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Making Melody's Slash

VSFX are the key to making any magic power or sci fi blaster look and feel like it’s actually doing something. Melody was walking around and swinging her sword, but there were a few things missing. It wasn’t very flashy and interesting, and it was very hard to tell what you could hit and when you were actually swinging. The goal of the slash particle was to solve all of those problems.

I wanted the swing to be an arcing trail that followed the movement of the sword. This isn’t exactly an uncommon approach among melee weapon VSFX, so I really wanted to make sure my version really stood out and fit the aesthetic and theme of our game.

The slash consists of two parts, a trail and some scattering notes that come from the trail. Both of these are made using just a simple black and white alpha to cut out the shape I needed. The trail was designed to look like a music stanza and consists of five white lines, the internal gradient was added to fill out the space in order to make it more visible from far away and give the slash trail a better silhouette more similar to traditional slash trails.

The fly away pieces are just a stylized music note, again trying to make sure it had a clear silhouette from far away, especially since it would be much smaller than the trail would.

Using these textures, I was able to make the particles by tweaking just a little of it’s behavior. I added an undulating wave pattern to slash so that it tapered off at the end and also varied while it moved. This was complemented in the material, where the colour and brightness of the emissive faded towards the end as well. For the notes, I added some randomized velocities to make them feel more organic in how they moved, as well as fading them over time so they did not just abruptly disappear.

The final step was to combine the sword trail particle and the note-spawning emitter. We had some discussions over how many notes should come off of the sword slash, and eventually settled on the final version.

- Claire Rodriguez

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