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Christopher Dumas

Developing New Game - Is Isometric view too confusing for modern gamers?

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Posted (edited)

Hi everyone! This is my first post here. I'm an indie game developer with plans to release a game on Steam. The game I'm working on is a multiplayer real-time strategy game with base building elements modeled on RimWorld (tech tree and big base components, but also mining and building walls, etc), but also with a Z-axis involved. Currently, my game is about 67% of the way done, so I have the world generation, mining, stockpiling and movement done, and structures in place for the rest. It was originally going to be a 2D, orthogonal game with different levels shown a few at a time from above, like Dwarf Fortress, but the artist that I'm working with convinced me that using a more 3-dimensional view would be beneficial, both for ergonomics and understandability. We decided on using a staggered isometric view since that would be easier and more stylish than doing pure 3D, and prevent awkward camera issues. I've implemented the isometric view, using art that my artist 3D modeled and then exported as pixel art. I've attached some representative screenshots to this post.

The new isometric graphics are in early stages right now (its been five days exactly since I ripped out 2,400 lines of 2D draw code), so there's no UI to speak of and some optimizations (culling of underground tiles) may be acting up. Also, there are multiple biomes and unique grasses and flowers, dirt, stone, etc in the worldgen but my artist hasn't got around to doing those yet so we just have common-denominator art right now.

Also, the world generation algorithm is not set in stone. Right now, it uses several layers of simplex noise, plus adding random hills and then doing rain erosion simulations. After that, it adds biomes (which you can't see) based on height, temperature, proximity to water, etc. The height of the terrain is actually modified into a few flat planes by dividing the height output by the noise algorithm by four, then multiplying it by 2.5, and then casting to an integer (so throwing away the decimal). So, for instance, pillars of rock/dirt, and the fact that the beaches are kind of too high over the water are things we will eventually fix.

I'm pretty confident that the world generation is simple enough and the graphics clear enough to be understandable for modern strategy gamers but my artist has doubts. Do any of you have opinions on this? Also, if anyone has any suggestions as to how to make it clearer what level the user is looking at currently, or how to make Z-axis clearer, please let me know!

 

Thanks!

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Edited by Christopher Dumas
Added images.

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Posted (edited)

The screenshot links appear to be dead (at least for me), which could be Discord's fault.

Using a discordapp-link is not a good idea, instead upload them from your PC.

Edited by Iltis

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Thanks Iltis. I'll get right on that.

Okay I've fixed the images and made the question a little clearer. FYI for everyone, those images are displaying really low-resolution versions on this website, click on them for a clearer image (this is pixel art, after all).

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Hi Chris,

Also my first post here, but this is my kind of game i like, so thought id try and give some feedback.

Firstly what are we meant to be seeing in those images? is that different layers on the same spot, or just random screenshots?

Initially i would suggest what might help, is to actually create a mine in your landscape. Sort of digging down and across at a 45degree angle to different floors. And then maybe post how a couple of images how they appear. (on the same x,y and drop the z on the images).

Nicster    

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Hi Nicster,

These are just random screenshots from the maximum Z level.

That's a good idea! I don't have the new UI place to actually order the colonists to mine (when I went from 2D to isometric I also switched graphics libraries so I have to re-do the interface from scratch), but i can just choose a particularly interesting land feature and show a few Z levels of that.

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For an RTS, it might be fine.  Depending.  Like, for example, dragging a selection box, how would you do that in your game?  Would you need to drag it in isometric fashion, or does the user draw a normal square?  And if it's the latter would that make selecting units harder?

 

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Okay, in answer to Nicster's suggestion:

 

Attached are a few images of the same cliff/hill/area of progressively decreasing Z axis.

Please excuse the colonists, they were intent on getting in the shot, and since the moveable entity drawing code actually doesn't work right currently (https://gamedev.stackexchange.com/questions/163092/render-moveable-entities-into-3d-isometric-world) it's a little weird.

Screen Shot 2018-08-23 at 10.48.17 AM.png

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Screen Shot 2018-08-23 at 10.48.45 AM.png

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2 minutes ago, ferrous said:

For an RTS, it might be fine.  Depending.  Like, for example, dragging a selection box, how would you do that in your game?  Would you need to drag it in isometric fashion, or does the user draw a normal square?  And if it's the latter would that make selecting units harder?

 

So, how selection will work is that the user just draws a selection square on whatever level they're currently viewing, and if they're selecting colonists it'll just select all the colonists on any Z axis that fall under that square. If they're selecting terrain (as in, designating an area to mine), then since they're selecting tiles filled with blocks, they'd just do a regular square to select those, a 2D square. I'm not sure if or how that would make selecting units harder, but it might?

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Posted (edited)

 

Yup, that makes it clearer, thanks. Comments:-

The red block, i assume is the cursor/selection, yes? And as you are moving through the z-axis, is this moving as well, or is it always on the selected z axis (sorry tricky to tell)?

//The people you have, can you explain what we are seeing as you drop down the z-axis?

edit: sorry should read fully before answering - forget the colonists in view

Oh and just manually create a mine to see how it looks (hollow out some blocks, and see how it looks). 

nicster

 

 

Edited by nicster

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Hi nicster, so yeah if you're just going straight up and down levels, the cursor (which is the red block, correct) stays on the same x,y point. In the screenshots, it is on the same x,y point, but the current Z level, on each of the screenshots except maybe the last. Hope that helps! Also, I don't have a way of doing manual mines yet, I could add that if it would help a lot.

Concerning what you're seeing with the colonists, whats going on with them (if you didn't visit the gamedev stackexchange link) is that they are rendering to the correct isometric point, but since I render them as a batch after the rest of the map is rendered (this is a temporary stopgap), they still render on top of everything, even when they should be behind it.

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You did a pretty good job of rendering the graphics for your game, how long have you been in game development? To answer your question though, I don't believe that it should be too confusing for the gamers of the newer generation. Especially not a true gamer. 

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