Hey there! This is Joel from Ludosity again to go behind-the-scenes on Ittle Dew 2. This time I wanted to discuss one of the big changes to Ittle Dew 2 that I only briefly touched on in a previous post: the switch to fully 3D visuals! That's right; the hand-drawn 2D graphics from the first Ittle Dew have been lovingly rebuilt as fully 3D polygonal models.
There are a few reasons that we decided to make the leap to 3D. For one thing, because the scope of Ittle Dew 2 is so much greater than that of the original, and our team is fairly small, it was far more efficient to build the game in 3D. Sure, a single 2D pose or animation of a character is a lot faster to create than a polygonal model, but when you're talking about animating many different characters that can move in many different direction, the work involved adds up fast. The more animations something needs and the more directions it's seen from, the more efficient 3D becomes. Additionally, Ittle now has complete 360-degree freedom of movement - which just wouldn't have looked or felt right in 2D - to allow for smoother control and better gameplay possibilities.
That's not to say that switching to 3D wasn't without its challenges! While polygons are more efficient in a lot of ways, they're actually more work for static backgrounds and objects that only appear once, so that required us to be more selective in what we built. (As our artist, Anton, put it: please take an extra look at Cyber Jenny's computer before destroying it.) Another thing to consider is that Ittle Dew 2 uses a pseudo-overhead perspective most of the time. That's easy enough to deal with in 2D since you can always cheat the details, but it can sometimes look weird in 3D if you're not careful with the models. Furthermore, we wanted the graphical style to look as similar to the original Ittle Dew as possible.
We experimented with a lot of things to make sure that Ittle Dew 2 had the look we were going for. Around the time we started going 3D, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds was released for the Nintendo 3DS, and we saw that it used slanted character models to help give the illusion of 2D artwork, so we tried that, but it was really hard to work that way, so we decided not to use that method. We did, however, build some models in unnatural ways so they look good from an overhead view, such as dungeon walls and some of the characters - when viewed from a more traditional angle, for example, some of the characters' facial features might appear higher on their heads than you'd expect so they look good from a top view. We also used a shader to add wobbly black lines around the character models so they look like the character art used in the original Ittle Dew! Overall, it took some trial and error, but we're very happy with how everything looks after the jump to 3D.
Aside from the benefits mentioned above, full 3D graphics allow us to add other cool stuff to Ittle Dew 2 as well. For one thing: alternate costumes! They don't affect the gameplay, but we included them because it's pretty easy to do in 3D. (They'd require us to redraw every frame of animation in 2D!) We've also been able to beef up the number of enemies in similar fashion by reusing skeletal structures or animations, or in the case of the Jennies (that's our pun on "generic enemies," for the uninitiated), they're all based on the same "blank Jenny" template model. Another cool thing we were able to do is play around with the camera angle a bit - there's one part of the game that kind of resembles a sidescroller!
In the end, we're quite glad we decided to make the switch to 3D, and I think you'll feel the same way, as it really allowed us to play around and experiment with many visual elements in the game, and it enabled us to create something that's bigger and better than would have been possible before.