Splash DamageBlogStaff Interview: Lead Visual Effects Artist Niel V.

Splash Damage Blog

Staff Interview: Lead Visual Effects Artist Niel V.

Welcome to the latest season of our staff interviews. First to dive into the pool of inquisition is our Lead Effects Artist and certified South African expat Niel, otherwise known as 'sonofamortician'. Niel's worked on games across all major platforms and genres, and he's now in charge of explosions, muzzle flashes, and any other effects that make our levels more fanciful, pretty, and immersive.

To find out more about Niel's work here at Splash Damage, how he ended up in the industry, his tips for people wanting to break in, and what dark corner of his mind his nickname came from, check out the full interview.

If you have any questions for Niel about his work, post them up in the comments, and we'll point him straight at them.

18 Comments

Niel what's the best part about working on the new ET game?
Posted on 29 May, 2012 - 11:12
I guess the obvious question is which games from other developers most impress you in regards to effects (explosions, muzzle flashes, etc.) How about among games released within the last year or two?
Posted on 29 May, 2012 - 11:28
Some of the best effects I've seen ingame recently was from 'Naughty Dog' in the most recent in the 'Uncharted' series, especially the ship level, spectacular work.
I guess the obvious question is which games from other developers most impress you in regards to effects (explosions, muzzle flashes, etc.) How about among games released within the last year or two?
Posted on 29 May, 2012 - 19:32
In reply to []V[]: Getting that chance to work on something THAT cool, I missed the first time round, it is like time-travel, but without all that messy business of trying to prevent yourself from dissapearing from photographs and trying to play matchmaker for your parents * * reference available only to those who lived through the 80's
Posted on 29 May, 2012 - 19:35
v[];400688']Niel what's the best part about working on the new ET game?
Did you just sneakily lure Niel into confirming the development of a new ET game? :O
In reply to []V[]: Getting that chance to work on something THAT cool, I missed the first time round, it is like time-travel, but without all that messy business of trying to prevent yourself from dissapearing from photographs and trying to play matchmaker for your parents * * reference available only to those who lived through the 80's
Posted on 29 May, 2012 - 20:13
When you're tweaking things what's the hardest stuff to get juuust right?
Posted on 29 May, 2012 - 21:09
Definitely the hardest is not just making things look good, but making them look good without dropping the framerate, 90% of our effort goes into things people don't see but which would ruin a game if we didn't.
When you're tweaking things what's the hardest stuff to get juuust right?
Posted on 29 May, 2012 - 23:42
Or I could be trollin, the sad truth is we are in fact making a pony dress-up game, good news if you really love ponies right! ;P
Posted on 29 May, 2012 - 23:44
my guess is trollin, everyone remembers the copyright issues with "My Little Pony:Combat Edition" the tapirs were not pleased :stroggtapir:
Posted on 30 May, 2012 - 03:17
Or I could be trollin, the sad truth is we are in fact making a pony dress-up game, good news if you really love ponies right! ;P
But will there be mod tools, FPV spectating and demo recording? And can the ponies trick jump?
Posted on 30 May, 2012 - 04:18
But will there be mod tools, FPV spectating and demo recording? And can the ponies trick jump?
Trick jump, sure, have you ever seen Pony Parkour? That and more...
Posted on 30 May, 2012 - 15:21
Pony Parkour?
Lol :D What a interesting name You have ^^ Tough Good Luck! :D I want to see some cool explosions! :D
Posted on 30 May, 2012 - 16:23
Lol :D What a interesting name You have ^^ Tough Good Luck! :D I want to see some cool explosions! :D
And that is exactly what we intend to give you :D
Posted on 31 May, 2012 - 13:49
Or I could be trollin, the sad truth is we are in fact making a pony dress-up game, good news if you really love ponies right! ;P
A quiet whisper runs through the interwebz about some negotiations with My Little Pony. Some say you already have the rights to make the next pony dress-up game or to brush the dust from the old one. All in all welcome, and work your magic on those explosions, sprinkle some pink and some sparkling stars to make Rainbow Dash more awesome. :D
Posted on 3 June, 2012 - 01:37
Hi Neil, Effects has been around for quite some time, how do you keep them as original as possible while still being innovative? Eamon
Posted on 3 June, 2012 - 13:18
Hey mate, do you do all the coding and textures yourself? I'm interested if you use a generic particle system with a gazillion parameters, or do you end up writ ing code specifically for each effect you make?
Posted on 7 June, 2012 - 15:09
Hi Neil, Effects has been around for quite some time, how do you keep them as original as possible while still being innovative? Eamon
Sure, but technology keeps on improving, allowing us to get better visual fidelity, for me I never ever get bored with VFX because there is always tons of ways to approach any effect, and to date there has not been the definitive effect for say an explosion or fire yet, what also keeps it fresh for me is to view each effect as an opportunity to do something that no-one has done before, and you'd be surprised the kind of simple things people have not yet done, and combine that with being specific, it is easy to make a generic effect for something, but for it to be special in any way you have to make it specific, it is a specific fire, that is just so high, and so bright, and burns so much fuel, or it is a lively quick burning fire, or a sedate little cosy fire, do you know what I mean?
Posted on 2 July, 2012 - 21:12
Hey mate, do you do all the coding and textures yourself? I'm interested if you use a generic particle system with a gazillion parameters, or do you end up writ ing code specifically for each effect you make?
We try as far as possible to use the standard tools, but sometimes it is quite often necessary to write custom code when it comes to the interactive side of VFX, for example we might need to modify certain things in real time, but quite often we can use the script editor or something like that to do most of that, we only resort to new code when it is the smart way to do something, such as developing for example a system to manage performance sacrificing things you don't see in favour of something that is relevant to your game experience at that moment, in an ideal world we'd have a 50/50 split between art and code.
Posted on 2 July, 2012 - 21:17