First things first, the process from most peoples points of view would be that games are simply slapped together, a level is made and extra pieces are added as it goes along. In a sense this I right but there’s so much more to it. Gamers are starting to see more about how 3d assets and imagery become actual games thanks to Xbox live shows and companies making diaries for the fans. The best one I’ve seen would be splash damage’s upcoming Brink, they instead of just showing small clips and teasers have shown more and more of what it actually takes to put this game together, they’re still quite “entertainment valued” more than a documentation but it still comes across with some good info on what’s happening to make this game become great. Fancy a peak?
Take a skim through most of them, they are interesting. But the ones that would apply mainly to what I am talking about are the dawn of S.M.A.R.T and Minds on the brink.
Brink itself is a stylised game, the characters anatomy is correct to real life in anatomy but its form has been warped, in a good way. It’s the same with its environment creation, they’ve taken a setting that is sorta box standard and manipulated it into a habitable area. The slums are originally a cargo shipping depot, but from the storylines effects the entire place has become run down and turned into a living area, staircases leading from one cargo crate to another like normal buildings going from one floor to the next. This clearly wasn’t a simple idea, the concept had to start at a point of saying “where can we go from non-liveable or unconventional living areas into an area that is now over populated” simply to stay within the story’s background. This is true concept and planning, building an idea around an image, building upon it and then creating the dreamy final outcomes for us all to enjoy. One thing I did like seeing in the “dawn of smart” video was them showing how terrain designs affect movement and layouts, this at least at a minimum shows us that there are steps that must be taken. This process is to see that a layout will work and that it looks good in its “composition” and that it didn’t go wrong in the first 10 minutes and your left with something that looks ok but works like a horse on ice, not very well.
Thinking about the way the actual interactive environments work, it’s probably looking at what is necessary and what could be really be left in the bin, obviously games developers have to work within the limits how much they can do with memory, but same rule would apply if you really thought “that rock mound doesn’t have to be there we need to put this shielded area in” you’d simply remove it from the area. Looking at what companies like splash damage and bungie seem to produce, there aren’t really many areas you see that are invalid to the game-playing experience and as designers/artists looking to work in these areas and also as a consumer this is clearly something we want to see. What’s the point of having a well detailed area within an environment that you will never interact with or even walk to, there are toooooo many games that have mass amounts of space that look heavily 3d modelled and detailed which consist of no game play interaction….WHATS THE POINT?