can have a 3D Game which is more stylized than a 2D Game.

There is no "VS" there is just pragmatic implementation of what works best.

Re:good in some games, bad in others (1)

dwarfking (95773) | more than 5 years ago | (#25884817)

I'm a VFX artist

Good, I need your help. I'm a coder, not an artist.

I've been recently (last year or so) playing around with various game programming, so maybe you can help me with one of the problems I'm encountering with sprites.

I have a game framework that allows for character movement in any one of the 8 cardinal directions. I would like the appearance to match the direction.

Outside of of having 8 different views of the sprite pre-rendered, how could you make use of sprite rotations to do the same? A character facing due north would have his back to the player, where a character facing due south would have his front toward the player.

I understand how it can be accomplished with 3D models. I have been looking at some sprite sheets that were created when a 3D modeler posed a 3D character facing in each direction then took a static image picture.

For one character I have been testing with, there are 8 frames of animation for each direction, resulting in 64 independent images. The player looks 3D and the terrain is basically isometric in design. The overall look is nice, but I can't see how I could achieve the same results with simple sprite rotations. I'm using OpenGL to perform the rendering so I can rotate in any of the 3 planes.

Can you suggest any examples or tutorials that show a smaller set of sprites that could be rotated cleanly to show the appearance of a character moving in different directions?

Re:good in some games, bad in others (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25900475)

(Note: the following is from a programmer, but I've done a fair share of rough story-boarding both for animation and live-action television.)

Assuming your sprite are symmetric, you can easily reduce this to five sprites, . You need one sprite for north (facing away from the player), south (facing towards the player), east (facing to the left), north-east (facing away with part of back shown), and south-west (facing toward with part of front shown). West is a reflection of east, north-west is a reflection of north-east, and south-east is a reflection of south-west.

If your sprites aren't symmetric, you need all eight sprites.

Re:good in some games, bad in others (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#25900345)

We have gigs of ram and 7200rpm hard drives.

No console has gigs of RAM, and very few PCs are connected to a TV that's large enough to allow four people to sit around it as opposed to buying three more PCs and three more monitors. Worse, over the past decade and a half, Sony Computer Entertainment America has shown itself likely to reject proposals for 2D games on its PS1 and PS2 consoles.

Another advantage of 3D is that it's more amenable to user-generated content. Say the player wants to make a new costume for a character. The Animal Crossing games, for instance, let the player create a texture to be applied to the character's clothing. How much redrawing would the player have to do to add a costume to a 2D character?

Re:good in some games, bad in others (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25884289)

There's no reason to stick with static sprites when dealing with 2d graphics. Modern processors are more than fast enough to rotate sprites in real time meaning that you can shoot in more than 16 predefined directions.

And no one's stopping you from making vector based 2d-graphics. That way you could even use zooming in/out without a 3d-engine.

Re:good in some games, bad in others (1)

Moldiver (1343577) | more than 5 years ago | (#25884419)

The way to display "sprites" today are simply 3d-planes using OpenGL or DirectX that are textured. They can be easily scaledc & rotated and even moderate cards can do thousands of them.

Re:good in some games, bad in others (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 5 years ago | (#25885195)

Dawn of War had the sync kills which were long animations that made the attacker invulnerable while they were playing, that's a critical gameplay feature at high-level play and wouldn't be feasible with 2d graphics (since they can be performed into any direction and against a large variety of targets). In fact a huge advantage of 3d is simple skeletal animation, being able to run an animation with different models without needing to redo the animation, with sprites every frame only works for exactly one view direction and one character. The amount of data for n characters (or other shapes) and m frames of animation is O(n*m) with sprites and O(n+m) for 3D models.

Sure, you can do the "floating mess of sprites" approach that uses sprites as bones in skeletal animation but that looked ugly and was limited since movements are always 3D, even if you project them onto a 2D sprite. A character that can only rotate his joints around one axis looks silly.

I think Sonic turned out pretty well in Secret Rings exceptthe game is full of stupid side challenges that are mandatory, high speed movement isn't controllable when you can't see more than a quarter second ahead so a racing game-like setup is probably the best approach. Mario definitely changed, turned into a very exploration-driven game in 64 while the sequels slowly rectified that and Galaxy is pretty much linear within a level, like the 2d games.

Re:good in some games, bad in others (1)

MacTO (1161105) | more than 5 years ago | (#25885525)

> The advantage of 3D graphics, even without zooming the camera, is that it means you've gone away from the limits of the sprite sets. Consider how silly top-down flying games like Star Control looked when the ships could only point in eight directions. (...) IF this ship were rendered, you would have a true 360 degrees of rotation without creating an intolerable number of bitmaps.

Actually, 3-D gives you 4*pi steradians of rotation.

As someone previously mentioned, it is possible to "render" in 2-D as well as 3-D. Though I find the term rendering misleading because it carries a lot of modern baggage with it. The same transformations that are used on verticies in 3-D graphics can be reduced to 2-D verticies, while the coordinate positions of pixels can be reduced to verticies. This is the sort of thing users of Photoshop do almost every day. It is also fairly efficient if you use trig lookup tables, so no GPU is required.

So why was the use of sprites at each angle common. Two reasons. A big reason is image quality. Old games had small sprites on low resolution displays, so rotated sprites at funky angles would look bad. The computers weren't fast enough to interpolate pixels either. Yet speed and resolution do not blight modern computers. (It is also worth noting that 3-D graphics would look terrible on those low resolution displays, and real-time rendering meant that they were often limited to hideous looking polygons or wire-frame.)

The second reason for multiple sprites is artistic control. Do you want to simulate a light source in a 2-D environment? You can't do that by simply rotating a sprite. You would need multiple sprites. Do you want the sprite to do something special when it's pointing a certain way, well you can do that too.

Bump mapping (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#25900387)

Do you want to simulate a light source in a 2-D environment? You can't do that by simply rotating a sprite. You would need multiple sprites.

Or one sprite with a bump channel [wikipedia.org] .

Re:good in some games, bad in others (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 5 years ago | (#25885831)

Dawn of War did have a play back feature, but I don't know of anyone who bothered watching the game over again.

There was a planned instant replay window in the Winter expansion for sync kills but nothing ever came of it. Hopeful DoW2 will handle it better.

Re:good in some games, bad in others (1)

Madsy (1049678) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889631)

The technique of using eight directional sprites like in Star Control, has nothing to do with 2D vs 3D. What you suggest as superior smooth rotation, is just 2D vector and matrix transformations applied to either texture coordinates or the vertices themselves. Where the vertices for simple sprites can be just four points to define a quadrilateral. Even the old SNES supports proper individual rotation of sprites.
Just because you use transformations and/or a polygon rasterizer doesn't mean that your game is "3D".
Beats me how you got modded Insightful.

Re:good in some games, bad in others (1)

MeanderingMind (884641) | more than 5 years ago | (#25890145)

I like that they brought up Advanced Wars. The beauty of that game is that it looks great on the small screen and does it using techniques familiar to us from the SNES days, just with higher bit depths. But the core gameplay is there, the graphics look great, and the game accomplishes exactly what it set out to do and looks good doing it. I can just imagine some designer coming into the sequel and getting all gaga over making it 3D. Nope, it ain't a 3D game, never was and never should be. There's many good 3D combat games that could be made but they wouldn't be Advanced Wars. If that's the game you want to make, go make it and leave AV alone.

Fun Fact: They already did that. If I recall correctly the Battalion Wars series is an offshoot of Advance Wars, in 3D.

Re:good in some games, bad in others (1)

mujadaddy (1238164) | more than 5 years ago | (#25890181)

Consider how silly top-down flying games like Star Control looked when the ships could only point in eight directions.

Kill the heretic. 8 directions is a FEATURE that helps immensely versus the computer and to a lesser extent other players.

Re:good in some games, bad in others (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25894631)

It's not even 8 directions, more like 16.

And I agree, it's a gameplay mechanic. I wouldn't want to play Star Control with completely smooth rotation since it would ruin the game.

2D games are cheaper (1)

cliffski (65094) | more than 5 years ago | (#25891733)

2D games are often cheaper to make, which means that you can make more niche games that wouldn't be justified with a big team of modellers and artists and a 3D engine.
republic: The revolution was a political strategy game (niche) that took about 50 people 5 years to make and cost millions (I worked at Elixir). On the other hand I made Democracy [positech.co.uk] on my own in under a year, purely by doing away with the (largely irrelevant) 3D world and going back to a 2D style of gameplay.
This means that Democracy made a profit (and got a sequel) and Elixir went bankrupt.

If people are happier to accept that 2D games can be fun, you would see a lot more low budget, indie developed games for the PC, rather than just triple-A shoddy 3D console ports and yet another WW2 FPS.
This can only be a good thing.

Anyone remember "Majesty"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25881893)

What an awesome game! 2D was more than adequate! I still play it both under Windows and Linux. Just a lot of fun!

Re:Anyone remember "Majesty"? (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 5 years ago | (#25887771)

The official title was "Majesty: The Fantasy Kingdom Simulator" :)

Jim did a good job designing it.

And yes, the art team did a great job on it - Tom certainly stressed over it! But it was worth it.

Little Big Planet (1)

deek (22697) | more than 5 years ago | (#25882287)

LBP is an interesting modern example of mashing 2D and 3D together. It's essentially a 2D platforming game implemented in a 3D environment with 3 2D planes which your character can move between.

The creators chose this design because they thought it was more enjoyable to play. A full 3D world was too complex, and detracted from the simple fun they were aiming at.

Having played the game, I think they made a good decision. It's got the simplicity of a 2D platformer, but the extra depth provided by the multilayered approach makes the gameplay more interesting.

Case in point: (2, Insightful)

Trogre (513942) | more than 5 years ago | (#25882397)

Lemmings 3D

Fallout 1 & 2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25882527)

The Fallout Isometric Engine and Infinity Engine are incredible examples of the buffer between 2d and 3d graphics that didn't quite have that same effect when transferred to 2d.

The Gamebryo engine has been breaking standards since 2001, and the Aurora Engine, was a necessary step for Bioware to compete in the great graphics race of the new millennium.

Personally, my Anonymous Coward bias leaves me feeling the older engines left a lot more to the imagination. With less emphasis on 'to the T' graphic detail, a lot more focus and budget can be spent on scripting, and general atmosphere that the dimension the game is in holds no relevance.

Black Isle was able to make an award winning game using sprites that could be angled in 6 directions, and has nestled a place in our heart worthy of franchises resurrecting what was thought to be dead.

It's like technicolor television. Not necessarily top of the line, but a stepping stone that can still be appreciated.

It depends on the developer. (1)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 5 years ago | (#25882961)

I think the transition doesn't work because most of the time either the developer is trying to milk the popularity of an old game or they're trying to reproduce the gameplay of the original without properly taking into account the 3d medium. The former, of course, is almost always the case.

But there certainly have been exceptions. I think the Metroid Prime series is one. It might not have the charm of the 2D version, but it certainly is great in its own right.

I think the games that make the transition well are those that reinvent the gameplay of the original to some extent. Or in the case of Final Fantasy 3 and 4 on the DS, they've basically recreated the original. Being an RPG, however, does make the transition a lot easier.

Ultimately, it comes down to the creativity and sensibility of the developer, not the chosen medium.

Often a waste of time and money (1)

KlausBreuer (105581) | more than 5 years ago | (#25883249)

Well, 3D games require a heck of a lot more work, thus making the development more expensive.
For some reason, managers consider 3D to be the Latest And Greatest - why? Some games certainly require 3D (flight simulators come to mind, and I'm sure STALKER looks better in 3D than 2D), but on many others it's simply completely wasted. An commenter mentioned the great (2D) game 'Worms' - lovely and very funny in 2D, boring in 3D.

Many games (strategy) are simply easier to view, judge and control using 2D. And, interestingly, the same counts for quite a few shooters. For example, have a look at http://www.rocksolidarcade.com/games/robokill/ [rocksolidarcade.com] - nice little shoot-em-up. The graphics are quite simple (not even scrolling), but they fit perfectly, and I'm having a lot of fun. In 3D, this would be a whole lot less good.

2D also has the interesting advantage of being able to have higher-resolution graphics. Compare the concept of a pile of skulls in the corner: in 3D, this takes up a lot of triangles and even with good texturing, simply does not look as good as a detailed 2D-image of that pile, which also uses a lot less GPU power to display.
Yes, of course this depends on the game - on an FPS, it obviously has to be in 3D ;)

But I find myself playing a lot of old games these days (maybe I'm just an Old Fart), and enjoying the simple 2D graphics involved. They are quite a bit more fun than most new (and expensive!) games who insist on being 3D.

Warcraft 2, Starcraft, Warcraft 3 (2, Interesting)

azgard (461476) | more than 5 years ago | (#25883301)

I found Warcraft 2 (2D) a bit easier to play than Starcraft (isometric), but Starcraft looked a lot better. I didn't like the Warcraft 3 at all. Not only it looked worse than Starcraft because of jagged 3D graphics, but you also got to control the camera. And you know, I do want to control the strategic aspect of the game, not to fumble with the camera during the battle. It's just stupid micromanagement.

Re:Warcraft 2, Starcraft, Warcraft 3 (2, Informative)

EvolutionsPeak (913411) | more than 5 years ago | (#25883525)

In all fairness, you can pretty easily ignore the camera component of War3 and get along just fine.

Re:Warcraft 2, Starcraft, Warcraft 3 (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 5 years ago | (#25884821)

Yeah, I never knew you could change the camera in that game, until this article.

Re:Warcraft 2, Starcraft, Warcraft 3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25897237)

Or you could save some money and just stick with Warcraft 2.

Of the great video games from my youth, I don't remember ever praising their improved graphics while admitting their gameplay was basically pretty much as good as the previous version if you ignored some features. Then again, I don't remember any sequels being among my favorites; sequels have always been 'basically like the old version but with better graphics and more complex gameplay'.

3D can nearly always be better. (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 5 years ago | (#25883555)

I can think of few scenarios where 3D isn't going to be better but the issue is a lot of 3D games simply have bad implementations.

Whilst some games are far better in 3D as the summary suggests- FPS, RTS again as the summary mentions, some not so. For me platformers spring to mind here, a lot of platformers that went 3D absolutely suck- Sonic the hedgehog in 3D was never any good imo for example. There are however some that work well, there are those that went third person succesfully such as Mario 64 and franchises that started in 3D such as Tomb Raider also. Here's my point however, I'm not saying we get rid of 2D style perspectives such as your side platformers, your top down games and so forth but I am saying that even these are better in 3D- games like Cloning Clyde, Little Big Planet for example.

Again going back to RTS, it's much easier to have tanks flip over when they're blown up or helicopters fall out the sky reasonably in a 3D engine. My favourite RTS ever, Command and Conquer wasn't 3D and I liked it's sequels less but I believe it was poor game design not a question of 2D vs. 3D as one of my other favourites, Warcraft, only got better when it went 3D.

It's simply down to fluidity of animation, primarily, you can have things turn as you see fit without having to draw a sprite for every angle. You could have things look good in 2D by spending many many hours drawing millions of frames, but then you almost certainly wouldn't have convincing shadows or lighting still for things such as RTS.

3D in itself is much better and has much more potential than 2D, the question is whether game designers can adapt to it and use it to it's potential. We already know the answer to that somewhat- some can and some can't but just as we had good and bad 2D games we have good and bad 3D games. There is no fundamental reason why 3D has to be worse, only poor implementation- again something that can happen with 2D but that we often forget because we only remember the good 2D games as the bad fall from our memories and this is why so many people have such a rose tinted view of 2D.

I for one (1)

sentientbrendan (316150) | more than 5 years ago | (#25883815)

Would love to see more 2d games. I think it says something that the 2d art on the box of games often looks better than the 3d gameplay art.

For me the golden age of gaming ended when the playstation, with it's fairly crappy 3d art (remember cloud strife and his yellow triangle head?) replaced the SNES, which had pretty nice art considering the limited resolution and color palette.

Since then gaming has become a technological race, with not enough attention payed to gameplay and art, and too much payed to pixel shaders.

Yeah, I get it, we have really realistic looking water now. Whoopty friken doo. Realism aside, it still doesn't necessarily look as *good* as when it was hand drawn.

I for one... (1)

nobodylocalhost (1343981) | more than 5 years ago | (#25887419)

welcome our 2d overlords.

The implicit problem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25886185)

The implicit problem is that it is presumed that 3D is _always_ better than 2D and that games needed to make this transition in the first place. There is no one interface or method of presenting data which is best in all cases. Sure 3D works for first-person-shooter games (FPS)[1] but in many other cases is sacrafices function for form, as the OP noted.

[1] I'm going to plug Dungeons of Daggorath here and point out that FPS games arose in the early 1980s.

RTS (1)

LandDolphin (1202876) | more than 5 years ago | (#25887941)

Personally, i prefer RTS games to be in 2D. It is much easier to perfectly place and build my cities and palce my armies.

Is the game fun (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#25892529)

then what nD doesn't mattter.
Ok 2 exceptions: 1D and DD

Re:Age of Empires a great example (1)

clint999 (1277046) | more than 5 years ago | (#25893359)

This will reinforce and reiterate the above. If you bring it down to the basics, it's mostly a question of style vs. functionality.You can have a 2D game that looks 3D. (Pre-rendered sprites, etc.) And game play will still be pretty much as it was without the 3D look. So it's a style choice, and if done well it can make things look nice.Likewise, you could have a 3D game that has the render engine set up to produce cartoon lines and cell-shading. Yet it's obvious from the mechanics and gameplay that it's bu

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