Games production analyse

All games productions start in the same way with an idea, the idea is the foundation of everything to come and every idea needs a plan. So, the first stage is to plan out this idea how are we going to make this? Budget? Who is going to play it? And how? The planning stage is the starting point to get these answers. A well written out plan summary, art work and budget is the best way to get an idea off the ground and running. This stage is the most important because how can you start to create something you’re not sure what is? The outcome would be lots of random junk slapped together and probably not what you started out to do. When it comes to planning the more detail, this section is of your idea the better chance of an outcome you have and example of this would be your budget, how would you go about getting someone to invest money into your game if you don’t have a planned-out budget to create it. Planning is the foundation to build your idea and the point of it is to show what you intend to create and do.

So, you got you plan and your ready to jump in heads first but what’s next? Where do you start?

Pre-Production, this is where the fun can begin after all the hard work planning your idea.

In this stage you will produce all your art work, storyboards some early prototypes and even a milestone schedule. Pre-Production is basically a building map of what you are creating and when it time it needs to be done by, a structured design work of the idea and how it looks like and will be going to be created.

This stage really starts to bring the idea to life and showing the pathway to the end product and each milestone to achieve this.

 

Now its time to jump into Production, using what you learnt in the planning and every design and time allocations you have in your pre-production its finally time to get to work creating everything for real. This stage is where you will model all your designs, record visual and sound, develop all the mechanics, render and put everything together. production can be one of the most stressful stages because you will be working to time constraints and the closer to deadlines the most pressure is added to complete your tasks.

 

Right so, you have finished production and your idea is alive and some of the pressure is off but you are not finished just yet there is still some way to go the next stage is testing

In this stage you will test your game with your team and get a feel for, this stage is crucial because this is where you will get done your major bug testing and bug squashing with your testers. You don’t want your game to be buggy and unplayable, after this the game will need some polishing here and there to tweak things to make sure they look right and work right.

 

Pre-launch, your game is out there being tested by players outside of your team in ALPHA and BETA, these stages get players playing your game and reporting any bugs you may have missed and also feedback on the game play, this is extremely important because again you want your game to be playable and you want the player to enjoy it. This stage also gives players a teaser of what’s to come and get them excited for the official release.

Other things that are done in this stage is advertising, get people hyped about your game, get it out there for people to view and build an audience and a following, attend game conventions and talk to gamers and companies, it’s time to show of your game.

 

Now you have all your feedback, your following and your bug reports from ALPHA and BETA now comes the launch stage. This stage is important because you need to get anything fixed before the game launches to your audience, it’s time to take all that feedback and get to work putting it into your game, major bug fixing and squashing, polishing and then finally it will be time to master launch your game for the masses, you have come from an idea to a finished game ready for the players to get their teeth into.

 

Now are you done with your game? Its out there being played you can move on, right? Nope the next stage is post-production. Normal this stage goes on for as long as the company or people have faith in the game or if players are still playing it, games like Call of Duty and Gears of war this stage goes on for years. This stage is for new content development like DLC maybe you want to add some new stuff or your game needs balancing or patching due to updates. Your game is only finish when players stop playing it some games like Minecraft will always be in post-production as it’s a game that will always have updates and add-ons. So, your post production stage will always exist if the game is still being played, its always important to keep your game up to date with software patches so the game still runs.

-3DSMAX-

 -modeling-

board1
board2
board3
board5
board4
texture sample
board6

Just heading strait in and starting designing and messing around the first hoverboard or (Hoover-Deck) by the name in the game. Just playing around in 3DsMax here seeing what I can come up with from the mood boards in the design project document, unwrapped the model with the modifier (unwrap UVW) and throw it into photoshop just to play with some textures as a base to start from but after adding the material in material editor and applying it through Bitmap I am still struggling with adding the material to the model. 

After a quick recheck on a tutorial I finally figured it, again nothing serious here just playing about on getting to grips with unwrapping and adding texture to the model. I have a bit more of a clear path in front of me for the creation of the game.

some wire frame of the menus

MAIN MENU

THE STORE MENU

MY STUFF MENU

The wireframe were quickly drawn together in Unreal engine using the blueprints widget, then quickly dropping different objects from the menu bar.

One thing I have to make sure and keep in mind is when creating the Menus for the game is to make sure all the menus are the right screen size. No my endless runner will be for Xbox so my menus will be in native HD 1080p, So I need to set this drop the drop down menu first before dragging buttons and other common widgets into the frame, The images below show this process.

-Building basic assets-

With the provided framework of the basic game build, I wanted to get started working on some basic assets to create my level. The picture below shows my process by taking a 10cm plane, adding section and created the cure at one edge after this I simply added a mirror mod a few times to create the skateboard half pipe shape.

My idea is to build a fast-paced downhill course made up of a few different sections which will be randomized by unreal engine, my hope is to increase the speed an object in the level to create a difficulty setting.

level1
level2.mirror
level5
level3
level6
level7

The assets here are built in 10cm squares with a width of 60cm, giving the player 4 lanes to jump between while avoiding object and collecting score during their run. With these section constructed above I will export them one by one as FBX files and import into unreal engine as see how they fit with the given frame work of an endless runner.

-Particle Effect Creation in UE4-

3D reflection

Introduction into creating particle effects in unreal engine 4

From the lecture run through from Alex and the provided video tutorial I was able to get a short crash course into particle effects creation and began learning the different aspect of the creation and key terminology.

A particle

is a point in space with behaviours

 

Particle system

Is the assets inside your content browser

 

Emitter actor

Is the object which will be in your scene that will hold your reference to your particles

Particle system component

Is a component inside of a blueprint that’s holds a reference to a particle system

 

Cascade

Particle editor in unreal engine 4

Emitter

Is a Colum of a single aspect of an overall particle effect

 

Module

Is a module component of an emitter that defines a single aspect of behavior  

In a module there are always 3 basics that have to be there to create your particle which are

Required, Spawn and Lifetime

Module execute from top to bottom which mean if you add the same module twice the bottom one will over ride the first top one you placed

 

 

Type data modules

These control what kind of particle you want to create, only one can exist on each module

 

-Standard sprit emitter

 

-GPU sprite emitter

are the same as standard one except modules are calculated on the graphics card so you can have tens of thousands and perpetually millions of particles in your emitter

 

-Mesh emitter

A mesh that is made up of particles that each have a static mesh attached to them

 

-Beam emitter

Which is choosing points for light to connect, a great way to create lightning

 

-Ribbon emitter

A secondary particle emitter, where the particles leave a ribbon like trail

 

-Anim Trails emitter

Where a character or actor has particle effects as they move

 

Distributions

Ways to handle different types of numbers as the particles are distributed such as size change (constant, min/max values)

A google example of a particle effect

Example of a Emitter actor

Example of the particle system 

The Cascade menu

Creating my own particle effects

  • I started by creating a folder called particle systems in the content browser and another folder inside that called sprite, created a new material, opened it material editor and changed it from opaque to translucent

New material

Change translucent 

Added nodes,

(RadialGradiantExponential),

(particle colour),

(multiply)

and plugged these into my material to create my desired Sprite which my particle effect will be created from.

Compiled and save my finish simple material 

Back in the content browser in the same folder (Sprite) and created a new particle system from the drop down menu and named this sparks as my first creation will be some falling sparks. Doubled clicked to open this in Cascade which is the particle effect creation menu.

New Particle system 

Added material to Required

once in the menu I started with the top required tab which is basically how you add a material into the menu, so I added my material through this option and strait away it create a very simple particle effect which you can see working in the game screen.

Example of this working in game

Click the carousel for descriptions

The spark particle effect.

I added more of a glow and played with the spawn to create more sprite.

The finished particle effect, with added collision and light effect.

Difficulty's

Creating the sparks particle effect and introduction to Cascade  was a very easy to understand and pick up from the tutorial and I can say with confidence that I 80% fully understand how to create it again on my own, however I did struggle with the Colour of life tab and adding the colour to my sprites, this was due to the menu on the tutorial being very different to the one I was using. I took what was being taught and applied it to some of the setting I could but feel this was total fluke it worked, so moving forward with my next particle effect  need to seek advice on this colour of life tab and look into more tutorials so can fully understand how to get this right with confidence.

Dreams

The whole process of creating this spark was a very enjoyable process with an outcome I am happy with, but with this said I now want to push further and create one of each of the types of particle effects and really get a full understanding of there processors so I can make them with confidence.

My plan moving forward is to follow the next few tutorial videos, get some advice on the colour of life tab and get to creating more effects. At the end of this process I would like to have a saved file full of working effects I can use in my game and beyond.

UN-WRAPPING THE TANK

So its finally time for the next stage in my Tank  model build, the unwrapping phase.

In this phase I will be turning my 3D mesh into a flat 2D map for texturing later in Photoshop, this is the process of basically turning my model into a box net and unfolding it on to a flat surface.

So after I loaded up my tank model into 3Ds max, I selected the entire model and added an Unwrap UVW modifier by selecting it from the list of modifiers.

Once the modifier was added I was able to open up the UV's editor menu, but upon opening this I was shocked to see what seems to be a broken UV map of my tank but this all part of the process.

Now the simple fix to get the UV map looking like this is simply to click the button (Flatten by polygon) after this you get a nice looking arrangement of the map inside the allocated space of the 1-1 ratio box.

After I have my nice looking UV map that i am happy with, I added the checked pattern to the model in the drop down menu to the right of the editor. 

Now after I did this some of the squared textures across my tank were stretched and to get a nice even texture after this phase I needed to make sure that squares matched around my tank as much as a can, so in the unwrap options I changed the checker tiling from 1.0 to 4.0.

Now I have a nice looking checker texture across my tank model, I could go a lot further here and start to move the vertices around to fit absolutely perfect but this is a low poly tank so I think this will work just fine.

The last stage to get this ready to texture is to render the UV map out, which I did through the tools tab and select Render out UV which gives you this image to the left, I then saved this as TGA file to open in photoshop for texturing at another point in time. 

Introduction to Quixel

So toady we had a small lesson with Quixel, an awesome software for creating any material you will ever need, over time with my endless runner game I know I will be using this software a lot but for now here is a small crash course into the epic software of Quixel.

so first screen is your project creation, The mix. a Mix is a folder where all your created materials will be saved.

Here is a basic layout of the software's main window with a material added into it.

To import a material into your main window, simply select online in the upper left corner and search for the material you desire, click on it and press the download button.

Once the material has downloaded it will appear in your local library , and simply double click it to added it to your workspace (viewport).

Here we can see multiple materials added to the view port, every time you add a materials the software creates a new layer for each one just like photoshop and each layer is fully customizable using the setting to the right, Threshold is the height of your layer scrolling this allows you to combine each layer of texture to different heights to create the desired look. The other settings are pretty much self explanatory such as radius (size) or preserved detail ( the amount of desired detail) and ALBEDO changes the colour of the texture/martial.

this software is extremely slimlined to be very simple and I look forward to see what i create with on for my endless runner game.

With these options you are able to change the back ground of the window to help light your matrail in the right way.

When you export your material you are given the option of what layers and effects you wish to export, upon a successful export you will see the material in your fold like the above example which is all ready to import into your unreal engine  project as a finished material. which will be ready to tweak in the material editor in unreal engine. the whole process from start to finish is not only very fun to play with but very very simple, didn't have any difficulty's with this software and found the whole process enjoyable. I look forward to using it lots more in the future. 

‘          crunch culture’ in the gaming industry

 

 

This term is retentively new to me so, what is crunch culture in the gaming industry?

Realistically it should be a term for an unlawful way to treat staff members and artist within the games industry , Sixteen years ago  a partner of EA released the information on the crunch culture of the games industry. Information regarding mandatory 13 hour work days  and exploited practises with in company's, which to me is very shocking in this day and age which is why I use the term unlawful.

This all comes from from companies announcing games to the public when at that given time they are just a concept. This puts the companies under stress from the players who badger them through social media for updates and release dates from the advertised titles, then this flows down the chain to the game developers who are given insane working hours to get games finished faster to coincide with players want of the game and the money involved in the sales. And example of this at this  moment in time is cyberpunk 2077, since the release which was pushed back several times due to the game not being finished has been release and received mixed reviews especially ones playing on console saying the graphics are not what was expected or advertised and the finished game is full of glitches and bugs. Even now the developers of this game are still working on the new console version which are to be release at some stage this year. This is why game should not be made public knowledge until they are at least 60-100% complete to stop all that pressure on companies to smash out games at lighting speeds that create ungodly work hour days for the developers. Games are an art form and you should never rush art or all you end up with is an unfinished piece of crap no one likes but paid for anyway due to the whole new pre-order system, which is a way for investors to make there money before a game is even half way through being made.

 

The future of gaming I feel that this situation of ‘Crunch culture’ will only get worse as we move forward, we are a collective of consumers that want everything now and zero wait times, Amazon prime for example.

Would only be supporting games that have been created in a creative environment with the purpose of creating a good game, so if we have knowledge of a game created in a zero work-life balance we should not be supporting it, we should be boycotting it no matter what even if its a new COD game.

But as we move forward and more and more people join and train to be a game developer  and at any stage weather that’s an environment artist or an animation rigger there are literately  10,000s of people that can do that job so if you work in a bad environment with crunch and feel that the company is exploiting you, I feel that that company knows you are replaceable. So you are more than likely to work those 13 hours a day for fear of your job. So with this I think the crunch will get worse down the line. Crunch culture is something that needs more light shinning it to help put a stop to this also being able to pre order a game before its even finished is also something that needs to stop, these are just really bad practises that create an industry of hard and bad working ethics.

Animation & Rigging

Within Blender

So, Within my Endless runner game I am designing and creating I will need a character animated on a hoover board, jumping, landing and pulling of tricks or stunts. We haven't really covered much animation on this first year apart from Bens lessons were I learnt about State machines and basic animation principles within Unreal Engine 4, but I will need to go further if I am going to create the desired animation. After some research into which program software would be best I found that animating inside Blender look quiet simple so I spend a full day watching tutorials on animation and rigging using Blender and following along with the processors.

I downloaded a few full character builds from artstation.com and imported them to Blender, now following along with the tutorial video and added a full skeleton armature using the process of Rigify which is Blenders simplest way of creating an armature. The armature already exists with in the engine I simply just clicked apply, deleted the bones which I didn't need,  added automatic weights and generated a rig mesh. This process which seems simple even to write took me hours to understand and had to re-do over a few times as I could not figure out the bones right within the rig mesh. After a full of day of stress and getting nowhere I decided that I had over complicated my task written in my Brief so decided this was a waste of time because after everything the rig didn't work and I couldn't animate my character, enough was enough. 

LEVEL DESIGN TASK

So I have been set the task to design and build my own level using any game with a level editor, for my task I have chosen to use Unreal Engine 4 as I feel the more opportunity I have to use this software the better I will become at using it.

Starting out with some very simple map ideas, at this stage I have no idea what I am even going to create. I am starting with a total blank canvas so, I decided the level needs purpose first off, what is the objective of the level? do you collect things? fight monsters or a boss? I am not designing a game so I need to keep it simple. 

The idea is very simple, the level will be a path way to another location. Now this isn't really interesting as its just get from A to B, so how can I create something that is visually pleasing or have a point. there has to be a reason the player has to or wans to make this journey.

A pathway that leads to a destination that is seen by the player in the Hight of the distance, a castle? Building? at this stage it is still unclear but I want the player to take this journey up a winding path with an end point  at this structure at the top

I started researching gothic castles, and I have finally decided after creating this mood board that this journey I want the player to take in my level will be a cinematic horror walk through some sort of devastation and jagged rocks. Still unclear what to build at the end of the level (top of the hill) but I do want doors to slowly open revealing a bright red light from inside.

As I create each mood board I start to get a good picture of how this level is going to look and the art direction I would like to take, although I am still unsure about using a church as this is an idea I have worked with before and I would like to keep things fresh for this task.

Now I wanted to start looking into the colour of this level and the overall tone, so I did some research into omnibus colours and horror schemes.

Sound studio

If there isn't really anything to do within my level except for walking, I need to make sure the player gets a feel for the environment. I need to make sure its scary or maybe even tells a story just through the sounds of the level, so I spent some time looking around and gathering sounds for my level, again at this stage I don't know if I will use these sounds but they do give a feel for the direction I want to go in with this task.

421852__inspectorj__crowd-screaming-a.wa
404482__brainclaim__evil-laugh-2
553485__victornatas__scary-atmosphere.wa
zombie scream
217740__norameld__horror-whisper-voice-n
324262__edemson86__morphinehorror
horror sounds

OUT THE LEVEL

BLOCKING

Its time to get some action into building the level, starting off with blocking out the basic shape using basic geometry. My first big problem is I feel the level is massive and way to big for a short story driven walk level I am trying to go for but with this said I am liking to start of the build.