Does anyone know the technique they used to create their levels (using rayman origin as an example)? I'm strictly speaking of the floors and walls. Doesn't look like tiled based. What is the workflow that would be needed for a non-tiled based game? I am trying to implement something like this (below) but I am stuck between two ways of doing it

enter image description here

First: Just have art assets and get/set positions of them, similar to tiled based but the objects would be more detailed (with different positions for the x and y)-seems slightly tedious, I could save the locations to a text file and load it from there.

Second: I have seen an article which I can't find, but the game dev pretty much drew the base level (the walls, floors) and then added a bit of imagery on top of it. So in the picture below, they would've just drew green ledges and walls, then cover them up with leaf-like assets. - I would really like to implement this option, as I could for example, draw a straight line for a hill, then cover it up with some assets, but the collision would still be the straight line

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    not asking the technology, asking what technique. I could try to explain it, but it would be very hard, so I gave rayman origin as an example – bitbitbot Apr 30 '12 at 18:39
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    Try some screen shots of what you're talking about, tell us what research you've done. Are you attempting to implement this yourself? Even if it's "very hard" try to explain what you want, you're far more likely to get the answer you want, and you may even discover the answer yourself in the process. Also, in this case technology is the same as technique. – MichaelHouse Apr 30 '12 at 18:42
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    The level is probably either all static meshes (models) or a combination of models and BSP geometry made in a level editor. – Tetrad Apr 30 '12 at 20:07
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    I'm pretty sure it's just 2D stuff done with parallax and depth of focus ala Braid and Aquaria. – Tim Holt Apr 30 '12 at 23:29
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    They do the animations this way with their UbiArt engine(that was meant to go public sometime, but dont know if this still their plan for it). The levels shouldn't be too different. – Gustavo Maciel May 1 '12 at 3:15
up vote 9 down vote accepted

Check out the article linked to below, it might be what you're looking for...

Not only does this approach allow arbitrary x, y locations for objects, it also lets you have depth. Depth lets you do parallax effects, plus focal depth (farther items out of focus).

This is the style used in Braid and Aquaria, both of which have an "almost" 3D look. The game you mention may be done the same way. Even scenes where objects are animated in a 3D way may just be animated sprites.

edit Looking further I'm pretty sure Rayman Origin is just a set of 2D sprites, some animated.

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    Beat me to it, that was exactly the article I would have linked :) Although Aquaria also uses some sort of black and white mask image of the level countours, which is automatically textured. Then other sprites are overlaid on top for detail. – David Gouveia May 1 '12 at 0:01
  • It's a really sweet approach to "2D" level design - the effect is really visually powerful. – Tim Holt May 1 '12 at 0:02
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    To complement Tim's answer, here's the same thing, but for Braid: ; And the thing I mentioned about Aquaria's map masks can be seen here: – David Gouveia May 1 '12 at 0:04
  • @Tim Holt thanks I am attempting this in Unity, this is exactly what I am talking! Thanks – bitbitbot May 2 '12 at 21:45
  • @DavidGouveia I want to know about the map masks! That looks fantastic – bitbitbot May 2 '12 at 23:29

I can give more insights on this since I worked on it. We were indeed using a level editor similar to what's described in Tim Holt's answers: levels are built in 3D but all objects are flat, and the projection is orthographic.

But there is more than "a set of 2D sprites". The way UBIart worked at that time (I'm sure it evolved quite a lot today with the upcoming release of Rayman Legends) is that we had roughly two different sets of entities:

  • The friezes were the blockout geometry, so the static collisions on the gameplay side. Level designers could edit them with a simple polygon editor to create a level's layout. Level artists could create and assign different sets of border and filling textures to give the levels their base look.

  • The actors were either decoration or gameplay elements, using a component-based system. Most of them were either static images, or animated using a custom 2D skeletal animation tool. Level designers could place gameplay actors them anywhere in a level and play right away. Level artists could also drop images straight into the editor which would create actors for them.

The key point was that level editing was done straight in the game engine: any change in layout or look could be tested in-game straight away.

If you're interested, you'll find some pretty interesting articles on Gamasutra:

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