Geek Trivia

Video Games Frequently Use Which Of These Techniques To Create The Illusion Of 3D Space?

Plane Inversion
Flash-lag Effect
Sigma Motion
Parallel Projection
Which Of These Convenience Stores Was Originally Called "Tote'm Stores"?

Answer: Parallel Projection

For over thirty years now, video game designers have used a rather clever trick to help create the illusion of 3D space. This trick, commonly referred to in the industry as “isometric graphics” but which is actually a form of parallel projection, predates 3D rendering engines and virtual reality gear by decades–the first use of it was in Sega’s 1982 arcade game¬†Zaxxon.

What is parallel projection? It’s a type of graphical representation where the lines of projection that define the edges of objects are parallel both in reality and within the projection plane itself that is rendered on the screen. Video game designers took advantage of a subset of parallel projection wherein you skew the direction slightly to present all three axes (length, width, and height) to create an illusion of depth much like a photographer would change their position relative to a box to show the sides and shape of the box (rather than simply photograph it dead on where you could only see the width and height).

Image courtesy of FreeDesignFile.