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Obstacles / Cover in an overhead shooter

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Hey all, How can you clearly convey obstacles in an overhead shooter? Crimsonland gets away with it because none of your enemies have ranged attacks... but what about a game with nothing but ranged attacks? These things would be pretty obvious that they can be used as cover: sandbags, cars, possibly large rocks. But other more logical things like trees, walls and buildings are nearly impossible to make stand-out from the terrain. Any ideas? (Here's a screenshot of Crimsonland, notice the lack of obstacles on the terrain):

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Sounds like a simple art problem. Just choose different palettes for cover and other objects that catch the eye. Maybe darker muted tones for background and lighter more vibrant tones for cover objects & players.

-me

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Shadows can go a long way to indicating that something has considerable height/depth (and so might offer cover). Nice crisp shadows like those on Omid Ghavami's trees for example. Buildings and crates could cast sharp shadows at (say) a 45 degree angle indicating that you can hide behind them.

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That looks really good Omid. I checked your site, but you don't have a download available. Is there a copy somewhere?

I guess all my doubts are cured. Thanks everyone.

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Quote:
Original post by GroZZleR
That looks really good Omid. I checked your site, but you don't have a download available. Is there a copy somewhere?


I wasn't comfortable with uploading it since it was never finished and so some of the graphics and sound are borrowed placeholders. If you are interested I can arrange so that you can download it, it's fully playable, has both computer controlled A.I and works in multiplayer.

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If you have both some objects that offer cover and some that offer concealment, be sure to find a way to make it fairly obvious which is which (car v. bush is simple enough to figure out, but some games feature boxes of different types and heights, which is aggravating in a top-down).

I'd suggest using strongly different colors and/or shapes for your cover - players should be able to find them more easily and recognize their uses. As OrangyTang said, shadows are a great solution.

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If you don't change theme too much or there's a 1-to-1 correspondence between objects in each theme, then I think it's fine to just let players learn which objects offer which sorts of protection. This, more-or-less, seems to be the system used by most top down games, and it seems to work fairly well.

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