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RPG Graphical Style Poll

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Hi everyone, I am in the process of designing the graphical system for my RPG, Geomancy. Now I need to make a choice between doing a fully 3D world, like Dragon Quest 8 or 2D backgrounds with 3D characters, like Final Fantasy 7, 8, 9 and the old Resident Evil's. I was wondering what everyone's preference is and why. Personally I love the 2D backgrounds with 3D characters as it allows me to have highly detailed renderings for my backgrounds and also because of the nostalgic factor from FF7, 8 and 9. Another bonus is that a style like this is much easier to implement than a fully 3D style. So what is your guys' and gals' opinions on the matter? Thanks!

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I'd say go with 2D. I'm of the opinion that 3D should be reserved for the games that really need it, like FPS, because pushing 3D into games that have no need for it acomplishes nothing apart from raising system requirements. Besides, you can never have polygonal models with the level of detail of 2D sprites.
The downside of 2D is that it's much more work for the artist.

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The main thing in favour of going fully 3d is if you ever want your camera to move around in the scene. In FF 7/8/9 they did this by streaming FMV for the background, which is going to mean a whole lot of art work and offline rendering. Doing this sort of thing in 3d is basically for free.

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I'll vote 2d world with 3d characters IF you can make the characters blend in well with the background.

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Original post by Iron Chef Carnage
3D environments with 2D characters, like Final Fantasy Tactics


One of the most beautiful games ever created.

I've always liked the mix of 2D and 3D, whether 2D sprites in a 3D world or 3D models on a 2D background. I enjoy it the same way I enjoy the "twisted" nature of Tim Burton films. It adds a bit of fairy tale to the design.


[Edited by - Way Walker on July 7, 2006 12:26:34 PM]

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I'd go with 3D characters and 3D environment, and hope it will not look too craptistically. It's significantly easier to create 3D world than 2D, and there would be better interaction.

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Original post by Raghar
I'd go with 3D characters and 3D environment, and hope it will not look too craptistically. It's significantly easier to create 3D world than 2D, and there would be better interaction.


I've never really understood a statement like that, how is a 2D world any harder than a 3D world? If you are using prerendered 2D backgrounds, then the art department can be a little more lax in some of their work. 3D scenes for a 2D game? "opps, that tree I generated is 20,000 polies? oh well, this will just take a little extra to render". full 3D game "Holy shit, this tree looks so perfect,... opps, this is going to take a few hours per frame in game,..."

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If there is no interation and its entirely turn based, you can do 3d/2d mix. For any sort of action RPG, fully 3d is probably going to be better.

As far as pure graphics, I don't think any one way is 'best.' Do what style fits the game your playing technically and artistically. Some more information on Geomancy may allow us to help you further.

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Original post by Professor420
If there is no interation and its entirely turn based, you can do 3d/2d mix. For any sort of action RPG, fully 3d is probably going to be better.

Best action RPG ever: Secret of Mana - 2D :)

I agree that you should pick what's best for your gameplay, as well as presentation. 2D gives you more flexibility in presentation quality because while 3D is easier to animate, creating professional 3D models is much harder. I see too many crappy looking indie 3D games because they don't have the artists to back up the extra requirements.

As far as gameplay goes, here I am assuming that you actually mean 3D over-the-shoulder vs 2D-isometric (if the 3D game is isometric, then it only matters presentation-wise):

- 2D gives the player an easier interface, and less visuals to have to process, leading to a more relaxed experience.
- 3D gives the player a better feeling of being in an open space, which is turn creates a more epic feel.

- 2D can traditionally have faster action, as small control inputs can have bigger results without seeming "jerky".
- 3D can allow for more realistic action, as moving in a 3D space is a more fluid experience.

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Original post by Daniel Miller
2D backgrounds are hard because of things things like stairs, objects you can walk behind, etc.

Not that bad... stairs are traditionally faked (though the art to fake them is a challenge, you can get alot of ideas by checking out old SNES games), and walking behind objects is pretty much as simple as drawing from bottom to top of the screen.

Of course, that depends on the exact view you're going for.

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Thanks for all the great replies everyone!

I am definetly going for the 2D bg's with 3D chars on top, ala FF7 and FF8.

And in the meantime here is a shot of the main character Ralph's 3D model in all of his cel-shaded and inked glory! Any comments on the model?

Ralph

Thanks again everyone!

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Original post by DJ14IVI3
I'd say go with 2D. I'm of the opinion that 3D should be reserved for the games that really need it, like FPS, because pushing 3D into games that have no need for it acomplishes nothing apart from raising system requirements.

2D art uses up a lot more memory. 3D art can stretch the detail from plastic 30 poly objects to the tessellated objects that you use to make your rendered backgrounds. The plastic looking models are much easier on the hardware than high resolution 2D images.

The 2D memory will really be eaten up with large rendered backgrounds. But it should be okay as long as only medium sized areas are visible at a time, or images are tiled, or something similar.

Quote:
Besides, you can never have polygonal models with the level of detail of 2D sprites.

Sprite detail is defined by pixel resolution. Model detail is defined by the number of polygons and texture resolution. But there are no detail limits for either. I've seen some really nice looking low-res models that look nearly identical to a rendered image, especially when zoomed out to overhead view.

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The downside of 2D is that it's much more work for the artist.

That's normally extremely true, but most of the work saved by going 3D is in animation. Since his objects will be 3D, he won't lose a lot of that. It might even be easier on artists to make a rendered background than fully implementing a rotatable environment. Most of the really huge advantage of 3D graphics is in the character animation, which is dirt cheap and very flexible.

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Original post by wolfenstein
Thanks for all the great replies everyone!

I am definetly going for the 2D bg's with 3D chars on top, ala FF7 and FF8.

And in the meantime here is a shot of the main character Ralph's 3D model in all of his cel-shaded and inked glory! Any comments on the model?

Ralph

Thanks again everyone!


Looks cool, though his hair is ridiculous (maybe as it should be)! Keep us posted on your progress please.

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Original post by wolfenstein
Thanks for all the great replies everyone!

I am definetly going for the 2D bg's with 3D chars on top, ala FF7 and FF8.

And in the meantime here is a shot of the main character Ralph's 3D model in all of his cel-shaded and inked glory! Any comments on the model?

Ralph

Thanks again everyone!


My thought on the model is that there is too much fake shading on the base texture. Most games that use cel shading use solid blocks of color for the characters with only a little texture detail. This helps it look more cartoony/anime, as well as draw the eye to the cel shading effect. Look at Zelda: Wind Waker, Dragon Quest 8, etc. Most characters are thick black lines with solid blocks of color for clothes.

For your model, I'd suggest making the arms solid blue and the armor solid grey. The current speckles on those parts don't really look like anything realistic anyway; it just looks like someone used the spraypaint in photoshop with a slightly darker color.

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Original post by makeshiftwings
Quote:
Original post by wolfenstein
Thanks for all the great replies everyone!

I am definetly going for the 2D bg's with 3D chars on top, ala FF7 and FF8.

And in the meantime here is a shot of the main character Ralph's 3D model in all of his cel-shaded and inked glory! Any comments on the model?

Ralph

Thanks again everyone!


My thought on the model is that there is too much fake shading on the base texture. Most games that use cel shading use solid blocks of color for the characters with only a little texture detail. This helps it look more cartoony/anime, as well as draw the eye to the cel shading effect. Look at Zelda: Wind Waker, Dragon Quest 8, etc. Most characters are thick black lines with solid blocks of color for clothes.

For your model, I'd suggest making the arms solid blue and the armor solid grey. The current speckles on those parts don't really look like anything realistic anyway; it just looks like someone used the spraypaint in photoshop with a slightly darker color.


I actually kind of like the effect that the shading in the textures gives. It makes the character look like something between 2D and 3D. If you really played up the 2D-ness/cartoon-ness of the background, it could look like characters coming to life out of a comic book. However, if you're going for the FF7/8/9 effect, then you'll want more realistic shading. If you're going for the Wind Waker effect, then you'll want the textures to be more of a solid color (I hear bump-mapping and other normal-altering techniques work particularly well with cel-shading if you really want to use textures).

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I assume this is a turn based "menu" style battle system. In which case (since the graphics make no difference to the gameplay), go with whatever your artists are most comfortable using.

{Side note: I always say "gameplay implies graphics". Once you know what kind of game you're making, the graphical style usually follows. In a traditional RPG however, the visuals have no effect on the gameplay, so anything goes. Action RPGs are a little more interesting: all the greats of the genre have been in 2D, either top view like Secret of Mana or side view like Castlevania: SOTN. I quite like the side view style in this genre as it puts the game a step towards towards what every action RPG aspires to be - a beat 'em up. Despite many attempts, a 3D action RPG has never been successfully created; all the usual problems of 3D games (particularly camera angles and ambiguous controls) make it difficult for the player to have real freedom in the world (which is the whole point of an action RPG, isn't it?). If one were to get it just right, I'm sure a 3D action RPG would not only work, but be one of the greatest games ever made by default. A discussion for another time perhaps...}

By the way wolfenstein, I really love the picture; it looks appropriately silly! One quick point I'd like to make: I always feel the RPGs that look the best visually are those that stick to very simple designs for characters and backgrounds, but go into overdrive for special effects. A good example of this is in the Suikoden series. In the first two games the characters were sprite based and the backgrounds pretty basic, yet some of the spell effects were (due mostly to rich colour I suppose) awe inspiring. On the other hand the later games of the series had much improved graphics (i.e. 3D characters and worlds) yet when it came to spell effects you could not help but feel they were lacking. As such I thought the first two games were visually better (not more advanced, but better) than the others. Remember: big spell = big effects!

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