Secrets of Great Game Design: Weapons and Tools
As artists, modelers, and co-developers we’ve learnt a lot about the artistic side of game design. There are so many aspects of game design that covering even a fraction in one article would be impossible. Instead, we’ve decided to tackle a few of these elements one at a time. And where better to start than in the tools we put in our players hands. We’ll touch on more than weapons as well, as many games don’t have violent conflict, but for the most part, we’ll set our sights on weapons that aim to take out our players’ enemies.
So, when it comes to designing and creating the tools in your players hands, what’s a few things to keep in mind? There’s a few obvious ones, they have to look and feel cool. They must be fit for purpose and they often must reflect the character or faction they represent. In our own internal competitions, like the ‘Defender Turret’, we have clear set rules for what the weapon or machine must be used for. This is because its purpose and character define its look and feel.
Why are Weapons Important?
Weapons, and tools by extension, are reflections of our characters. Our noble knight uses a regal shield and sword. This represents both defence and offence, the character is as much a protector as an attacker. That tells us who they are and how they are different from the great-axe wielding warrior who clearly has no time for defence.
John Wick, for a more contemporary example, is slick and stylish. But he’s also brutally efficient. His weapons reflect that, they are clean and simple but often heavily modified. They speak of a killer who has done this so many times that he has customised every element of his work to his preference. He treats killing almost like an electrician treats wiring a plug. And his efficiency is shown outside his iconic pistol, his use of any object or item nearby tells us of his lethality even when ‘unarmed’.
We’ve talked before about meeting AAA standards for 3D characters and we will always double down that characterisation is absolutely integral for a successful project. Even single-lane shooters need some kind of character to feel for or root for. And the characters we come to know, love, and hate, define our investment in the game and its narrative.