Dimensions Within Dimensions

by Philipp Schäfer

As we designed our game, we did not only think about the crazy dimensions of our world, we also thought about the real dimensions of space. For a platfoming game the obvious choice is 2D. As engineers however we were more interested in 3D, so we thought of a Trine-like realisation. But we discarded this idea for the benefit of our gameplay.

So why are there 3D elements in Schein now? At the end we came back to 3D in a 2D fashion, for the sake of our title. For how could a game called “Schein”, which is all about shine and illusion work without some fancy lighting. That’s the point where 3D defeated 2D. But not totally: Our background assets and decorations are 2D, which helps achieve a good separation between important and decorative objects. Apart from the lighting, 3D was a big plus for the animation of our character and the great swamp creatures. Good 2D animation systems are rare (I only know the one from Ubisoft), and custom-made they are a whole project for themselves. Another argument for a 3D system was the ability to use the depth data for the 2D objects as well – for example the water surface or the haze in the distance.

But not everything that looks three dimensional in Schein is really 3D. Our new doors for example are a texture, which is enhanced with a second texture. This second texture is used for illumination values only. Since our camera is orthographic and not rotating, simple bump mapping does the trick.

Nowadays 2D, 2.5D or 3D is not a feature anymore –it is simply a design decision, which needs to be made and must fit in with the overall game.