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abral

To 3D, or not to 3D: that is the question.

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I'm about to start the development of a RTS game, mainly to make some experience in the field of game programming.
The first and most important decision I've to make is the choice between isometric 2D and 3D.

In your opinion what are the pros and cons of the two? Which has more free resources on the web?
Consider that my game will be cartoon styled, so the graphic detail isn't so important

EDIT: The art isn't so much important for me, I'm just interested in the game programming. So please don't mention art in your replies: I will use placeholder graphics taken somewhere.

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Well, how are you planning on creating the graphics? The underlying RTS concepts don't exactly change much between 2D and 3D (a la Starcraft 2 - full 3D is a different story). You mention premade resources but you won't be able to build your whole game based on just these. See what you can create yourself and what techniques you want to use (for 2D for example, do you want to hand-draw, use pixel art or pre-render?) and make that your criteria for the decision.

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[quote name='d k h' timestamp='1297905245' post='4775205']
Well, how are you planning on creating the graphics? The underlying RTS concepts don't exactly change much between 2D and 3D (a la Starcraft 2 - full 3D is a different story). You mention premade resources but you won't be able to build your whole game based on just these. See what you can create yourself and what techniques you want to use (for 2D for example, do you want to hand-draw, use pixel art or pre-render?) and make that your criteria for the decision.
[/quote]

I'll download the graphics I will need, but at the beginning I won't need so much resources. I can't create anything, because I don't know how to use any graphics software, and I'm not interested in this.
However the problem isn't this, because if the project will go well, I will contact some artists to help me.

The question is about the pros and cons of 2D and 3D approaches for a RTS.
For example a 2D cons is the difficulty in camera rotations.

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[quote name='abral' timestamp='1297909084' post='4775233']
[quote name='d k h' timestamp='1297905245' post='4775205']
Well, how are you planning on creating the graphics? The underlying RTS concepts don't exactly change much between 2D and 3D (a la Starcraft 2 - full 3D is a different story). You mention premade resources but you won't be able to build your whole game based on just these. See what you can create yourself and what techniques you want to use (for 2D for example, do you want to hand-draw, use pixel art or pre-render?) and make that your criteria for the decision.
[/quote]

I'll download the graphics I will need, but at the beginning I won't need so much resources. I can't create anything, because I don't know how to use any graphics software, and I'm not interested in this.
However the problem isn't this, because if the project will go well, I will contact some artists to help me.

The question is about the pros and cons of 2D and 3D approaches for a RTS.
For example a 2D cons is the difficulty in camera rotations.
[/quote]

So you will download placeholder art first and then have artists working on real art? And you have contacts to talented 2D as well as 3D artists that would be willing to work with you on the project? My advice would be to look for things you can get (ie. search for 2d isometric tiles and units, see if you can even find any that fit your game and expectations) and then it's likely that one of the options will drop out rather quickly. I for one have not been able to find a selection of low poly textured and animated 3d models of RTS units, not to mention buildings.

Anyways, the rest depends on your game design - what kind of RTS are you having in mind? Starcraft/Command&Conquer like? Age of Empires like? Sudden Strike like? Rotating the camera in a 2D RTS is indeed a problem, the question is, does your game need it?

Once again, the RTS fundamentals are very much the same between 2D and 3D simply because 3D RTS are 2.5D at best in reality, what with everything taking place on a 2D plane.

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I think you've missed the point of my question. I don't need so much art, I'm interested only in the graphics engine. I'll use placeholder art not only at beginning, but also at the end. If I'll casually find some artists the game would be more beautiful, but I'm not interested in this, I'm interested only in the game programming.

enjoycrf, why Adobe Flash makes you laugh? However I won't use it, because I don't like it.

The main point of my question is: what are pros and cons of 2D and 3D approaches for a RTS?

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Well, I've made my point, maybe somebody else has a different outlook on things.

To reiterate, the question "what are the pros/cons of 2D vs 3D for RTS games" is too vague as the difference between both systems is in reality very, very small. Also the term RTS is a little to broad, you need to explain what the game is going to be like in more detail. As an example, if you want a city building, friendly game like the Anno series or SimCity even, then you probably DO want the option to zoom in and rotate the camera as people will want to look at their carefully crafted cities in a lot of detail PLUS these games don't need a lot of actions per minute so people will have the time to do so. For that, a 3D perspective is obviously much better suited, while doing the same with 2D sprites for tiles, units and structures is a pain for both the artists and the programmer. If you're looking to make a fast-paced battle game such as Starcraft or Command&Conquer, however, there is absolutely no need for camera zoom or rotation as people will be busy maximizing their economy and ultimately armies, in that case the camera zoom/rotation is a non-issue.

Me talking about the art was just trying to safe you from asking the question in general and hoping you'd realize the difficulty that is to find or generate coherent RTS tiles, units and structures. Since you apparently have your mind made up on the issue I won't mention it again, not my place to judge.

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[quote name='d k h' timestamp='1297954680' post='4775410']
Well, I've made my point, maybe somebody else has a different outlook on things.

To reiterate, the question "what are the pros/cons of 2D vs 3D for RTS games" is too vague as the difference between both systems is in reality very, very small. Also the term RTS is a little to broad, you need to explain what the game is going to be like in more detail. As an example, if you want a city building, friendly game like the Anno series or SimCity even, then you probably DO want the option to zoom in and rotate the camera as people will want to look at their carefully crafted cities in a lot of detail PLUS these games don't need a lot of actions per minute so people will have the time to do so. For that, a 3D perspective is obviously much better suited, while doing the same with 2D sprites for tiles, units and structures is a pain for both the artists and the programmer. If you're looking to make a fast-paced battle game such as Starcraft or Command&Conquer, however, there is absolutely no need for camera zoom or rotation as people will be busy maximizing their economy and ultimately armies, in that case the camera zoom/rotation is a non-issue.

Me talking about the art was just trying to safe you from asking the question in general and hoping you'd realize the difficulty that is to find or generate coherent RTS tiles, units and structures. Since you apparently have your mind made up on the issue I won't mention it again, not my place to judge.
[/quote]

The game I've in mind is something like warcraft, aoe, etc. Realism isn't so important, because it'll be cartoon-styled.
I know it's really difficult to find the art and artists, it's for this reason that I don't worry about the graphics, because I yet know it will be awful, but it doesn't matter for me ;)
Sorry if I seem aggressive, it's only my bad knowledge of English :D

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No worries, well then the question is: do you absolutely need/want camera zoom and rotation for any reason? I would personally drop that feature but if you do require it, that would make me sell on 3D rather quickly, as both you and I stated, doing this in 2D is a nuisance.

Apart from that, some very subtle differences: depending on how many units you want on the screen simultaneously, you are going to run into performance issues with 3D rather quickly, 2D should be faster. Fog of war can be harder to implement in 3D depending on your approach, I would go far a shader approach but depends on your level of knowledge in shader programming. In 3D your units can face infinitely many directions (you rotate the unit model around the up-axis by any amount) while you are limited by your sprite set in 2D (ie. 32, 24 or 16 directions). In 3D you have to implement mouse picking which can be marginally harder than simply point-rectangle comparison in 2D. Drawing the selection markers and healthbars around units can be a little tricky in 3D and is trivial in 2D. Last but not least, the look will differ. Not to forget, what is your target audience? If you want big battles with lots of units in 3D, your audience will probably need decent systems. Going 2D means more people will be able to play.

None of these are big issues at all, just some differences that come to mind. It all depends on what you know already, what you're comfortable with and what you want to learn. All in all, I would personally stick to 2D first, making an RTS game is kind of hard to do anyways and 2D tends to just be a tiny bit easier to get rolling for most people.

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[quote name='enjoycrf' timestamp='1297937344' post='4775352']
u could try ADOBE FLASH hahahaha
[/quote]

There's some surprisingly good Flash games. Check Blight of the Immortals:

http://blight.ironhelmet.com/screenshots

That's looks good. Perfect for 2D RTS graphics.

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If you are intending on selling your game, you should also be thinking along the lines of who your target audience will be, and what their PC specs will be.

But otherwise, 3D is actually easier at the end of the day. And with the likes of good engines like Ogre3D, there's no reason not to go 3D.

The pros and cons of RTS games are similar to that of any other games (expect FPS's of course). You have so much more freedom in 3D because you can actually use the "3D space" as if it were real, and it's all taken care of for you.

Say for example you want to add a particle effect to a weapon, in 2D you would have to put layers in and all that to make it look like the effect is wrapping around the weapon. In 3D, you just give it the necessary rotations and wala.

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