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All sorts of things

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1) In isometric engines, normally anything is prerendered. The bitmaps should be nearly square sized and not too big (because they're faster than bigger and rectangular ones).

2) Normally, even the characters are prerendered, but if you wanna use 3d characters, use .3ds-file format. It is an Max-export format and easy to read. You can find some information on www.wotsit.org .

3) You can use shadows in iso-engines without D3D, but the algorithms are mostly really complex. I guess Geoff wrote something about on www.lupinegames.com . I did never use lighting and things like that. But for example for a limited viewport, you need 2 different maps, one with the colored map and one monochrom one, and then simply use rays. This shouldn't be such a big problem, but it's slow, I guess. As I said, I never tried it out. I've seen some more article on this topic, but I'm not sure, maybe www.perplexed.com/GPMega/ ?


Skullpture Entertainment

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The easiest way to do shadows in my opinion (and fastest) is just to have them predrawn on all the tiles/objects more so on the objects. Like a wall for example you can easly have a shadow drawn comeing off the wall and itll generaly look ok. This works alot better for objects thue. For examples take say Heroes of might and magic 3 none of the tiles have shadows but all the objects/overlays do.

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hey, psepha, glad you could join us.

there's many a programmer who would like to make realistic shadows, in iso, in 3d.

and its possible, of course.

but what a lot of programmers forget--you dont have to be perfect. you just have to look "good enough"-- the people who are playing your game arent going to notice the little inconsistancies you do.

for example, diablo.

after you read this, play it. on levels 1-4, make your character go around one of the pillars thats in the middle of the rooms.

you will notice that while the lighting algorithm is still in play, the shadow of the pillar remains in a fixed spot.

had you noticed that before? maybe, if you've really looked at diablo from a critical programming standpoint. if you were just a player, you wouldnt have noticed.

you can do shadows, and you can do pixel perfect shadows. however, doing them in realtime is not viable, nor is it necessary.

when people play your game, they arent going to say "wow, those shadows are perfect! this game rocks"... of course they wont. they'll talk about how much fun your game is to play, and they will forgive (if for some reason they are aware) any little shadow inconsistencies you may have.

of course, this is not to say that you shouldnt seek SOME resemblance to realism. i'm just saying that perfection isnt the goal here.

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in the old post, i spoke of a clear difference between 3d and iso.

there IS a clear difference. 3d does perspective correction, and iso does not.

however, there is also a clear similarity-- they are both 3d projections.

the tiles themselves (the little diamonds) should probably be bitmaps of some sort. also, depending on circumstances, the objects and creatures should be either 3d, or bitmapped.

and which one you use depends on the following criteria: polycount vs animation frame size and animation frame count

3d images can be manipulated, so that no matter what the poly count, you dont have the problem with storing the animation frames.

however, a large polycount will be a lot slower than a prerendered bitmap.

however, if there are a lot of animation frames, and/or the animation frames are large (big creatures) then the amount of memory is way larger than that required for a 3d object.

so, you have to balance between these...

for example, static objects, having only 1 animation frame, may as well be bitmaps. since they do not move, why deal with the polys?

however, a human figure, being flexible and mobile, may need to face 16 directions, and have 4 animation frames for each direction's movement, not counting attacking or any other type of action, so you might want to make it 3d.

also, today, there is less of a premium on memory... its cheap, plus you can always use RLE bitmaps.

however, 3d hardware is more prevalent, and hardware assistance more commonplace.

so, i say... do what looks good, and do whats fast. thats the only thing players pay attention to anyway.

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1) The smiley icon is because I have just had 3 months off work sailing around Spain. Back now, ho hum. Hi to TANSTAAFL again - thought you were ducking out of the scene for a bit? And what happened to sweet.oblivion?? Can't even go on a holiday these days without it all changing. Anyway - nice site and good to see TAN has a dedicated section.

2) OK - question. A previous thread was close but closed before I got back. Whilst away I too a laptop with me I got for the trip to code the start of an iso engine (saddo-me-laddo, I know). Have got all sorts of bits written - all DirectX, input, network, graphics, sound and tile map things (still writing but hey, only 3 months!) The question is what do people code an ISO world as these days.

The tiles are bitmaps? Sprites bitmaps? 3d models? Take for example Dungeon-Keeper or Diablo (esp the latter). I see the graphics appear to be bitmaps(ish) but the landscape - bitmap tiles? And such things as Baldurs gate?

I seem to be losing the distinctions between 3d and ISO possibly (I am not a great fan of 3DS type things apart for a tooth rotting amount of eye candy - such as Unreal but Q3? Already seems to be seen as a game of the century by certain mags even before it is out!) but I beleive ISO (or whatever combination it is now) gives the developer a great chance for good storylines and play.

Um - seem to have lost my question here - Are most games in this genre built as
1) Bitmap tiles (and what is the general size come to that)
2) What is the nicest character format (3-d models - and if so any articles on imporintg them in your game)
3) can you add nice things like shadows etc to the 2d bitmap world or do I have to delve into D3D already (just got the others under my belt and was holding off on this)
Yes I am trying to aim at a nice to look at game and yes I may be aiming to high but hey, after 20 years in the coding game I get used to failing!

Replies/thoughts and arguments most appreciated.


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Thanks all,
And your right - didn't notice it before. IE as long as the game play is good enough and keeps the player interested (and look basically OK) you can 'cheat' a bit.

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