Game Engines for the Future
Why you can’t ignore the power of gamification
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The Game Engine. Yes, it is as cool as it sounds. The software development environment, originally designed so people can build video games, has now entered a whole new era. Game Engines such as the well-known Unreal Engine and Unity now come with a vast array of functions; from a rendering engine, 3D graphics, physics engines, AI, animation, streaming, networking and cinematics … You name it, the game engine can provide developers with everything they need to build a convincing online world.
So why is that important?
Game Engines were the province of beautifully tailored, mass market video games where the content was available to the end user via console and was limited by the game play. Within that lay the inherent challenge, how to get such high-quality content to more end users without these limitations?
The Hybrid events and digital product sales that are developing out of recent lockdown are offering the B2B solution. As consumers build on their recent, somewhat impromptu, education in utilizing online interaction software, virtual gamified experiences are no longer the property of digitally proficient but becoming the new medium by which we will all communicate.
Why is this?
- Opportunity. Game Engines are allowing brands to present products in a way that is impossible in the real world, especially when the experience is paired with VR and AR.
- Sustainability. With very little raw materials and the only input being creativity and imagination, game engines create 3D environments that can be constantly reimagined. No build and burn here.
- The Great Leveler. Social-economic considerations have never been more important, especially in the B2C world. In game engine -built environments, all avatars are equal and their ability to explore and interact unchallenged.
- Customisation. Game engines can change anything. I mean, anything. Be it a person, a world or an object. The technology has advanced to the point where it’s possible to change worlds around the user. Features can be designed in ‘moveable mode’ automatically via UI and re-rendered in real time
- Curatorship – Game Engines allows you to design the experience for seamless movement and truly interactive offerings that appear fully tailored for the user and aren’t held up by queues, blocked views and space limitations.
- Scalability – Imagine thousands of people all stood in the same place experiencing something that is impossible for us in current times … like all of us stood at Cape Kennedy watching the Space X rocket take off …
- Connection – This is the medium that appeals to the younger demographic, a language that they speak which we all must learn to connect with up and coming audiences
- Hybrid Adaptation – Maximizing space and social distancing will be major factors for an events when designing a safe experiential journey. It’s probable game engines will power hybrid events where physical spaces are set up for digital product immersion
- Cost – Unreal Engine is free and Unity is also free to companies up to £1m in revenue, so the cost really depends on objective. It can be simple and targeted as a deconstructed 360 trainer for a product launch, or as wide ranging as your imagination allows
Game Engines are highly specialised and like all things, not all 3D environments are built equal. Here are some key considerations:
- How to make your 3D environment immersive? – Get Creative; like all art, you need an artist with an eye for depth, colour and tone, and the imagination to go beyond replication.
- What is the brand narrative? – B2C audiences know their stuff, so it’s not just about throwing up some 3D booths, you need to curate the experience and subvert expectation with a narrative that twists and turns, breaking ‘virtual walls’ as spaces reveal themselves through a tour that requires you to interact/play the game.
- Where and how to host? – This is surprisingly important. Many event platforms do not support game engines, and if they do, they don’t consider the ancillary resources needed to host a smooth, continuous experience
- Did I need real-time rendering? – This is a tech we will be exploring in more detail next month
- Which engine? Be wary … game engines are being created left, right and centre and though there is big money being poured into the process, as with all tech innovations, only a handful with last the pace. Speak to your creative agency about their game engine experience
- Consider Connectivity – What if the internet is not that great? We believe 5G and game engine powered brand immersion will also form the argument for continuing with event spaces. Brands are not likely to be able to ensure connectivity in all their end user’s homes, so they need for physical spaces will remain. We are investing in half-hosting solutions; developing end-user ability to half-host data and information locally so there is a mixture of local and remote rendering.
The creative and the user journey will always be the main challenge. As with all events, execution is everything. The environment doesn’t have to be over the top. In our opinion, clever is best.
There are currently two main approaches to Game engine development in the events world and in our opinion, neither are completely correct usages. The first is to replace a real ‘world’ entirely, for example a virtual experience show where the 3D model of the event space/booth is faithfully created. The problem is so much energy is expelled in realism, these models are cumbersome to control and a bit boring.
The second is where the game engine focuses on features and creates over-complication by bombarding the user with info on certain (what the developer thinks) key features. Yawn.
For our clients, it’s all about presentation; the ingenious ways we can show those features and encourage interaction. Don’t put realism before the journey. Don’t get hung up on segues. Remember UI rules – 3 clicks or less. Get into the action and remember the famous adage, ‘start your story half-way through at the bit where it gets interesting.’
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