A Creator’s Guide to 2D vs. 3D Game Development

By July 8, 2021Buildbox
2d vs 3d games

What’s really the difference between 2D and 3D games? There’s certainly a difference in the appearance, user experience and game development process. However, the general skill set involved in developing 2D and 3D games is the same, even if that means you have no coding experience. All you need is an imagination to bring a game to life!

It’s easy for anyone to create video games in Buildbox, but which format is better for your game?  Here’s how to determine if creating a 2D or 3D game is best to bring your vision to life.

Basic Differences Between 2D Games and 3D Games

2D and 3D games differ in complicated technological terms, however at a basic level these game formats have a different appearance in how characters look and move as well as the background of the game. Even the objectives or goals of the game differ.

Game Appearance 

2D design makes games “flat” by nature which also makes the camera simpler as the game can only be viewed from the side. There are ways to give 2D games a bit of artificial “depth,” however. Parallax scrolling is when the background scrolls at a different speed from the foreground. Control is generally simpler as a result: moving the joystick one way makes a character move in that direction.

3D games have volume and depth which impacts how characters move in the game, creating a more lifelike game experience.

Character Movement

2D games move along two axes of motion, limiting movement of a character on a flat environment. 3D gaming, by contrast, allows for turning in 360-degree fields of motion. Oftentimes, it’s possible to move the camera independently from the character. 

To create this turning effect, sprites are not enough, as elements in the game must react to each other in a far more sophisticated manner. Instead, game elements called textures are rendered onto elements called surfaces, creating a far more fluid appearance.

Game Objectives

A large number of 2D games are about getting from point A to point B and avoiding enemies along the way. Lights Out by Sophie Ross is a great example of a 2D racing game where you’re trying to get to the finish line while avoiding other cars and cracks. 

3D games, like Tulip Express, offer a more diverse and varied gaming experience. Rather than simply going from the beginning to the end, characters can move around a space: solving puzzles, exploring and completing multi-layered objectives. 

2D Games vs. 3D Games: Which Should You Design?

While it may seem that it’s more difficult to make a 3D game as opposed to a 2D game, that simply isn’t true and you shouldn’t worry about which type of game will be harder to develop. The question you should really be asking yourself is what kind of gameplay experience do you want your users to have. Are you looking for a simpler game with the objective to race from point A to Point B or do you want your gamers to search a detailed treasure map for clues to win the game as can be experienced in 3D games?

Another consideration is what engine people are going to play the game on. 3D gaming is popular with console and PC games, and has made significant inroads into the mobile gaming market while 2D games are more popular to play on mobile devices. Knowing market trends is an indispensable tool in helping you to understand where the customers for your game are.

Creating 2D and 3D Games in Buildbox

Buildbox Classic is our platform for designing 2D games and Buildbox 3 allows for the creation of both 2D and 3D games. These platforms offer outstanding  customization, with drag and drop assets, fast prototypes and built-in template libraries. Templates and smart assets allow you to quickly and easily bring a unique game environment, like space shooters, to life.

Buildbox makes creating games simple with no programming knowledge required. Templates, smart assets and Brainboxes get you started — or, you can make your own game from scratch. Either way, you can preview your game in real time.

Start making the games you’ve always dreamed of creating with Buildbox. Download Buildbox 3 today!

Tiana Crump

About Tiana Crump

Tiana Crump is a staff writer and social media manager at Buildbox with a passion for inspiring others and driving brand awareness. As a gamer and creator, she enjoys sharing game development insights, tips, and success stories from the Buildbox community.