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So, we’re not going back to isometrics for the next games. There are a few good reasons for that (the fact that we don’t like it as much is not the worst of them), but the details are not important right now. The thing is, we want to keep the scenes based on perspective and cameras.

This poses a series of problems. Isometrics are quite easy to draw, but real cartoonish scenes demand you to actually know what you’re doing. Or that you cheat.

I like cheating.

For The Labyrinth, what we did was to generate all scenes within Google (now Trimble) SketchUp, and use textures everywhere. It worked, but it wasn’t close to perfect. There wasn’t much control on lighting and colors, and all lines and angles were too straight and hard. And integrating the scenes with the game engine was like tripping and falling face-first on an ant colony while running away from furious african bees. Not really pleasant. We needed a better way to cheat.

That’s what I’ve been working on in the past couple of weeks. A useful little tool to be able to create scenes for the game in a way that’s easy, looks good (maybe not great, but good) and works with the game engine. This last part is important.

making_scene_tool

The result is what you see above. It has a number of functions, all aimed for the creation of rooms and environments using a simple grid. After you put all the walls, doors and objects in place, it generates a simple wireframe.

making_scene_wireframe

“If all you needed was a wireframe” you may ask, “why not keep using a 3D tool and then doing whatever you’ll do with it?” Good question, actually. Well, an actual 3D tool would be a bit overkill for this. But this is not a good reason. However, our tool does more than just the wireframe. First of all, it keeps the perspective fixed and optimized for the game engine. Second, and more important, it generates maps along with the wireframe. These maps will be used within, with no need for edits, to regulate the walking behavior for the characters and clicking responses for the player. This is the whole integration part that we had issues in The Labyrinth – and not anymore.

“But how is that wireframe supposed to, you know, look good?” might be your second question. The answer for that will be in the second part of this post, some time in this week.

Cheers.

 

* Bad pun intended. I’m sorry.

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