Strange Days



Hello again, this is Part Two of the 3dification of the Strange Days top-down 2D town into a fully 3D world. The Part One link is detailed above.

Phase 2 has been a slightly longer process than Phase 1, as it included building all of the town building exteriors and room layouts, along with the rest of the town geometry, including the graveyard, trees, lampposts, and all other exterior details.

I’ve included screen-shots and examples below, but you can also check out the following Portfolio page link to see all the shots in one place:

3D Town Shots


Detailing the Town

The first step of Phase 2 was to build the remaining areas of the town still left to re-create in 3D, which included the cemetery, trees, camp site. Again, this was a case of building in Lightwave (my 3D package of choice), using the 2D tiles and sprites as reference.

The easiest way to do this was to build directly on top of the town 2D map, to ensure the size and scale of all the details were correct.


3D Construction
3D Construction (click to view full size)

It actually made the whole process really nice and straightforward, having that visual guide in place, recreating correct scale, design, positioning were much easier than just creating from scratch.

In terms of the texture maps, it was a case of taking the tiles/sprites and unwrapping them, a bit like peeling the skin off and laying it out flat. You can see a few examples below:


3D Texturing
3D Texturing (click to view full size)



Here are a couple of screens showing the building interiors – it was that view out of the window I wanted to achieve, which wouldn’t have been possible if I had seperated the interiors out.

Click to view full size


Below are a few of the interior texture maps:


Interior texture maps
Interior texture maps


Billboard Sprites

In Part One I mentioned I was creating some of the level architecture as billboard sprites, whereby a flat 2D sprite is drawn to always face the camera (Doom style), giving the illusion of 3D. Well, I did do this, and then I scrapped it, as the billboards just didn’t gel with the new 3D world, particularly when it came to lighting and shadows *.


Billboard Lamppost and Crossing Sign
Billboard Lamppost and Crossing Sign

As such, I built 3D geometry for all of the billboard sprites, including lampposts, signs, fire hydrants and trees.

In the gallery below you can see the new fully 3D town elements, which to my mind work much better, and allow for proper lighting and shadows.

* The reason the shadows looked so bad is that when the camera rotated around the billboard sprites, while the sprite continues to face the camera, the real-time shadows belie the true flat shape of the sprite. There are fudges around this, but I decided against those, as fully 3D seemed the best approach.



The final element of the Phase 2 rework was experimenting with post processing and lighting, although this will very much be an on-going thing. Do you ever feel completely satisfied with the visual touches? There are aways more tweaks you can make!

Phase 2 is done, so what next… Phase 3 will include the building interior lighting, furniture, shop fittings, cemetery crypts, and any other remaining 3D bits, before the reworking of the C# scripts to reflect the change from 2D to 3D.


Night scene
Night, night!
Strange Days Montage

Strange Days



We have been working on Strange Days for just over 3 years. It has not been a continuous process, there have been breaks while we focused on other projects, but total time to date is around 3 years.

It has been a long process, and expensive too, as during the development time everything has been self-funded. So, what is Strange Days?

Strange Days is a Unique Action RPG!

You are the new kid in town, having just moved to the town of Newton with your family, ready to start a brand new life. However, this is no ordinary town, something very strange is happening, something terrible, something ancient and evil!

The insidious Disciples of The Infernal Church are taking over the town!
The town kids are going missing… the Altar of Infernal Evil has been hooked up to the electrical grid, zapping the kids into scary movies and video games, where the old Demonic Gods feed off their terror!

Travel to a range of different sub-game worlds and genres to rescue the kids;
top down shooters, isometric puzzle RPGs, first person 3D levels, platform worlds, and even text adventures! Variety, good gameplay and lots of fun.

Combining beautiful pixel art and retro 3D, Strange Days is a vast action RPG full of non-stop action & adventure, a lot of heart, and a touch of horror!


I’ll continue in the first-person now, as to be honest, it has mostly been me (Rich) working on Strange Days. Initially it started out as a top-down RPG, heavily influenced by Earthbound (Mother 2), and Zombies Ate My Neighbors. A vast chunk of the work so far has been creating the sub-games, of which there are currently 22. I will discuss those in a later post, but for now here are some links to various screen-shot examples:

2D Movie Sub-Games

3D Movie Sub-Games

Retro Game Sub-Games


No To Dungeons!

Instead of dungeons, I decided to do something very different; lots of sub-game areas, in varied visual and gameplay styles. I wanted a load of variety, fun and Easter Eggs. I didn’t want to go down the route of battling dungeon after dungeon, I wanted a fresh new approach, which allowed for a wide range of themes, and enemy characters.

For the main world, which incorporates the Town of Newton, and surrounding areas (suburbs, desert and beach), I used Tiled to lay out the maps, interiors and exteriors. It did the job, and I have revised the graphics, tiles and layout many times. Working and reworking furniture, props, décor, and terrain.

It has always niggled me though that a simple top-down 2D approach was too dated, and certainly publisher feedback we’ve had has reflected this. So, as of last week (end of October, 2021) I decided to completely redo all of the town, all of the buildings and the interiors, and reproduce them in 3D.

As you can imagine, it is a big job, I must be mad! I am developing Strange Days in Unity, which certainly helps take the edge off some of the workload. Here are the current town and interior maps (click each to view full-size, they are large!):

Billboard Sprites

A billboard sprite is a flat 2D sprite that always faces the 3D camera, so you never actually see that it is a flat 2D sprite. Billboard sprites are best used for objects that are vaguely cylindrical in shape, for example, a fern tree, which when walking around it looks more or less the same whichever angle you view it from.

Billboard Lamppost and Crossing Sign
Billboard Lamppost and Crossing Sign

The final element of the Phase 1 rework was the beach and sea areas. The water needed to be different here, with added waves and a more prominent foam effect where the water meets the shore. I added a second water plane, with waves and expanded foam. You can sit on the bench and watch the surf now!


Surf’s Up!

Here are a few shots of how it all looks within the Unity scene view. You can see the individual 3D prefabs placed within the map to replace the old 2D tiles.

What Do You Think So Far?

Thanks for reading 🙂  We would love to hear any feedback or thoughts on the 3Dification via the comment form below…