about a two years ago, I read the great news about FOnline going to be a 2.5D game, and since then I've started to think that it would be great to switch to 2.5D in OpenArcanum as well.
Before I began changing the design of the OpenArcanum's engine, I started a topic at TA forums, asking local folks for their opinion regarding this idea:
I came to the conclusion that people are positive about this idea, and because I found a way how to make the 2D to 2.5D transition much easier, I put the idea into the TODO list.
The idea was to use a models and animations from the demo version of the TOEE game, so we wouldn't have to recreate everything from scratch, especially the animations of player and non-player characters, which would be pretty hard to recreate. Yes, we will still have to recreate some missing animations, e.g. when pistol and rifle is equipped, but those will be like super easy to make. Also, those TOEE meshes are usually a very low poly, that's why I've been collecting a various freeware models on different sites for the last week. I made a quite big collection of freeware 3D models that will be used OpenArcanum, after a bit of tweaking and retexturing.
This week, I've started making the 2.5D idea real by making a converter tool, that would convert the TOEE meshes and animations to a common 3D file format. At first, I choose to use Collada as the new format, but the API of Collada DOM library was too low-level, so I switched to Autodesk's FBX format, using their free SDK. The plus is that it can also export into Collada format and FBX files can be directly opened in 3DS Max, MotionBuilder, and many other 3D software, because it's a interchange format.
Anyway, I've already managed to export meshes, and I'm currently working on skeletons and animations. It'll be quite hard to finish it, as it requires an intermediate knowledge of 3D graphics, but I'm sure that I'll manage to finish it withing a week or two.
To make a plan from this idea, I've split the 2D to 2.5D transition process into a few steps:
Here's a preview:Step 1 - Replace 2D sprites of trees and vegetation with 3D animated models.
Difficulty: Easy. It can be done programmatically and free 3D models of vegetation can be found on the internet
Step 2 - Add more 3D-ish gfx effects using particle emitters and shaders.
Difficulty: Easy. Muzzle flashes, sparkles, explosion waves, etc. are easy to implement.
Step 3 - Replace 2D sprites of player characters with 3D models.
Step 4 - Implement a weather system that implements realistic weather, like snowing, raining, storms, etc. including more realistic 2D water for dynamically created rivers.
Step 5 - Implement a destruction system that would allow simple destruction of terrain and buildings.
(that background is a mockup, not ingame)