VFX Prototyping Strategies

Hey friends, I wanted to ask how you generally go about prototyping effect assets early on in development? I’ve played around with the idea of creating a ”graybox” set of VFX, i.e. simple geometric representations of explosions, aoe markers, damage over time, etc. that designers can use until actual assets are delivered. A benefit of this approach would be that the gameplay-aiding aspects of VFX come online early on in the process, and leaves more time for the VFX artists to work on the final visuals without blocking design. This is just an idea though, I haven’t had the chance to try it out in a production setting.

In my experience, the productions I’ve been a part of have primarily used legacy assets as placeholders, which in turn are sporadically replaced throughout production. A common headache with this approach is that it becomes difficult to track what’s old and what’s new, and maintaining consistency becomes a bigger issue than it has to be. Keeping legacy assets around also lends itself to some additional bloat that oftentimes make asset folders messy and compile times longer than necessary.

Maybe your studio already has this all figured out? I’d love to hear your ideas and experiences in this area!

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I tend to build quick effects that are representative of the thing, but tint it pink so it is obvious that it’s a placeholder.


Greybox proxies are my goto. It is an arsenal of primitives geo : rings, circle, sphere, dome, cylinder, cone …unlit vertex tint in all different colors. Absolutely unblocks design and even sound dept sometimes.

I ask we never use legacy for the exact reasons you mention. Plain bright geo let’s everyone see vfx in a version 0.0.1 form