Designing an Air Powered Machine Pistol

Hey again from Lunar Rooster. The next Sky Noon beta is now announced for the 23rd of May, so look forward to further announcements detailing what we’ll be showing. It will last for two days, ending on the 25th of May, so make sure you’re signed up in our Discord server and you won’t miss out. This week our blog is about the machine pistol and how it transitioned from a gun that shot actual bullets (that still didn’t kill people) into an air powered thingamabob.

The First Concept

First Thumbnail Sketches

Initially the direction of the weapons weren’t designed with the mechanics in mind. They were fairly standard weapons inspired by real world guns, using real bullets and even ejecting bullet casings. It was interesting trying to design a one handed fully automatic gun that would fit into western times. Ultimately we took inspiration from a variety of different designs, notably the rough silhouette of the Mauser pistol. We beefed it up a bit to make it recognisable from a distance and more appealing in the first person perspective, along with some custom details in an attempt to make it feel more Western.

Machine Pistol Concepts

This was in the game for the length of the Sky Noon vertical slice. It wasn’t until after this that we found our designs completely failed to communicate how they push people away instead of outright killing them. This caused a shift in design philosophy to what you see today.

Air Powered

Paint overs and new concepts

We drew inspiration from brass instruments, adding pipes, canisters and pistons to give a better idea of what the function of the guns were. For the machine pistol we salvaged what we had and added to it, doing paint-overs of the existing weapon to mock the kind of silhouette and form we were after. In the redesign process we opted for a more metallic look, trying to make better use of Unreals PBR materials and help to set a more unique appearance.

With this change of design came a new requirement for how the gun sounded, as no longer could it sound like a real world machine gun while firing compressed air. The sound design moved towards softer ‘airy’ sound effects while maintaining a nice popping sound per shot, along with a sense of pressure and rushing air for the reload effects.

Final Design

This also brought about a solution to reloading with only one hand which always felt a little awkward. Before the change to air powered weapons the magazine would drop out and the gun go off screen, doing who knows what in order to get a new one into it. Now we can contextualise and explain it without having to take the gun away. The machine pistol will open up its main canister and suck in air, which we felt had more flavour and was interesting to look at. The gun spin at the end of the reload animation was for fun, showing a typical cowboy’s sleight of hand and knack for unnecessary flair.


That’s all for this weeks blog post.  Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more closed beta information next week!

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