What is an isometric game & How to make it

We have answered questions such as how to make an isometric game, which is essentially a graphic type, and which games are isometric games.
Isometric game Diablo
The new game of the Diablo series is eagerly awaited by lovers of the isometric role-playing genre.

Isometric games are a field that has brought valuable names to the game world. In fact, the 2D isometric game takes on a 3D appearance by drawing the graphics with 30-degree corner angles. Although this initially seemed like an innovative technology and image-based hoax, it has evolved into a game genre over time. In 1982, Sega started the isometric gaming phenomenon with the release of Zaxxon, the first of its kind “isometric arcade shooter” game.

First isometric game Zaxxon
First isometric game: Zaxxon

What does isometric game mean?

“Isometric” is actually a type of graphics, not a game. It’s a technique that allows flat two-dimensional objects to look like 3D images. This technique provides a more detailed view of the environmental factors of the game environment, as opposed to the top-down viewpoint. It creates the perception of height in the player and enriches the visuality. On the other hand, isometric graphs do not include depth perception. Because isometric games only use 30-degree corner angles to create a 3D perception. In this respect, they differ from perspective projection. This image will help you understand the difference:

Isometric draw
Isometric drawing differs from the perspective, as it is made at an angle of 30 degrees.

Although the isometric drawing technique may seem simple, it is quite effective. Isometric video games became known to almost everyone thanks to this simple technique and produced very successful games.

Most of the most successful games of the 90s were developed using the aforementioned technique. 2D isometric games, which developed quite a lot afterward, have gained a different dimension these days. It’s worth taking a look at the best isometric games behind this development.

After Sega’s Zaxxon started the isometric video game process, games such as Kongo Bongo, Ant Attack, Zx Spectrum came one after another. Then came the series, which are still considered successful and legendary games today, such as Diablo, Civilization and SimCity.

Diablo

Diablo’s first game, designed as an action role-playing and “hack and slash” game, appeared in 1996 with isometric graphics. In Diablo, which takes place in the “Khanduras Kingdom” in the fictional “Sanctuary” world, we are trying to destroy the “Lord of Terror Diablo”.

First Diablo game
First Diablo game in 1996.

Compared to computer games at the time of its release, hand-drawn bitmap graphics, easy-to-grasp game structure, and high playability brought great popularity to the company and the game genre. With such a successful story, he made a name for himself in the game world. After the release of the three main games and many expansion packs, many players are still looking forward to the new games in the series.

Baldur’s Gate

Another legendary name of isometric games is Baldur’s Gate. First released in 1998, the 2D isometric video game has taken its place at the pinnacle of the isometric RPG genre after years of development. The game, which successfully digitized the mechanics of tabletop role-playing games, was admired by the fans of the genre. Today, Baldur’s Gate still retains these features.

Baldurs Gate RPG
The first in the Baldur’s Gate series was one of the most successful RPG games of its time.

After the game was released for PC, it was adapted to Android systems. In this respect, it is also a mobile isometric role-playing game. Beginning with a quote from Nietzsche, the game has variety and depth in many ways.

“When you look into an abyss, remember that the abyss also looks into you.”

Age of Empires

Of course, not all isometric games are role-playing games. At the beginning of the article, we said that the first example of the genre is an “arcade shooter”. But there is another genre in which isometric games come to the fore as well as role-playing, and that is the strategy genre. Age of Empires was especially popular with the game “Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings”. It can be said that the game dated 1999, which strategy lovers still play from time to time, is the most famous of the isometric strategy games. Today the game still maintains that line.

Age of Empires, Age of Kings
Age of Empires still continues its isometric gaming success.

The game, which still uses the isometric drawing technique successfully today, seems to always find players. Also, games like Civilization still strongly represent the genre.

How to make an isometric game?

We said that the term “isometric game” is used in the graphics field. The biggest advantage of the technique is that it can create a 3D perception without extra workload. When an isometric drawing is used with perspective, it can create the right perception of depth. It is possible to encounter some problems while creating the perception, but with the right design, these can be easily solved.

The prominent subject in isometric game making is vector drawing. Graphs made with 30-degree corner angles on a vector plane will allow you to obtain an isometric view. In the tile-based approach, each visual element is divided into smaller, standard-sized pieces called tiles. These tiles will be arranged to form the game world according to the predetermined level data.

Age of Empire
Tile-based Isometric world

It is quite easy to implement this system, which seems complicated at first, today. You can design your Isometric game world using game engines such as Unity. Clint Bellanger makes a statement on the subject as follows:

“We angle our camera along two axes (swing the camera 45 degrees to one side, then 30 degrees down). This creates a diamond (rhombus) shaped grid where the grid spaces are twice as wide as they are tall. This style was popularized by strategy games and action RPGs. If we look at a cube in this view, three sides are visible (top and two facing sides).”

If you are planning to make an isometric game, you should start by learning how to use a game engine like Unity or Unreal Engine. Although there are many different ways today, these engines make programming very easy with the templates and content they offer.

More and more developers prefer to make isometric games. Because isometric video games have a number of advantages. First of all, it is relatively easy to develop for the reasons we mentioned above. Second, many 2D isometric games age much more slowly. They require low system requirements and are more likely to be played 20 years after their release due to their nature.

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