2D or 2.5D? The verdict!
Before anyone starts itching or getting anxious about the title, specifically about the part “2.5D”, please calm down and read the entire post knowing everything will be fine. We are not going to ruin Saint Kotar.
Not exactly every point and click adventure gamer, but probably the majority of them, when hearing or reading about the term “3D” in the same sentence with a p&c title starts getting nervous. Hearing about the term “2.5D”, which by its meaning is related with 3D, could trigger slight uneasiness. We have all witnessed in the past many p&c games made in true 3D, classified nowadays only as “attempts”, not exactly games. They’ve failed mostly because of the weird mechanics and controls, ruining good stories to be enjoyed. We at Tanais Games are crazily addicted to the point & click genre, but we are not crazy to ruin a potential worthly addition to the best genre out there. So, after many months of testing and brainstorming, recently we’ve finally decided Saint Kotar is going to be a 2.5D game. That’s slightly different from our announcement last year in June, when the game was announced as 2D. Slightly different? It is for the players, because even if the characters are going to be 3D, our top priority is making the game to look and feel like an old school 2D p&c game, enriched with modern effects and stunning visuals.
Let’s take a look what Saint Kotar in terms of 2.5D features:
- digitally hand-painted 2D backgrounds
- 3D characters with “2D shaders” applied, giving them a 2D look that fits/blends nicely with 2D backgrounds
- scrollable camera in horizontal and vertical directions, fixed in angle (remember, our goal is to have Saint Kotar to look and feel like a 2D game)
- parallax effect, creating the illusion of depth
Ok, but you may ask yourself what are the reasons? What benefits Saint Kotar gets as a 2.5D game in confront of true 2D? Here they are:
- fluid natural movements and animations of characters
- dynamic lightning and shadows of characters
- better overall experience and immersiveness
Before this escalates in a wrong direction, I want to point out that we don’t think a p&c adventure game needs to be 2.5D in order to be good looking or immersive. Not at all! There are many p&c titles, old and modern ones, that are brilliant in true 2D! What led us to the reasons above is the fact that Saint Kotar has a psychological horror narrative, a serious dark tone within a real world setting. It doesn’t have characters with giant heads and long arms for example, or houses with strange unearthly shapes and dimensions. Something weird and mysterious is going on in the town of Saint Kotar, but the place is located in the mountainous region of Croatia. In Europe. On Earth. And thus, in order to achieve better player immersiveness in a real world setting, we’ve decided 2.5D approach to be the best. At some level this could be achieved in a true 2D approach as well, but never good enough as in 2.5D.
Managing 3D characters to blend nicely with 2D backgrounds in addition with a scrollable camera might sound easy, but it isn’t. Previously mentioned “testing and brainstorming” were actually all invested in these elements, and many developers called us crazy trying to have a scrollable camera in a 2.5D setup. Funny, because that wasn’t such a big deal after all. What drained time and energy the most are character shaders and scene setups. We’ve made huge progresses with both, but there’s a lot of work still to be done and we are far away from the final look. The best thing is that from now on we can only improve them, so we are really excited where this is going.
There’s a technique that’s very important even in games, it says: “Show, don’t tell”. So, let’s finally show all of the above mentioned with some footage of the gameplay and mechanics from Saint Kotar! This is the very first video showing the game in action, exciting! But please do note that the footage is pre-alpha and does not represent the quality and visual look of the final product. All backgrounds (and especially backgrounds), character models and animations, particle animations (like the fog or smoke from the chimneys), as well as UI elements, are still a work in progress and subject to change.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments! In the mean time our hard work continues as we are currently developing a playable demo of the game. The plan is to have it fully tested and ready to be published in a few months (late June or early July), which will lead to the start of Saint Kotar’s Kickstarter campaign. Keep following us for more news and updates!