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Modding the Game for City Architectural and Scientific Visualisation - Vice City Back to the Future

Modifying games for visualisation is intriguing, it opens up the game engine for real time data manipulation and with it access to some of the most cutting edge shaders and lighting/weather effects currently available. Yet, as we have discussed before see Game Engines for Architects? Architecture for Gamers? Escapist Article, mention gaming to academics/architects/city planners and you come up against a lot of opposition and scepticism.

With the new Crysis demo just around the corner it is looking like the Crysis Engine could give Oblivion a run for its money in terms of architectural visualisation but many other games can also be modified.

We are not recommending that commercial companies sit their clients down with a modded version of the Grand Theft Auto series of games but a lot of genuinely innovative work has been carried out with such engines.

One of which is the Back to the Future Mod which has reconstructed scenes from the film and subsequently imported them into the game - the image below is the main town square in pre-game form:

At this point the model is like any other model, it could be visualised in Google Earth, BSContact, Quest3D or any number of visualisation packages, or to give the visualisation an edge it could also be imported into Grand Theft Auto Vice City:

Movie 1: Using the Delorean for Navigation:

Movie 2: Flythrough of the City

If you also take into account the temporal dimension of the mod, allowing visualisation changes over time, then such techniques hold a future for both architectural, geographic and scientific visualisation.

Game engines also hold a lot of potential for outreach, how much easier would it be to communicate either architectural or scientific data to schools if you could fly about it in a Delorean?

This is of course after you have explained what a Delorean is after the company behind the car filed for bankruptcy in 1982..


  1. Anonymous6:36 PM


    VERY import thing to remember:
    Architects want to use Real-time walk-thrus with game engines, but we cannot it is illegal.

    Any of the good game engines note: “NO commercial use“ that is the reason we don't use it. A professional architecture office is clearly commercial use of the game engine.

    The question to really ask is: Why don’t they sell a version that CAN be used in a commercial capacity?, and expand into a new market?

  2. It's the same reaction I gave some time ago on a similar article here on this blog.
    For use in the office it's not possible (yet?), maybe only for some in-office exploring.
    But nevertheless it's good to research the possibilities as this blog does. Maybe Digital Urban can do some research on this matter. That is the use of the game-engines for commercial purposes.