The 2-D City becomes 3-D
This is the city now. That doesn't say anything about the characters that move within the city (which is another thing that can happen with these engines). So if this is the city, there is a way of making the city 3-D, or there's a way of making the city 2½-D, which is not uncommon.
- For programming
- For movies
- For things that require a parallax view.
If you need to take this city and spin it, you would have to figure out what the coordinates are from the perspective of the camera (I'll draw a little camera up here in the corner). The camera perspective is into the page from here. If I were to take this world and spin it, then this axis would move, and the game engine would re-draw everything in the new plane. If I spun the world, then the player would be able to see a portion of the back side of this house.
If you're going to look at the appearance of objects in multiple dimensions, there are ways of getting the 3-D tools to do that for you. But even so, the 3-D tool has to have something to work from. If you have a house (I'm being not completely facetious), a house has six sides, so you're going to have the floor for the house that I drew, the floor, the ceiling. If you could have a graphic design of a paper box, you can build the box as though it were a real 3-dimensional box - something that someone could get into. If a box has 6 sides, then the house would look something like this. This would be the side that has the door in it, you've got the floor, the ceiling and so on.
This is the part that bothers people because you want to make it a reality. As much as videogame reality is standing out on the cliff and looking at the moon - no, someone has to draw all this. Game studios have teams that are drawing all this. In this instance, the team has to be able to flatten the house and rebuild it. A 2-dimensional box like this could be imported into a 3-dimensional tool, which would have the capacity to fold things over so that the object would begin to approximate the space it is going to occupy.
After that, you might add textures, shadows, highlights, or whatever, so when you look over here on the side of the house by moving the camera angle, there's something to see over here that is plausible.
Those are some of the things that happen, as a combination of
- Working with flat 2-D tools like a canvas
- 2½-D tools like layers in Photoshop or ProjectFun
- Wrapping maps that overlay other maps
- And 3-D tools Autodesk, Maya, and 3dStudioMax into which you can import objects.
If you have the opportunity to look at these that would be way cool just for starters. The thing is, the parts that I'm talking about here are still pretty much 2-D. Many game objects are created with 2-D tools before you have anything that you can import into engines like Unreal or Unity.