Friday, October 30, 2015

Friday Wrapup! Spooky edition

Happy Halloween everybody!

This week didn't quite go as planned but still managed to make some progress here and there. The barrier of course was my storage hard drive dying on me, but fortunately I already have a replacement installed and a couple week old backup of the data restored. I did end up sending out the dead drive for data recover, we will see how that goes. So in the meantime I am switching over to parallel tasks that won't require ugly reintegration should I get the data back in a usable form.

So this week was mainly:

  • Fighting with my hard drive
  • New text game build - More in depth design work, specifically on the text game test and its role in character abilities and upgrades.
  • Writing some basic lore and game premise info (will be shared soon, needs editing)
  • Made a material orb to be used as an standard primitive when authoring smart materials. More info below.
Please take a look at the text game and leave feedback and thoughts. The game is a lot cleaner now, and though it still doesn't have much in the way of player choice, it is getting closer to a rough "alpha" state.
The one art task that I focused on this week was to make a material orb for use when authoring textures. I've wanted to make one for a while so I could standardize and make it easier to craft "smart" materials more readily.
 If you aren't familiar with the concept of smart materials, they are a relatively new way of texturing models. By supplying the material with a small set of support textures that are baked for each asset, the material is able to adapt the visual detail to the contours and shapes of that specific asset. This means that if you make a "smart" metal material and then apply it to two different models, it will generate textures for each with the rust accumulating in all the right cracks and oil residue dripping down the surface in the right direction, etc. This coupled with physically based rendering makes it much easier to achieve good looking art that doesn't need adjusting in different lighting scenarios.
 A material orb simply makes this process a bit simpler and more streamlined as you can test the materials against the same model, and because it is built with this in mind, will look good on a variety of surfaces. By decoupling the material authoring from the unique model you can make a handful of materials that can texture an entire environment, and using newer previs techniques, use the materials to inform both the concept art and final models without any extra work.

Happy Halloween all!

- CJ

Rough textures testing out new material orb. 3 different lighting environments.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Ah the wonders of technology!

Hey all!

So unfortunately I had one of those inevitable tech mishaps that happens periodically to all of us, namely, my hard drive died. This shouldn't be too terrible in theory as I believe I backed up all my files pretty recently but there is definitely going to be some lost work. Hopefully I can get back up to speed or at least switch gears and post some good content this week but forgive me if it doesn't happen.
Fortunately I already have a new replacement drive installed and working so fingers crossed this will just be a small hiccup.
So if you are reading this, go back up your data! :D

- CJ


Computer is at least back up and running, and have recovered a majority of the data from backup, though it is at least a couple weeks old if not more. So definitely some work lost but I'm at least happy that I have a working version of the game and such. Will probably bring in the drive to see if the remaining work can be recovered but I'm dubious.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Friday Wrapup! first edition

Hey all!

This week was an exciting one for me, to finally have the game shared with the public is something I've wanted to do for a long time. I will try to do these weekly wrap ups to share any progress from the week, and it will also help me to stick to a bi-weekly build release. Look forward to a new build next week!

This week mainly consisted of:
  • General - Getting the game posted and setting up a few main threads to share it (Polycount, IndieDB)
  • Art - Greyblock modelling for base architecture and some initial texture and material work.
  • Design - Minor work on Design Test text adventure. New version posted on the game page.
  • Design - Cleanup and rework of design doc to prepare for next steps.
The main focus this week was Art, specifically for the game's base of operations. The location is intended to be a semi-derelict medical facility/bunker. I greyblocked (rough un-textured proxy) models for the various areas and started doing test decoration of the spaces. The current idea is to have four main sections; Clinic, Fabrication/Engineering, Lab, Bunks/Dorm. The layout is still quite temporary, it still needs to be informed by the design and narrative needs of the space but that being said I'm still happy with it as a start. I continue to enjoy making "smart" art using UE4's blueprints, using procedural rules to make it faster and easier for me to decorate.
For example, a simple blueprint that stacks a randomized number of crates on top of each other, randomly rotates each in 90 degree increments to break up the faces, then offsets and rotates by a couple of degrees for a more naturalistic final look. A pretty simple example but hopefully gets the idea across.

If you haven't already, please download and play the main game from the game page, or if you are short on time, take a look at the design text adventure.

Have a great weekend!

- CJ

Some of the greyblock models created for the base.

Slightly revised clinic with vertex painted sand and a few models slapped in.

Updated base with vertex paint and a few of the new models. Still needs actual decoration pass.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Game is live!

The game is finally ready and available on the game page!

There are assured to be a lot of problems but I am quite happy to be finally sharing this with everyone. Definitely looking forward to all of your thoughts and feedback.

You will notice on the game page that there are two links posted, one for the main game, and one for a design test. The intention for the design test is to use a "cheap" fast method like a text based game to iterate on the narrative/strategy layer of the game. Then once it is sufficiently robust, to integrate it into the main game for a more complete balanced experience.


- CJ
QWOP feels like Simulacra's spirit game at times :D

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Innaugural Post

Hey all!

My name is CJ, an Environment Modeler/Tech artist. I'm working on a game in Unreal Engine 4 in my spare time and it has reached a point that I would like to start sharing it with the world. My intention for this blog is to publicly continue its development and hopefully give a voice to anyone interested. It is made for fun, and made to be fun so I am eagerly looking forward to your thoughts.

In a brief nutshell I would currently describe the game as:
Futuristic Robin Hood, with nimble, smart, twin-stick shooter style gameplay.
Its not the best encapsulation of the idea, but the core experience pillars are:
  • Experience being a robin hood style figure, fighting for the little guy
  • Rich, convincing world to explore
  • Clean, thinking on your toes combat
  • Rewarding character and environment development
I'll get more into the influences at a later time but is fairly eclectic in its inspiration, from the action and fun of older titles like Super Metroid, to more modern titles with a sense of community, such as This War of Mine

I am in the process of figuring out the best sharing platform that I can upload it to and will be editing this post until I feel it is a good solid starting point. Once that is complete I will be posting periodically with game updates, polls and whatever organically comes up in the process. Over its development thus far I have kept to a pretty regular two week spread for each build of the game but that will naturally expand and contract. If real life gets in the way I will at least try to put something out whether it is a bit of fiction or otherwise to minimize the amount of radio silence.

*The game is now live, check it out on the game page!*

Thanks all for your time, hope to see you again soon!

- CJ

Small native encampment by the river's edge.
Out exploring the wilds.
Laser battle with the basic enemies.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Backdated Build Notes

Hey all!

Below is a backdated log of some of the initial development prior to releasing online. Mainly for those that are curious and to scratch that completionist itch should I decide to look back someday. Hence why it is before the "first" post.

- CJ

Release - Just havin’ a chat.

  • General 
    • Restructured some fundamental game state architecture. Now uses persistent custom game instance so is much cleaner in UI implementation and will make carrying information between maps much easier. 
    • Initial loading screen added to cover up transition between maps. 
    • Some basic setup for game progress, though it isn’t utilized yet. 
    • Getting closer to desired fix and result with Phantom, bug is fixed but reset of view isn’t desired. 
  • Base 
    • Multiple conversations available using new dialogue system. Placeholder portraits for now. Aster is most complete, Doctor after that, Tinkerer and his son are still pretty broken. 
    • IES Profiles added for a more nuanced lighting in the base. 
  • Wilderness 
    • Can now rescue villagers found out in the wilderness. They will give a small gift of a random supply for now. 
    • Updated laser gun sounds to give better player feedback. Now has a charge sound to go along with the charge shot. Also better visual effects to support it too (not socketed properly yet though) 
    • Added rumble to charging and releasing gunshot. 
    • Search command now works to highlight gatherables. 
    • Gatherables now picked up with the Use command instead of automatically.
Release - Humans and "Laz0rs"

  • Known bug: Creating the “phantom” with Dpad up can cause a mismatch between the control scheme and the camera angle, making it very difficult to move. This is reset when you load between maps.
  • Changed weapon to be more of a megaman/metroid style laser gun with charge shot. Hopefully will give combat a touch more variety as it develops. 
  • Initial “phase” hacking as phantom. Can hack energy pylons to cause them to become regenerative energy wells. 
  • Initial procedural decor, greyblocked most human models, finished some. Scale still a bit wonky and no collision. 
  • Initial pass of sound fx; including some loose environment sounds and combat fx. 
  • Map work on Wild01 including terrain texture polish and rework of Fir tree. 
  • Level ups now driven by data table making them much easier to balance. Consolidated level up system to reduce chance of data loss. 
  • Initial “Dwellers”, villagers that will eventually be rescued and possibly recruited. Currently have randomly generated gender, and name based off the gender. 
  • UI Controller Layout available in pause screen. No customization but allows for that in the future and will make maintenance easier. 
  • Player now dies correctly, playing an animation and loading the base map, instead of simply destroying the actor. 
Release - Workbench

  • Initial time of day setup - Randomizes lighting using three set times of day. Currently uses; Day, Evening, and Night. 
  • Test of bioluminescent foliage that is only active at night. (Very ugly right now) 
  • Resource pickups are now saved as part of the player so they will be able to eventually use them for base and equipment upgrades. 
  • Base now has initial UI for map screen and equipment upgrades. 
  • Equipment screen has subscreen for upgrading weapons (non-functional) 
  • Both equipment and upgrade screens show correct resource amounts 
  • Map screen allows for choice of destination (Currently only Wilds and Testing area) 
  • Fun little typewriter flourish when mousing over options in equipment screen. First exploration into shared macros. 
  • Main menu up and running, links to proper maps, and wipes player save data on “New game”. 
  • Tutorial now at least has warp out to actual game, contains notes for planned tutorial and how to play the game. 

Release - Initial

  • Relatively fleshed out “Wilderness 1” Map to explore 
  • Basic enemies spawn from destructible pylons 
  • Very bare-bones base 
  • Bare-bones core loop (base to gathering encounter, back to base) 
  • Initial experience gain and leveling up 
  • Experience and level are saved in file 
  • Bare-bones material gathering (colored orbs out in field)