Take any popular game out there – Assassin’s Creed, Call of Duty, or League of Legends. What they all have in common is an inarguably excellent environment design.
If you are already familiar with the gaming industry, you know that a game environment is the foundation of any good game. It is what sets the mood and atmosphere of the entire game. Without an engaging environment design, you will not hook the players onto the game.
Suppose you are new to the gaming experience. You might not know what constitutes an environment design and why it is essential. Do not worry! By the end of this article, you will understand the critical features of an environment design.
The concept of a game environment is pretty simple. A game environment is the surroundings and natural setup where the player will enter the gameplay.
For example, in a racing game, you can see a road, fellow racers driving quickly in their vehicles, buildings, mountains, and other environmental elements. All of these visual elements that appear on the screen together form the game environment.
As you can see, the environment is a critical component of the game. It is the setting in which the whole game takes place. That’s why the designer’s and art team’s role is crucial in developing a game.
If you are an aspiring designer, you need to take game art courses to strengthen your understanding of the game environment. In the meantime, here is a checklist of features that make up a good environment design.
Agreed that gaming is all about entering an imaginary world and completing challenges. But be warned – your audience might not be able to relate to such an environment completely. When they do not relate to it, chances are, they might struggle to immerse into the game entirely. So, creating a wholly imaginative world is a big no-no.
Instead, you should use real-world references as the foundation for your game environment. You can then add your imaginary strokes to the already existing environment if need be.
Think of Ubisoft’s popular game Watch Dogs 2. The entire game environment was a fantastic recreation of San Francisco, a real city. Once inside the game, you can find the famous city landmarks and coastlines, as if you were experiencing a regular day in San Francisco.
By creating an authentic environment, the game connects with its players.
When you sit down to plan an environment design, always remember that the story concept is the star of the game. So you should know the whole concept inside out.
Where is the hero-based out of, what is the game setting, the other characters, and what obstacles the hero will encounter during the game; you should know absolutely everything! Then, after you familiarize yourself with the plotline, you start planning the environment.
Coming to the fundamental rule: create an environment in harmony with the game concept. Say your game concept is simple. Your environment and assets should also be simple. If there is any inconsistency between the game concept and the environment, the player will get distracted and lose interest in the game.
Players always love an interactive environment. Any form of interaction in the gameplay pushes them to be more involved.
One easy way of doing this is by including characters in the gameplay. For example, you can introduce a fellow player or teammate and allow the gamers to communicate between themselves. They can then chart out the strategies together and join hands in completing the tasks. This interaction makes the game environment more lively and fun for your player.
Having said that, you should be careful with handling interaction levels in the game. First, you need to factor in the game concept and goal. Accordingly, you should decide how much interaction is permissible for the game. After such an analysis, plot out how you want to make your environment interactive.
Nothing beats the thrill of progressing to the next level of a game. When the player completes one challenge and moves ahead, they eagerly anticipate a slightly more challenging task than the previous level.
As the designer, you must add gamification elements that will challenge, surprise, and excite the player. One prominent example of increasing your player’s interest is adding different obstacles at each game level.
Your player will be compelled to push their boundaries and play harder with every new element. But keep in mind that the difficulty of these challenges should only increase gradually. Else, the player will discard the game, deeming it very hard to play.
A fantastic color palette lies at the core of any good environment design. After all, colors are the true heroes in creating and maintaining the game’s atmosphere. They help propagate the theme and the game story and make the players believe in the imaginary game world. So you need to spend a lot of time and effort to get the perfect color palette required for the game.
Imagine a game based on witches and monsters that do not have a lot of black, white, and gray in the game environment. Will you be able to feel the creepy and spooky mood of the game concept? Likely not.
With the right color palette, you can engage your player and keep them hooked to the game. On the other hand, if you have a messy and confusing palette, the game environment will not appeal to the players. Ultimately, you will not achieve the desired results.
The gaming environment is what you see most often when playing games. It acts as the background for the entire course of the game, which is why designing the environment takes a lot of skills. If you are considering a career in the gaming industry, consider enrolling in game programming courses.
Meanwhile, think of the different ways you can make your game environment authentic, interactive, and engaging. Who knows, your environment design might be the next big thing in the gaming industry!
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