My general views on 3D - Clearing up some missunderstandings

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KeldorKatarn
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My general views on 3D - Clearing up some missunderstandings

Post by KeldorKatarn » Sat Mar 25, 2017 4:27 am

There has been a lot of discussion now regarding 2D vs 3D. Even the developers themselves have released some statements that I cannot agree with so I just would like to clearify a few things and also link a few YouTube videos just to give non-developers, regular players, a but of an idea of what 2D can do today and that it doesn't mean what it mean in the 80s or 90s.

The dev's statement I mentioned was regarding their decision to go 3D. THe statement went something like this: We went 3D because it's easier and modern engines are better than writing your own.
Well first of all I have to strongly state that tons of 2D games use a modern 3D engine. Every modern engine enables you to also use 2D games. The idea that you can only do 2D by writing your own engine or that using a modern engine makes your game automatically 3D is... weird to me. There's also pseude 2D games which are built as a 3D scene but then shown using a fixed 2D perspective, like modern side scrollers. Those are essentially 2D games making use of a 3D environment. The graphics are 3D but the entire gameplay and the mechanics are 2D and the 3D environment is just used to give the game a certain depth of field, just like the older 2D games used paralax scrolling to simulate landscapes.
So it's not even 100% clear anymore what "2D game" even means.

The statement that 3D games are easier to make is just complete nonsense in my view. Both types of games use the same engines these days. There's tons of 3D games done with unity, and tons of 2D games. The main difference is: 3D uses meshes and textures, 2D uses usually sprites. 3D uses a perspective (often rotatable camera), 2D uses a fixed rotation orthographic projection camera. That's it. So essentially you use a different projection to render your world and you use a different asset creation pipeline. Instead of 3D artists and modelers and animators you need often pixel artist. And sometimes you need the same modelers and texture artists since you do all your sprites as high-poly 3D models before rendering them to sprites. If you do that then there's literally no more difference except the camera perspective. I have no idea why one should be easier than the other one. Quite the opposite, since 3D comes with a lot more complexity 3D game teams are usually a lot bigger than 2D game teams, and that usually not in the development team but in the art department. But again this is only true if the sprites are not extremely high quality 3D renders. If that is the case the pipelines is virtually the same. THere's just one more added step, the standardized render of each model into a sprite in a fixed perspective.

Another statement often made is that either 2D or 3D looks better. That's complete crap also. Again.. the difference between 2D games and 3D games is the projection of the camera and the way that camera can be manipulated and moved in the world. When looking at a screenshot, not being able to move anything, there is literally no way of telling whether one is looking at a 2D game with sophisticated prerendered sprites or a 3D game with meshes. THere is absolutely NO way to tell. None. I can make a 2D game with sprites and a 3D game with meshes and make them look exactly the same. Until you move the camera that is.

Both have their advantages. In 3D you can zoom (i.e. move the camera closer) and rotate to look at things from a different angle and it's easier to animate things. In 2D sprites you need to prerender a ton of images for every frame of every animation. In 3D you can simply animate stuff without the need to have all that prerendered and you can easily patch in additional animations without adding a ton of space on the HD with new images. Animation data is way cheaper and easier to make. Another thing that's easier in 3D is shadowing. In 2D that's harder, however not impossible to do. Lighting in general and shader effects however are possible in both. Again.. these days both types of games use exactly the same technology. These days a sprite is nothing but a simple square polygon with a texture on it. It's rendered exactly the same way and more complex mesh would be. So you can run the exact same shaders on it. If your sprite texture has hight and normal information you can totally make something look 100% 3D even with a moving light. No problem. 2D sprites no longer need to have the lighting already baked into them. That can be done later these days.

So in short, in my view the only advantages to using 3D are as follows:
- Easier to animate actors like units,player character or environment like trees. That advantgae only holds if theres a lot of complicated animations.
- Possibility to rotate the camera
- Possibility to use a 3D physics engine with there is a lot of interaction with the environment
- Easy manupulation of terrain = changing the terrain

That's it. That's literally all there is. I did not list "zoom the camera" here because there's always limitations. Yes you can argue in 2D you cannot zoom without at zome point running into pixel issues. That's not exactly true but not entirely false either. You'll never see pixels since, again, modern sprites are basically just textures, therefore they get the same filtering treatment as any other texture and you won't see the pixels. But of course if you zoom in too close you'll see the quality drop. But the same is true in 3D games for any 3D model and here not only the limited resolution of the textures will show if you get to close, but also the limited detail on the model. Sure you can do level of detail, loading higher res stuff if you go closer but you can do the same trick in 2D and in both cases it costs additonal harddisk space and graphics memory.

So to summarize my personal view before I show some examples of what 2D technology can do these days: Do I hate 3D? No. I just see absolutely no advantage of using 3D for a game like Panzer Corps. There is no need to rotate the camera around like crazy. It's a game playing on a battlefield map which is expected to usually have up equal North. rotating around does nothing but disorient players and I've yet to see anybody complain in a hex-based game about the lack of an ability to rotate the camera. Not even civilization, which IS 3D allows that. Up is north. Civ only takes advatage of zoom, wich 99% of the players never use and looks butt ugly if you do so. The units also shouldn't have too complex animations. They have one or two for attack and a couple effects for blowing up. That's it. So I see no advantage in terms of animation either. I don't need my infantry to have marching animations. It's annoying in Civilization since all it does it take up time. It adds nothing to the gameplay. Who cares what a unit looks like on the move. Fighting animations are fun yeah, marching animations are not. And even then that could be easily done with a couple of frames in a sprite animation loop. Pointless.
3D physics engine makes no sense either. On the high level of abstraction of a Panzer Corps there is no direct interation with the physical world. We have no rolling around barrels, we don't even need 2D physics and we certainly don't flatten the alps to get an easier way into Germany so the terrain is completely static. No advantage here either.

So while I'm looking forward to finding out more about the game I still have to hear a single convincing argument for the move to 3D. NOT for the move to a 3D engine (which is a stupid term anyway since it's a game engine. No engine tells you what camera perspective you need to use or allows you to ONLY use sprites or ONLY meshes. In fact most games use a combination. Every particle effect you've ever seen bascially uses something like sprites. Particle effects are made up of 2D pictures, which often have 2D animations on them. That's it. So there's already a mix right there. I welcome to move to a modern engine since that simply gives better performance, support from the engine developers are more time for the team to focus on game mechanics and asset creation. I would have voted for Unity for some personal reasons and because I think Unreal is still overrated and Unity underrated in terms of the visuals they can bring. Unless you want to create the next ground breaking shooter I doubt you will ever run into a situation where you have visuals that couldn't easily be done in exactly the same quality in the other engine. So stunning visualy or optimization or what have you are certainly not arguments for either of these engines. Panzer Corps is just not even remotely complex or big enough to come even close to using any engine to it's limits. In fact most games that DO push those limits make custom changes to the engine code to squeeze the last bit of optimization out. no game engine can be 100% optimized for every game type out of the box. But all of them are good enough. I would have voted for Unity since C# code is easier to do for modders (a point that could be argued and depends on the modder I guess) and because Unity focuses a bit more on mobile low end platforms (even though they're fully capable of producing AAA quality visuals on high end systems as well, the mobiles is just where most of their customers are, but there's certainly enough AAA games for PC done with Unity as well), while Unreal focuses more on the high end machines, especially the console market. And since Panzer Corps certainly is rather going to be played on mobile devices and on a Playstation IV, I thought Unity was the better fit. But either engine can be used to create a fantastic Panzer Corps and you could easily recreate the standard 2D panzer Corps 1 on either of them. That's not the issue.

My issue is whether the move to 3d graphics, no matter in what engine, is worth it and whether that move will result in design decisions that are going to impact gameplay and performance for the worse. 3D graphics can mean a lot but it usually means for board games unnecessarily complex animations that nobody needs and unnecessarily highly detailed terrain that results in units that cannot be found anymore. Or like in civilization's case, a terrain that uses textures for the ground which looks butt ugly and could have been done a lot better with a prerendered high quality terrain that had textures which are too high res to use in a live 3D rendering.

I will reserve any judgement on the final game until I actually see what it looks like. But I will certainly do my best then to give feedback on how to improve it if necessary.

And in closing just a few select videos form the web of games or game prototypes and show what 2D can do in a modern game if run in a modern engine.





if after seeing this you still think 3D looks better than 2D and 2D looks like 90s games... you literally have no idea what you're talking about.

PS: Note how the 2nd video mentions the player characters being fully 3D. That's why THOSE have animations. I doubt any unit in Panzer Corps needs the animation set of an RPG game character. The environment animations (the trees for example) are 2D.
Panzer Corps - Dossier Tool - http://www.slitherine.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=121&t=39151
Epic Chronological Let's Play - https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLb_qLVfViPTbD7C7gN8cVOxG_mEgDYO91

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Re: My general views on 3D - Clearing up some missunderstand

Post by Rudankort » Sat Mar 25, 2017 11:18 am

You know... I'm under impression that once we agree on terms, i.e. what exactly we mean by 2D/3D technology/engine/game etc., our "disagreement" will evaporate on the spot.

If I remember your original suggestions on this forum right, they were:
- Make the units 3D models, so that they are easier to animate in many orientations.
- Use all kinds of lighting, weather etc. effects. I assume, for shooting we would still be using particle effects.
- Make terrain high quality textures, including normal maps etc.

But for whatever reason you still classify such a game "2D". Well I call such a game "3D". It looks 3D, it relies on technology, APIs and hardware created for 3D, and it would be next to impossible to achieve the same look using real 2D APIs from 90s, like GDI or DirectDraw. Even if you use orthographic projection and fixed camera angle. Also note that with this approach all the same modding concerns would be valid: units and effects are 3D and are much more difficult to create for modding crowd.

For me, 2D graphics means using sprites.
In computer graphics, a sprite is a two-dimensional bitmap that is integrated into a larger scene. (from Wikipedia)
Sprite can be a very high resolution image rendered from a high quality 3D model (Panzer Corps and Armageddon do exactly this). It can even use multitexturing, although this is beyond classic definition and technology. But it remains a 2D image in the end. And with this approach you very quickly hit the ceiling, even though nowadays you of course render sprites using 3D engines, APIs and hardware. Their limitations have nothing to do with technology used to render them, they are fundamental. Panzer Corps has two unit orientations. Armageddon uses six. This is already a huge explosion in the required number of sprites (especially when you count firing animations). But, it is still not enough! When units are firing across several hexes, you need much more than 6 orientations to face your enemy exactly. With weapons using long straight lines (like lasers) this becomes painfully obvious. It does not take a degree in computer graphics to notice this.

Doing walking animations is also a huge pain. And yes, we came under VERY heavy flak for not doing these animations in Armageddon. Vast majority of people who disliked the game cited this as one of the reasons. And this is exactly what common people call "graphics from 90s". They don't care for all this 2D vs. 3D argument, how sprites are rendered and other technical stuff. They see your soldiers not moving legs when walking, like in good old Panzer General days, and they bash you. I'm glad that some hard core fans on this forum do not care. But we have learnt our lesson of what a wider audience expects.

This is not related just to units either. For example, Armageddon has all kinds of rivers - normal, toxic, lava, geothermal. We wanted to animate them and show all that bubbling, steaming, boiling etc. It would give terrain so much more character. But, when you count all curves and forks, each river type needs 64 sprites. When you count the number of sprites required for any meaningful animation of this, you just drop this idea.

Armageddon also had waterfalls. And no matter how much you argue that terrain is static and does not need to be animated, static waterfalls also look very distinctively "old school". That's how games based on Panzer General 2 engine (like Rites of War) did them in 90s. People expect more these days. Incidentally, one of the examples you've given features a waterfall, but if it were static, it would spoil the whole impression. Could we animate our waterfalls by using sprites? Probably we could. But animated waterfalls on static rivers look silly, so we hit the wall again.

In my Q&A topic, which you disagreed with, I said exactly the same thing. Both 2D and 3D can look great, technology is just a tool. But, 3D technologies are much more powerful and flexible, and these technologies developed greatly in the last 20 years. Where you quickly hit the ceiling with classic 2D sprite approach, you can still do what you want using 3D. So there you have it. And keep in mind that:
- Our unit and terrain artwork relied on rendered 3D for many years, so it's not like we are changing our production pipeline significantly.
- Our decision to create a new graphics engine based on 3D was a strategic one. If after Panzer Corps 2 we decide to do a hypothetical Armageddon 2, with its much more zoomed in terrain, different elevations on the map, both outdoors and indoors missions etc. etc. we are all set for it.

PS. BTW thanks for creating a separate topic for this, much easier to discuss this in one place. Now new people coming to the forum can quickly find the discussion of this 2D vs. 3D topic, which has sparkled much more controversy and argument than it deserves IMO. ;)

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Re: My general views on 3D - Clearing up some missunderstand

Post by Rudankort » Sat Mar 25, 2017 12:11 pm

Also, I think I've said it elsewhere already, but it will be useful to have my view on animations in this topic.

I believe, in a game like Panzer Corps:
- Animations must look good, varied and just "cool" enough for most people out there. Other things being equal, there is no reason to make stuff less good than it could be visually.
- But, animations absolutely must not interfere with normal game pace. They must not slow things down. They must be designed so that people do not want to turn them off.

To give you an example, many people have nostalgic feelings for combat animation sequences in Panzer General. But at the same time, vast majority of players turned them off eventually. This is an example of how animations should NOT be done.

Now, look at Panzer Corps. Does it have combat animations? Sure! Did anyone turn them off? Very few people did, because there is no such option. Did people demand that we provided such option? I don't remember any such requests. I believe, animations in Panzer Corps were timed reasonably well. They are long enough so that you can understand what's going on (especially on AI turn). They are short enough so that they don't slow down game pace too much. In the new game my approach to animations will be similar. I don't only make games, I play them as well, and just like you guys, I don't fancy waiting for animations longer than necessary.

KeldorKatarn
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Re: My general views on 3D - Clearing up some missunderstand

Post by KeldorKatarn » Sat Mar 25, 2017 2:08 pm

To clearify: If I had my way I'd go full sprites again. I think walking animations and stuff like that belongs in a rpg, not in a game that's on this level of abstraction. But that's just me. My comment about 3D units with animations on highly detailed 2D terrain was a suggestion on how to make it work if animations are 100% necessary.

My concern about 3D units in a game like this I already explained in another thread but I'll repeat it here: As soon as units look and feel 3D the brain starts analyzing them as 'real objects' instead of pictures. I don't see a picture of a tank anymore, I see a real tank. And that's when the problem starts. The scale of the terrain doesn't fit the tank, it all looks out of place and as if stuff doesn't belong.

Now some wargames use this and go very conciously for a situation where units look like plastic pieces on a WW2 war map in the office of some General Staff trying to wargame a battle. That's fine, that can work, even though I am not a huge fan of that either, but at least the brain-fuck doesn't occur.

Games like Total War on the startegic map (the battle map is fine, again here the scale of terrain and units is the same) or panzer general 3D have the issue that units are on a different scale as the terrain and they always look off. On Total war it wasn't just as bad because terrain and units were modeled and textured to the same degree. Panzer General 3 looked god awful because you had detailed 3D models for units and a bland detail less terrain that was NOT modeled except for height differnces and even worse, suddenly had 3D buildings on that kind of flat map. That looked like Google Earth with those 3D buildings popping out. Just awful.

The game needs to have a unified art style. That's the most important thing. Everything needs to look like it's designed together. If the terrain, Units, UI all look good separately but once you put them together it looks like ass because nothing fits and all 3 pieces look like they came out of 3 different games (which is what Panzer General 3 did) it fails miserably. The brain cannot supress the desire to compare scales once things are recognized as truly 3D objects. And if the graphics don't carefully play with this fact and make it work somehow it will constantly distract visually. People might not even notice WHY exactly but they'll always have the feeling that something in the game doesn't look 'right'. Which is exactly why I personally would not design a strategic level game to EVER try and look realistic and too much real 3D. It needs to keep a level of stylization and abstraction. If it looks like plastic tank models on a satelize map.. it fails.

And even if it blends perfectly... I still have my doubts. Above video about Pillars of Eternity is a great example for mixing animated 3D character models and fully 2D levels to make it all look like one thing. Nothing stands out, nothing looks like it doesn'T fit. BUT... it's an RPG where the characters are at the proper scale relative to the rest. Try scaling the characters by 10 and see what that looks like.

Again, i'll reserve and judgement until I actually see any screenshots but I have yet to see a game on a strategic scale that managed to make this work. And no civilization doesn't make this work. It's too busy, the base terrain is blurry textures still, they just plant so many objects on it that you hardly see it anymore, but it's still there, and the units still look completely missplaced on a map that's on a completely different scale.

So far no game out there, NONE, has managed to make this work for me. Absolutely none. So I think this is quite a challenge for your art design guys. I'll do my best to give you guys feedback on what is off looking once I see it. If you guys make it work. Awesome. I'm just saying it would be the first game I see succeed at that which is why I got worried once I heard 3D. I personally simply feel animated 3D units have no business in a game of this level of abstraction.
Can they work? sure. You could make 3D models that are similar in detail and shadering to the sprites we had in Panzer Corps 1. THe only difference that they are slightly more animated. If you do that and the terrain fits the style: fantastic. But if you make the units too real, too well lit, to well shadowed, make them look too much like real 3D objects, I guarantee you they'll start sticking out like a sore thumb.

So my recommendation (with a grain of salt mind you, considering I haven't seen yet what you guys have done so far) would be: Make the units 3D models but don't make them too detailed and keep the shading and lighting toned down or rather design that in a way that it looks more like a highly detailed 2D sprite but not a 3D object. It must NOT start looking like a real tank or a plastic model of a tank driving around on a map of different scale. That WILL look offputting to a lot of players. I am convinced a more stylized shading with moderate shadowing instead will look a lot better and make the unit feel 'right' on the map.
It's hard to describe without showing anything but I am basically suggesting that you create something that looks on a screenshot like the game is still 2D sprites, just maybe more detailed and pretty ones than we had in PzC 1 without overdoing it, and in actual gameplay the animations should look like they're 2D animated sprites, using the tech to make those animations possible easier but NOT to make this LOOK too 3D. I hope that makes any sense.

I would also stay clear of "modeling" the terrain too much. The 3D mountains in Panzer General 3D and honestly even in the total war strategic map don't help. In PG3 all they did was make a unit behind a hill less accessible. The hexes are due to projection not all the same size anymore and distorted depending on their location on a slope. That is BAD. That affects gameplay. Make me see height differences by lighting and shading and by the textures on that hex, NOT by modeling a mountain. IF height differences are absolutely wanted make them very subtle. Just give a hint of a rise, don't make it a mountain like in PG3. It didn't look good, it affected game play for the worse. the terrain should be pretty but mostly flat. Ideally perfectly flat in my book. That might be again a thing that goes against your "but then people will call us a 90s game" philosophy, but it's what I think. (I think in general that if you start thinking about what those kinds of players think or what some review might give you in terms of graphics score you're already going down the wrong path, but that's just me. I have never seen that kind of thinking benefit any project. Ever. I've heard these arguments so many times. jagged alliance remakes going realtime because they said turn based is getting them called "90s game" in reviews. Game flopped. Other remakes going 3D stylized and moving from square tiles to hex back to square because somehow the other version felt too "old school" and blah... flopped. Nearly all of these projects focused their eneergy so much in getting real time or 3D animations or grids on a 3D map to work so much they ended up having not even 25% of the actual game mechanics features that the "90s game" they were based on had. That's why I automatically start to roll my eyes once someone starts making these comments. Yes i know, marketing needs to happen and these are real issues, I just think that it's missguided to listen to these voices too much. As they always say.. if you make a movie with the goal to win an oscar you'll probably create something that might even win one, but will soon be forgotten. The true masterpieces are often the ones initally overlooked, the ones that went for a vision instead of a prize.
Panzer Corps - Dossier Tool - http://www.slitherine.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=121&t=39151
Epic Chronological Let's Play - https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLb_qLVfViPTbD7C7gN8cVOxG_mEgDYO91

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Re: My general views on 3D - Clearing up some missunderstand

Post by Rudankort » Sat Mar 25, 2017 10:26 pm

It's difficult to comment your last post, because it touches upon several very difficult and fundamental issues. I guess, we should postpone further discussion of art until we have some screenshots to show.

Regarding your last point about "pleasing the crowd", I certainly know what you mean. Along the same lines, when you set out to grab some easy money, very often you fail. But when you set out to make something cool, because you are really enthusiastic about it, then quite often you indeed make something cool, and earn some money in the process too.

It's not as clear cut with graphics though. First, when your project has a clear goal, like reaching out to a wider audience, it's strange to ignore tastes of that audience. Listening to your customers is not stupid, it is wise. ;) And second, from my experience, good art can appeal to most people at some very fundamental level. When image on the screen is nice and pleasing to the eye, casual players and hardcore veterans alike will appreciate it. Many games in "General" family were quite beautiful in their time, and it might be part of their appeal. Personally, I cannot imagine them with NATO counters and stuff like that. So, I don't think there is something wrong with the goal to make the game up to modern standards of graphics. Of course, provided that the gameplay is not dumbed down in any way. ;)

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Re: My general views on 3D - Clearing up some missunderstand

Post by Sourdust » Sun Mar 26, 2017 3:50 am

Yes, it's the integrated art style that is often (or in my experience always) missing in true 3D games. Civilization, Paradox engine, etc... also what I've seen of Unity of Command 3D so far, etc. all fail to have (a) an integrated art style that encompasses all graphic elements; and (b) an art style that reinforces the theme of the game.

So for instance in EUIV, you have this fancy 3D map with enormous 3D rendered units striding around on it, with all sorts of shading and glows and zooming camera everywhere. But the game you're playing is a 2D strategy game set in the late middle ages / renaissance / age of exploration. The art style says "age of satellite imagery", not "age of exploration". In a game like EUIV, it should be faded parchment map with sea serpents sprinkled around the ocean, imprecise geography, sketches of forces that evoke Da Vinci, not the Matrix. The art "style" detracts from immersion in a big way.

One of the best art designs for a recent wargame was Shenandoah's Battle of the Bulge. In that case, great care was taken to ensure the interface, map, units, etc all reinforced the theme of the game. So interface buttons resembled mid-20th Century analog switches, buttons, lots of brushed metal, and an understated map that stressed the snow of the Battle in a minimalist style.

Another example: Fallen Enchantress. Close up, the 3D map never really gelled for me, plus it slowed performance considerably. Zoom out a bit, and that marvelous "cloth map" 2D version appeared. The cloth map style was perfectly evocative of a tabletop RPG, it really reinforced the theme of the game. I always played with the 2D map on, not the 3D blandness.

I really hope the 3D version of PC is an exception and manages to pull off an art style that is truly integrated with all other elements of the game. I haven't seen this work in a period strategy game yet. (Perhaps part of the problem is that 3D rendering itself is mostly geared up towards a realistic rendering of the world, not an artistic rendering. Yes, 3D can be used in an artistic way, but usually it is not. Can't escape the suspicion that most designers using 3D rendering are always asking themselves "does this look realistic?" rather than "does this look good?".)

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Re: My general views on 3D - Clearing up some missunderstand

Post by jeff00t » Sun Mar 26, 2017 9:25 am

not even one screenshot of pzc 2?

is 3D similar to unity command 2 screenshot like this one ?
http://www.wargamer.fr/wp-content/uploa ... d-2-01.jpg
my custom single player mini-campaign in order of battle : normandie-niemen: Image
http://www.slitherine.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=374&t=79333&p=676302#p676302

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Re: My general views on 3D - Clearing up some missunderstand

Post by Rudankort » Sun Mar 26, 2017 11:07 am

Sourdust
I'm glad that you liked art style of Battle of the Bulge. Incidentally, the artist behind that art design is also art director of Panzer Corps 2. ;)

Period stylization is a tricky thing. It can be nice, but it also seems to interfere with ergonomics far too often. This is especially true with fonts, because modern clean and readable fonts usually have no place in historical settings. Also, for many people this just seems plain unnecessary. Panzer General had a very distinct art style, but did it try to simulate ww2 period? All those green/red lights for selected items in the lists etc. have nothing to do with it.

As for art style and 3D, I don't think the situation is as bad as you describe it. Yes, 3D is not best suited for showing things stylized as charcoal drawings or something (although fog of war in Civ 6 might be one example), but in many cases a certain distinct and consistent art style can still be observed. For example, compare Civ 5 (more realistic) with Civ 6 (more cartoonish), or King's Bounty (more cosy nice fairy-tale like) with Heroes of Might and Magic 6 (darker and more serious).

jeff00t
Ultimately, this is publisher's decision which I cannot affect much. Many people will judge the game by the first screenshots we publish. Until "powers that be" decide that what we have is good enough, I'm afraid they will not agree to release it to public.

Unity of Command screenshot has a lot of elements which Panzer Corps 2 will have too (no surprise there), but I think their visual style is quite different to what we are aiming at.

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Re: My general views on 3D - Clearing up some missunderstand

Post by Sourdust » Sun Mar 26, 2017 11:24 am

Rudankort wrote:Sourdust
I'm glad that you liked art style of Battle of the Bulge. Incidentally, the artist behind that art design is also art director of Panzer Corps 2. ;)

Period stylization is a tricky thing. It can be nice, but it also seems to interfere with ergonomics far too often. This is especially true with fonts, because modern clean and readable fonts usually have no place in historical settings. Also, for many people this just seems plain unnecessary. Panzer General had a very distinct art style, but did it try to simulate ww2 period? All those green/red lights for selected items in the lists etc. have nothing to do with it.

As for art style and 3D, I don't think the situation is as bad as you describe it. Yes, 3D is not best suited for showing things stylized as charcoal drawings or something (although fog of war in Civ 6 might be one example), but in many cases a certain distinct and consistent art style can still be observed. For example, compare Civ 5 (more realistic) with Civ 6 (more cartoonish), or King's Bounty (more cosy nice fairy-tale like) with Heroes of Might and Magic 6 (darker and more serious).

...
Points well taken. However, WW2 occurred after the advent of modern typography. Indeed, the 1920s-30s were the height of modernism, bauhaus architecture, etc., which continued after the war, especially by the Soviets. Jan Tschichold virtually invented the "modern readable font" in the 1920s. Not suggesting that period stylization should be overly literal, but an art style should be consistent with the flavor of the game, not jarringly at odds with it. The catchcall of modernism was, of course, that form should follow function - an injunction so oft missed in video game design!

I am delighted that you have the art director responsible for BotB on board! Very good news. A while ago Slitherine had the design diaries for this game posted, but the links are all dead now. They made for a truly fascinating read!

(I'll hold my fire on Civ5 and Civ6, both of which I regard as monstrously overrated and ugly games!)

good luck!

KeldorKatarn
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Re: My general views on 3D - Clearing up some missunderstand

Post by KeldorKatarn » Sun Mar 26, 2017 3:04 pm

as a little offtopic notion I consider Civilization dead anyway. I had played Civ 4 a little bit, after that I stopped. Teh last "innovation" they had was hex fields and they never managed to actually use that fully and make combat really fun like in a game like Panzer Corps. It was still the same stupid crap it was always. I watched a lot of civ let's plays over the years and the simple fact is that despite all the apparent changes, it's still the same game it was in the 90s. The diplomacy is boring, the AI predictable (if you get too strong they'll all attack you for no reason), trade is micromanagement but zero fun, combat is a chore and not really tactial fun in any way, air and seawars are retardedly simplistic and the entire civilian sector, building a peaceful empire, is either just click here click there boring stuff or simply not present in the game. Transport networks are unrealistic and instead of being pretty they cluster the map and make it more ugly... the entire game has just not gone anyway and it always plays out exactly the same for decades now. To me that's exactly how to kill a franchise. Make smallincremental changes but never change anything really fundamental to innovate and let your game die a slow death. I literally have no idea why people even play that anymore. It's the same game it was forever ago. You just have some more micromanagement here, some more automation there, but the overall session plays out exacly the same. You build up, eventually some agressive nation attacks you, you have some battles and you either get your ask kicked and can start over, or some nation on another continent gets so powerful you either have no longer a chance or you need to nuke them later, or YOU overrun everything and the game is already over in the middle ages. boring. The game is not about building civilizations it's always about map domination. That's still the main mechanic that you need to exploit to win. You cannot achieve any other types of victory if you are a small nation. At least not realistically. That's not only unhistorical but it's also boring and repetetive and too war focused.

I hope, and believe actually, that the PzC team keeps the game interesting, makes logical changes and tries to innovate and improve the elements of the game that don't work well instead of just slitly reskinning the ones that already do.
Panzer Corps - Dossier Tool - http://www.slitherine.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=121&t=39151
Epic Chronological Let's Play - https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLb_qLVfViPTbD7C7gN8cVOxG_mEgDYO91

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Re: My general views on 3D - Clearing up some missunderstand

Post by Rudankort » Sun Mar 26, 2017 3:53 pm

Personally, I like the premise behind Civilization series very much, and many game mechanics are quite interesting. For example, in Civ 6 city planning has become much more intricate, which looks like a nice advancement of the series. Of course, some areas are developed better than others, and at least in theory the same idea could be done much better. But the sheer amount of work which went into game design is very respectable. A project of this size is next to impossible to do for a small studio like mine.

However, when playing recent installments of Civ, I always get bored quickly, because:
- There is not much to do every turn. After I've given my orders to build, research, explore etc. I just wait till these orders are completed.
- AI turns get very slow eventually, too slow to my taste.

Because of these two factors combined, I get a feeling that I'm waiting for the game more than I'm playing. Panzer Corps gameplay looks much more dynamic in comparison, although I can see how some players will find it too simplistic and shallow compared to Civ. Like with anything else, tastes differ greatly here. No game will suit everyone.

KeldorKatarn
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Re: My general views on 3D - Clearing up some missunderstand

Post by KeldorKatarn » Sun Mar 26, 2017 4:09 pm

I agree with the wait times but regarding the features... that's just the thing. THere's flashy features that are initially fun but after a cuople game sessions you always notice that they have very little overall impact on how the game session turns out. You still have the same stupid wars with rome or india, you still have to bascially be the biggest nation on the map with etc etc. Sure there are fun features, religion was also a fun feature but they all are just sideline features, they don't really change the overall game. It's still 50% manipulating the building queue, 20% fighting wars that you never wanted to fight and that got launched by nations that you had multiple peace and trade agreements a turn ago an 20% micromanaging worker units. The rest of the time you maybe spend with actually intersting features that end up having no impact on winning or losing at all...
Panzer Corps - Dossier Tool - http://www.slitherine.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=121&t=39151
Epic Chronological Let's Play - https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLb_qLVfViPTbD7C7gN8cVOxG_mEgDYO91

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Re: My general views on 3D - Clearing up some missunderstand

Post by jman0war » Wed May 24, 2017 8:25 pm

I think it will be interesting to see what it will look like.
It will really depend upon artistic stylization and how people respond to it.
If it's a little undersaturated and gritty with earth and mud splatter, I'm all for it.

Panzer 3D had something unique, in that the units looked a bit like lead monopoly pieces.
But I think the terrain and environment were poor.
Nevertheless I consider those pieces as artistic stylization and they could work.

I mentioned Elven Legacy in another thread, which is a rather stylized fantasy 3d game modeled after PG.
I personally don't like overly stylized 3d meshes like Diablo3.

mbpopolano24
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Re: My general views on 3D - Clearing up some missunderstand

Post by mbpopolano24 » Sat Jun 03, 2017 1:24 am

Nahhh, it will be fantastic. Wait and see

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Re: My general views on 3D - Clearing up some missunderstand

Post by 13obo » Mon Jun 05, 2017 10:46 am

A really good solution for the whole 3D vs 2D debate would be to implement different EU/HOI-style viewing layers.

For example, the default EU4 view is the 3D rendered Earth. However, that one is too 'colourful', and actually shows very little information, so I barely use it. Instead, I look at the other views that show religion/territories/resources/trade/etc., which are in 2D, except for the unit sprites. A player constantly switches between the views for different information, which avoids overclutter.

I believe that works well for EU4 and would work for Panzer Corps as well.

EDIT: I understand that the devs may feel that this solution would undermine their efforts to create a 3D game, and would add more work for the different view styles. However, the 2D views can be really simple in terms of graphics and icons, but focus on offering more information directly on the field/hexes due to the clean look such views would have.

In addition, I believe hardcore PCZ1 fans would appreciate the simplicity of a more 'practical' view, which also caters to the armchair general who sees oneself above graphics and wants to focus on the strategy.

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Re: My general views on 3D - Clearing up some missunderstand

Post by Standup » Fri Jul 21, 2017 12:54 am

One of my favourite games was (is?) Railroad Tycoon. I played 1 and 2 for a huge amount of hours. 3 not so much. One of the main reasons for this was the difficulty in getting that strategic overview. It probably had the best game mechanics and did some interesting things with the economy but if I can't find the information it doesn't really matter.

I've generally against 3D as it tends to complicate the views and make it difficult to look at a whole front regardless of how nice the individual units look. As 13obo says its this strategic view that needs to be practical. I think 2D is better generally but if the developers don't get distracted by eye candy and can provide this information at a glance then I'd accept 3D.

mbpopolano24
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Re: My general views on 3D - Clearing up some missunderstand

Post by mbpopolano24 » Fri Jul 21, 2017 8:16 pm

All my favorite games are 3D. Now that I think about it, my favorite life is 3D as well....

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