A common technical solution in early Adventure Games
and Role-Playing Games
from the late 1980s and the early 1990s, before Polygonal Graphics
were advanced enough to do this properly.
As the player characters wander through a dungeon or walk along the city streets, the player sees the corridors in a first-person perspective. However, the view isn't truly rendered in 3D. Rather, it is composed of multiple algorithmically assembled 2D building blocks; to render the view, the game appropriately arranges these images on top of pictures that depict the floor and ceiling. Sometimes, enemies and items present are overlaid as sprites. Early on, the walls were black-and-white wireframe, or filled with a uniform color.
This differs from games where each individual view is basically a single image, like the first Myst
, or games that have each node as a single panorama, like the third Myst
or Google Maps Street View.
In games that use this, the player moves from cubic node to cubic node of an Invisible Grid
. All walls are orthogonal while all ceilings and floors are the same level.
Compare First-Person Shooter
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- Scarab Of Ra
- Particularly advanced examples were the early CyberFlix DreamFactory games, like Video Game/Lunicus and Jump Raven. They looked like flat-shaded 3D, but were in fact prerendered images and animations turned into 2D vector art. This allowed the appearance of realtime travel and rotation through 3D environments.
- Buildings in The Addams Family: Fester's Quest.
- Escape From The Mindmaster
- The Lone Ranger, Goonies II, and Friday the 13th on the NES all had segments like this.
- The underground bases in Golgo 13: Top Secret Episode.
- Ratrun, produced for Cursor, a "magazine" produced for the Commodore PET in the late 1970s that came on a cassette tape that usually included a game or two. Ratrun was a game simulating a rat in a maze looking for a piece of cheese. The maze is rendered in a faux 3-D view from the rat's perspective.
- Quite a few examples later from actual magazines for the Commodore computer series (which usually included multiple games printed in BASIC or assembly source, to be typed in and saved to disk); the C-64 (and -128) happened to have a character set well suited for basic game backgrounds, simplifying the programming.
First Person Shooter
- Most Driving Games until the 32-bit era. Many were simply an endlessly repeating grey strip with a car sprite on it, surrounded by layered 2D buildings/cliffs/bridges/whatever.
- Toy Story had a level inside the Claw Machine (called "REALLY Inside the Claw Machine") which was basically this. The only 3D elements were the Little Green Men, which you had to rescue, and Woody's arms.