The multibillion-dollar global gaming sector is extremely competitive and earning a share of that marketplace means that game producers have to be increasingly inventive to stand out from the crowd. One of the best ways to do this is to harness the creativity of game designers and writers to come up with new ways to engage gamers across different cultures.
Sometimes, new technology enables game developers to create new game experiences. For example, advancing internet technology and faster streaming connections made it possible for developers to create the live casino genre, in which real dealers host physical casino games, broadcasting live from specially designed studios.
Inventive game design continues to push back the frontiers of modern gaming. Here are some of the most intriguing design developments that are capturing the imagination of players around the world.
It is said that you should never judge a book by its cover, but it is very hard not to judge a video game by its graphics. This first impression is a key part of any game’s appeal, and gamers can often be drawn in or repelled by the release of screenshots of graphics and game artwork.
What is currently considered impressive will change with each new technological breakthrough, and some games that were once at the cutting edge graphically can look a little dated.
Along the way, games have developed from 2D through the early stages of polygon-heavy 3D gaming and high-definition technology, and games such as Crysis, Gran Turismo, The Witcher and Red Dead Redemption 2 have certainly exceeded the boundaries of graphical excellence.
The latest graphical innovation is ray tracing – a system that uses an in-game algorithm to generate realistic lighting, creating a level of realism that can be breathtaking. Few gaming machines are powerful enough to cater for games that use ray tracing all the way through, but ray tracing patches are increasingly available to modify games that were created without this technology.
Much of the attention in the gaming world is often focused on the aesthetics of a game, but some of the most successful games have achieved critical acclaim due to the quality of their story. In fact, crafting compelling stories and dialogue has become an essential part of game design, and the best game writers are in huge demand.
There are many games with excellent narratives, but the pinnacle of game narrative was probably achieved by the developers of The Last of Us, the story of a loner and a child thrown together in a world destroyed by a mysterious zombie plague.
The complexity of their characters and the compelling nature of the narrative has yet to be surpassed, and while other games, including Assassin’s Creed and The Witcher, have spawned movie and TV versions, the HBO adaptation of The Last of Us featured entire scenes and passages of dialogue that were taken directly from the game without any changes.
A great story can certainly elevate a game but the quality of the gameplay is equally important. In fact, even with a high-quality narrative, if a game has little to engage the player then it can feel like an interactive storybook and not a video game.
Skyrim is a good example of a game that has a detailed story, but where the gameplay is just as important. Many Skyrim players rush through the story so that they can get on with exploring the world, or simply ignore the basic story altogether because the gameplay is so good.
Grand Theft Auto is in the same category of game. Most of the titles in the series have had complex stories, but the essence of the game’s original appeal was the ability to steal a variety of cars and that remains the attraction that draws players in.
Sometimes underrated as a factor when it comes to game design, music is actually an important part of a game’s appeal, and when the soundtrack and theme tune are good, they can elevate a game to the next level. In fact, some prominent entertainment awards ceremonies have featured prizes for game soundtracks alongside the regular awards, for several years now.
One of the most famous is the theme for Super Mario Bros, composed by Koji Kondo, which is as much a part of the iconic Mario Bros franchise as the gameplay and the quirky graphics. Kondo subsequently produced an even more critically acclaimed soundtrack for Super Mario Galaxy.
Usually, those producing the music for games have to stick closely to the theme of the title, and that was the case with Simon Hale, who produced a suitably smooth and jazzy soundtrack for the 2012 title L.A. Noire. It was the perfect accompaniment to this tale of corruption and murder in post-war Los Angeles and it even won Hale a BAFTA for video game original music.
Some of the most dramatic and impressive game music has been composed for fantasy games. Jeremy Soule employed a 30-strong choir for the soundtrack of Skyrim, and the singers had to learn entire songs in the game’s created language. Another fantasy titan, The Witcher 3, employed specially written folk music and battle songs written for medieval instruments, and the soundtrack was a major factor in creating the unique and immersive atmosphere that the game is known for.
As the gaming sector has developed in ever more sophisticated directions, the various elements of game design that contribute to a title’s success have been taken to new heights. Gameplay, music, graphics and story are just four of the key factors that go into making a classic game, and those who specialize in these disciplines can be greatly in demand.
At the same time, gamers have also become increasingly sophisticated in their understanding of the various elements involved in game design, leading to a greater appreciation for the skill and creativity that goes into the games enjoyed by millions.