Good Video Game design is not just about fast action and challenging beasts and creatures. One of the most important, yet most overlooked aspect of video game design is the believability of the world the game takes place in. When designing a video game you don't have to be a great artist but you do have to think and see like one.
The world of video game design has come a long way in the past few years. There are design suites that cost very little or even nothing that enable you to put together a world in less than a week. This has changed the way an amateur develops a game. No longer do you have to spend countless hours working out the code or the scripts. You can now focus your attention on the look and feel of the game. This means you have to start thinking and seeing like an artist.
There are things that you wouldn't even think of that artists know and see. Do you look at a building and realize the design of it? Do you see the play of light on the house next door. Do you realize how this light changes through the day. You can start to look at the world the way an artist does. And it will dramatically increase how good you are at making video games. Awaken the artist within you and look at the world around you. There is much to be learned that you can apply to the world of video games.
Look at the design and layout of the house you live in. Look at the way the yard is shaped or the neighborhood. How do the buildings sit in comparison to each other? What are the spaces between buildings like?
If you are beginning with the quest to make a video game and you are looking for practice then I recommend you take these Four steps. They begin with the center of where you are and spread out in concentric circles:
Step 1: Do a copy of the room your computer is in. Make it as realistic as possible. .Add the furniture and windows. Even add the computer. This exercise is terrific because it develops your video game making skills and it also helps you to really look at things. You look at a chair in a whole new way when you have to redesign it for the game world.
Step 2: Now do your whole house or apartment. Create all the rooms and put the doorways and windows in. You don't have to do all the furniture -just get a feel for the design of your house or apartment. Where are the stairs? How do the windows change the feel of a room. How do they change the light? How high are the ceilings? Are the ceilings all the same height? See what I mean? When you look at the world as an artist you start to see and learn new things.
Step 3: Now do a mock up of your neighborhood. Design all the buildings, place them on the street. You don't have to get real detailed. The point is to get a feel for the design and layout on a larger scale. Wouldn't it be great to make a character that could walk around in your neighborhood in a video game? Make sure you go outside and look.
"You have to look. If you do it from memory you are not getting the full experience. When you look at the neighborhood with the intent of putting it into a video game you will see things you never saw before. Take a sketchbook with you or a digital camera"
Step 4: Go to an outdoor location that you are not familiar with -a nearby park would be ideal for this. Bring a sketchpad and colored pencils with you and do lots of sketches of the environment. Try to see as an artist would see. Notice how the sidewalks curve in a way that accentuates the grassy areas of land. Notice the differences in color.
When you are trying to design video games try to see things in a new way. Think about the light and how it changes. Think about the colors of things and how the colors within a scene interact with each other. Notice the flow of structures and the way people move within and around these structures.
Video game design as an amateur can be a very rewarding and a very fulfilling pursuit. But it is a skill and as with any other skill one of the best ways to learn is to look at the work of the masters of the craft. By this I don't mean just look at other video games. To see the world you are building with the eye of an artist you should look at the works of master artists like Rembrandt, DaVinci or even Frazetta. All of the things they do will teach you how to visualize your video game world in ways that will bring it to life.