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ISO vs 3d... again

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I think when I really comes down to it the choice of Iso vs. 3d is really dependent on the needs of you're game.
For me, though, the 3d side seems to make more and more sense since, as you pointed out, with special effects you can really enhance a decent plot and mood. Not mention the speed issue.
I think that perhaps there are a lot of preconceptions floating around: 2d = boring and 3d = eye candy only. Perhaps that is where is the arguement comes in. Again in reality it all matters is the game in question. I want to have things like rolling terrian, fog, lighting so 3d makes sense. Some people neither want nor need that so they go with 2d. Its not 2d or 3d that makes the game, its how you use it, imho. :-)

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I found this on the site of Gathering of Developers.


Asked by: Terence Tan


I was just wondering what GOD stand on NEED to support 3D graphics in all games, now and a year down the line. Basically we are are independant developer who has gotten funding for developing of a Role Playing Game to be released Q2 2000 and we were wondering should we do a full 3D game but risk losing quality in artwork and possible immersiveness or stick with our 2D engine but get kicked out by our publisher because some marketting guy says "It's not 3D, why should we even look at it."

Answered by: Phil Steinmeyer, PopTop Software

The quick answer is "Yes, it probably needs to be 3D".
However, my caveat is that the need for 3D and the type of 3D required depend a lot on the game genre. Game genres that pretty much have to be full on accelerated 3D:

*Vehicle Simulation (i.e. flight sims and driving sims/racing games)

Game genres that probably should be in some form of 3D for a year 2000 release:


Game genres that don't have to be 3D (but could be)

*Adventure games
*Puzzle games
*Some budget games (i.e. Deerhunter type stuff)
*Educational games and other non-hard core stuff.

Some notes:
The game genres that fall into "3D required" do so for fairly obvious reasons - they're action oriented, need high frame rates, and derive a great benefit from a camera that is freely re-positionable. Strategy and RPG don't need high frame rates, and go at a slower pace. However, the market is moving strongly towards 3D in these genres, and I suspect by next year, 2D games in these genres will feel dated. However, gamers in these categories often lack the latest hardware, and it would be wise to tolerate fairly low end systems, and to allow software rendering. The final category, for obvious reasons, doesn't NEED 3D. However, that's not to say 3D wouldn't benefit games in these areas. For example, the 2nd generation of hunting games (i.e. Deer Hunter 2) have reasonably good 3D engines.

We use 3d-acceleration for terrain (real 3d-terrain) and simply blit the buildings and units over the terrain. It looks quite nice and is fast, so for iso graphics, the best solution IMO.


Skullpture Entertainment

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I would have to disagree with Phil Steinmeyer on the "cause it's 2D it's dated" theory. Perspective has nothing to do with the dated feel of a game. It's either the gameplay or the style of the graphics.

[This message has been edited by Ðragun (edited September 18, 1999).]

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I would have to agree with most of you here... It depends on the plot, setting, etc. of the game you are making. I myself am involved in a project that makes use of 3D graphics- but that is because it needs to take advantage of fog, lighting, and a few misc. atmospheric effects.
However if I didn't have need of these effects- the use of 2D iso would be perfect!

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Now, when people say 3d ISO, do they mean an actual 3d engine with perspective correction, or just using a 3d card to render isometric tiles?

I think it makes more sense to use 3d hardware for an isometric engine.

At its core, a '3d card' is just a triangle rasterizer (The new GPU's that are comming out this month are closer to the term '3d card').

And it makes sense to me, that an Isometric tile is better represented by 2 triangles than 1 rectangle.

at its heart, a 2d card is just a 'memory chunk mover', and most 2d cards have absolutely NO penalty for transparent blitting (as opposed to full blitting). Isometric engines need to do transparent blitting a lot more than square engines.

now, you may say that since there is no penalty, there is really no reason to go to a 3d card based approach.

I disagree. Even though I have long been an advocate of plotlines, rather than special effects of games, I think that lighting and alpha features can greatly increase the ambiance (or 'mood' if you will) of a game.

That is where a 3d card comes in. I am pretty sure that a 3d card can rasterize a lot more triangles than a 2d card can blit rectangles, and also apply lighting and alpha with little or no loss of performance.

Now, i have heard the argument that 3d cards lose graphic information when rasterizing triangles. But I don't agree with it at all when using the method i'm talking about. You can tell D3d or OGL exactly how to render the triangle, so that no quality is lost.

So, what do you people think about using 3d hardware to make an ISO game?

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Once more:

There is nothing "perspective" about an isometric mapping. The whole purpose of isometric projection is that everything has the same size regardless of distance to the viewer.

IOW: there are really 3 scenarios that all makes sence:

1) ISOmetric sprite based
2) ISOmetric polygon based
3) Perspective polygon based

(in fact the term ISOmetric covers ONE particular type of non-perspective mapping, there's a whole bunch of other mappings that are frequently used, such as the old-fashioned top-view, that does not distort size).

The real choice is between basing the game on sprites or texture mapped polygons. The latter allow scaling, rotation, HW accelerated effects etc. at the (possible) expense of detail and simplicity in programming.

I dare say that gameplay is completely unaffected by the choice of rasterization technology... It's all eye-candy (which I have nothing against BTW - I own a TNT2 and will have a geForce faster than you can say "bumpmapping" ).

(Whether or not high-polycounts and cool effects sells a game, is probably something we don't need to discuss )


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