What Are Assets in Game Design?

What are game assets? A game asset is any resource that is used in the development of a video game – from 3D models and textures to sound effects and music. Game assets are created by different professionals, including artists, animators, sound designers, and programmers. The specific assets that are needed for a game will vary depending on the genre, style, and scope of the project.

Once the assets have been created, they are imported into the game engine and used to build the game world. We hope we covered all you need to know about what is a game asset. Game assets are an important part of the game development, and they can have a significant impact on the overall quality of a game.

3D Game Military Assets from Unity Asset store, including communication devices, weaponry, and surveillance equipment, illustrating the importance of assets in building a game world

Types of Game Assets in Game Design

How to make game assets? Game assets can be divided into visual and audio categories. Let’s focus more on visual assets. They are the thing players see on screen: 3D models, textures, user interfaces, levels, characters, and effects. Within these categories, various types of game assets exist. For instance, visual assets can be further classified as either 2D or 3D. Therefore, in order to create them, you can either order 2D game art services or hire a 3D art studio.

Regarding mobile game development, certain considerations must be taken into account due to the limitations of mobile devices. Given their limited processing power and memory, it’s important to know about types of 3d assets for mobile game developers and optimize 3D assets for performance.

Different types of 3d and 2d game assets, ranging from interactive objects, signage, and environmental elements

Character Assets

Character assets are one of the most important types of game assets. They are the characters that players control and interact with in the game world. Character assets can be very simple, such as a sprite in a 2D game, or very complex, such as a fully rigged 3D character design in an AAA game.

Character assets can be divided into two main categories: player characters and non-player characters (NPCs). Player characters you control directly, while NPCs characters are controlled by the computer.

Player characters are typically more complex than NPCs, as they need to perform a wider range of actions. They often have different animations, such as walking, running, jumping, attacking, and interacting with objects than NPCs.

NPCs can be very simple or very complex, depending on their role in the game. For example, a background NPC in a racing game may only need a few simple animations, such as walking and talking. 

However, an NPC that is important to the story of a game may need a fully rigged 3D model with a wide range of animations. These kinds of assets in game design are created by a variety of different professionals, including artists, animators, and modelers. The specific skills and expertise that are required to create character assets will vary depending on the genre, style, and scope of the game.

For example, a character artist for a realistic 3D game will need to have a good understanding of human anatomy and physiology. However, a character artist for a cartoonish 2D game may not need as much technical expertise.

Blender human model, human and robotic hands, character assets in game design

Protagonist Characters

Protagonist characters are the main characters in a game that players control and interact with the game world through. They are often the most important characters in the game, and their actions and choices drive the story forward.

Protagonist characters can be heroes, villains, or even anti-heroes. However, they all share one thing in common: they are the characters that players care about the most.

Female horror game protagonists are becoming increasingly common in recent years. This is likely due to the fact that the gaming industry is becoming more inclusive and diverse. Female horror game protagonists can be just as strong and capable as their male counterparts, and they can often provide a unique perspective on the horror genre. Heroines like Ellie (The Last Of Us), Jill Valentine (Resident Evil), or Heather Mason (Silent Hill) are all strong and capable women who have to face terrifying challenges in order to survive. They are also well-developed characters with their own unique personalities and motivations.

Game icons, monster helmet, candle, crystal ball, gold bar, treasure chest, money bills, key, collection of game assets

Antagonist Characters

Antagonist characters are the forces that the protagonist must overcome in order to achieve their goals. Antagonist characters can be just as diverse as protagonist characters, and they can come from any background or walk of life.

These characters can be motivated by a variety of things, such as power, revenge, or greed. They can also be driven by a genuine belief that they are doing the right thing, even if it means harming others. But sometimes they even are more reasonable than the main hero. Kane from Command & Conquer, Lucifer from Devil May Cry or Joker from Batman: Arkham Asylum (or any other Arkham series) – they are antagonists that can arise some philosophical questions and seem to appear more sane than the main character to some people.

A well-written and well-developed antagonist can help to create a more complex and interesting story, and they can give players a sense of purpose and motivation.

Antagonist unique assets, sacrificial altar surrounded by stone arrangements, bones, and weapons, 3D game assets,

Environment Assets

Environment assets are the objects and materials that make up the world in a video game. They include the landscape, buildings, vegetation and so on. Environment game design assets are created by different professionals, like artists, designers, and modelers. The specific skills and expertise that are required to create environment assets will vary depending on the genre, style, and scope of the game.

Game Backgrounds

Game backgrounds help to set the mood and tone of the game, and they can also provide important information about the environment. Game backgrounds can be simple or complex, depending on the needs of the game. They can also be hand-drawn or created using digital tools

Game background art is the visual style of a game’s backgrounds. It can be realistic, cartoonish, or abstract. Background art is often used to create a specific mood or atmosphere for the game. Here are some examples of such art:

Realistic. The game backgrounds in Red Dead Redemption 2 are very realistic, with detailed textures and lighting. This helps to create a sense of immersion for the player.

Cartoonish. The game backgrounds in Cuphead are very cartoonish, with bright colors and exaggerated features. This helps to create a fun atmosphere for the game.

Abstract. The game backgrounds in Journey are very abstract, with simple shapes and colors. This helps to create a sense of mystery and intrigue for the game.

Terrain and Landscapes

Terrain and landscapes provide a sense of scale and scope, create a sense of place, and influence the gameplay. Gaming assets of terrain can be simple, such as a flat plane in a 2D game, or complex, such as a procedurally generated mountain range in a 3D game. Landscapes can be realistic, such as a forest in a nature simulator, or fantastical, such as a floating city like in BioShock.

Once the terrain or landscape has been created, artists usually add objects such as trees, rocks, and buildings. The way that the terrain or landscape is populated can have a significant impact on the gameplay. For example, a dense forest can make it difficult for players to see enemies, while a wide open plain can make it easy for enemies to spot players.

Buildings and Structures

Buildings and structures can add some information about the game’s lore, serve as a shelter for the main hero, or be a part of the narrative. Buildings and structures usually have objects such as furniture, props, and enemies. The way that the building or structure is populated can have a significant impact on the gameplay.

For example, a heavily guarded castle can be a challenge for players to infiltrate, while a deserted village can provide a safe place for players to rest and recuperate. So, it’s important to not forget about them while creating your game asset design.

Isometric assets, airport building with planes, runways, game assets for game design

Game Object Assets

Game object assets are the fundamental building blocks of game worlds. They are the objects that players interact with, such as characters, weapons, vehicles, scenery, and more. 

Once the game object assets have been created, they are imported into the game engine and used to build the game world. The game engine is responsible for rendering the game object assets and making them interactive for the player.

Game Weapons

Game weapons are essential elements of many video games. They allow players to attack and defend themselves against enemies, and they can also be used to solve puzzles and overcome obstacles. Weapons can also play as an unofficial mascot, or a symbol of the game. Imagine, for example, any protagonist from Assassin’s Creed without a hidden blade or Kratos from God of War without Blades of Chaos. So, if you want to make an iconic game, you should think about making a memorable weapon.

High-quality Unreal Engine 3D assets for designers, military gear, weaponry, communication equipment, Military Game Elements

Role of Assets in Game Design

Assets can be used to create a believable and immersive world for players to explore. For example, realistic character models, environments, and objects can help to create a sense of place and make the game world feel more real.

Asset creation for games can be used to communicate gameplay information to the player. For example, the color and shape of an object can indicate to the player whether it is interactive or not. Similarly, the animation of a character can indicate to the player whether they are friendly or hostile.

For example, in Skyrim, the vast and open world is created using a variety of assets, including mountains, forests, and rivers. These assets are carefully placed to create a sense of scale for the player. In the game Silent Hill, the dark and foggy environments are created using a variety of assets, including buildings, trees, and monsters. These assets are carefully placed to create a sense of suspense and danger.

By carefully considering the role of assets in game design, developers can create games that are more enjoyable and engaging for players.

Collection of 3D game assets, vehicles, wooden structures, and street elements, realistic props in video games

How to Find the Art Style for Your Assets

To find the art style for your assets, you should first consider the genre, target audience, tone, and technical limitations of your game. Once you have considered all of these factors, you can start to experiment with different art styles. There are plenty of those! You can create isometric game assets, or develop assets for shooters, whatever you like. You can try sketching out different ideas or creating game assets digitally. It is also important to get feedback from others on your art style choices.

Look at other games for inspiration. There are many great games out there with a variety of different art styles. Take some time to look at these games and see what art styles you like and dislike.

Consider your own artistic skills and preferences. What kind of art do you enjoy creating? What are your strengths and weaknesses as an artist? It is important to choose an art style that you are comfortable with and that you can execute well.

Don’t be afraid to experiment. There are no rules when it comes to art. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different art styles until you find one that you are happy with.

Once you have found the art style for your assets, you can start creating them. Be sure to keep the above factors in mind as you create your assets, and make sure that they are consistent with the overall your game style.

Fantasy isometric game assets showcasing a rainbow, magical structures, isometric sprites, pixel art game assets

How to Design Game Assets: In-House or Outsourcing?

Whether to create game assets in-house or outsource them depends on a variety of factors, including the size and budget of your team, the skills and experience of your team members, and the scope of your game.

In-house

Designing game assets in-house is a good way to have more control over the creative process and make sure that the assets match your vision for the game. Also, this is how you can build a team of people who understand your vision and can work together to create cohesive assets. 

But, this approach also comes with potential drawbacks. It tends to be pricier due to salaries and benefits for team members. Moreover, it can be more time-consuming, involving hiring, training, and the actual asset creation process. In-house design demands a certain level of expertise, necessitating either hiring or training team members if the required skills are lacking.

In-house development gives you more control over the creative process and allows you to build a team that is familiar with your game’s vision. However, it can be more expensive and time-consuming to develop assets in-house, especially if you have a large or complex game.

Outsourcing

Outsourcing game asset design presents an opportunity for a cost-effective and streamlined asset development process, particularly for large-scale projects or when in-house expertise is lacking. It’s also advantageous when facing tight deadlines.

While there are notable benefits to outsourcing, such as cost-effectiveness and efficiency due to access to a diverse talent pool, there are potential drawbacks to consider. This includes reduced control over the creative process, challenges in communicating feedback, and the risk of quality issues stemming from reliance on an external team.

Outsourcing can be a more cost-effective and efficient way to develop assets, especially if you need to produce many assets or if you don’t have the in-house expertise you need. However, it can be more difficult to communicate your creative vision to an outsourced team, and you may not have as much control over the final product. But not with us! We carefully listen to your feedback and ideas to make perfect art for the game, just like you imagined it.

Using game art outsourcing services is a choice for teams with budget constraints, time limitations, or a lack of specific expertise. It offers a more economical and efficient approach to asset development.

Retro game room showcasing a vintage computer setup, neon lights, and musical equipment, 2d art game assets

Future Trends of Assets in Game Design

The future of game design assets is set to be influenced by several key trends. Artificial intelligence (AI) is already contributing to the creation of game elements like environments, characters, and animations.

Procedural generation, another emerging trend, employs algorithms to generate game elements in real-time as players engage with the game. This technique holds the potential to create a wide array of assets, including environments, dungeons, and levels, offering developers greater flexibility and efficiency.

The surge in popularity of user-generated content (UGC) is reshaping the landscape as well. Players are now actively involved in content creation, providing a cost-effective means for developers to introduce fresh content without extensive investments of time or resources.

AI-generated assets could elevate the authenticity and engagement levels of games. Procedural generation may lead to the creation of expansive, player-specific game worlds, enhancing replayability and interest. Meanwhile, UGC has the potential to introduce a diverse array of custom assets, from weapons to vehicles, broadening the appeal of games.

The future of game design assets promises to be dynamic and innovative. The mentioned trends represent just a glimpse of how evolving technologies are revolutionizing the creation and utilization of game assets.

Realistic 3d game assets, rugged and battle-ready vehicles, post-apocalyptic video game environment

AI-generated Game Assets

AI-generated game assets are becoming increasingly popular, as they can be used to create realistic worlds, characters, and animations more quickly and efficiently than traditional methods. These game assets are created by training a large language model on a dataset of existing game assets. The model then learns to generate new assets that are similar to the ones in the training dataset.  

However, there are also some challenges associated with using AI game assets. One challenge is that AI-generated assets can sometimes be unrealistic or buggy. Another challenge is that these assets can be difficult to control, as it can be difficult to predict what the AI will generate. Despite these problems, AI assets are becoming increasingly popular, as they offer a number of benefits over traditional methods.

Environment game design assets, opulent furniture, mystical statues, and decorative elements, platform game assets

Virtual reality (vr) and augmented reality (ar)

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are two emerging technologies that have the potential to revolutionize game design. VR creates a completely immersive experience for the player, while AR overlays digital elements onto the real world.

Both VR and AR can be used to create new and innovative types of game experiences. For example, VR can be used to create games where players can explore new worlds, interact with virtual objects, and even compete against other players in real time. AR can be used to create games where players can interact with the real world in new ways.

Here are some examples of how VR and AR are being used in games today:

Beat Saber is a VR rhythm game where players slice blocks of music using two lightsabers. Superhot VR is a first-person shooter VR game where time only moves when the player moves.

Pokémon GO is an AR mobile game where players catch Pokémon that appear in the real world. Ingress is an AR strategy game where players capture and defend portals that are located in real-world locations.

VR and AR have the potential to revolutionize game design by creating more immersive, innovative, and social game experiences. As VR and AR technology continues to improve, we can expect to see even more exciting and groundbreaking VR and AR games in the future.

What are game assets FAQ line

FAQ

What are game assets?

Game assets are any individual element that makes up a video game. This can include artwork, 3D models, the user interface (UI), animation, special effects, music, voiceovers, and even scripting for things like physics. Game assets can be created by game developers themselves, or they can be purchased from asset stores or licensed from other developers. There are both free and paid assets available, and the quality and variety of assets on offer can vary widely.

Why are game assets essential in game design?

Game assets are essential in game design because they are the building blocks of the game world. They are what players see, hear, and interact with when they play a game. High-quality assets can help to create a more immersive and engaging experience for players, while low-quality assets can make a game feel unfinished or unprofessional. In short, game assets are essential in game design because they are the foundation of the game world. They are responsible for the game’s visual identity, story, interactivity, and gameplay. Well-designed assets can help to create a game that is both visually stunning and fun to play.

What types of character assets are commonly used in games?

The most common type of character asset used in games is the 3D model. 3D models are used to create the characters that players see and interact with in the game world. They can be simple or complex, depending on the needs of the game. 

The specific types of character assets that are used in a game will vary depending on the genre of the game and the budget of the developer. For example, a high-budget AAA game might use complex 3D models and animations, while a low-budget indie game might use simpler 2D sprites.

How can I optimize game assets for better performance?

To optimize game assets for better performance, you can:

Use the right level of detail. Use simpler models and textures for objects that are further away from the player. Reduce the number of assets. Only use the assets that you need, and try to combine assets whenever possible.

Use compressed textures. This will reduce the file size of your game and improve loading times. Use mipmaps. This will allow the game to use lower-resolution textures for objects that are further away from the player.

Use instancing. This will allow the game to render multiple copies of the same model with a single draw call. Use batching. This will allow the game to render multiple similar objects together.

You can also use a profiler to identify performance bottlenecks and optimize your game accordingly.

What is the role of AI in game asset creation?

AI is playing an increasingly important role in game asset creation. AI tools can be used to automate tasks, generate new assets, and improve the quality of existing assets. It is still a relatively new technology, but it is quickly becoming an essential tool for game developers. As AI tools continue to develop and improve, we can expect to see AI play an even greater role in game asset creation in the future.