Video game developers utilize a variety of tools to create stunning and engaging visual effects (VFX) for their games.

Real-time VFX tools are used for effects such as explosions, fire, and water, which are rendered in real-time and triggered by player input.

On the other hand, pre-rendered VFX is created using specialized 3D modeling software and rendering applications to produce high-quality effects.

Developers use a range of VFX tools, including proprietary software, technical editors, affordable plugins, and toolkits. They create an array of effects that enhance the player's gaming experience.

Here you will find a small list of tools that are used in creating VFX for games. Keep in mind that not all of these tools have to be used at once. It really depends on the preference of the creators.

Real-time Engine

Game engines are software development environments designed to build video games. They are the heart of video games, responsible for everything from the physics of the game to the rendering of graphics.

With many different engines available, game developers must carefully choose an engine that best suits their game's design and goals. Each engine has its unique strenghts and weaknesses. In any case, game engines are critical to creating the immersive and captivating experiences that players enjoy.

Unreal Engine

Unreal Engine is a popular game engine developed and maintained by Epic Games. It is used to create high-quality 3D and 2D games, and interactive experiences. It is also used to produce visual effects for film, television, and virtual reality.

Unreal Engine is specifically used in creating VFX by utilizing its real-time rendering capabilities and advanced tools for 3D modeling, animation, and materials.

VFX artists can use the engine to create and test visual effects in real-time. It consequently gives them the ability to iterate quickly and make changes on the fly. As a result, this allows for greater creativity and efficiency in the VFX process, as well as more accurate representation of how the effects will look in the final product.

In addition to its real-time rendering capabilities, Unreal Engine also has a robust suite of tools for simulation, such as its physics engine. It can be used to create realistic simulations of physical phenomena, for example, fire, smoke, and water.

This allows VFX artists to create complex and realistic visual effects without having to rely on time-consuming and costly traditional animation techniques. Overall, Unreal Engine is a powerful tool for VFX artists looking to create high-quality visuals in a fast and efficient manner.

Unity

Unity is a popular cross-platform game engine developed by Unity Technologies. In addition to games, it is also widely used for creating interactive content, virtual and augmented reality experiences, and visual effects for film, television, and other media. In creating VFX, Unity is used to create and simulate visual effects in real-time. It is simultaneously using its built-in physics engine, particle systems, and other tools for 3D modeling, animation, and materials.

VFX artists can use Unity to create complex simulations and effects, and test them in real-time. This is allowing for greater creativity and efficiency during the VFX process. Unity also offers a large and active community of developers and artists, who contribute to the engine's extensive library of tools, plugins, and assets.

This can be even more helpful for VFX artists who want to access pre-made assets, such as particle systems, or who want to collaborate with others on projects. Overall, Unity is a versatile and powerful tool. It is especially helpful for VFX artists looking to create high-quality visuals in a flexible and efficient manner.

Godot

Godot Engine is an open-source game engine developed by the Godot community. It is designed to be lightweight, flexible, and easy to use.This engine is particularly popular around indie game developers and hobbyists.

In recent years, it has also been used for creating a wide range of interactive content. It includes not only virtual and augmented reality experiences, but also visual effects for film, television, and other media. In creating VFX, Godot Engine is mostly used for its real-time 3D graphics capabilities, its built-in physics engine, particle systems, and other tools for 3D modeling, animation, and materials.
Overall, VFX artists can use Godot to create complex simulations and effects. They can also test them in real-time, allowing for greater creativity and efficiency in the VFX process. One of the key benefits of Godot Engine is its simplicity and ease of use.

Godot features a user-friendly interface, and a straightforward and intuitive scripting system. This can help VFX artists to quickly create and test their effects without needing extensive programming knowledge.

Above all, Godot Engine is a cost-effective and accessible tool for VFX artists looking to create high-quality visuals, and who want the flexibility to experiment and iterate quickly

3D Software

3D modeling is the process of creating a three-dimensional representation of an object. It is used in many different industries, such as architecture, engineering, and product design. There are many different software programs that can be used to create a 3D model.

3Ds Max

3Ds Max is a widely-used 3D modeling and animation software that is used by game developers to create detailed and intricate VFX. Its advanced features and powerful tools make it an especially great choice for large-scale VFX projects

Maya

Maya is a 3D computer graphics software that is widely used in the film and video game industry. This powerful tool is used for character animation, modeling, and rigging. It is an essential part of the VFX pipeline

Blender

Blender is a free and open-source 3D creation suite. It supports the entirety of the 3D pipeline—modeling, rigging, animation, simulation, rendering, compositing, and motion tracking, even video editing and game creation

ZBrush

ZBrush is a powerful digital sculpting tool that is often used by game artists to create high-quality 3D models and VFX. Its intuitive interface and ability to create highly detailed models make it a great option for game developers who want to create realistic and immersive VFX

Simulations

3D simulations for creating VFX for games refer to the process of using computer graphics and physics to create realistic visual effects for video games. This can include effects such as explosions, fire, smoke, water, and other particle effects

Houdini

Houdini is a high-end 3D animation software that is often used in the creation of VFX for games. Its node-based workflow and powerful simulation tools make it a great choice for complex VFX, for example explosions and destruction.

EmberGen

EmberGen is a real-time fluid simulation tool that is used to create dynamic and interactive VFX for games. Whether it's creating smoke, fire, or other particle effects, EmberGen provides artists with the capability to create stunning VFX that enhances the player experience.

2D Software

When it comes to texture creation, there are a few software programs that stand out from the rest. So, whether you’re looking for a specific set of features or you’re just starting, these programs will help you on your journey.

Adobe Photoshop

Photoshop is a widely-used image editing software that is also popular in the gaming industry. It's used by game artists for the purpose of creating textures, editing images, and composing VFX.Moreover, Photoshop has a large community of users and a wealth of tutorials and resources available. It is a particularly great option for those new to the world of VFX.

Krita

Krita is a free and open-source digital painting tool that is often used by game developers to create concept art and 2D animations.It has a user-friendly interface and a wide range of features, including brushes, layers, and filters. Is is a versatile tool for artists

Substance Designer​

Substance Designer is an application intended for creating 2D textures, materials, filters, and 3D models in a node-based interface, with a heavy focus on procedural generation, parametrization, and/ non-destructive workflows

Adobe Animate ​

Animate software is used to create both digital and hand-drawn characters and scenes. With so many great examples of 2D animation out there, it’s no wonder that more people are interested in learning how to animate.

To list a few purposes of using Adobe Animate, you can:
Design interactive animations for games, TV shows, and the web.
Bring cartoons and banner ads to life.
Create animated doodles and avatars.
Add action to eLearning content and infographics.

Firstly, Adobe Animate is an all-in-one animation tool for efficient animation, for both drawing and final production. Secondly, it's your one-stop-shop for everything animation, 5 tools in 1. It is used by Leading Studios. Finally, it has limitless possibilities to help you whenever you need it.

Harmony

Harmony is a 2D animation software that is used by game developers to create 2D animations and VFX. Its powerful tools and flexible features make it a great option for artists who want to create high-quality 2D animations specifically for games.

Compositing

Refers to the process of combining visual elements from different sources, such as live-action footage, computer-generated imagery (CGI), and special effects, to create a final image or sequence.

This involves layering multiple elements on top of each other and applying various techniques. For example color grading, lighting adjustments, and masking. In effect, VFX artists achieve a cohesive and seamless result.

Compositing is an essential part of the post-production process in modern filmmaking and is used to create a wide range of visual effects, from simple scene enhancements to complex, otherworldly environments.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YyjHDMNICS8

Nuke

Nuke is a professional compositing software that is used to create and manipulate visual effects for a variety of industries, including the gaming industry.Its powerful tools and ability to handle complex VFX make it a great option for game developers who want to create stunning and seamless VFX for their games.

Adobe After Effects

After Effects is powerful visual effects and motion graphics software that is widely used in the gaming industry.Its wide range of features and ability to integrate with other software make it a great choice for artists who want to create sophisticated VFX for games

Plugins

Here are some useful plugins

Fluidninja​

NinjaLIVE is realtime, responsive fluid simulation for Unreal.

Axiom

Axiom is a sparse GPU-accelerated volumetric fluid solver for computer graphics and visual effects. What sets it apart is the ability to run true sparse simulations fully on a GPU.

The tools used in creating VFX for video games have become consequently more advanced and sophisticated over the years. Whether it's Autodesk Maya or Unity and Photoshop, each tool provides artists with a unique set of features and tools, making it easier for them to create stunning and realistic VFX. As shown above, with the right tools and techniques, artists can bring their visions to life and create visually stunning games that are both immersive and engaging

Check out the VFX Pipeline in games to see how theses tools are used

There will be an update on that soon

Thank you for reading

Cheers

MadVFX
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