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2d Adventure Games - Still relevant?

posted by Marduk on - last edited - Viewed by 437 users

Sorry if there are any threads like this. I know that this is a controversial topic for fans of this genre, but as a person who likes both types of adventure game who is genuinely curious of people's opinions on this matter I think I can "host" (if you like) this debate in an unbiased fashion.

There are those people who are annoyed by 3D adventure games. This is especially the case with revivals of old Adventures (Sam & Max, Monkey Island, Broken Sword, etc), but some will claim that 3D in new adventures are unnecessary, too. Many 'indie' Adventure game titles are done in 3D, although it can be argued that this has just as much to do with budget concerns as anything else.

Some people have asked why they bother with 3D; 'surely hand drawn graphics are cheaper, quicker and easier?' But, surprisingly, some designers (and fans) of 3D interfaces have made the claim that this is not the case; that 2D animation is not quicker or easier.

The debate, like so many others, springs from 'Nostalgic Longing for the Past' verses 'Desire for change and "progression"' (I emphasise the word 'progression' because I've heard it used so many times to describe things that, ultimately, improved nothing or even made things worse).

I, for one, can't comment on the efficiency of 2D over 3D from a technical point of view; I just don't understand that much about CGI or game design. I can make guesses, though; 2D representations would still have to be coloured by computer, the characters would either have to scanned from a drawing and then animated (and I don't know if this would be difficult or not) or made as 2D CGI. But I don't see why this is more difficult or less preferable than 3DCG; most games companies already hire 'concept artists' so it's not like the don't have access anybody with right skill set or would have to take on extra staff to accommodate this.


As I said; I enjoy both forms of game and I'm not going to 'attack' anybody who makes arguments either way, I do hope that others will try not to do so, either.

21 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
  • I still play old Lucasarts and Humongous Entertainment games! Shhhh!!

    Have you heard of Ben There, Done That? And its sequel, Time Gentlemen, Please?
    These are two 2D games that were released recently, and although they are...uhmm...adult-oriented I enjoy playing them.

    Sorry 3D fans, but I think I like 2D games better. I think the characters are easier to navigate and I've just had them for a while. I'm more used to them. I still like 3D...just...I think sometimes it's kinda confusing.

  • Is "Time Gentlemen, Please" based on the show starring AL Murry?

  • @Marduk said:
    I, for one, can't comment on the efficiency of 2D over 3D from a technical point of view; I just don't understand that much about CGI or game design. I can make guesses, though; 2D representations would still have to be coloured by computer, the characters would either have to scanned from a drawing and then animated (and I don't know if this would be difficult or not) or made as 2D CGI. But I don't see why this is more difficult or less preferable than 3DCG; most games companies already hire 'concept artists' so it's not like the don't have access anybody with right skill set or would have to take on extra staff to accommodate this.


    Actually it depends on the quality you want to deliver. First of all if you do 2d just in backgrounds and 3d for all animated parts then you might be cheaper than plain 3d (depending on the toolset you have)

    Things become however really expensive if you go the route of the last Sierra adventures or the last 2d Lucasarts adventure games. What has to be done is, to hand draw every animation there is, and this is as expensive as making a 2d animation feature film. Too much for a genre where selling 100.000 copies of a game is considered a success!

    The reason why 3d is cheaper comes with the toolset, it simply is once you have done the heavy lifting of having a 3d model you can make screens from every camera angle, can use motion tracking for the animations etc...
    So you do the work once like drawing one frame and everything else comes for "free"!
    The funny thing is that you even then can make 3d look like 2d via cell shading like many games have done in the past (the best example probably is the latest prince of persia)

    But in the end it is probably the toolchain of the individual developer which decides which style is used. 2d Backgrounds with 3d characters nowadays is the most used one, 3d only is also used but requires a more sophisticated toolchain, but allows more freedom in camera angles and movement (more film like sequences)

    Pure 2d is used nowadays mostly only with limited animations like in Monkey Island SE, to reduce costs (there are some exceptions however)

  • It's difficult and expensive to produce a 2D game at a high resolution, especially at the level of detail that adventure fans seem to demand. I think that 2D adventure games have a real future on handheld game systems, especially those of the touch-screen variety.

  • 3D is today and that's it. In a strategy game forum we had similar discussion about 2D and 3D, it is true that for adventure or strategy games 3D doesn't give much, but developers there claimed that it is hard to get game to the store shelves if it's in 2D. Same applies in some extent to adventure games, Simon the Sorcerer 3D is famous example of game which was originally designed as 2D adventure, but then turned to 3D because they couldn't get anyone to publish the game if it was in 2D.

    I think that bad reputation of 3D in adventure games is mostly because last adventures of the Golden Era were made in 3D and it didn't always work well. Simon 3D and King's Quest: Mask of Eternity are famous examples where designers felt that because of 3D there must be action à la Tomb Raider, which was something true adventure gamers mostly hated. Controls are other annoying thing, while Grim Fandango and EfMI didn't have action sequences, controls in the 3D enviroment were something which players hated. Keyboard controls made me run against every wall and object.

    But 3D isn't necessarily all that bad, IMO in ToMI there's nice looking 3D graphics and controls seem to work fine. Sierra's last adventure game Gabriel Knight 3 is also an example how 3D adventures should have been made. It gave you free camera movement (with mouse or keyboard) and you moved character around with mouse like in traditional point and click. So it's all about how 3D is done, not that it's bad per se.

    I have heard that in some modern adventure games there's either 3D graphics which are made too look like 2D or it's combination of 2D and 3D. But I haven't played those.

  • I think that new games have to be 3D, because the levels are designed to be like that. Would mario galaxy work with the same engine as Super Mario Bros. NES? NO!

    But for that matter,
    Would freddi fish work in 3D? Big NO!

    So I don't think that one is better than the other, because it all depends on how the game was intended. For example, popcap games still uses 2D.

    So it all depends on which game you are playing.

    Personally, I think that 3D allows for a more cinematic experience. In Sam and Max by Telltale, camera angles are a huge part of the experience and comedy. You just can't do that in 2D.

  • Would Super Mario Galaxies work in 2D? Probably not. I don't know, I haven't played it.#

    Would TMI still work in 2D? Yes, I think it might. Seriously, why wouldn't it?

  • @werpu said:
    The funny thing is that you even then can make 3d look like 2d via cell shading like many games have done in the past (the best example probably is the latest prince of persia)


    Prince of Persia is NOT cell shaded.

    Examples of cell shading

    tales-of-vesperia-images-200802271032132

    wind%20waker.jpg

    jsrf-7.jpg

    Not cell shading

    prince_of_persia-may28.jpg

    borderlands-20090531063040479_640w.jpg

    With cell shading you can see a clear tone shading format yet in the screen shots for PoP and Borderlands you can see full shading, albeit with a higher contrast rate in PoP. People often confuse black (or other coloured borders) as cell shading, which it is not. Cell shading only refers to the shading, hence the name.

  • Marduk, with 3D once you create a 3D model of an object or character, you let the computer draw the animation frames for you.

    With 2D, you have to draw everything by hand. There is no way for a computer to understand how to draw character animation without a 3D model.

    This is why it is much more time consuming and hence more expensive to make a good looking game in 2D compared to 3D. It's not really that surprising, neither is it hard to understand, at least to me. :)

  • About the relevance of 2D, or 3D for that matter:
    All forms of art are just as relevant as anything else. Some like the aesthetics of 2D better than 3D. Some like abstract art better than conventional art. It's all a matter of taste and opinion, and the only sensible answer to the question of this thread is 'yes'.

    The time when 3D had merit by being more advanced than 2D is long gone. Now the question between the two formats is an artistic one (not taking into account how much work either is).

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