Week 2, Working on the Whiteblock

We have 2 weeks to get through green light. Last week was a lot of organization, management, setup, and people being sick. this week we have more sickness, but are also starting our attempt to conquer greenlight

Alot of what the team focused on this week was feedback issue, game feel, movement, UI and HUD, and brainstorming new ways to make the gun part changing mechanic more central to the game.

But what I did this week was begin designing the new 6 player map. This started with a list of necessary features and a series of concept sketches (pictured below). the level needed to hold 6 players in a single arena, and be good for both free for all games, as well as 3 v 3 games.Snapchat-171571875.jpg

After the sketches, I would use pro builder to actually construct the level whitebox, or so I thought. Probuilders free tools are really limiting. It was useful to be able to make a simple blockout in engine so i could get a sense of scale. but alot of the more complex features couldn’t be easily build in Probuilder. Below is a rough shape, based on the bowl level concept I came up with in the sketches above. its only half the level, and i had to find out a way to make the shape more interesting.Screenshot (1)

Luckily ive taken quite a few art classes at champlain so im very comfortable in hard surface modelling in maya. So i exported the rough correcct shape of the level, and starting adding in additional paths, cutouts and more to make the level more interesting, and to give the artists a better idea of what architectural features would need to be made. The final whiteblock level includes both halves of the map as well as all major architectural features.Screenshot (3)Screenshot (6)

Some major changes that were made is the whole level size was boosted roughly 50% in size, from ~26 x 54m, to 40 x 80m. Besides this, I also did my blog post, and worked with the teams environment artist to talk about asset list. next week, I begin Building

Production Week 1, Learning The Tools

After my old team disbanded, I had a meeting with my new team before winter break. this was the entry point to how the group worked, some rules, getting added to the slack channel we use for communication, and other miscellaneous tasks like how the repository worked.

Next this week we had our first class where we met our professor and executive produce, Mr Edmar. He was added to our slack, and we learned about how the class was structured, as well as grading and policies.

Next, we worked together as a team to decide what was important to get done, which included a new art direction and level design, as well as looking into old game play feedback. After that the producer and product owner worked together with everyone to create and dole out potential tasks for the week. It was up to us to create those tasks and their hours. My tasks included working on creating a 6 player level whitebox, learning pro builder, and looking for potential issues with player movement

Now it still early in the work week, only 2 days after class, so I haven’t actually gotten much work done yet. Only started watching probuilder videos and set up the repo on my computer.

The 2 big tasks this week is designing a very broad strokes white box level, with accompanying documentation for the levels design. This will be for a 6 player level. What I plan on doing is writing up a list of what the level should include, and starting to draw out a map on graph paper with notes, using the list of features as a guide. Once I’ve done 3-5 iterations, I am going to whitebox the best one of them.

The other minor task I have is playing the current build and writing up a potential list of things that could improve the feel of player movement. most complaints are generic “this doesn’t feel right” style complaints about the movement in the game. All of the designers are making their own potential list for possible fixes or issues. So far what I’ve come up with is a slight electric motor sound while the player moves to remind them they are a robot, and not a person. Also a slight bounce on sudden elevation changes could make it feel more natural. I suspect its the lack of camera bob but the robot on a wheel wouldn’t have one.


Week 12, the End

group goal

polish what we got.

group did

improved animations, tweaks to lighting based on feedback, and an end state.

I did

Final clutter pass and collision alignment mostly. the last clutter pass was mostly using the objects the artists made to create interesting landmarks that players could use to recognize spaces and more easily have a sense of location even though its dark.


Week 11, Final Countdown

this is our second to last week. as a group, we all pretty much settled on not presenting or trying to move forward, and instead just showing off what we got and what we did. ill be damned if by the end of this the half of the level we tested with wasn’t fully cluttered. so that’s just what I did. for 11 and a half hours

yes this week besides meetings, my entire purpose was to clutter the level to a stage of completeness. Now it wasn’t totally polished, but all the collision walls were replaced with rock walls, all the critical paths were accessible, the mushrooms gave off enough lighting to show different paths through the level. no collision boxes or non-art is peeking out anywhere, and the player can travel to all intended points.

Besides me, other team members were implementing or polishing other mechanics. The torch swing animation and rock animation were refined, our bonfire was redone along with our fire animation. player feedback for bonfire depletion and health were also added. for health, blood will appear around the edges of your screen depending on how badly hurt you are, similar to call of duty.

everyone on the team is really starting to like the game, even though we all know we probably wont be presenting, its kind of bittersweet at this moments. We all finally started liking and understanding the game the same way, but we had spent so much early time confused about it, that it never really progressed at the rate we needed it too in the right direction. I am proud of what got done, and I’m pretty sure everyone else is too.

Week 10, Proving the Concept

after passing, we are in our likely final phase of the project, where we try our best to desperately prove to people our game is worth existing.

in our game, networking… worked, at least to a passable degree. but to our game networking is pretty key, since it is all about online interactions. This week our programmer is going to making sure the new level is actually in a playable state online for testing, and not just a show off state for class.

For the level to be testable, i had to make sure it was totally navigable. After cutting off half of the map that we didn’t need for testing, My job was to start placing platform mushrooms that could be used to help open up the map vertically, allowing players to go up and down. These were placed all of the level in certain spots, leading up from the first floor to the second and third.

after being able to move around the entire level it was important that there were plenty of the two resource types around.

Flame making resources can be found everywhere. Near player bases, in the valleys, in the inner node systems, and the outer node systems. because there is only a finite amount of resources for destroying fires, they could be placed anywhere.

placing water mushrooms was a bit trickier. you couldn’t place them near bases or players could just quickly rush back and forth between the resources and the fire to put the bonfires out. Water mushrooms were placed almost exclusively in the middle of the level, in the two canyons and mountain tunnel system in the middle of the map. because it would take about 2 trips to put out a lit fire, it gives the other team time to discover and react to there fire being attacked. or even mount an attack of their own.

based on testing, our current biggest issues with the game are the combat system not being super exciting or fun, and that our gathering and management systems might not be fully together or creative a whole cohesive experience. I’ve not lost hope, I just know we aren’t there yet.

Week 9, Challenge into Proof of Concept

This week was all about the challenge.

Our art team was worried mostly with implementing the characters new animations for running, as well as working on getting the level clutter. Our programmer was working on implementing newly given resources, including the water shroom.

The water shroom was a little project that came up to solve a problem where players could very quickly put out other players fires by simply sitting there and kicking them out for about 10 seconds. With a water resource that is used to put out fires, players cannot simply spam kick at enemy fires. the model and implementation were all done in a week. The new fire resource was also gotten in this week near the end, so I wasn’t able to do anything with it

What i was able to do this week was level clutter. I spent a lot of time making sure the starting area as well as all the areas we would be demonstrating in class were well populated and pretty. This was the vast majority of my time this week, setting up rocks and mushrooms to create a pretty environment that leads the player down a specific path.

What Time I didn’t spend working on making the level playable and readable was spent on more documentation required to pass, as well as the presentation itself. While my role in the presentation this time was not so big, I did have to talk about pipeline and design goals a bit.

More important than anything is that even though we are technically behind schedule if our goal is to present, our team morale is pretty high. the game is finally starting to look good and come together, There is still a ton of work that needs to be done, but at least people are seeing its potential, even if its a little late.

and the challenge was a success!

Week 8, Core Systems part 1

We are getting ready to challenge into (or out of?) deep dive. This means making sure our systems are not only in, but have been iterated upon, and have started coming together to create a cohesive and hopefully enjoyable experience. Originally we were going to challenge after this week, but ended up not making quite enough progress to feel comfortable challenging. our core systems were simply not in a good enough place, and our new level not nearly cluttered enough.

Since the artists finished the art bible, and our character has made it into make it into the game, which was a huge improvement over no character.

We started updating the new map. it now has the lighting system, working spawns and characters, and the caves have just started being cluttered with objects by the artists.

For me this was a slow week. I didn’t feel so good mentally and I ended up letting it effect my school work ethic. What I did manage to do was assist in getting the new level set up as the primary level, and help clutter. Much of my time was spent cluttering and figuring out ways to standardize cluttering to help make the art style cohesive. The biggest trick i could find when cluttering is that its easier to create a floor mesh based on the actual collision mesh and not try to clutter the floor manually.

Another tip is that when lining up walls with the collision mesh, its better to have the walls a bit behind the collision, at least more behind it than over it. When players clip through walls is much more jarring of an effect than when there is a bit of space between the player mesh and the wall art because of the collision. many games do this now that I pay attention to the way wall collision works. You just want to avoid the problem with invisible walls getting in the way of players.

Even though by the end of the week we didn’t challenge, our confidence as a team has gone up quite a bit. our game is starting to really start to look good at least, and the artists are happy with how things are coming together visually at least.


Deep Dive, Week 3

As a group this week we had decided to iterate on a few things. One is that our fire is absolutely central to our game, but we are still using the unreal default, and should probably have our own particles in. We also need new resources in the game. our current black rock was good for a placeholder, but now we have a better idea of what our resource is thematically, so the artists should be able to create an effective model. Our character models are almost done, and really just need implementation and animations.

One thing we are going to need to pass into the next stage is a finished art bible, which the art team is also still working on.

more important than anything this week, is that our artists are going to start populating the new level with art.

Personally this week my first task was fixing a small bug in the tunnels of the level, where there is no ceiling collision. once that was done, I was able to take a real good and deep look at our games combat system.

Like designing a level, you have to outline a set of goals, like when completing any task. The combat system in our game had to be a couple of things to succeed. one is that it needed to be a stressful endeavor, players shouldn’t ever be feeling confident or calm during an encounter. The system also has to be simple enough that only 1 programmer and some help from 2 designers could build the system with animations from artists in a couple of weeks, at least to a testable phase. The combat also should be relatively intuitive and simple from a users point, not just as developers. its not the central mechanic of the game, and while it certainly shouldn’t feel glossed over or bad, its not and end all situation of the combat is a bit simplistic.

Some decisions i made about the combat system keeping this goals in mind is the hp system. players have only 3 health. a melee hit with a torch or rock will only do 1 damage. a spear thrust will do 2 damage, and a thrown rock will do 1 damage, and a thrown spear will do 3 damage. This means players can only survive a few hits before going down, and there is no real tanking hits aspect.

Animation speeds are fast. one of the documents i made this week is a spreadsheet with all of the frame data for the attacks. the slowest attack, the spear thrust, take just under a half second to become active (at about 27 frames, to make it avoidable), and ends before even a whole second is up, at around the 45 frame mark. This makes it so combat encounters are never too prolonged.

when in combat, there is a lock on system that focuses the camera in on your target. Once two players are engaged, movement becomes based on the other character. forwards and backwards moves towards and away from your enemy, and left and right strafes around them in an arc. this makes combats personal, and makes you focus your attention on the target.

Last, I would like to implement a simple dodge. a quick jump that can be done left, right, or backwards while locked on to an opponent, replacing the jump input. this would be used mostly to get out of the way of reactable attacks like the spear thrust, but also to dodge when you have a read on your opponent.

These proposed systems will hopefully not be too hard to implement, and would be plenty deep enough of a combat system for this game to succeed.


Deep dive week 2

We made a couple big hard decisions this week.

Feedback from class showed that not enough implementation had been done yet. A lot of theory work, design docs, mood boarding, and small jumps in mechanics. What we really need are implemented character models, the level to get into the game, and for everything to get all arted up.

Morale also isn’t super high this week, In our weekly meeting after class our discussion was of a solemn mood compared to how it normally is. Its not anyone’s fault specifically, our game needs a lot of implemented systems to prove its worth making, and we may not have focused on getting them done in the right order. In this long meeting we talked intensely about what needs to happen for us to have a chance moving forward. one of the biggest decisions made was also to drop the monster for a later point in development, and to focus on resource gathering and PvP.

my tasks this week mostly included building a rough draft of the level itself, and work with the artists to get a pipeline going so they can show off the work that’s been getting done. What i came up with is a 3 process system that involves creating the levels basic mesh and tunnels and walls for collision purposes. Then designers and artists can work together to place props for the walls and other features to make the level pretty. Step 3 is when I go in to the collision and edit it again to more closely match the art the art and design teams put in. this should allow for a great amount of detail and pretty objects, without requiring the computer to have to calculate a ton of collision math, since our collision mesh is so low poly.

This week I was able to build the entire level in Maya, and get it imported into a new scene in unreal this level is navigable, but doesn’t have the lighting or any game play mechanics, its just the level collision on its own. But I did show it to the artists, and go over the pipeline system i had come up with.

Hopefully with the next week or two, morale will go up, since we will hopefully be getting more and more implemented. getting sick really had a negative impact on work and ethic.

Week 6, Deep Dive 1

Deep dive means getting features in. Our game has the very minimum of its core game loop, but not enough had been implemented to prove that it’s fun yet. Getting ready for deep dive means all the proper documentation, and a fun game loop that we can iterate on.

The real goal of deep dive seems to be to get the game to a point where you can test, get feedback, iterate, and repeat. This means we have to do a lot of planning on what really matters for out game

Our Monday meeting, In addition to setting up tasks, included layout out a feature list of what’s important for our game, with scope in mind.  We agreed to a list of essential features that is required to have a fun core game play loop. We need to have a simple AI monster creature, a fun combat system for pvp, a good mining and inventory system, networking, and a new level. We planned this out to take about 3 weeks.

Personally I took on conceptualizing a new level space for our game mode. In a meeting with the design team,we had worked out a bit of lore for how the world worked to inform the level design decisions being made. We decided on the volcanic ash aspect. we also briefly talked about what game-modes this map must take into account. This includes 1v1s, 4 person free for alls, 2v2s, and 4, 2 person teams in a free for all.

Whenever I create a level I start with a list of goals that i know the level must accomplish. For multiplayer this list is a bit more difficult, since you cannot script encounters. you have to create a play-space that is conducive of making interesting encounters happen naturally. This means lots of tight spaces, so players are constantly walking around turns, and having to quickly take in large amounts of new information. The level also has to be filled to the brim with little nooks and crannies, dark corners, and little spots where one can become inconspicuous. Finally, the level had to include verticallity, the player must be aware of looking not just left and right and around, but also up and down.

Canyon and cavern environments naturally fill a lot of these requirements, so the game will take place between 2 canyon floors, with a tunnel system connecting them and branching out. This week after concepting, I did some drawing and planning, and came up with a rough pencil sketch level design with these 2 large valley floors and node like caverns extending outward and interconnecting them.

This week, we are doing a little cleaning. Our repository is quite messy as well, and we need to eliminate all the excess files and builds from the past challenge, and get a clean continuation of the project.