Real-time VFX in games is critical to enhancing a game’s overall visual appearance and helping it carve a distinct visual identity. Beyond the polished and professional feeling that it helps to offer, it’s essential to communicating valuable information to players.
Using high-quality real-time VFX in games is helpful for players to understand actions and the world around them. It acts as visual feedback that informs players what is happening during gameplay. Real-time VFX in games is arguably the most significant contributor to players inherently understanding the game world and actions outside of being explicitly told. As a leading Real-Time VFX service provider, we at Magic Media want to push the limits of what is possible creatively and technically while maintaining competitive costs.
Real-time VFX is essential to helping players understand their actions in-game. Though this might sound obvious, the player’s actions might not be so clear. Take, for instance, a fantasy RPG where players can shoot fireballs. Players might know the input required to produce the spell in-game, but without showing the fire effects, residual effects, and how it impacts an enemy or object, it would be difficult to understand its impact, damage, the length of the effect, and its decay over time.
Similarly, real-time VFX is used to help players understand the characters they’re playing. If the player’s character takes damage, this can be represented on screen with effects like camera shaking and visual distortion in the form of blurring or red coloring to represent blood or the player’s health bar. Distorting the player’s point of view like this helps communicate with them in no uncertain terms that they’ve been adversely affected and creates a sense of urgency around the actions inflicted on them.
Beyond the confines of character interactions, real-time VFX communicates information about the game world, its possible interactions, and what players can expect from certain locations. A common application of this would be the use of smoke effects in open-world games, which can indicate friendly or enemy camps, burning structures, or weaponized smokescreen weapons. Splashes in bodies of water can indicate there is some form of activity going on, possibly dangerous or simply something that the player can interact with.
A fantastic example of this is in the PlayStation-exclusive title Ghost of Tsushima. After placing a map marker in this open-world game, instead of traditional direction markers appearing on the heads-up display, the wind will travel in the direction of your objective. It’ll interact with flowers, trees, and leaves to highlight which direction the wind is blowing, so the player at all times knows what direction to go in. This is not only a clever use, but it also removes the need for traditional HUD elements which can be considered obtrusive and immersion-breaking by some players.
Real-time VFX works tremendously to enhance the overall player experience by enforcing specific moods and tones. Through this effect, game developers and artists can instill fear, build anticipation, and inspire a sense of wonder in players. The fog of the Silent Hill games is an iconic example of immersing players in a frightening, unknowable environment. Another prominent example is in Dead Space, a sci-fi horror game that uses flickering lights and darkness to shroud environments and thrust players into the unknown, with glimpses offered of the surrounding horror through unreliable light sources.
Conjuring atmosphere through real-time VFX can be as layered as the game developer wants. BioShock Infinite, set in a fictional floating city, initially presents players with bright colors, fireworks, and sunny skies. This juxtaposes the themes of the dark narrative at play along with the dimly-lit, horror-influenced locations the player encounters later in the game.
At Magic Media we are veterans of the gaming, tech and entertainment industries, offering comprehensive services including game development, VFX, animation and full art services! Our main goal is to provide a one-stop solution for any project. If you’d like to utilize our expertize and experience in creating, game art and more, drop us a line and let’s create magic!