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Why Did Isometric 3D Rpgs Fall Out Of Vogue?

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In a word "money."  As in both expensive to make and not particularly profitable compared to other genres.  So if you're a big shot publisher, do you pay somebody to quickly churn out a shooter with lots of 'splosions' and purdy graphics and sell hundreds of thousands or even millions of units or do you fund a project with a much smaller audience that takes 3 to 4 times as long to produce?

 

I love isometric RPGs and it saddened me greatly when they started to disappear from store shelves, but I get why it happened.  Thank god for Kickstarter I guess?

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Because isometric view just isn't a particularly good option over  a free-moving third-person camera for "tactical" party-based RPGs (NWN, KOTOR)

BS. Strategy games without a fixed view are a pain in the ass. The same applies in RPGs. If i'm spending more time fighting the camera than the enemies something isn't right.

 

 

For strategy games perhaps, but we're not talking about strategy games here, and the very fact that someone's argument (with which many people apparently agree) would hinge on the assumption "because it applies to strategy games, it also applies to RPGs" makes me all the more dejected about the genre's future (but it's not worth getting into that can of worms)...

Edited by mcmanusaur

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Malekith and Remmirath raise one of the main issues, though: the common camera hassles in 3D RPGs, including infernal zooming issues and unwarranted rotations of the camera. I think it comes down to the 3D first-person view in computer games failing to portray our stereo vision with corner of the eye capability and all. Perhaps some gaming helmet with a neat goggle interface will solve at least that particular issue in the future. 

 

This. You're busy trying to control two sets of actions--body movement and head facing--that are normally performed by different sets of muscles. Trying to control both just through your hands will always be less effective than how you do it IRL.


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@Karkarov, I disagree. A controllable camera adds another thing to control, however well it's implemented. That control demands attention and action that could otherwise be focused on controlling your units.

Wrong.  This isn't an action game, I can pause any time I want, therefore there is absolutely no drawback to the controllable camera.  No one in their right mind who had the budget and time to make a game fully 3D would not do so.  A forced isometric view with a forced camera angle only impairs what you can design and how you can display it on screen, designers in general don't like to have limitations on what they can design. 

 

What do they say about common sense at the Friendly Arm again?  Oh that's right, they say most of the posters on this forum don't have any.

 

 

 

You can cite examples like NWN2 and said "no it isn't" but I can simply counter with "Yes it is, it isn't the cameras fault it was programmed badly and poorly implemented.  Blame the designers.  A well made and properly done free movement 3d camera will always be better."

The funny part being 'A well made and properly done 3D camera' has yet to be made... IN 15 YEARS.

Play some games from the last decade please.  Or are you insinuating the Witcher 2, Dark Souls, Dragon Age (especially the newest one), hell even X-Com from a couple years ago which all have rotatable cameras at the least didn't do it at least "well".  Hell X-Com of those I just listed had the worst camera of the lot and it was the only one that forced isometric view on you.  Go play a Drakensang game or something for christ sake.

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@Karkarov, I disagree. A controllable camera adds another thing to control, however well it's implemented. That control demands attention and action that could otherwise be focused on controlling your units.

Wrong.  This isn't an action game, I can pause any time I want, therefore there is absolutely no drawback to the controllable camera.  No one in their right mind who had the budget and time to make a game fully 3D would not do so.  A forced isometric view with a forced camera angle only impairs what you can design and how you can display it on screen, designers in general don't like to have limitations on what they can design. 

 

What do they say about common sense at the Friendly Arm again?  Oh that's right, they say most of the posters on this forum don't have any.

 

 

 

You can cite examples like NWN2 and said "no it isn't" but I can simply counter with "Yes it is, it isn't the cameras fault it was programmed badly and poorly implemented.  Blame the designers.  A well made and properly done free movement 3d camera will always be better."

The funny part being 'A well made and properly done 3D camera' has yet to be made... IN 15 YEARS.

Play some games from the last decade please.  Or are you insinuating the Witcher 2, Dark Souls, Dragon Age (especially the newest one), hell even X-Com from a couple years ago which all have rotatable cameras at the least didn't do it at least "well".  Hell X-Com of those I just listed had the worst camera of the lot and it was the only one that forced isometric view on you.  Go play a Drakensang game or something for christ sake.

 

 

I would say Dark Souls and Demon's Souls' cameras had a nasty tendency to obstruct your view on the odd boss fight at the worst of times (coming from someone who really liked both games). Otherwise I completely agree with you, though I'd go a bit further to say that the lack of an "on the ground" camera would sometimes lead you to sending an operative to somewhere where they didn't quite have the LOS you wanted. 

 

When I first played Dragon Age: Origins, I originally thought that I would play it from the top-down perspective almost exclusively, which was an idea I discarded after an hour or so since it was actually easier to keep track of things as (to borrow American football terms) a Quarterback rather than a coach. Which is not to say I never used the top-down camera ever again; far from it, it's handy for plotting where you're going to plant your AOEs.

Edited by Agiel

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Wrong.  This isn't an action game, I can pause any time I want, therefore there is absolutely no drawback to the controllable camera.  No one in their right mind who had the budget and time to make a game fully 3D would not do so.  A forced isometric view with a forced camera angle only impairs what you can design and how you can display it on screen, designers in general don't like to have limitations on what they can design.

So you don't feel that needing to pause more frequently doesn't in any way detract from the gameplay experience? Again, I respectfully disagree.

 

What do they say about common sense at the Friendly Arm again?  Oh that's right, they say most of the posters on this forum don't have any.

How fortunate we are that their civility and respect for differing opinions makes up for it.


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Play some games from the last decade please.  Or are you insinuating the Witcher 2, Dark Souls, Dragon Age (especially the newest one), hell even X-Com from a couple years ago which all have rotatable cameras at the least didn't do it at least "well".  Hell X-Com of those I just listed had the worst camera of the lot and it was the only one that forced isometric view on you.  Go play a Drakensang game or something for christ sake.

 

 

Witcher 2 and Dragon Age 2 both had very annoying camera that often hide things that you wanted to see and you needed to stupid gimmicks with camera angle that you get to see enemies that you wanted to see. And in dragon age 2 placing AoE effects was quite awful especially on long range and it was easy to make mistakes because of the camera angle.

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designers in general don't like to have limitations on what they can design.

Eh? What?

They always have limitations. Poor designers :/ 

 

Let's look at the mentioned titles;

 

* Witcher II. Been a while, but from what I recall it was an FIXED over-shoulder camera. As I stated before yes, that can work. But tell me, how many characters did your team consist of in Withcer II? What? No team. I rest my case.

* Dark Sould I don't know.

* Dragon Age. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? The level designers knew full well you can rotate now. Result; It's forced upon you, often. Stuff became hard to see. Control is lacking, so they needed to invent the "action menu" for teammates. Since camera is fixed on one character sometimes for spells you needed to select another character to have a proper view to cast. And you know the funniest thing? It looks WORSE than Baldur's Gate II, a 10-year older game. And that in our Graphics Cold War Era.

* X-Com. Can I refer you to my "what are you playing?" post about it? And how I HATED the camera. I don't know who controlled it, but he or she followed your idea of "Hey, you got all the time in the world, let's make the camera as obnoxious as possible on purpose. Who cares they need another 1-5 minute per turn to use this ****ty camera, it's turnbased".

Rotating around to see enemies and waypoints was a pain. Zooming was a pain. And elevation? It was so horrible I just rather waited 10 turns for the enemy to come down than go up. It was THAT ****ING BAD. SO BAD IT MAKES PEOPLE GO ALL CAPS LOCK WITH STARS! "You got all time, so it doesn't matter" my sweet ass...

 

Drakensang is also over the shoulder. And the teamplay is... bad at best.

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^

 

 

I agree that that is such a stupid idiotic pathetic garbage hateful retarded scumbag evil satanic nazi like term ever created. At least top 5.

 

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That makes a lot of sense, isometric on consoles has been a tide of woes....wait didn't Diablo 3 come out on the PS3?

Be interesting to see how that looks and plays, I gather they added roll to the mechanics.

 

Diablo 1 also came out on the playstation 1.  And back in 1991, I played Arcus Odyssey on the Sega Genesis.

The problem really isn't that isometic on consoles is difficult, it that's Isometric + party + real time = pain in the ass for a controller user.

 

There is still a cottage industry for Japanese games that uses an isometric style turn based party RPGs, but handling a party in turn based isn't really an issue like it is in real time (or even real time with pause).

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The term isometric refers to a very specific type of projection, and not the fixed or 3rd-person nature of the camera. Starcraft 2, for example, uses a camera with a fixed orientation that can only move alongside a plane (for the most part), but it's a standard 3d perspective projection, not an isometric one. The two concerns are largely orthogonal (math pun woot?!).

 

One concern that has been entirely left aside in this discussion is that RPGs are more than tactical battle simulators, unlike RTSes. They're also about exploration and character development. In these areas a free camera is clearly superior to a fixed one, since it allows for seeing more of the scenery and inspecting your character in more detail. I dearly wish I could look up at the Gnoll Stronghold from the river beneath for instance, or that I could look behind certain buildings, but Baldur's Gate won't let me do that. I'm more than willing to trade away the convenience of a fixed point of view for the increased sense of immersion and freedom of exploration that a free camera provides.

Edited by Zeckul
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The term isometric refers to a very specific type of projection, and not the fixed or 3rd-person nature of the camera. Starcraft 2, for example, uses a camera with a fixed orientation that can only move alongside a plane (for the most part), but it's a standard 3d perspective projection, not an isometric one. The two concerns are largely orthogonal (math pun woot?!).

Right, but the second you rotate a camera, you've lost that very specific form of projection, correct? So, would the fixed nature of the camera not be a property of isometric projection? I'm sincerely asking.


Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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The term isometric refers to a very specific type of projection, and not the fixed or 3rd-person nature of the camera. Starcraft 2, for example, uses a camera with a fixed orientation that can only move alongside a plane (for the most part), but it's a standard 3d perspective projection, not an isometric one. The two concerns are largely orthogonal (math pun woot?!).

Right, but the second you rotate a camera, you've lost that very specific form of projection, correct? So, would the fixed nature of the camera not be a property of isometric projection? I'm sincerely asking.

 

Rotating the camera doesn't inherently preclude isometric projection as far as I know; it disrupts the use of a grid to map objects (a fixed grid can only be viewed isometrically from four directions).

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Rotating the camera doesn't inherently preclude isometric projection as far as I know; it disrupts the use of a grid to map objects (a fixed grid can only be viewed isometrically from four directions).

Ahh. So it's just tilting it that would screw it up?


Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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Rotating the camera doesn't inherently preclude isometric projection as far as I know; it disrupts the use of a grid to map objects (a fixed grid can only be viewed isometrically from four directions).

Ahh. So it's just tilting it that would screw it up?

 

I'm no graphics expert, but that's what I would assume. Tilting is definitely out of the question for isometric projection, and rotation is more of a question of the reference grid (the orientation of which is generally fixed to reduce the necessary number of sprites).

Edited by mcmanusaur

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The term isometric refers to a very specific type of projection, and not the fixed or 3rd-person nature of the camera. Starcraft 2, for example, uses a camera with a fixed orientation that can only move alongside a plane (for the most part), but it's a standard 3d perspective projection, not an isometric one. The two concerns are largely orthogonal (math pun woot?!).

Right, but the second you rotate a camera, you've lost that very specific form of projection, correct? So, would the fixed nature of the camera not be a property of isometric projection? I'm sincerely asking.

 

The term is essentially abused to refer in general to parallel projections, which use an infinite focal length. Parallel projections are essential to games using pre-rendered backgrounds such as the Infinity Engine because then the scenery becomes independent from the camera position, as long as it's restricted to a fixed direction and a fixed height. Basically this allowed for very detailed worlds back when 3d acceleration was in its infancy, and even today presents some technical advantages (enough for Obsidian to use it in Project Eternity at least), although it's largely been abandoned.

 

Nothing inherently precludes a game from using real-time rendered graphics and a parallel projection, which would allow for a free "isometric" camera, but that would look horribly unnatural. Even with a fixed height and direction, parallel projections are terrible at representing heights, leading to geometric absurdities. Notably the Arcane Sanctuary in Diablo 2 included some optical illusions, made possible by the use of a parallel projection.

 

See http://www.significant-bits.com/a-laymans-guide-to-projection-in-videogames

Edited by Zeckul
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A camera that we could pan and zoom would be great.  Even if the zoom is limited to 2x - .5x, it would be helpful when coupled with zoom; especially during combats involving a lot of spell effects and auras.  Also, considering how detailed they're making these backgrounds, it would be nice to occasionally zoom in to see interesting items up close or zoom out in outdoor areas to get a greater sense of scale.

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[...]and a free-moving third-person camera for "tactical" party-based RPGs (NWN, KOTOR)

 

I don't see how I could possibly disagree more. I can't think of any games where that type of camera was done well, (including your two examples). Every time it's used, I find "tactical combat" impossible to actually do, and usually just let the AI control anyone that isn't the main character. "Tactical combat", because this "tactic" actually works most of the time, which makes me think these games aren't very tactical at all. What's worse is that these games also usually have crappy isometric cameras, (Dragon Age: Origins being the worst offender I can think of), as a result of the game not really being built for it. You know what I like about "complex", "tactical" combat? Not having to mess around with the horrendous camera system every time I click on a different character because it's always facing the wrong way, or getting stuck behind objects, or getting stuck in front of objects when I try and issue new commands to those different characters. It's enough of a headache to control just one character - there is no way in hell that I am going to try doing four to six characters every battle. Automatic AI control it is, then, for everyone besides me.

Edited by Bartimaeus
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A camera that we could pan and zoom would be great.  Even if the zoom is limited to 2x - .5x, it would be helpful when coupled with zoom; especially during combats involving a lot of spell effects and auras.  Also, considering how detailed they're making these backgrounds, it would be nice to occasionally zoom in to see interesting items up close or zoom out in outdoor areas to get a greater sense of scale.

The view angle is fixed but I am pretty sure they have said you can zoom the camera.

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A camera that we could pan and zoom would be great.  Even if the zoom is limited to 2x - .5x, it would be helpful when coupled with zoom; especially during combats involving a lot of spell effects and auras.  Also, considering how detailed they're making these backgrounds, it would be nice to occasionally zoom in to see interesting items up close or zoom out in outdoor areas to get a greater sense of scale.

The view angle is fixed but I am pretty sure they have said you can zoom the camera.

 

Thanks for the zoom bit, I wasn't sure.  I wasn't referring angle, that can't be changed in a projected view without creating strange distortions as Zeckul pointed out.  I was thinking of panning the camera in plane when zoomed in (or even in regular view depending on how they do the fog of war) as one might an image in photoshop.  It would help us inspect areas as we deem necessary.

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As the background is a 2D image, panning will never happen...


^

 

 

I agree that that is such a stupid idiotic pathetic garbage hateful retarded scumbag evil satanic nazi like term ever created. At least top 5.

 

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Thanks for the zoom bit, I wasn't sure.  I wasn't referring angle, that can't be changed in a projected view without creating strange distortions as Zeckul pointed out.  I was thinking of panning the camera in plane when zoomed in (or even in regular view depending on how they do the fog of war) as one might an image in photoshop.  It would help us inspect areas as we deem necessary.

Like Hassat Hunter said, no panning, no altering of the view angle.  It is just like Baldur's Gate 1, or any other Infinity Engine game.  The cameras position is fixed and can not be moved, only moved to different parts of the map or zoomed in for closer viewing of the area or out to see more terrain.

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As the background is a 2D image, panning will never happen...

I'm pretty sure he means panning left-right and up-down across the 2D image - if we're zoomed in then moving the camera 'in-zoom' to the left/right/up/down should be possible.

In the same way that we could pan the camera in BG (that just didn't have zoom).

You just can't change the camera angle as it's pre-rendered at that angle.


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I wouldn't call that "panning", simply "moving"...

 

Panning implies the angle is changed, and whatever way you would, it would become painfully obvious the game was never made to be seen in another angle. Which is what isometric is all about...


^

 

 

I agree that that is such a stupid idiotic pathetic garbage hateful retarded scumbag evil satanic nazi like term ever created. At least top 5.

 

TSLRCM Official Forum || TSLRCM Moddb || My other KOTOR2 mods || TSLRCM (English version) on Steam || [M4-78EP on Steam

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@ Silent Winter yes, that is correct.  

 

Normal convention for panning is rotation in camera and translation in isometric or 2d views when working with 3d software like 3ds max.  I probably should have said mouse scrolling or dragging the view in zoom.  Sorry for the confusion.

Edited by curryinahurry

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I wouldn't call that "panning", simply "moving"...

Hey... that's just how he scrolls... 8)

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Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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