First person shooters are one of the most common types of games. It’s important when developing a game in this style to come up with interesting weapons and visually intriguing graphics - sometimes that’s all that separates your game from the masses. When we created our first person shooter, Gunnheim, we decided to set it apart by making it about Vikings. Yes, Vikings. Exciting!
When we started work on the gunplay with Sieidi’s Klaus Kääriäinen and Petri Pekkarinen, we had to refocus - it’s easy to get lost in the little things. Polishing the walk, fixing the jump distance, changing values in the back end and testing it to see how it works. But in the end, we realized that those little things weren’t as important as the big picture.
“In the end Gunnheim is meant to be played with friends on a Friday and/or Saturday night for a couple of hours now and then,” writes Klaus Kääriäinen in “The Judging Eyes - Gunnheim Development”. “Our goal is to make those couple of hours the best entertainment they’ve experienced for a while.”
How to make Gunplay Awesome
Gunplay needs to be fun. It needs to be visually interesting (read: gory). Let’s take a look at those vikings. “In Gunnheim you play as a viking. A viking with a gun,” writes Petri Pekkarinen in “Vikings with Guns. Emphasis on Guns - Gunnheim Development”. “Starting from the very first moments of the game until the end of the last fight you are probably spending the whole time shooting. This means the gunplay has to be near perfect. Everything related to shooting has to feel good.”
There are a multitude of variables to consider to make gunplay the most enjoyable experience possible. These include:
“After getting the controls right we have now been spending our days with tweaking and testing different stuff related to the shooting,” writes Pekkarinen. “The basic things are of course the guns’ rate of fire, spread, range, projectile damage, ricocheting etc. But there are also things like enemies’ reaction to getting hit, not just by how their AI reacts but also if they should slow down, be knocked back or merely be twitching in pain. That is just one of the things that make all the difference whether you can fully experience the power of your actions (in this case pulling the trigger) or not.”
Making Good Weapons Great
According to Pekkarinen, making weaponry in a video game requires division - separating them into basic, pickable weapons and power ups/upgrades. “By dividing the weapons and power ups in categories like this we can more easily develop them in clear ‘content packs’ … it is much easier to test things in a very rough stage, discard anything that doesn’t work and then polish the best solutions into as near-final quality as possible.”
Packaging options into easy to test and change chunks makes development more systematic - easier to toss the packets of information and adjust the ones that work. This means that the weapons that appear in the final game are the best of the best.
Designing awesome weapons that can be used for fun gameplay results isn’t easy. It takes creativity and, here’s the kicker, can throw a wrench in our production schedule. “The problem with coming up with the craziest weapons is that every new mechanic that requires new properties from existing characters, weapons and projectiles can mess up the whole development schedule,” says Pekkarinen. “And with most games, you usually have only a handful of usable or balanced weapons, with only 1-2 absolute favorites. The other ones are maybe used in an absolute need or when the game rewards you for doing so. So for now we’re polishing the Berserker default weapon, the Wolfsmiter. After that next step is to decide which of our wacky pickable weapon designs are going to be implemented in the game.”
Regardless of these delays, we managed to get Gunnheim out, with great graphics, fun gunplay and an intriguing story. Check it out here: https://www.meridian4.com/collections/all/products/gunnheim
Now I’ve got to get back to game development. Hope you enjoyed this peek behind the scenes!
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