How it’s made: Creating Suu’chadak’s VFX

Greetings Controllers!

Have you ever been curious about how we make things here at Lightbulb Crew?
Personally, I’ve always been amazed by how our artists are bringing simple pixels to life (they had to develop a special training not to be scared to death when I was jumping from their back saying “OMAGAD this is great! We HAVE to show this to the players”).

That’s why I’m trully enthusiastic about this following article, it’s from our VFX artist, Vianney, who’s about to show you the magic of Virtual Effects.
And don’t be fooled, whatever he says, he’s doing magic.

Enjoy your reading! 😉

 

Loic, Community Manager

What is a VFX?

Today, We will look into creating visual effects (VFX) for Games of Glory. VFX consist of all the visual effects that appear when a Clone casts a skill.

They have a determining role within the game, as they must convey simple and clear information about a skill’s function as a gameplay element, but they also have to please the eye and fit the character who’s using them. Suu’chadak’s first skill is a good example, due to its complexity and the technical challenges it entails.

Our new Clone, Suu’chadak, has his own very special personality. He is a playful character who kind of fights against his will, and would rather spend time healing his teammates and messing with his foes, instead of rushing in for the fight.

Hailing from the Skiutera faction, he uses water-based abilities. His first skill spawns a zone in front of him, which grants a shielding bubble to allies within it, and entangles his enemies in seaweed.

Defining a concept

Together with Sébastien, our concept artist, we came up with a reef barrier similar to Grejan’s first skill, using the same behaviour so that it wouldn’t go through walls.

We quickly realized that this design would be too confusing, so instead we had the idea of a small pond that would rise from the ground.

We had it in mind to use an already existing script that allows us to spawn one or more polygon ribbons between two objects. So, I broke down the concept in several parts we could integrate to Unity: two islands of meshes to represent the limits of the effect, and an aqueous zone in the center that could be made on just a flat texture and give an illusion of depth.

The hole story

Since digging an actual hole in the map is out of the question, you have to pretend there is one! To do so, I started out by sculpting a 3D rift in the ground. Then using the xNormal software, I baked this rift to a plane to get several textures, each containing different information. They were then combined on Photoshop to get the most lighting information out of them.

These textures were finally integrated in Unity on two different materials applied to two overlapping polygon ribbons. They had to be separate so that we would have an additive material for highlights, and an alpha blended material for shadows. This way, however light or dark the ground would be, highlights would stay light and shadows would stay dark. This transparency gives off the illusion of a rift in the ground, despite the absence of a rift mesh.

Then, to frame the effect, I sculpted and textured the islands, reusing parts of Suu’chadak to save time. I created a few rocks that I rotated and scaled. All of this was then converted to a low resolution model and integrated to the script.

The missing link

Next step was to establish a link between the gameplay feedback and the zone creating them. The visuals of the water pond HAD to show a cause-effect link with these feedback. So with Sébastien, we imagined strings of seaweed diving under the water, and rising to entangle foes and breathing out protective air bubbles for allies.

To instil life into these seaweeds and highlight their primordial role, I animated them after modelling them. Normally, animating a rope or a tentacle takes quite a bit of time, because you have to create a skeleton and link it to the object verticles. Instead, I used a faster technique:

Creating several copies of an object, morphing and twisting them individually, then interpolating between these copies on an animation timeline to create an undulation.

The result of this makes the overall VFX more lively and draws the eye to the seaweeds as I wanted.

Seaweed and bubbles

With the zone done, I had to produce the effects applied to foes and allies when they step in it. An issue there was to separately represent the root and slow effects and keep a continuity between both.

Originally, I used a swirl particle system around the characters for the slow effect (below to the right). However it wasn’t clear that you were being held back by something, so I created two different seaweed models, one springing like a whip and disappearing immediately, the other surrounding the character like claws.

The zone grants a shield that absorbs some damage before disappearing after a few seconds. Early on, we wanted to represent it with an aqueous bubble, bursting when it stopped being active.

When you want to create a VFX inspired from real life, it’s important to be able to decompose the movement you want to reproduce. A good practice is to watch slow-motion experiment videos, these are essential for VFX artists (you can find anything on Youtube). This is how I was able to understand how a bubble bursts, and recreate this stylized effect according to Suu’chadak’s cartoon vibe.

Warming up for release

Everything was in place now. But before I could unleash my VFX in the arena, I had to make sure it was fluid and optimized properly! I worked on the in and out animations to correspond to the duration defined by game designers, and to highlight the bouncy character of Suu’chadak.

I also had to make sure that it would fill performance constraints and had to do optimization work in consequence: reducing the size of textures, combining them into a single material for several objects, removing shadows on elements that didn’t need to cast them.

The whole of my work was then submitted to out testing team so they could signal possible bugs linked to the VFX, until it was finally officially part of Games of Glory!

Vianney Ternisien

Comments (1)

  1. Natco says:

    Awesome article Vianney !! 🙂

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