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Jubulani

Space game: 2D or 3D?

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Jubulani    162
I'm doing a bit of work at the moment trying to design a space game. At its roots it'll be multiplayer, and combat oriented (Small group multiplayer only ie. Me and my brother get in medium fighters and go at it until only one of us is left, or we work together and square up against some pirates). My biggest problem at the moment is deciding if the game should be 2D or 3D. I want the game to be as fun as possible, so I'm looking at this from a gameplay perspective only. The game is complex enough that adding a third dimension would add negligible complexity to the programming, and I'm planning on doing the rendering in 3D anyway (So as to get real time lighting and whatnot). A few thoughts I've come up with so far: 2D Pro's: Top-down view of the action - I much prefer this method of control to the enforced first-person view of a 3D game. This more relaxed view also allows some things impossible in a first-person view, like zooming, or scolling the view to find out whats going on a long way away from you. Less hardcore - The controls can be simpler, and the game can be made 'cartoony', to appeal to people who might not normally play such games (like my dad, or my sister). 3D Pro's: 'Realistic' - Pointless realism for its own sake should definately be avoided imho. "I KNOW I can't teleport in real life, but 10 mins to walk back to town to sell stuff is NOT FUN." etc. So this isn't really a pro , but its worth mentioning. More complex - Someone familiar with games, and not immediately turned off by the more complex control system necessary in a 3D game might see a 2D game as too simple or childish. Even if the gameplay is deep, they might not stay to find out. I'm sure I've missed a few. Having actually gathered my thoughts enough to make a post about it, and looking back at what I've written, I'm becoming more convinced 2D is the way to go. There are enough 3D games out there anyway that no-one would notice another. What do the smart people at Gamedev think?

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someboddy    100
Is it going to be like a dogfight game or like a battleship game?

Will there be units for you to command, or a single ship to a each player?

Is it going to be tactical?

Will there be rich environment - rocks and meteors to hide in ect. - or will it take place in an empty space?

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Jubulani    162
Damn, you actually want me to have designed the whole game at once...

Quote:
Is it going to be like a dogfight game or like a battleship game?

Dogfight. I think I've explained it better below.


Quote:
Will there be units for you to command, or a single ship to a each player?

You'll be in command of a single ship. There will be things like drones that can do some fighting for you and distract the enemy for a bit, and mines you can place, but generally, you'll be in charge of one ship.

Quote:
Is it going to be tactical?

Not entirely sure what you mean. Do you mean the difference between say Civilisation (Strategic - Individual battles between units play only a small part in the overall game) and Commando's (Tactical - Squad of 5 men, your sucess depends only on those 5 men). If so, then it'll be more tactical. Battles will be small, and success will be based entirely on your skill and actions in the heat of the moment. I haven't figured out the background and story tying battles together yet though.

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Will there be rich environment - rocks and meteors to hide in ect. - or will it take place in an empty space?

Empty space is pretty boring. I'll try fill it as much as possible. Astroid belts, and maybe (very!) small gas clouds would be the classic solution to this. Adding static space-stations, and defense installations would also add greatly to the tactical side of things, and could spice things up a lot. Again gameplay > everything.

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lightbringer    1070
You can make a 3d game "cartoonish", and a 2d game "realistic" - those things are not necessarily correlated with perspective.

A 3D game does not have to be first person either, although first person does allow better control if the game is all about trigger-happy action. If you want the game to be more tactical rather than impulsive, maybe a 3D 3rd person view like in "Eve Online" will suit you?

Personally I love "Raptor - Call of the Shadows" and thus believe that a well-done 2d top-down game can really shine. However, there are also a lot of 2d games out there, particularly indie-developed, so the reason "there's too many 3d games already" probably does not hold water.

"Someone more familiar with games" might find your 3d game off-putting if it does not meet their standards. 3D games these days push the envelope in terms of what your card can do, and you might not be up to the task to match that. The people who do choose to play your 2D game however might not be expecting bump-mapped, normal-mapped models. (And if they do, you can fake it when drawing your sprites)

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Jubulani    162
I had a quick look at Raptor - Call of the Shadows, and it looks good, but it isn't quite what I'm going for. Have you played Jungle Strike? Thats the kind of thing I'm going for, more free form combat. I'd like to add (optional) multiplayer though, so you could play co-op if you wanted, and a competitive multiplayer as well.

A "Defend Earth from alien invasion" mission might be a good one to add ;)

I guess there's no real reason at the moment to make it space based, a ground based game certainly gives more options for a rich environment, and a partial 'excuse' for only having 2 dimensions.

Quote:
If you want the game to be more tactical rather than impulsive, maybe a 3D 3rd person view like in "Eve Online" will suit you?

Maybe I confused things slightly when I used the word tactical above, I think I used it wrong. The game will be fast paced, and skill will be important.

Quote:
3D games these days push the envelope in terms of what your card can do, and you might not be up to the task to match that.

I'm not certainly an expert at 3D graphics, so maximising any modern 3d card is (much as I would like to think otherwise) beyond me.

However, there's no reason to make a 2D game look bad, in fact I think it can be made to look pretty decent.

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lightbringer    1070
Just meant to say that when I buy a 3D game these days I expect a lot. Of course, 2D game shouldn't look bad either, but the effort required to make 2D look good is more artistic and less technical. Well, you'll have to solve these problems yourself, ultimately. ^_^

I didn't mean that Raptor is like what you want to do, just that it is in my mind the top 2D game with fast-paced action and "flying stuff". Dunno about Jungle Strike. It would seem that what you are aiming for is a kind of multiplayer Solar Winds, though. Which certainly took place in space, and had a lot of freedom of movement (and was hell to control).

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Jubulani    162
I need to do a lot more design work and research to figure out what this game is going to be like, but I think 2D is a good way to go. If you know any games I could look at for ideas, please let me know. Raptor looks good, I'll be playing it for the next few days probably, and solar winds looks good too, though I need to figure out how to get it to work :(

Thanks

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Gyrthok    412
You should probably check out The Ur-Quan Masters (released to the public by Toys For Bob). It involves the player free-roaming in 2D across the galaxy in a single starship building up a fleet, etc, etc. Some of the funnest parts are exploring planetary surfaces and gathering materials, interacting with alien races, and blowing stuff up. I find the 2D graphics quite beautifully done, and the combat can be just as enjoyable with the wide variety of alien ships and abilities.

There's also Battle Cruiser: Millenium (also released as freeware) where you control (yet again) a large battle-cruiser in 3D space, you can teleport and land a shuttle on planetary surfaces and even send in commando teams, or travel along warp-lanes and duke it out in space. I never found the interface very intuitive for the Battle-Cruiser series, infact it seems clunky and complicated (something i've thought about when designing my own 3D space game). If you want a more modern version of this you could hunt for a copy of Universal Combat: A World Appart (which upon playing the demo i discovered is exactly like BattleCruiser Millenium, including controls, but with better graphics and engine).

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NIm    210
I've given a bit of thought to this, and I believe I have a unique solution to this particular quandary. My world is going to be 2-dimensionsal, and space-ship controls will be 2-dimensional, but the world itself will exist in 3d space. This world will endure all sorts of manipulations. Space itself will curve, in a visible way. There'll be curvature due to gravity, natural curvature(make the world a sphere or a torus), and perhaps even artificial curvature. I need to get a solid grasp on NURBS before I undertake something like this, so I'm very much in the talking about it stage.

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lightbringer    1070
Quote:
Original post by NIm
I've given a bit of thought to this, and I believe I have a unique solution to this particular quandary. My world is going to be 2-dimensionsal, and space-ship controls will be 2-dimensional, but the world itself will exist in 3d space. This world will endure all sorts of manipulations. Space itself will curve, in a visible way. There'll be curvature due to gravity, natural curvature(make the world a sphere or a torus), and perhaps even artificial curvature. I need to get a solid grasp on NURBS before I undertake something like this, so I'm very much in the talking about it stage.


This sounds like an interesting approach but I'm not quite sure that I see how you want to go about it (not surprising since you are not sure yourself either ^_^). It might make for a very disorienting experience though.

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I lost the link, but "Cloud", a Korean game where you flay around in a hospital gown and solve puzzles with puffs of cloud (which totally rocks, by the way) has a pretty handy third-person control of 2d flight in a 3d world. Might be worth a look.

Found it: Clicky

It's free and quite fun. No excuse not to play it now.

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