I see two aspects to the problem. First, how to model everything. Second, how to display everything.

I'd like to see a highly detailed 3D models of every object in the game.

As for displaying, a 3D model allows you altimate freedom.

o If you want a true 3D client you can render the 3D models using traditional methods (i.e. 1st person shooters, etc.). This would be one type of Altima client (BTW, not the one I'd use).

o If you want the traditional overhead view you can do the following:
- Choose the perspective you want. Simply provide a point indicating a position above the ground, and a vector indicating the direction you are looking in.

The cool part about this is that I, as an Altima player, could create a custom set of graphics to represent the color depth, resolution, and perspective for the game as I'd like to play it. Say something insane like 1600x1200 at 32 bit color depth. :)

With this method, there is no debate about which perspective to use. Use whatever you like. Use whatever you're willing to put the time and disk space into creating. A "standard" set of graphics could be prerender for common usage, and I think the 1:1 (or whatever UO uses, is likely the best bet).

Of course the 2D client engine would have to be written so it can properly handle an arbitrary perspectives (or at least only the sane ones).

Other things that pop to mind with this method:

o Having a common pool of 3D models for all objects in the game would reduce artistic duplication. No need for people to design two views of the same thing, rely on rendering programs to do that.

o This would not limit the graphical aspects of Altima to what is feasible on today's hardware. Again, no need to recreate the art for your new 50" 4096x3072 monitor, just render up a new batch. :)

o There may be "artifacts" at lower resolutions. For instance, the default rendering of a small apple may not look much like an apple at 8x8 pixels, but looks much better at 64x64 pixels.

This may require artists to touch up pixmaps generated at these resolutions so they look more like what people expect them to look like.

In general, the higher the resolution the more likelihood that the default rendered graphics look okay.