Sunday, 31 January 2016

FMP 3 - Everything is on fire!

This week paid off massively! Me and Haz managed to work through a blueprint that allows the fire character to burn across ropes, and it feels really fun to do. This was perhaps one of the hardest pieces of blueprinting as it required a lot of checking of when the player enters certain collision volumes but we managed to find a way that it could work (probably not the best way to program it but at least it is functional for now.)

Here is a quick video anyway showing the mechanic in motion:

As you can see there are some other things working aswell, like picking up objects such as keys and pushing and burning crates if the fire guy comes too close. Here is a bit of a blueprint dump to show the different systems are working so far:

Rope Burning Construction BP

First up is the big one: the rope burning blueprint, this may not be the most efficient way of getting the effect we wanted but it's the only way we could get working for now. It works exactly how it is supposed to aswell without any major changes needed later down the line. The image above shows the construction script, which creates the spline and sets the location of the end meshes to either end of the spline, it also handles the size of the rope's trigger volumes which can be altered in the editor.

The next image is the main graph, this is the bit which taken the most time as we couldn't figure out how to make sure the character didn't keep reactivating the trigger at the other end. This meant the fire guy would just travel back and forth on the rope endlessly, we fixed this by creating an 'OnWire' variable that would disable the input while true aswell as other checks that detect the direction of travel.

Rope Burning BP

Another thing that needed to be worked on was a key object that could unlock gates, this was fairly simple to figure out I just needed to set the key to the same character that interacted with it, something that did need to be tweaked however was that if the character is switched that the key stopped following, so I needed to add in a section that made the key keep following the character that picked it up, even after the player has switched character. (Yet another example of how switchable characters cause extra challenges)

Key Object BP
Another mechanic needed for the fire guy was the burnable crates, which set alight when the player passes near a crate, this is used as the focus of a few puzzles. The blueprint works by triggering an event when the player gets close enough, that then creates a sphere trace for other burnable objects around it and triggers a similar event in those objects.

Burning Crate BP
I also made this BP a bit more flexible by adding in some construction script allowing me to swap out the static mesh and change the trigger bounds. This means I can get a lot more than just burnable crates from this BP and create burning planks, fences and platforms.

Burning Crate Construction BP

Here is also a google drive folder containing some full res images, for your viewing pleasure:

Google Drive - Blueprint Screens

Next week, continued blueprinting plus some level design. :)

Sunday, 24 January 2016

FMP 2 - Making the characters switch

This week I have been working inside UE4 creating blueprints for the switching character mechanics, some of the work was already done for me by Hazrat as he shown me how to create the character switch at its most basic level, I then worked on refining this and adding flexibility for respawning and an AI follow setup for the two characters.

One issue I had to overcome with the AI though was adding the ability to switch it off in certain areas where it would be annoying for the other character to get in the way, I placed in volumes that can toggle the AI update in order to control the effect, this just made it a bit easier to navigate the puzzles.

Here is a better look at the game mode blueprint I have been working on, here I dealt with the character switching logic as well as the AI update and character spawning.

This taken a good few days to figure out! Sometimes the character would switch incorrectly after hitting the switch key of times and then both pawns would be unprocessed which basically meant that nothing happened. This required a little string of logic to check which character was controlled after a switch happens.

A lot of this current work is quite a bit different from what we usually do on the course so it's taking a bit longer to get right, I am really enjoying spending a bit more time on the blueprinting though, as I've been able to figure out some new things pretty quickly, I have never programmed a game mode before and I don't think I have even scratched the surface of what could else could be done with it. Some other things which have crossed my mind though include a collectables system, more dynamic AI or a save system, all things which would serve better inside a gamemode blueprint where it's easier to manage.

Next time I work on setting things on fire... in game obviously.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

FMP 1 - First Steps!

Well new year, new project. This is it now, our last project at DMU. I am working with Amber Jamieson and Hazrat Bilal on a vertical slice of a potential game, based around the concept of using a fire character and a water character together to complete puzzles. Our first goal is to create a playable prototype by creating the game mechanics using UE4's blueprints, this will be mine and Hazrat's job for the first month or so.

I will mainly be making posts over at our group blog for FMP, so this is mainly just a quick explanation of what we are planning to do. If you want a bit more knowledge on what is going with this project read our blog here:

Week One

Quite some time ago now we tried to come up with concepts for our FMP, to see what wacky or weird ideas we could come up with, the main guide though is that is must be interesting and not something which would have been seen a lot as a project theme. An idea I come with was a simple puzzle game that would put the player in control of a little flame character, where you would have to avoid getting put out by rain. This was later expanded into a fire and water character in which the interactions between the two and the environment would be the focus of the gameplay, this approach gave us a lot more flexibility on where we could take the concept.

Another aspect we wanted to include was narrative, the gameplay decisions we made gradually lent itself to a natural narrative which included an NPC character called Olive, who the fire and water character guide through the world as her guardians.

Our plan for FMP is to create a small vertical slice of the full game, so just one small level that will introduce the concept to potential backers. This will be highly polished and only show one or two central mechanics aswell as basics of any art direction, narrative and any other important factors that show what the full game could be.

Our mechanics are quite simple and are designed to interact with each other, something we come up with was the idea of that the fire guy's movements usually focuses on upwards movement because of the lack of weight where the water guy usually falls through gaps and can't jump, but has weight allowing him to push objects and tip scales.

Come back next week where I will run through how we implemented some of the basic mechanics inside UE4!