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AoW2 Gameplay Help & Strategies
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Topic Subject: AOW" is 3D? OK... But how? Please Explain!
posted 12-22-01 09:04 PM EDT (US)   
Honestly I though I got it, but in fact I had understood nothing about it! The units are 2D the map is 2D... but the game is 3D?

can anyone explain me in WHAT it is 3D, then?

[This message has been edited by Black Knight (edited 12-22-2001 @ 09:05 PM).]

Replies:
posted 12-22-01 10:11 PM EDT (US)     1 / 14  
Well I don't know if you've problems with your eyes, but I clearly see elevated 3d terrain with height etc.
posted 12-23-01 12:31 PM EDT (US)     2 / 14  
I think Black Knight's eyesight is perfectly good, and the question is not as foolish as your facetious reply might suggest

It sounds illogical to me for a game to be partly 3D and partly 2D, particularly if 2D and 3D images appear together. Hopefully somebody else will offer a more helpful explanation


"Shooting down a plane of civilians isn't careless, it's politcal opportunism." - Stormraider
posted 12-23-01 03:45 PM EDT (US)     3 / 14  
I have no clue about 2D/3D but I do know the screenshots look absolutely gorgeous, IMHO. Talk about "Tolkien-esque"...wow.

GuildBoss - Guild and Clan Management Utility
www.guildboss.com
posted 12-23-01 05:57 PM EDT (US)     4 / 14  
[quote]It sounds illogical to me for a game to be partly 3D and partly 2D, particularly if 2D and 3D images appear together.[quote]

Perhaps when we all have HoloSuites, we will see games with real 3D images, ie things you can physically walk around and view from any angle. Until then, the current so called "3D" games actually draw a 2D projection of a set of surfaces onto your 2D computer screen, much as a camera creates a 2D image of the real world on a piece of flat film. Unlike a camera however, the game computer [or video processor] must do so by performing complex calculations for each object in each frame, and the more detail you wish, the more complex and slower the calculations become. People here are complaining about not liking the "computer generated" look of the cut scenes versus hand drawn art, but have you any idea how long it would take your PC to generate just a single frame at even that level of detail? It's not done in real time people, unless you limit yourself to simple scenes and mesh figures. On the other hand, overlaying 2D sprites on the 3D background generated from a terrain map is relatively simple, and done properly difficult to discern, not unlike retouching or making a composite photograph. About all you're likely to lose is the ability to move the camera to any angle and I can live with that if it makes for a game which is both good looking and playable.

For a first person shooter of the Doom or Quake school where you walk trough a world, full 3D rendering might be desirable, but even there what you typically see are 2D srites for the various enemies, which is why they turn with you as you strafe. For a map based strategy game like AoW it would be a pointless exercise.

P.S. As for the "it's only an isometric view" complaint, isometric views may not look as "cool" but they solve many problems in scaling images, and do not confuse you with perspective errors when trying to judge distanes between points on the make. Again, for a map-based strategy game, it's the way to go regardless of whether the renderer can handle perspective or not.

posted 12-23-01 06:42 PM EDT (US)     5 / 14  
Good explantion. I was going to try to explain, but you did a much better job. It's not really 3d. I like the concept too. Clearly it's limited, you don't have a change or perspective, rotating camera, but there will be a zoom feature, which is cool.
posted 12-23-01 07:45 PM EDT (US)     6 / 14  
Here's some bits of info on the AoW2 engine, in no particular order:

The terrain is 3D-polygonal.

Structures, units, and scenery are pre-rendered 2D sprites (some are hand-drawn, some are made using 3D software).

The entire game takes advantage of 3D hardware, when available, to GREATLY increase performance.

When no 3D hardware is available, software rendering is used, which looks nearly identical, but needs more CPU power.

Some effects (like real-time lighting effects) require 3D hardware to display. These effects are purely candy, cool-looking, but not required to know what's going on.

The movement of objects, as well as all of the particle effects, are in 3D-space. So arrows arc properly, units walk up and down slopes, particles can move with gravity and depth, etc... AoW1 had a very simple particle system. AoW2 has a much more complex and powerful particle-effect engine, capable of some really spectacular real-time effects. The screenshots only give you a hint of what 1000's of particles animating at 100FPS looks like.

---

So, a compatible 3D card (anything at or above a TNT2 should work) will give you extra effects, and a big performance boost.

I personally, have not been impressed by strategy games which have attempted a full 3D engine, including polygonal units & structures, and adjustable camera angles. IMO these features add nothing of real value to a strategy game, while sacrificing graphic quality AND performance, and adding a lot of complexity to the user interface. Opinions may vary, but I'm satisfied AoW2's engine will offer a great looking game, and won't cripple reasonably powerful systems. Playable and pretty is a good motto, IMHO... :P

Hope that helps... Discuss.


Josh Farley
Programmer
Triumph Studios
posted 12-24-01 05:49 AM EDT (US)     7 / 14  
Thanks to ChowGuy and Josh for some clarification there

The idea of having a 2D sprite (or *flat* as I tend to think of it) laying against a 3D background sounded as though it wouldn't work, even though I have seen the screenshots and absolutely adore them, it just sounds as though you would walk round the side of a hill and end up seeing the side of a cardboard sprite cutout!

When I'm mapmaking and I position a new stack I have to tell the computer which direction I want it to face. Presumably as these are 2D sprites, it means that there is a different sprite for each unit for each different direction that it can face? So each time you create a new unit that's a whole bunch of sprites you need to create


"Shooting down a plane of civilians isn't careless, it's politcal opportunism." - Stormraider
posted 12-24-01 02:51 PM EDT (US)     8 / 14  

Quote:

Presumably as these are 2D sprites, it means that there is a different sprite for each unit for each different direction that it can face? So each time you create a new unit that's a whole bunch of sprites you need to create

Exactly, a set of six to be exact one facing in each direction. Add to that animation sequences for the units walking, attacking, getting hit, etc and yes, you have a whole lot of sprites. The alternative though is to build your units from several object meshes and then program in the animations. That's the route taken by older 3D games such as Descent, but the objects there are mainly robots with very few animations. More recent games have done better, but usually have far fewer objects on screen then a AoW shot may have and still require much more powerful hardware then what we've been told will be needed.

posted 12-24-01 03:45 PM EDT (US)     9 / 14  
I thought Descent was absolutely brilliant, but I have found AoW far more visually stimulating, and AoW2 looks another giant leap further on again

Having said that, Descent had a lot more *joystick-yanking* action, and you could move in all directions, so it was probably a lot harder to make graphically superb. As you moved around the Descent tunnels you could see the walls and floors adjusting, and it didn't always look convincing to me

The AoW2 screenshots look superb, but like BK I was interested in how it actually worked. Thanks!


"Shooting down a plane of civilians isn't careless, it's politcal opportunism." - Stormraider
posted 12-24-01 06:32 PM EDT (US)     10 / 14  

Quoted from Josh:

I personally, have not been impressed by strategy games which have attempted a full 3D engine, including polygonal units & structures, and adjustable camera angles. IMO these features add nothing of real value to a strategy game, while sacrificing graphic quality AND performance, and adding a lot of complexity to the user interface

Yes yes yes! My point exactly!
And thanks for not letting AOW2 become one of those games!

posted 12-25-01 04:58 PM EDT (US)     11 / 14  
The fact of having a 3D terrain would suggest the wonderful opportunity of having shadows... but if characters and other things are 2D that's probably hard to do... ?

I wonder if there is a way to do use light that way, actually...

[This message has been edited by Black Knight (edited 12-25-2001 @ 04:59 PM).]

posted 12-26-01 03:12 PM EDT (US)     12 / 14  
Units have shadows now, it's one of the semi-transparent layers in the multi-layer in the 2D srite. They're not the perfect outlines of true shadows, merely the sugestion of one, but the effect is still there. Since the light source in an outdoor battle can be assumed to be a single point, casting a shadow in the right direction is still an fairly easy matter without having to do 3D ray-tracing. You merely have to superimpose the shadow texture on the underlying polygons and let the rendering engine handle the rest.
posted 12-27-01 09:42 AM EDT (US)     13 / 14  
Thanks ChowGuy, I'm sure that all really makes a lot of sense..no...honestly

"Shooting down a plane of civilians isn't careless, it's politcal opportunism." - Stormraider
posted 12-30-01 07:40 AM EDT (US)     14 / 14  
Well, it did make sense And it's most likely the approach used by most sprite-based games that do feature shadows.
Age of Wonders 2 Heaven » Forums » AoW2 Gameplay Help & Strategies » AOW" is 3D? OK... But how? Please Explain!
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