Creating a skin
Getting it game ready
Accessing The Forge
Reflex Forge is the in-game tool for creating and testing custom weapon skins for Reflex Arena.
The goal of this guide is to give a breakdown of the entire process.
We have a lot of creativity within the community and have been extremely impressed with the response of the maps out there.
It's been our goal since day 1 to have more creative tools in the hands of the community and this is another step towards that.
Currently The Forge only supports modifying the default weapon set skins, eventually we'd like to investigate opening up the possibilities for more.
A word of warning, creating skins is a more complex in-depth process than map creation.
First of all is picking which weapon you will be wanting to create a skin for, and to have a goal in mind for what you want to create.
People tend to be drawn to cool unique shapes or colours. Gradients are nice too. It's really just about having an idea that you think a lot of people will like and want as a MUST HAVE. The idea has to be friendly and fit within the game world in order to pass curation.
In order to have the best possible chance of success with your submission, we strongly recommend you design your skin to fit within the aesthetic of the existing Reflex universe. Of course now with the avability of textures, we're expecting a little more diversity, but of course things still need to have coherence and compliment each other.
A few simple rules to follow when crafting your skins:
- Vector style. Simple bold colours read well. Reflex has them everywhere, it helps at distance for recognition but also serving as a contrast to other surfaces.
- Minimal surface Detail. Everything pre-existing had to be made with geometry so this was an enforced rule. The freedom now of getting down to the pixel level allows for a lot more variance, we do however want to keep this to a minimum. It can be used cleverly and still adhere to the rest of the visuals (eg. digital camo)
- Gradients. Go for it, people love em and it mixes colours and just looks cool in general. (bonus tip: they can be used as a kind of lighting element to draw focus to/from specific elements)
- Contrast. If kept fairly high, this goes hand in hand with the bold colours helping readability.
- Bonus points for sticking to stock weapon palette. This will have a greater chance at making sure your skin is instantly recognisable for which element (eg. weapon) it's used on.
Next is picking the type of skin, currently we support: pattern and replace.
“Pattern” skins take a pattern texture and assign it to predefined regions of the weapon in interesting ways. These can be coloured per layer to create totally unique looks rather quickly. Settings are available to completely figure the positioning and sizing of the patterns too.
"Replace Paint" skins replace a pre-defined region of a model. (eg. the red paint regions on the Rocket Launcher)
"Custom" skins are very specifically suited to an individual weapon model, so you need to decide which one you want to create for beforehand. These are intended for more elaborate creations that exceed what is capable with patterns.
Creating a Skin
Custom skins can be purely albedo replacement only, meaning it will only replace colour as if it were a paint change. For all other maps not being replaced (eg. normals/ao etc.), it will fallback to defaults for that asset.
Using your favourite texture editing package you will be able to create skins for the weapons available in the forge.
Reflex Arena uses a Physically Based Rendering (PBR) pipeline. This enables believable lighting behaviour for materials. Further information for PBR can be found at: http://wiki.polycount.com/wiki/PBR
Each map needs to be at a resolution of 4096x4096.
The maps needed are: albedo (rgb), normals (rgb), metallic (greyscale), roughness (greyscale), ambient occlusion (greyscale).
For the most part, you will be able to take the pre-existing "normals" and "ambient occlusion" maps, as these typically stay as-is.
It’s entirely up to your discretion which application you use to create skins. Substance Painter was the tool used to create the official skins. It’s great in that it lets you paint directly onto the model with a wide array of tools in PBR and export those which then don’t require much additional work to get in-game.
As easy as browsing to a pattern and using the forge UI to customise the appearance of that pattern on a given weapon.
A Pattern texture is made up of 4 layers that are treated as invididual masks. These are the individual RGBA channels inside the TGA. Each layer can be colourised individually. Treat them as paint layers being applied over the top of each other.
Note: overlapping regions across multiple layers will result in "multiply" darkening artifacts, this may or may not be desired for mixing multiple colours.
As easy as browsing to a valid albedo texture and using the forge UI to customise the appearance of that pattern on a given weapon.
Play with the numbers in the UI.
Get it game ready
The fastest and easiest way to get started, is to take one of the pre-existing examples provided, rename the assets and replace your contents over the top.
- Locate your Reflex directory, inside it navigate to: game/devbase/myskins/
- Copy an existing example_* folder
- Rename this folder to your desired skin name (no spaces or odd characters).
- Replace the example names on the files within it to be your skin name (same as the folder).
- Use forge in-game to load and edit skin properties (name etc.)
For all textures, TGA is the format used. Channels need to be 8bpp (eg. photoshop default) and saved as 24-bit. RLE compression is supported and can give some substantial filesize savings.
Now run reflex as you would normally, it should automatically find your skin and begin compiling the assets. This may take a while depending on your machine (eg. 30 seconds or more). Once this is successful you’re ready for the next step.
Accessing The Forge
Click on The Forge icon available from the main menu.
To load your skin, in the UI text dialog enter the following and press LOAD:
You should know be holding your weapon with the skin applied. You will also see it floating in the world, and a questionably friendly hostile holding it.
Now press your editor toggle key (0 by default) to access the menu. You will see all your skintxt details in the menu.
Once done, you will be able to publish your skin for curation. This is where you can then take pictures and upload them to make your creation as appealing as possible on its steam page.
The community is able to provide feedback and vote for skins they like.
This is the stage where us developers have to veto content to ensure it’s appropriate and fits into the game world well. We’re not going to spell out a strict guidelines list, it’s all about being sensible and trying to make cool badass weapons.
If your weapon is successful in the curation process, it’ll be able to become official. This means that not only will you get rewarded for your creation, but it will also appear in the game for others! It’ll have a chance to drop in crates and will also be available for purchase and trade. A percentage of the sales goes back directly to you! We’re hoping this will encourage people to make great skins the players will want to use, while growing game content and activity.
We can’t wait to see what cool creations you come up with!