AuthorTopic: Rendering 3d models to 2d sprites  (Read 23254 times)

Offline djork

  • 0001
  • *
  • Posts: 24
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile

Rendering 3d models to 2d sprites

on: June 15, 2007, 05:54:34 pm
My coworker and I got in a heated argument today about how common this practice is.  He was saying that "most" 2D games nowadays start with 3D models, and then render 2D sprites.  The problem, is, though, that I can't think of more than a handful of games that use this approach (Donkey Kong Country, Mario VS. Donkey Kong).

I say it was heated because it got to the point where I said "I just don't see this being done in any games," and he said "well that's because you're an idiot!"  Seriously, where is this technique used?  Sprites are typically hand-drawn because they look better, and 3D models stay 3D for purposed of ease of animation and rotation, etc..

Offline Helm

  • Moderator
  • 0110
  • *
  • Posts: 5159
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
    • Asides-Bsides

Re: Rendering 3d models to 2d sprites

Reply #1 on: June 16, 2007, 10:55:37 am
This is very very very widespread in modern 2d game design, yes, especially for studios with tight timeschedules. Your friend is correct, this happens a lot and is quite offputting for people who like tended to pixel art design.

Offline .TakaM

  • 0100
  • ***
  • Posts: 1178
  • Karma: +1/-0
    • View Profile
    • Fetch Quest

Re: Rendering 3d models to 2d sprites

Reply #2 on: June 16, 2007, 11:37:07 am
I kinda laughed that you guys got so heated over it :P

I'm not really sure how common it is.. I'd like to think most 2d games are almost entirely pixelled or at least hand drawn, the most obvious example that comes to my mind is the golden sun series on GBA, pre-rendered overworld and battle sequence sprites... though it wasn't too bad considering all the different npcs and enemies you could encounter

even though the sprites were quite a mess... :-\
Life without knowledge is death in disguise

Offline ndchristie

  • 0100
  • ***
  • Posts: 2426
  • Karma: +2/-0
    • View Profile

Re: Rendering 3d models to 2d sprites

Reply #3 on: June 16, 2007, 11:56:34 am
i don't think that it's any more common than using hand-drawn bases (still the norm for fighter games, i think) or than using stills from 2d animation programs (your flash stuff, etc)

it varies by genre of course.  i'd be surprised to find many 2d RTS games on the PC market now that didn't use 3d models as a base.  Then, of course, id be suprised to find many 2d rts games on the pc market now....
A mistake is a mistake.
The same mistake twice is a bad habit.
The same mistake three or more times is a motif.

Offline dragonrc

  • 0010
  • *
  • Posts: 218
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile

Re: Rendering 3d models to 2d sprites

Reply #4 on: June 16, 2007, 04:17:18 pm
I've never heard of that technique.
But why would it be timesaving? It sounds like double work to me...
For what is it used? Backgrounds, sprites, animations?

Offline Xion

  • 0100
  • ***
  • Posts: 1551
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
    • FourbitFriday

Re: Rendering 3d models to 2d sprites

Reply #5 on: June 16, 2007, 06:49:04 pm
Since the models are gonna be sprite-sized, they don't have to worry about nearly as much detail, and once the initial, (simple) model is done, just animate, which so does not require redrawing each frame like in drawn and pixelled sprites. That's how it saves time.
And yeah, I've seen it used for BGs and sprites, and can't think of an example that looked good. I think Splinter Cell for the GBA used this, and it looked (and played) like ass.
It's pretty common, afaik.

Offline AdamAtomic

  • 0100
  • ***
  • Posts: 1188
  • Karma: +0/-0
  • natural born medic
    • View Profile
    • Adam Atomic

Re: Rendering 3d models to 2d sprites

Reply #6 on: June 16, 2007, 06:56:12 pm
it can be a huge timesaver if you have to do even 8 rotations of a highly animated sprite, and under the right circumstances it can look decent enough to not really damage the game, but then there's Mario vs Donkey Kong...

Offline djork

  • 0001
  • *
  • Posts: 24
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile

Re: Rendering 3d models to 2d sprites

Reply #7 on: June 18, 2007, 08:37:57 pm
This is very very very widespread in modern 2d game design, yes, especially for studios with tight timeschedules. Your friend is correct, this happens a lot and is quite offputting for people who like tended to pixel art design.

I'd like to think that this is "very very very widespread" only because derivative children's licensed games (a.k.a. That's So Raven 5 on the GBA) are "very very very widespread."  I play a lot of 2D games, so I must be playing the wrong ones or, rather, the right ones.

Offline Helm

  • Moderator
  • 0110
  • *
  • Posts: 5159
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
    • Asides-Bsides

Re: Rendering 3d models to 2d sprites

Reply #8 on: June 19, 2007, 05:15:54 pm
Exactly. I was going to post tens of screenshots from different license games like spiderman and barbie and whatnot and caption them all 'you're not playing enough shit games' but you pretty much got it on your own.

Not a lot of japanese studios use renders for sprites - though some do - but it's extremely widespread for european and american developer houses where the pixel sprite tradition isn't as strong.

Offline ZoSo

  • 0010
  • *
  • Posts: 203
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile

Re: Rendering 3d models to 2d sprites

Reply #9 on: June 19, 2007, 08:21:19 pm
Icewind dale, Baldurs Gate games use 3D redered 2D sprites :P.

Those games are kinda.. modern :O?

Offline ptoing

  • 0101
  • ****
  • Posts: 3063
  • Karma: +0/-0
  • variegated quadrangle arranger
    • the_ptoing
    • http://pixeljoint.com/p/2191.htm
    • View Profile
    • Perpetually inactive website

Re: Rendering 3d models to 2d sprites

Reply #10 on: June 20, 2007, 05:07:08 pm
warcraft 2, starcraft, both diablo games. every blizzard game more or less. prerendered.

Also newer games by Cave (guys who made dodonpachi) are all prerendered. Dodonpachi actually was the last one with pure pixelart they made. But they manage to make it look good in most cases.
There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

Offline ZoSo

  • 0010
  • *
  • Posts: 203
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile

Re: Rendering 3d models to 2d sprites

Reply #11 on: June 20, 2007, 08:37:11 pm
And oh yea.. Lands of Lore 3.

It got like.. 360 degrees 3D rendered sprites.. No really, they really tried to make it look full 3D. Its quite fun game, love those old classic RPGs.

And yea Lands of Lore 2 uses real rendered people lol, now thats something really cool ;).

Offline NerdofChaos

  • 0001
  • *
  • Posts: 3
  • Karma: +0/-0
  • ...
    • View Profile

Re: Rendering 3d models to 2d sprites

Reply #12 on: November 30, 2007, 05:24:17 am
Don't forget Roller Coaster Tycoon, it's rendered too!

Offline BG

  • 0001
  • *
  • Posts: 49
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile

Re: Rendering 3d models to 2d sprites

Reply #13 on: November 30, 2007, 09:22:04 am
Camelot (the guys behing Golden Sun) did this for all their games back in the Saturn days. it looks horrible in Shining Wizdom, but works pretty good in Shining force 3 (for the same reason as in Golden sun) though beutiful hand drawn sprites would have been way prettier.

Offline Jad

  • 0100
  • ***
  • Posts: 1048
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile

Re: Rendering 3d models to 2d sprites

Reply #14 on: November 30, 2007, 10:58:58 am
Not a lot of japanese studios use renders for sprites - though some do - but it's extremely widespread for european and american developer houses where the pixel sprite tradition isn't as strong.

They have became lost.

They have not been trained in the True Ways Of the Pixel.
' _ '

Offline Helm

  • Moderator
  • 0110
  • *
  • Posts: 5159
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
    • Asides-Bsides

Re: Rendering 3d models to 2d sprites

Reply #15 on: November 30, 2007, 12:08:50 pm
It is time for... Pixel Ninja Squad.

Offline vierbit

  • 0010
  • *
  • Posts: 158
  • Karma: +0/-0
  • 0.09 posts per day
    • View Profile

Re: Rendering 3d models to 2d sprites

Reply #16 on: November 30, 2007, 02:28:42 pm
Im curios that someone thinks prerendered graphics are not norm today.
Personally I wouldnt even think about using renders on screens with such low resolution as todays
handhelds come with, I never worked on professional games with a thight deadlines though.

I find the best(imo) use of prerendered graphics on low res are the donkey kong country games.
Trow in the fact that this games are already over 10 years old. Oh, and the golden sun sprites looks ugly as hell.   

Offline huZba

  • 0010
  • *
  • Posts: 409
  • Karma: +1/-0
    • MekaSkull
    • http://pixeljoint.com/p/19396.htm
    • huzba
    • View Profile

Re: Rendering 3d models to 2d sprites

Reply #17 on: November 30, 2007, 05:05:37 pm
It's a great asset if you know what you're doing. I think warcraft2, starcraft and the older Command & Conquer games look fantastic and often better then their new realtime 3D counterparts. If you're properly in control and have enough resolution to go about, then by all means, it's a good way to make graphics. Golden Sun is one of the worst i've seen yet, mostly due to kind of bad 3D models and the low GBA screen resolution.
Other good examples imo: The Reap (by housemarque), Esp.ra.de and Ibara (could use higher resolution though)

Offline eck

  • 0010
  • *
  • Posts: 322
  • Karma: +0/-0
  • But why is RUM gone???
    • View Profile

Re: Rendering 3d models to 2d sprites

Reply #18 on: November 30, 2007, 08:56:41 pm
how exactly DO they render a 3D model to pixel art?
untz untz untz?

Offline Helm

  • Moderator
  • 0110
  • *
  • Posts: 5159
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
    • Asides-Bsides

Re: Rendering 3d models to 2d sprites

Reply #19 on: November 30, 2007, 09:50:10 pm
They don't. They render to two dimensional bitmaps. Which are the palette-cleaned (if we're lucky) and reworked slightly on the pixel level (if we're super-lucky).

Offline Akira

  • 0010
  • *
  • Posts: 334
  • Karma: +0/-0
  • Heheheh
    • View Profile

Re: Rendering 3d models to 2d sprites

Reply #20 on: December 01, 2007, 06:47:16 am
Some earlier games used voxels which is a bit like a 3d pixel. Command and Conquer used them and the modding community had a voxel editor which was pretty cool to play around with. Some newer games have been looking at voxel rendering again because it's generally considered to be less taxing on hardware.
thanks Dogmeat!

Offline HughSpectrum

  • 0010
  • *
  • Posts: 283
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile

Re: Rendering 3d models to 2d sprites

Reply #21 on: December 01, 2007, 12:28:32 pm
Quote
Some earlier games used voxels which is a bit like a 3d pixel. Command and Conquer used them and the modding community had a voxel editor which was pretty cool to play around with. Some newer games have been looking at voxel rendering again because it's generally considered to be less taxing on hardware.
This isn't the same concept.  What's actually being discussed is making 3D models before hand, screen shotting them, and then using them as the 2D sprites.  As a result, the 3D models aren't actually 3D, they're just snapshots of 3D models that are then blit onto the screen the same way a pixel drawn sprite would.  Voxels are more of a real time application.

The result is usually very ugly.  Golden Sun did it better than most games, and worked very well for its map tiles, but the sprites looked very much like plastic as a result.

Offline Helm

  • Moderator
  • 0110
  • *
  • Posts: 5159
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
    • Asides-Bsides

Re: Rendering 3d models to 2d sprites

Reply #22 on: December 01, 2007, 01:02:24 pm
Golden Sun was profoundly ugly in my opinion

Offline HughSpectrum

  • 0010
  • *
  • Posts: 283
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile

Re: Rendering 3d models to 2d sprites

Reply #23 on: December 01, 2007, 01:13:43 pm
I think it's ugly too, but I think it worked better for the tiles than the sprites, just to be unbiased about it.

Offline Helm

  • Moderator
  • 0110
  • *
  • Posts: 5159
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
    • Asides-Bsides

Re: Rendering 3d models to 2d sprites

Reply #24 on: December 01, 2007, 02:06:52 pm
weren't the backgrounds pixel art?

Offline HughSpectrum

  • 0010
  • *
  • Posts: 283
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile

Re: Rendering 3d models to 2d sprites

Reply #25 on: December 01, 2007, 02:29:08 pm
I actually have no clue, especially since I can't find any 1:1 ratio screenshots.  I'm sure some pixeling is involved for small details and doctoring up, but not from the ground up.

Offline huZba

  • 0010
  • *
  • Posts: 409
  • Karma: +1/-0
    • MekaSkull
    • http://pixeljoint.com/p/19396.htm
    • huzba
    • View Profile

Re: Rendering 3d models to 2d sprites

Reply #26 on: December 01, 2007, 03:23:30 pm
example gettt!
Just to add to the mess, the sprites are RESIZED on the fly. We get random doubled pixels running through the sprites while doing this.
The rotating battlefields and different camera angles are a nice idea and could work on a different platform. GBA just isn't up for this kind of stuff.
The city backrounds have pixel art tiles mixed with 3D rendered parts here and there.
A more traditional approach to the graphics would have given better results and most likely wouldn't have taken that much more time.

I wonder if normal young gamers are bothered by this at all? Sometimes awesome quality pixelwork is regarded old and not that good looking.
 

Offline vierbit

  • 0010
  • *
  • Posts: 158
  • Karma: +0/-0
  • 0.09 posts per day
    • View Profile

Re: Rendering 3d models to 2d sprites

Reply #27 on: December 01, 2007, 04:14:20 pm
That looks pretty bad. But keep in mind the battle sequences are generally very
dynamic in this game, so the shortcomings are not that apperant.

@huZba
I think most gamers that start gaming after the 16bit generation dont care if its
pixelart, rendered, digital painted ect, a 3D game is automatically better than 2D.
But then again, often gamers dont have much artistic sens as opposed to basically all members of this forum for exemple.
So I dont know if I can blame than for there taste.

Offline HughSpectrum

  • 0010
  • *
  • Posts: 283
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile

Re: Rendering 3d models to 2d sprites

Reply #28 on: December 01, 2007, 04:37:59 pm
Quote
That looks pretty bad. But keep in mind the battle sequences are generally very
dynamic in this game, so the shortcomings are not that apperant.
They were very apparent to me.  I actually played it enough to notice why the sprites look like crap.  Actually, I think the problem was even worse in the first game, so I noticed it very quickly.  The real kicker is looking at the summons, which have far more detail put into them than most of the games' sprites combined.

Quote
I wonder if normal young gamers are bothered by this at all? Sometimes awesome quality pixelwork is regarded old and not that good looking.
Sadly, this is very true.  Young people don't have much of an eye for good pixel art or classy animations.

Offline Helm

  • Moderator
  • 0110
  • *
  • Posts: 5159
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
    • Asides-Bsides

Re: Rendering 3d models to 2d sprites

Reply #29 on: December 01, 2007, 05:47:58 pm
That screen looks super-bad, but an overhead map screen would be good to see as well.

Offline huZba

  • 0010
  • *
  • Posts: 409
  • Karma: +1/-0
    • MekaSkull
    • http://pixeljoint.com/p/19396.htm
    • huzba
    • View Profile

Re: Rendering 3d models to 2d sprites

Reply #30 on: December 01, 2007, 06:54:17 pm
At it's best, when it's using clean graphics, the game looks quite nice.

Offline Helm

  • Moderator
  • 0110
  • *
  • Posts: 5159
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
    • Asides-Bsides

Re: Rendering 3d models to 2d sprites

Reply #31 on: December 01, 2007, 09:32:02 pm
yeah these aren't super, but they're alright.

Offline ndchristie

  • 0100
  • ***
  • Posts: 2426
  • Karma: +2/-0
    • View Profile

Re: Rendering 3d models to 2d sprites

Reply #32 on: December 03, 2007, 08:25:46 pm
my question : what about those says "i was better than and faster than pixel-art"?

nothing...?



as far as the youngsters, when i was little i could totally tell pokemon and zelda (simple, clean pixels) from turok (a mess).  I also thought the original tomb raider had great graphics and the the virtua fighters looked like people, so when it comes to modern renders......idk

i did totally prefer the look of street fighter to killer instinct and warcraft II (which was cleaned up considerably) to age of empires (which was goofy)
« Last Edit: December 03, 2007, 08:30:53 pm by Adarias »
A mistake is a mistake.
The same mistake twice is a bad habit.
The same mistake three or more times is a motif.

Offline Redshrike

  • 0001
  • *
  • Posts: 93
  • Karma: +0/-1
    • View Profile

Re: Rendering 3d models to 2d sprites

Reply #33 on: December 06, 2007, 03:42:32 am
Didn't Mario RPG use this technique?

Offline Cow

  • 0011
  • **
  • Posts: 528
  • Karma: +1/-0
    • View Profile

Re: Rendering 3d models to 2d sprites

Reply #34 on: December 07, 2007, 01:08:21 am
Yeah, it did. And I do very much like the look of that game.

Offline Jad

  • 0100
  • ***
  • Posts: 1048
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile

Re: Rendering 3d models to 2d sprites

Reply #35 on: December 08, 2007, 12:28:19 am
It matched rendering technique with the graphical design and general game movement/dynamics.

And when you do that, you always succeed. I mean, cave story's physics would've felt fucked up had the graphics been in the style of contra 4. The tiling and design would also have been (insert opposite of benefited, I don't speak this language D:<) by another rendering style.

In the same way, Golden Sun with it's fantasy storybook pastelle aspirations would've benefited GREATLY from low-contrast CLEAR pixel-art.

O:

Sorry for cave-story ranting, I just finished the game with SECRET ENDING after hard level and 4-form final boss (: So I'm thinking about it all the time.

God damnit, that game has a gratifying ending. How come some indie games do it so well? O:
' _ '

Offline baccaman21

  • 0011
  • **
  • Posts: 549
  • Karma: +0/-0
  • It's critique, don't take it personally.
    • View Profile
    • Linked In

Re: Rendering 3d models to 2d sprites

Reply #36 on: December 10, 2007, 05:09:16 pm
To the OP - Is your friend refering to PRE Rendered art or Rendered on-the-fly?

One of the companies I was producer at, we had a realtime 3d render engine on the GBA which we rendered polygonal information to the sprites in realtime... I don't know if this has been discussed here at all...

it's benefits being that one could rotate the polygonal mesh to any angle giving you limitless positions for your characters to be positioned (great for extreme sports style games [aka: tony hawks/dave mirra]) - plus you could have quite a lot of animation detail with quite a low memory footprint.

it's downsides - limited poly's meant low res characters - which look a bit crap close up but you can jsut about get away with at the res they were rendered at... even so, hand drawn stuff could be much more interesting in terms of detail


Buy the book - The Animator's Survival Kit by Richard Williams

www.burnzombieburn.com

Offline AdamTierney

  • 0010
  • *
  • Posts: 308
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
    • Adam's Page

Re: Rendering 3d models to 2d sprites

Reply #37 on: December 15, 2007, 05:30:10 pm
One of the companies I was producer at, we had a realtime 3d render engine on the GBA which we rendered polygonal information to the sprites in realtime... I don't know if this has been discussed here at all...
Vicarious Visions did that on the GBA Jet Set Radio and Tony Hawk games and it looked fantastic, mostly because of the slow rotation (like doing spins in the air).

I think pre-rendered sprites are generally pretty ugly and an artistic cop-out. The strength of 2D pixel animation is that the animator can burn lots of personality and effects into the animation, as opposed to 3D models where you're limited to the polys and rigging of the original model. When I see this in games, I generally take it as either laziness on the part of the developer or an overbearing publisher, shrinking down console assets rather than finding a real artistic direction for the handheld game itself. Nintendo does this occasionally - I remember Mario v. DK had pre-rendered sprites (and the animated pretty awful). New Super Mario Bros. fakes 3D on many of its minor enemies (like goombahs) by using renders for them, but polygons on the major characters.

Offline griffy6

  • 0001
  • *
  • Posts: 50
  • Karma: +0/-0
  • Agnostic
    • View Profile

Re: Rendering 3d models to 2d sprites

Reply #38 on: December 23, 2007, 07:53:21 pm

Sonic Rush

I guess Sega figured that Sonic had been in so many 3d games, people wouldn't even recognize a 2d Sonic anymore. Either that or they got lazy, but it still looks pretty weird next to those cool backgrounds. (Besides, that wasn't the only "revolutionized" thing about the game -- the emerald mini-game was full 3d and the music was warped into weird hip-hop crap..)
 

Offline ndchristie

  • 0100
  • ***
  • Posts: 2426
  • Karma: +2/-0
    • View Profile

Re: Rendering 3d models to 2d sprites

Reply #39 on: December 25, 2007, 04:29:05 pm
I forgot to mention that while Age of Empires was kinda shittily done, Age of Empires II not only had a better resolution and art direction, but it also had the most important thing - a budget!  what could have been the regular bunch of uninspired medieval blandness is actually a wondrously colorful, READABLE environment that did exactly what it needed to do - make the real-time strategy battles/city-building that was going on look frigging cool.  Not many games have environments that help the gameplay as well as the atmosphere like these do.


A mistake is a mistake.
The same mistake twice is a bad habit.
The same mistake three or more times is a motif.