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ZeHa

Isometric Land: where the skies are blind

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Hello, well that's not a technical question, but I wondered if you ever regretted making an isometric game, because you're not able to display a sky? Of course, you have to sacrifice something, no matter which way you choose. But the "no sky"-sacrifice is something that's really difficult sometimes. You can't display a moon, or a sky that has special colours for special atmospheres... clouds, multiple suns, etc etc :) The only way to do this, is to make platforms that are located IN the sky (e.g. the top of a skyscraper or a flying platform), but most levels are not like this :) On the other hand, a funny experience I had recently was when I looked at some Last Ninja II screenshots. When I closed the website, I thought "just one moment - wasn't there a sky in one of those pictures??" and I was very curious if they had found some kind of way (well the angle is lower than most other iso-games, and perhaps they would have made some kind of horizon), but then I watched again and there was indeed NO sky, of course. But the picture itself was done so well, so that the sky was "there" in my imagination :) and nothing was missing in that case. So, what are your thoughts about the (lack of) sky in isometric games? And what are your ideas to compensate this and add more atmosphere?

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Oops, I made a little mistake - of course there ARE screens in Last Ninja where a sky is shown, but those were not in that collection when I watched those screens I posted about in the posting up there ;)

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I do miss not being able to do a sky in a regular isometric game, which is probably why I prefer regular side-on platformers where possible. A good sky can add considerable atmosphere and feel to a level.

I know of two good workarounds - either have some kind of cliff edge that you can wander up to which shows the sky (as seen in Mercs). Or show the sky in reflections on the ground, like in lakes (as seen in Four Swords).
Oh yes, the cliff idea is not bad!

Here's a shot on a rooftop: http://lastninja.lemon64.com/mans_roof.gif

At the moment, we're also working on an isometric game, and especially the last world would be great to have a huge and blood red sky (reminds me of Judas Priest, lol). Perhaps I'll also be able to include some cliffs or elevated platforms, that would be very cool :)

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Yeah, it's a shame about the difficulties in displaying skies in isometric games... Animal Crossing on the DS is interesting in this respect, as it uses the upper screen to display a sky (when you're outdoors). The novelty of that still hasn't worn off for me.

So I suppose writing your game for the DS is a possible (but not very practical) solution :P

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Besides actually going and shifting to a sky level (ie. the tiles become sky tiles) you could always have what appear to be clouds passing over the top, though of course this isn't a complete sky, but it does give the impression that one is there and your just looking through it (as in looking from space)

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Yes, I remember seeing those "cloud shadows" in several games. Or you could add weather (e.g. rain, lightning, thunder) and the player will automatically be able to imagine what the sky would look like.

Well in my case I think I will put some "interlude-artwork" between some levels. So when the player advances to the "next world", there will be shown a real painting of a landscape, including a huge sky where needed, and perhaps 2 - 3 sentences about what is happening now, I think that would add to the atmosphere of the game and its worlds.

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Couldn't you map the tiles onto a surface that has a horizon?


SKY SKY SKY SKY
SKY SKY SKY SKY
SKY SKY SKY SKY
HORIZON HORIZON
--------------- <- vertically squashed tiles
---------------
---------------

--------------- <- full size tiles

---------------

---------------

---------------


I suppose it would look crappy. :) But the goal would be to make it look like your tiles approach a vanishing point "above" your character.

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