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2D Backgrounds.Follow

#1 Feb 19 2010 at 4:36 AM Rating: Excellent
268 posts
I've been playing a lot of white knight chronicles lately, and one great thing about the game is the gigantic scope of the landscapes. The graphics aren't top notch, but the areas feel massive. The game has a pretty impressive draw distance, but what really gives the areas the sense of enormousness is the 2D backgrounds used, specifically mountains.

I've never been a fan of 2D backgrounds in games but WKC made me realize how much it can add when done properly.

I know its not fair to compare this game to FFXI since its about 6 years newer, but i always felt that the more open zones in XI could have benefited from the use of 2D backgrounds. I know that some areas did use 2D backgrounds, but it was usually in the more corridor-type zones and used for areas of thick trees and whatnot (ie. Yhutunga/Yhoatar Jungles).

I'm not sure how difficult it would be to implement 2D backgrounds, especially with the world being semi-seamless, but i think that Eorzea would look 10 times better if they managed to implement it.

I realize that SE is known for creating beautiful graphics so i'm not worried at all about how the game will look, just though I would bring it up since i was honestly blown away at the scope of some of WKC's areas.

case in point:
about 30 seconds in. 2D mountains? {yes, please}.
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#2 Feb 19 2010 at 4:47 AM Rating: Decent
3,825 posts
I'm only 2 hours into WKC, but I think the graphics with some minor polish are a step above even some current PC onry MMOs. It feels like an upgraded FF12 in some aspects and gives me extremely great hope for the PS3 version of XIV. Not that PS2 vs PC was too different at the begining of XI, but the PS2 version didn't age as well in the long run IMO. I may be setting the bar too high for myself for XIV and PS3 vs PC I know I'll be playing on both, but WKC gives me hope that I may be spending equal ammounts of time on XIV on both mediums.

(I tried to play XI on PS2 but never could, my GF at the time played on PS2 and I sat next to her on the laptop or PC)
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#3 Feb 19 2010 at 5:26 AM Rating: Good
2,084 posts
Skyboxes and matte paintings?

Every game uses these, and technically speaking, it's pretty easy to implement, especially with the nicer engines we didn't have a decade ago.

Edited, Feb 19th 2010 3:32am by Kirbster
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#4 Feb 19 2010 at 6:53 AM Rating: Decent
268 posts
yea, i know its not difficult from a technical standpoint. I know that lots of games use them, i think some developers don't like to use them as it can break immersion if overused/used improperly.

Consider a completely seamless world though, what happens when you have a 2D background in a zone, then you walk to a zone adjasent to where that background is. do you see the cross section of that background? of coarse not. But then, how would you have that work? without a solution, 2D backgrounds would have to be restricted to the outer borders of zones where you can't get behind or beside these backgrounds.

Of coarse, i know very little about game design, perhaps theres an easy answer to this problem. Also, im aware that SE has stated that the game will not be 100% seamless, The areas between loading screens will just be much larger.
Meatball of Asura
#5 Feb 19 2010 at 1:34 PM Rating: Decent
1,457 posts
I don't want to see any place in the distance that I can't actually travel to, seeing it become larger and larger as I approach it. I don't think 2Dbg's should have a place in a next-gen mmo. We should be able to go to anything that we see. I'm a little disappointed that "zoning" is making a return, but at least they expanded the zones.
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#6 Feb 21 2010 at 5:45 PM Rating: Decent
268 posts
I don't want to see any place in the distance that I can't actually travel to, seeing it become larger and larger as I approach it.

of coarse this would be ideal, that's not the point im trying to make. I mean, of coarse the game would look better with infinite draw distance, but thats not going to happen.

if given the option between a 2D background or an empty horizon, which would you choose? because what you've described is not likely to happen on a large scale.

Meatball of Asura
#7 Feb 21 2010 at 6:02 PM Rating: Decent
9,997 posts
Well, XIV isn't going to be completely seamless anyway. The areas between seams will be much larger, but there will still be seams.
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#8 Feb 21 2010 at 6:40 PM Rating: Good
660 posts
LOTRO is an MMO that gives a pretty good impression of a "seamless" overworld. I'm not 100% positive on this, so someone please feel free to correct me, but to me, LOTRO uses 2D backgrounds, and as you get closer to objects, draws them in according to your draw distance setting. It gives the impression of a large, explorable world, with the drawback that you can't go to everything you see, and I very much agree that you should be able to. It does give a great impression of it though. You can ride from the Gates of Moria all the way up to Forochel or over to the Shire without zoning, though you do hit a few server boundaries along the way. It doesn't break the immersion though, and that's the kind of thing I'd like to see in FFXIV. You still have to zone to enter buildings, caves, etc., but for the most part, you can walk/ride all over the place and see your destination in the distance.

Vanguard was another decent example of a seamless overworld, but you could actually go pretty much anywhere as long as you had a way to do so (flying mounts, usually, but I didn't last long there to discover other ways...) There are enough examples out there that Squenix could take and run with, and improve upon. I'm really looking forward to seeing what they do with it. The less zoning required, the better IMHO.
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#9 Feb 21 2010 at 8:43 PM Rating: Excellent
295 posts

Here's how it works. You take the map you created, shrink it to 1/16th scale, and then build a (potentially) massive miniature landscape around it.

You take a camera at the point of origin in the map utility generally, and then move it with the map when you scale it down.

This creates an effect called a "3d skybox".

So, although the edge of the map exists, it looks like the map goes on forever.

Now, the trick of this is that a map stops drawing itself out after x units away. With a 3d skybox, you leave the original terrain in the map, usually sans the models, or with miniature models in the same relative position. This means that if you can see for a drawing distance of 10,000 units normally, This will be how far the game draws other characters and other mobs. When beyond this distance, the game will still draw the terrain, and you can get a draw distance of up to 16x what you would normally have with just a 2d skybox.

I don't think that Unreal 3 uses 3d skyboxes, but I'm not familiar with that editor. Mostly I use Hammer for HL2 mods. but yeah, 3d skyboxes are really the way to go with any game you want to give much more depth to. The biggest advantage is that shadows and lighting can be cast dynamically. Would be cool to see an airship passing over head, and as it passes under the sun, a shadow gets cast on the ground. (airship would be a miniature flying across the 3d skybox, and would be able to cast a dynamic shadow like a character over the ground below it.)

I dunno, I would love to see something like this though.
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