The first thing the player sees when entering the game is the virtual world and the environment. This game aspect is why the player enjoys, returns, and closes the game in case of bad design. Game environment design is the core of a game project, regardless of genre, style, or features of the universe.
The Power of Visuals in Mobile Games
Video game environment design is one of the key nodes in any video game’s most complex mechanism and, at the same time, one of the most misunderstood terms in game development by players.
On the one hand, a game without an environment is just a picture on a white or black background. On the other hand, sometimes, even the most experienced artists fail to create high-quality and successful gaming environments.
Creating such a visual aspect for mobile games and finding a game design environmental artist is challenging. Based on this, many game studios are moving to mobile game art outsourcing, where experienced artists create an environment that can fit into any setting and plot. Any game needs a space where the user will exist, and these visual features and aspects often bring commercial success to mobile games.
How Video Game Environment Design Enhancing Gameplay
Levels and environments are one of the most important tools in creating a game’s atmosphere and immersive experience. Different game genres use different levels of detail and flair features to make mobile game graphics look aesthetically pleasing, conceptual, and natural inside.
Creating Engaging Game Worlds
The level of detail in the environment depends on the game’s visual style. Like any other game artist, environment artists work in different styles. For example, in realism, an important component is the details that tell stories or show the past. They pay attention to how new a particular material is and whether it has been damaged by time so that there would not be a brand-new and clean chair in the world of a post-nuclear apocalypse in the middle of a destroyed house.
The work of environment artists is not always limited to modeling and prop placement. Most studios are responsible for creating the entire environment, including tiled textures, lighting setup, scene composition, complex architecture modeling, game-level optimization, and much more. As a result, game items that are just in the frame or that the player can look at (and sometimes interact with) create a game experience and immerse in the gameplay.
Interactive Game Environments
There are many things that a game environment designer takes into account when arranging objects in a scene: composition, readability, significance to the player, as well as direction points, places for eye recreation, and light. All this creates interactivity (even where it should not be). The latest trends in mobile game development are pushing the demand for full interaction with the world and environment.
Creating such games has its difficulties, but they still have more advantages. You can play them for a long time, replay interesting moments, or even just explore the environment and interact with it. If we take cross-platform projects as an example of a well-developed game world, many will remember Genshin Impact with an open world, storyline, and interactive aspects. If we take mobile gaming, then Last Pirate: Island Survival is a pretty good game where everything on the screen can be taken, hit, used for crafting, etc.
One of the main qualities of a good gaming environment is the right priorities. When working with real-time graphics, an artist needs to know what the player will pay attention to and what not, and at the same time, balance the content.
Visual Storytelling in Game Environments
The work of an environment artist is not limited to the creation of objects, which will then be carefully placed on the level. The artist’s focus, of course, is concentrated in this direction, but at the same time, game environment design should be the engine of the plot, lore, or narrative.
In addition to the general narrative, the environment can also work on specific story episodes while adding new mechanics, non-obvious interactions with objects that players ignored before (which was intended), or involve the player in solving puzzles. By the way, such logical tasks are frequent game mechanics that use the level design and features of the game environment since it requires interaction with various elements or hints.
Optimizing Environment Performance and User Experience
Although popular and widely available, mobile gaming has limitations in terms of visual optimization and is available for different devices. Developers create games on top-end hardware that is not available to most users. And the team’s task is to make their project launch and be playable on most gaming devices.
In order not to limit gamers with in-game mechanics and high-quality visual design, developers use a few simple but effective methods for environment design in games.
To improve optimization, developers often remove additional objects by disappearing them. For example, shell casings immediately disappear after a shot, and a defeated monster is devastated. This is done to not overwhelm the game world with objects that overload the device.
Also, developers use the method of copying textures and objects not to create projects that will take up a large part of the device’s memory. This is the most commonly used way to optimize the game. But sometimes developers overdo it, and the game becomes optimized but rather boring in terms of gameplay or environment design.
Developers understand that game optimization is working on graphics and gameplay mechanics, getting rid of bugs, correct localization, and dozens of other nuances.
The work of an environment artist is about your creative vision, and experimentation is observing methods and combining different ideas. Many developers forget about the importance of visual content and try to create a project emphasizing gameplay. But the gaming experience at this industry stage depends entirely on graphics and design. Mobile game graphics is a huge area to implement and is a key element of success that is often overlooked.