On the viz side however, we did do environment interaction. What ended up being in pretty high demand were self-guided, interactive tours of future construction. We would put several data layers into the game engine (we used blender and torque at the time), and allow people to wander around the site. The whole thing would be built to real world dimensions, so engineers, architects, contractors and potential buyers could examine things they were interested in.
For example, traffic engineers were often concerned with sight distances around intersections, and various barriers (like landscape mounds, or street signeage) blocking clarity of traffic views. We were able to let them wander around as a person (pedestrian) and examine various situations in 3d, or in a car, or truck, or a cycle etc...
One of very common residential customer concerns, especially on high end custom home lost would be the view from the lot, and what kind of obstructions future development could create. Examining a line of sight in a game engine works the same way as aiming (at something to be shot), you just don't get to shoot and explode things, and keep a score.
We would model in existing and proposed underground utilities, and contractors could examine critical areas in 3D, and save tens of thousands of dollars planing their construction efforts.
Many of these included Golf courses too, and golf course designers would often take advantage of the same thing.
I know here is southern california, where I know many companies in construction industry, us and about two, maybe three others were 'tinkering' with putting it all in a game engine, and allowing self guided examinations of the site.
You don't get to do artistic stuff, and you don't need to worry about entertaining appealing gameplay, but you do build a 'level' with several different characters (pedestrian, car, truck, low flyover) and you allow them to see various data levels, and the whole thing becomes one big game level. With terrains, we often had to deal with several levels of detail.
The reason I don't know game making terminology is because we didn't interact with the game making world, we grabbed the game engines, and learned how to use them, and adapted them to serve what we needed.
Most of the site interaction scenarios were rather suitable for game engine.
For various architectural and land planning concerns, some elements had to be more aesthetically developed.. and rather then us designing a lot of the visual presentation, we would get style guidelines from the project architect.
When they needed fancier presentations, with animations and stills for various presentations or billboards or advertising materials, we'd take the 'scientific' model and adapt it for rendering... cleaned up the topology, make sure everything is UV mapped so it can be nicely textured, light the scene, render what is needed. Architect would have specific reasons for specific views or scenes, and wold tell us, so in most cases they would be the 'movie director'
for various design analysis, most of those had their own software... retaining wall design was it's own software, hydrology was one, pipe hydraulics was another, site grading we did in autocad and Civil 3D (I was often heavily involved on the design side of that), geology has it's own, GIS, another one I was pretty heavily involved on the design side has it's own - ArcView ad Arc Info etc.. But a lot of design data could be exported in xyz format, and often vector format, then brought into autocad and eventually into 3D Max to finish building the models.
Personally I really dislike numerical analisys, and always gravitated towards the artsy part of it, which is why I'm making a switch.
Here's a wip of a project I worked on around 2007. It never got finished, the recession put it on an indefinite hold. It's a reconstruction of a major intersection, which is to service new developments of about 15,000 subdivision homes to be built around it. This one had a mess of old underground utilities, with a major oil tranmission pipeline running down the street too. They paid us fairly big money to carefully map and model it all, because of the pipeline got damaged on some way, the losses would run in milions of dollars.
What I hated is that a lot of it would stay at this lame ugly massing model stage... unless project architect needed 'beauty shots'.
Oh, the extent of my coding... I learned to do Basic applets as a teenager, wrote couple land survey calculation (statistical analisys) applets, we did a little bit of obligatory fortran in engineering school (I don't remember any of it). I did a lot of autocad's lisp applet writing to make my life easier and production faster, and what wold be over my head, I would hire a *real* programmer to write. Also, I had a contract programmer to write us a few Max plug-ins that made modeling some of the design data faster.... and I had a guy on staff dealing with intricacies of game engine implementation, or whatever that's called around here. I did huge amounts of engineering design, modeling and texturing. I was just getting little bit past conceptual game engine use, when the economy hit rock bottom for us, in 2008, and the company dissolved....
Sorry this turned into a long post...