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Isometric vs. 2D Design. What do you prefer and why?

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The title says it all. I love both. but I feel I need to give an edge to isometric design. I haven't played too many games that have used isometric, it seem that most games nowadays use 3D or 2D. 

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Personally hate isometric, both as a dev and as a user.  Things don't line up, for example, a tiled isometric game, hitting left on a Dpad isn't a directly left movement, and in general the world is oddly viewed, so activities like jumping and shooting can be hard to aim.  Programming is also a bit of a pain, as again, up isn't up, it's up right, or up left, and tall objects draw over into other tiles.  Flat 2d eliminates those kind of heachaches, as is using a 3d camera but just placing it at an isometric like perspective.

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Note that isometric can be done in 3D or 2D. If you meant the 2D (prerendered) isometric it makes not much sense nowadays, it's simplie to go 3D (low-med poly) isometric.

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Isometric is fine for turn based stuff but for everything requiring real-time movement I dislike it.

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I dislike isometric because it looks wrong. In real life things have perspective, objects near look bigger and further objects appear smaller. If you move, the objects in the front occlude different parts of the background.

 

If you are actually doing 3D game then it should be trivially easy to change between perspective and orthographic camera. Even if you do static camera the perspective is always going to look better, for me.

 

But as soon as you start baking your objects to 2D it doesn't work so good anymore and some developers opt for isometric. If that's part of your plan then I'd rather play 2.5D (where everything is rendered purely side/top view and depth is expressed via offset / scale) than isometric.

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I am a big fan of isometrics even daring to say that I know of no good simulation game since going from isometrics to full 3D. (Simcity, Railroad Tycoon etc etc)

 

I can understand people having 3D with fixed ortographic projection but when it comes to web (in my case) prerendered isometrics make more sense (even though WebGL is on the rise)

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I like isometric a lot except for two things, one of which (movement with arrow keys/wasd/d-pad) has already been brought up.  The other is that tall objects can obstruct game-relevant information.  (For example: "What shape of ground remains between these four tall buildings?") You can build in workarounds in the interface, like an x-ray view or one that only shows the ground, but at the cost of interface complexity.

 

It all comes down to the game, though.  Obscuring information was an important part of the feel of X-COM; that important things would be partially occluded.  There's an alien behind that wall, but what kind?  What is it holding?  It wouldn't have worked as well in 2d.

 

On the other hand, I considered isometric for this game (http://gamejolt.com/games/puzzle/lexicopolis-a-b-city/14954/), but obscuring the letters on the ground wouldn't have contributed to the intended feel of the game.  Especially because buildings are meaningless once placed; the graphics are just little rewards to the player for having come up with a word.  Letting buildings get in the way of playing the game would compromise the reward cycle.

 

I could have put in an interface feature that removes the buildings temporarily so you can see the ground, but I wanted to keep a tight "type-build-type-build" loop without any need to fiddle with the interface in between steps.

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Isometric is fine for turn based stuff but for everything requiring real-time movement I dislike it.

Interesting. Why don't you like it for real-time movement?

If the art style is isometric, but your character still moves up and down and left and right normally as if the game wasn't isometric (like Diablo 2 or Paper Mario 64), would it still annoy you in real-time games?

Or do you mean, you don't like tile-based movement (stepping from one tile to another) as opposed to pixel-based movement, regardless of the isometric-ness of the art?

What I mean is, which of these things are what you dislike in games requiring real-time responses:

  • Isometric art style (you just dislike the visual look?)
  • Rotated directions of movement (moving North-west instead of pure North)
  • Tile-based movement (either you are standing on one tile or another, but you can never stand in-between tiles).
Edited by Servant of the Lord

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"Isometric" is one of those words that means something different to everyone.  In fact, I'm not entirely sure about some of the finer points about "true" isometric vs. orthographic and 2D styles.

 

I happen to love games like Fallout 1-2, Jagged Alliance 2, XCOM: UFO Defense/Terror from the Deep, and practically all of the D&D games of my 20's -- Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale, Planescape: Torment.  I always considered them top-down games, but, after learning a bit about game design and development, I started calling them isometric games.  Now I call them top-down or TPP (third-person perspective) because I really don't know if they were actually isometric -- some of them had spectacular 2D backgrounds.

 

As for 2D games, I generally have a dim view of them.  I immediately think of SNES platformers, a genre I was thankfully able to skip due to being old (went from TRS-80 and a C64 to a 386 PC).

 

Based on my limited 2D experience, I prefer isometric.  They allow for a unique view of a gameplay area that, for want of a better word, seems strategic to me.  Like you were looking at the CAD design of a complicated machine.  Granted, this is likely misty, water-colored memories of the way games were, but that's my preference. 

 

For instance:  Silent Storm < Jagged Alliance 2 only because of the 3D camera and controls.  Very similar games, but the choice to not be "isometric" kills it for me.

 

 

 


sometric is fine for turn based stuff but for everything requiring real-time movement I dislike it.

 

*IF* the original Command & Conquer can be considered "isometric" it represent real-time movement that worked just fine (and addictive as this coffee in my hand).  Diablo 1-2, also.

Edited by GoCatGo

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I don't like isometric, but I'm afraid I've never given it much more thought.

I think a conventional 2d representation is easier to grasp (X and Y axis are simple).

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