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I am thinking about this for a very long time but I couldn't figure it out.

I have to rotate my character 360 degrees, and because of that, I have to use a top-down perspective like in Hotline Miami. Also, I want to have an environment like Undertale's top-down perspective (2.5D).

My problem is that my implementation looks weird and I'm concerned that will negatively affect its playability, mechanics and review scores.

Here are a few screenshots of how it looks: screenshot 1

screenshot 2

Here's a short video clip of the game.

Note: I took the character from Hotline Miami.

What can I do to fix this? Does this seem like it will cause problems later with respect to mechanics & playability? Are there better ways to mix 2D & 2.5D?

If the media that I provided are not representative enough, please tell me how can I spot the problem & improve my question.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ top down games are a niche that only a portion of the gamers like, assymetric top down games have even a smaller niche....but if the game is fun, people can bear and tollerate even the worst graphical choices ever.... so just make your game with no graphical assets, see if it's fun and then decide wheter you want to use 3D, 2D, 2.5D , 2.25D or wathever... \$\endgroup\$
    – Cei
    Commented Jun 19, 2023 at 21:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Cei [citation needed] Do you have any proof that this is something that only a few gamers like? Moonlighter was very popular. \$\endgroup\$
    – Almo
    Commented Jun 19, 2023 at 21:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Almo please share your thoughts about my post too :)) \$\endgroup\$
    – Canovich
    Commented Jun 19, 2023 at 21:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Cei Sorry, but that doesn't really prove anything. Stardew Valley made its sole developer a ton of money. \$\endgroup\$
    – Almo
    Commented Jun 19, 2023 at 21:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ My point is that telling someone that only some gamers like top down and/or 2d games doesn't help. It doesn't give any sense of what will happen with their game. Like, maybe the preponderance of top-selling games are 3d because the preponderance of games made are 3d. You have presented no actual data or statistics. A game doesn't have to be a top seller to be successful, either. \$\endgroup\$
    – Almo
    Commented Jun 19, 2023 at 23:14

3 Answers 3

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The problem is the perspective mismatch between the character and the environment. It is very obvious that they are seen at different angles, which confuses the spatial perception of the viewer.

What you could do is to also show the game world exactly from the top down, like in Hotline Miami:

Hotline Miami

This is IMO a really underrated perspective for action-adventures. It's easy to create art assets, gives the player a really good view because no objects are in the way and allows you to rotate things without having to re-draw the sprite for each angle.

But the main problem is that it does not show anything of vertical surfaces like walls. One solution to this problem is to display the world in the "fake-3d" perspective used in the indoor areas of NES Zelda (ignore the sprites, which also have a perspective mismatch - it would probably look better with top-down sprites):

Zelda

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for your comment! The problem is: There is no enough ready assets for fully top down game :/ and we dont haave enough painters to draw sprites \$\endgroup\$
    – Canovich
    Commented Jun 21, 2023 at 15:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Canovich As I wrote, one advantage of that perspective is that it requires relatively little time and skill. If your intention was to build a game using free assets only: Well that is usually not realistic either. You never find everything you need in the right style. \$\endgroup\$
    – Philipp
    Commented Jun 22, 2023 at 7:12
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Firstly, don't rip graphics or IP in general from other games. Even doing this as filler can be problematic as you're going to need to go back through your game later on & check your content to make sure you're not infringing. As mentioned in the other answer, the inconsistency between the art style of the character and the other art assets makes the character look out of place (yet another reason not to rip assets).

Regarding your game, one problem that I noticed immediately is that the shadows are inconsistent. I've marked up your second screenshot to draw attention to a few problem spots:

enter image description here

The biggest error I see is illustrated by the arrows. The shadow on the sign is cast in one direction while the shadow of the character is cast in a somewhat opposing direction. The shadow for the tree appear to be cast straight back. If the sign & character were on opposing sides of an obvious light source, it would make sense that their shadows would go in different directions. But there's nothing in the scene that accounts for this. At best it comes across as weird and at worst it comes across as looking like an obvious error &/or a lack of quality control.

This may also negatively affect gameplay & mechanics. In a 2.5D game, a player is going to be relying heavily on shadows to determine depth. Inconsistent shadows can make this unnecessarily difficult and frustrating. Unless that's an intentional design choice (i.e. a game with a Lovecraftian theme involving unnatural geometries), it's likely to be a liability in terms of how players perceive, review & rate your game.

The character's shadow 'fighting' with the scene shadows is even more noticeable in the video. It looks like the shadow for your character is generated dynamically by the game engine whereas the shadows on the sign & tree appear to be part of the sprites. Assuming that's the case, a couple of things are required to fix things:

  • Make sure your sprites are consistently shaded. Usually sprites within an asset pack are consistent with themselves, but be especially attentive when mixing assets from different sources.
  • Generally speaking, you should fix the lighting on your character so that its shadow doesn't change in angle or oppose other shadows. If it is going to change, make sure it makes sense with respect to obvious light sources.

A somewhat different shadow problem is in the dashed line area. There's an odd square bit of shadow cast on part of the wall that I can't visually account for. I can't tell if it's from some occluded art asset, some other error, or if it's hinting at something in the scene that is hidden from view but it looks out of place to me.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Great answer! Thank you so much.. \$\endgroup\$
    – Canovich
    Commented Jun 21, 2023 at 15:16
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It has been done before, games like the early GTA titles used to be top-down with 360 directions in a 3D-like environment. Although the camera angle showed both environment and character in one angle.

Although for your situation, then 'The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds' also comes to mind, where the environment is 3D and the character can move around in 360 degrees. But they've created an illusion to view the character's body and the sides of the cliffs by tilting them all sideways, while the world's mechanics are actually top-down, like this:

So, it looks weird because the character and environment have different camera angles. One way to rework it is to show the character's body so it blends better with its environment, similar to 'A Link between Worlds'. (Although such change may need sprite work in each direction to keep the 360 aim.)

Another way is to actually keep the character top-down as is, I think it's a fresh take on the genre, but consider the interactable objects accordingly. (Enemies, obstacles, items etc.)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I see. Thanks for your answer. I saw gta 1 examples too. But that is fully top down. I mean GTA has only 1 camera perspective. Mine will be 2. 1)Top down perspective of character 2)2.5 Perspective of envoirement \$\endgroup\$
    – Canovich
    Commented Jun 20, 2023 at 19:01

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