3D Game Creation: Designing Levels & Building Virtual Worlds

By Vince Matthews

Video games have significantly grown in scope over the past ten years. Games that once consisted of blocky squares are now massive CGI undertakings. The size of game-development teams has increased, too. Once dev teams consisted of a programmer and artist (that is, if the programmer didn’t do all the work himself). Now it’s not unheard of that dev teams require a few hundred people.

Where previous games once required a single player and a single screen, modern games immerse players in sprawling worlds filled with multiple interactions and many areas of contact.

Bioshock Infinite immerses players in a game world that not only dazzles and amazes but challenges traditional thinking about video games.

Massive Games & Teams
The sheer size of game worlds has dramatically increased the need for artists to create them. Games like Bioshock Infinite require not only a team of coders, but a team of artists, including both character and environment artists. Then there’s the sound designer and actors required to voice the characters.

Modern game titles are built around the idea of living, breathing worlds. Take a game like Grand Theft Auto V. Its massive and elaborate urban environment is modeled after Los Angeles, with city blocks that stretch for miles. It could literally take a player years to explore every inch of the game. Fallout 3 creates a huge, post-apocalyptic world. Meanwhile, a game like Red Dead Redemption gives players the chance to experience the Wild West. In every case, the user is able to experience a world completely apart from everyday reality.

Grand Theft Auto V lets players explore a massive urban environment on foot, by car, by air and by sea.

Building Rome in a Day
Huge game worlds are being built, and artists are needed to create them. But these virtual worlds will almost certainly expand to fields outside of gaming. Building worlds for industrial simulations, business telepresence, medical imaging, even virtual tourism, are all possibilities. In each case, the technology will rely heavily on what has been pioneered in the gaming sector. And there will be a huge need to create all the art content for such elaborate worlds.

Digital Media Academy’s 3D Game Creation: Level Design with the Unreal Engine™ tech camp is an amazing introduction to building game worlds.

In the course students use 3D art creation tools like Maya and the Unreal Development Kit to create their own custom level that they can play in-game. This mirrors the professional development pipeline in the video-game industry. Student campers come away with the skills to build anything they want inside a game engine.

If you are a serious gamer and interested in a career in game art and design, don’t miss the opportunity to jump start your career in game design. Get immersed in a two-week academy for game design, build state-of-the-art 3D environments and one or more characters, all while using industry-standard tools.