One thing you can count on in video games is violence. It is extremely helpful to have a way to represent a quick, violent action. What happens when an enemy gets smacked in the face? When your bomb explodes? When you activate your aoes?
In addition there are all those slower ways to die. Poison miasmas, choking clouds, expanding patches of burning oil, and more.
Now, I don't possibly hope to be able to cover every kind of violent thing that can happen in a single Particle Effect. Instead what I'm going to show is how to make a very basic, mostly reusable effect that can be used to make a generic, round hit area. It's possible to expand this concept into a number of different effects. By slowing it down or changing its pace, its also possible to convert its feel in a number of ways.
Unfortunately, I had some trouble thinking of examples of existing pure Flashbombs in Vanilla TL2 skills. I consider them more of a building block than a final effect. Regardless I find myself reusing them again and again within effects, and it is usually the first particle I build for any AoE.
(I know this would be more effective if there were animated GIFs, but I do not have the tools to make them at this time. :) )
The secret of the basic Flashbomb is actually pretty easy: they are all just versions of the 3 effects we've already seen, usually associated with a Skill Layout rather than a Unit Theme, and have added Scale and Color Over Time Affectors that make them animate in ways that suggest violence or change.
(NOTE: If you are looking for source images to use for basic Flashbombs, the images in MEDIA\PARTICLES\FLASH and MEDIA\PARTICLES\GLOW are very useful starting points. You can make some very cool looking basic effects just by creatively using particles from this set. All of them use a FRAMES HIGH and FRAMES WIDE of 1 and are fairly easy to work with.)
Here are three examples of the Theolentist that are more or less Flashbombs. The first is the big burst that happens when you get a Critical Hit with Lucent Beam. The second is the effect that occurs when each tentacle appears from the Writhing Choir skill. The third is a proc from the skill Destiny. They all basically rely on the same concept of the Flashbomb.
Despite being attached by a Layout instead of a UnitTheme, the burst in Lucent Beam is just a Point emitter that blends techniques we've already learned. Despite being a Point instead of a Circle, it reuses concepts of the Particle Circle: it generates multiple source images due to its EMITRATE, and rotates each one randomly. As we will see the main thing it does differently is use a sliding Scale affector.
To resize a source image during gameplay, the easiest way is to use a Scale Affector with a setting of RANGE or RANGED CURVE (you can also get fancy with RANDOM RANGE CURVE and RANDOM RANGE to add more randomness, but I won't be going through how to do that here for TLDR reasons).
Below is an example of the Scale curve I used for Lucent Beam's proc. As you can see, the size of each particle starts small, rapidly expands, quickly contracts, then contracts more slowly. Any time you create a very fast expansion of a particle and yank it back like this, you end up with a violent expansion of the particle that seems to lash out. In the case of Lucent Beam, I wanted something almost cartoonish, so I really exaggerated the curve. I usually do this with FIXED set to true so I don't have to scale X, Y, and Z individually.
Note that the rate that a particle advances through RANGE or RANGE CURVE graph is based on its PARTICLELIFE. As we saw earlier with the Particle Ring, it is possible to vary the individual lifetime of each particle. If we make it very random, then if there are multiple particles being generated (set by changing the EMITRATE) we end up with something wild.
The second piece of doing a Flashbomb we covered in the previous tutorial: Color Over Time. For Additive graphics we start with a Black, fade to the colors we want, and exit with Black. (Note that this isn't always necessary to do if you want to use the Scale to scale your particle to 0 before terminating it. Either or both works fine, depending on what you are trying to do.) Below is the Color Over Time affector I used for Lucent Beam's proc.
A third piece of the puzzle, for some Flashbombs, is rapidly rotating each piece. This isn't always appropriate for all Flashbombs. But by messing around with Rotation affectors, particularly the STARTINGROTATION setting, you can create many varied effects.
For Destiny, I wanted a much simpler effect. Destiny is much less “violent” than other skills, being more like a debuff than a damage power. To give its relaxed feel, I eased the scaling quite a bit. You can see that in the graph below. Note that part of the reason the power doesn't feel as violent despite ramping outward quickly is that it is still mostly translucent at that stage due to its Color Over Time still being very dark. The other reason it is less violent is that the PARTICLELIFE is much longer, so this is more of a slow slide in than the violent explosion we saw earlier.
RENDER TYPE - "Billboard" or "Billboard Up" (but again as you get more advanced you can use anything) FRAMES HIGH and FRAMES WIDE - 1 (usually) RENDER STYLE - Alpha or Additive (usually) TEXTURE - Whatever we want the individual particles to look like LIFE TIME - 0 OR specific a specific length of time
TYPE OF EMITTER - Point or Circle depending on where you want the particles to originate (usually) VELOCITY - 0 (usually, but you can adjust this if you want them to move) NUM LOOPS - 1, or as many as desired KEEP LOCAL - True (usually) NO EXPIRATION - False PARTICLELIFE -Pick a duration that seems sensible, bursty particles like this often look better with short lifespans EMITRATE - However many particles you want in the burst (each will have its own burst) EMITDURATION - However long you want it to take for all those particles in EMITRATE to show up each loop MINRADIUS, MAXRADIUS, STEP, FIXED - set depending on whether and how you want to "fill in" your circle, if you used one instead of a Point.
Color Over Time - Fade to black to make particles appear to vanish Texture Rotator -spins each individual particle on its own axis, can use a random setting for STARTROTATION Scale - a RANGE or RANGECURVE that illustrates the change in size of the particle