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Nomad

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Nomad was the first time on a project where I got to devote myself wholly to the UX. On small teams you wear so many hats that feedback takes a backseat (much to my chagrin). Finally, I was on a team big enough that I could just work on effects and feedback, that does mean some of it feels a little beginner just a few months later, but I'm still fairly proud of what I accomplished.

The team wanted Nomad to be a very atmospheric and immersive game so one of the first tasks I handled was how to convey the "ammo" of the character's gun to the player. Much of the narrative revolved around the crystals growing out of these beasts (which show up at the end of the video) which had been used as an energy source in the past. Since the gun was supposed to be a jerry-rigged tool (more on that later) I decided to "take the power source out" and have the character carry it on their back. As they fire their gun the glow/color of the crystal reduces and spins slower and as it charges back up the glow, color, and spin speed all increase. This by itself wasn't clear enough and a color gradient doesn't automatically translate to clear numbers so players couldn't always tell how many shots they had. To help with this I added particles condensing into the crystal at each charge level (and particles leaving when fired). 

The gun the player uses to launch themselves into the air was supposed to be jerry-rigged into the tool they use in the game. To reflect this I took the effect in the direction of an energy weapon rather than creating a normal explosion or burst of air. In addition, it creates a shower of sparks and I put little arcs of electricity in the clouds. This was both to increase the power and visual interest of the effect but also to convey that the gun was broken and not operating normally. Then there's the aftermath, smoke and steam pours from the gun barrel for a while after to further underline the power of the blast and that this gun is not in full working order.

Alongside this powerful effect I added a strong screenshake (with motion blur) and controller vibration to further sell this explosion. This was a good start, but we wanted something more so I decided to add a dust kick-up to show that the gun affects both the player and the environment. When the player is over sand and close enough to the ground, this kick-up happens and the size of that ring scales with the player's distance to the ground (and the cloud size/duration scales inversely).

The last effect I want to highlight is the explosion of the crystals embedded in the beast. I mimicked the blast I used for the gun, minus the sparks and electric arcs. Then I darkened the color of the clouds as this color was supposed to be "corrupted" (unlike the crystal used in the gun) and added small glowing dots for more visual interest and to underline the sense of a release of energy. Just deleting the crystal didn't carry the right weight to it though, so to help with the physicality/realism I added the crystal shards. Just having the shards explode out wasn't clear enough though so I added trails to the shard, "residual energy" from the explosion.