I'm an artist with a concept, not the developer, and I'm trying to wrap my head around the approach I should be taking for the following scenario, namely whether to model in Photoshop or 3DS Max.
Say I have a simple animation loop of a rotating planet with a moon orbiting it that I want to play in the background of a game menu screen. Thanks to your help I have some ideas as to how to represent this illusion in 2D. But what if instead I had thousands of different scenes of this nature I wanted to represent in-game, using different planets, moon configurations, orbiting ships, passing asteroids, various backgrounds, etc. I assume that attempting to render these as video files and apply individually as movie texture is out of the question due to hardware and/or storage limitations on mobile devices, and that the scenes would be too complex for spriting.
Would I be best off using a 3D game engine to individually render constituent objects (a rotating planet, an orbiting moon, a drifting debris field) and then place them in front of a static backdrop (a JPEG of a nebula and star field, for example)? I assume for the same reasons as above that you wouldn't actually pre-render these objects, but instead send instructions to the game engine to draw a sphere, map a couple of textures to it, give it rotational parameters, etc.? Is this basically how it works? What about for the non-simple shapes like asteroids, ships, etc., can you also send a model parameter?
Keeping in mind that these scenes will be backgrounds only and non-interactive, am I on the right track?