Game Development - 2D Games Perspectives And Z Order

This article will focus on 2D games Perspectives & Z Order.

The main aspect of Game Development is to understand each and every process theoretically as well as practically. In this article, I will be discussing a very vital concept that is commonly discussed and practiced while designing & developing games i.e. 2D games Perspectives & Z Order. I shall be focusing on game perspective in 2D games & what is Z Order.


  1. GamingEnthusiasm



In 3D games, developers can manipulate 3-axis i.e. X-axis, Y-axis & Z-axis. Similarly, developers can view the object from these three directions. However, in 2D games, both, developer and user can develop/view objects only in 2D, with manipulation of X-axis & Y-axis. In 2D games, arranging objects/sprites on the canvas is a little trickier because of the access to two dimensions. For example, in order to give effect of a mountain scene, the scene is arranged in such a way that it will show us far distance objects and near objects, this is simple to do as we can simply put small size objects at the scene's top and big size objects in front of the scene to give near/far distance effect. But, what if we want to place some objects in between and want to configure which object should come before which object?

That’s when Z-order comes into power play, we can choose which object to display before which object, by simply changing Z-order value, i.e. we can use +ive value to place objects behind another objects & lower +ve or -ve values to place objects in front other objects. Z-ordering is more like layering your objects in scene in a similar manner as layering in Photoshop or using Go to Back or Go to Front command of MS-Office suites. For further study, you can explore Z-order in top-down 2d games.


In 2D gaming, there are mainly two types of perspective i.e.

  1. First person shooter/perspective.

  2. Third person perspective

First person shooter/perspective

This perspective shows only game objects, e.g. guns, fire etc., giving player the look and feel of controlling the game by themselves.

Third person perspective

This perspective involves the characters in games allowing players to manipulate the character movement and play through game.

Third person perspective however, further categorizes into two kinds of views which are used in different level editors to construct graphic user interface for games visually i.e.

  1. Orthogonalview.

  2. Isometricview.

Orthogonal View

This view arranges the Graphical User Interface (GUI) in following manner i.e.

This view is arranged in level editors by dividing screen into small squares which are called tiles. The orthogonal view is the simplest view to implement as game developers because its map coordinate matches screen coordinates and game objects or sprites can easily be manipulated.

Isometric View

This view arranges the Graphical User Interface (GUI) in following manner i.e.


This view allows the developers to create 3D kinds of effects in a 2D environment. This view is also arranged in level editors by dividing screen into small squares which are called tiles. The isometric view is the most difficult view in 2D games to manipulate because it rotates the orthogonal tile view by 45 degree in triangular shape and this rotation shifts the isometric map coordinates from the screen coordinates, therefore, developers have to convert the isometric map coordinates into screen coordinates to manipulate the  game objects or sprites.


In this article, you learned about different 2D games perspectives i.e. first person shooter, third person shooter, orthogonal view, and isometric view. You also learned about Z Order buffer concept and its importance in computer graphics environment.


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