Lecturer in Game Design | PhD Student

Honours Blog

Posts tagged UDK
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.

Installing Walls & Windows (8.1)

After reworking the shape of the room from the previous prototype, I decided it was about time to add some windows for a more 'natural' and less 'jail cell' look. To begin, I cut a large hole in the wall, then built a placeholder mantel and frame to gauge how the final window might look.

Once the placeholders are created, I rebuild each piece in greater detail. Once all of the pieces are reworked, I will UV all of the pieces, then create all of the textures. In the case of the windowsill to keep consistency in textures I prefer to batch texture as it keeps the techniques I use fresh in my mind.  I decided that the next stage in modelling my window would be to create the curtains. The curtains were built from a poly-plane which I positioned to create rough material folds then extruded the plane back to give the curtain some depth.

To shape the curtain in a more natural position I used the Lattice Deformer tool to retain the previous fold detail whilst also giving it the appearance of being drawn back.

The plastic frame for the window glass was a relatively low poly model. I found that the level of detail of the placeholder model was sufficiently realistic thus didn't require editing further. To create the net-curtain I used a basic plane, created similar folds to the original curtain and applied a semi-opaque texture to it.

Below is the final image taken from the UDK engine.

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:

Lighting, Physics & Basic Interaction

Today I had to go to Whitespace to work on my honours project. Frequent power failures in my village due to heavy rainfall have made 3D modelling and UDK work nearly impossible as even when saving often some files ended up becoming corrupted. To counter this problem I traveled to Abertay to work on the dual screen PC's in Whitespace.

Today's progress mainly revolved around removing the default weapon loadout, UI, adding in physics objects, dynamic lighting (toggleable) and testing other interactive mechanics. I started the work fixing a lighting issue with the walls by combining multiple wall panels in Maya before exporting them into UDK and replacing the existing walls. 

Smaller objects are now interact-able with the built in PhysicsGun. The objects have a higher mass than they normally would to depict the strength of the old man. The controls are left click 'pushes/prods' an object, where as holding right click on an object will allow it to be picked up and moved around. This mechanic could be useful for hiding objects behind others for the player to find.

Pictured above is a screenshot depicting where the light sources are, and also - if you have keen eyes - the custom collision mesh I had to create for the bookshelf. I was having issues with Autoconvex collision where the book collision meshes and the shelf's collision mesh were encountering problems. These problems lead to the books being 'ejected' from the shelf. Thankfully by implementing custom blocking volumes the issue is now sorted.

I also ran tests on adding hinged physics doors to the game, these would hopefully mean that opening cupboard doors and such would work in a similar way to in Amnesia. Sadly the tests did not work exactly as planned and more iteration on this feature will be required.

UDK Project Start

As each asset is created, I tend to import them straight into UDK to apply the textures and get a rough indication of how much space I have left for further assets. Although this is a very simple approach, it is effective at keeping the interactive aspect of the project progressing. When modelling objects for environments it's easy to find yourself engrossed in the modelling process and completely forget about the game aspect of the Honours project. By constantly going between Maya and UDK it allows me to judge my rate of progression as well as check for alterations required in textures, models or their positioning in UDK to create a believable environment.

Asset Creation Process

As stated previously; for this project I intend to create my game assets as lower-poly models that are still easily recognisable as the intended object. The lower-poly aspect will allow me to build a higher volume of assets which I believe is required to make a scene appear more natural. In striving for quantity, some quality is sacrificed, but I feel that the level of assets that I can create in this way is still more than acceptable for the game.

My first step is to find a reference image. In Forget-Me-Not I intend to base most of the furniture items on ones that were owned by my grandfather. Above is an image of a cabinet that he used to have in his living room. I will use this photograph as a rough reference for the creation of the 3D model. 

I started modelling this cabinet with the intentions of the player being able to open every compartment or drawer that it has. Although this will require a lot of trigger work in UDK, it will increase the amount of areas in the game to explore as well as make the environment more believable. I began the modelling process with a cuboid and extruded the basic shape of the object out. I made further extrusions into the body of the cabinet to allow space for drawers and doors to be fitted later on.

As with the previous stage, I used a basic cuboid shape and extruded it to fit gaps I cut into the object. I kept the topology of the drawers and doors simple so as to make UV'ing the assets slightly less taxing in the later stages.

Here is a quick render in Maya of how the basic shape would appear in the game engine, I was happy with the basic geometry and object silhouette so decided to move on to the texturing phase of asset creation.

From here, I separate the modular assets from each other to make it easier for the UV mapping process. After moving the modular pieces into place I can gauge how many textures will be needed to complete the object. For the above object, I made it relatively symmetrical, so the final cabinet will only require 6/7 textures to complete.

I planar mapped each area of the cabinet, with more space on the UV dedicated to the more seen areas of the cabinet with less space for  areas like the back. Although the UV map is slightly messy, it should still deliver a smooth texture in the final product.

Pictured above is a simple texture that I will be using for the cabinet as a placeholder for the looming progress presentation pitch that I have next week. Although simple, this texture should hopefully give off a realistic enough look to the cabinet.

At this stage I like to export the model into UDK and build the final texture in the Unreal Content browser by creating a material. For the sake of this blog post I will apply the texture in Maya and render it out to deliver a better lit version of the final model.

This is the process I will be using to create my assets for Forget-Me-Not. This may not be the most efficient way of producing assets, but this process is one I have used throughout my time working in Maya and UDK thus I have become accustomed to it. The final render looks like a convincing cabinet that wouldn't look out of place in my game environment.

I hope this insight into my development process was interesting. I really enjoyed analysing my development process as it is an area I have never really reflected on in the past. 

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.

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