From well known AAA games to indie titles, the creation of one of the most expressive forms of media has been tied to certain software and accompanying assets. These software, known as game engines, are the grounds for which the basic aspects of games are developed such as graphics, physics, audio, and so on. In exploring the functions of game engines, I have been studying the details of the game Genshin Impact, which was created with Unity. I chose this game because Unity is a well known and widely used engine, being taught as part of many school curriculums and being initially free to use. Despite this ease of access, Genshin Impact is an expansive open-world game that shows the scope of the engine’s capabilities and highlights the freedoms it allocates to developers (of course with the paid versions of Unity that are catered to commercial use). Unity allows developers to create and import their own assets, and use the C# scripting language to assign behavior to those assets and function as a game. It allows for 2D and 3D projects, which greatly increases they styles of games that can be made from it, while also making the incorporation of 2D assets within a 3D environment an easier process.
The assets within Genshin Impact interact wonderfully (on decently powerful devices) with the work put in by the Unity engine in a way that surprises many. It is able to load in a large landscape in which players can visibly spot locations that are across the entire map just by walking on high altitude structures. It can keep entities and their properties in tact through loading screens. For example, a player can shoot an arrow imbued with fire into the distance, teleport to a location in the distance, wait for the character to load back in, and still see the arrow flying at the same speed and trajectory as when it was fired. It has a consistent day and night cycle which changes the behaviors of certain npcs, objects, and events depending on the time of day. These examples showcase how the behaviors applied to the game assets respond to Unity’s commands and work in tandem with each other to lay out the experience of the player. The constant progression of the engine ties in with the notion that “the game engine [is] not only a technical achievement but also the springboard for changes in perception and play” that allows players to dissect and evaluate how technology can emulate real experiences of adventure and exploration (Lowood 206). Many have come to appreciate the artistic elements of Genshin much like how many games are praised for their graphics and visual worldbuilding, as players can recognize more minute details like “the sights and sounds of games” and the “networked player communities” that rise from these shared sentiments (Lowood 206). The game engine is a tool that allows creators to express their visions in a free form way and incorporate visual and technical elements into a seamless project.
Lowood, Henry. “Debugging game history: A critical lexicon.” ProQuest Ebook Central, 2016.
Here is some entertaining gameplay that also shows off the storytelling elements. Video by bwaap.