2017/06/30

Conversation Blueprints!

Hi! It's Lussy.

We're busier than ever this month. While we couldn't significantly progress with our projects, I had a little time to practice UE4 Blueprint scripting, so I created a conversation system using the new String Tables in UE 4.16. It's still in progress, but here are some features:

  • Each line of NPC dialogue can have up to four possible replies from the player. The conversation itself is saved into structs that feed off String Tables.
  • There are stats. Player replies can add to or subtract from a stat, and replies can also be tied to a stat requirement; for example, if your knowledge is under 5, a reply will be grayed out. I went with one stat this time, and it's "Personal", which is code name for how many times the player talked with an NPC and wasn't a complete ass. More stats can be added as needed.
  • I based the camera on Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - the camera can be rotated during conversation, and is locked to the middle point between the player character and the NPC. There's a smooth interpolation when a dialogue begins and ends.
  • Greetings above the head - we gave each NPC a random personality out of 4 possible types: Normal, Wise, Upbeat and Lazy. Influenced by Animal Crossing.
    The personality type determines the greeting that appears above the NPC's head when walking close to them. We plan to include a system that lets NPCs insert random, personality-specific words into their sentences, or change adjectives to their own most preferred word. 

I still need to work on making this a more open system; for example, right now it's not possible to converse with more than one person at a time. I also need to figure out a way to tie the conversations to certain situations that come up in the game. Another feature I'd like to add is an optional animation for each line, for each character involved in the conversation.

If this becomes stable, we plan to use it in some of our projects, when it's appropriate to add such a system.

2017/05/31

Unreal 4.16 & 3D printing!

Hi!

This month was also very busy. We're currently working on an outsourced project, and that takes up a lot of our time, but at least we're using Unreal 4 and Substance Painter, so we feel at home. The extra practice doesn't hurt, either.


Unreal 4 got updated again! We've been waiting for volumetric lights and fog, and 4.16 finally delivered them. They will be useful for Lemniscate, since we've used fake godray effects for all the lamps, and this will make it easier and hopefully cost less in terms of hardware. It also looks cool.


In other news, we got our hands on a simple CTC Prusa 3D printer! We're still calibrating it little by little, messing up lots of prints but nailing others. Geril likes the DIY-aspect of it, and the fact that almost all components can be replaced and upgraded, just like a PC. Lussy likes it because once it works reliably, it will be very useful for cosplay.

Putting the printer together wasn't easy (it took about 8 hours), but we've learned a lot about 3D printing. We're still in the process of attaching extra cooling fans, so our prints are imprecise, but here's a bust of one of our characters, Beat!


Have a nice day!

2017/04/29

Project Contrivance overworld progress!

We have lots of work unrelated to our own projects, and we've been networking with other artists. That slowed our progress with Project Contrivance considerably, but we haven't stopped completely.


We've been putting together the game's story for a while now, and I'll share the version we've liked the best.


The game plays out inside a person's head. The players play as two microscopic robots that are sent out to fix the person's faulty implanted chips and other artificial additions. We're already working on boss fights that explain the various things that happen inside the levels.


The overworld will be divided into multiple chunks that give players entry to the game's levels. Because of this division into multiple parts, we can play with the post process effects and color settings of each section. The overworld's fleshy appearance will likely be seeping into the levels themselves as well, through little cracks and damaged parts.

 
Geril loves creating twisted, disgusting things, so he felt great making the pulsing, inflating flesh-columns and the light-up brain nerves.

The design is very unfinished, background objects are absent, there are no gates for the levels, no puzzles, and the overworld is not the final size, but much smaller. But it's a start, and good enough for testing.

2017/03/29

Project Contrivance overworld thoughts!

This month, we've been thinking and working on Project Contrivance's structure. We decided to base the game on an overworld that houses all the levels - kind of like in the N64 era.

Level progression would be driven by beating levels and gaining resources for opening up more levels. The overworld would contain puzzles of its own, so you wouldn't have to beat every level to proceed, you could gather the remainder of the resources in the overworld, allowing you to bypass levels you don't like.
Each section of the overworld would end with a boss that goes with, and explains the previous levels' theme. Beating the end boss would open up the next section.

Other things we've thought about were giving players the ability to color their characters by finding special items in the overworld, adding competitive elements to multiplayer, and opening up bonus levels.

This system was inspired by the N64 era games like Super Mario 64. We'll show you more once we've progressed enough with development.

In other news, the Nintendo Switch has arrived, and it appears to be successful. We like the console's idea, and enjoy playing on it, so we've decided to keep the Joy-cons in mind when designing the game. We've even managed to make them work on our PCs so we can test the game with them!


Stay fresh!

2017/02/28

Co-op puzzles in Project Contrivance!

Hi!

In the last month, we worked to implement local split-screen multiplayer in our puzzle game project that we dubbed Project Contrivance for now. The levels that are designed for two players can be played with a second player, or by switching between controlling two characters in single player.

Swapping between players
We've added various nodes and boxes to spice up the gameplay: there are and, or, delay, inverter nodes and switches, and boxes that can be picked up that contain these functionalities. These boxes can be placed into sockets and will connect into the circuit, and in there they work just like the regular nodes.

Here is a long playthrough video of a test level where we fool around:

The little noises you hear are the player characters' form of communication: they have a positive and negative sound, and players can trigger these whenever they want to. We plan to add gestures to them, too.

Falling into deadly liquid
Crushed by spikes
...physics...
These GIFs are pre-alpha and about everything may be subject to change. We're going for functionality first, instead of graphics.

Our big dilemma right now is deciding between deferred and forward rendering. We don't know what the Nintendo Switch is capable of yet, and deferred rendering is more costly, so I guess we'll have to wait and see, but it'd be nice to know in advance. We could just use deferred rendering and upscale, but we're not sure if it's worth it. With forward rendering, we'd lose SSAO and screen-based reflections (among other minor things), but by using MSAA, we could get a more sharp picture, which fits the theme (machines) perfectly. Forward rendering also handles transparency better.

Deferred rendering
Forward rendering

Here's a gameplay video with forward rendering:

Of course, on PC there will be graphics settings, so this won't be an issue, but planning for a console(s?) is different.

2017/01/31

Puzzles!

Hi!

We’ve been progressing with the puzzle game project mentioned in the last post. We’re learning a lot about how to make stable things, how to manage a project and time, and how to optimize games for lower-end machines. We have a couple of game mechanics ready, so the bulk of the work will be to build levels using these mechanics.

This puzzle game has a simple goal: get to the end of each stage by solving puzzles and avoiding obstacles. For now, most of the problems are solved by pushing buttons with the character, or placing blocks onto them, with some light platforming mixed in. The whole idea is to mimic programming/digital circuits with the puzzles - think logic gates, nodes.

Here are some gifs so you can check out the mechanics with placeholder art:

A basic level's layout
 
Breakable glass

Playing with momentum

Picking up and carrying items

Opening secret passages

Utilizing moving platforms

Obtaining the bonus box - this box grants the player extra points if taken to the exit
 Many ways to die:




Finishing the level:




We will put the new skills we learned to good use in our bigger projects. Please look forward to more updates in the near future!