Lead 3D Weapon Artist at Techland Marek Musiał has told us how Dying Light 2's weapons arsenal was created, talked about weapon modifications, and explained how the working process was organized.
My name is Marek Musiał and I work as Lead 3D Weapon Artist. I joined the Techland team 12 years ago, starting as a Texture Artist. I started my adventure with game art over 16 years ago by creating modifications to a military-style game.
The Props Team at Techland
We work as an interdisciplinary team. It consists of both 3D Modelers and Concept Artists. We are focused not only on weapons but also all assets that the players interact with, such as interactive triggers and player equipment.
Most of the weapon concepts require brainstorming between the teams. We often design assets in cooperation with the Character Team. We are also supported by external outsourcing artists, which is not always very easy, as we work on our own engine. We have to put a lot of effort into training and detailed technical feedback for them so that our cooperation could be long-term and efficient.
In props designing our main goal is to get the best visual effects, but of course, optimization is also very important.
Development of Dying Light 2 Stay Human
With such a huge project as Dying Light 2 Stay Human, we wanted to create a wide variety of weapons that would not feel repetitive for the players. We wanted designs to be interesting and complex.
In the initial phase, our Concept Artists prepared hundreds of quick sketches with various weapon shapes. After choosing those that suited us best, a Concept Artist defined what elements the weapon is made of. After that, the 3D Graphic Designer worked on placeholders to catch every imperfection and check whether the weapon is visually interesting from the first-person perspective view.
Having an executive concept and a placeholder, we are able to quickly present a vision of how this weapon will look in the game and it definitely makes our work easier at further stages.
Modeled and textured assets don’t mean the end of our work. We cooperate with many teams to ensure that each weapon has its own unique name, statistics, FXs and that it has proper audio and animations.
Personally, I was involved at every stage of the development of these assets, from the idea through the concept to the final implementation in the game.
It is not an easy task to maintain diversity when it comes to producing nearly 200 individual weapons. When designing weapons, we relied on the principle that they consist of elements generally available in our world and imagined where we would look for these elements during the apocalypse.
We have developed rules that sorted weapons according to the materials used, the method of production, and the style of use in the game. We divided our assets into 3 tiers:
Low tier – a weapon made of what someone had at hand, assembled by a person without tools and skills, so the weapon looks weak, one that can fall apart very quickly. Mid-tier – at this level, we have placed a weapon made of solid materials and put it together in a skillful way, also using equipment such as a welding machine. Such a weapon should look solid and neatly made. The highest tier is equipment from the "store shelf" without any modifications. Not necessarily new, but still functional and usable.
We also used the gameplay categories. We had one-handed, one-and-a-half, and two-handed melee weapons.
However, the main element thanks to which we managed to obtain diversity was an individual approach to each weapon. We worked as a team and each weapon was heavily discussed from the very beginning of the design. We analyzed what materials and themes we have not yet used to make a blade or handle, We have weapons that are composed of unrelated elements, but also of things that can be found in one specific place, e.g. an old workshop, docks, fire brigade unit, police base, farm, printing house.
After browsing through thousands of references, analyzing dozens of machines that we had no idea about, learning a lot of mechanical elements and processing techniques of various materials, I think that we finally managed to create the feeling that the world of Dying Light 2 Stay Human is full of unique weapons.
The biggest challenge that we had to face was the adjustment of mods to each of the selected weapons. Due to the fact that we wanted to achieve the effect of a self-made weapon, we had to create a system that would allow us to adjust the mods to any surface on the weapon. It wasn’t a problem for our amazing devs to develop a special tool that allowed us to place mods on weapons directly in the editor. So owing to that we were able to design universal mod models that fit any surface.
Working on such a large project requires a lot of commitment and experience, but it’s super interesting and developing at the same time. Actually, each stage of production has its moment, which I really enjoyed.
In the beginning – designing and creative work, then creating models and checking if everything fits together, and finally closing and watching how the final result looks. It makes me proud that I could work on Dying Light 2 Stay Human with so many great people. It’s really heartwarming to read all players’ comments that they are satisfied with the design of individual weapons.