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Animation vs. game dev: Everything creator David OReilly breaks down the differences

April 25, 2017 | By Chris Kerr

April 25, 2017 | By Chris Kerr
More: Design, Business/Marketing, Video

"Games develop in a way that I can only describe as organic, in that they tend to start as a core and then grow outward. With animation, it's more of a branching thing."

Everything developer David OReilly

Before trying his hand at game development, Everything creator David OReilly was best known for his work in the film industry, and in particular for creating compelling animated pictures. 

The Irish auteur produced a number of acclaimed shorts like RGB XYZ and The External World, and also designed the animated sequences for feature films including Son of Rambow and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. 

It was only after working on the memorable (fictional) video game featured in Spike Jonze's Her that OReilly started to build his own. Her released Mountain the following year, and has been exploring the world of video games ever since. 

But just how easy was it making the switch from 3D animation to game development? Given we were fortunate enough to have OReilly join us for a recent Twitch stream, we took the chance to pop the question.

"Games develop in a way that I can only describe as organic, in that they tend to start as a core and then grow outward. With animation it's more of a branching thing, where it starts, it has this one sort of direction, and then that direction fills out," he explains. 

"Here's a more practical example: in animation, you're setting up a timeline, and typically you'll have a storyboard or animatic that you're filling in with scenes. Once those things are rendered they're essentially locked into place and are very hard to change. 

"In games, you can make fundamental changes to one part of it and they effect the entire organism of the thing. It's so interconnected, and the changes can be so dramatic even towards the end of production. It's much more enjoyable."

OReilly says there are other, more troublesome differences between the two. For instance, game development requires greater attention to detail because players won't always stick to the beaten path. 

"In 3D animation, you can get away with quite a lot of things," he continues. "Because you're dealing with static shots and layouts, where most of the things aren't going to move, you can get away with a lot. You can paint stuff up and fudge things. In games, every side of every object, underneath of it, every angle, needs to be perfect."

To hear more from the man himself, you can watch the full stream right here. After that, be sure to follow the Gamasutra Twitch channel for even more game dev insights, tips, and tricks.

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