How guns were created for Doom

Original author: Kirill Tokarev
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Weapon artist Gregor Kopka spoke about his experience in creating three-dimensional weapons for video games and how the perspective and location of the camera influence this process.


My name is Gregor Kopka , I got into the development of 3D-games in the late nineties. My friends and I participated in the mod scene and worked on the Quake III modtitled Navy Seals Covert Operations. In fact, this was my first experience in creating game resources for the engine. I was engaged in characters and weapons and did not understand at all what I was doing! But gradually my friends and I learned everything we needed. This serious work was successful thanks to the support of each other. In addition, we managed to achieve a greater goal - to create our own company. At the university where I studied design, I continued to engage in 3D graphics and superficially mastered graphics for films. In those days, the quality of my work was much lower than what even children are capable of today, simply because the only source of knowledge then was expensive books entirely devoted to creating spheres in 3ds Max . All you have to do is go to YouTube or ArtStation learn how to work optimally, learn from other users and get inspired by a huge selection of stunning 3D graphics.

Having received a design diploma, I began to look for work. My friend Ben Bauer, one of the initiators of our Quake III mod , suggested I try to get a job at Crytek, where he worked. I went through several tests and got the job of a props artist, which allowed me to work on weapons and props in Crysis. At first, this work was very difficult for me! I still did not really understand what I was doing, but gradually I got a lot of information and developed practical skills, which allowed me to take a new position at Crytek. At this stage of my career, while in Frankfurt, I oversaw the creation of all weapons (my specialization) for all Crytek projects ...

I always felt insecure when working as a production artist when I had to design my work design myself. I’m not sure if this is the right way, especially if you like to create concepts, but game companies like production artists with design skills - and this position pays for itself over time. But if in your free time you are not engaged in concepts, then you will lag behind the best (however, this is true in most other cases). I am currently improving my skills and continuing to grow at Nvidia. All this reminds me of the very beginning of my work when I was an inexperienced developer of 3D games. But thanks to this, I feel young again and always strive to learn further.

If you want to better understand what I do, you can visit my page on Artstation.

Guns for Crysis:

Guns for DOOM

Creating weapons for Doom was new to me, because in Crytek I defined my own style and created weapons myself. Turning to Doom , I met with a new problem: I had to work on a set of weapons with a traditional design, which was liked by gamers and developers. The style of the weapons in Doom was different from what I was used to, that is, from the pseudo-realistic style. Doom guns are much more massive in shape and inspire a sense of steepness and brutality.

I came to the company in the late stages of design development when the graphic style was already taking shape. I had to adapt to an existing style set by John Lane, our lead concept artist, and Brian Flynn, another concept artist. I decided to use all my 14 years of experience working on weapons to improve the overall quality and appearance of weapons in the game. I managed to add my own touches to some types of weapons. When the busy schedule allowed me to make small creative pauses, I was even trusted to develop weapons, for example, Hellshot in multiplayer mode. In addition, I worked closely with Brian Flynn on the implementation of his weapon concerts. The integrity of the process was ensured by frequent meetings, they allowed us to adhere to the spirit of the franchise, which all departments tried to preserve.Doom ), when we all had to seriously work on weapons.

Weapons for Doom:


I created the sketches and then moved on to 3ds Max and used its cartoon shader to quickly sketch out different ideas. In my head, I often already had an approximate image of what remains to be done, in the form of forms or animations. I used to do quite a bit of animation for short three-dimensional films and thought that weapons for FPS are not only a form, but, and more importantly, the feeling of a player pulling the trigger. I wanted to feel the whole coolness of shooting thanks to high-quality and impressive animation.

My parents are engineers, so I approach the work very systematically. The first images of weapons are very rude and are needed only to determine the animation. As soon as I start to like the result and I feel the power of the weapon in the game, I pass on the model to the animators and designers. Then I start to refine the forms and run the game tests. First of all, I strive to make the weapon mechanically look convincing and powerful. It is very important to add guns to the game as early as possible - until this moment the player seems to be walking at random in the dark.

When developing complex sci-fi weapons, I use the approach used in the design of mechanisms. I, like any other artist, first outline a standard assault rifle in large, spectacular forms, and then I work out small details.

Below are some sketches and concepts in cartoon shaders:

Perspective and camera rotation

After Crysis 3, I wrote a whole document about it so that other Crytek developers have a guide for future projects. Many concept artists should understand that nobody cares about the side view - the most important thing in a stretched perspective from the first person. Therefore, you need to simulate a weapon for the player, and not for the external observer. I often see very detailed weapons with many interesting shapes, but when you put them in the camera in the first person, they do not leave the right impression. All interesting details turn out to be terribly stretched or even invisible to the player - they are out of sight or the final animation does not support them.

I repeat - in order for your artistic vision to become a reality, and not just an interesting idea, which will be abandoned at the very beginning of development, you need to implement weapons in the engine as early as possible. This will allow you to choose a suitable camera location for the game, which will require communication with animators and a bunch of other departments.

Otherwise, you may even be accused that the perspective view is not impressive. The main problem is the lack of communication between departments. As a result, we get an ordinary and boring perspective from the first person. And the prospect chosen for the game complicates many aspects of game development. Therefore, game developers have to consider options for using MIP-texturing, limit the number of polygons and solve other issues, so that previous experience is useful and this development stage was successful.

Visual effects and animation

I already mentioned the animation, so now I will consider the visual effects, which are very important. Of course, I already had a vision of the weapon, but it is important to attract the artist by visual effects in the early stages, so that he is convinced that my idea is technically possible and correlates with the technology and model grid.

The process that is ideal for me is to work as closely as possible with all the necessary departments at the same time, including the game design department. It’s great if everyone finds time for group personal meetings so that communication is simple and direct. Although I have my own ideas about where the weapons should be, for me it is also valuable how the artists interpret my thoughts on visual effects and animations. After all, good weapons are the fruit of collective effort!

Each game has its own technical limitations, and such artists have the experience and knowledge to help them understand how to optimize these aspects of the game engine. And do not forget about the sound! Better to convey the nature of the weapon helps a high-quality sound design, that is, to realize your vision you need to start talking with a sound designer as soon as possible. This is such an important aspect of game design that in major hits, for example, in the Battlefield series , the sound is constantly checked.

Work in 3ds Max and MODO

Yes, the main tool in ID is Modo , but I came to the company in the late stages of development and I just did not have time to study this software. The development schedule required quick work, and I'm pretty fast in 3ds Max. In addition, I was greatly supported by scripts written by Timothy Jeromean . To speed up my work, he created some of the best internal scripts for 3ds Max, and my gratitude knows no bounds!

I grew up on 3ds Max and it has become a familiar tool for me. However, now I started using different tools for individual tasks. I completely transferred the work with highpoly to Fusion 360. Sometimes it seems to me that I am cheating on my first love, because it is so convenient to work with him, the quality of the package is high in all respects, and the workflow is non-destructive. I also want to emphasize that Fusion 360 has a very useful support team, which is very attentive to reviews.

Our industry has gone so far that now it’s impossible to impress anyone simply with high-quality modeling, we have tools like Fusion 360 that make the work process very straightforward. Now professionals and passionate lovers of this industry should surprise others with their own design skills. I hope that Fusion 360 will gain popularity in the industry - solid modeling in it is implemented just amazing.

But don't get me wrong! With the right scripts, 3ds Max is also a very powerful package. However, competitors are pushing ahead and in some cases their tools are more winning.

Texturing 3D Coat

I used 3D-Coat only for texturing, because it supports PBR, and I could draw directly from the model and generate procedural materials. In addition, I used it for quick draft work with scans.

I switched to it because Efgeni Bischof used it in his work on the characters and the package looked very powerful. Everyone else worked for Quixel , but that is definitely not my choice. Now I’ve switched to Substance , because it has features that I liked, but I still don’t have enough functions that are important for work.

Textured in 3D-Coat:


I am attracted to movement and believable mechanics because it is a solid foundation for design. In short, I don't like static guns! Perhaps my love for this type of mechanism grows from my long experience in the industry and the constant search for ways to have an interesting workflow.

Most of all I like it when the energy of a bullet explosion is transmitted along the barrel, passes the receiver back and goes directly to the brain! In this sense, I think as an animator, and try to convey the feeling of a blow passing through the mechanics, and the impression of power. I hope my work stands out from the rest thanks to this focus on mechanics.

For some, this will be a very strange way of working with concepts, because their brain does not process information like mine. But it suits me wonderfully and I like to create great content in this style.

Personal project:

3D-artist Gregor Kopka

Interview taken by Kirill Tokarev .

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