People are always looking for a game they can lose themselves in. The use of Aesthetics and Ambiance can and should be one of the tools you use when assisting in this abstract wandering. It’s the nature of video games to be able to escape from reality. How you facilitate this escape is key in the level in which a user can get lost in your game. Aesthetics (The visual beauty) and the Ambiance (The sounds and feel) are your tools for this particular function of game making.
Terraining Aesthetics & Ambiance
Your goal is to make something awe inspiring, but there are limitations placed on us by our hardware, time and ability. If you have a large an expansive world it may be better to populate that world with larger objects rather than thousands of little objects. This reduces the time you need to spend terraining your world and also reduces the time it takes for it to load, while still being visually appealing. Interactive terrain is also highly prized as it allows users to feel like they can control their world. Even if this means simply having an object they can kick around a little it gives a great degree of depth to what the player can experience.
NPC – Non-playable Characters
NPC are the breath of life within the world of your game. The stronger you can identify a particular character the more emotionally tied to the game a user can become. The best way that I’ve observed to make a character likable is to have a great voice actor who enthralls you in the adventure and friendship of the character. You will also want to introduce different types of characters so that every personality type has someone to identify with. The anti-hero, the hero, the villain, the barking mad lunatic, everyone has a particular favorite kind of sub-character. One way to create a likable NPC is to take one aspect of a person’s personality and caricaturize it. An example of this would be a character who longs for nothing more than power. This character would demonstrate attributes of extreme obsession and fearfulness of loss. You’ll know when you’ve made a good character by the impact the loss of that character will have on your user.
A great soundtrack can change the experience of a game entirely. Our moods can be easily influenced by music and you can instill the emotions you desire in a user by the type of music you use. Naturally a somber dirge will induce a sense of despair and sadness while a cheerful jig will inspire feelings of happiness. The right music choice can make a game go from sell-able to award winning. Anxiety, Fear, Bliss, You decide how you want your user to feel while playing your game.
Sound Effect And Ambiance
Finally you have sound effects. Sound effects are the last instrument I will discuss that you can use to make a moment feel real. From a crunching bone to birds in a forest sounds are perhaps the most powerful way you have to make a user feel included in an experience. The more sounds you can add to the game the more a user will feel like they are part of a real world.