A few months ago we decided to switch from our in-house 2D engine to Unity. The main reason was that the 2D version was beginning to take form and we started to feel that it would really benefit from being in 3D. This decision was made mainly so that we could put a better emphasis on lighting and varying elevation in the areas.
We were pretty confident that it would transfer to 3D, as there are many other games in this genre that already pull off 3D gameplay, but it’s always hard to tell without actually sitting down and playing it for yourself. We wanted to get this gameplay demo up and running quickly with minimal art and programming time. In this demo, we put together just one level and then did a rough initial pass of player controls, one AI character and focused most of our attention on trying out different camera setups.
As you may have guessed from the text above, this demo had two main purposes:
- Test to make sure that the gameplay still feels good in 3D
- Determine how the camera should be positioned in the 3D environment
The first question quickly proved to be a successful test as the game still felt great in 3D (probably even better actually). The second question was the big one. We tried out six different camera configurations and it was amazing how different each felt. After a few hours of testing these cameras and weighing the pros and cons of each, we narrowed it down to two that felt the best. Our narrowed down choices are a 3/4 perspective camera and a 3rd person perspective camera. The plan is to continue iterating on the implementation of these two cameras and test them in more gameplay situations.
Here are some details on the two cameras we’ve narrowed it down to:
A 3rd person perspective camera is pretty standard now for most 3D action adventure games (Uncharted, Gears of War, GTA, etc…), so I won’t go into much detail except to say that the player character is visible on screen and, in our case, the player will have full control to rotate the camera around the character to give different views of the environment around them.
A 3/4 perspective camera is a little more rare these days. According to TVTropes.org, the 3/4 perspective may have been originally used in a game called “Android 2” for the ZX Spectrum,
but was made popular by JRPGs in the 16-bit era like A Link to the Past, Chrono Trigger and the Final Fantasy series.
As you can see from the above screenshots, this camera was originally used in 2D games as a way to fake 3D by “looking” at the action from a raised perspective that was not directly overhead. This sort of locked perspective isn’t used too often in 3D games, but more recently A Link Between Worlds showed that it is still a viable option in 3D.
Looking forward to talking more about the project, but still a lot of work to be done!