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suliman

2D graphics for true topdown RTS?

4 posts in this topic

Hi

Im working on a concept for a 2D RTS in the tradition of dune 2 / warcraft 2. To keep assets down it will be in true topdown so sprites or animated sprites can be rotated instead of being rendered in 8 or 16 directions. This raises some well-known problems:

 

1. Most games like this uses a slightly tilted view so the sides are easier to see but this requires rendered sprites in all directions

2. How hard will buildings be if in true topdown? Any tricks to make it work better? I need stuff like barracks, power plants, airstrips etc. True topdown will only let the player see the roof (in theory at least). Units like tanks and helicopters work fine i think in true topdown.

 

You see my concern? Any tips or examples of true topdown (is that the phrase?) buildings that works? Total annihilation is ALMOST true topdown view (small tilt actually) although game is in 3d...

 

Thanks for your input

Erik

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I would suggest, don't go for realistic graphics, because that's what causes the "sea of indistinguishable roofs" problem.  It's way easier to tell apart a star-shaped building, a building made out of a giant tree, a nest where a dragon is laying eggs, a pool of water where submarines are built, etc.

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But the setting is sort of ww2/cold war. I will have tanks and power plants. So given that concept, is there anything to easy this task?

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I think you can do it, although obviously it's pretty hard or you would see it more often. You're going to have to exaggerate features quite a bit, and concentrate on making the overall shapes very distinct. So a barracks is a square, a hospital is a square with a half circle attached, a factory is a rectangle, powerplant is a T-shap, etc. Also think about altering the colors in terms of both hue (green vs red, etc) and brightness (dark gray vs light gray).

 

Hop on Google Earth, most of their imagery is pretty close to top down (don't use Maps or it will give you air photos sometimes, which aren't). Look at things like roof shapes (flat vs pitched) or random rooftop features like ventilation and skylights.

 

Honestly, infantry are going to be a bigger problem.

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To keep assets down it will be in true topdown so sprites or animated sprites can be rotated instead of being rendered in 8 or 16 directions. 

I disagree with you taking such a major game view decision based on the cost of assets. 

You can always compromise your graphics with enough minimalism and make them presentable enough so you can keep your original game view idea.

 

Did you know that low-poly, flat-shaded prerendered 3D graphics can be easier to produce than painted 2D graphics? you should make some flat shaded models in Blender3D or other, add some ambient occlusion (it's fully procedural, no cost in that) and direct sun light and shadow and animate those models into sprite canvases.

 

Take this game for example; It's built from only flat-shaded models (some are used as prerendered graphics, others are used real-time):

 

2nk6jhi.png

 

The game is MicroSprint by Stevie Goodwin.

This is a racing game, but those palm trees, the shore and the ship could totally fit in a millitary game. Those real-time hard edged shadows help a lot with making things volumetric and believable even though these meshes use only vertex coloring for shading - I suggest you read up on vertex coloring and its effects on game graphics, it's a great cheap tool when you can't afford the texture memory.

 

EDIT: As for the top-view distinctness problem, as Prinz Eugn puts it above, you need to use symbols.

When we're looking at enemy bases in an RTS game we always depend on vision to tell which kind of buildings\factories they have. A developer of RTS games designs each factory to be structurally unique while keeping the same "race theme".

That's what you need to do: make each building (including simpler ones such as barricades) visually unique enough so that players are able to recognize them at any view as soon as they lay eyes upon them. It's doesn't have to necessarily look like the building it's supposed to represent, but rather look different from the other buildings so the player can memorize it like "ah, so that's what this game considers a barricade".

Edited by Kryzon
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