This article is about what I consider to be my best effect so far: The premium card Ves in the collectible card game Gwent.
A while back, while I was still working at CD Projekt Red, I was tasked with creating the VFX for a premium cards. One specific card was called ‘Manticore Venom’ and since it is a special card, it didn’t get any animations. This decision was made because we didn’t have enough animators at the time to make them.
If you look at the non premium card version, it looks rather boring and apart from the obvious glow in the front, this card would really shine if it only had a nice animation. So I was looking through my VFX toolbox to find something that would make this card special. My initial thought was adding some sort of interactivity to it because no other card had implemented something similar before. User input was limited though, since the only thing the player could do, was to rotate the card. Luckily for me, the card core, which is basically everything inside the card, was actually moving so I could use the updated world position as input. Using this piece of information and my imagination, I came up with the idea to make the green venom on the Manticore’s tail shake and jiggle when the player rotates the card. Surely, this would make this card more interesting, because players had something to discover and maybe start looking in other cards for similar effects.
First, I asked the guys from the 3D department to add some bones to the mesh. Not a full rig, but just a couple like a chain, so I could animate it. I then created a little tool, that does all the magic:
At first, it duplicates the bones so that there are stiff, motionless bones, that rotate with the card and bones that actually deform the mesh. The deforming bones however don’t follow immediately (when the card is rotated) but are rather attracted to their counterpart like a rubber band. In order to make it look more realistic, these bones behave like individual particles, that conserve velocity and are only slowed down by air resistance. Now when you move the card, the bones stay in their original position and accelerate towards their destination. Finally, slow down over time.
In the final steps, I added some particle effects to it and made the stinger glow in an interesting way. I then submitted the card for review and it got approved. Because I usually try to make my tools into something that can be reused and can work in many situations, I thought about other purposes for this badboy. What could I possibly use this tool for?! ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡° )
I opened up Ves, which I did not make the VFX for originally, checked the rig and voila: there were bones in the correct places. I knew I could count on the riggers, who add bones for any circumstance. So I hooked up my tool and me and the guys had a massive laugh. The tool even had some options which would make Ves’s boobs jiggle massively and uncontrollably (I wish I had captured it and could share with you). I then brought it up in our weekly review meeting and we all were having a blast. Our art director even loved it so much that she let us keep it. So I submitted it and this is how it made it into the game.
It was a great time and even though some people were offended by it, I think it was a good joke and I would do it again. In the end, I’m a player too and I always try to create some eye candy and make the games I’m working on better in everyway possible to me. This was my chance and I hope everyone appreciated it.