Software

How is CGI Animation Used to Create Games?

CGI Animation Used to Create Games?
Written by Shikha Mehta

Do you spend half of your time on the battleground of PubG? Not only that, but every other game that has its own space is made using CGI animation. Without computer graphics, no mobile game can be made.

Every game that you’ve played on your computer or cell phone, from Road Rash to Subway Surf, it isn’t possible to make without CGI. In fact, even simple games that you’ve played like Candy Crush has got 2D graphics and animation.

Now, what is this “CGI”? Why am I using this term to describe 2D or 3D animation applied for games? Let’s go step by step to understand how these games are made.

What do You Mean by CGI Animation?

The term CGI stands for Computer-Generated Imagery. It could be 2D or 3D. Mostly, the animation is done using 3D computer graphics to create special effects or a proper scene.

So, when motion effects are given to computer graphics to project a visual, it is called computer-generated imagery (or CGI) animation.

How is CGI Different from Conventional Animation?

In conventional animation, the characters are usually hand-drawn. The old cartoons and films that we see which use 2D animation as well as the oldest games have been made that way. It means, that the graphics are made on paper and then animated using a software.

There may even be clicked photographs used here for certain backgrounds. That’s how animation was done earlier.

CGI animation is different because the objects that we use here are not created by hand drawings – they are made on the same software where the animation takes place. Every object and element of the scene is made on computer and so is the animation done on the same software.

How Does it Work?

The animation we mostly see today in games, films and other videos are mostly computer-generated. The opposite of that would be traditional animation which was done using sketches made on paper, a very long time ago.

In CGI animation, the very object that you animate to its movement is all done using a software. Here’s how the process goes:

  • On a 2D or 3D animation software, you first create the set and characters.
  • Now, you need to provide the characters and objects textures to make them look more real.
  • Next, light effects are added that enhances the appearance of the set.
  • After the set is ready, you start working with the movements.
  • Since animation is interactive in nature for games, you need to make it quick and for every move the user will make.
  • Thus, for every move, the number of frames may be more but the time gap has to be very less.

Why is CGI Preferred for Creating Games?

Today’s video games are highly interactive in nature and give a very realistic feel. The environment and characters you observe are all 3D. It is nearly impossible to make a game like that without CGI. After all 3D animation is nothing but a module of CGI animation.

Following are the features animators have been able to provide to current day games:

  • An interactive and realistic 3D set-up
  • Light effects
  • Detailed animation
  • Complex rules, sets and movements
  • Virtual reality

3D animation cannot be done without CGI. Modern day games that you play on your smart phones and gaming consoles are made on 3D software from head to toe. The colour, texture and light effects of every element makes the set look so real that you feel you’re in the world.

What Aspects of 3D Graphics & Animation are Most Important for Games?

Today, almost all games use 3D animation. When you open a 3D animation software, you first use tools to create an object. This object is given color, texture and light effects which creates the graphic.

Further special effects are added to these graphics to produce animation. However, when it comes to games, you don’t play any video. The animation is a result of your actions: whether it is the character running or the surrounding changing.

From here, we come to the most important aspects of 3D computer graphics and animation without which a game cannot be made.

Space

For any game, the player remains constant. There may or may not be a character for it. What matters the most is the space in which you play.

Pick any of these games you might have played: Minecraft, Star Wars or PS-3. As you play on or cross levels, what keeps changing is your virtual surroundings. The maximum work of the artist goes behind creating this space. If you look into the raw file, you’ll know how huge it is.

The Camera

When the artist prepares the game, what he cannot afford to ignore is the camera. He isn’t making a video. It is a game software where the player moves from one space to another. Since movements are in your control, he needs to ensure you land in the right space.

For this, the camera is to move along with you. When you play, you’re taking the hidden camera with you. It is actually your eye, without which you won’t know where you are, where are your obstacles and where will you get your points.

Motion Capture

This is an important part of animation once the set-up is ready. You don’t make a video like it’s made for films or walk-throughs. The action takes place only when the player starts the game.

Motion capture as the words say it “captures” different movements of the elements and characters of the game. The game designers program these animations to play according to a particular action of the player.

Suppose, a character of a game is made to move in different ways. The programmer will choose to pick up a certain action of running which will take place by default and stop when the player presses on to something.

Type of 3D Animation Used for Games

Today, another name used for video games is virtual reality. This is because 3D animation has made it possible to create another world that exists in your cell phone screens. If you’ve watched the film Wreck-It Ralph, you’ll see how a world exists inside a particular game.

The type of animation done for games is real-time animation. It uses motion capture to play it in real-time.

Say suppose you’re playing Temple Run. When you start the game, you’re in the space at the moment. You run at the moment and you collect your points at the moment. The running is a motion capture that is being played in real-time for you.

Animation Features of Every Video Game

Unlike films and cartoons, the movement of characters in a game is controlled by the player. Thus, when the game animation is being done, the artist fixes up the movement on every action made by the player.

This means that on clicking the start button, the character starts running by default. Upon coming in contact with certain objects, it increases speed of movement or the game ends. Thus, you’ll observe the following animation features every game and its character has:

  • A lot of focus is given to the body of the character.
  • The movements are really quick.
  • It is entirely interactive in nature.
  • The background movement is more or less constant, taking you through the environment.
  • It is so realistic that you may feel you’re inside the game set completely.
  • In action games, there is hardly any work on the facial expression, or even the face.
  • With a combination of coding and animation, you’ll see prescribed moves of the character and set that are based on yours.

The Best Games Made Using CGI

The Last of Us: Naughty Dog created this game and remastered it for PlayStation 4. You need to fight against zombies in this game to save humanity. Published by Sony Entertainment Studios, this game is multiplayer and now even played through Facebook.

Ryse: Son of Rome: You’ll find this game in Xbox One where you need to control Marius Titus and take revenge for his family by killing their murderers. Made by Crytek and published by Microsoft Studios, it is now also available on Microsoft Windows.

Assassin’s Cred IV: Black Flag: This game by Ubisoft Montreal initially came on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii U. It is a war between the Templars (the players) and the Assassins (the enemies). Now, this game is also there on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Microsoft Windows.

 Other Applications of CGI Animation

Gaming is one industry that uses only computer-generated imagery for creating their virtual product. However, the term CGI animation is more heavily used for creating normal videos. They’re used for:

Don’t you see how you’re surrounded by the world of animation? It’s applied almost everywhere today. Your eyes are into the screen due to its power of explaining things simpler and engaging you into another world. How else do you think video games have taken over outdoor and board games today?

About the author

Shikha Mehta

I discovered my talent in writing while I was in high school. Since then, I discovered the joy of sharing your knowledge with people around you. This is the reason why I love making my contributions to Insights of Technology. Being a certified content writer, I have been writing on several topics, science & technology being one of my favorites.

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