Designing for Isometric Games, Part 1

I want to do a few articles on the trials and tribulations of creating 2D Isometric Graphics. So here we go!

When designing levels for an isometric game with a fixed perspective, you come up against a few layout problems. The truth is that, if you lay out the rooms in a ‘conventional’ way, when you remove the Z depth in terms of perspective, it just doesn’t look correct.

Usually, if you are designing a square room, this isn’t a problem-but if you want your room to be circular, or have a central feature, it can become a problem, as your central feature looks like its offset.

The best way around this is to lay out your room directly in your camera, and not use your top plan view. As an architectural illustrator who uses a plan view for most of my work, this can be a little disconcerting!

What I do when I lay out my levels, is create a grid, and then select the areas in my camera view where the main room features will go. This allows you to do your main layout very quickly.

Here we can see the corridors that lead off of the central annex, as well as roughly where my central feature will sit.

From there, I add in the walls, cut them into pieces, and move them around to match the grid I drew previously.

Once the walls are in place, the hard part is done! Now comes the detailing.

The central feature of the scene is an elevator shaft. If we take a look below, you can see how off center the elevator sits in plan, and how it looks in the scene.

Here is the final scene, with all of the lighting and detailing added.

-Chris