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The Explosions of Velocity 2X on PS4, PS Vita

Hussain Sheikh's Avatar + Posted by Hussain Sheikh on Aug 29, 2014 // Technical Director, FuturLab

Hello beautiful people! Hussain Sheikh, Technical Director from FuturLab back again to talk juice. Explosion juice! Get a cuppa, this is a big one!

The Fateful Day

It was just another morning at FuturLab, I had just sat down at my desk, waiting for my PC to boot up, hot cup of coffee in my hand. I was getting ready to rock, when James walked over with a serious look on his face: “Need to talk to you man… In the boardroom!”

You know that look, it’s the “I mean business” look. I had never seen James like that before, so I thought I must’ve done something wrong.

A bit concerned something bad was going to happen, I went into the meeting room and James said: “Sit down buddy, I need to show you something.”

“Oh dear, here it comes!” I thought. But then he started drawing this graph on the notepad:

Velocity 2X on PS4 and PS Vita

Now that WAS bad, just not the kind of bad I’d anticipated. But in the world of graphs making any sense at all; this was brutal.

Then James started explaining it to me. Most of his explanation was pretty much like the graph, so I tuned it out, though I do remember imagining the graph he actually wanted to draw:

Velocity 2X on PS4 and PS Vita

In other words, the explosions are the single most important effect in the game, so we needed to give them the look and feel they deserved.

I remember at that stage we were struggling with frame rate issues on Vita, and James wanted to make certain that our explosions got the vast majority of the frame processing time. I needn’t have been concerned; I was sincerely hyped to focus this much on explosions (I LOVE VFX)!

Anyway, to fully understand how the explosions evolved, I believe we should look at the history of explosions in the Velocity universe. This is what the explosions looked like in Velocity (Remember the PlayStation Mini title?).

Velocity 2X on PS4 and PS Vita

James was not happy with these explosions. In fact he was so obsessed with improving them that my whole job interview was based around what I could do to make the explosions look better.

So we started bouncing around ideas and took them a step forward with Velocity Ultra.

Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to do much with them, besides adding lights and changing the art assets.

Velocity 2X on PS4 and PS Vita

But with Velocity2X, we had the time and a proper plan. We wanted the explosions to look and feel hot.

Here is what the first set of explosions in Velocity2X looked like. Notice the lighting working nicely with the bloom. It already feels punchy and portrays a sense of impact!

Velocity 2X on PS4 and PS Vita

And in the platforming sections:

Velocity 2X on PS4 and PS Vita

But they were still lacking power, so the next thing was to actually implement the explosions as a particle system.

Velocity 2X on PS4 and PS Vita

James was extremely happy with our explosions at this stage:

Velocity 2X on PS4 and PS Vita

However this happy state didn’t last very long.

The particle based explosions were implemented whilst we were porting what we’d done on Vita over to PS4, and we didn’t keep an eye on the vita frame rate [slap wrists!].

These explosions had a huge halo glow around them, which gave them body and impact.

However, when you are flinging bombs, smashing glass, and destroying turrets at the same time… In short, we had to take out the halo. This resulted in the game running at 60 FPS again on Vita, but:

Velocity 2X on PS4 and PS Vita

And hence the graph meeting…

So, I started thinking about how we could create more impact, without having an impact. Go figure.

To illustrate what we came up with in the end, let me give you a breakdown of all the different parts that make up our explosions:

1.) Particle systems

The main effect consists of four particle systems: sparks, smoke, a central plume and a few anime-style crescent moon shapes that animate from full circles to thin slices. These elements provide the foundation of the explosion in line with the art style (and this is where the halos used to be):

Velocity 2X on PS4 and PS Vita

2.) Refraction

This one is hard to show in a screenshot. Hopefully you can see the shockwave distorting the terrain around the explosion.

Velocity 2X on PS4 and PS Vita

3.) Light

Notice the color of the light as it fades from bright hot in the centre to the pale gradient.

Velocity 2X on PS4 and PS Vita

4.) Halos

This was the first step in addressing the issue of impact. If you remember, it was the halos that were causing the slowdown on Vita, especially when you can have up to 10 active explosions on screen at any time.

The breakthrough came in taking the halos out of the particle system, and instead rendering them as part of the bloom effect, which is a full screen post process effect and therefore completely independent of the explosion itself.

The result was instantly impressive. The halos now smooth out with the bloomed parts of the terrain and give them a far more natural look. Notice how in the following screenshot the Halo only appears to the right side of the explosion and just mixes in with the terrain on the left.

Velocity 2X on PS4 and PS Vita

5.) And finally…

Some nice big fat JBraamz lens flares!

These bad boys are particle system lens flares. There are three particle systems, one in the center that generates a thin, strong lens flare. Then there is one each to the left and right of the explosion that generates weak, but really thick and chunky lens flares. These lens flares are generated solely by the intensity of the terrain and objects around the explosions.

Sometimes, when you’re flinging a bomb next to a particularly colorful piece of terrain, you get a rainbow type lens flare that just looks beautiful.

Velocity 2X on PS4 and PS Vita

Some more of these beauties, and in the platforming sections:

Velocity 2X on PS4 and PS VitaVelocity 2X on PS4 and PS Vita

By the way, for those concerned: James and myself have talked many times regarding graphs since then, mostly about how James should avoid drawing them…

Check out the explosions in action.

Velocity 2X launches on September 2nd for $19.99, utilizing cross save and cross buy for PS4 and PS Vita!

Or, y’know, it’s FREE for PlayStation Plus members.

//Add Your Own

32 Comments   12 Replies

Hussain Sheikh's Avatar

1

+ James Marsden on August 29th, 2014 at 7:03 am said:

Not sure Hussain has got his US account set up yet still… Am standing in to take the heat…


2

+ PiotrRasputinBR on August 29th, 2014 at 7:04 am said:

Ok, so I will keep my “I WANT this game” face until next week…


3

+ tylerh1701 on August 29th, 2014 at 7:04 am said:

Can’t wait til Tuesday!


4

+ maxcoronel2014 on August 29th, 2014 at 7:11 am said:

Awesome job guys. Just a few more days!!!


5

+ GattsuWolf on August 29th, 2014 at 7:14 am said:

I really want this game on my psvita ASAP!! >:D


6

+ peanut0423 on August 29th, 2014 at 7:16 am said:

I want an early code so bad!


7

+ Nade_IL on August 29th, 2014 at 7:17 am said:

This will look super amazing on the vita’s OLED screen! Thanks for the post guys, very informative and funny :) how does james’s face look now?


    Hussain Sheikh's Avatar

     

    + James Marsden on August 29th, 2014 at 7:18 am said:

    Very very happy sir. My big face aches from smiling too much.


8

+ FeddeCampo on August 29th, 2014 at 7:18 am said:

My PS4 and Vita are getting anxious too! =D


Hussain Sheikh's Avatar

9

+ James Marsden on August 29th, 2014 at 7:23 am said:

http://www.futurlab.co.uk/splosions.gif =D


10

+ GattsuWolf on August 29th, 2014 at 7:30 am said:

BTW… The new explosion vfx are just PERFECT! I loved them… But I’d like to see a little visual boost for the bullets. The explosions make the game look amazing but powerful bullets make you feel powerful (like the last 2 raiden games). I still would love this game just how it is right now but if you can improve the bullets this will be my favourite shooter ever! :)


11

+ Amir_G_M_US on August 29th, 2014 at 7:47 am said:

Hussein! Mabrook for the release!! Indeed a good game


12

+ crz17 on August 29th, 2014 at 7:59 am said:

Quick question, I unfortunately don’t own a PS4 yet but I have my vita and I loved velocity ultra. Is it possible to download this game directly on my vita when it comes to Ps Plus without a PS4?


    Hussain Sheikh's Avatar

     

    + James Marsden on August 29th, 2014 at 8:29 am said:

    Think so…


13

+ justaccording on August 29th, 2014 at 8:21 am said:

Been looking forward to Velocity 2X since the announcement…Tuesday cannot come soon enough


14

+ KazeEternal on August 29th, 2014 at 8:39 am said:

Light and Explosions is one of my favorite visual effects from Felocity 2x along with the art style. I love keeping up with what you guys are doing and how you accomplished it. It’s inspiring and shows a real love for your community.

Definitely a work to be proud of with trying to lock all your wants down for this release.


15

+ KazeEternal on August 29th, 2014 at 8:53 am said:

@12 crz17
You will be able to get this game from the Vita Store. Cross Buy doesn’t limit the where of buying stuff. You can even go to the online web store and push the download to your vita from your PC:

https://store.sonyentertainmentnetwork.com/#!/en-us/home/main


16

+ MrBeens on August 29th, 2014 at 8:55 am said:

So based on the two graphs above, you didn’t actually add any importance to the explosions, but instead took away attention from everything else…. Hmmmmm…..


    Hussain Sheikh's Avatar

     

    + James Marsden on August 29th, 2014 at 9:21 am said:

    =D

    That’s how good we are at graphs.


17

+ Ricen-Beans on August 29th, 2014 at 8:59 am said:

Lol!! Loved this post.

Can’t wait for Velocity 2x to explode onto the scene next Tuesday!!

I’ll being getting dat Plat! Thank u


    Hussain Sheikh's Avatar

     

    + James Marsden on August 29th, 2014 at 9:23 am said:

    Happy plat huntin’ =D


18

+ plaztiksyke on August 29th, 2014 at 10:38 am said:

Looks great, thanks for sharing some low-level design/impl details.

What was it, specifically, about the original implementation of halos that made the Vita chug? We keep hearing about alpha effects being a bad fit for the PowerVR GPU, but is it not possible to do transparent hand-off to optimized ARM code for that? or is that what you ended up doing and why the halos are now a post-processing effect?

any other low-level code/compiler optimizations you ended up doing of Vita (or PS4) to extract more performance out?

looking forward to high-quality music assets, even in the PS mini the soundtrack was pretty great despite the low bitrate.


    Hussain Sheikh's Avatar

     

    + James Marsden on August 31st, 2014 at 6:01 am said:

    Woah, super tech question. I’ll Hussain and get him to log in here and answer properly…


19

+ Brooklyn008 on August 29th, 2014 at 11:20 am said:

Been waiting for this for a LONG time. FuturLab is always awesome. Bring it! Tuesday! Woot!!!


20

+ tusunami on August 29th, 2014 at 11:46 am said:

I enjoyed the first one on the PS Vita & now I’m getting the second one for plus & the PS4 & the PS Vita I’m at a loss for words!!!!!!!!


21

+ xClayMeow on August 29th, 2014 at 2:38 pm said:

I just wanted to thank you for putting this on IGC. I thought with all the buzz surrounding the game, and the fact that Velocity Ultra was already IGC for Vita, there was no way you guys would do it…at least not at launch.

You guys are beyond awesome! I hope Sony wrote you a big fat check!


    Hussain Sheikh's Avatar

     

    + James Marsden on August 31st, 2014 at 5:57 am said:

    It makes a lot of sense for us to reach a wider audience than we would releasing ‘dry’ a week ahead of Density.


    Hussain Sheikh's Avatar

     

    + James Marsden on August 31st, 2014 at 5:59 am said:

    Darn, I wrote Density as a joke to myself, thought better of it, attempted to press backspace and pressed enter by accident. Sorry Bungie, we love you really.


22

+ siriusbee on August 29th, 2014 at 3:27 pm said:

These exposures of some of your dev processes/details are great. Thanks for sharing!


23

+ theXsilentXchild on August 29th, 2014 at 6:24 pm said:

so you reskined it slapped some 2d scroll and shoot? still a very boring shooter.


    Hussain Sheikh's Avatar

     

    + James Marsden on August 31st, 2014 at 5:57 am said:

    Nope. It’s not a boring shooter, it’s fabulous fun =)


24

+ Kchow23 on August 29th, 2014 at 9:47 pm said:

As someone who took statistics course, I like the graphs in the post! They do not lie!… normal distribution and all :)


    Hussain Sheikh's Avatar

     

    + James Marsden on August 31st, 2014 at 5:56 am said:

    That’s what I said… :P


25

+ Kchow23 on August 29th, 2014 at 9:49 pm said:

Can I still throw money at the screen even though I will be getting it through PS Plus?


26

+ FAC3xLESS on August 30th, 2014 at 7:24 am said:

I can’t wait to play this!


27

+ Mecha_Sonic_75 on August 30th, 2014 at 9:31 am said:

I let my PS+ Membership expire just to buy this game! Sony has yet to add the option to buy a game owned through IGC while the membership is active. And that is just simply annoying. Also, the Vita Storefront is still lacking various options that it needs. Nevermind the “Top Downloads” section that almost never updates, or the lack of Avatar support, or how the many DLCs are scattered around the store, instead of being organized by game, like it should (only place they seem to be sorted in is in the Add-ons option in the “New Releases” section, but even that is a bit of a mess). All in all, the Vita’s PS Store needs some upgrades. And ALL the PSP and PS1 games that do work on the Vita should be downloadable from the Vita! Not transferred from the PS3! That just clutters the PS3 HDD with install files, and those inividual DLC files that are for the PSP games.

As for this game, how were the suggestions I gave a few years ago for the game? The Boss Battles, not sure if the Bomb Power-ups suggestion made it in. I just can’t wait for this to be in my Vita! I already own the last two games!


28

+ iREVOLTER on August 30th, 2014 at 12:48 pm said:

Freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!


29

+ Zeitgeist_Pulse on August 30th, 2014 at 12:59 pm said:

That was a really funny and informative blog post! Can’t wait for this game, I WILL find time between diablo and destiny to play this


    Hussain Sheikh's Avatar

     

    + James Marsden on August 31st, 2014 at 5:55 am said:

    Great! Yes, coming just before Destiny isn’t ideal…


30

+ steelcitypower on August 30th, 2014 at 2:57 pm said:

Can’t wait for this game! Loved the first one.


31

+ honkayjeezus on August 30th, 2014 at 10:38 pm said:

You should have used GIFS or animations, or just do a video for this. I have no idea what I am looking at.


32

+ Spitfire_Zero_ on August 31st, 2014 at 2:58 pm said:

No Waaaaait! I haven’t platinumed the first one yet, lvl 46. My thumb is gonna explode. I bought Ultra before it came to plus, absoloutely no regrets, especially considering i let my plus expire for one month. Where can we read more such articles? I would like to see something about level design.


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