The smallest detail in something can sometimes be the most crucial detail towards story and character development. In a lot of first-person games, the viewport models – specifically the arms and hands – don’t change much. Let’s take a few first-person shooters real quick for example, such as Call of Duty: Black Ops, Battlefield: Hardline, and Halo 5. In these games, it doesn’t really matter the setting or what you’re doing, the protagonist always has clean hands and never really change throughout the level and/or campaign
For games that want to possess a lot of detail and/or want to have an immersive story, it is greatly important to see everything presented in the game as having its own story. Not just with viewmodels, but all assets. Think about why there might be a crate in a specific room, what it could’ve been used for and why it’s appropriate to have that prop there. Viewmodels are also greatly important and should help aid in telling a story of their own to help aid with explanation of the overall storyline.
Here is a viewmodel of a hand that holds a flashlight. I have created three various textures for this single mesh. The idea here is, as the player progresses through the game, the player also changes.
This hand alone tells a story. Obviously the protagonist is going through a great struggle of some-kind that it is absolutely ruining the character. In the first picture, the hand is a little dirty, but still healthy.
In the second image, the gloves and sleeve are a bit shredded, the hand is visibly more dirty, and the skin is more pale.
In the third image, the character is damaged; bruising on the skin (hard to see in the screenshot but the knuckles are also bruised), clothing is even more shredded, skin is almost dead pale, and the skin is very dirty.
The tale of one’s struggle alone is usually what a story revolves around. If you want the protagonist’s struggle to have impact on the player, then show how horrible the struggle is to the player in every way you can. This small detail doesn’t effect the gameplay at all. Instead, it effects the player.
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Here is my portfolio for reference
Would love to hear some feedback in the comments! Thanks for reading!