Visual development artists work to create visuals and concepts for modern games. Often big teams of 3D and 2D designers, animators, audio designers and coders implement the completed assets into the chosen game engine.
It was not uncommon in the past of computer game history for one or two people to make a complete game depending on the level of complexity. One game I will always remember and one that still stands out today was called “Another World” because of its innovative use of story driven game play. Two people worked on the game, one of those was Eric Chai who did the art direction and coding, and I think a friend of his did the sound.
I think developments in digital technology and accessibility of Open Source and affordable resources via the Internet are making this a growing opportunity today. The rise of independent creators is testament to this. There is the ability to easily share files and communicate with other skilled people over the Internet. When you have the writing, planning, game development and assets for your game all sorted and perhaps a little team to help you, there is Game Engine software such as Adventure Game Studio, Unity, Blender and Construct 2 among others which you can make a game with. I’ve also heard of people going from big game companies and setting up their own independent studios.
Many independent game developers are creating original and more story driven games. There are some really innovative character and story driven, illustrative and artistic games around now. Some of the ones I’ve seen recently are “Ori and the Blind Forest”, “Troll and I”, “Shelter”, “Shelter 2” “Never Alone”, “Below”, “Abzu” and “Hellblade”.
Recently I have been playing the Shelter games by Might and Delight (after a 2 year hiatus on playing games since the excellent Tomb Raider reboot) and I think they are really beautiful and thought provoking games. Very playable as well. They are a little melancholy perhaps, but I was raised on watching Watership Down and David Attenborough wildlife documentary’s so I don’t mind so much. I appreciate the Strong art style and it reminds me a little of Eric Carl’s or Jonathan Woodwards cut out collage technique with strong shapes, colour and texture, but in 3d. I have yet to play through Never Alone, but that is a very interesting looking game and an insight into Native Alaskan culture and storytelling. I would love them to make more games like these. If anyone doubts that computer games can be an art form or educational and fun at the same time, perhaps they should take a look at these titles.
I am more of a casual gamer so I don’t mind the shorter format of such games as long as they have a good beginning, middle and end and are not too expensive for the shorter length.