Unreal Engine 4 Adventures Part 4

Just a small update from me today… as well as some surprising news from Unreal!

Engine 4.7 was released the other day with some really impressive additions, many of which I will be making use of, such as the new foliage tool and the in-editor animator.

… But that’s not all, just this morning UE4 became free forever, no more subscription fee! It looks like they are targeting Unity users who went to straight to Unity because of no upfront fees, they are also integrating their new Unreal Tournament into the engine/editor.

I personally know a lot of people that have been avoiding UE4 because of the subscription, so it should be interesting to see how this all turns out.

This week in development I spent some more time modeling, here are some rocks. =)

somerocks

And here are the rocks put together in my scene to make a cave.

cave2

The one thing this scene really needs is some grass! So I’ve been playing with SpeedTree again to make some grasses and shrubs, but I am not ready to show them until I get lighting and optimization right… the foliage tool, for all its good points can be a huge mess if things aren’t set up right. :p

Unreal Engine 4 Adventures Part 3

Update time!

I now have my spider fully rigged and animated, as well as some pretty decent AI, a rudimentary combat log, some actual combat.

I also got a chance to play with the lighting and make my scene look a little better. I’m still not entirely happy with it, but I’m going to keep it as is until I add more foliage and other meshes to the scene.

lightingsteps

As for animation, I have created just 2 animations so far; idle and walking. I used a blend space so that based on the spider’s speed it will blend between the two states, so as it slows down it starts to walk really slow and starts idling (breathing on the spot) as well and as it gets faster it plays the walking animation at a higher speed. The webm below demonstrates this… the last half of the video is what happens if you import a skeletal mesh into UE4 without all the bones being linked to a root bone. :p

Size: 9.5mb

And for the AI I have created behavior trees so that the spider will just roam randomly at a slow speed until it sees the player, when it does it will chase the player at a higher speed untill the player is able to get out of its sight range… or it dies.

This box around the spider is its sight range.

spidersightrange

This next video fully demonstrates chase AI as well as some basic combat and combat log.

Size: 22mb

Unreal Engine 4 Adventures Part 2

Since the last UE4 post I’ve learned much more, including multilayer texturing, (half-assed) landscaping, Cascade (UE4 particle editing), AI and behavior trees, projectile physics and use of SpeedTree.

Using landscaping I made a quick outdoor terrain and blocked out some structures with BSB brushes so that I can have a decent looking level to showcase things on. The terrain uses multiple layers of textures so that I could paint on the paths which blend in with the grass.

landscape1

I then learned how to use the UE4 edition of SpeedTree to create some trees and use the foliage painting tool to put them on my level. The cool thing is that this is actually just one tree mesh with UE4 foliage settings to randomize the height, rotation, hue of the trunk and leaves textures to make them all look slightly different.

landscape2

I did in fact learn a whole heap of AI stuff and managed to have an unanimated blocky mouse follow me around the level and perform other tasks using a behavior tree, but before I showcase any of this I want to have a fully animated model I can use, so here is a spider I have modeled and rigged up in blender. The, texturing, animation and importing are still underway.

spider1

And of cause, a webm! This is a fireball spell I created using Blueprint, when the player clicks the left mouse button, a punching (lol >_>) animation plays, a projectile is launched from the player in the direction they are facing. Parented to the projectile is a burning fire particle system which is an edited version of the UE4 starter content fire. When the projectile hits anything the fire animation is hidden and the explosion animation starts.

Unreal Engine 4 Adventures Part 1

I recently had another game development itch so I subscribed to Unreal Engine 4 and gave it a go.

So far, with the help of Blender, MakeHuman, WorldMachine and Paint.NET I’ve created, rigged and animated first person arms for use in UE4, as well as several modular dungeon pieces and other various models and landscapes.

As for UE4 itself, so far I’ve learned all about blueprint, creating particles, materials and mapping. Currently, my main focus is the player character blueprint.

Some modular walls and columns that snap together on a 1m grid.modular1

Example hallway with some of the assets I have created.
dungeon1jpg

Arms exported from MakeHuman and rigged and animated in Blender.
firstpersonarms

Blueprint demonstration of my first person ‘summoning’ animation and spawning a rock.

On my to do list:

  • More natural assets (rocks, logs, etc).
  • Create a simple animal with animation to summon instead of rocks.
  • Create spell effects with particles.
  • Create more first person animations.
  • Create physics based spells with blueprint.
  • Create a decent landscape/level.

Stay tuned. :)

Sword Sister: My Entry to the 2014 Indie Game Maker Contest

I’ve finished and submitted my game to the contest! It took me about two weeks to make and features:

  • An epic story that keeps pulling you in as you learn more about the game world.
  • 40-55 minutes of gameplay.
  • Risk/reward; most dungeons have bonus rewards and minibosses for those who choose to explore a little further.
  • Likeable NPCs and PCs with real personality.
  • Side quests.
  • A pet kitty!!

Download:
Sendspace: https://www.sendspace.com/file/i3u0sn
MEGA: https://mega.co.nz/#!5EhXhYxS!eRRyAG3rArB3gV6CGg2w_FmaqhwZ5JeVCYUOMFGjEbg

When downloading from Sendspace make sure to untick the box that makes you download their app.

The game can be accessed on the contest page here. Public voting is open until July 7th, so if you tried the game and liked it, please vote on the contest page! You do need to make an account but there’s no email confirmation.

2014 Indie Game Maker Contest part 2

Some more screenshots of my game in development, the game is about 50% completed and all content so far has been polished and repolished several times.

More updates soon!

2014 Indie Game Maker Contest

I recently got the RPG Maker XV Ace bundle from the HumbleBundle website for around $12, thinking I would eventually give it a go eventually. Last week I ran it, tried some tutorials and had a lot of fun!

I figured I would create a half-assed game or two to get my bearings then get to planning my dream RPG. Then I discovered the 2014 Indie Game Maker Contest hosted by RPG Maker and Humble Bundle and knew I had to get in on it.

So here’s some screenshots my first RPG, which I will be submitting to the contest, it’s about 30% complete from a development standpoint and currently has about 15 minutes of gameplay (I am aiming for 30+ minutes in the end).

The rules say you must start no earlier than May 29th and submit it by June 30. I started on about June 15 so I’m already a little behind.

The game is currently called NatashaQuest but the name is still pending, as is the overall tone of the game (ie; I’m not entirely sure if I want it to be humorous or serious).

More updates soon! :)

Review: Rocksmith 2014

Rocksmith 2014 is both a game and learning tool for use with a real electric guitar or bass. You plug in your guitar to a USB port with a special cable and can play through step by step guitar lessons, learn specific songs and riffs and play a variety of arcade style games with your guitar as the controller.

2014-04-25_00005Everything the game does is done in a very incremental, adaptive and intuitive way, from the games to the lessons, everything is designed to help you retain information about notes, chords and scales, etc, as well as building up your muscle memory to improve your skill at playing guitar. It’s obvious a lot of work and research has gone into making Rocksmith 2014 a powerful education tool that can teach anyone to play guitar while still being fun.

The lessons try to teach you how to play in the way a real guitar tutor would; by explaining techniques, showing you how they are played and then giving you a go while gradually making things more advanced each time. The practice riffs also slow down and let you do things at your own pace if it thinks you are having trouble.

2014-04-25_00003There are also a decent amount of ‘Learn a Song’ songs that come with the game that start you off by getting you to play the very base notes that hold the song together, the game reacts to how well you are doing and gradually adds in more notes if you are getting everything right, eventually the notes will become chords and with enough practice you will easily learn how to play a song from start to finish.

The arcade games are designed to make you remember specific aspects of guitar playing as well as increasing your reaction time, muscle memory and being able to play without looking at the guitar neck. One game has you shooting ducks by playing the right note as they appear in front of different frets, another has you strumming entire chords in a zombie rail shooter. I found all the games to be both fun and very helpful.

2014-04-25_00006Some other nice features Rocksmith 2014 has is a full tone designer where you can create your own digital sound using a variety of pedals, amps, loops and more. The real life equivalent of this kind of equipment is really expensive so I found it really fun to be able to play around with this kind of stuff. There’s also multiplayer modes, online leaderboards and session mode where you have an automatic band accompanying your guitar as you play.

I don’t have many bad things to say about Rocksmith 2014 other than the song selection not being entirely to my taste, but a few DLCs fixed that for me. I also had an incredibly hard time getting a Rocksmith RealTone cable in Australia, all of the retail stores were sold out for over a month and I had to order one online. Some may also argue that the game is too repetitive, but with learning any instrument, repetition is the key to success and I think this game really makes the repetition as fun as it can possibly be.

2014-04-25_00007If you have a guitar sitting in the corner of your room which you don’t really play because you’ve given up on learning it on your own, then I highly suggest you try Rocksmith 2014, you will almost definitely improve at playing guitar, learn some new songs and have lots of fun. If you want to learn guitar on your own, this is the way to do it.

I give Rocksmith 2014 9/10.

Review: Tony Hawks Pro Skater HD

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD is the latest of the Tony Hawk skating boarding games. HD is a 2012 remake of the original Pro Skater 1 and 2 games. The game is available on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC (Steam), with the console versions getting extra features such as multiplayer for whatever reason.

2014-04-20_00003HD is definitely aimed at fans of the original Pro Skater series, it features maps, music, skaters and challenges from the early games in a blatant effort to provoke nostalgia from fans like me. The game takes you back to two minute runs with classic career objectives such as getting the secret tape, kick flipping TC’s roof gap and what not. In addition to the Career mode, the game also has a few other game modes such as Big Head Survival, Hawkman and extra Projectives when you finish Career.

2014-04-20_00005Yes, the high school level is back! Yes, the warehouse level is back! And yes you can once again Ollie the Magic Bum 5x. Most of the best levels from Pro Skater and Pro Skater 2 are included as well as three levels from Pro Skater 3 if you purchase the Revert Pack DLC which also adds the revert mechanic which significantly increases your combo potential.

While the game has obviously gotten a huge graphics upgrade, I felt like the physics were a bit… off. Things seemed to feel more realistic in the original games, but in HD it feels like I’m sometimes flying unnaturally through the air. There’s also no animations for stacking/bailing; your character just kinda ragdolls on the spot and spurts out blood.

2014-04-20_00008The PC version unfortunately has a few optimization and other console-porty errors. There’s also no skater creator like there was in Pro Skater 2 and 3, but instead, a decent assortment of uncanny-valley-esque professional skaters from both the older games and current real-life professionals.

Despite its flaws, I really liked HD, I loved the playing the old maps, hearing the old music (the new music was really good too!) and the simplistic game mechanics of the original Pro Skater games before the series let you natas-spin fire hydrants for 10 minutes and walk around off-board whenever you please.

2014-04-20_00001However if you were late to the series you might not find HD as fun as other Tony Hawk’s games, as this is purely a remake of the original Pro Skater games and doesn’t really improve on the old features much, but if you’re looking for a cheap childhood nostalgia trip, I recommend you give Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD a look.

I give Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD 6/10.

Review: Elder Scrolls Online

Elder Scrolls Online takes place during the Second Era of The Elder Scrolls universe, before all of the singleplayer games. Tamriel is world divided, three alliances fight for the throne and right to rule the realm.

Screenshot_20140408_200128Unlike the other Elder Scrolls games, ESO is an MMO and uses megaservers, meaning everyone plays on the same server, but everyone is put into an instance of the zone they are with a few hundred other players. You can join your friends in their instances whenever you wish.

I fully came into ESO expecting it to be nothing like the single player games, as to not be disappointed, but they have really nailed the TES feel when it comes to the stories, quests and exploration parts of the game. During some of the quests I felt very emotionally attached to the NPCs, a feeling I’ve only gotten from other TES games.

Screenshot_20140406_154812ESO is not like other MMOs, there are no quests that have you retrieving 50 bear asses, or killing ‘X amount of Y’. Every quest is highly story-based and usually has some kind of interesting twist or decision the player needs to make. You really feel like part of the game world, even though there are thousands of other players.

Never once did I feel like I was grinding to try and level up, I got immersed in quests and explored around and found I was being rewarded for it, I didn’t have to worry about where I should be at my current level or what gear I should be using, I was able to just immerse myself in the game world and play without thinking about the meta all the time, like you are forced to do in other MMOs.

Screenshot_20140406_162353However when it comes to the other factors that go into making a great TES game ESO doesn’t quite make it. You cannot be a murdering psychopath and kill everyone in each town, you cannot steal every single plate and cup and dump them all in your house. Obviously as an MMO, ESO has it’s limitations and it will never be able to embody all the greatest things from the single player series, but it really is a masterpiece in its own way.

As most Elder Scrolls fans know, the games have been getting more and more casualized and simplified with each release… Morrowind had a huge amount of skills, weapon types and gameplay systems, then Oblivion had less and Skyrim had significantly less. ESO does follow this pattern with having only 6 weapon ‘skill lines’ and 4 different classes. Its only redeeming factor regarding this is that it’s an MMO and things need to be kept simple to be properly balanced.

Screenshot_20140406_020851I felt that the character development, despite there only being 4 unique classes, was very good. You can build your character however you want, even if you started as a Sorcerer, you can still be a very good tank by assigning skill points appropriately. The skill points you spend on your class skills are the very same skill points you use on your crafting, armor and other skills, meaning you can make your character however you like and play your own way. Want to be a Nightblade that uses a healing staff and heavy armor? Depending on how you spend your skill points, this could be a very good combination!

The crafting system was also very nice, a bit complex but once I figured it out I really enjoyed it. You can craft your gear in a variety of different racial styles and with different traits depending on what styles you have learned and what traits you have researched from other items.

Screenshot_20140406_205504The only way to PvP in ESO is in the Alliance War, which plays very similar to Guild Wars 2’s World versus World system. The three alliances fight each other and capture castles, camps and forts in an effort to take over Cyrodiil. Players can buy and build seige equipment to attack castles and other fortifications. I found the large scale battles to be very enjoyable, but the actual zone is a bit to big for those that just want to jump into some PvP and fight other players straight away.

Depending on what kind of person you are, you will either love or hate Elder Scrolls Online… you might hate that the game isn’t enough like the previous TES games to be enjoyable, or you might be happy you have finally found something that is close enough to TES and can be played with your friends. I am the latter.

Elder Scrolls Online brings a very refreshing change to the MMO scene with story-driven content and highly immersive experiences, while it doesn’t play exactly like the rest of the series, it definitely tries embody much of what The Elder Scrolls is about into an online experience.

I give Elder Scrolls Online 8.5/10.