Inside DICE: Adapting the Battlefield visuals for Close Quarters combat

In this episode of “Inside DICE”, we let you in on the design philosophy behind the HD Destruction in Battlefield 3™: Close Quarters and how the VFX was tweaked to fit the mayhem in this new indoors environment.

Hello everyone, I’m Nadab Göksu, Senior VFX Artist at DICE. I have been doing visual effects for Battlefield games since Battlefield 2 [released 2005]. My role includes everything from creating particle effects to post filters, lens flares, and bullet decals. I also hook stuff up to the right gameplay effect — so there’s a metal kind of explosion (and not a wooden one) when you fire your RPG at a vehicle, for example.

Visual effects is a constantly evolving field. No game is like the last one, and that’s one reason I still enjoy working on them. As hardware and code is constantly evolving, we can get more and better-looking visual effects into the games, and I always try to push the limits of what we can do.

HD Destruction on display in the upcoming expansion pack Battlefield 3: Close Quarters.

For Battlefield 3: Close Quarters I approached the visual effects with two things in mind. Firstly, that particle effects should not block a player’s view. We have a lot more destruction than in previous games, so if we were to use the set of FX from the base game, the rooms and corridors in Close Quarters would be literally filled with smoke for long periods of time, potentially ruining the gameplay.

Secondly, the whole art direction for this expansion pack centers around destruction. I wanted to emphasize this by having a lot of debris and very violent dust explosions that burst and dissipate quickly so that they don’t take over the scene. The focus here should be on debris rather than smoke. Combined, these two tenets governed a lot of the FX work for Close Quarters.

You create the chaos
One important aim for me with Close Quarters is to let players generate ambient environmental chaos. All HD Destruction leaves behind a big and very long-lived dust particle cloud that shows the trace of war and turns the surrounding dusty.

On the “Skybar” level [our internal title for Ziba Tower] for example, you have the sprinklers that will trigger if someone shoots at them or if an explosion goes off nearby. We also have gas stoves that burst into flames during the entire round. Showers start to leak water and steam, TV’s are buzzing with static, lights are flashing, and so on. The experience I want to convey is that you generate the chaos, and you can track were the action is by following the signs of destruction. Put simply, at the end of a round, a Close Quarters map should look and feel completely different from when the round started.


“At the end of a round, a Close Quarters map

should look and feel completely different

from when the round started”


So what we did was create a lot of new surface materials for “XP2” [our internal designation for this second expansion pack] and a new set of gameplay/destruction effects for all of the different props and objects. This way it would be easier to control the new effects and to give this expansion pack a unique look.

Basically, all impact effects from bullets in Close Quarters are new. They are also rapid, more violent and contain a lot more debris than earlier. Every bullet fired will now spawn ~50 particles upon impact, from the previous ~10. How can we afford this from a performance standpoint? That’s where our optimization work comes into play, making sure that all the extra debris will only spawn if it’s close you to, with a cap on how much debris can exist in the world at any one time.

Apart from these new impact effects, I also created new destruction effects in various sizes for different materials to fit all of the objects we have, such as wood, furniture, concrete, marble, and so on. For each part that can be chipped away from an object, we spawn ~6 small cluster objects that the prop artists include when they’re building their props (such as chairs, lamps, and walls). Normal clusters can collide and have proper physics, while the small clusters are not networked and are relatively cheap from a performance standpoint. The rest is mesh particles — they don’t have any sort of collision, but mixing the two types still gives a strong visual experience to the player.

Randomly shooting at stuff
Above you can see a demo montage that I put together, just randomly shooting at stuff to showcase the destruction internally here at DICE. I just added a slow motion effect in post-production because I wanted to see all the details in our HD Destruction.

Besides what has already been discussed in this post, a lot of work went into tweaking existing effects. The RPG explosion has been remade, for example, and now has a very unique look. Players should now be able to see a distinct difference between an RPG explosion versus a hand grenade explosion, especially since the latter also has seen a revamp with Close Quarters. These changes not only look pretty – they were absolutely necessary from a gameplay perspective as well, since the base game FX would effectively block visibility in two entire rooms inside the Ziba Tower map!

Other explosive items that have been revamped for Close Quarters are the C4 and Claymores. The C4 explosion radius should now match its actual gameplay area more closely, and the Claymore now has a directional based cone of mayhem, also modified to fit its actual gameplay range. These are all changes that were essential in bringing the Battlefield indoors, where space is much tighter than on a traditional Battlefield map (like Caspian Border, for example).

It’s been a blast working on Close Quarters, and the June release is coming up. I hope you will have as much fun with it as we have had during our play tests. I tend to favor TDM, so you can probably find me in some Noshahr Canals TDM server, at least until this expansion pack gets released. Thanks for reading, and let me know in the comments section below if you have any questions on our VFX work and I’ll try to answer them.

Nadab Göksu
Senior VFX Artist

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  • Cltheone 09.18.12 at 01:27

    Why can’t my game look like the pictures above without reds and blues on the screen.

  • Cltheone 09.18.12 at 01:25

    Now for some intelligent conversation. Back to what really matters!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Why don’t we have the option of controlling/changing the opaqueness of the hub. I would like to have the option of removing the map or anything on the screen so i could better enjoy the game on a 55′!!!!!
    What if your teammates had a glow that was only visible in direct site but not thru walls instead of these damn arrows. STILL ” THE OPTION TO CHANGE OPAQUENESS”. The map is removed for hardcore. If you’re lucky you will spawn into.
    I can’t understand why they didn’t think ABOUT The ReaL VeTeRaNs. People who have been with the game since it was created in a modern era(June 21, 2005). We deserve these options. Call of Duty has it in some games. :)
    I’M RELOADED !!!!
    Do i need to see it! I’m a veteran for ch…. sake!
    Forgot to mention PREMIUM MEMBER !!!!!!

  • Scheisskerl 06.30.12 at 15:10


  • jamesAVFCJG 06.19.12 at 17:22

    I want the Typhoon jet in Aftermath or end game!!!

    • Barraza97 06.22.12 at 05:28

      actually they did say they were gonna put new vehicles into the end game dlc, and also if you look at the top left corner of the end game dlc cover, you can actually see what looks to be a new jet

  • Barraza97 06.18.12 at 04:47

    hey guys, im trying to get DICE to put either the M95 Sniper Rifle off of Battlefield Bad Company 2 or the barett Sniper Rifle into the new Battlefield 3 “Aftermath” or “End Game” DLC’s, i mean wouldnt you guys want to shoot a in the new Bandar Desert Map from the upcoming “Armored Kill” DLC? i know i definitely would. Also you guys still have a chance to make suggestions of any gun you guys want into the upcoming Battlefield 3 DLC’s since DICE and EA are still thinking of what they should put into the upcoming “Aftermath” and “End Game” DLC’s, and also if that little rumor that Dinosaurs are gonna be in the new “Aftermath” DLC, wouldnt you want to shoot a Dinosaur in the face with a Barett lol. Please help me make this possible by copying and pasting this message on every Battlefield 3 Blog. Also if you have any weapon suggestions that you think should be put into the upcoming DLC’s message me at or by Playstation 3 Network, my PS3 name is Barraza97. PLEASE GUYS THIS MESSAGE CAN HELP PUT ANY GUN YOU WANT INTO THE UPCOMING DLC’S :D!!!

  • srglt8 06.11.12 at 13:36

    wtf wht not have Close Quarters ???

  • maximusnick 06.11.12 at 13:21

    Hi Nadab!
    One thing that has always bothered me about the visual effects, that is how the shot on water effects, all the other effects seems great! but the water effects just seems so badly done, take a look at this video on youtube, its only a 9mm pistol, the water goes even higher if its a larger caliber bullet.
    Hope DICE would make better effects on how water reacts to gun shots.

    • HalfaChance88 06.11.12 at 16:23

      I couldn’t agree more. I hope DICE can develop a more realistic wave/water effect engine. I notice this so much when driving the boats and how the waves don’t effect anything. Not complaining dice either way BF3 is the best.

    • nadGox 06.14.12 at 23:41

      Hey Max, i agree, thats why i made a new version for CQ, should be in on all maps now.. you can see it in the Donya Fortress trailer if you havent seen it yet:


  • zZSHiZNiTZz 06.09.12 at 00:52

    please give us some official DICE/EA Close Quarters severs to play on PLEASE . had enough of getting kicked by admins . paid good money for premium would of thought there would be official severs

  • wachyerback 06.08.12 at 04:26

    And people still buy those childish cod games. *sigh*

  • Ku1ckz 06.06.12 at 10:00

    i would love to play this maps but all the server don’t let me play they kick me out every single time…

  • gulivi 06.06.12 at 07:37

    um monte de besteira… de nada adianta se não funciona.

  • McLoven0420 06.06.12 at 07:07

    Wow, this just goes to show how advanced DICE is compared to other studios. Not only do they completely change the map for the different play style but they put a lot of thought into every single effect and how it reacts with players. Every game ive played by dice shows how mature this studio is. Cant wait to play this and see how these maps play.

  • Mxman666 06.05.12 at 00:19

    hmmm looks impressive but I really not interested in shooting chairs. I want to blow up buildings!

  • StefanzZzlol 06.04.12 at 21:34

    Can’t wait! :)

  • TheValiantSoul 06.04.12 at 20:06

    Really hope that this new pack will bring some changes to the vanilla maps as well, fixing the sun, the flash lights, the lights on theran higeway and mabye the blue filter. Also hope that they make the exploations less demanding in the vanilla, just like they did here. If you have the tech then why don’t use it? It would help many people getting more out of their game!

    Guess, expect and hope that Armoured kill will get the same kind of detailed destruction. ´Just too bad we have to wait so long for large scale maps…

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