Problem Solving and VFX


Over the last few weeks I’ve hit a wall in my game dev project. I’ve been stuck trying to figure out how to make some gameplay elements more cohesive with themes in the game. I eventually figured out how to accomplish this, but I was also able to learn a few things from the time I spent figuring out how to get over this obstacle.

A good friend taught me a problem solving strategy he calls The Rule of Fives. The rule operates on the belief that every obstacle has at least five solutions. When I’m trying to solve a problem, the first thing I should do is write down five possible solutions. If the initial five don’t work, think of five more and try them out. I repeat this process until I’ve found a solution.

The purpose of this method is to encourage creativity in problem solving. I have a tendency to let logical thinking limit my thought process, which can be bad because complex problems often require unique solutions. With the rule of fives, I usually run out of logical ideas around the 4th solution and am forced to think outside the box.

To give an example of the rule in practice, let’s say there’s a wall blocking the path to my destination. Five possible way to get past it would be :

  1. Go around it
  2. Climb over it
  3. Tunnel under it
  4. Back track and find another route
  5. Go through it

After trying these solutions, I find that none of them work.The wall is too long to go around, the surface is too smooth to climb without tools, the ground is too tough to tunnel under, there are no alternate routes, and too thick to break through without tools. Since the first five, didn’t work I would get more creative and find 5 more:

  1. Fly over it
  2. Use a tool to scale it
  3. Blow it up
  4. Get a wrecking ball
  5. Build a ramp

It doesn’t matter how ridiculous the solutions get, they show that the problem still has solutions. After exploring each solution I can usually find a practical way to solve the problem. For me the solution tends to be a combination of multiple possible solutions. 

In my project the obstacle was figuring out how to add visual effects (VFX) to special moves that fit the current theme of other VFX in the game. The 5 solutions I came up with were :

  1. Natural Elements – My game already had some VFX that referenced a few natural elements (thunder and fire) so I could’ve built that theme out more and added wind, water, and ice.
  2. Replace VFX that was already in the game – Since I was unable to make the VFX that I already had work with new features I was adding, I could replace them with VFX that would work for both.
  3. Rework VFX I already have – Although I do not know how to completely alter the VFX I had, I knew enough about the tools I had to be able to tweak the VFX I had.
  4. Replace the move sets I selected – If the moves I selected wouldn’t work with VFX that were available, I could go find new ones.
  5. Rework the move sets I had – I could also go learn how to modify the movesets in Blendr to make them fit into the theme I was going for.

I decided to go with a combination of 3 and 4 to solve this problem and here’s the end result :

As always thanks for supporting!


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