On Flash forums you often come across people who are talking about or showcasing their brand new engine. But let me tell you: Unless you’re going to make game based on it yourself, odds are no-one will.
Creating an engine is a great learning experience and so was making this isometric terrain engine for me. However, without a concrete game design to aim for the engine will probably stay a technology showcase.
It’s Always Performance
Making all the quirky rules of isometric terrain work (drawing order, line points) was a challenge, but once it was all set up it just works. Making it fast on the other hand …
The first version drew everything as vectors and could handle a 40×40 grid before grinding to a halt. With the second version I rendered the vectors to bitmaps and by the third version some further optimizations to the drawing routine made things quite fast and a cooler terrain generator was added
The fourth and final version got the ability to load in custom height maps, further optimizations where the map would be cached in the direction the user was scrolling, and a mini-map (it’s in the code, but was not added to the map in this version).
Transport Tycoon – the Flash version?
As a teenager I loved Transport Tycoon, and I’ve always wanted to make a game inspired by it. There is OpenTTD (Transport Tycoon Deluxe), which is great if you want to play on your desktop. But a Flash version with multiplayer, that would be fantastic.
That, and isometric terrains just being plain cool, were the reasons why I started this.
In the end
Getting to this point had been quite a lot of work. As I was just learning Flash, I realized the need to rework the entire project because some poor design decisions had been made. However, it was doubtful I could get it to run any faster. Transport Tycoon was out of the question as that would be a huge undertaking and I with my knowledge at the time it would never run fast enough. So without a clear game idea the project lingered …
All that was back in April/May 2007 and I’ve come a long way since. But I still think this is a pretty cool project, and I’m sure someone out there can get some inspiration from the code.