THESPIKE.GG Valorant Event & News Coverage

Riot Games' guide to make a VALORANT's skin

by maksst 2020-05-20

Last week we discussed the creation of the VALORANT’s weapons; this week we continue the same theme as Riot Games is providing us with a new VALOTANT Dev post about the craft of weapons skins and how they came up with the ideas. Game Producer Preeti Khanolkar and Art Lead Sean “Orinam” Marino talk about the cosmetics in the game and the rules they set for themselves while making them. Firstly, all skins had to be immersive only in the first person, which means audio, animations, model, visuals etc. while for other players, it’s only the model. Secondly and most importantly - skins cannot be pay-to-win in any way.

Before coming up with ideas of skins, Riot Games asked themselves a question “Who’s this for?” and to answer it, they made surveys and got a lot of feedback from players, to know what direction they needed to go with. After gathering a lot of information they started to form first ideas. And there were many. They covered a whiteboard with over 130-sticky notes for every skin, to make sure, they won’t drift away too much from the original concept and to keep the best of it, they kept asking questions like “Yes, and?”.

Riot Games
Riot Games

Every skin had a small team behind it and each of them started to compete with each other. They wanted to make sure that a team would fight for their ideas and prove that it’s better than others. After some time, they noticed that by asking a few questions, they are able to find a path that guides them to the best results. These questions are:

  • What are some adjectives to describe it?
  • What theme song sets the mood?
  • Is there a single key piece of art that captures the universe?
  • In this alternate universe, who’d use this weapon?
  • What materials is the weapon made of?
  • How do we want a player to feel when they use this weapon? What’s their mood?
  • What’s the "oh sh^t!" moment a player experiences the first time they see this skin?

After getting a solid idea, it was time to make it a reality. They let concept artists go wild with the base they prepared and after making sure it’s still doable and fits their imagination, they began to make early 3D models. These had to fit strict gameplay constraints and players had to be able to tell what weapon that is, even if it is just lying on the ground. Animations had to be unique while still making sure that for players, it will feel about the same. Reload animations couldn’t take more interface space, firing couldn’t be slower and sound still had to be recognizable. The main goal was to make sure that none of the skins will feel like a pay-to-win gadget, while still making us, players, feel amazing, without being too distracted by them. If bullet tracers are going to look different, it has to be only for the person using a weapon, not for others, because skins can’t give any advantages at all. Strict rules also applied to audio. They wanted to make sure you won’t get confused by a new sound cue, that you never heard before while for example, you are focused on fighting 1vs1 for that match point. To overcome this, when you are using a skin, enemies’ sound cues like reloading, abilities, or just movement will never be drowned by skin’s audio. VALORANT’s team made sure that whenever there is a more important sound cue than your skin audio, this important sound will be louder.

When all of these assets were finished, it was time to test them to make sure everything was as it should be. Riot Games created a team called Design Playtests (DPT) that was making two tests every day while checking new features like maps, characters, abilities and our dear skins. DPT testers are huge critics and they made sure that fantasy skins won’t bend the main rules they set up for them. They even shared some DPT testers opinions, so here’s our favorite: “This was so distracting that it made me not want to buy the Phantom all game.”

What do you think about weapon skins in VALORANT? Are you a fan of the Reaver skin series? Or maybe you like iridescence colors more? Like always, let us know in the comments!

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