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New CodeCombat Upgrades Based on Your Feedback

Since we last updated, you’ve asked for a lot of need-to-have features for CodeCombat, and we’ve been hard at work making them. How hard? This hard:

Nick discusses the epic 120-hour hacking week in detail on his blog.

Here’s what’s new in the past couple weeks:

For Adventurers

2d Hand Drawn Art vs Rendered 3d Models

On Gorilla Tactics

Lately I have faced the decision of 2d vs 3d objects rendered in 2d. That is, do we go with hand drawn images for the game, or do we model our assets in 3d and then pose them and render them out in 3d. As with any decision, I started figuring out what the pro's and con's of each approach was, and then finding blogs or posts by people who had faced a similar choice to see what their solution was. I eventually decided that rendering out 2d images of 3d models into sprite sheets was our best option, so lets discuss some of the reasons why I choose this path. One blog which explores the artistic side of the problem was posted by Christopher Evans, who previously worked at Crytek, and now works for Industrial Light & Magic as a Creature Technical Director. I believe he outlines the problem very well, and since I'm not a big fan of repeating what has already been done, I'll just link to his post.

Now, this isn't just a simple repost. Christopher focuses on the artistic reasons for choosing between 2d and 3d. I, however, am going to add to this post, creating if you will a discussion, on what some of the developmental reasons an indie developer, like myself, would face when choosing between 2d and 3d.

###Linear vs. Decreasing Costs### 2d drawn art has a linear cost. Depending on the contractor you hire and the resolution you pick, you are looking at a flat rate for each frame. Typically, if you are making a game with a top down or side view, you can get away with relatively little art. Once you start getting into perspective camera angles, or large quantities of animation, the costs start adding up. This is when using 3d models rendered out into 2d starts becoming an option.

Hiring someone to model a 3d object, texture it, and rig it is a larger up front cost. The price fluctuates greatly depending on the complexity of your objects, how many joins they have, and the quality of the modeler. Once the model is complete, the cost of posing the model and rendering out a frame is much less than drawing a frame of animation, especially if you can implement automatic rendering/posing procedures.

Kung Fu Kingdom is viewed from an isometric camera angle. Because of this, every single animation must be drawn or rendered from multiple angles. Even if we mirror East/West, Northeast/Northwest, and Southeast/Southwest animated frames, this still means drawing each animation from a minimum of five different angles. Even with a small number of animations this soon adds up. We were looking at around 123 unique frames of animation for each character in our game. For this reason we decided to go with rendered 3d models, even though finding or developing the right cel-shader to make the models match our desired visual style will take additional work. The benefits of using 3d models were just too great for me to ignore.

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