3D modeling has become more and more common across different industries, but especially in the world of video game development. Today, 3D assets are an integral part of most games released on the market. 3D models are responsible for making these characters and world more realistic.
How exactly is 3D modeling used in this development process? This technology is how designers create the images and stories we see on the screen when playing our favorite games. While it requires a great amount of skill, 3D modeling has revolutionized the way video games are created. Here are 3 ways 3D modeling is used today by developers.
1. Creating the Characters on Screen
Without the characters, games would be a lot less personal. While some games might not feature prominent characters, you’ll likely still experience some kind of plot or elements you’ll be interacting with. 3D modeling is responsible for these characters and experiences you see on screen.
Like with any art, it’s important to know which details matter the most. This might not be as clear as you think. Beyond modeling, developers need to create characters that have a unique backstory and fit clearly into the storyline. Next, they need to visualize these characters with even the smallest touches that breathe life into them. What makes a woman from the Middle Ages different from an elderly man you’d encounter today? This is all in the details.
These 3D models don’t start complicated. In fact, they begin with only simple shapes like cylinders. They are used to create the characters’ proportions before anything else, and from there, more detail is added. However, detail isn’t added excessively. Some parts of the character aren’t likely to be seen during gameplay, so it’s not worth going above and beyond in these areas that don’t get attention. Ultimately, developers create memorable characters that feel fully a part of the storyline.
2. Building Texture
On its own, 3D models would look like nothing more than a series of shapes. Real life doesn’t work this way. We’re in a world full of rich textures and materials. Not everything is a smooth surface. 3D modeling technology has advanced enough to make it possible to texturize the objects and even the characters in video games.
Relying on the same 3D technology, texturing is a process that takes place after the first stages of development. Once the characters and objects are formed, they need to be textured. Texturing is done through maps, some of which are more important than others. These maps are called Diffuse maps, Normal Maps, Specular Maps, and Alpha Maps.
Each map has something different it adds to the shape. A Specular Map, for example, adds a “shininess” to an object. It’s what shows light or reflective surfaces. On the other hand, a Normal Map adds greater detail with colors like blue, pink, and green.
Another type of texture seen in game design is known as tiling. Because sometimes textures appear as tiles (think tile floor or even a brick wall), these textures are sometimes repeated. Think about how long it would take to individually texture every block on the sidewalk in a game, for example. Because that level of texturing is so time-consuming, many developers rely on tiling to repeat the texture for one area, like a wall or floor.
3. Measuring Scale
Finally, another way 3D modeling is used in the world of video game development is with measurements. Every design in a video game is intentional. In most cases, the goal is to be as realistic as possible. Thanks to 3D modeling, it’s possible to turn real-life photos into 3D models to compare scale in video games. These real-life photos can form the basis for video game locations.
In order to make the characters feel like they’re a real part of their environment, these locations and objects need to be accurately sized. Measuring scale doesn’t take as much effort anymore thanks to 3D modeling, and it’s a real feat of technology. Read more here about how this measuring feature is utilized in animation, film, and gaming.
3D in Video Game Design
Today, 3D modeling is the new normal. This is something we can all be thankful for because not only does it make games more thrilling and realistic, but it also helps developers work quickly and accurately. Just two years ago, over 2.5 billion users played video games in some capacity. That’s a huge number that proves video games are here to stay, and we need more ways to revolutionize the industry.
With 3D modeling in game design, we can push our technology even further. Who knows where games will be in the next few years? Our bets are on virtual reality and artificial intelligence playing a larger role. Until then, game on.