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2D Isometric RPGs? Alive? Dead? Dying?

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Hey guys, What do you think about 2D Iso RPGs? Are they a dying breed? Are they alive and well? or would you say they are dead and gone? Would you say there is still a market for them? if so how big is it? are there many Iso Rpg Fans left? This is a chance to express your opinion! Please NO flamers! Thanks, Sir Darkan Fireblade

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I love isometric RPGs. In fact, it''s still my favorite kind.

With that said, I think that isometric or top-down style RPG''s are still going to USE 3D. For instance, they "utilize" 3D to create some of their effects (spells, fire, etc.) and most of the art you are seeing in those games w/ fixed camera angles is actually 3D art that is pre-rendered.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Alive but ... tired. After a few years of high quality 2d iso games, you no longer notice the engine unless it''s very poor quality. The basic engine behavior is fairly standardized, so you need something else to make your game intriguing. The marketing people can''t list ''large 2d world'' as a feature any more on the box. Does this make sense?

So yes, it''s still alive. But players won''t notice a solid 2d iso engine since it''s what they''ve come to expect. If you use a 2d iso engine you will have to rely on something else (story, game mechanics, etc) to ame the game appeal.

a) Don''t set it in generic fantasy land (elves/trolls)
b) Make sure the graphics are of good quality or better
c) Umm...try reviewing the Ernst Young''s dogma2000 (?) article on gamasutra

HTH

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It''s not so much that isometric RPGs are dying out, but sprite based 2D games are.

Sprites take up an enormous amount of memory, and take a long time to create. They also tend to be resolution specific - at the wrong resolution they are either too small, or too big and blocky.

For example: Lets suppose you have 50 different humanoids in your RPG. In order to create sprites for these, you need to create 50 different high poly models, and generate a series of images of them pointing in different directions - lets say 16 for the time being. Now lets add an 8 frame walking animation, which also has to work for all different directions. Already, we have 50x16x8 = 6400 different images, and we haven''t even added fighting animations or different versions for different resolutions yet.

With a 3D engine, you need 50 low poly models, and one skeleton - since you probably want the same set of animations for all the humanoids. Whether this takes up less space than the sprites or not depends on the detail of the models and the size of the textures used, but one thing is certain - it is a lot easier for the developers to generate the content in the first place, plus the fact that you get a whole load of extra features almost for free - complete resolution independence, zoom and other camera controls, animation blending, etc.

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Under what medium do you think 2d isometric games are dead? I know of Everquest on the PocketPC, is 2d isometric and damn fun. Plus I am still waiting for the day that a good diablo II clone (or D2 itself) comes out on game boy advance... While on the PC yes they have had their time, on other mediums I think they are primed and ready to go.

Side note:
I got the demo of Divine Divinity thinking "wow great this game will be much like Diablo 2 but even phater" , i was wrong...I was expecting the polish that d2 had and this game didnt show any. IT really erks me when someone makes a game that is obviously borrowing elements from a more popluar game, why not just borrow the proper elements from it? like uh, the User Interface? Whats so hard about that, it was proven, use it and let ur players rejoyce. My biggest gripe with divine divinity was it the distance your character could "see" and the way it shaded areas out side of ur view...it did it in a ugly and annoying way.

So sorry, that was a 2d iso side note in general

-Shane

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quote:
Original post by Sandman
With a 3D engine, you need 50 low poly models, and one skeleton - since you probably want the same set of animations for all the humanoids. Whether this takes up less space than the sprites or not depends on the detail of the models and the size of the textures used, but one thing is certain - it is a lot easier for the developers to generate the content in the first place, plus the fact that you get a whole load of extra features almost for free - complete resolution independence, zoom and other camera controls, animation blending, etc.
Its weakness, however, they are polygons. If it''s low poly, it''s gonna be blocky, not detailed. If you want it to be more detailed, more processing speed and memory you are going to need. 2D sprites, on the other hand, can give you pretty detailed results without the need of extra processing speed and memory.


Current project: 2D in Direct3D engine.
% completed: ~20%

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quote:
It''s not so much that isometric RPGs are dying out, but sprite based 2D games are.

Sprites take up an enormous amount of memory, and take a long time to create. They also tend to be resolution specific - at the wrong resolution they are either too small, or too big and blocky.
Yeah, but some of us think that they look absolutely awesome if it''s done properly.

My current project (well... fine, it''s my first serious project, but I''m not giving up on it until hell freezes over!) is a 2D RPG that will make use of some of DX 9 to allow for fog of war, zooming, and some nifty 3D-ized spell effects. Long live 2D, even partly three-dimensional 2D!

And... uh... 50 characters (PCs and NPC2) total for an RPG is a bit low, even when you take coloration differences into effect, right? I''ve seen 2D games with hundreds of character/monster sets, to keep you from ever getting tired of looking at them.

3D games seem to have given this up. I don''t think I''ve seen a 3D RPG (with the possible exception of Neverwinter Nights, with its >200 characters, but I think that was mostly just clothing variations) that even tried this. FFX probably had about seventy or eighty models total (rough estimate), now that I think about it, so I''m probably complaining about nothing.

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quote:
Original post by DuranStrife
Yeah, but some of us think that they look absolutely awesome if it''s done properly.



True.... provided your monitor isn''t too big.

Still, it won''t be all that long before the ''low poly'' models used in 3D games look as good as the ''high poly rendered sprites'' used in the old 2D ones, even with a large number on the screen.

Some might say we are there already, the models in NWN looked pretty damned good even when you zoomed in quite close, although I get some fairly serious slowdown in certain busy scenes with my trusty old GeForce 256. The maps are somewhat limited, but that is probably mainly due to the tiled nature of it, which was a design decision made to make the game more easily modable.

Currently, the only real advantages of sprites IMHO is that you can get extremely large numbers of them on screen without much slowdown or loss of quality. However, games like Rome: Total War prove that even that isn''t really much of an issue any more.

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I agree. NWN''s models looked absolutely awesome (especially when they were wearing something shiny, like plate mail), and I can''t see how a 2.5-D game could possibly compete with that. I maintain that 2D and 2D-rendered-within-3D still have places, though, especially for those of us who don''t know how to model. :D

By the way, what kind of graphics card do you have again? I''ve only got a 32 MB GeForce 4(2), and I get about the same level of performance you described. (It tends to get pretty shaky when I haste my mage/cleric and begin constnatly flinging Fireballs at the fifty-odd undead attacking me.) If you have a 256 MB graphics card... wouldn''t you get better performance than me? Just out of curiousity, you know.

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quote:
Original post by DuranStrife
By the way, what kind of graphics card do you have again? I've only got a 32 MB GeForce 4(2), and I get about the same level of performance you described. (It tends to get pretty shaky when I haste my mage/cleric and begin constnatly flinging Fireballs at the fifty-odd undead attacking me.) If you have a 256 MB graphics card... wouldn't you get better performance than me? Just out of curiousity, you know.


Hehe, no it's not 256Mb, it's only 32Mb. 'GeForce 256' was the name of the original GeForce, aka the GeForce 1.

I think you may be right that the 2D stuff still has a place, but I think it is more for the players without state of the art hardware than for the developers - if you are using 3d renders as sprites, you still need to create the model for rendering, or else you have to draw every frame by hand, which is extremely tedious.



[edited by - Sandman on March 25, 2003 11:11:26 AM]

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