Building the blasters of Nerf Legends

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Building the blasters of Nerf Legends

How 3D model blueprints helped bring the iconic toys to life in game.

Hello! I’m Mihai Preda, studio head here at Fun Labs, and we’re the studio behind Nerf Legends. GameMill Entertainment, our publisher, had been discussing the opportunity of a potential Nerf game with Hasbro and when they brought the pitch to us, we really liked the idea of bringing the toys to life in a video game and creating a unique universe to go along with them. From the start, everyone was very supportive of having creative freedom to come up with a unique set of characters, levels, and story and to create a universe never before seen in any Nerf game before.

Nerf Doomlands The Judge real toy on left, in-game model on right.

In terms of my personal history with the Nerf brand, my son loves Nerf blasters – it’s one of his favorite toys and he has been a source for lots of inspirations and creativity throughout the project. There is something about his adventurous spirit and wonder that just brings me joy. I see it when we’re chasing each other around with blasters or challenging each other to shoot targets across the room. Mostly, though, I think he likes to pretend I’m an alien so he can fire darts at his old man. 

It has been a lot of fun taking those Nerf blasters my son and I play with and translating them into the game. We were fortunate to receive the 3D CAD models used to make the plastic molds for the toys. This was a great starting point for us because they were basically blueprints which allowed us to quickly make high quality game-ready blasters that we knew were authentic to the real-life counterpart.

Nerf Elite 2.0 Shockwave real toy on left, in-game model on right.

For the game, we wanted to take things up a notch and make the blasters come alive to match the new universe we were creating. We did this by taking inspiration from the shape and look of the blasters and imaged them with sci-fi coatings, animated lights, and other effects without changing the identity of the blaster. That was important to us because we wanted to ensure that the blasters still looked recognizable to what people played with as kids (or as adults who still enjoy Nerf blasters). 

Nerf Elite Titan CS  real toy on left, in-game model on right.

Getting the blasters to feel right was just as important as making them look right and we wanted to make sure they all felt different. We took inspiration from many other shooter games and grouped the blasters into classes. Some, like the Judge, are great short-range blasters that do a lot of damage up close. Others like the Nerf Mega Centurion are specialized for long range sniper-like action. Then there is the Nerf Ultra One which is a well-rounded mid-range blaster. Furthermore, each is specially balanced with a wide set of parameters such as range, accuracy, spread, drop, reload speed, cooldown, and more. Beyond this, we put a lot of energy into the visual and audio identity of each blaster. We hand-crafted the visual effects, the animations, and the audio to further differentiate how they feel. For example, the Nerf Elite Titan is a huge blaster that feels powerful but slows you down because it’s bulkier. It’s a far different experience than the quick, rapid firing Nerf Ultra Two.

Nerf Mega Sniper  real toy on left, in-game model on right.

Nerf Legends takes place in the near future where blasters are enhanced and used for a Nerf tournament. In this context, the sound of the blasters is inspired by the toys, but enhanced and taken to a whole new level. We leaned into some sci-fi sound effects which vary greatly from blaster to blaster, but it’s not the pew-pew sounds you might hear in movies. We leaned into the idea of enhancing the mechanical inner workings of the toy and giving them subtle electromagnetic sounds, as if the blasters are propelling darts forward with magnetic forces. 

Nerf AccuStrike RaptorStrike  real toy on left, in-game model on right.

We worked closely with Hasbro to come up with a diverse list of blasters across several different series like the Ultra, Mega, and Elite, including both older and newer models. Most blasters in the game came out within the past five years, but we also have some that released as recently as this year. We hope that you will find a Nerf blaster you love when the game releases on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 on November 19.

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