As pointed out by the Associated Press, the research that went into Unbisoft's 2014 game Assassin's Creed: Unity resulted in an incredibly detailed virtual recreation of Notre Dame.
Caroline Miousse, an artist for the game, explained to The Verge back in 2014 that she spent two years painstakingly recreating the gothic structure and intricacies of Notre Dame down to every individual brick.
Though she was replicating the building as it was in 1789, she included the spires because they have become so iconic and recognizable in the modern era; they were lost in the fire yesterday, but the historical inaccuracy in the videogame could hold information that will help restore them.
See some of the game's realistic renderings below.
I've been lucky enough to visit #NotreDame many times IRL, often it was familiar background, one of many illuminating Parisian landmarks. My 🧠 copes with 🌍 events thru a video game lens: I've been there too in Pandemic's Saboteur and @Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed Unity in #VR: pic.twitter.com/zhOU18zhAH— Navdeep Singh Rajwanshi (@TheGameVeda) April 16, 2019
It survived the wars, the Nazis. #NotreDame has inspired so many over the centuries... As a little comfort, I know that I will be able to show that majestic edifice to my kids in a virtual world, thanks to the fantastic work of @UbisoftMTL in Assassin's Creed Unity pic.twitter.com/u0dq7QDdo1— Benjamin Charbit (@frenchbenc) April 16, 2019
Assassin's Creed: Unity is not the only source of 3D mapping that could point the way for Notre Dame's restoration, though. On Twitter, PhD student Hannah Groch-Begley highlighted the work of Andrew Tallon, who used laser scanners to capture more than one billion points of data to create an exceptionally accurate model of the cathedral.
Tallon's efforts were profiled in National Geographic in 2015. He passed away last year.
I know this doesn't help, but we have exquisite 3D laser maps of every detail of Notre Dame, thanks to the incredible work of @Vassar art historian Andrew Tallon. Prof Tallon passed away last November, but his work will be absolutely crucial https://t.co/YJl3XXUZTg— Hannah Groch-Begley (@grouchybagels) April 15, 2019