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The Comparative Value of 2-D Vs. 3-D Graphics In Games 107

Posted by Soulskill
from the tetris-vs-quake dept.
GameSetWatch is running a feature discussing the value of graphics styles in games. The authors point out that while certain genres, such as first-person shooters, benefited immensely from the advent of 3-D graphics, some types of games didn't handle the transition as well. A player's perspective, and his interaction with the game's camera, can often make or break an otherwise excellent release. "Before making the full jump to 3D, many genres made a move from classic 2D to isometric 2D as an intermediary step. For example, the original Civilization had a traditional top-down grid view while Civ 2 had a three-quarters isometric view. While this new perspective gave the game world a more life-like appearance, the change did come at a cost to the user's game experience. Namely, distances are much more difficult to judge on an isometric grid as the east-west axis takes up twice as many pixels as the north-south axis. To solve this problem, for Civ 4, our 3D perspective actually hearkened back to the original game as we showed the game's grid straight ahead and not at an angle. The easier the players perceive the grid through the graphics, the better they can 'see' their possible decisions."
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The Comparative Value of 2-D Vs. 3-D Graphics In Games

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  • by keithburgun (1001684) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @12:48AM (#25881781)
    2D gameplay is generally best when playing on a 2D surface. All the problems come about from the discrepancy between 2D gameplay on a 3D surface. -Keith -www.expensiveplanetarium.com
  • by not already in use (972294) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @12:55AM (#25881829)
    Metroid was better as 2D. I thought Zelda was too. I can understand if they want to throw most of their weight behind 3d titles because they sell better, but I think new 2d titles of classic series would be cash cows on something like the virtual console, and cost a lot less to develop. Your only option to play good 2d games is on a hand held. No thanks, the last thing I need is to start at a 4 inch screen a foot from my face after 8 hours of looking at a computer monitor.
  • Worms (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ozphx (1061292) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @12:56AM (#25881837) Homepage

    The Worms series suffered greatly from 3D. The extra degrees of freedom made craters and other hazards much less of an obstacle (side-stepped!) - and stray ordnance was much less likely to hit anything hilarious.

    I've been playing around with Entanglar [dunnchurchill.com] lately - which is a 2D physics / multiplayer library. Hopefully I'll be rich off the next Geometry Wars, and I will donate my considerable riches to the person who can troll twitter in the funniest way possible.

  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @12:59AM (#25881849)

    The advantage of 3D graphics, even without zooming the camera, is that it means you've gone away from the limits of the sprite sets. Consider how silly top-down flying games like Star Control looked when the ships could only point in eight directions. You fire your gun and the shot passes to the right of the target, turn one click, now it passes to the left. Ridiculous. IF this ship were rendered, you would have a true 360 degrees of rotation without creating an intolerable number of bitmaps.

    Like anything in games, you can use too much and too little of the right tools. Dawn of War was pretty neat to look at but most of the capabilities of the engine were wasted. Yes, it's very cool to do in-engine cut scenes and yes, it's cool to be able to zoom right in and look a unit in the eyes but there's simply no time to do that when playing a frantic battle. There's not even a playback feature so you can see the results of your handiwork from the ground. No, you zoom in like that and you lose the ability to play properly. In the end it is a cool yet useless feature.

    The thing that developers have kind of forgotten from time to time is that some play mechanics work in 3D, others don't. Others disagree with this but I never thought Sonic worked in a 3D format, it was always meant to be 2D. You can use 3D to render it but the camera should remain fixed and it should be a side-scroller. Was never a Mario fan so I don't know how they feel about the classic versions versus the 3D ones but I would imagine that they feel like entirely different games. Of course, we know why this happened in the PSX/N64 era. 3D graphics were the new thing and management pushed the mandate that everything should be 3D, period, just like Ted Turner colorizing old classics.

    I like that they brought up Advanced Wars. The beauty of that game is that it looks great on the small screen and does it using techniques familiar to us from the SNES days, just with higher bit depths. But the core gameplay is there, the graphics look great, and the game accomplishes exactly what it set out to do and looks good doing it. I can just imagine some designer coming into the sequel and getting all gaga over making it 3D. Nope, it ain't a 3D game, never was and never should be. There's many good 3D combat games that could be made but they wouldn't be Advanced Wars. If that's the game you want to make, go make it and leave AV alone.

  • by corsec67 (627446) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @01:00AM (#25881853) Homepage Journal

    One thing I hate about the transition from 2D to 3D is, especially in 3-rd person games, how controlling the camera becomes as important as controlling the character.

    Look at how many Playstation games have one stick for controlling the character and the other stick for controlling the camera, which just isn't an issue with a 2D game.

  • by Ostracus (1354233) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @01:17AM (#25881957) Journal

    "2D gameplay is generally best when playing on a 2D surface."

    Chess as a peel'em and stick game.

  • Case in point: (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Trogre (513942) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @02:24AM (#25882397) Homepage

    Lemmings 3D

  • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @02:37AM (#25882479) Journal

    Which also covers brand-new perspectives.

    Consider a 2D game, say an RPG -- so you add all sorts of animations. Emotions, attacks, etc...

    And you add different customization options. Clothing, various weapons and armor...

    Now, what do you do when you add horses to that mix? Sure, vector is going to help a bit, but you're still probably going to be drawing fundamentally different pictures, at least for the pants (and maybe the weaponry), otherwise it's going to look stupid.

    The question is whether this is going to be more work than moving some props around in 3D. Having not done the work, I can't really say, but I would think that 3D is easier -- especially as you start to think of more possible perspectives and movements.

    In 3D, you could suddenly decide to make your character shrug, and not necessarily even test all the different clothes and weapons to make sure they look right. In 2D, a shrug would be a difficult proposition -- again, without making it look ridiculous.

    Oh, and the "retro look" is a cop-out. There's nothing stopping you from doing the same thing in 3D as well -- just look at the Wii.

  • by grumbel (592662) <grumbel@gmx.de> on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @07:16AM (#25884201) Homepage

    Along the same lines, I'd say that Super Mario 3 was better than the Super Mario for the N64,

    I disagree. Not because Mario64 is better, but because *both* are damn good. The thing to realize is simply that 2D isn't 3D and visa verse. You can't really do 3D gameplay in 2D and neiher can you do 2D gameplay in 3D (well, you can, but it will most often feel ugly and restrictive). None of them is better then the other, they are simply very different forms of gameplay, with 2D being much better for clearer graphics and straight forward gameplay, while 3D is better for more complicated exploration orientated stuff.

    The annoying thing is that almost all developers see 3D a a 'must have', so you see close to zero 2D games on the big consoles, the DS still gets some, but even there 2D is slowly dieing out for no good reasons, on the PSP its already as good as dead. I just wish that there was more stuff like Braid or Wario Land: Shake It!.

  • by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @01:51PM (#25888565)

    Look at how many Playstation games have one stick for controlling the character and the other stick for controlling the camera, which just isn't an issue with a 2D game.

    I'm not replying to dispute your point, but your comment here reminded me of something that's semi-on-topic, here. 2D scrolling games did have a camera, and that camera did cause problems. We never really percieved it as a camera because a.) it was 2D and the metaphor didn't really make sense until it we saw it in 3D and b.) the problems were far less prevalent in 2D than they were in 3D. Still, though, they were there, and we noticed them. Remember when Super Mario 2 came out and everybody oo'd and aa'd that you could go back to the left side of the screen? What about Super Mario World? The shoulder buttons shifted the screen to the left/right. In Super Mario 3, you had some stages that were auto-scrollers, which presented their own challenges. Zelda II, Double Dragon, R-Type, all these games had their own style when it came to how the screen scrolled.

    Again, this isn't a dispute of your point, I just thought it was interesting that the 'camera' concept seemingly came from 3D but really it didn't. It's just a lot tougher with depth.

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