The recent advancement of three-dimensional modeling in the gaming industry is monumental. Just a few years back, it was very challenging to create 3D models with high definitions. But within a time of ten years or so, the importance of 3D modeling grew multifold.
Once 3D modeling is possible only in PC and console gaming. Whereas now you can enjoy the luxury of real-time 3D models on mobile devices too. It is due to the radical growth in engineering and advancement in mobile computing.
As newer technologies come into play, game artists push the technical boundaries, creating advanced modeling techniques — which resulted in the realistic 3D models we see today. The introduction of artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality, metaverse, and blockchain has contributed to the growth of 3D modeling to reach greater heights, than anyone could have ever imagined.
To better understand why 3D modeling is important in video game development, you need to know the history and evolution of 3D modeling.
Today the scenario of 3D modeling in game development is in a totally different league when compared to its emergence sixty years before. The development of 3D modeling in the gaming industry over the years has been very significant for its modern-day innovations.
The first 3D model was created in 1963 with the invention of Sketchpad by Ivan Sutherland. You can say this is the start of 3D modeling in the computer world and it can be considered as the predecessor of computer-aided design (CAD).
Following this, in the 1970s game developers started experimenting with 3D graphics in video games which lead to the making of the first 3D video games Maze War (1973) and Spasim (1974). Maze War was the first ever game to use vector graphics to stimulate a three-dimensional layout.
Following this Space Invaders (1978) game showed a little better 3D model with the introduction of some color in the video games. The 1980s era led to the rise of pseudo-3D graphics in video game development where the 3D models created an illusion of 3D graphics but were actually two-dimensional layouts. Many video games created during that time followed that trend.
Further, the texturing of 3D modeling was discovered in the 1990s and you can see the use of textured 3D models in games like Mortal Combat, Wolfenstein, and Grand Theft Auto.
From the early 2000s till now 3D modeling has improved a lot due to the development of new technologies like 3DS Max, Autodesk Maya, Blender, etc., The realistic 3D models we see today in video games are due to the use of advanced 3D modeling techniques which are curated by modeling artists over years.
Below, let us see the various use cases, types, and techniques of 3D modeling.
Essentially, as the technology advanced, it made unexpected improvements in 3D modeling.
Starting from character design and concept art, the usage of 3D modeling extends to the creation of the entire game environment, characters, and props. Let us see the use cases of game 3D modeling in brief.
Characters are the most important elements in a game. They stick with the players throughout the game providing them a personalized experience. 3D modeling does a very good job of capturing the detailed features of real-life characters and replicate them in a realistic way.
In order to achieve high-fidelity character models, the high-poly method is used. This adds more depth and personality to the characters. Modeling artists use multiple techniques like shading, mesh editing, texturing, and lighting to make sure the character models are as realistic as real-world models.
Not only the main characters, NPCs also contribute to the interactive gaming experience. A survey found that 88% of players think NPCs will provide an immersive and interactive gaming experience.
The game environment includes landscapes, levels, backgrounds, and game assets. It is a very important aspect of a game. It sets the mood and feel of the virtual world by creating an immersive and realistic gaming environment for the players to explore.
Apart from that, 3D modeling also reduces the burden of creating multiple prototypes and designs. It uses techniques like procedural modeling to make changes to an already existing environment model using mathematical algorithms without the need to do much manual work.
Next to environment development, props require more models in video games. Props can be trees, vehicles, weapons, crates, etc., which help create a lively environment. The game modeler uses modeling and copying techniques to make specific changes in the already existing prop model, copy and reuse it again in other places of the game.
As 3D models use real-time rendering, the modelers use high fidelity in the foreground and the middle ground and background have low fidelity to reduce the polygon count. You can see in first-person shooter games, where the weapons at a distance do not have any specific feature. When the player moves close to it, only then distinct features are visible.
We have seen the applications of 3D modeling. Below we will see the 3D modeling methods which are used in video games.
Solid modeling is a method of modeling solid objects in three dimensions including their shape, structure, and material properties. It is one of the toughest modeling methods as it includes details of both the interior and exterior of the solid objects. It also contains physical properties of the object such as mass, density, and volume.
It is used to create environment design, and level design including landscapes, obstacles, and mechanical assets like weapons, vehicles, etc., in game development.
A simple framework of lines and points is created using vertices, edges, and lines in the wireframe method. Unlike solid and surface modeling, it does not contain volumetric and surface details. One of the main use of wireframe modeling is that it helps to understand the basic structure and relationship between various elements.
They are mostly used in game design. Important areas where wireframe modeling is used are prototyping, game design, animation and rigging sketches, UI/UX design, and technical documents.
Surface modeling uses techniques like Non-Uniform Rational B-Spline (NURBS), Beizer curves, and cubic splines to represent the outer surface details of an object including its shape, curve, and structure. They are used to capture complex curves, irregular surfaces, and intricate details of an object. Mostly used to represent artistic visuals that have intricate and complex details.
Character design like mystic creatures, monsters, etc., visual effects, particle effects, complex props, and architectural structures, are some areas where surface modeling is used in game development.
Next, we are going to see some of the common and advanced modeling techniques used in developing 3D models.
Image-based modeling uses images as a source to create three-dimensional models. Photogrammetry, texture mapping, and stencil mapping are some of the techniques of image-based modeling.
Digital sculpting is a common technique in 3D modeling where multiple-layer polygon meshes are applied to give the look of digital clay. The polygonal meshes can be pulled, pinched, pushed, and twisted using modeling tools like Blender, Maya, Mudbox, and Zbrush.
The modeling artists use the camera to scan the real-world environment and model them into the virtual game world. A game development studio uses this method for creating environment models, backgrounds, landscapes, sceneries, etc., capturing real-world perplexing details.
Photogrammetry is one of the advanced 3D modeling techniques where multiple images of the character models were captured from different angles and uploaded to the software. The 3D models are generated by analyzing these images. This uses high poly modeling to create photo-realistic characters in a video game.
In Procedural generation, the system is programmed with mathematical algorithms, which generate three-dimensional game assets without using any manual work. A game art outsourcing studio uses this method to create random content in video games. It is used for creating game levels and game worlds.
Subsurface scattering is one of the advanced modeling techniques where the scattering effects of light when interacting with translucent objects are depicted. In this method, they use physics, shading, and light scattering effects to capture the forward and backward scattering of light. For example, Skin, Wax, leaves, etc.,
Apart from creating game content, 3D modeling is also used for other purposes. Let us see them in brief.
The present day 3D modeling technologies push the technical boundaries, opening up new creative possibilities for the game developers. Many new and advanced technologies and tools were constantly being evolved to create visually captivating 3D models.
These technologies gave rise to multiple advanced rendering, and modeling techniques like rasterization, ray tracing, and radiosity. With the help of these techniques, video games were able to create real-world environments and lifelike characters.
Apart from creating models for concept art, characters, and environment, 3D modeling is also used for game advertising and marketing campaigns. The purpose of this is to stir up curiosity in the players before the game launch.
3D modeling services also use 3D models for video game promotions on social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
We have seen the present day use cases of 3D modeling so far. Following, let us see why is 3D modeling important in the future of the gaming industry.
The future scope of 3D modeling is vast. With the advancements in technology, software, and creative approaches, we can surely say that there will be more dynamic transformations in the gaming industry.
Some future applications of 3D modeling are given below.
The future of 3D reality gaming is endless. You can attend real-time virtual events, and concerts in the virtual space. For example, Travis Scott and Ariana Grande’s music concert was organized by Epic Games in their game ‘Fortnight’.
The virtual Reality market is expected to reach $ 168.87 billion whereas the Augmented Reality market is expected to see a growth of $ 43.1 billion by 2028. Consequently, the incorporation of mixed reality (where virtual reality uses aspects of augmented reality) in the reality landscape is gaining more traction among the audience.
With the combined integration of 3D modeling and Artificial intelligence, you can greatly enhance the visual capabilities, tone, aesthetics, and depth of VR and AR games. Stereoscopic, holographic, and volumetric modeling methods are used to improve the visual quality and depth of the models. Also, 3D modelers incorporate multiple lighting, texturing, mesh editing, and rendering techniques to enhance the speed of real-time interaction in the virtual space.
Artificial intelligence and Machine learning can be of great advantage to game development as they can speed up the game-making process saving a lot of time and resources.
Some of the uses of AI in the gaming industry are listed below
Kaedim, Ready Play Me, and NVIDIA’s 3D aid are some of the popular 3D modeling AI tools that are used to create 3D models.
Metaverse has become a new fascinating topic in the gaming industry. The development of blockchain technology, 3D modeling, 5G, VR, and AR has contributed to the metaverse development. Among them, 3D modeling adds to the enhancement of realistic and immersive gaming experiences for players.
In order to provide an immersive experience, game developers use 3D reconstruction techniques in the metaverse. For the metaverse to enter into its next stage of dynamic transformation, it is necessary to find a way to create 3D models at scale.
Apart from that, metaverse also offers many exciting features like user-generated content, interoperability, unique NCP, and realistic avatar creation.
In conclusion, the importance of 3D modeling in game development is extensive not only in providing visual realism but also in shaping the characters, environments, game mechanics, and UI/UX design. They provide a captivating experience to the players submerging them in the virtual world. Along with the development of innovative technologies, 3D modeling is going to take the center stage in making creative virtual worlds with awe-inspiring realism.
If you have any game ideas in mind, reach out to us. At Juego Studios, we have a team of experts who have experience in making games in various genres like action-adventure, fighting games, RTS, and NFT games.
We are one of the leading game development companies using cutting-edge technology in 3D modeling providing a remarkable gaming experience to the players at affordable prices. Apart from that, we offer various game development services like metaverse game development, blockchain game development, and AR/VR game development services.
The advanced 3D modeling techniques are photogrammetry, procedural generation, and subsurface scattering.
3D modeling is crucial in game development as it creates detailed and lifelike characters, environments, and game assets offering immersive gameplay experiences and enhancing visual realism.
There are three main types of 3D modeling. They are