Today I decided to experiment with the idea of pushing parallax layers to their limits, with the goal of creating a real sense of depth and engagement with the player while retaining the feel of a 2D game (so no technical trickery, just optical trickery).
My idea started as this: I want a side-scrolling beat-'em-up presentation in which the player can see inside buildings that they walk by. Easy enough. But then I thought about putting in a reflection map of sorts to connect the player with what might be behind the camera. Then I got silly, and added in a few more layers. Eventually I ended up with this:
You can grab the file here [r182, 2.5MB]. 90% of the interesting stuff happens in the layer properties panel, between parallax settings, effects, z-order and blend modes. You can see it in action here.
I'd love to hear anyone else's thoughts on the subject. How to improve that illusion of depth or tweak it, or some other snazzy ideas or implementations you've thought of. I've specifically chosen an indoor scene because I think it's the most challenging (and rewarding), but I'd love to see any interesting outdoor scenes as well.