Video game doors are difficult to develop and design. Here’s why.
Doors are so common in the real world that you probably don’t stop to think about how to make them work.
But for video game designers, that’s not the case. For a video game door to be real, it takes a ton of hard work. Video game doors should interact seamlessly with their surroundings, make logical sense and look good too. They have to strike a delicate balance between real-world precision and gameplay. All of these factors mean that designing a door typically requires the work of all departments in a game company.
And different types of doors require different amounts of labor.
Zero level: No doors. This is the easiest route, and many games take this route. Even games that have doors often have many areas that eliminate doors completely because they want to avoid headaches.
Level one: Proximity doors. These are the types of doors that you will find in a sci-fi game like Halo. They usually slide on their own, so that they don’t interact with any other object in the scene. These doors are basically doors, but with the obstacle you cannot see what is on the other side until you are nearby.
Level two: Doors that look like doors from the real world. The door should swing back and forth. How does the door react if there is an object in its path? Can the door lock? Do enemy characters and companion characters know how to strategize around the gate?
The characters in the game usually don’t physically touch the door, but they can make an arm gesture that suggests they are opening or closing it.
Third level: Doors that look like doors and real world characters interact with them. These doors present all of the difficulties of level two doors as well as the added challenge of perceived interactions.
To make interactions realistic, animators should painstakingly animate characters’ hands to appear as if they are gripping and dropping objects, such as doorknobs. Once animated, developers need to find the best way to seamlessly switch between preset animations and human player control.
These same challenges arise when you try to add almost any element to a game. Doors are tough because all game development is difficult.
Like any great work of art, the blood, sweat, and tears that enter doors are often invisible. The best doors are the ones that work perfectly and go unnoticed.
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