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3D perspective? Isometric view? Why not both?

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  • Personally I would find it very frustrating to play a game such as World of WarCraft if it offered both isometric and 3rd person mode. Why? Simply because each game mode offers its own advantages, so you'd end up having to switch between them constantly while playing. Isometric lets you see around corners while the 3rd persion view lets you see much farther.

    I much prefer to focus on the actual gameplay than having to tinker with the camera a lot. I think that's one reason many developers choose not to have both views. I think a great and very relevant example to this topic is "isometric" game is XCOM: Enemy Unknown. It's most certainly a 3d engine yet the game view takes place from an "isometric" angle. In addition there's no free camera - it's locked and can only be rotated through 4 different angles, so there's no annoying tinkering.

    In addition it makes use of the fact that it's a 3d game in a very seamless way. When you want to shoot with one of your soldiers, the camera automatically goes down to a 3rd person perspective that lets you easily toggle between available targets. Certain actions such as committing to firing, also takes advantage of the 3d engine and seamlessly gives you an "action shot" of what's happening, then returns you to the normal "isometric" perspective when it's done.

    Since it's done automatically in a seamless fashion, it avoids annoying the player yet takes advantage of the engine to create some cool action shots.

    Depending on the type of game, control schemes may also need to vary considerably between modes, which is an extra headache both for the developer and the player.

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,784Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Axehilt

    Why do both?

    If you have a very strong vision, a massive abundance of time, and a strong purpose to each view type, it can work.  In NS obviously they needed both types of views to create an RTS/FPS, and it was clear that the RTS view was required to be able to give commands and place buildings (and to feel like a commander), while the FPS view is the main mode of play.

    Why not both?

    Well how many MMORPGs do you feel had flawless controls and camera angles?  Between cameras stuck awkwardly against walls or intervening objects or blocked by the avatar or colliding weirdly with the ground or interacting with water surfaces, there's a ton of work just getting one type of perspective done right.

    If there's gameplay reasons to do both, and it adds a lot to the game, go for it.  Otherwise, it's just spreading your dev time butter over too much bread.

    If you've already done the work for a 3D perspective viewpoint, then adding the option for an isometric viewpoint isn't that much additional work.  You'll have to do redo culling because there are things that should be culled from one perspective but not the other in order to optimize performance and avoid graphical artifacting.  And there's a tiny bit of work to offer camera controls and menus for both methods.  But that's about it.

    If, on the other hand, you've already done everything assuming an isometric view and want to offer a 3D perspective, that could create massive new amounts of work, especially if you're using some fundamentally 2D methods.

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,784Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Axxar

    Personally I would find it very frustrating to play a game such as World of WarCraft if it offered both isometric and 3rd person mode. Why? Simply because each game mode offers its own advantages, so you'd end up having to switch between them constantly while playing. Isometric lets you see around corners while the 3rd persion view lets you see much farther.

    I much prefer to focus on the actual gameplay than having to tinker with the camera a lot. I think that's one reason many developers choose not to have both views. I think a great and very relevant example to this topic is "isometric" game is XCOM: Enemy Unknown. It's most certainly a 3d engine yet the game view takes place from an "isometric" angle. In addition there's no free camera - it's locked and can only be rotated through 4 different angles, so there's no annoying tinkering.

    In addition it makes use of the fact that it's a 3d game in a very seamless way. When you want to shoot with one of your soldiers, the camera automatically goes down to a 3rd person perspective that lets you easily toggle between available targets. Certain actions such as committing to firing, also takes advantage of the 3d engine and seamlessly gives you an "action shot" of what's happening, then returns you to the normal "isometric" perspective when it's done.

    Since it's done automatically in a seamless fashion, it avoids annoying the player yet takes advantage of the engine to create some cool action shots.

    Depending on the type of game, control schemes may also need to vary considerably between modes, which is an extra headache both for the developer and the player.

    A Google Image search for XCOM: Enemy Unknown produced many screenshots that were clearly a 3D perspective, and none that were clearly isometric.  Can you link me to one that uses an isometric viewpoint for the game itself rather than just menus and UI?

    Is the problem that one camera view offers an advantage over another?  Or is the real problem that the other camera angle offers disadvantages?  If giving players a choice of two camera views, one of which cripples the players, is a bad thing, then surely giving players the bad camera view as their only option is not an improvement.

    When games first moved to 3D, far too many developers focused mainly on "look at the cool 3D graphics", and a lot less on "how can we give players a clear view of what they're doing?"  It's gotten somewhat better since then, and a lot of 3D games today to give players a good view of the action.  But far too many don't.

    Yes, you have to offer additional control schemes.  But you should do that anyway.  Games should offer players lots of choices in how to configure their controls to help players configure things however they want and get comfortable controls.  The best I've seen in this regard was Infantry, which let you set every possible control to up to three combinations of keys, each of which could have up to three keys, and then let players save six control configurations and switch between them easily.  Making players fight against a bad control scheme as much as you're fighting against mobs is terrible game design.

  • Here's a shot of the basic game view during a mission: http://www.totallygn.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/XCOM-Enemy-Unknown-Splash-Image1.jpg

    (I assume by "isometric" you simply mean a camera position similar to 2d isometric games rather than a literal isometric perspective)

    Yes, the reason is each view have their own advantages. This means that you have to flip flop between them all the time, which is a hassle. Why do you do it? Because you can and it improves your performance in the game. If there's only one option there's no need for flip flopping since you can't.

    Edit: I think http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZn8VF5nYZU this clip shows XCOM: Enemy Unknown better.

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,784Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Axxar

    Here's a shot of the basic game view during a mission: http://www.totallygn.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/XCOM-Enemy-Unknown-Splash-Image1.jpg

    (I assume by "isometric" you simply mean a camera position similar to 2d isometric games rather than a literal isometric perspective)

    Yes, the reason is each view have their own advantages. This means that you have to flip flop between them all the time, which is a hassle. Why do you do it? Because you can and it improves your performance in the game. If there's only one option there's no need for flip flopping since you can't.

    Edit: I think http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZn8VF5nYZU this clip shows XCOM: Enemy Unknown better.

    The screenshot you link is just an ordinary 3D perspective.  There's nothing isometric about it apart from some UI stuff.  In a true isometric perspective, the camera doesn't correspond to any particular point in the game world, but is kind of at a limit as the camera goes off to infinity in some particular direction together with a limit as the frustum gets infinitely narrow.

  • Originally posted by Axxar

    (I assume by "isometric" you simply mean a camera position similar to 2d isometric games rather than a literal isometric perspective)

    I guess I didn't see there was a lot more text in your post below the pictures. In that case I'd guess the reason isometric isn't used much is because it looks odd in comparison to a 3d perspective and that there isn't really any demand for it.

  • DisdenaDisdena Troy, NYPosts: 1,093Member
    Originally posted by Axxar

    (I assume by "isometric" you simply mean a camera position similar to 2d isometric games rather than a literal isometric perspective)

    He means an actual isometric perspective, not 3D with the camera positioned overhead.

     

    Oops, posted while you guys were already posting.

    image
  • Yeah, I found out. I was under the impression the question was why games usually had a ground level perspective or a top-down perspective, but not both. Somehow I missed the OP text below the images when I scrolled down. But then again Quizz missed the quoted line in my post so I suppose we're even ;)
  • AxehiltAxehilt San Francisco, CAPosts: 8,753Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Quizzical

    If you've already done the work for a 3D perspective viewpoint, then adding the option for an isometric viewpoint isn't that much additional work.  You'll have to do redo culling because there are things that should be culled from one perspective but not the other in order to optimize performance and avoid graphical artifacting.  And there's a tiny bit of work to offer camera controls and menus for both methods.  But that's about it.

    If, on the other hand, you've already done everything assuming an isometric view and want to offer a 3D perspective, that could create massive new amounts of work, especially if you're using some fundamentally 2D methods.

    Sure, getting it working at 70% effectiveness actually isn't much work at all.  And like I said, if you have a strong conviction behind the purpose of each type of view it might be a good idea to keep both.

    But to get the feel right -- at a really professional quality -- will take effort to smooth out all the common rough edges I mentioned (and the countless others I overlooked.)

    Again it's all a matter of whether you want to be x dev hours into the project and have two camera types which are alright, or one camera type which is pretty dang polished and have time left over to start implementing even more features.  Every feature in a game has this sort of bug-drag which gradually slows down development as you try to get all those features into the game playing nice with each other bug-free.

    Having not really kept track of your project you could certainly come back and say, "Building construction is a major part of gameplay and an iso camera is far better suited to planning and placing structures." and that would make a lot of sense.  But without understanding the clear role of implementing and maintaining two camera types, I'd lean strongly against doing it.

    "Joe stated his case logically and passionately, but his perceived effeminate voice only drew big gales of stupid laughter..." -Idiocracy
    "There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance." -Socrates

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,784Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Axxar
    Yeah, I found out. I was under the impression the question was why games usually had a ground level perspective or a top-down perspective, but not both. Somehow I missed the OP text below the images when I scrolled down. But then again Quizz missed the quoted line in my post so I suppose we're even ;)

    I responded to that quoted line in my post above.  In an isometric viewpoint, the camera doesn't correspond to any particular position in the game world.  There is a camera direction, but not a camera position.

    One probable advantage of offering an isometric viewpoint is that it would probably be possible to greatly reduce the system requirements.  While I haven't done it yet, I think it should be possible.

    With a 3D perspective, you absolutely have to render everything all over again every single frame if the camera moves.  With an isometric view, if an object doesn't move in the game world (e.g., ground, trees, buildings), then you can render that area of the game world without things that can move to a texture once, and then for many consecutive frames, just draw that texture and you've got the ground and terrain done very cheaply.

    Anything that moves would have to be drawn over again every single frame, and you'd get a bit of hitching when you have to draw a new area--or a lot of hitching when you rotate the camera which would necessitate redrawing everything.  But if you're trying to play a game on really low end hardware, 40 frames per second with some hitching now and then beats 20 frames per second that is always choppy.

    I'm not saying that you should force everyone to play a game in an isometric viewpoint.  I'm just saying it would be good to offer it, and if players don't like it, they don't have to use it.  It isn't hard to do.

  • MMOman101MMOman101 Posts: 1,276Member Uncommon

    I am not sure why you are doing this other than the fact you keep saying it has not been done before. 

    I think the only question you should be asking is:

    Does it make the game better (more fun)?

    Adding "features" just to add features does not make a game better.  It just give it more things you can put on the back of a box.  

    Gameplay should drive games.  Does this add to game play?

  • mmoguy43mmoguy43 , CAPosts: 2,447Member Uncommon

    I just don't see the benefit of this in just any game. Maybe it would be good for a strategy or adventure game with a high quality(angled 3D) and low quality (2d iso) view modes. Having to toggle between them, 3 1/4 top view with up/downleft/right direction control scheme to 3D view WASD relative movement, would be really jarring. What sort of game feel would something like this have?

  • asmkm22asmkm22 Anchorage, AKPosts: 1,788Member

    Core gameplay controls would differ between the two views, meaning you'd have more room for bugs and balance issues.  If there's one thing I've learned running businesses, it's that you are far better off doing a few things very well than you are trying to do many things with mediocrity.  Pick a view, and stick with it.

    Unless your gameplay really is so simplistic that view changes wouldn't really make a difference.  Then by all means...

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  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,784Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by MMOman101

    I am not sure why you are doing this other than the fact you keep saying it has not been done before. 

    I think the only question you should be asking is:

    Does it make the game better (more fun)?

    Adding "features" just to add features does not make a game better.  It just give it more things you can put on the back of a box.  

    Gameplay should drive games.  Does this add to game play?

    Do good camera controls add to gameplay?  Do good camera controls make the game more fun?  Obviously, a game with excellent camera controls but terrible everything else is a terrible game.  But awkward camera views that leave you fighting with the camera as much as you're fighting with the mobs can seriously detract from an otherwise excellent game.

    One potential issue is that different players will disagree on exactly what a camera ought to do.  To some degree, what is ideal depends on your hardware, and especially your monitor(s).  So the solution is that if some players want this and others want that, you let the end user pick so that they can all have what they want.

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,784Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by mmoguy43

    I just don't see the benefit of this in just any game. Maybe it would be good for a strategy or adventure game with a high quality(angled 3D) and low quality (2d iso) view modes. Having to toggle between them, 3 1/4 top view with up/downleft/right direction control scheme to 3D view WASD relative movement, would be really jarring. What sort of game feel would something like this have?

    Who says you would ever have to toggle between them?  If a game has a video settings menu that gives you 20 options, does that force you to constantly toggle between all of them?  Or do you set what you want once and leave it that way forever, or at least until you decide that you don't like a setting you chose and want to change it?  This would be just one more graphical setting to choose from.

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,784Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by asmkm22

    Core gameplay controls would differ between the two views, meaning you'd have more room for bugs and balance issues.  If there's one thing I've learned running businesses, it's that you are far better off doing a few things very well than you are trying to do many things with mediocrity.  Pick a view, and stick with it.

    Unless your gameplay really is so simplistic that view changes wouldn't really make a difference.  Then by all means...

    Controls would be exactly the same.  The game world would be exactly the same.  Game mechanics would be exactly the same.  Many games now have a 3D perspective viewpoint that lets you zoom in and out or rotate the camera direction.  Are you proposing that games should abolish that and force a fixed camera angle and distance at all times?

    As for bugs, you could run into culling bugs, but you're looking at a few hundred lines of code in the entire game that would differ between 3D perspective and isometric viewpoints.  If you find a bug in one that isn't present in the other, it will be immediately obvious that it's one of these few lines of code that is wrong--and sometimes immediately obvious exactly which line of code is wrong.  This doesn't turn into a spaghetti code situation where you have ten thousand lines to implement some feature and a bug in the feature is hard to track down.

  • TheLizardbonesTheLizardbones Arkham, VAPosts: 10,910Member


    Originally posted by Quizzical
    Originally posted by asmkm22 Core gameplay controls would differ between the two views, meaning you'd have more room for bugs and balance issues.  If there's one thing I've learned running businesses, it's that you are far better off doing a few things very well than you are trying to do many things with mediocrity.  Pick a view, and stick with it. Unless your gameplay really is so simplistic that view changes wouldn't really make a difference.  Then by all means...
    Controls would be exactly the same.  The game world would be exactly the same.  Game mechanics would be exactly the same.  Many games now have a 3D perspective viewpoint that lets you zoom in and out or rotate the camera direction.  Are you proposing that games should abolish that and force a fixed camera angle and distance at all times?

    As for bugs, you could run into culling bugs, but you're looking at a few hundred lines of code in the entire game that would differ between 3D perspective and isometric viewpoints.  If you find a bug in one that isn't present in the other, it will be immediately obvious that it's one of these few lines of code that is wrong--and sometimes immediately obvious exactly which line of code is wrong.  This doesn't turn into a spaghetti code situation where you have ten thousand lines to implement some feature and a bug in the feature is hard to track down.




    City of Steam does a combination of third person and isometric-ish views. The combination itself isn't confusing, but the control scheme they've chosen is. They have one control scheme with two different available view points. If they separate the control scheme, so that the isometric view uses "standard" controls and the third person view uses "standard" controls, then there's no reason both can't work together. Other than the control schemes, there don't seem to be any issues with having two different points of view available to the player. I don't see why it couldn't work.

    I can not remember winning or losing a single debate on the internet.

  • aesperusaesperus Hamshire, NVPosts: 5,128Member Uncommon

    I'm a bit confused as to what the benefit of such a system really is (aside from giving players an advantage in PvP).

    I suppose you could maybe do some interesting puzzles that force players to toggle views... but, what is really being gained here? Just seems like a very annoying design hurtle you'd be putting on yourself for no real reason.

    Personally I like both views, but I also feel they work better when games are specifically designed for one or the other.

  • KarahandrasKarahandras Sible HedinghamPosts: 1,676Member Uncommon
    Some single player games mix 3d and isometric views.  Spellforce is the best I can think of.  Rise and fall and a couple of others i can't remember the names of atm aswell.  Would be interesting to see it in an mmo though.
  • TheLizardbonesTheLizardbones Arkham, VAPosts: 10,910Member


    Originally posted by aesperus
    I'm a bit confused as to what the benefit of such a system really is (aside from giving players an advantage in PvP).I suppose you could maybe do some interesting puzzles that force players to toggle views... but, what is really being gained here? Just seems like a very annoying design hurtle you'd be putting on yourself for no real reason.Personally I like both views, but I also feel they work better when games are specifically designed for one or the other.

    From a player's perspective, the primary reason I could see is allowing the player to have the control scheme that they are comfortable with, with a perspective that enhances it.

    In third person view, people are primarily going to WASD move with the mouse as the camera controller. The player would be using the keyboard and the mouse together. In an Isometric view, players are going to be accustomed to click to move, using only the mouse. If a player has a preference, they can choose to play the way they want.

    It doesn't sound like the ability to offer both views is a heavy burden, and the players might appreciate the effort.

    I can not remember winning or losing a single debate on the internet.

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,784Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by lizardbones

    City of Steam does a combination of third person and isometric-ish views. The combination itself isn't confusing, but the control scheme they've chosen is. They have one control scheme with two different available view points. If they separate the control scheme, so that the isometric view uses "standard" controls and the third person view uses "standard" controls, then there's no reason both can't work together. Other than the control schemes, there don't seem to be any issues with having two different points of view available to the player. I don't see why it couldn't work.

     

    Either it is isometric or it isn't.  There is no isometric-ish.  Isometric should have an isometry.  More to the point, if two identical objects appear on the screen rotated the same at the same time, they should be exactly the same size on the screen, even if one is far "in front" of the other.  That's really the clearest distinguishing feature of an isometric viewpoint.

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,784Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by aesperus

    I'm a bit confused as to what the benefit of such a system really is (aside from giving players an advantage in PvP).

    I suppose you could maybe do some interesting puzzles that force players to toggle views... but, what is really being gained here? Just seems like a very annoying design hurtle you'd be putting on yourself for no real reason.

    Personally I like both views, but I also feel they work better when games are specifically designed for one or the other.

    No, no, no.  I don't want to force players to use one viewpoint or the other.  And I especially don't want to force players to switch back and forth.  The entire point of offering both is precisely not to force players to use one or the other, but to let players use whichever they prefer.

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,784Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by lizardbones

    In third person view, people are primarily going to WASD move with the mouse as the camera controller. The player would be using the keyboard and the mouse together. In an Isometric view, players are going to be accustomed to click to move, using only the mouse. If a player has a preference, they can choose to play the way they want.

    Isometric means click to move?  Since when?  20 years ago, nearly all games were isometric, but few were click to move, as consoles didn't use a mouse much.

    For what I'm doing, click to move really wouldn't work.  You can't dodge very well that way, so you'd just get killed in a hurry.

  • asmkm22asmkm22 Anchorage, AKPosts: 1,788Member
    Originally posted by Quizzical
    Originally posted by asmkm22

    Core gameplay controls would differ between the two views, meaning you'd have more room for bugs and balance issues.  If there's one thing I've learned running businesses, it's that you are far better off doing a few things very well than you are trying to do many things with mediocrity.  Pick a view, and stick with it.

    Unless your gameplay really is so simplistic that view changes wouldn't really make a difference.  Then by all means...

    Controls would be exactly the same.  The game world would be exactly the same.  Game mechanics would be exactly the same.  Many games now have a 3D perspective viewpoint that lets you zoom in and out or rotate the camera direction.  Are you proposing that games should abolish that and force a fixed camera angle and distance at all times?

    As for bugs, you could run into culling bugs, but you're looking at a few hundred lines of code in the entire game that would differ between 3D perspective and isometric viewpoints.  If you find a bug in one that isn't present in the other, it will be immediately obvious that it's one of these few lines of code that is wrong--and sometimes immediately obvious exactly which line of code is wrong.  This doesn't turn into a spaghetti code situation where you have ten thousand lines to implement some feature and a bug in the feature is hard to track down.

    Every game that i've played where the two views are available, either have different control setups (isometric is usually click to move and 1st person is usually wasd) or the controls are the same but with only one being "good."  It's like when an RTS lets you zoom in to what is pretty close to an over-the-shoulder 3rd person view; you aren't going to play that way, but since the engine is already 3d, it's easy enough to impliment.

    It just seems like, out of all the problems present in game design right now, focusing on making two camera views available seems kind of weak.

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  • AxehiltAxehilt San Francisco, CAPosts: 8,753Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by asmkm22

    It just seems like, out of all the problems present in game design right now, focusing on making two camera views available seems kind of weak.

    Yeah it's that tradeoff that's the main thing.

    Without a clear picture of the advantages of multiple views, it's like: Do you want another camera angle...or 1-2 new player abilities, or functional ladders, or 3 new interactive objects, or smoother walk animations (better world traversal code), or...?

    Basically when you weigh a second camera angle against some of the other really cool-sounding features you could do instead (with that same dev time), it starts to put things into perspective.  (And even some of the stuff that doesn't sound that cool (like smoother walk animations) actually ends up making an important but subtle difference in the feel of a game's overall quality.)

    "Joe stated his case logically and passionately, but his perceived effeminate voice only drew big gales of stupid laughter..." -Idiocracy
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