Lecturer in Game Design | PhD Student

Honours Blog

Posts tagged Development
05/02/15 Project Update

Starting this week I have decided that I will now be using a weekly blog format posting every Thursday. This new format will allow me to better formulate my blog posts as they were previously sporadic and of a lower quality than I was hoping to publish. Now that most of my process in terms of asset creation has been explained I will be condensing the content in these posts.

The latest update to Forget-Me-Knot was rather large due to the lack of recent blog posts. I will quickly list the assets and changes made to the game in its current state:

Models:

  • Door (Handle, Glass, Body)
  • Door Frame
  • Skirting Board & Roof Trim
  • Record Player

Textures:

  • Normal Map for Walls
  • Normal Map for Carpet
  • Emissive Maps for Window Glass
  • Emissive & Normal Map for Door Glass

Interaction:

  • Door Handle Animation
  • Animations can now be reversed (closing) by reactivating the trigger (No longer requires a seperate closing volume
  • Drawer SFX added
  • Cupboard Door SFX added
  • Record Player Animation(s) & SFX

Lighting:

  • The previous lighting model has been redone. Lighting now looks more natural with the additions of a new spotlight that is activated when the room lights are turned off. This spotlight replicates the natural light coming in from the window.

Video of Updates:


Record Player:

The current textures for the record player and speakers are not final as I was more concerned about the animation and interactivity aspect. The player can toggle the record player on which plays 2 animation sequences (The first moves the Pickup Arm over the record and moves it down to make contact with the spinning record disk. The second animation is a subtle looping 'bobbing' animation for the Pickup Arm.)  The player can activate the record player by pressing the interact button, and deactivate it whenever they please.


Global Game Jam - Narrative Progression

During the Global Game Jam 2015 at Abertay I created a prototype game called "Respire" with a team of 4 of my peers. My task on the project was to work in the engine to build the environment and add interaction. I worked on creating a sequencer in Kismet that would allow the player to progress to different "Story Beats" once the previous one has been completed. The original Kismet for this was created within 24 hours so it was messy and badly optimised. The day after the game jam, I worked on refining the Kismet Sequencer so that It both ran better and was easier to understand. I think will adopt a similar system in Forget-Me-Knot to handle narrative progression.

Old Sequencer:

New Sequencer:


Summary:

I feel that I am making good progress towards my 'end goal' for the honours project. The main concern with Forget-Me-Knot is that I am essentially creating a "whole package" of audio, visuals, gameplay and narrative. Although it is a lot of work, I shall try not to let it overwhelm me. I am finding that these blog updates are a great way for me to gauge both my progress on this project, but also my progress as a game designer/creator.


Next Steps:

Models:

  • Television
  • Telephone
  • Record Sleeves
  • Sideboard
  • Typewriter

Textures:

  • Update record player texture
  • Create textures for above assets

Audio:

  • Start scripting narrative and implement the narrative sequencer.

Lighting:

  • Make the lights in the fireplace flicker.
A New Desk

The desk has received a visual update! Seeing as the desk will play a relatively big part in the game, it was only fitting for it to look the part. I wont describe the process as I normally do, as it is nearly the exact same as with previous models. Overall i'm happy with the new model as it is a large improvement on the previous desk.

Custom Collision Meshes

Because of the new way that the walls have been created, custom collision boxes must be used to ensure the player cannot escape the game environment. These collision boxes follow the contours of the room and should stop items or the player clipping through the static meshes. Due to the shape of the room autoconvex collision wouldn't wrap around the mesh properly, this would stop the player from being able to access areas that I wish for them to explore.

Small Texture Update

I have decided to give the textures on some of the older assets a temporary make over. The new textures will hopefully improve the look of the game until I have the time to re-model the actual assets. 

Old:

New:

Old:

New:

Old:

New: (Still not too happy with this one yet, so will revisit it again later)

I added a few more book textures to the shelf, each book will have its own texture by the completed project. I would have re-textured the book shelf, but have decided it is one of the next assets requiring re-modeling.

Visual Update

Forget-Me-Knot is getting a visual update over the Christmas period. I will be editing/replacing the current geometry in favour of slightly more detailed models. Even the slightest of changes to improve the quality will drastically impact on the overall visuals of the game.

Old Fireplace:


New Fireplace:

First experiments in Unreal Engine 4

This was my first experience (first time opening) Unreal Engine 4. I decided that I would experiment with a few of the features that I enjoyed the most in UDK: Terrain Tool, Skybox, Lighting and Water. The experiment was just a quick 'play around' with some of the tools later on in the evening, but I still think the results from just building an environment without any tutorials or assistance were quite nice.

Quick 3D Test/Practice

A big hurdle in the project will be getting used to Maya controls and construction pipelines required for building the 3D game in Unreal Engine 4. Above are 2 screenshots of a quick 3D mock-up based on the previous concept art. By keeping the objects relatively low poly I intend to be able to produce a larger quantity of styalised assets, which should hopefully make the environments feel more 'lived in'. At this stage I intend to experiment with the production pipeline and test how quickly I can produce assets for the game to help get a better idea of how achievable the scope of the project is. In general I feel happy with the results of the test, and will attempt the next stage of the production pipeline.

Sketches

I began the project with a vision of one of the key environments that I wished to include in the game. This environment is a surreal vision of the main characters living room, depicting how due to the illness, somewhere which he used to know so well has become somewhere so alien. The room will be a huge cavernous expanse with part of the living room hanging precariously on the edge of a cliff. Floating (or suspended by wires) above the abyss will be a floating brain partially obscured in shadow to depict that he can only see part of what's in his head (memories). Around the walls of the cavern are paintings and photographs of people, places with the dates, faces, signs etc all scrubbed out - faces painted over in white, place names on sign posts in photographs scribbled out. Again these visual cues will be implemented to symbolise the dementia taking over his life as what were once pictures that brought back memories and feelings are now almost meaningless to the character.

Honours Project Subject: Dementia

For my honours project, I wish to create a game which brings awareness to the illness that is dementia. The game will be an interactive 3D exploration based art experience similar to games like Dear Esther, 9.03m and Gone Home . Narrative will potentially be delivered indirectly through objects, but could also be implemented through some narration of the characters thoughts. The reason I chose to create a game based around dementia was due to the lack of awareness, support and the fact that the illness is one that has effected people close to me. I realise that  such a sensitive topic must be handled with utmost care as not to offend or cause controversy with people, thus extensive research into the illness and portrayal of  character must be taken.

Dementia effects people differently be it changes in personality, insecurity, forgetting faces and loved ones etc. But the one thing that is a constant is the constant deterioration. Once someone begins to suffer from dementia, there is currently no proper way to halt the process. For my project I will have to create mechanics or find mechanics that will best represent the symptoms and the constant deterioration of the characters condition.

I intend to base the narrative from stories of people who have had loved ones who have suffered from the illness and memoirs/diary excerpts from my Grandfather (Opa). This will inject a more personal element into the game and will hopefully allow for more self-expression in the final piece.

Areas I will need to research further into for the project to move forward:

  • Dementia (And Alzheimers)
  • Unreal Engine 4
  • Delivering narrative both directly and indirectly
  • Studies on similar games

Deliverables for first semester:

  • Concept Art/Storyboards
  • Game Design Document (or rough template)
  • Working Prototype of mechanics & visuals