Game development is a diverse field that incorporates multiple disciplines.
Two of them are game art and game design. As many of us are not aware of the work behind the making of games, we often confuse game art and game design to be the same.
So, what is game art vs game design?
Game art is the visual appearance that brings out the feel of the game whereas Game design is the concept of the game.
Understanding the game art and game design difference is important if you are a game enthusiast or an aspiring game developer or maybe someone looking to hire a game development studio for creating immersive video games.
Let’s dive straight into the concept of game art and game design.
Game art is the creation of visual elements in the game which involves the characters, environment, special effects, props, game assets, and user interface elements.
Let me explain it with a classic example of Candy Crush. It is a simple puzzle game. The game had art elements such as vibrant and colorful backgrounds, shiny and brilliantly colored candies, attractive figurines and tiny creatures that made it more enjoyable for the players.
Game art is branched out into various specific areas from concept art, and character art to VFX. Here, I have given a brief account on the different types of game art.
Concept art is creating the initial artistic vision of the game. It helps convey the initial design idea to other game artists and developers.
Many sketches of character models with different postures are created imagining various movements. It goes through many corrections and modifications before settling on one model.
Concept art can also be used for other purposes like advertising after undergoing slight modifications.
Character art is shaping the character by creating visually appealing facial features, costumes, weapons, and texture through sculpting, editing, rigging, etc.
Character art involves creating 2D drawings and 3D models and at times the character artists work also involves making the character move.
You might have seen “Crates” in games. Crates are the most common props built in many games.
Props are elements that lie around in the game that support the game but are not essentially a part of the game.
There are props like crates, barrels, and trains that do not interact with the game elements. And there are props like guns, cars, boats, and weapons that interact with the characters.
Prop art might not seem so important, but they are necessary as they make the game environment livelier.
Environment art crafts the fantasy game world adding landscapes, scenery, buildings, props, and colorful background that goes well with the game design.
The environment artists work with other artists and level designers to build the desired game environment where the players interact with the game. The environment artists take care of every detail from landscapes to small game assets to provide a compelling game.
Visual effects improve the overall gaming experience of the players by adding visual components and effects to the game. They are neither characters nor objects.
Gun firing, rain, and explosions were some of the examples of visual effects, you might have seen in video games. Visual effects are mostly used in RPGs (Role Playing Games), and combat games.
It is basically divided into gameplay effects (For example, Gun Fire) and environment effects (For Example, Lightning).
Game artists bring life to the game by creating 2D and 3D models of game elements using various tools like Adobe Illustrator, 3Ds Max, Nuke, and Unity.
They create special effects, characters, background, props, game assets and user interface elements in the game.
Game Design is the concept, gameplay mechanics, the rules and user experience in a video game. It is the initial stage where the storyline, characters, levels, rules, instructions, goals and rewards were designed to provide a basic framework.
Again, let us take Candy Crush as an example. In this game, the game mechanics involves matching 3, 4 or 5 candies to smash them. The levels in the game are easier at first and the difficulty increases with each passing level. Likewise, the powerups are designed to encourage and motivate the player to keep playing. Adding the cherry on the top, the in-app purchases, social interaction, and lives sharing made the game more fun and engaging for the players.
There are many types of game designs and I have given a brief explanation of each one for your better understanding.
Game mechanics design is the logical interaction of the game components with the characters maintaining a smooth gameplay experience.
For example, jumping and running are the basic core mechanics in Super Mario. In this game, Super Mario clears obstacles, defeats enemies, collects coins, and power ups by jumping and running, and reaches the flagpole at the end of each level.
Level design involves creating levels, missions, accomplishments, goals, and events making the players interactive and engaging with the game. They create an environment that gives a sense of achievement and motivates the players to go to the next level.
Let me give you an example for a better understanding. When you start playing a game the first few levels feel easier making you feel like you intuitively know the game. After a few levels, the difficulty level will start to increase steadily, challenging you to complete the level.
The main focus of narrative design is providing good gaming experience by creating interactive dialogues, scripts and story plots. This actually doesn’t involve creating a story but rather builds up the game from the story pitch provided by the game writers.
To put it simply, narrative design plans the way the player engages with the video game. For example, creating quests to engage players with the game.
UI design is implementing visual interactive elements such as menus, icons, buttons, color schemes, and typography. This helps with user interaction and easy navigation during gameplay providing a better user experience.
UX design involves wireframes and layouts, visual hierarchy, game flow, interaction, and feedback to improve the user experience. This is an important aspect as it addresses the user’s pain points and resolves them maintaining an uninterrupted game flow and a good user experience
The sound design includes designing the soundtrack of the game. It gives a realistic feel to the game.
The background music, the sound of the actions performed by the characters, and the object sound were all part of the sound design. Gunfire sound and the sound of a raging river are a few examples of sound design.
Game designers create the game’s vision. They create the game mechanics, rules, levels, and user experience in the game.
Their work starts from creating the initial concept of the game and extends to the final testing stage. They work with other game developers and test the game to improve the overall gaming experience.
By now, you would have understood the game art and game design difference. And you might also have a basic understanding of the various types of game art and game design.
To sum it up, game art gives the feel of the game by making and shaping the characters, environment, props, game assets, visual effects, and user interface in a game. On the other hand, game design is designing the concept, game mechanics, rules, story, plots, levels, and user experience.
Even though they are different from one another, they both are two important processes in game development that go hand in hand with one another.
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