Designing power-ups and pick-ups is one of my tasks in the project process. We needed a pick-up for the pre-alpha, and there it was; a bubble gun for a 7 year old boy stuck in his nightmare and fighting his fears about school. It’s a gun that shoots lots of bubbles, and once a bubble hits an enemy, it becomes big enough to capture them inside and poison them until they gradually lose health points and die.
I started to search for bubble gun references to base my design upon; the most common design was a transparent plastic gun in the shape of the letter ‘R’, and that has LED lights in it, as you can see in Fig1. I didn’t have much time, creativity and inspiration was almost gone, and since this ‘R’ shape gun was the dominant result of my search, I thought it might be intuitive and easy to identify with if I just made a copy of it and changed its colors as shown in Fig2, and that’s what I did. The result did not meet expectations; instead this is where I got “The ‘R’ shape” name from. The gun was identified as a colored ‘R’ by the instructor who observed the 1st test of the game, and that’s when I got spoiled; his first comment about the game was: “I didn’t get what that ‘R’ represents…”. So obviously, I had to make a whole new design for the gun, but this time I had the proper time and a clearer view.
I went back to the search engine, but this time, I searched for toy guns just to have a general view about the childish guns and what elements can help me design a gun for a little kid. I ended up choosing a nerf gun that wasn’t even close to be a bubble gun (see Fig3). I eliminated lots of details, changed the shape by making it more curvy, modified the muzzle to look more like a bubble gun, mainly used red, blue, orange, and brown in local colors and some neutral shadows to fit the style of the characters designed by my fellow graphic designer in my team, and I finally drew some big bubbles on the barrel to emphasize the function of the pick-up (see Fig4).
As previously mentioned, the power-up design was needed for the pre-alpha presentation in the first place, and it’s is also an essential element in the game we are developing, as in any game. We chose to have a bubble gun as the first power-up since we’re building a Shoot ‘Em Up game and the bubble gun is a very common toy gun that can be easily identified by anyone, and because we thought it would be good to break the tension of the dark atmosphere created by the background and enemy design, by implementing “cute” stuff to the player character. The choice of colors for the pick-up is based on having basic colors that can easily pop-out in front of a very dark background with different colors.
The current design is considered by my team to be acceptable, but it is not satisfying to me. I believe that I should do some more work to make it even simpler, with brighter and noticeable colors, and less details.