The Devil is in the Details

Designing games is one of the most fun things you can do, however many people don’t realize how many tiny details need to be tweaked and iterated on. One of the things that my team and I worked on a lot is the targeting reticle. A reticle is and UI element that is used in video games to show the player where they are aiming their weapons. The reticle may seem like a small detail but if the reticle does not read well the shooting will not feel as refined. It was a really interesting experience working on a reticle and I wanted to share it with all of you.

Research:

I decided to look into other shooter games to see how they handled their reticle design. The first games I looked at were other mech games such as the Mechwarrior series and Chromehounds. The biggest thing I gained from looking at games like this was that most of the reticles were designed to look like targeting systems that are found in modern fighter jets. The look in games like this is supposed to remind the player of military equipment, this is due to the fact that the game wants to give the experience of being in a futuristic military setting.  A lot of the more modern shooters have much more simple designs for their reticles. Many games want to keep the UI as minimal as possible to make their game more realistic.

Designing for Korku:

When designing the reticle for Korku my artist and I first started by talking about the kind of sights that would be found on WW 1 artillery. My artist created a bunch of different ideas for the reticle and as a group we discussed the pros and cons of each design.

img_20151111_165422_1024 This picture shows the first pass on the different reticles. The biggest complaint with our original reticle is that it was very large and did not feel like it was accurate. We quickly decided that each player would have a different reticle depending on what role they were playing (Pilot or Engineer). The pilots reticle ended up being the square one in the bottom row. Since the pilot had a shotgun we wanted something that showed where the spread was going to go. The final design for this reticle did not have the dots in it, we felt that the dots gave players the wrong idea about where each shot is going to go. The design that we picked for the engineers reticle is number 12, the engineer had heavy cannons as their weapons and we decided that we wanted a reticle that looked like an old artillery sight.  We made a few changes to the original design, we wanted the bottom of the reticle to come together like a V, the dot in the middle was where the bullets were going to go and player responded really well to it.

Conclusion:

The biggest lesson I learned from designing a reticle is that the first thing to do is decide what kind of weapon the reticle is representing. If the weapon is very accurate you probably want a small reticle, if the weapon is futuristic you may want to help show that with the design of the reticle. The biggest thing to remember is that if the reticle does not read well the player will feel like the weapon is not very accurate. The reticle may seem like a small detail that will go unnoticed but its going to be something the player is looking at the entire time they are playing your game so it is important to make it interesting but also useful to the player.

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