Teef's guide to making a weapon have personality

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Teef's guide to making a weapon have personality

Post by chronoteeth »


Theres somethin that ive noticed with a lot of weapon mods and TCs lately. Somethin that has been driving me a lil bonkers (simply because im just used to a lot of old days making weapon mods during the beginning): Lotta weapons dont feel like they have any MEAT, or some noticable CHUNK, or some fluidity, or at the end of the day


Now what do I mean by personality? I dont mean like giving the gun a name, birthday, ect. I mean more like, making weapons feel good. Not just relying on smoothness (lookin at you overuse of textures lump folk) or even just doing it so its not too complicated (you can make a weapon feel good without increasing the time to complete the animation or any of that). Its like giving a gun a ~soul~ as silly as that sounds. Consider an idsoftware shotgun, they go the extra mile over a normal game's shotguns to make it feel just right

Keep in mind that since these use gif programs, it wont be able to 100% represent what im trying to show. If you want to see what I mean, the sprites in use are from my WIP mod (keep in mind a lot of post effects like sparks, smoke, and shells are not in there yet)

1st part: Emphasization

Take a look at this! See the little wobble at the end (trust me it looks better in game ahaha)? That is an "Emphasization frame"! What I mean by that, is a small, slightly off shoot frame that lasts barely a second, that heads in the direction of the animation. It makes the gun feel like it has some weight, and that each pump, or magazine slammed in (this stuff is applicable if you want to do a lot of emphasis on the animations), make not only the guns feel hefty, but adds a lot of flair with reloads

The same came be done with attacking frames! Most people who do wnat to add emphasization tend to do the usual smear method of the frames that last fast. It usually works for melee weapons but I find that with shooting or action frames (like pumping or reloading) doesnt do it so well. What I like to do are add tiny little resizes during the kickbacks on the recoil. Either a lot of resizes (useful for bigger firing weapons like rocket launchers or shotguns) or single resizes spread out (for smgs and plasma guns) help to emphasize that the weapon in your hands can be a powerful or uncontrollable beast.

Also a nice little addition to try with rapid fire weapons is to have the other muzzle flash frames scoot around just slightly, as seen in the smg. like one to the left, one to the right, and one back a bit more. It lets you add even more wild-ness to it! For those with the know how, combining these tiny in between frames with texture lump smoothing can make both a crazy and smooth weapon!

2nd part: Less can be better!

A big thing ive noticed, especially in a lot of mods that do smooth weapons, tend to forget that just because things look at a higher fps doesnt exactly mean the weapon feels better. One of the best stock doom 2 weapons is the ssg. It has a lot of the same TIC length throughout the frames, but its done with each sprite being a different frame, but we'll be focusing on using coding to work! For example lets take a look at a pumping animation using 12 frames with similar TIC lengths:

Code: Select all

Frame A: 4
Frame B: 4
Frame C: 4
Frame D: 4
Frame E: 4
Frame F (The peak, when its at its up most position): 4
Frame G: 4
Frame H: 4
Frame I: 4
Frame J: 4
Frame K: 4 
Frame L (the bottommost frame, after chunking the shotgun to the bottom most pump position): 4 
Frame K: 4 
and so on and so forth 
Now if you just go by looking at the code you have to admit that just looks like it'd be a rather bland gun to use, dont you think? Does the job but doesnt feel fun to use I bet. Lets try this out for size then, same gun, buuuuuuttt~

Code: Select all

Frame A: 2
Frame B: 1
Frame C: 3
Frame D (The peak, when its at its up most position): 6
Frame E: 2
Frame F (the fully back frame): 2
Frame G: 1 (emphasis frame here!)
Frame F: 6
Frame E: 2
Frame D (shorter this time): 4
Frame C: 2
Frame B: 2
Frame A: 2
Frame H (another emphasis frame!): 1  
I bet with a bit of work this can apply it to a gun and that chuut gun already feels a lot more powerful!

3nd part: Visual recoil beyond kickback

Something that I'd love to see more modders tackle is use zdoom's (and even 3dge can do it! Though not to the same extent yet) versatile recoil systems to add more "oomf" to certain frames. Take a look at the video with it comes to reloading the guns and even firing. Theres a slight zoom factor with the recoil when shooting. A lil bit of vibration and a teensy bit of up down recoil, and yet look beyond. Look at how the shotgun, when it pumps, the camera down and then back up, or when a shell is loaded. Look at when the beretta's slide goes forward the camera flicks upwards just a teensy amount. Using all forms of visualization for the animation (Zoom, shake, camera movement, camera kickback), even subtly, can add leagues more to a gun.

The same can be applied to melee as well. Some mods have it so when you melee a wall, theres a visual freeze and then a recoil, since you just slapped a wall with a sword or some shit. Apply that to hitting enemies as well! Give it a single freeze frame and then continue the swing. Make hits feel like hits!

4th part: Consistent individuality

The hardest thing about making a mod is to make sure that each weapon feels unique, and not just code wise. We're talking more than just the looks of the gun as well. If you have a sprite that has other frames that arent just the single idle frame, then use em! If you do only have one sprite to work with, then edit the hell out of it. Flick the magazine out of the gun, dont just let it go "hand on mag, pull out, put new mag in, press button." Rotate some frames, change the color of specific parts, rehand a gun if you feel that theres a better hand out there that can fit the gun! Use more than just one hand frame and rotate it when making a reload frame heck even implement idle animations for your weapons code-wise if you can do it! Dont be afraid even if you're not the best artist to tweak some things. Programs such as paint.net work wonders for spriting, as well as having incredibly simple controls.

Dont forget projectile animations too! If you have the coding know how, give that rocket some oompf. Start out slow and then blast off, or maybe the plasma gun could have a teensy bit of energy-wobble in its projectile. It doesnt just have to be the weapon that deserves all the effects

The same goes for sound effects. Having a balance of proper sounds, not just firing but timing as well, is key. You want a beefy firing gun that isnt too overzealous but something also fresh and unique? Grab a buncha similar sounding sfx, tweak the volumes individually (Audacity is your friend), even trim and cut certain lil bits out of sounds you dont want to use to help balance it to get it just right, and other things like giving an energy weapon a subtle hum effect, or a quiet flying noise for projectiles in the air. Trust me, it does mean a lot more work beyond just the pure coding, but a little bit of extra effort goes a long way!

Final part: Knowing when to stop
The biggest thing though, and this could throw all about what I recommended, is making sure when to know when to stop. You dont want too much overzealous frames, or too many unnecessary effects. Good example is russian overkill. The guns are all wonderful in how they animate or act but the biggest killer is that they dont know when to stop. I get the whole sphiel of the mod is to be overzealous, but like, 1000 smoke frames surrounding your explosion not just can tank weak computers but also devalue the gun as well. The same's applied to sound effects. I get people like the booming cannon effect for a rocket launcher but please we dont need any base boosted boomsticks. I like my headphones!

Another big thing is to not let yourself get lost in how the gun feels to forget the simple gameplay balances. Your mod has 4 assault rifles. They look and feel different. They're still just simple variances on the same initial assault rifle!

Make sure to not get lost in graphics over design, but the same vice versa as well. Its a hard wire to walk to keep things balanced in between, but if you do things just the right way your gun will not just be good to shoot, but feel good too! And these are a lot of my own opinions on what makes a doom mod's weapon feel good, but I hope you can garner something to give more emphasis on making things feel nice!

If anyone found this at all useful, consider helping me out by donating to my paypal! paypal.me/Teefe or chronoteeth@gmail.com! I need any help I can get, so anything is appreciated <3
Last edited by chronoteeth on Thu May 31, 2018 1:08 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Teef's guide to making a weapon have personality

Post by wildweasel »

This seems well written and informative, but the ezgif images don't load correctly for me, they just give a 404 placeholder.
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Re: Teef's guide to making a weapon have personality

Post by chronoteeth »

wildweasel wrote:This seems well written and informative, but the ezgif images don't load correctly for me, they just give a 404 placeholder.
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Re: Teef's guide to making a weapon have personality

Post by Cardboard Marty »

This is some really great, sound advice! I feel like some more examples would definitely beef up your post to reinforce your points, but overall fantastic stuff!
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Re: Teef's guide to making a weapon have personality

Post by DukeWooze »

Thanks for writing this! Next time I work on a project, I'll try to use some of these concepts.

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