After one too many creative level design I'm starting to wonder. Is there something special about voxels that allows quick creation without (many) restrictions ?
You practically don't need to draw. No need to texture. People talking about textured voxels are insane. You don't texture pixels. You just arrange them (or voxels) into a sort of a mosaic.
Voxatron uses very low resolution, which certainly helps. You can't spend hours editing a small(ish) sprite. Increase voxel resolution and levels will take longer to create; artistic skills will get more important. At the moment you can get away with a nice idea, some patience, and a sense of aesthetics. You can make fairly intricate objects quickly, then mass-produce them like in the times of tile-based graphics - only with more flexibility.
And this is just the beginning. Assuming Lexaloffle delivers, creativity will boom. Moving platforms, animated objects, custom enemies. Want to make an eurasian badger (meles meles) ? Go ahead !
I'd imagine that's why Minecraft has such a creative playerbase. Voxels are inherently easier for players to work with, so it's much easier for players to be creative.
With, say, Hammer Editor, it's very hard to make a map. With Voxode, you're just pasting things together.
Minecraft doesn't have voxels. If it's textured, it's not a proper voxel :P. I wouldn't be surprised to find Voxatron is the first real 100% voxel game. Delta Force, Commanche, Command&Conquer, even 3D Dot Game Heroes used hybrid approaches. Low res voxel text messages and interfaces look so crude they're adorable.
But I get what you mean. Blocks, and discrete pieces of material are easier to work with in general. Old games used to have lots of user generated content (or at least lots of levels) because they could be generated quickly. DooM maps were a lot simpler to make than Quake maps, etc.
b0rsuk: I agree with what you said about Minecraft. To be fair though, the items in Minecraft are voxel based. The blocks the world are made of aren't though, I completely agree with you there. The technology is pretty much the same, but voxel is short for "volumetric pixel" and a texture is something that is made out of pixels, not the other way around.
The only other "real" voxel game I can think of right now would be Voxelstein 3D.
What do you mean by "voxels as squares" ? Aren't voxels supposed to be cubes, always ? Squares are 2d entities.
Speaking of interesting engines, Sauerbraten is one. The game is free, you can download and play around with it. There's an editor too.
I say it's interesting because it uses some kind of octtree magic. The world (except character models, weapons etc I think) is made of textured cubes. They're extremely lightweight. Not strict cubes, because individual vertexes can be moved so you can have slopes, for example. The unusual thing is that you can have very intricate geometry until you start running into performance issues. Most of the screenshots don't show that, somehow people are content with banal, small quake 1 style deathmatch maps. But check out these castle screenshots. Draw distance is awesome, too.
There are a couple of projects using the engine. There was one or two commercial games too, but I'm not sure what happened to it.
it is a really comfortable melding of old school pixel graphics and 3d space. I think its a solid engine that i would happily pay $50 or whatever to be able to make games in. In terms of the future its alot brighter with the possibilities of this format. And hopefully people who are used to high-res 3d graphics will begin to appreciate retro games through the cuteness of the voxatron universe.
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