Home Game mechanics What are the differences between 2D and 3D games?

What are the differences between 2D and 3D games?

by Katherine Shawney

Needless to say, there is a large variety of genres of video games. The major categories are divided into subcategories while there are also some rare types of video games known as niche genres. Yet, no matter which genre it is and what the game exactly is, its visual design will be either in the 2D style or in the 3D style.

It is not difficult to see the differences between 2D and 3D games when it comes to the appearance of the game visualisation. Yet, you should be aware of the fact that the type of the graphics used in a game affects some of its other features as well. If you are interested in learning more about this topic, you will find some interesting facts about 2D and 3D games in this article.

The features of 2D games

As you probably know, the games that appear “flat” when it comes to their graphics design, are, in all likelihood, using only two axes. Because of that reason, 2D games don’t have perspective. In order to somehow create the depth of such games, some developers are using the parallax scrolling effect. This makes the scrolling of the background be performed at the speed different from the speed of scrolling of the foreground.

Undeniably, the 2D graphics system affects the gameplay a lot, not only the visualisation itself.

For instance, it limits the mobility of your characters a lot. Usually, the characters are able to move only right and left and also up and down. As a result, the movements in such games are really rather limited and you are not able to get involved into more complex interactions with the objects available in 2D games. Generally, the objects added to 2D games are existing in the gameplay as a so-called sprite. The term “sprite” is used for locating small imagines on large ones in 2D games which is actually working like mapping since each of such small images is characterised by x and y coordinates. Certainly, there is no way of observing objects from different angles in such games.

Of course, these features of the games make them far more simpler than 3D games making them linear. This means, that in 2D games you are normally expected to get to the end of the level in a linear way. 

The features of 3D games

As the name of these games suggests, 3D games are created in three planes instead of only two. This makes the world of the game more realistic since the game will visualising the objects with all of their three dimensions such as height, length and depth. All the objects and characters located in the game world can turn 360 degrees.

The 3D design allows games to be far more complex than their 2D counterparts.

First of all, the 3D technology in graphics allows the games to use a camera which is moving independently of the characters. In such a way, you get an opportunity to observe the game from different angles. Of course, 3D technology of visualisation makes the animations of games richer as well. While 2D games are generally equipped into a couple of preset animations, the objects created with the 3D technology can react to the surroundings and other objects located in the world. There is no feeling of reading comics which is so typical for 2D games since the 3D animation creates a smooth flow between movements of the elements of a game.

Secondly, you are not limited to the flat sprite in 3D games. Here, you can look at your character from absolutely various positions whether it is completely from above or it is a 60-degree angle. Furthermore, choosing the right position for setting your camera might be essential for solving some of the tasks in the game.

Moreover, the 3D technology is not rendering the objects themselves like it is done in 2D games. Instead of prerendered elements, 3D games use rendering of textures of the objects. It is possible to simulate sound and light in more complex 3D games making them behave in a quite realistic way.

Undeniably, the complexity of the 3D games’ visualisation and interactions allow their developers to create advanced plots which require a lot of exploration from players.

The most popular genres of 2D games

As you now know, the 3D technology gives game developers a lot of freedom for creation, so they can design games of absolutely various genres. This is not the case when it comes to 2D games though. The developers working on such games have to choose from a rather limited number of genres.

One of the most widespread genre of 2D games is a platformer, for example, Sonic the Hedgehog. In such games, you are simply jumping and running moving on the two axes in order finish a level.

Although today there is a variety of 3D fighting games, this genre was evolved in 2D games. A classic example of such games is, undeniably, Mortal Kombat, in which you are fighting with your opponent on the arena performing simple jumps and forward and backward movements.

Puzzle 2D games, for instance, Tetris are also extremely popular.

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