May 3 2024 - 3:00 pm

Operation Medic Bag: Blog Update #11 – Interview with a Weapon Designer

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I’m Oliver Zielinski, though I go by Oli. I’ve been in the industry since Jan 2019 and started at Starbreeze in Aug of 2023, just when the fun started. My role is ‘technical designer’, meaning that right now I work on balancing the weapons, as well as designing new systems around this area of PAYDAY 3.

Did you start out as a designer?

I’m actually trained as a programmer, but wanted to be more involved in the creative side of things, so I slowly transitioned into the tech design role instead, a role that kinda bridges the gap between coding and design, a role that I didn’t really consider before that. But that role called to me as soon as I heard about it. So far it’s a lot of fun.

What did you do for PAYDAY 3 so far, and what do you hope to be doing in the future?

I’m doing weapon balancing and basically all things weapons from inception to implementation. And with the time left over, I’m inventing new heisting gadgets and working on a new system to make weapons more interesting.

What can you tell us about that, the weapon archetype system?

I think Mio mentioned this already, so I should be able to share what it is at least. It’s basically an extension of our current system for weapon types and is intended to emphasize their strengths to make them stand out against weapons of another type.

So this post was supposed to be about the upcoming LMG, anything you have to say about it now?

“It goes brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr” Mio came to me and asked me to find an LMG that wouldn’t be confused with an OVERKILL weapon. I went to our local weapon fanatics and asked for something that’s big enough to feel like a LMG, but not big and disastrous enough to be a special.
Our weapon team ended up suggesting the… I can’t say the name for potential legal reasons, but that eventually served as the inspiration for our first LMG. It’s a beautiful belt-fed little beast.

What is its in-game name?

Blyspruta MX63, which means “Lead Sprayer MX63” in Swedish.

How do you balance a gun?

There are many knobs to turn. There are hundreds of parameters to adjust, recoil, ammo size, damage, reload speed, and fire rate, and many, many more. We’ll be looking to add these numerical values into the UI as part of the future reworks we have planned. All that needs to sync with animation and a ton of other small things. We work closely with the animators to ensure it looks good when firing, there’s a lot of moving parts, and we don’t want those starting to fly off if the player interrupts a reload by sliding or something like that.

Usually, I go off what we have and see if there’s an available niche based on the archetype of the weapon. For an LMG you’d expect it to have a lot of bullets and either fire very fast or fire slower with high damage, or something like that.
Since it shoots fast and has a lot of ammo, it’s not necessarily a 1-shot kill type weapon, so we take that and more into account and then start doing math. And while we start at math, we go off feeling ultimately. Once I think it looks ok, I ask QA to test it out, they give feedback, and we go back and forth until we find a happy medium.

When the weapon itself feels good, we have another round of testing with skills where QA does their best to break it completely, they try to find any exploits we can think of before the community can. Over time, once we’ve adjusted everything and people are satisfied, we’re ready to release.
Then we let players have at it and they find 20 new ways of making it OP that we didn’t think to test. And the cycle of balance and rebalance continues like Mother Nature intended.

How does it feel right now?

Right now, it still has very basic values. The model was just put into the engine, and we’re still mid-adjustment of that first stage. We’re still resolving some technical issues with the new animations, then we’re doing a “look & feel” pass.

When it’s done we hope it’ll be a weapon with which you try to be careful of when you reload, it’ll have a bit more weight than what you might be used to. But when you are in that perfect position you’ll want to crouch for aim, ADS and keep the trigger held until no bad guys are left.

For those of you especially curious about how it feels to use the LMG, you’ll be able to take it for a spin when this is added into the game. It’s coming as a free weapon alongside the Boys in Blue update.

Anything else you’re working on?

Yeah, the next DLC weapon pack is underway. They’ll also go “brrr”, but we don’t want to spoil things just yet.
Then there are the gadgets and systems around those gadgets to make them more... more. There’s a lot of room in PAYDAY 3 to elevate what we have into better versions. So better lockpicking, better hacking, more cool gadgets to get around hinders and more we have a ton of ideas that we’d love to build into the game, so stay tuned for future updates and blog posts!

Any last message to the community?

I'm super grateful for being welcome into the payday community with open arms and virtual hugs. I get to interact with players and partners, which is always super fun, and who knows what ideas I might have added to my notes from our conversations 😉 I also can't get that stupid grin off my face whenever new stuff I was involved with releases and I see those clips and comments of you guys enjoying it - that's what game dev is all about for me: making people happy and forget about everyday BS for a while.

Thanks so much gang, and keep those helmets flying!

Where can they say hello?

I usually tune in for the weekly PAYDAY streams, so you can say hi in the Twitch chat, I’m called spacebarisdefect both there and on Discord.

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