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The game that Bungie cut it's AAA chops on: Myth: The Fallen Lords. about 20 years old now.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myth:_The_Fallen_Lords

For the time, it had a pretty revolutionary way of doing lots of "3d" characters, hundreds, on screen and interactive at a time. to accomplish this, basically they use sprites for each character: choosing and skewing each sprite based on the camera perspective to make it appear 3d.

I would really love to read and learn more about how this technique worked, as I think it can still be applicable to modern indie games, but I've never seen this technique used since. Does anyone know where I could read more on this?

here is a youtube of the game being played, showing the characters: https://youtu.be/PySrgfe6pr4?t=6m2s

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    \$\begingroup\$ As worded (how did dev team X do thing Y in game Z), this is not on-topic. If changed to "how do I do something like thing Y", it would be on topic. \$\endgroup\$ – Pikalek Feb 20 '17 at 20:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ ok will update title. \$\endgroup\$ – JasonS Feb 21 '17 at 1:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ For the units they would proly use animated billboards. \$\endgroup\$ – Justin William Stanley Bryant Feb 21 '17 at 2:24
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You need to create the 3D models, extract the images, and import them as resources in your game. I would suggest to create sprite sheets for the animations.

Many 3D editors support setting the camera position parametrically and exporting images from that view point (which is useful, for example, when creating skyboxes). Although you probably will need to script that to do it bulk.

You could roll your own model viewer and script the required exports (there are 3D model viewer libraries you can use) and write the load files and export images from the camera positions you need in bulk.


There is actually some word on how those were done. Jason Regier, who worked on graphics for Myth: The Fallen Lords and was lead programmer of the sequel, has said:

In addition to creating the shipping product, we developed four tools to aid in the construction of the game. One utility, the Extractor, handled the importing of sprites and the sequencing of their animations. Another tool, dubbed Fear, dealt with importing polygonal models such as houses, pillars, and walls. (...)

The artists used Alias|Wavefront's PowerAnimator and StudioPaint on a single Silicon Graphics Indigo 2 to create polygonal models and render all the characters. At one point, the artists worked separate day and night shifts so that they could maximize their time on the SGI. Models were brought into the game using Fear, while the sprites were cleaned up in Adobe Photoshop and imported with the Extractor. (...)

-- Postmortem: Bungie's Myth: The Fallen Lords

Fear takes care of all the models; it is used to import the 3D rendered models into Myth.

-- Farkas, Bart (1997). Myth: The Fallen Lords: Strategies & Secrets. New York, NY: Sybex. p. 268. ISBN 9780782121407

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I found information that might be helpful to you on a Myth modding page; here's a link describing how to make new units and sprites : (link removed)

Basically you'd need to:

  • Create a 3D model of the unit
  • Rig your model
  • Animate your model performing the necessary actions (moving, attacking, etc.)
  • Save multiple renders of the animations: the link says that Myth uses roughly a 30 degree angle from the ground, but you need to look from head-on (0 degrees) to 315 degrees at 45 degree increments

You can probably get more information by researching Donkey Kong Country (DKC): it used a similar process (3D renders -> sprites), but it didn't use multiple aspect angles like Myth. The technology for DKC has been discussed a lot over the years.

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