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Cubed3

topdown 2d Racer... bad/good idea?

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Im considering making a topdown 2D racer in the same style as wipeout and f-zero. Im wondering if the topdown approach is any good though? Im doing 2d because well I want to make at least one good 2d game before I move on to 3d. Topdown because im assuming something that moves similiar to F-Zero/TopGear would be rather hard to pull off for someone rather limited in artistic capabilities. But would topdown be any fun? Have their been any previous fun topdown 2d racers? Most of the ones I can think of tend to be isometric.

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I never really liked top-down racers. I did play one good one on the sega genesis (I think it was called Combat Cars), but that's the only exception. Um.. and GTA and GTA2, but those aren't really racers. You just can't see far enough ahead of you. There's also no sense of speed. If you go really fast, you can't see the corners. Slow it down, and it's too boring. Add more curves, and it's... too curvy. Nope, I don't think it's a very good idea.

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Hrmm. I Think I remember that sega genesis game :-P Was one of my favorite gensis games to play! I got to think about this some more, maybe whip up a quick demo to see what its like.

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There have been dozens of top view racers, especially on the C64 & Speccy. The original Ivan "Ironman" Stewart's Off-Road Racing was a top view 2D racer as was Indy Heat.

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You can't get the visceral sense of speed that games like F-Zero offer without at least the illusion of 3D. That said, Pole Position offered the illusion of 3D, so it's probably not as far beyond your capabilities as you imagine.

If you make it a top-down racer, make sure you can see enough of the course, like in Sprint, or give warnings about curves, so that the race becomes a series of executed manuevers. There was a racing game for the Intellivision that was absurdly hard becasue you didn't know what was coming, but once you got a few curves memorized, it was really fun.

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I loved SuperCars/SuperCars2 if that's what you're aiming for.
You might want to position the players car at the extreme top/bottom/left/right depending on the direction so as much track can be seen as possible.
This makes it a bit trickier to see what's behind you. A 'look in mirror'
key could move the screen forward a bit so you get to see what's behind you.
There are small visual tricks which can indicate speed such as a slight blur behind the car graphics, a movement of the screen/car to indicate acceleration etc. I remember seeing an article somewhere with these visual tricks a couple of years ago but I can't think I'll ever find it again.

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I'm a big fan of f-zero and wipeout as well. We went for the car-approach though.

We've been developing a top-down racer for over 4 years now. Racers are among the hardest things to make good I tell ya! But, it's turning out to be a really fun game if I may say so myself. Check it out to see a modern example of top-down racers: Roadclub (Scroll down a bit to see screens)

You can make them fun. To solve the problems mentioned here we have a very clever camera that positions itself in front of the car and zooms out all depending on speed of the car. It's physics-based and moves very smoothly so there's no problem to see whats ahead. We also have a minimap which gives even more overview.

In addition to that we have editors for everything, best AI I've seen in a top-downer that can play the tracks you make, physics-based collisions handling and objects you can collide with realisticly so they move and a complete car physics model for realistic sliding, burnouts and so on. Combining these things that 3d-racers have had for some time with the top-down view gives a unique kind of gameplay.

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LightStrike: That is quite awesome!! Looks like a fun game! Seems interesting to use the camera to zoom out for the sense of speed, I was thinking of doing motion blurring to give the sense of speed.

Im going with a much more retro design though for the graphics, mainly so that I can do them myself, but also because I like the look. Not to mention significantly less physics for something that just floats around in space vs simulating the wheels/suspension/stuff in a car.

Question: For the AI, when you create a map, do you have to define a race line? I was thinking of making a small neural net to handle line tracking for my AI. Pretty simple to implement and its supposed to have good results.

Too bad I can't test out the game, Im using OS X.

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I recall Death Rally taking quite a few hours away from my life. Looks like a free download these days. Why don't you check it out and see if it inspires you at all. Had weapons and other combat devices, but the upgrade system is totally Sprint/Super OffRoad. It could have used a radar but once you learn a few curves the game really shines.

Side note, have you ever seen anyone use the almost top down camera mode while playing FZeroX? It's tough but kinda fun!

Solidcore guys! Game looks great!

Tony

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Micro Machines was one of the best multiplayer games i ever played :) top down view was also a key part of the gameplay.

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Quote:
Original post by Cubed3
LightStrike: That is quite awesome!! Looks like a fun game! Seems interesting to use the camera to zoom out for the sense of speed, I was thinking of doing motion blurring to give the sense of speed.

Im going with a much more retro design though for the graphics, mainly so that I can do them myself, but also because I like the look. Not to mention significantly less physics for something that just floats around in space vs simulating the wheels/suspension/stuff in a car.

Question: For the AI, when you create a map, do you have to define a race line? I was thinking of making a small neural net to handle line tracking for my AI. Pretty simple to implement and its supposed to have good results.

Too bad I can't test out the game, Im using OS X.


Thanks for your kind words! Motionblurring would definitely be cool. Don't know how I'd do that efficiently. I guess we could just draw the cars alphablended several times after but I'm not sure that would look nice enough.

It's a good idea using floating cars. Could be just as cool in another way :)

Yes, kind of. You have to place waypoints to give the AI the general route. Then it uses that information and the environment to make decisions about steering and accelerating and braking.
Neural nets sounds advanced. Just the word has scared me away in the past :)

Too bad. Well the current version is about to be replaced in a week or so anyway.

EDIT: Death rally and micro machines are definite inspirations for us along with super cars and other top down classics. We left out the weapons for a pure racing experience though to save time (its been over 4 years anyway!).

Loved F-Zero. I gotta get a gamecube some day to play the 3d ones.

We're looking for sound editors and graphic artists. I went to anthem audio demos but none of the links worked :(

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Neural nets for driving line? Colin McRae Rally 2.0 used that method...
Hannan interview
or you could use steering behaviours to follow a driving line adjusted for driver ability...
Steering
Finally, AI Game Programming Wisdom 2 has an article for generating racing lines.
Finally, finally, Racing AI pops up in the AI forum quite often so they'll be plenty to read in there.

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Quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster
Micro Machines was one of the best multiplayer games i ever played :) top down view was also a key part of the gameplay.


I agree, it was one of the best ways to use an Amiga, right there with North & South or Sensible Soccer.

Micro Machines offers an important lesson about "fun": there is no realistic depiction of speed (and in fact speed is bad: as soon as you go fast you lose control), the point of the game is tactical maneuver to get the lead.
In 2D games, since it is impossible to see far, obstacles should be densely packed in the visible part of the playfield, and as a consequence speed has to be low; a multiplayer game like Micro Machines is self-regulating (less playfield obstacles -> more thinking -> more pvp action).

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Ok! So I have been playing around with SDL_gfx, and also figuring out how I am going to represent the map and such.
Anyways ive come up with some concept pictures of the ideas that are stuck in my head.
Note: The proportions aren't right, the ship will most likely be smaller and a bigger field of view will be present. Also the ship itself is just a filled polygon, I plan on having it be a bitmap thats going to be rotozoomed for nice special effects.

Heres the pic:(This is like 20 minutes of work toying with SDL_gfx)
The only thing I can really do at this point is move the ship around! But wow the sense of speed is definetly there. I got plenty of tricks up my sleeve for making this thing feel fast.


Features that I hope to add are:
--------------------------
Combat
Agressive AI
Online Multiplayer
Spiffy Vector Graphics combined with bitmap art
And most importantly a Nice Map Maker!

Image hosting by Photobucket

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