Isometric Game Sprites or How To Make A Low-Budget Game Look Gorgeous?

Author: Bob Oct 26, 2022 8 min read

When you plan to develop and release a video game, many questions come to your mind. Will it look stunning in 2D? How long does its creation take? How many experts are required? One popular option to deal with all these issues is to use isometric sprites in 2D games. Let’s talk about them in detail.


We see sprites almost everywhere and don’t even realize them. But did you know that they all are just an illusion of volume? Read the article to discover more about this type of game art, and find out the difference between regular and isometric game creation. Let’s start with the basics of what the term ‘isometric game’ means. 


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What Are Isometric Game Sprites All About?

Although we used to hear the phrase isometric game, isometry is a kind of graphics, not a game. This approach allows flat 2D objects to look like 3D ones and gives a more detailed view of the game environment, as opposed to a top-down perspective. Also, it creates a heightened perception and enriches the visual experience. However, isometric graphics do not include depth perception. 


The main feature of a two-dimension isometric game is that sprites have a 3D appearance while being still 2D. This is done by rotating the character or object at a 45-degree angle to make it come three-dimensional. Isometric is also popular in strategy and role-playing games. They can give a clear view of the surroundings and characters while keeping a high level of detail. Also, your unique sprites can be used a few times while being developed only once. Thus, isometric games are a versatile and powerful tool for game designers.


In a play world, two types of graphics are used: top-down and pre-rented. Both of them have advantages and disadvantages. Top-down sprites are easier for creating with vintage aesthetics, while pre-generated sprites are better to use for a more realistic view. Although, the second type is much harder to create.


The 2D style is well-represented in the video game industry. Many game developers and artists frequently share their isometric scenes and artworks on their social networks. It’s always well-received due to the unique atmosphere of the style. 


How Does The Usage Of Isometric Sprites Affect The Cost Of Development?

Isometric sprites can be easily reused to create unique environments and characters. They are a flexible and powerful tool for game developers and a practical solution that significantly influences the expansion time and cost. 


Comparing realistic games with isometric non-realistic ones, a realistic game needs a huge team of designers, developers, and testers. The more employees, time, and resources are required for the project — the more expenses you will have to cover. But isometric game elements can be drawn by designers only. Moreover, they are made 30%-40% faster. Notable, isn’t it? By creating an isometric play, you’re not only saving costs but creating a truly unique game. 


Types Of Isometric Game Sprites

The isometric projection method has become popular in video games because of its simplicity. 2D sprite and tile-based graphics can represent 3D environments. The concurrently projected objects don’t change size as they move around the area. Moreover, the computer doesn’t need to scale them or perform complex calculations to simulate visual perspective. Find out which game art pieces you can find while playing a favorite game. Thus, this type is quite often used in old-school games, which, over time, are becoming more and more polar. 



Now isometric sprites are used to show the background masses, flora, and distant objects. Also with their help, developers create most of the special effects, such as explosions or particle systems. Sparks, snowflakes, and falling raindrops in games are sprites. 


Building them is much easier than realistic elements and characters. Also, they are excellent for creating an earthy landscape. For example, if you have generated a dense forest, you can confidently use it again in another game by only changing its color. 



Either the main or secondary heroes can also be sprites. For example, military strategy or arcade games are perfect examples of applying them. In the creation of a hero for 2D games and 3D, the main thing is choosing the right silhouette. Did you know that according to the figure, the player can already understand whether the character is negative or positive? It’s all about NLP and our personal perception of different geometry shapes and a number of angles.


Try to draw two characters consisting only of squares or only triangles, and then see which one of them will be more like a hero and which one – is like a villain. Keep your original ideas in the form of sketches with simple shapes.



Creating 2D isometric cities are more suitable for “life” games. You can confidently copy sprites to place them again, even on the same map, by only rotating objects and changing colors. This way, your city will seem more realistic and larger. 


Make the city more attractive. Add different forms, wall corners, streets, etc. Avoid keeping everything bland and square by taking advantage of round shapes and unexpected assets. Do not be afraid to expand the city so that it had many locations, and the player had numerous options to act. 



Castles are difficult to imagine in everyday life.  That is why their sprites are more common in fantasy games. Moreover, castles are one of the most common sprites. The practice shows that they are one of the most important and crucial locations in isometric games. 


Do not be afraid to create many elements and decorate rooms in unusual ways. As people say, beauty is in the details. In a fantasy game, you have countless possibilities. If you wish, you can add secret passages in the castle or a garden near it. Don’t be stingy and create something incredibly fabulous.


Pre-rendered Isometric Sprites VS Traditional Development

In this part, we will explain why isometric games are much more profitable than traditional ones. Did you know that Zaxxon was the first play of this development type, released in January 1982? It was a scrolling shooter in which the player controlled an airplane.



It takes an average of one week to develop a sprite, but if it is more complex, it will take more time. A 2D sprite will take less time to create than a 3D one


The isometric game is quite fast in development. Let’s take, for example, any full-fledged, realistic war game. On average, it takes at least 2 years to create, depending on the complexity. Developing an isometric game will be 40% faster.


To create your unique wow-sprites, you can ask Wow-How Studio. Cooperating with outsourcing companies will let you complete the project on time, and stay informed on each step of the development. Consequently, your employees will not be overloaded. Thanks to the vast experience and expertise of Wow-How Studio, we can find the perfect strategy for you to create your unique game. Outsourced companies are better at planning and meeting your requirements. If there is a need to expand engineering features as the project progresses, outsourcers can manage it faster. 



You can’t design sprites without a clear plan and knowledge of game mechanics. Experts first make a concept document that describes all the elements you need: kinds of actions, who does them, and how they look. 


For example, the war games one more time. On average, creating a realistic game needs quite a large team of specialists, such as testers, programmers, outsourced experts, freelancers, project managers, etc. At the same time, an isometric game requires only a designer who draws the game elements and a programmer who can liven it up. 



Experienced designers know how to avoid common mistakes and implement proven and effective solutions. You can cut additional expenses associated with further maintenance and error correction simply by outsourcing the development of your sprites. 


Generating art game pieces is cheaper, and they can be used many times. For example, you can place an element on the location many times and pay once for its design. It will look voluminous, but in case of the correct projection at an angle 45.



These days, the revival of isometric projection is not just a source of nostalgia, but the result of real, tangible design benefits. Longing certainly plays a role in why you still see isometric elements while playing successful games. It’s an essential part of the video game industry and a clever design element that stands the test of time.


Isometric type of game creation is actually half faster than normal game design, as the development of sprites is easier and cheaper. Moreover, you can reuse them in different locations with confidence.


Want to create a Wow-Game? Cooperate with Wow-How Studio to craft remarkable sprites



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