3d space with sprites

Besides working on a game, I’d also compile the knowledge into a tutorial, preferably with a downloadable template, given that this style is super practical for indies. But for the life of me I cannot figure this out on my own.

I have limited UE4 understanding, but I’m eager to learn everything about the engine, so I’d be very thankful for pointing me in even the possibly right direction or noting mistakes along the way. I couldn’t find open, nor answered duplicates of this question.

So, what we’re talking about is

a style that was used a lot in point and click adventures, but also many place else. (e.g. [Broken Sword][1], [FF7][2], and [Resident Evil][3]).

There are also editors that specialize in this, such as [Visionaire][4] and [AGS][5], but they do not offer enough options down the line; much in league with Scirra’s Construct.


  • [ ✓ ] 3d space through which 3d or sprite characters can move freely (comes with the editor)
  • [ ? ] and scale as they go deeper - this is really the crux of the problem (the image is taken from a [thesis working with afore mentioned Visionaire][6] from pg6). I’m not sure what keywords to look for here.

  • [ ✓ ] that is populated with sprites for objects and backgrounds (camera set at fixed angle calibrated per scene, ortographic)
  • [ ✓ ] with overlap (closer overlaps farther)
  • [ ✓ ] and custom 3d collision (blocking volumes)
  • [ ✓ ] with both static and movable (tied to a character) camera (set at fixed angle per scene)

Again, I’d be very thankful if you can point me in even the possibly right direction.

I’m not sure what you don’t understand – the perspective diagram is a bit confusing, as the pre-rendered background is shown in front of everything, when it should be behind everything (where the big red rectangle is), plus the gray ground isn’t rendered. The parts in front of the players would be just for occluding objects like a table in the foreground.

Also, your Broken Sword example isn’t using 3D characters, they are 2D animations that are just scaled for distance – so it doesn’t need any depth to speak of, just layers like a multilayer cartoon.

The first Resident Evil video game would be an example of 3D characters and pre-rendered backgrounds (3D backgrounds that are really just 2D flat pictures).

Hey and thanks for the reply!
That diagram shows background in front - on purpose…, and notes its slight transparency. Didn’t seem logical to me either, but when I started playing around with it in the editor, I’ve noticed it is extremely hard to set scaling perfect.

Perhaps diagram is correct I thought; but didn’t know how to show the background in-front-but-in-back (blend modes perhaps?), thought that maybe it’s a Visionaire engine thing (given UE on the contrast uses actual 3d), and went on trying to set correct scaling for distance.

Given a photo that includes people in varying distances to the camera as a test (e.g. ishtar gate) there is no chance to set scaling even remotely correctly by changing angles or size of the (hidden in game) (gray) ground. And the better the illusion becomes, the worse perception of space becomes- distances become waaay off.

Thanks for pointing out for Broken Sword as well, though I knew that. At first I included examples with FF7 and Resident Evil but accidentally deleted everything when I check other questions from the drop down (brilliant you can’t shift-click) and forgot about it in the redraft :stuck_out_tongue:

It really makes no sense to have the background in front and slightly transparent, that would make the sprites look like ghosts.

The scaling size for actual 3D pawns wouldn’t take any extra code, it would just come with the 3D rendering, and if done with animated sprites like Broken Sword, the sprites would just be scaled depending on what distance from the camera they are supposed to be.

Yes! Please do this! Visionaire is horrible!