Someone please explain 3d vs 2d sc2 starcraft 2

how is sc2 3d except for game engine used. ?

from what I can tell from streams it still has isometric view ie fixed angle camera.

I found this interesting post

but it doesn’t necessarily explain it.

why is starcraft 2 3d
how is starcraft 2 3d
starcraft 2 3d vs 2d
sc2 3d vs 2d

It doesn’t have a fixed camera angle. You can rotate the camera in-game and in replays (iirc the hotkeys are F5 and F6 by default). You can also zoom in and out.


Graphics engine is 3D.
If you are asking wether Starcraft 2 actually uses the fact that it is 3D to any meaningful effect; then no, it does not.

SC2 could have been a 2D isometric game, and almost nothing would change for the most of the gameplay experience.


can you link me maybe? i watched some streams yesterday but only noticed that the minimap has this warped type of cutout and that the terrain warps in a way. So i assumed this was the 3d effect.

but it seems like you @OldWhoGotBan and @jonus seem to disagree. ?

Not sure what you want me to link you? Just start up the game and use the camera hotkeys. If you watch pro matches they often do the camera rotation and zoom when introducing the players.

I don’t think we disagree on the fact that the game is 3D, he just feels it would be the same experience in 2D. He’s not wrong.

Players can rotate the camera/zoom in-out to detect protoss observers and sometimes it is useful to see if there is some mine behind the gas extractor.

Also there is the fact that a game can be observed, and expectators can rotate the cameras.And Arcade games, they can be totally 3d.

edit:and well…the zerg extractor has some kind of wrinky hole on its back side…something you couldn’t see without the game being 3D.

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> If you are asking wether Starcraft 2 actually uses the fact that it is 3D to any meaningful effect; then no, it does not. @Jonus

but found this video:
How to rotate camera in StarCraft II (for FrostyDog)

I fail to see how 3d adds anything meaningful to RTS. if you need 3d then you have a badly coded game IMHO.

I’m asking because I was talking with some about aoe2 and the soon-to-appear aoe4 and they answered to my comment “3d is pointless and aoe4 will fail” with: sc2 has 3d.
this totally escaped my knowledge.

thanks for replying

thx for the input. I think I still stand by my view that if you need 3d to discern stuff on the field, it’s badly coded. RTS games induce enough of stress as it is. having to rotate cameras only adds more unnecessary overhead to gameflow.
but then again, SC2 seems to be successful. I’ll play a few skirms once I fix my computer

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I forgot another 3D 100% legit usage, placing Nuke dots with camera rotation can give good results if you manage to land the dot behind some gas or building,usually it’s not done, but sometimes a sneaky nuke like that can land.

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Well that’s a pretty ignorant opinion. 3D is necessary for many games, particularly if they deal with 3 dimensional movement like a 3d platformer (Banjo-Kazooie comes to mind).
SC2 has different plane levels and flyers which means it has to consider depth. Yes you could make it 2.5D and have a layering representation of depth but that is just using an old hacky workaround that was done when 3D wasn’t really practical due to how new video rendering was. It doesn’t offer any actual advantage to a full 3d implementation and actually has limitations to how you can interact: like a loss of a rotatable camera, or the point Diogenex brings up:

This same effect also works for widow mines but can technically be combated by using the camera rotation feature in game to see the ground effect (though it’s a pain to actually do and 99.9% are not gonna do that mid game)

No idea why you’re being bad faith when I’m clearly talking about RTS in an RTS forum out of all places, and knowing the history of RTS too (2d RTS). either way.

might very well be but watching streamers I can see the usage to be around 3-5%. after having watched about 30 minutes three separate streamers, I haven’t seen one rotate on the Y axis once.

might very well be but neither does 3D. not in RTS anyway. it seems to be more of a gimmick rather than practical (like the nuke dots example). style over substance.

either way, what I wanted to know, you guys kindly answered. Don’t think I have any more questions. Whatever style companies choose to use is their prerogative. I was merely surprised sc2 was actually 3d.

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It’s not a gimmick, why making a 2D game when you can make it 3D?, remember that what you are watching is 1v1, that is only a part of what starcraft 2 is, sc2 is also the campaign, which is full 3D with the classic and amazing blizzard cinematics and cinematics made with the game engine, then during the missions there is also some camera work that is possible thanks to the game being 3D.

See wings of liberty mission 1, I have set the starting point of the video where the ingame cinematic starts and also you can see the camera work I was talking about.Remember all of it is made with the game engine.

With 2D there is no way to achieve that sense of depth and realism, because even units have their own ragdoll phisics that can interact with the environment, like a medivac getting destroyed and it failing to the ground and then slipping into a hole/river/space…

I wasn’t to answer but I watched the video from your timestamp 5:30 to 14:30. not once has he panned the camera angle (I skipped with five seconds, so maybe he did once very fast).
Like I get it, 3d is awesome, I know. I just don’t see any practical application in RTS, player vs player.
Sure in campaign mode it can add depth bc the AI is rigged so you win either way, but it doesn’t bring anything to the table in pvp >> IMHO <<.

I was mainly, secretly, referring to age of empires 4 here and wanted to double-check about sc2 and 3d.
I know Relic games. Even though many aoe2 pros were used as consultants, I believe aoe4 will be a Relic re-skin with a little bit of aoe flair/stuff.
We will see, but companies usually don’t change much. You learn what you do and then simply reskin (mostly), unless you hire new talent.

yea sure, but you know RTS. how hectic it is. 3d is nice but if it were 90° cone I can see it working. 45° into right and 45° into left, and you bounce against an invisible wall swiveling, but 360° rotation is stupid. you will lose sense of direction left/right and so on. just my 2c.

I came here to ask about the 3d aspect because I read the wikipedia page and I assumed they only used the 3d engine without any application in-game like @Jonus said:

blizzard did a great job, like the blog article I linked said too, and the 3d aspect is optional not mandatory like many other 3d RTS, so they did good a job there and the community accepted it. It’s still mostly 2.5d with the 3d option if you feel like you need it.
I believe aoe4 will go above and beyond and make the mistake blizzard didn’t make. but we will see.


Some RTS games use 3D elements to a big extent, like the Earth series, Total Annihilation, Warzone 2100…
It is just that all these game are downright ancient, from when studios were still experimenting with what a 3D RTS should really be like.

Turns out, however, that the isometric 2D experience is just simpler and more addictive, so most 3D RTS games just emulate it, and being 3D literally does nothing for them, except for the impression of “more realistic” graphics.

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SC2 isn’t 3D. It’s quasi 3D. Basically it has 3D slices of multiple 2D planes, and transitioning points between these layers (called “ramps”). 3D terrain algorithms exist (example below), but they drastically increase the complexity of the game engine. Spherical terrain also isn’t true 3D. It’s just a 2D plane with a different coordinate system.

A good example is pathfinding, e.g. being able to make a character find a valid path through only walk-able terrain. In 2D this is very easy. You only have to consider if the space is large enough for the unit to occupy (and most engines bypass this by making the smallest spaces much larger than any units), if a unit can pass the type of terrain the area is flagged as being, and if the area is blocked (occupied by another unit).

In 3D you have to consider the slope and the step, both of which are measures of the height increase of the terrain (neither is add equate alone). You have to measure the size of openings and if a unit can pass through the opening in 3 dimensions. It gets very complicated very fast.

Basically you are solving an intersection problem between generic shapes (spheres, cubes, etc) and an arbitrary shape (the terrain), which is a lot like the problem most physics engines have to solve. So to keep things “simple” you might as well just use a full-blown physics engine. Now your pathfinding also has to take into account other factors like the friction coefficient of the terrain that a unit wants to pass when taking into account if it can make it up a hill. That alone is a challenging problem to solve in and of itself - how do you solve for any case of any shape with any mass and other physical properties and whether or not it can move up an arbitrarily shaped object with a given force?

This brings up another complexity introduced: you are now using a second-order steering system instead of a first-order. Normally you can simply specify where a unit is, emulate movement yourself while having complete control, but now you’re bound the physics system and have to make units move by providing inputs to the physics which drastically increases the complexity of units actually being able to move coherently and reliably.

Example of true 3D terrain:

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If you want 3D being really important to gameplay then you must start making maps with many terrain levels and even terrain blocking your sight.That does not sound good, a competitive player want the highest amou t of fixed things,they do not want camera movements.

3D is just an improvement to the overall look and feel, think of it as the difference between theater and cinema, you can tell exactly the same story but the look and feel with totally different,see the “Dogville” movie it is kinda strange because it was really minimalist and different to the usual movies, realism has a huge influence in the way we perceive things. So the main point is that even if it does not add any big implication,3D is better unless you are looking for a certain aesthetic.
For a game to depend on 3D it should need some kind of map mechanic that makes you move the camera,like annoying terrain blocking your vision.It’s the same as chess,everyone plays it on the same position but they could perfectly play it from the side.

The linked video was to show that the starcraft product is more than multiplayer, it makes sense the game being in 3D, it looks way better and adds depth,look at the game,it does not feel weird at all having units at different heights,and even tou can have fun things such as underwater maps where the units can be blown up and will start floating up,or even nukes,when you send a buke if you place the camera right you can see the missile moving towards your face.

is anything really 3d if ur playing it a flat screen?

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Yes. Homeworld, for example, is the epitomy of a 3D RTS game, and what can only be called the truest 3D game of such genre.

@Ðióġeŋex obviously you would upvote this drivel

fkn edgelord contrarians. IT’S OVER. she never did and she never will.

thx for the detailed response.

Of course I liked the comment, I like fun things and that comment made me laugh,it’s not about being contrarian, it’s about enjoying things.

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It was just pure bait and nothing funny about it except to slightly derail the conversation.
but it’s all good, no hard feelings :slight_smile:

but here’s something you can laugh at: BlinG video
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