Today we have reached the point where games have entered a new era, a new next-generation beginning, starting in the last few years. Games have grown up from their 80’s pixels bouncing around the screen, to a full blown development process that rivals many movies in its complexity.
Modern game development studios are a combination various multi-disciplinary studios to cover all areas of the game creation process: concept art, character design, architecture, interior design, vehicle design, hand-animation, motion capture animation and various other art and animation areas.
Add to that the free-form ability to control a character in a game, which requires advanced 3D realtime engine programming, multi-shader and vertex rendering, computer AI programming, weapons/explosion special effects with real-time physics handling, body mechanics simulations and finally it all gets meshed together with the usual movie-type roles of art director, game director, strategy and marketing functions. Today, in most cases, this makes the set-up more complex than many movie development processes, simply because of the real-time and interactive nature inherent in games.
Game art is produced on a staggering scale, which is making games take longer and longer to come to market. Games like Shadow of the Colossus on Playstation 2 and its sibling game Ico each took 4 years to conceive, create and deliver. Most modern Next-Gen games for the Playstation 3 and XBOX 360 consoles (and PC of course), take 3-4 years in general, some even longer as these next-gen hardware is so new that developers are struggling to program for them due to their complexity. A sequel then usually takes a little less time, as most of the game engine has already been developed.
Game art can range from concept sketches to full blown design of characters, architectural, land/sea/air/space vehicles, interior design, prop design, animation design, physics simulation algorithms, motion-capture and hand-tweaked animation.
Below follows some in-game realtime screenshots of some games that have proven to stand as unique examples of modern art in games.