Invogames
All About VFX in Game Development

All About VFX in Game Development

Invogames

Game Design and Mechanics

|

February 15, 2024

|

5 min read

VFX in game development is much more different than VFX you see in movies. This blog will talk about game VFX in general, from procedural generation and high dynamics range to particle systems. 

 

VFX stands for "Visual Effects," also known as real-time visual effects in games because they need to be rendered in real-time.

 

Every time you play a game and see an explosion, it has a good visual effect as long as it doesn't slow down your FPS. 

 

Each visual effect is explicitly made to be rendered in real-time without impacting the game's performance. 

 

It is the opposite of the movie industry, where you can add the most beautiful smoke with all the details in the world because everything is pre-rendered. 

 

In movies, they pre-rendered everything, layer each frame, and compose every effect. 

 

In a game, you can not wait for the computer to render a frame; it needs to be constant at 60fps, 120fps, or 144fps; everything needs to be smooth. 

 

VFX in Games

 

Every time you see leaves falling off a tree, that's probably a particle system spawning and giving them random rotation and different lifetimes. All the blood, fire, rain, car accidents, or even the character you see glow is the work of VFX.

 

VFX art is the most complicated art form, especially in games, because you need to know a lot of areas, from programming to life in general, from shaders to drawing. 

 

You must know how to draw straight, animate hand by hand, frame by frame, or with bones. You must know object modeling. 

 

There are a lot of things you should know when it comes to VFX. As a whole, visual effects are complex, and they are extremely important for games. 

 

The challenges of making VFX in games

 

In game VFX, not only do you have to be creative, but you also have to consider the technical aspects of how the effect will be implemented in the game.

 

This can be a hurdle for even the experienced VFX artists. Here are some of the problems you could face while making VFX for video games:

 

The challenges of making VFX in games

 

These are just a few of the challenges you might face when making gaming VFX.



The Types of VFX used in games

 

The Types of VFX used in games

 

Visual effects can range from simple lighting and shading effects to complex ones like explosions and particle visual effects. For example:

 

Gameplay FX 

 

Game effects enhance the experience among the users such as enhance their interest and boost player engagement. In most action-adventure and battle games, players are focused towards the visual effects such as the effect that comes from swords slashing, fights, etc. They are dynamic and interactive and can include things like lightning, glow effects, and explosives.

 

Environmental FX 

 

Environmental effects set the playing field  You put these effects on a global scale to give your game an atmosphere. They can include rain, fog, and snow.

 

Both the physical layout of the game world, and the placement of objectives, can make a difference on how a player plays the game. 

 

For example, an open field with a small number of obstacles will generally be more useful for fast-paced action. However, a more complex environment with lots of hiding spots is suitable for a more stealthy approach.

 

User interface (UI) FX 

 

UI visual effects are the ones that your player interacts with. For example, if a player comes close to the gate, then you highlight that specific area or shift its color. 

 

UX design for games must have intuitive controls, a clear understanding of the game world, and in-game feedback that helps the player know how they’re progressing at different levels.

 

For example, UX design must ensure the game is accessible to players at every level. Your game must have tutorials and training levels for beginners, also provide the option to jump through difficulty levels. 

 

Here are some key points that you can focus on while designing your UI games.

 

  • Feedback
  • Usability
  • Player Onboarding
  • Playtest
  • Player Engagement

 

Cinematic FX 

 

Cinematic effects are the ones that come in cutscenes or in story mode to create an immersive and realistic experience. 

 

Creating believable effects is not an easy task.  You need to consider many elements when creating a cutscene cinematic FX. This includes factors such as:

 

  • Story
  • Character
  • Tool
  • Development
  • Pacing 
  • Animation
  • Visual style

 

Well crafted cinematic VFX help players halt their disbelief and immerse themselves in the story. Attaining this can be difficult, factors like the script, acting, quality, production, cinematography, and editing comes into play

 

VFX Principles in Games

 

Principles are the core of good VFX; the more you learn, the better you get. You see, there is no one way to create a fireball; there are plenty. 

 

You can make the same effect with camera-facing cards, meshes, trails, and so on. There are an infinite number of crafts and tools for game development such as Unity, Unreal Engine, and arcade studio.

The Particle System

 

Even though there are plenty of different ways to do one effect, there are a few everyday things. For example, most of the VFX artists will use the particle system to emit particles from an emitter. 

 

The particle system can emit any type of effect, for example:

 

  • Texture for billboard, sprite, image
  • Mesh for 3D objects
  • Use Trails to create Ribbons 
  • Decals
  • Lines
  • Shaders
  • Points

 

What a particle system can do is mad. You can probably create a game with only a particle system. This particle system further has a few common characteristics. For example:

 

  • Lifetime
  • Rate(Particle Count)
  • Color (RGBA)
  • Size (Dimension)
  • Rotation (Angle)
  • Velocity (Speed, Force)

 

This part of the theory is the same across every AAA title or indie game. 

 

Contrast

 

Let's go back to the fireballs for this. Using contrast, you can decompose your fireballs into three parts. 

 

First comes the head, the most important aspect of the fireball; use contrast to make it look hot and dangerous. Then, you can use similar but varying contrast for its trail and sparks.

 

Having good contrast and focus is a must-have for the legibility of your game.

 

Shapes and Colors

 

Another vital principle of visual effects is shapes and colors. If you want to heal someone, you should have some sign that shows it is a potion for health.

 

There is very well-established communication between shapes and colors. For example, an aggressive projectile, like a fireball, could be spiky, pointy, or red. 

 

Color wheel: You can arrange colors by tone to show relationships. You can also show complementary colors to opposing characters.

 

Color harmony: Use Combinations of colors to create visual balance.

 

Color context: Use surrounding colors influence the perception of color.

 

Ultimately, it's all about semiotics, the language of shapes, the science of shapes. 

 

Timing and Motion

 

Another thing that you can do as a VFX artist is control the timings and motion. In case of explosions, it is up to you if you want this bright flash to grow or shrink. 

 

The sensations for both shrinking and growing are very different yet equal. 

 

Imagine the sound of a car coming towards you and going away from you. This is exactly what you should sync up in your game explosions.

 

So, timing and emotions are crucial when creating visual effects in games.

 

Gameplay

 

What is your effects’ intent? What do you want your player to feel? Knowing the purpose of the visual effect is called the principle of gameplay.

 

Otherwise, you can create a great effect, but if it doesn't fit the mechanics of your game, it's pointless. Your visual effect should communicate with your player. This is why you should know your game before creating visual effects. 

 

Impact of VFX on Gaming Industry

 

VFX has turned gaming into a visual show that matches hit movies; from highly detailed game props and lifelike character movements to lively lighting, VFX has turned everything. 

 

Players are now protagonists in games brought to life by the power of visual effects, not merely members.

 

Creating Engaging Environments

 

The capacity to bring players to far-off galaxies and historical times is one of VFX’s most amazing abilities. Players can now go deep inside a simulated environment with:

 

  • Atmospheric features 
  • Dimensional fogging 
  • Precise physics simulation 

 

These effects give immersive experiences that impact players' emotions and curiosities rather than just acting as eye candy.

 

Giving Characters Life

 

In gaming, characters are more than just a set of pixels on a screen. These are visual personalities that players are controlling. VFX has transformed the character with the help of:

 

  • Character design
  • Realistic expressions
  • Natural movements
  • Intricate details 
  • Character Ragging

 

Giving Characters Life

 

Dynamic Games to Play

 

VFX allows the creation of lively elements that respond to player actions or environmental changes. This interaction increases involvement and enhances the gaming experience. For example, in action games, explosives, and rain effects react sensibly to the players' actions.

Narrative Augmentation

 

VFX has drastically improved the method of storytelling. Players are sunk in the story like never before, all due to cinematic sequences flowing from gameplay to cutscenes.

 

VFX professionals use new branching paths and multiple endings for players to shape the story through their choices. Players are brought near to the action through VFX-guided storytelling, allowing them to impact events in ways that seem real.

 

Challenges and Innovations

 

As the scope and complexity of VFX in games grows, developers must compete with issues like optimization, adaptivity, and preserving a balance between visuals and performance. 

 

Game developers use level of detail (LOD) systems, adaptive resolution scaling, and parallel processing to make a clear balance between visual and performance.  

 

The quest for all-time high graphical standards requires out-of-the-box solutions to ensure games function smoothly on several platforms.

 

 

Ever since the dawn of computer-generated visual effects, VFX has come way far. Here are some of the most recent trends and exciting developments in VFX gaming happening in 2024:

 

Physically Based Rendering (PBR)

 

Physical-based rendering simulates real-world materials, like metal, wood, and water, resulting in unbelievably lifelike effects. Games like the 2018 God of War and Horizon Forbidden West show PBR's power to an extent.

 

God of War
Source: God of War

 

High-Fidelity Character Design 

 

With progress in 3D modeling, game characters are achieving new levels of detail and expressiveness. For example, Unreal Engine comes with 128 deforming joints, allowing for realistic and detailed body deformations.

 

Unreal Engine 5.1 Documentation
Source: Unreal Engine 5.1 Documentation

 

Tools like the Pose Wrangler from Unreal Engine RBF user interface can greatly benefit the community and empower the process for character animations.

 

Dynamic Weather and Lighting 

 

Advanced systems create realistic weather effects like rain, snow, and storms, and adjust lighting in real-time based on the environment. Games like "Microsoft Flight Simulator" and "Forza Horizon 5" set the bar high.

 

Lighting work from Forza Horizon 5
Source: ArtStation

 

Haptic Feedback and Adaptive Triggers 

 

Tech like DualSense in the PlayStation 5 provides deep feedback, translating in-game actions into haptic and adaptive sensations for players. 

 

Moreover, adaptive triggers use player interaction to the next level by providing variable resistance in response to in-game actions. 

 

With enhanced dynamic players can receive tactile cues for environmental changes, pending dangers, or even the status of in-game characters.

 

Seamless Storytelling 

 

Blending cinematics and gameplay smoothly, blurring the lines between cutscenes and actual gameplay creates a narrative experience.

 

VFX is a dynamic force shaping the gaming industry. From particle systems creating realistic environments to balancing creativity with technical constraints, VFX is very important. Trends like Physically Based Rendering and High-Fidelity Character Design define 2024's evolution.

 

Hire VFX Artist

 

Make your game impactful and stunning with special VFX for characters, game weapons, and other visual factors. 

 

Get in touch with us today and hire a VFX artist that makes your game visuals compelling.

VFX in game development is much more different than VFX you see in movies. This blog will talk about game VFX in general, from procedural generation and high dynamics range to particle systems. 

 

VFX stands for "Visual Effects," also known as real-time visual effects in games because they need to be rendered in real-time.

 

Every time you play a game and see an explosion, it has a good visual effect as long as it doesn't slow down your FPS. 

 

Each visual effect is explicitly made to be rendered in real-time without impacting the game's performance. 

 

It is the opposite of the movie industry, where you can add the most beautiful smoke with all the details in the world because everything is pre-rendered. 

 

In movies, they pre-rendered everything, layer each frame, and compose every effect. 

 

In a game, you can not wait for the computer to render a frame; it needs to be constant at 60fps, 120fps, or 144fps; everything needs to be smooth. 

 

VFX in Games

 

Every time you see leaves falling off a tree, that's probably a particle system spawning and giving them random rotation and different lifetimes. All the blood, fire, rain, car accidents, or even the character you see glow is the work of VFX.

 

VFX art is the most complicated art form, especially in games, because you need to know a lot of areas, from programming to life in general, from shaders to drawing. 

 

You must know how to draw straight, animate hand by hand, frame by frame, or with bones. You must know object modeling. 

 

There are a lot of things you should know when it comes to VFX. As a whole, visual effects are complex, and they are extremely important for games. 

 

The challenges of making VFX in games

 

In game VFX, not only do you have to be creative, but you also have to consider the technical aspects of how the effect will be implemented in the game.

 

This can be a hurdle for even the experienced VFX artists. Here are some of the problems you could face while making VFX for video games:

 

The challenges of making VFX in games

 

These are just a few of the challenges you might face when making gaming VFX.



The Types of VFX used in games

 

The Types of VFX used in games

 

Visual effects can range from simple lighting and shading effects to complex ones like explosions and particle visual effects. For example:

 

Gameplay FX 

 

Game effects enhance the experience among the users such as enhance their interest and boost player engagement. In most action-adventure and battle games, players are focused towards the visual effects such as the effect that comes from swords slashing, fights, etc. They are dynamic and interactive and can include things like lightning, glow effects, and explosives.

 

Environmental FX 

 

Environmental effects set the playing field  You put these effects on a global scale to give your game an atmosphere. They can include rain, fog, and snow.

 

Both the physical layout of the game world, and the placement of objectives, can make a difference on how a player plays the game. 

 

For example, an open field with a small number of obstacles will generally be more useful for fast-paced action. However, a more complex environment with lots of hiding spots is suitable for a more stealthy approach.

 

User interface (UI) FX 

 

UI visual effects are the ones that your player interacts with. For example, if a player comes close to the gate, then you highlight that specific area or shift its color. 

 

UX design for games must have intuitive controls, a clear understanding of the game world, and in-game feedback that helps the player know how they’re progressing at different levels.

 

For example, UX design must ensure the game is accessible to players at every level. Your game must have tutorials and training levels for beginners, also provide the option to jump through difficulty levels. 

 

Here are some key points that you can focus on while designing your UI games.

 

  • Feedback
  • Usability
  • Player Onboarding
  • Playtest
  • Player Engagement

 

Cinematic FX 

 

Cinematic effects are the ones that come in cutscenes or in story mode to create an immersive and realistic experience. 

 

Creating believable effects is not an easy task.  You need to consider many elements when creating a cutscene cinematic FX. This includes factors such as:

 

  • Story
  • Character
  • Tool
  • Development
  • Pacing 
  • Animation
  • Visual style

 

Well crafted cinematic VFX help players halt their disbelief and immerse themselves in the story. Attaining this can be difficult, factors like the script, acting, quality, production, cinematography, and editing comes into play

 

VFX Principles in Games

 

Principles are the core of good VFX; the more you learn, the better you get. You see, there is no one way to create a fireball; there are plenty. 

 

You can make the same effect with camera-facing cards, meshes, trails, and so on. There are an infinite number of crafts and tools for game development such as Unity, Unreal Engine, and arcade studio.

The Particle System

 

Even though there are plenty of different ways to do one effect, there are a few everyday things. For example, most of the VFX artists will use the particle system to emit particles from an emitter. 

 

The particle system can emit any type of effect, for example:

 

  • Texture for billboard, sprite, image
  • Mesh for 3D objects
  • Use Trails to create Ribbons 
  • Decals
  • Lines
  • Shaders
  • Points

 

What a particle system can do is mad. You can probably create a game with only a particle system. This particle system further has a few common characteristics. For example:

 

  • Lifetime
  • Rate(Particle Count)
  • Color (RGBA)
  • Size (Dimension)
  • Rotation (Angle)
  • Velocity (Speed, Force)

 

This part of the theory is the same across every AAA title or indie game. 

 

Contrast

 

Let's go back to the fireballs for this. Using contrast, you can decompose your fireballs into three parts. 

 

First comes the head, the most important aspect of the fireball; use contrast to make it look hot and dangerous. Then, you can use similar but varying contrast for its trail and sparks.

 

Having good contrast and focus is a must-have for the legibility of your game.

 

Shapes and Colors

 

Another vital principle of visual effects is shapes and colors. If you want to heal someone, you should have some sign that shows it is a potion for health.

 

There is very well-established communication between shapes and colors. For example, an aggressive projectile, like a fireball, could be spiky, pointy, or red. 

 

Color wheel: You can arrange colors by tone to show relationships. You can also show complementary colors to opposing characters.

 

Color harmony: Use Combinations of colors to create visual balance.

 

Color context: Use surrounding colors influence the perception of color.

 

Ultimately, it's all about semiotics, the language of shapes, the science of shapes. 

 

Timing and Motion

 

Another thing that you can do as a VFX artist is control the timings and motion. In case of explosions, it is up to you if you want this bright flash to grow or shrink. 

 

The sensations for both shrinking and growing are very different yet equal. 

 

Imagine the sound of a car coming towards you and going away from you. This is exactly what you should sync up in your game explosions.

 

So, timing and emotions are crucial when creating visual effects in games.

 

Gameplay

 

What is your effects’ intent? What do you want your player to feel? Knowing the purpose of the visual effect is called the principle of gameplay.

 

Otherwise, you can create a great effect, but if it doesn't fit the mechanics of your game, it's pointless. Your visual effect should communicate with your player. This is why you should know your game before creating visual effects. 

 

Impact of VFX on Gaming Industry

 

VFX has turned gaming into a visual show that matches hit movies; from highly detailed game props and lifelike character movements to lively lighting, VFX has turned everything. 

 

Players are now protagonists in games brought to life by the power of visual effects, not merely members.

 

Creating Engaging Environments

 

The capacity to bring players to far-off galaxies and historical times is one of VFX’s most amazing abilities. Players can now go deep inside a simulated environment with:

 

  • Atmospheric features 
  • Dimensional fogging 
  • Precise physics simulation 

 

These effects give immersive experiences that impact players' emotions and curiosities rather than just acting as eye candy.

 

Giving Characters Life

 

In gaming, characters are more than just a set of pixels on a screen. These are visual personalities that players are controlling. VFX has transformed the character with the help of:

 

  • Character design
  • Realistic expressions
  • Natural movements
  • Intricate details 
  • Character Ragging

 

Giving Characters Life

 

Dynamic Games to Play

 

VFX allows the creation of lively elements that respond to player actions or environmental changes. This interaction increases involvement and enhances the gaming experience. For example, in action games, explosives, and rain effects react sensibly to the players' actions.

Narrative Augmentation

 

VFX has drastically improved the method of storytelling. Players are sunk in the story like never before, all due to cinematic sequences flowing from gameplay to cutscenes.

 

VFX professionals use new branching paths and multiple endings for players to shape the story through their choices. Players are brought near to the action through VFX-guided storytelling, allowing them to impact events in ways that seem real.

 

Challenges and Innovations

 

As the scope and complexity of VFX in games grows, developers must compete with issues like optimization, adaptivity, and preserving a balance between visuals and performance. 

 

Game developers use level of detail (LOD) systems, adaptive resolution scaling, and parallel processing to make a clear balance between visual and performance.  

 

The quest for all-time high graphical standards requires out-of-the-box solutions to ensure games function smoothly on several platforms.

 

 

Ever since the dawn of computer-generated visual effects, VFX has come way far. Here are some of the most recent trends and exciting developments in VFX gaming happening in 2024:

 

Physically Based Rendering (PBR)

 

Physical-based rendering simulates real-world materials, like metal, wood, and water, resulting in unbelievably lifelike effects. Games like the 2018 God of War and Horizon Forbidden West show PBR's power to an extent.

 

God of War
Source: God of War

 

High-Fidelity Character Design 

 

With progress in 3D modeling, game characters are achieving new levels of detail and expressiveness. For example, Unreal Engine comes with 128 deforming joints, allowing for realistic and detailed body deformations.

 

Unreal Engine 5.1 Documentation
Source: Unreal Engine 5.1 Documentation

 

Tools like the Pose Wrangler from Unreal Engine RBF user interface can greatly benefit the community and empower the process for character animations.

 

Dynamic Weather and Lighting 

 

Advanced systems create realistic weather effects like rain, snow, and storms, and adjust lighting in real-time based on the environment. Games like "Microsoft Flight Simulator" and "Forza Horizon 5" set the bar high.

 

Lighting work from Forza Horizon 5
Source: ArtStation

 

Haptic Feedback and Adaptive Triggers 

 

Tech like DualSense in the PlayStation 5 provides deep feedback, translating in-game actions into haptic and adaptive sensations for players. 

 

Moreover, adaptive triggers use player interaction to the next level by providing variable resistance in response to in-game actions. 

 

With enhanced dynamic players can receive tactile cues for environmental changes, pending dangers, or even the status of in-game characters.

 

Seamless Storytelling 

 

Blending cinematics and gameplay smoothly, blurring the lines between cutscenes and actual gameplay creates a narrative experience.

 

VFX is a dynamic force shaping the gaming industry. From particle systems creating realistic environments to balancing creativity with technical constraints, VFX is very important. Trends like Physically Based Rendering and High-Fidelity Character Design define 2024's evolution.

 

Hire VFX Artist

 

Make your game impactful and stunning with special VFX for characters, game weapons, and other visual factors. 

 

Get in touch with us today and hire a VFX artist that makes your game visuals compelling.

Writer InvoGames

Written By:

Kammil Sarbuland
Content Writer

Know More About Gaming Industry

1 / 5

InvoGames
InvoGames
InvoGamesInvoGames
Phone
WhatsApp Icon