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Dr_Asik

2D terrain with elevation

8 posts in this topic

Hello,

I'm wondering what would be the best technique for rendering terrain à la Age of Empires 2, given a set of tiles (2D sprites). Of course if the terrain is entirely flat, then it simply consists of aligning the tiles next to each other; but in AoE2 you also have pseudo-elevation:

[img]http://media.moddb.com/images/downloads/1/18/17249/ss8.jpg[/img]

Note that the angled terrain has different lighting applied that gives it a smooth contour. I'm wondering if it'd be simpler to do it in 3D and get lighting for free basically, or do it in 2D and emulate the angles, offsets, lighting etc. And if the latter option is taken, what would be a good approach to adding this lighting/shadow effect to angled terrain.

By the way I'm very much a newbie to graphics programming.

Thanks for your insight.
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Thanks for the detailed answer. I'm not too excited about doing it in 3D because of the following issues:
- How to achieve 1:1 pixel mapping with my 2D tiles? Basically I'd have to find the exact size and camera angle, and even then I'm sure I'll run into subtle aliasing issues due to imprecisions.
- I've next to no knowledge of shaders, and the blending of 2 different adjacent terrains looks like a lot of work, compared to doing it with SpriteBatch (I'm using XNA).

My question then becomes, how to implement the lighting of tiles facing towards the sun? Super-imposing a semi-transparent white texture?
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In 2D you mean? When looking at AoE, I don't think they did any tricks with extra layers, just drawing different tiles:
- flat one
- ramp north-west (shaded)
- ramp south-east (litten)
- ramp south-east (litten)
- ramp north-east (shaded)
- ramp corner NW, SW, SE, NE

But I could be wrong. Just an idea... there were some mods for AoE, so I suppose there are tools that allow you to open their data-libraries. So you can have a look which textures they exactly made.
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These days, it's so much easier to just go with a 3D solution for cases like this. All of those old 2D tricks were created as workarounds for the fact that true 3D was less readily accessible on the older hardware, as shown by the hacky complexity of those tricks.
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Stronghold had an map editor built in, I think it was 3D, but all the rest of the game was 2D (pre rendered), it was awsome, I dont have a clue on how it was done thou..

You could control slope height just as in fully 3D terrain editor, (by smooth sloping up and down), but it worked on tile pieces(why? I dont get it)...Its really curious how it worked.

heres a vid that shows what Im talking about:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_h3o3Gpj0Y&feature=relmfu

You can see perfectly that the game was isometric tiled, but I cant imagine it being 2D, I mean, theres perfect sloping there, but if it was 3D, why make it tiled? Its an impressive editor o.o

(That game took many hours of my life, even the editor, I remember doing a map where I could build I giant castle (from scratch, collecting resources) and them after an absurd amount of time a colossal army of enemies would appear, after beating the game I played only that level for so long, trying to get the most efficient castle <3 )
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