Game Environment Modeling - All You Need to Know
Game Environment Modeling

Game Environment Modeling – Unveiling Secrets to Keep Players Engaged

Do you know why popular games like Fortnite, PUBG, and even our childhood-time famous games like GTA Vice City are so popular? Okay, let me give you a hint! Even if there’s nothing to do for a few seconds in the game, you still have enjoyed exploring that game arena, haven’t you? So, that’s the game environment that kept you interested in exploring the game more and more.

But do you know what kind of processes those game developers have gone through to craft such an immersive game environment? Well, you might as well have a rough idea, but definitely interested in exploring those answers.

And, if you’re someone looking for a guide to game environment modeling, then this guide is specifically designed for you.

So, let’s land in the arena of game environment creation and begin exploring its mysteries.

What Is Game Environment Modeling?

What is Game Environment Modeling

Game environment modeling stands for crafting 2D or 3D game arenas, playable locations where your digital video game story takes place.

This practice focuses on the detailing of designing and building various game environment-based elements, including game characters and non-playing characters, terrain and landscapes, architectural objects and structures, interaction and mechanics, and a lot more that help you illustrate a compelling game storyline as you’ve thought of.

In short, game environment modeling aims to create immersive and fascinating environments that can offer a stylized backdrop for the gameplay and game narrative.

With all these details, please don’t confuse yourself about the game environment being the game map design.

As the name suggests, the game map only focuses on the territory indicating the occurrence of the gameplay. On the other hand, a game environment design is a game world that players see and interact with while playing the game.

Not just that, there are also types of game environment modeling, which we’ll learn in the next section.

What Are The Types of Game Environment Modeling?

You’d be surprised to know that, but yes, you can design the game world of your imagination in more than one type. So, to know the details, let’s explore the game environment modeling types:

1. 2D Modeled Game Environment

2D Modeled Game Environment

The game environment, modeled with two-dimensional (2D) objects, terrains, and many other things, takes the gameplay with quite an amazing journey to nostalgia with its retro-stylized aesthetics.

Unlike 3D-modeled game environments, 2D environments may lack visual depth and realism, but they have their own charms and advantages for the game creators. Well, 2D game environment design is not that easy, but when compared to 3D modeling, it is a lot easier and requires less computational power to render.

Though with some limitations in the 2D game environment design, 2D artists play quite a creative role to create game environments for your 2D game development concept that are captivating for the players to explore.

2. 3D Modeling-based Game Environment

3D Modeling-based Game Environment

It’s defined, as the name suggests, as a game environment model designed with 3D modeling techniques, where every object of the game environment, including characters, terrain, etc., is designed in three dimensional.

Due to such techniques, the 3D-modeled game environment provides players with a more immersive and interactive experience with realistic movements, dynamic lighting, shadows, and environment exploration from different angles. In short, it enables players to a completely new world with more sense of depth and scale.

When it comes to 3D modeling, you must know two main types based on the polygons used in the game environment design, which are as follows:

Low Poly Game Environment

Low Poly Game Environment

The low poly game environment contains 3D polygon-based visuals and objects that contain a fewer number of polygons – around 300+ polygons.

Of course, game visuals designed in a low poly design style might not be as appealing to see as high poly models but can provide a way better experience than 2D visuals.

The best thing about low poly game environment design is that it requires artists to spend less time and effort to design and render them.

So, where can this low poly design be used?

You can use low poly art models for secondary assets or to design simple backgrounds for your game.

Moreover, these game art models are also preferred by experts to use when you require 3D game environment models but have less time for modeling and texturing.

High Poly Game Environment

High Poly Game Environment

When there is a requirement for designing game environments with more details while ensuring high fidelity and realism, then high poly design models are used. High poly models often help you create game environments in a much better polished and natural way.

So, to design gaming assets for a foreground environment. And when designed in a high poly game environment, it provides players with an aesthetically pleasing and amusing experience.

How Is Game Environment Modeling Different For Different Platforms?

Well, the game environment is consistent across every touchpoint, so what’s the point of discussing this? Even though the environment remains the same, the screen size and design planning can vary. Therefore, it is crucial to discuss game environment modeling for different platforms.

1. For PCs and Consoles

When designing the game environment to make it supportable to PC and consoles, it is essential to focus on the design, details, and clarity of the visuals as they stretch to fit on the bigger screens.

Because of this and to avoid the quality of the game visuals degrading, you need to go for the high poly game design model. So, you can provide your PC and console-using game players more immersive gaming experience.

Apart from making the game environment look visually stunning, you do want to adjust its lighting and transitions along with visuals.

Moreover, you can add and adjust other appropriate assets that fit into that game environment really comfortably, creating a positive effect on the plot.

2. Mobile phones

When designing a mobile game environment, it’s okay if you don’t focus much on details. The reason is, how much will you cover on that small screen? Yes, it’s alright! You do want to provide your users with amazing gaming experiences!

But when we say you don’t need to focus much on details, it doesn’t mean you’ll degrade the quality of the game environment – instead, you can go for minimalism. And for smaller screens, you can even go for the low-poly design models.

So, when designing a game environment for a smaller screen, always look for ways to make each element fit in the design perfectly rather than taking up too much space.

In the other case of the big screens like PC games, you should ensure to add details into the game environment design to give it a realistic look and a more immersive experience for your players.

Essential Building Blocks in Game Environment Modeling

When working on game environment modeling, you may require distinct expertise in game design to meet various modeling requirements, enabling you to create a cohesive and immersive game environment: 

Static Modeling

Static Modeling

These are the bonus models in the game environment that are non-interactive and serve as backdrops for the game. As the name suggests, such elements are pre-rendered and remain the same throughout the game – meaning does not change dynamically during gameplay.

Though not interactive in the game, they play an essential role in elevating the game visuals.

Terrain Modeling

Terrain Modeling

This type of modeling involves the creation of realistic, stylized landscapes, such as mountains, valleys, and other natural features. Our Game Artists utilize various technicals, like texture mapping, sculpting, and vegetation placement, to give the terrain a realistic look.

Architectural Modeling

Architectural Modeling

In the requirement of designing detailed interior spaces, such as buildings, houses, or dungeons, architectural modeling comes of great help. Our 3D artists can help you craft stunning architectural elements within the game world.

Level Design

level design for game environment

Game levels are what keep players captivated by the game. So, when designing it, level designers should usher players through their game objectives while creating challenges for players that motivate them to play it more.

Our level designers work closely with game designers to ensure to create interesting challenges with each new level.

Read Also: Stylized vs Hyper-Realistic: Which is Better for Game Art Design

Game Environment Modeling Considerations

After knowing the building blocks of game environment modeling, you do want to know some essential considerations to avoid further obstacles. So, let’s know game environment modeling considerations:

1. Choose The Appropriate Game Environment Aesthetics

Game aesthetics are considered the best when your players also vibe on the same level as you want them to experience. And this gaming mood setting is done by choosing the appropriate visual style of your game.

So, when starting to design your game environment, you should ask yourself a question – “how do you want your players to experience when playing your game?”

If you want your gamers to feel at ease with your relaxing mind game concept, you might want to go for the low poly design with a soothing color palette to give them a relaxed gaming experience.

On the other hand, when designing a game environment where your gamers’ excitement level is required, you can go for the highlighting, vibrant yet natural-looking color theme with shadows, lighting, and realism, to keep them focused and excited.

So, the right decision for your game environment theme selection is a must to set the mood and tone of your dream game.

2. Source Your Game Design Inspiration

There is always an inspiration behind every game design idea you’ve got, and when planning to bring that to life, you must source your inspiration. Apart from that, you should also gather references to similar games with the details you like and have impressed their target audience. So taking reference from it, you can design your game environment in a much better way than that which will help you illustrate a better gaming experience.

3. Find The Right Game Engine

After gathering all the references you need to craft your dream game world, you need a robust design tool and a game engine to bring your inspiration to life. But as in the market, amongst countless game design tools available, which one will you choose?

You must have heard of popular game engines like Unity and Unreal Engine, offering top-notch features to design visually stunning and highly detailed game worlds and their elements, characters, and more.

If you’re developing a game that requires a high level of realism and detailing, you can go for both Unity and Unreal Engine due to their competitive features and performance.

But for developing visually stunning 2D games, many experts advise going for Unity Game Engine as it provides more compelling features and supports for the same.

4. Set The Game Mood With Appropriate Light And Color Settings

Lights and colors play a vital role in setting up the mood of the game and its players, which makes it important for you to select and apply those appropriately.

Hence, in our game, Forbidden Islands, we used the dark night sky with other environment elements visualized in the sparkled, vibrant neon colors, creating a perfect alluring arena to explore.

The same goes with our star product ROFL – Roll Fall Land, where our game creators have used neon colors and lighting-based characters (Dice) and lands full of obstacles where the dice fall into the land and give thrills to our game players with each fall.

This is about the only two games we created, but we have a lot more to share with you regarding setting the mood and tone of the game world. Check out our gaming portfolio to know more about our expertise.

5. Look Into Details

The game environment is not just a design but an exploring experience that you want to provide to your players. So, you need to add enough details in your game design that can immerse players into it entirely.

With details, you should also highlight touchpoints in a game that guides players to move ahead in the game and give them another reality kind of gaming experience.

Now that you got through the game environment modeling considerations, let’s move ahead with the next and the most important part of this blog, which will guide you through the process of creating game environments.

A Step-by-step Guide to Game Environment Modeling

Here are the expert-suggested steps to create an immersive and engaging game environment that your players will enjoy exploring:

Planning

planning for game environment

Having a game idea is really great, but to bring that concept to reality, you need to conduct your market study and gather references you’d want to consider further.

After the reference gathering, when you conduct deep reference analysis, you can get a clear idea about the models you want to create next and with what kind of details.

After this clear vision for the design, you can start with the rough grayboxing. But what is this grayboxing?

Greyboxing is a process of creating rough models or arrangements on a surface using blocks that give developers a hint of what kind of basic structure will come and start the development alongside the design process, resulting in smart working and time-saving.

This process gives you time to think about and add details to that arrangement and undo it if you feel like you can do better in the design.

3D Modeling

3D modeling

After creating the gray boxes, it’s time to go for 3D modeling to give your rough boxes a detailed touch.

You’ll find many 3D modeling tools to create game objects, but many 3D modeling artists suggest using design tools like Unity or Blender to create them finely. When doing so, 3D environment artists prepare meshes of game assets to fill their details in the later part.

Some 3D modeling tools may provide automation features to automatically generate objects, but when needed, high-quality and innovative models should be done manually.

UV Mapping & Texturing

UV Mapping & Texturing

Now, it’s time to do the UV mapping, where U stands for the horizontal axis, and V stands for the vertical axis. It is a process of generating a 2D representation of a 3D object. The objective of doing UV mapping is to generate a link between a surface mesh and image texture, controlling pixels on the texture adjacent to the 3D mesh vertex.

When applied texturing on UV mapping, it helps to bring your game environment concept to life. The main point of using texturing is to create environment materials matching up with the game concept. It also makes it possible to edit the expanded models.

Moreover, the applied 2D graphics on the 3D models make the game environment and assets look more realistic. To do so, both Unity UV editor and Unreal Engine Texturing come of great help.

Lighting & Game Animation

Lighting & Game Animation

Well, you’ve created your 3D game elements realistic, but to give this feeling to players, you need to apply lighting and some animation. Lighting helps to add another layer to the 3D game environment and makes it look more alive.

Well, in the game world, you can add lighting in the form of shadows, highlighting any particular asset, or any other way to give your subject a more realistic look.

In game design, visual effects (VFX) and animation also play a crucial role. And you can add it in the form of wind, air, smoke, or any other atmospheric element.

Once you have done this edit in your freshly created game environment, then your amazingly compelling game environment is ready to be incorporated into your code and final game.

Game Environment Modeling Challenges

Well, after knowing the process of creating a game environment, you do want to know the challenges which you can face throughout the process. So you can be prepared to deal with those challenges early on. Let’s take a look at potential game environment modeling challenges:

Realism

Well, many game designers perfectly create the 3D modeling of the game environment, but giving it a realistic and believable touch is very crucial, which is a tough nut to crack.

Level of Detail (LOD) Management

Every game player wants to have a game visual of their perspective with real-time performance. So, to achieve that LOD technique is often used to maintain the level of detail (like seen as more detailed and reduction in the level of detail when going) as they come near and go far away.

Procedural Generation

In this technique, the game environment designer is asked to diverse environments dealing with varied landscapes. And in this type, designers may face a challenge in ensuring uniformity in distinctiveness, or we can say balancing randomness.

Dynamic Player Interactions

Well, designing and achieving an environment that interacts with the player’s every action in a realistic and consistent manner can be a bit complex, especially in highly dynamic, simulation-heavy games.

How Can 300Mind Benefit You In Game Environment Modeling?

After getting through the challenges, you might have gotten an idea that you’ll need assistance from professional game environment designers. And when you hire a game development partner like 300Mind, you get extensive support to develop custom game environments like no one has ever designed before.

We have extensive expertise in 2D and 3D game development with motion graphics and animation. In short, we provide full-service game design and development solutions to deliver you the cutting-edge gaming solution you need. Reach out to us with your requirements for us to provide you with a world-class gaming solution.

FAQs on Game Environment Modeling

How much does it cost to create a game environment?

Well, we cannot directly say the cost for the same as it depends on factors, like the genre of the game, research requirement, the level of the design complexity and uniqueness, the type of visual elements you want to add to the design, and a lot more.

What’s the difference between game art & game design?

While game design covers game concepts, mechanisms, levels, and user experience, game art focuses on the creation of the characters, environment, visual effects, and a lot more.

Ankit Dave
WRITTEN BY Ankit Dave

Ankit Dave is a team leader (Game) with more than 5 years of experience in 2D & 3D gaming/console gaming/AR/VR/Machine Learning. Requirement understands, create a GDD, create an architecture of the game to make them as scalable as possible, deploy the games on various platforms.

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