Video games have come a long way since the days of pixelated characters and rudimentary graphics. Today, you can get a software engineering degree and start your journey as a game designer, and it’ll give you the power to create immersive and realistic gaming experiences that transport players to other worlds and make them feel like active participants in the story.
Though some might say it’s not easy, and achieving realism in game design is a pursuit that has captivated the industry, it’s not just about the graphics, but it’s all doable. Realism encompasses various aspects of a game, from physics and mechanics to storytelling and immersion. And the best part is that you can learn how to make it, and not just realistic games online, but realistic game design as a whole. So, here are six tips that will help you turn that normal game into an awe-wow experience for gamers.
1. Pay Attention To Physics And Mechanics
The realism part begins with the fundamental mechanics of your game. When designing the gameplay and the elements you’ll include, consider how objects and characters interact with each other and the environment.
Realistic physics can greatly enhance that immersion side. A game that exemplifies this is “Red Dead Redemption 2” by Rockstar Games. The way the characters move, the physics of the weapons, and even the horseback riding mechanics contribute to a remarkably immersive Wild West experience.
2. Prioritize Authentic Graphics And Environments
One of the most obvious ways to make a game feel realistic is through its visuals. How’s that? Well, utilize advanced graphics engines and pay meticulous attention to detail in the game’s environments. “The Last of Us Part II” from Naughty Dog is a prime example (and not just the popular TV Show). Its post-apocalyptic world is painstakingly rendered, with realistic foliage, weather effects, and character animations, creating an emotionally charged and immersive experience.
3. Develop Believable Characters And Dialogue
Next, we have the characters that the player will interact with, realistic characters and dialogue are essential for player engagement. Create well-developed, relatable characters with complex motivations and emotions. Games like “The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt” by CD Projekt Red excel in this aspect. If you have played The Witcher, you’ll know how, Geralt, the protagonist, is a multi-dimensional character with flaws and virtues, and the game’s dialogue choices allow players to shape the story in a believable way. But if you have a hard time going through games, you can take a quick look at the show on Netflix too, equally exciting.
4. Integrate Authentic Soundscapes
Sound design is often underestimated, but it plays a crucial role in creating realism, especially when you know that some play with headphones on. Don’t forget to incorporate realistic ambient sounds, music that suits the atmosphere, and lifelike voice acting. You can also use any AI voice generator for the same. “Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice” by Ninja Theory is a shining example of this. This game uses binaural audio technology, which enhances immersion by simulating how sound would behave in the real world, making players feel as though they’re inside the protagonist’s mind. Sounds creepy for some, but it works.
5. Offer Choices And Consequences
Realism also involves giving players meaningful choices and consequences that affect the game world. “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim” by Bethesda Softworks is renowned for its open-world design, where player choices can drastically alter the course of the game. This level of freedom allows players to craft their unique stories, adding a layer of realism to the experience. Another example of open-world choices to make is The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild or the newest Tears of the Kingdom, the way you can go hours and hours into these games and not get tired is mind-blowing.
6. Create A Living, Breathing World
A truly realistic game world should feel alive, even when the player isn’t around. Populate your game world with non-playable characters (NPCs) that have their daily routines, interact with each other, and respond to the player’s actions, it can be a riot, but if you’re not an expert in storytelling, you can always hire a writer for this part.
“Grand Theft Auto V” by Rockstar Games is a masterclass in this regard, that is the NPCs. The fictional city of Los Santos is teeming with NPCs who go about their business, creating a dynamic and immersive environment.
And so, there are the six tips to turn your game into a realistic place, by creating a more realistic game design, it involves a holistic approach that encompasses various aspects of game development. It boils down to paying attention to physics, graphics, characters, sound, choices, and world-building, that way you can create an immersive and engaging gaming experience that captivates players and makes them feel like they’re part of a believable virtual world. These principles are exemplified in all those games that you feel like going back to over and over.
So, take inspiration from this and embark on your journey to craft more realistic and unforgettable gaming experiences.