Fragmental is all about the weapons
They all have limited ammo so once you’re out, you better grab yourself a new one quickly! With that in mind, it’s helpful to know what weapon you’re picking up before you get there. We’re in a unique position with Fragmental where the weapons are acting as a sort of physical UI.
With some of the larger maps the camera can be quite far out so it’s important that the weapons all have strong silhouettes and are visually different enough that you can pick out what they are from a distance.
I’m not a UI artist by trade, I’m an animator but being a small prototype team we need to be a bit more multi disciplined. I started doing a bit of UI work on Hollowpoint and no-one completely hated it so thankfully I’ve found another way to make myself useful.
The importance of strong silhouettes is fundamental in animation so I think that served me well with the weapon design. I started off doing a bit of research; artstation is great for reference, as is pinterest, it’s like google but someone has kindly filtered out all the crap for you! I play a fair bit of Destiny (Nightstalker FTW! Bungie can I have “Quiver” back please!?) and they have some amazing weapon designs. Guns like Thorn and Murmur, generally the more hive based weaponry had the sort of sharp angular look that I thought could fit well with our game, only with a lot less detail.
After gathering enough reference, I then started knocking up a really rough pass in photoshop of some of the weapon outlines; trying to reduce them to primitive shapes where possible. The distance they are viewed at in game means a lot of the detail gets lost so, in my opinion, the simpler the better. Weapons like the Disc Gun and Cross Beam were easy enough to define by the projectiles they fired, others like the Machine Gun and Assault Rifle were a little trickier. I think it’s important for us to push the silhouettes for the weapons which are unique to our game but with your more traditional weapons like the Shotgun, it’s about walking the line between something which fits with the style but still retains some grounding in reality.
I then passed my work onto Tom, who was tasked with trying to make sense of my shoddy drawings. Luckily he pulled it out of the bag and within a few days we had a first pass at a good chunk of the weapon models. As it stands I think we’ve got a solid base to build on, some of the concepts have worked better than others but being able to get them into the game quickly means less wasted time going down a path which might not have worked in the first place.
If there’s anything I’ve learnt in the few short months we’ve been working on Fragmental, it’s that quick iteration is key; don’t fanny about, get stuff in game and get it play tested!
And on that note, I’m off to try out some new guns… game development is hard work!