It takes a lot of different people to make a video game happen. Some people work behind the scenes, coming up with concepts, fleshing out the story, and writing dialogue. They pass these elements on to the team that will build the game proper. This team consists of artists and programmers skilled in various elements of video game programming who bring ideas to life.
Background artists are specialized artists who literally build the world in which the game will take place. As a background artist, you need to have a keen understanding of the atmosphere and tone of the game as a whole, and specifically, the concept that should be conveyed at various times. The first time through an area or level, the characters may be young and hopeful, with the landscape rendered in bright colors. Later, after a cataclysm, they may return to see that same area scarred by war and destruction. It’s your job to keep the style and content consistent so that the player can remain immersed in the world.
If you spent endless hours in school doodling in the margins of your notebooks, creating heroes and monsters to take part in epic battles and noble quests, then you might be well suited to be a character artist. Characters really need to come alive for the player. Their movements and gear must be realistic and facial expressions true to life. Nothing takes a gamer out of the experience more than a character who is yelling out a warning with a perfectly straight face. You can deliver realistic characters to the next generation of gamers.
The player characters are important, but so are the non-player-controlled characters (NPC). These are almost more important in some ways, as they help flesh out the world of the game. If you have a great character in a brilliant world with an awesome story to play out, but the NPCs all act like idiots or do things that make no sense, then the game will ultimately fall flat. Video game programming has made leaps and bounds in recent years, allowing more sophisticated enemies and allies for gamers.
Good characters and background are all that goes into a good game. They need to interact with each other and the world at large in a realistic way. This aspect of video game programming is always undergoing advances. Some programmers even develop “physics engines,” which set the rules for how everything in the world operates: how fast things fall, what happens when to objects bump into each other. Smoothing out these kinds of issues is critical to building a good game.
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