People said I was crazy when I announced the Kickstarter funding goal for BangBang PewPew. The rule of thumb at the time was to seek $20,000+ for 2d games and $80,000+ for 3d games. I couldn't do that because BangBang PewPew from the start was meant to be for hardcore lightgun gamers and there aren't many of us around! I roughly estimated that there were between 20,000 and 40,000 modern lightguns out there and many of them were owned by purists who only wanted to stick with their classic games instead of trying something new. On the other hand, most games have a potential audience of millions. I was hoping for a lightgun shooting renaissance but not betting on it.

They said I was crazy. I admit I am but not for the reasons they thought. I got it done on time and on budget! All the artists, admin staff and professionals got paid and (with a little luck) someday maybe I will too. The short answer to how it was done: I stuck to my strengths and only spent money where absolutely necessary. If something wasn't in my skill set or wasn't necessary, I either worked around it or cut it from the game. Over the next few posts I'll share some of the details.

To give you an idea of where we are headed: I started out as a programmer. I'm a competent 3D model but a not much of a graphic designer or artist. I understand the technical side of animation but I am not an animator. I've been a musician most of my life. There are lots of people out there posting tutorials on programming and music so I will focus on the more unique parts of BangBang PewPew's success: the work arounds I used to overcome my shortcomings.

User Interface Design

For the last few months I have been focused on our upcoming horror DLC, Shadow of the Black Rose. Our graphic designer (ig: @aliceliaoart) did an excellent job with the initial release but she can't work on the DLC for personal reasons and I'm not sure I could pay her even if she could! One of the main goals I have is to improve the user interface. Unfortunately, I don't have the budget to hire our graphic designer back for the changes and learning the necessary skills is beyond what I have time for (or talent for?). Instead I'm sticking to my strengths. In this case, scripting and 3d rendering.

Step 1: Setting up the Camera

First off I created a studio lighting scene. I knew I would be reusing it so I assumed the subject of the photo would be at the origin and set up the lights and camera around it. Normally working in 3d, artists choose a scale and stick to it. Instead, I set the lights and camera, then scaled and positioned my objects to fit them. This kept the lights and camera positioned the same relative to each other so there was no need to relight for each weapon and they were lit consistently. This made producing additional icons as simple as loading the model into the scene, moving them to fill the frame, and pressing render.

Camera settings are very important here! I based this off of inventory icons in other games with a stylized look and feel and also tried to match our existing user-interface style. I decided to go with a wide angle lens for two main reasons:

  • Firstly, one of the early design decisions I made was to go with a semi-stylized appearance. This distances us from modern shooters which is important because we wanted our backers' expectations to be in line with what we could achieve. We didn't have the time or budget to pretend to be a triple-A studio. A wide-angle gives us a more cartoon-like look and it's not something you would see in a gun magazine or poster.
  • Secondly, I wanted the style to look hand-drawn but have a sense of depth. Wide-angle lenses bring out the difference in proportion between the different weapons. Eg. a short but fat magnum revolver, a tall and skinny submachine gun and a long sniper rifle. Readability is most important in UI design and especially for icons so I wanted the silhouettes to look very different from each other.

In this case I went with a 30mm lens. I experimented with depth of field to emphasize the wide-angle effect but found it was lost in a small render and took away from the geometric detail and contrast I was after. I considered adding lens distortion but found it was too cartoon-like and it took away from the feeling of looking down the barrel of the gun. Instead I went with a perfect 30mm lens. For a more anime or cartoon style, more lens distortion would be better.


Next time I'll cover lighting and materials.

BangBan PewPew: Shadow of the Black Rose is coming Fall 2022. Pick up BangBang PewPew on Steam now to be notified of the free beta coming in October.

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