Video games are a fairly new concept in human history, but it is a concept that has developed incredibly quickly. While there are a huge range of video games, almost all of them share a few common themes. All video games need a goal and a way to achieve that goal. In the case of Wings of Fury, the game that I have created for this project, the goal is to get the highest score possible before you run out of time. The way you achieve that is by flying a virtual airplane through hoops without crashing. Throughout the history of video games, certain principles have been used over and over with great success. As the ages have passed, humans have gone from modelling with clay to modelling with pretty much any material – even porcelain and glass. In the past few decades, humans have progressed even further and have created methods of creating virtual models on computers. This is called 3D modelling.
Form is a very important aspect of game design as well as 3D modelling because in many ways as it largely dictates the feel of the game. Form can be expressed in a multitude of different ways but the most common in the game design industry is through 3D modelling. 3D modelling is a fairly new occurrence in the grand scheme of things, however it has developed incredibly quickly to the point where sometimes it is difficult to tell what is a 3D render and what is a real photo. Unfortunately, due to hardware limitations, it is not always possible to have games that render in real time with this sort of graphics.
In many ways, form encompasses proportion and aesthetics too. Proportion is the size of an object in relation to other objects. This is hugely important for game design because if you have objects out of proportion it can break the immersion of the game and cause people to lose interest. In the example of Wings of Fury, the terrain and the jet are in proportion and it adds realism to the game. Aesthetics are also incredibly important in creating a game because it dictates the style and theme of the game. An example from Wings of Fury is, again, the jet. It has a smooth sleek streamlined shape which makes it look more natural flying at high speeds.
Balance is another crucial element of game design. Balance in game design is all about having your game evenly distributed over the entire screen. In wings of Fury, when you turn sharply to the side, the camera doesn’t instantly snap to the plane, there is a smooth transition between the jet being in the center of the screen and it being on the edge of the screen before it slowly drifts back to the center.
Unity is a major component of game design. In Wings of Fury, one place where unity is shown is in the jet trails that stream behind the player. The trails are constantly moving around, yet they are always anchored to the jet. The back end of the trails extends off the screen behind the camera. This really brings a sense of unity into the game world by breaking up the monotony of the background and unifying the jet with the rest of the scene.
In order to create the 3D models in Wings of Fury, I used the free program blender. While I had 3DS MAX available for use, blender is where I felt the most comfortable as I have used it before. Once I had a completed model in blender, it was saved as a .blend. While this can be imported directly into Unity3D, it can cause some issues, such as UV maps and textures not being imported along with the model. This happened when I tried to import the models I created of an allied bi-plane and the famous Red Baron. In order to try and get around this problem, I tried converting the models to a .FBX but there was clearly something wrong with the conversion process in blender because every time I tried to import the .FBX files into Unity3D it would completely crash the program and it wouldn’t reopen until the files were removed. After this setback, I tried using Autodesks (owner of the .FBX filetype) own FBX converter. I was hopeful that this would provide a better result and allow me to use the models in Wings of Fury, but unfortunately, the result was exactly the same. This is a bizarre problem because when I tried to import the models with no textures or UV maps into Unity3D it worked perfectly. In the end I settled for a jet plane with flat colours instead of textures (which for some reason imported as a .blend just fine).
Lighting is a huge element of any game. When you change the lighting, it effectively changes the way that the entire scene is portrayed. Imaging if the colour of the light coming from the sun was changed. Even if it was only a slight change, it would still be incredibly noticeable and would no doubt affect many people’s lifestyles. In Wings of Fury, and the same is true for any game, getting the lighting right is just as important or even more so. Originally the game had default Unity3D lighting. Unitys default lighting consists of a flat directional white light which looks extremely artificial as the colours of the game world looked out of place with the dark night skybox. Originally, I tried to fix this by using a new Unity3D feature that uses the skybox to create “natural looking” light. This seemed like a promising option, however like most new features, it didn’t work perfectly and ended up looking unnatural. This was eventually fixed by manually changing the colour of the light to match the skybox. Because the lighting affects everything in the scene, this brought the scene together, making everything look much more natural and graphically pretty.
When you are creating a game, it involves a lot of programming. When you write programs there are almost inevitably going to be bugs all through the code. An example of this in Wings of Fury was that when you tilted the plane up high enough the plane would decelerate to the point where it started to fly backwards. This was caused by a line in the code that changed the speed of the plane based on whether you were flying down or up. The maximum speed had been limited but not the minimum speed. This caused the plane to sometimes have a negative speed and therefore go backwards. There were countless bugs related to particle systems spawning in the wrong positions. These were easily fixed by resetting the origin points on the particle systems.
Earlier in the year, our class went on a field trip to a local animation and design studio called Adam Walker Film. After seeing what they could do, I was impressed. They had several games for the i-pad and multiple high quality animations and advertisements. After talking with Adam and his crew for about 45 minutes, I got the impression that the industry is incredibly hard to get anywhere in but once you do get somewhere, your career can accelerate quite quickly. The game design industry is cutthroat and the work is contract based, meaning that you don’t know when the next work is going to come.
In conclusion, the game design industry is about more than just one of these topics. It is about all of them and more all put together working in harmony. For example, if someone was to make a game that incorporated all of the basic elements of design talked about in this essay excluding proportion, the quality of the game would suffer. Without good texturing, good 3D modelling is wasted, and no matter how good your modelling and texturing is, if you don’t have good lighting, the game will not look good. This goes for more than just games. This is true for any 3D render, whether it’s an advertisement, a movie or even a still render.