Video games may be virtual reality, but they are real work to create. To make a video game that hard-core gamers will love and to make the game believable, game makers need to use sophisticated sciences and even more sophisticated programming. There are many problems faced by game makers that are creating today’s new video games. Here are a handful of the most challenging ones.
The absolute worst challenge any programmer will face is the amount of processing power a console has-or lack thereof. If the computer inside of the console cannot keep up with everything that is being fed into it, the game can skip just like it would if the disc was scratched. This skipping will ruin the game for even the casual gamer. Yes, processing power does get better all of the time, but the better the processing power, the bigger the game that game makers want to create and the bigger the game that buyers will want. Because of this, processing power will always be a problem. All of the other problems in this list eventually boil down to the amount of processing power the console has.
Water is also one of the worst problems a game programmer can face in trying to create a video game. The calculations required to figure out what a tiny bit of fluid will do has created careers for mathematicians. Game makers have to create whole oceans or lakes of water in their games. This is an incredibly hard programming job-if you want the water to look even remotely real. The processing power of consoles has only just become powerful enough to handle the programs that make water look real, but it still takes supercomputers to pull off the calculations needed in the programming to make water’s viscosity look convincing.
Human faces can also be a challenge in any video game. Like drawing them, rendering them in 3-D is tough. Another major problem is that you cannot create a face in a game that looks too real. When a face looks too real in a game, people can focus on it too much and will begin to nitpick any detail that is not absolutely perfect.
In many games, the bad guys wander around in predictable paths, shooting in your general direction, but still aimlessly, and they all seem to die in the same way. Hard core gamers require a more sophisticated game. It is too much work to give each bad guy their own ways of moving, so an artificial intelligence of a sort is needed to make their movements random and unpredictable.
Light and shadows can be a big problem in some games. When a game has a lot of surfaces, there will usually be a lot of shadows. Sometimes these surfaces are moving-like when the game is set in a jungle or forest. It is one thing to make the plants look like they are moving, another to make them change colors when they move from a lighted area to a shadowed area and back, while leaving its own shadow on the things below. Some game makers have settled this problem by making it light everywhere. In most games, this does nothing but make the game too bright.
Fire can be an even harder thing to make in a game than water. The challenge is much like that of water, but fire is faster, can be a lot more intricate, and has to consume things (consuming is usually ignored, especially when the fire is a permanent fire that has to stay in one place). Fire also throws in the problem of light and shadows, as anyone who has seen fire can tell you.
Game makers have been making buildings that look realistic for many years, but now gamers want them to be able to be knocked down realistically too. Old methods of destruction (pre-made pieces that always fall the same way and break the same way) have to be ignored and whole new programs for building destruction are being created. These new programs use complex calculations to determine how fast, how far, and what angles broken pieces should fly. This task has been likened to calculating the place of every grain of sand in a broken hourglass before it is broken.
Making simulations can also be very difficult. To program a really good race game, for instance, programmers have to take the real versions of the cars that they are going to be using for the game to the track and see the exact effects of pressing the gas pedal a certain amount, pressing the break, and every possibility and combination of things that could happen in the game. Programmers also have to drive erratically and crash at least one car to get precise data for how these things should react in the game.
The old method of getting real-looking human movement (dress someone up in a clunky, ball-studded suit) never worked too well and is outdated. It can take forever to get the movements that you want and then the markers can fall off or be hidden from the computer’s camera. If markers disappear, then the character’s arm can fall off, or a leg disappear, necessitating a long, costly redraw. Also, in things like sports games, only a couple of players could have their moves shown in the game, then those moves had to be doctored into other players. The good news is that there is a new technology out for realistic human motion capture.This program is called Stage. People can stand in front of the cameras (there are 10 to 14 for each setup), in their regular clothes, and their exact dimensions appear on the computer screen in real time. The cameras create a 3-D cloud of points in space for the computer to interpret. The time and cost savings of Stage will allow more people to be imaged and can make a game much more realistic (especially sports games).
The people creating video games have a large number of difficult challenges when trying to create the complex games that gamers demand nowadays. Thanks to new technologies and techniques, game makers are starting to have an easier time creating the games that entertain us.