Project Length: 30 weeks
Time on Project: 15 weeks
Size of team: 8
Roles: VFX Artist, UI designer (In Game HUD)
Engine: Unity 2017
Genre: First person Online Competitive Shooter
Trailer for re[Mod], edited, cut, directed by Max Sanel
A sampling of the effects I made for this project. (click to expand the images)
The visual effects for re[Mod] fall into two separate categories "game effects" and "world effects". Since the in-universe justification for the whole game, is that the player is remotely controlling the robots thorough some kind of head mounted device. I approached the effects from two separate mindsets: Effects that are actually happening in the physical world of the game, and Effects that are virtual, and are tied to game systems, and were designed to look more "fake" than the world effects, which are tied to physical systems in the game world. The "rarity sparkles" on weapon parts, for example, are a game effect, because, in real life, Guns don't glow.
World Effects and Game effects needed to be visually distinct from one another, to emphasize the neon-future-punk dystopia of the game world. I ended up creating a series of guidelines to consider when I was creating each type of effect:
-Have mass (they're affected by gravity/obey physical surfaces)
-Have physical presence (they should receive light, behave realistically)
- Linger and affect the world (they leave bits behind that stick around for a while, or they have an immediate impact on their surroundings)
Game Effects: -Are ethereal (They should glow, or be transparent in a way that doesn't convey "presence")
-Move and shift in unique, eye-catching ways (Since they are 'virtual' they are not bound by physics, and should feel "game-y" to reinforce the game show and virtual nature of the effects)
-Convey specific information to the player (They need to have a reason to exist from a design perspective, and that information to the players)
These were just guidelines and there are instances of both types of effects breaking these rules, for example:
the plasma arrow impact effect (left) is a world effect (as its what occurs when a plasma arrow impacts on a surface) and yet it glows and moves irregularly.
the "health collect" effect (right) is a game effect and yet it has elements that "obey" gravity
The biggest difficulty with the effects for this project was the lack of a node based material editor, and the absence of a decal system. The lack of a node based material editor meant that I generally couldn't customize the shaders to get, for example, unique interior movement, which in turn meant that I generally needed more particles per system, to get similar effects. The lack of decals meant that things like projectile impacts and explosions couldn't leave behind, dents, dings, soot, or holes.
On the UI front, I wanted the design of the HUD to mimic a visor, or goggles or something to emulate the goggles that the in-fiction players wear, to remotely pilot the robots. That design decision managed to make it through the entirety of development, even after I switched over to work with the art team on vfx. Since we were making a competitive shooter, I took a lot of inspiration from contemporary fpses, like Overwatch, especially in terms of how feedback is given to players on successful hits and kills; with onscreen hit confirm and kill confirm indicators, this ended up working well with the "hype" system which awards points depending on how stylish your actions, kills, and weapon combinations are. Giving the player a ton of information without making it overwhelming was part of the goal with designing the HUD. I wanted the player to be able to intuit as much about their gun combo as possible without even needing to look at the weapon. The Reticle needed to inform the player about the rate of fire and spread type, and the ammo indicator should tell the player what they are firing. One of the largest difficulties with the HUD when I initially came on the team was the way durability was being handled, as it was unclear to players when and why parts were vanishing, I drew up a proposal for an alternative durability system, as well as a series of suggestions of how to move the current durability feedback from a HUD element to a worldspace effect.