I am using a shadow effect in the game to make the walls and other objects look a bit more solid and 3D'ish. One problem with this is that the angle of lighting to make the best shadows (probably top left, shadows going down right), also means the lighting is behind most objects. This means that if we try to have semi-realistic lighting then the front of walls and other graphics will all look quite dark.
Clearly, this wouldn't look very appealing, so like the Matrix we have to bend the rules and make the gfx look a little lighter then would normally be the case..
With that decision out of the way, we also have to look at the shadow direction. One of the most common (and effective) is the shadows falling to the bottom right of objects. However I tried this, and it just didn't work too well for me. Not sure why. So in the end I've gone for a small shadow cast to the bottom of objects. This lets me use a shadow around the bottom of our soldiers / enemies as well without worrying about it overlaying other graphics to the right.
However one thing I have added is a soft edge to the bottom of the shadows. It does help might it look softer and I know it is now commonly used in games. Not sure if I've seen it used in this kind of genre before.
Next I want to get highlighting of units when selected, and start to do the selection logic so we can look at moving units around.