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Syranide

3D tool for parallax 2D side-view?

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I'm currently looking into content tools for a game, the basic idea is a stylized 2D side scrolling platformer, with parallax (aka, different layers move at different speeds to simulate depth). This can obviously be done using quads in 3D too, which would also open up for more artistic freedom... my hope being that I could spend my time doing more important stuff than writing a complicated tool for it. We also have the need to be able to create basic animations which many 3D tools already have great tools for... I really wouldn't mind creating a tool for static geometry, but also implementing animation seems like quite the project.

So I'm curious if you guys know of any tools that would be well suited for this? (placing quads and doing animation)

I know Blender is free and hugely capable, but it's also seems hugely over-complicated for something like this... the artist has little to no 3D experience.


PS. It doesn't have to free, but it mustn't cost hundreds of dollars.

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Hi Syranide.

I don't understand what is the issue exactly. Once your artist has created the pictures that will be used as textures and mapped onto those 3D quads, you then will procedurally animate these quads (procedurally = animate in real-time, with the game's logic code) to move with the camera with a progressive decay in speed, as you mentioned, to give the sense of depth.

Where does the 3D animation you're looking for comes into play?

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Hi Syranide.

I don't understand what is the issue exactly. Once your artist has created the pictures that will be used as textures and mapped onto those 3D quads, you then will procedurally animate these quads (procedurally = animate in real-time, with the game's logic code) to move with the camera with a progressive decay in speed, as you mentioned, to give the sense of depth.

Where does the 3D animation you're looking for comes into play?


Ah sorry, yes the parallax is definitely just logic or a perspective camera.

What I meant with animation was just animation in general, say animate a door or a flock of birds... which 3D animation can do too, although it may not be as simple as one would hope.

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This will depend on your art direction.

If your animator produces each frame on a painting software (Photoshop, Gimp etc.) you'll have a different look than if you use pre-rendered animations done in 3D, with lighting and shadow, that are rendered onto separate frames that you can glue together on an atlas and use as sprite frames in your game engine.
On practical terms, the 3D pre-rendered graphics will be faster to produce most of the time: the animator simply worries about keyframing all the skeletons and objects; the computer takes care of rendering and applying light and shadows. The same rigged character mesh can be used for animating all the actions it'll have, instead of having to be redrawn all the time in case of 2D. But with 2D you have much more control, with limitless possibilities.

The game Gunbound, for instance, uses pre-rendered, animated 3D backgrounds but uses vector graphics for the characters. Note the "pre-rendered" term here means the background isn't a real-time 3D model but a rendered picture of one, so you lose all the depth that would come from camera movement: 



(Click for a full-sized version.)

95twdz.jpg



gunbound-3.jpg

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