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Regarding why 2D CRPGs died out in the first place


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Yes. It's extremely high definition 2D painted backgrounds that are split into layers, and then those layers are ran through a program that uses them to build 3D objects. Then the camera is moved to a point where the illusion of a flat plane is created and locked in.

 

Uhh... what?

 

Backgrounds aren't "painted" in any way. The entire levels are modeled in 3D, rendered, exported with additional information like occlusion, normal and depth maps, and finally digitally airbrushed a bit to make them a little more lively.

 

"As we mentioned previously, our beautiful backgrounds are rendered out of Maya as a 2D image. They are very large images, sometimes over several gigabytes of raw data, and before the images get into the game we run a program that compresses the data. Maya renders out the backgrounds in four layers or "passes": final, depth, normal, and albedo. These passes are combined together in Unity for per-pixel occlusion of 3D objects, and for real-time dynamic lighting. When we bring the backgrounds into the game, they look like a flat 2D plane, and when viewed in Unity's editor the whole world has an awkward skewed look to it. The illusion comes together only when an orthographic camera is placed at the perfect angle."

 

Emphasis mine.

 

https://eternity.obsidian.net/news/update--79-graphics-and-rendering-

 

 

So pretty much what I said, with just more detailed description of the workflow between different tools, and no mention of the manual enhancement phase (which is there, make no mistake).

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Yes. It's extremely high definition 2D painted backgrounds that are split into layers, and then those layers are ran through a program that uses them to build 3D objects. Then the camera is moved to a point where the illusion of a flat plane is created and locked in.

 

Uhh... what?

 

Backgrounds aren't "painted" in any way. The entire levels are modeled in 3D, rendered, exported with additional information like occlusion, normal and depth maps, and finally digitally airbrushed a bit to make them a little more lively.

 

"As we mentioned previously, our beautiful backgrounds are rendered out of Maya as a 2D image. They are very large images, sometimes over several gigabytes of raw data, and before the images get into the game we run a program that compresses the data. Maya renders out the backgrounds in four layers or "passes": final, depth, normal, and albedo. These passes are combined together in Unity for per-pixel occlusion of 3D objects, and for real-time dynamic lighting. When we bring the backgrounds into the game, they look like a flat 2D plane, and when viewed in Unity's editor the whole world has an awkward skewed look to it. The illusion comes together only when an orthographic camera is placed at the perfect angle."

 

Emphasis mine.

 

https://eternity.obsidian.net/news/update--79-graphics-and-rendering-

 

 

So pretty much what I said, with just more detailed description of the workflow between different tools, and no mention of the manual enhancement phase (which is there, make no mistake).

 

Except for the part where they first come out as an extremely large 2D image.

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Except for the part where they first come out as an extremely large 2D image.

 

They don't. I'm sorry, I mean no offence, but you don't understand the process.

 

First there is nothing but the 3D model of the level in Maya. That is rendered into several 2D layers (these are the extremely large 2D images you're talking about), which are then imported into Unity, which layers them together with a camera, 3D models of characters and props and spell effects and dynamic lighting and such, producing what we see on screen.

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There is no such thing as layering. The "image" contains all z-depth and occlusion information just like a normal or bump map in 3D games. It's entirely 3D, just stored in a 2D file format. Your GPU reads the 2D-images as fully-functional 3D-scenery. There is no illusion of depth. What you see is real depth. Given some software, you could even see the landscape entirely in 3D by using hardware like the oculus rift. Every pixel has it's own z-position just like a vertex has in typical 3D games.

Edited by Zwiebelchen
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There is no such thing as layering. The "image" contains all z-depth and occlusion information just like a normal or bump map in 3D games. It's entirely 3D, just stored in a 2D file format. Your GPU reads the 2D-images as fully-functional 3D-scenery. There is no illusion of depth. What you see is real depth. Given some software, you could even see the landscape entirely in 3D by using hardware like the oculus rift.

Pffft, string theory.

If I'm typing in red, it means I'm being sarcastic. But not this time.

Dark green, on the other hand, is for jokes and irony in general.

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Except for the part where they first come out as an extremely large 2D image.

 

They don't. I'm sorry, I mean no offence, but you don't understand the process.

 

First there is nothing but the 3D model of the level in Maya. That is rendered into several 2D layers (these are the extremely large 2D images you're talking about), which are then imported into Unity, which layers them together with a camera, 3D models of characters and props and spell effects and dynamic lighting and such, producing what we see on screen.

 

 

There is no such thing as layering. The "image" contains all z-depth and occlusion information just like a normal or bump map in 3D games. It's entirely 3D, just stored in a 2D file format. Your GPU reads the 2D-images as fully-functional 3D-scenery. There is no illusion of depth. What you see is real depth. Given some software, you could even see the landscape entirely in 3D by using hardware like the oculus rift. Every pixel has it's own z-position just like a vertex has in typical 3D games.

Lol.

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They ended for many reasons.

 

1) The emergence of 3D as the dominant medium in virtually all genres of gaming.

 

2) The general view of publishers that said emergence was the only way to make money.

 

3) They were considered niche games that were slow-paced and required too much thought for mainstream gamers, and publishers were not interested in niche products as the 2000s progressed.

 

4) Interplay, the publisher that was the most invested in 2D CRPGs all but went under in the early 2000s and closed Black Isle as a result.

 

5) Bioware moved on from their origins into more accessible 3D formats.

 

6) There was no indie scene at the time really, since all games had very expensive physical distribution costs necessitating large publishers.

 

You're missing some utterly gigantic ones here:

 

A) Relations between Bioware and WotC broke down for various reasons, to the point that Bioware felt that they had to develop their own IP, rather than continuing to work with WotC's IP. This is what lead directly to the development of Dragon Age etc.

 

B) CONSOLE CONSOLES CONSOLES! A big part of why CRPGs in this style were less popular is that they didn't work well on consoles, and consoles were and still are the largest part of the market (even with CRPGs like Skyrim - which is far better on PC, imho - you see far more sales on consoles). That's not bad behaviour or stupidity, that's just realism on the part of pubs and devs.

 

C) Really putting the final knife in, WotC messed around with the licensing for the D&D IP, continually changing it's mind about what could be done with it and by whom, until in 2007 (some say 2005) it signed a RIDICULOUS 10 or 15-year lock-in deal with Atari, who, as it turned out, had zero interest in making D&D-based games, rather they just wanted to lock the license up. (It took a lawsuit to fix this - in 2012 WotC succeeded in getting the IP back - but this is why there are no "real" 4E games, despite the ruleset being absolutely perfectly suited to tactical turn-based play, moreso than any other edition).

 

Also 3) Is only half right - ALL games which didn't have a mass audience were neglected in the early '00s. It had nothing to do with whether they "required too much thought" - if you were perceived as niche, you got ditched by the main publishers. And not being good on consoles meant you were niche.

 

To be fair, too, Pillars IS niche, but thankfully we now have funding models which support that kind of game.

Edited by Eurhetemec
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"Is only half right - ALL games which didn't have a mass audience were neglected in the early '00s. It had nothing to do with whether they "required too much thought" - if you were perceived as niche, you got ditched by the main publishers. And not being good on consoles meant you were niche."

 

Yes, businesses became risk-averse especially after the dot-com bubble and again after the meltdown of ´08.

 

There were (and still are) fears of suffering similar crash on gaming market that we had in the 80´s, when Atari ended up dumping games into landfills since nobody wanted them even for free. :aiee: Basically too many people got into the mix and released tons of crappy and unfinished games... Like we have in Steam Greenlight/Early Access/F2P and similar programs today. I`m hoping things don´t go overboard and end up with ultrasaturated market, which will then collapse and take down a lot of good development houses with them.

Edited by Zorfab
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Here's the thing: AAA publishers need to remember that you can turn just as big a profit, if not bigger, off a series of well-made four million dollar games as you an off a single one hundred million dollar games, and without nearly as much risk.

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Here's the thing: AAA publishers need to remember that you can turn just as big a profit, if not bigger, off a series of well-made four million dollar games as you an off a single one hundred million dollar games, and without nearly as much risk.

 

Actually you can’t, because of the costs of advertising and opportunity costs. Sad. :(

Edited by Eurhetemec
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Here's the thing: AAA publishers need to remember that you can turn just as big a profit, if not bigger, off a series of well-made four million dollar games as you an off a single one hundred million dollar games, and without nearly as much risk.

 

Actually you can’t, because of the costs of advertising. Sad. :(

 

You can in the modern era, if you focus your marketing on social media, youtube reviews, etc. Also the big studios could afford to spend an extra million on marketing and still make large profits of a series of games, still benefiting from the much reduced risk in the business model.

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Well katarack, the movie industry has been doing the same thing for a while now.

 

Yeah, you have your tens of millions, and beyond, dollar movies, and then you have lesser budgeted films, but *sometimes* your blockbuster flops, but generally one of those "riskier" films becomes a billion dollar franchise lol. 

 

My personal favorite example, comes from 1977.  Fox had a "sci-fi" budget.  It had decided that this film called Damnation Alley would be their main summer money maker, and another, riskier film, would get second billing despite having a slightly higher budget. 

 

Damnation alley is today mostly forgotten unless you're really into 70's and 80's post apocalyptic films, but that second move - was a silly little film called Star Wars, that they thought was sure to barely break even. 

 

Well.... their gamble on that film sure paid off lol. 

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Well katarack, the movie industry has been doing the same thing for a while now.

 

Yeah, you have your tens of millions, and beyond, dollar movies, and then you have lesser budgeted films, but *sometimes* your blockbuster flops, but generally one of those "riskier" films becomes a billion dollar franchise lol. 

 

My personal favorite example, comes from 1977.  Fox had a "sci-fi" budget.  It had decided that this film called Damnation Alley would be their main summer money maker, and another, riskier film, would get second billing despite having a slightly higher budget. 

 

Damnation alley is today mostly forgotten unless you're really into 70's and 80's post apocalyptic films, but that second move - was a silly little film called Star Wars, that they thought was sure to barely break even. 

 

Well.... their gamble on that film sure paid off lol. 

True facts. Although the big studios in Hollywood are starting to fall into the same trap of relying on large-budget, large-return blockbusters. Thankfully theirs a big movement of independent films and games proving the alternative model is still successful. Things like Kickstarter make it even more so.

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Well it's not like well designed games like NWN, BG1&2 and Pillars couldn't be 3d games as well, the problem comes from the heads of these studios not knowing how to allocate the money properly, spending way too much time on making things look pretty and too few time making sure the game itself is challenging and fun to play.

 

The Neverwinter MMO for example uses a pretty easy to use 3d engine, though while it has it's faults, (especially in the modding scene) it could easily be used to make games like BG, NWN and pillars. It's pretty but basic, definitely not as high definition as DA games. (Though not as expensive to use either)

 

People wanted the in-depth, challenging, strategic cRPGs to evolve into 3d but in doing so they bit off more than they could chew and had to resort to dumbing down the game to the point of it not being fun anymore, in order to appeal to a more casual market, thus making enough money to pay off all the artists they utilized to make it look pretty in 3d. (Bioware for example, though personally I find their art style hideous, it is high-res though. High Resolution Ugly I guess.)

 

Screw the mass market full of morons, just make games for the hardcore cRPG fans and if that means having to sacrifice graphical quality in order to improve gameplay quality.... do it.
 

 

 

----

Edited by Nokturnal Lex
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Unfortunately, tax laws favour large-budget-large-return projects over small-budget-small-return projects. Which is why we don't see small releases from the big developers.

 

They got to invest big for maximum tax write-off.

Edited by Zwiebelchen
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I always assumed it was two things:

 

1) The end of Black Isle

2) Computer hardware/software moving on

 

3D games became the "in thing."

 

I REALLY hope with the success of PoE, this form of gaming comes back. Would love to see Bioware make one-although they are almost a completely different company now...

 

And for something WAAAAy off topic....what ever happened to Jade Empire 2???

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I REALLY hope with the success of PoE, this form of gaming comes back. Would love to see Bioware make one-although they are almost a completely different company now...

 

This form of gaming has been back for years now. It's called mobile gaming. And it's already larger than the PC market ever was.

Edited by Zwiebelchen
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There is no such thing as layering. The "image" contains all z-depth and occlusion information just like a normal or bump map in 3D games. It's entirely 3D, just stored in a 2D file format. Your GPU reads the 2D-images as fully-functional 3D-scenery. There is no illusion of depth. What you see is real depth. Given some software, you could even see the landscape entirely in 3D by using hardware like the oculus rift. Every pixel has it's own z-position just like a vertex has in typical 3D games.

 

Where do you get this stuff? Seriously.

 

There's absolutely nothing special about this whole process. What we see in the game is nothing more than a single 2D layer in unity with some 3D objects (characters, props) on top of it. The other layers or channels or whatever you want to call them are there for stuff like dynamic lighting and object occlusion etc. The backgrounds we see are not handled as 3D scenery, that would be a ludicrous and totally unnecessary waste of GPU cycles. It's a plane with a texture, nothing more. That's the most sensible way - hell, the only sensible way - to implement this kind of stuff.

 

There's even an early dev video where you can actually see this, clear as day.

 

It's true that that the game has actual depth information for every pixel on screen, so if you want to, you can conceptually think of the whole thing as 3D scenery with "real depth", but that's not how the game handles it.

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Also these new isometric games are much cheaper to develop now, so companies can use nostalgia to lure grognards :p

 

I don't think they're all that much cheaper to develop.  The big difference is in the distribution costs.  Back when you had to manufacture physical copies of a game and it added huge overhead to every game no matter the development costs.

 

They are much cheaper to develop. The amount of artists alone, and the cost associated with them, required to make a full fledged and detailed 3D world is absurd. Where do you think a game like GTA 5 invests its 100 million dollar budget? Design?

 

 

I thought you meant cheaper relative to the old 2D crpgs.  Obviously they are much cheaper to make than AAA 3D action games, especially open world ones like GTA V.

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I always assumed it was two things:

 

1) The end of Black Isle

2) Computer hardware/software moving on

 

3D games became the "in thing."

 

I REALLY hope with the success of PoE, this form of gaming comes back. Would love to see Bioware make one-although they are almost a completely different company now...

 

And for something WAAAAy off topic....what ever happened to Jade Empire 2???

 

Bioware lost it's soul a long time ago.  They could never make this kind of game these days, not that they would ever want to or EA would let them.

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Yet their games still sell way more than PE ever will. HAHAHAHAS!

 

 

"I REALLY hope with the success of PoE, this form of gaming comes back."

 

What success?  You think EA/BIO would be HAPPY if their game sold less than 1 million? COME ON.

DWARVES IN PROJECT ETERNITY = VOLOURN HAS PLEDGED $250.

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They ended for many reasons.

 

1) The emergence of 3D as the dominant medium in virtually all genres of gaming.

 

2) The general view of publishers that said emergence was the only way to make money.

 

3) They were considered niche games that were slow-paced and required too much thought for mainstream gamers, and publishers were not interested in niche products as the 2000s progressed.

 

4) Interplay, the publisher that was the most invested in 2D CRPGs all but went under in the early 2000s and closed Black Isle as a result.

 

5) Bioware moved on from their origins into more accessible 3D formats.

 

6) There was no indie scene at the time really, since all games had very expensive physical distribution costs necessitating large publishers.

 

You're missing some utterly gigantic ones here:

 

A) Relations between Bioware and WotC broke down for various reasons, to the point that Bioware felt that they had to develop their own IP, rather than continuing to work with WotC's IP. This is what lead directly to the development of Dragon Age etc.

 

B) CONSOLE CONSOLES CONSOLES! A big part of why CRPGs in this style were less popular is that they didn't work well on consoles, and consoles were and still are the largest part of the market (even with CRPGs like Skyrim - which is far better on PC, imho - you see far more sales on consoles). That's not bad behaviour or stupidity, that's just realism on the part of pubs and devs.

 

C) Really putting the final knife in, WotC messed around with the licensing for the D&D IP, continually changing it's mind about what could be done with it and by whom, until in 2007 (some say 2005) it signed a RIDICULOUS 10 or 15-year lock-in deal with Atari, who, as it turned out, had zero interest in making D&D-based games, rather they just wanted to lock the license up. (It took a lawsuit to fix this - in 2012 WotC succeeded in getting the IP back - but this is why there are no "real" 4E games, despite the ruleset being absolutely perfectly suited to tactical turn-based play, moreso than any other edition).

 

Also 3) Is only half right - ALL games which didn't have a mass audience were neglected in the early '00s. It had nothing to do with whether they "required too much thought" - if you were perceived as niche, you got ditched by the main publishers. And not being good on consoles meant you were niche.

 

To be fair, too, Pillars IS niche, but thankfully we now have funding models which support that kind of game.

 

 

A) Had no impact on the topic at hand since Bioware had already moved away from 2D isometric rpgs.

 

B) Consoles were huge back when IE games were being made.  Nothing changed on that front.

 

C) You seriously overestimate WotC's impact on the genre.  The industry as a whole moved in a different direction.  If they had wanted to keep making IE-style games WotC was not even remotely necessary.  Fallout had nothing to do with that license and it disappeared too.

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What is really needed for games developed as 3d?

 

~ Easier and quicker development of content.

 

Developers spend so much time on the technology that the game suffers for it; solve that problem and the difference between 2d and 3d games will be mere arithmetic.

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It's true that that the game has actual depth information for every pixel on screen, so if you want to, you can conceptually think of the whole thing as 3D scenery with "real depth", but that's not how the game handles it.

 

 

Which was my entire point. The GPU renders it as if it was real 3D geometry in lighting/occlusion because that's how normal/bump maps work.

Edited by Zwiebelchen
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