How to Create Atmosphere in Video Games

The atmosphere in any game plays a significant part in determining if a player will continue to play. There are various aspects of how this can be achieved, but if the player isn’t grabbed by the atmosphere in a game, they’ll likely walk away. But how do you determine the atmosphere? After all, you can’t see it.

The atmosphere elevates the game experience beyond those moments of fantastic gameplay; it’s a combination of the artwork, audio, level design and story. There has been a number of titles over recent years which are fantastic examples of this. From the PlayStation exclusive, God of War, which had players hooked on Krato’s story to Red Dead Redemption 2, where its sprawling open world is arguably the best example of a game with a great atmosphere.

However, it’s not just the huge console titles or those played on a home computer that need to convey the right atmosphere. With the advances in smartphone technology, there has been an increased number of people heading to the more transportable gaming devices to enjoy their hobby.

As reported by Games Industry the mobile gaming industry is growing fast. So, the demand for quality games on the physically smaller platforms is just as significant, and it’s across all genres. Amongst the online slots featured on Gala Bingo are titles such as Reel Spooky King and Dynamite Riches Megaways, which use very specific imagery to create an atmosphere. That doesn’t mean deep worlds with characters and backdrops, but rather an overall aesthetic that plays into a key theme that draws players in. Another good example of this is Last Pirate Survival Island Adventure; this mobile game sees the player stranded on an island and they have to find the means to survive while fending off attacks from a host of sea creatures.

Of course, not every developer can get this right the first time, so we aim to offer you some advice to head in the right direction.

Choose the graphical style to suit

It’s important to consider the story if you are designing a platformer. For example, the main protagonist is a fluffy, cartoon-like character such as the classic, Sonic the Hedgehog. If so, then you shouldn’t confine the softer design to the main character, the same goes for the backdrop, too. Then perhaps, if the character finds himself up against an enemy, they could look a little less appealing. Maybe the battle setting is a little darker too, instantly giving an atmosphere of dread, fear and opposition.

Pick colour tones for recognisable features

Some colours instantly link your mind to characters or game elements. It could be the yellow of Pikachu, the green of Minecraft, or the red of the icon for the mobile game Among Us. These colours are recognisable because they’re the colours used in the marketing of the games too. Consistency of colour palette improves brand awareness, you can stray a little further away but too many clashing colours will lose atmosphere, so bear that in mind.

Sound design is just as important

Some of the best titles at conveying atmosphere are the games in the horror genre. Just think of the times you’ve been scared playing the likes of Resident Evil when some ghoul or zombie flies at the screen, and it scares the wits out of you. It’s not just the graphic that does that; the piercing scream which breaks the eerie silence has just as much of an effect. Then think of the music in the background, if your game is set in the 1970s, something disco sounding may suit the mood.

Summary

As you can see, it’s not just one thing that makes the atmosphere; it’s a combination of many things coming together at the right time. But all it takes to create that is a moment to step back and think, scene-setting, colour, sound, maybe use the memory of other titles that have done it right as inspiration for your project. So if you’re now ready to get started with your indie game, then look at our post on the best free game development software and tools to get you going here at Game Developer Tips’. 

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