My main goal this sprint was to continue building our visual vocabulary so players can begin to learn what different weapon parts are and what effect the parts are going to have on their gun. Due to the fast-paced nature of our game, players are going to have to be able to know what a part will do just from a glance. I explored 4 different ways to make weapon parts recognizable and deliver the necessary information to the player in the most efficient way.
I started by concepting the visual design of some of the weapon parts that we plan on implementing in the future. I tried to design the visual aesthetic of the parts in a way that would communicate the effect of the part to the player right away. By intentionally designing the shape language of a part to make it recognizable and distinguishable from other parts, players will start to learn what the part does and decide to seek out that specific part or choose to avoid it.
The second piece of our visual vocabulary is our dynamic UI. Our players will need to know a lot of information in a small amount of time so when I was putting together a few UI mockups I focused on making the stat changes clear without taking up too much room. I was inspired by Horizon Zero Dawn’s UI system because it delivers so much information in a very efficient way. For our UI, there are two parts: worldspace UI and screenspace UI. The worldspace UI shows the name of the weapon part that the player is looking at. This way, if the shape of the part doesn’t tell the player what they need to know, the name will. The screenspace UI shows everything else. The colored bars will attract the player’s eye and visually show how the part will affect their gun. All of the stats the player needs to worry about is accounted for here.
The last two parts of our visual vocabulary work together. To finish communicating the importance of certain parts to players we’re planning on introducing a part classification system and new ways for the player to find these parts around the map. These are both things that we’ve been discussing for a while but this sprint I spent the time figuring out the details and documenting how these mechanics work.
Part classification organzines all of the different weapon parts into 3 different tiers determined by a part’s power level. Common parts are easy to find but aren’t necessarily very effective. Players will be able to recognize a common part from its yellow glow and particle effect. Rare parts have a blue glow/particle effect and will be more of a challenge to obtain but can bring more punch to a weapon. Finally, Legendary parts will have a purple effect and have a lot of power. Legendary parts will be difficult to obtain but will drive players to stick their necks out more for the most powerful weapon combinations.
Common, rare, and legendary parts are all found in different ways. Common parts are typically found in crates around the map. There are 4 different types of crates that players will be able to visually recognize so when they know they need a specific part type, they’ll be able to find it a lot easier. Blue crates will hold different sight modifications, orange crates hold attachment mods, green crates are for barrels, and red crates are mystery boxes which have a higher chance of giving the player a rare or legendary part. Players can break the crate open and pick from a few different parts that burst out.
Players can find rare parts in AI Turrets around the arena. Turrets add a level of player choice into each match because players can either break them to take their parts or override them to increase their map coverage. Turrets also add an extra element of challenge since they are hostile to all players if they are left in their natural state. The idea is that players will have to work a little harder to get the rare parts that are going to give them a greater advantage against their opponents.
The final way that players can obtain parts is something that we are calling “Stage Areas”. Stage Areas are certain pre-determined parts of the arena that players will have to control for a certain period of time to be rewarded with a legendary part from the audience. Stage Areas create a common objective for all players and create king of the hill or territory control style gameplay. Stage Areas will be hotspots on the map because all players are going to want to fight over getting those legendary parts.
These 4 methods of communicating information to the player and helping them learn the difference between parts as they play will help develop our visual vocabulary. Moving into our next few sprints, these systems will begin to get implemented in the game so we can ask QA testers if they have a better understanding of what each part is with all of this information being given to them.