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Journals related to my freelance work

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WoA - Model Pack

This is a holding thread, will be updated in 5hours once the theme has been released. I will have screenshots and video of the models I am making available for the gamejam. So check up in a few hours.




"The Harvest" Goes Live

So, the game we made for our "Week of Awesome" entry has finally been put up on greenlight. We have been working for several months porting it over to UE4 since the project was left aside when the primary programmer got hired on for Arma. Now that has been completed I now have a new team and we are moving development to UE4. We have all the primary systems over, but I am redoing the artwork to ensure fits with UE4's pipeline and fits well with my desires for the games look/feel. If you want to give us some support head on over and click the vote button: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=448884478 Here is a snippet of what the games premise is: Born from a passion to have a quality farming game on the PC, we bring you "The Harvest". However, why stop with farming when you can add espionage to the mix, throw in some magic and perhaps a dastardly deed or two as well to spice up your life. Having graduated from your training as an agent for the kingdom, you have been dispatched into the world to make a difference and benefit the kingdom. Your first posting is to a neutral town settled in a deep mountain valley and resting right in the middle of the only mountain pass between your kingdom and the neighboring nation. A small plot of land has been purchased on your behalf for you to establish your deep cover identity as a new farmer to the area, engage with the locals, watch for incursions by the opposing kingdom, sway opinions to your advantage and find new opportunities to push your country's agenda. Amidst all of this, unsettling signs of darkness are making themselves known. And the video from the actual week of awesome.




My first Kickstarter - Precur

So, this week I have participated in my first ever KS. CLICK HERE TO VIEW IT If you are interested show us some support and get a package! Comments welcome!




WoA: Post mortom (The Good, the Bad, the UGLY)

So, the following will be a comprehensive guide to what went down this week, the good, the bad, the ugly! THE GOOD:
Production times were fairly fast. Within a day we had a prototype in place and the level was detailed to its most basic form. We wanted a simple puzzle game where you used light to kill zombies who were attacking you. You could not kill the zombies directly, but rather you had to use the environment to make these things happen. I felt this was a solid concept and went running with it within the first day or so. Luckily I had this week off so I had plenty of time to just sit back and gamedev. However, I did have to remove two days of game dev time to assist with some social life stuff. So here is the list o things that went well:
UE4 engine was simple and smooth to use
Established gamedev team really helped since we knew what each of us was strong at, and what our weaknesses were
Communication through DISCORD and Google Hangouts was crucial
Industry tools helped us to produce content super fast (UE4, 3Dcoat, Maya LT)
P4 allowed us to share content and push updates within a repo system
Sound design was 100% custom and quality (credit to iCompose)
Concept met all the themes!! (not something I have done before in one of these comps)
We had fun while doing this, and we honestly were proud of the game we ended up producing.

As with anything, there is good and bad with all things that happen. Most of the bad was related to time frames, schedules, and distance based communication. Several times we tried to use a tracking system to keep ourselves on target, but these types of systems require somebody to force everybody to use them, and if you dont have that person in place than its just randomized stuff being placed on a website (which was our case). It also didnt help that we had a great concept, but no real thought as to how it would play out in the big picture. Day 4 we figured out that we had a much more complex and robust system that we could use with such a simple concept of "triggers". If we would have thought of this in day 1.... seriously we would have had a product that might be 5x better. We were adding game logic right up until the last hour of the competition. So here is a broken down list:
Distance based communication can be difficult if the points are not conveyed properly
Schedules of the team members had to be coordinated
A project of our size required ALOT of time. We could have gone with a simple concept and saved days worth of work. Perhaps even had it more fleshed out so it was smooth.
Bugs were prevalent since we were adding code at crazy rates. Content driven dev teams need to stop and focus on bug fix, however I still feel we did well given the time we had.
Fully realize the concept before you make any choices. We could have spent a full day on this and saved more time. The original Idea was so solid that we just ran with it not knowing what potential we had until we tried to figure out methods of making the zombie chase fun. Again, knowing this on day 1 could have meant an entirly polished game.

And, there was no ugly this time around. We were happy with the product we put forward and were pleased with how it turned out. Gameplay is enjoyable even if it is hard, and you always have the option of direct connect to play with friends. (HINT there is no limit right now on how many people connect, so go wild) This fact alone means there a bit of replay factor depending on who you are playing with. Is the idea fully fleshed out? Nope, but I think we have a solid concept that could be pushed to market within a month easily. I will upload a video shortly showing off the development process, what it takes to get a game from 0 to this, and lastly just our teams thoughts on what we did and how we could do better next time.
VIDEOS: In-game commentary on how the levels were designed:
Look at the two primary characters art assets/animations:




WoA: Day 7 (done)

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/41065/LightOfFelin.zip Link for the dl, and I am done. KEY FEATURES TO NOTE:
WASD for movement
E to pickup and place down pots
Spacebar to use your Ultimate ability only when your soul bar is full
LMB for igniting lights and killing zombies.
Connect to another player via direct connect. They need to be in a game first before you attempt to connect
Server host can reset the entire game via the ESC button and RESET option

Any questions, comments, or concerns please post them here.




WoA: Day 4, 5, and 6 (Boatloads of info)

So, with all the madness and my really locked down schedule I have not made a post everynight. However, this is going to be the ONE big post before the final post tomorrow. So lets go over what has changed:
Added new animations for player (15 to be exact)
Added new model for Zombie
Added vase
Added ability to pickup and place down the vase (e)
Added physics to the vase so it can roll (cant break it YET)
Added custom dynamic music system (plays level of sounds based on events)
Added custom sound FX for almost everything.... (doors, bricks, rocks, grass, dirt, walking, moaning, groaning, attacks)
Added and/or logic controlers allowing for gates and doors and a whole boatload of other things to be created
Added indiana jones themed event
Added UI elements (hearts, soul meter)
Added main menu (so you can get to the core game)
Added checkpoint spawn system.
Added custom event system that allows for tracking of events (the director)
Added custom spell effects for all three spells
Added disintegration effects to the death of zombies in the light
Added new types of lights
Collect souls of the fallen undead via orbs
Heal yourself with potions that you may find randomly throughout the world.

As you can see this is a fair ammount of crap. So lets go into detail of what the game is:

The game is set in a world where darkness rules the land. However the ancient order, "Watchers of Light" had created a machine that would keep the darkness at bay. For some reason, a year or so ago the machine had stopped working, and the order was unable to reach the machine due to th emassive hords of undead. You have been chosen by the order to journey to the machine and find out what is wrong, and if possible restart the machine to save the world from total destruction.

Play with up to 4 players in a CO-OP mission
Journey through the land solving puzzles and avoiding the undead to reach the final challenge

Key Notes:
While we did use UE4, everything in this gameJam was created during the gameJam. I think this speaks volumes to what my team was able to accomplish. We have work in that would take normal teams a month. They have dedicated countless hours over the course of this week and I really owe them for that. We have created yet another game for our portfolios, and one that I can personally be proud of. Even the music and sound are 100% custom. Our sound engineer spent a day creating a system that would change the type of song that was playing based off of the zombies that were on the gamefield. This adaptive type of feature is normally reserved for AAA titles. So I am happy that we had the chance to use it here.

With little less than 24 hours we have the following to complete:
Detail the level and make sure lighting is baked
Create the end Event and ensure it works for Game over and You win scenarios
Troubleshoot some bugs related to animations and click happy people (i like to click, it helps find bugs!!!)
Playtest each event and ensure it is playable with 1 person, and fun for 4 people.
Finish up textures for all core items and props
Finish up texture for player and allow for colorization for reach player that joins
Add a nickname atop a players head (set at the main menu)
Link the main menu to the level (think this is done, but not sure)
Create 25 custom VO's so that they can be added to cue the player on what is going on. This is the hardest part... but lets hope it runs smoothly.




WoA: Day 3 (End of Day)

So, no day 2 entry because I honestly went to bed at 5am after 15 hours of dev. However, today I come to you with a sweet and sexy video! The following are the changes we have made thus far:
Different types of lights. Always on (you get no credit for kills) - Lightable w/Delay (makes it harder) - Onetime ONLY lights
Zombie Logic - increased their logic to allow crowd control. Also made them less likely to follow you when you are out of sight
Particle effects! This is my fav thing to do, so I added like 50!
Gates/Switches - this is not shown in the video, but its a key part to our puzzle system
Spells - Kick (knockback incoming zombies for no charge!) - Aura (channel cast cost, but keeps those zombies at bay for cheap)
Respawn system
Checkpoint system that lets you revive at your last checkpoint
Sounds - LOADS OF THESE, our sound guy got his computer fixed and is in full swing. Love him so much. Our game sounds 100% professional thanks to him.

I added a ton more, but without me spoiling it all here is a video to show some in game stuff:




Woa: Day 1 (End Of Day)

This day has been fairly productive. The following is what we were able to complete:

Basic AI for zombies (they chase you and spawn!!)
Basic WASD movement for the player
20 art assets (UV mapped and rigged, but no textures)
15 particle systems
1 level
Light/Shadow code (determines if you are in the shadows or in lit areas)

To see a video on what has been done, watch the following. Remember to like + subscribe + share your thoughts!




Woa: Day 1 - Post 1 (Concepts)

So, after the theme drop I feel pretty good about our concept. We will be using UE4 and focusing on the core elements first. This might be the first year I actually stick 100% to the theme. My first task was to setup the repo (P4) and then establish our tasking on the task site we use (activeCollab). From there I went right to work with getting the concept art for the main character. This is what I came up with: More art to come over the course of the night! :)




Gdl - Gamejam - Robodash

Been an interesting weekend. Spent three days making a game for another gameJam. It was rather challenging since I had to create models for stuff that I had yet attempted. Our entire mesh was disjointed and parted out. Each mesh with its own bone set and animations. This caused for some interesting gameplay, but allowed for us to have physics on every bodypart. This means flying swords, arms, legs, you name it!! We went ultra simple with the concept and I kept my art to simple shader stuff. I think it turned out okay for 3 days worth of work, and as usual we have something that could be shipped tomorrow. Check out the video and let me know what you think! Download the game here!

Download can be found on this site.




Pastry Fortress - J007 - MP and Dropships

Been a few weeks since I have posted, mostly because work has been crazy. However, as with all my returns I come bringing gifts of visual joy!
These are dropPods that carry the robot to the ground. When you arrive at your facility you are launched from a launch station. This dropPod is how you and your friends (In MP mode) spawn into the world. We thought the process was so cool we created a button to spawn as many as we liked (without the need for a player spawn). The havoc from such things is what you see before you. However, we did find some bugs that might help us fix some stuff with the normal player spawn: Such as, if you spawn 50 at once (have you really press hard on that spawn button to make that happen) they get stuck in the air somehow. I believe this is authentication to the server, but who knows right now! Either way, we had loads of fun and the game is really coming together now. I will probably provide a video of this entire thing in another blog later in the week.




Pastry Fortress - J006 - Landscapes

After 3 days of putzing around with the grass I have finally created something I am happy with: After playing with the grass I moved into making some fun stuff (this is not final but just a stress test) So, all in all I am happy with this and can move on to the next stuff! Now for animations and shooting objects!




Pastry Fortress - J004 - Turrets + Third Person Shooter

So, most of today was spent getting the Third Person viewport looking solid. I think we have something acceptable: [media] [/media] I also added in the clouds to the primary level and damn they look good!
Lastly, with some help from the UE4 forums we were able to get the HSV system in place so you can modify LED color!! Now our model is damn near 100% customizable.
The goals for the following week will be to finish up all the art assets for the factory, garage, and the generic enemy. Once these are in place it will mostly be gameplay mechanics we touch to make the game fun/enjoyable for the common user. With any luck we should have a playable demo before the 25th.




Pastry Fortress - J003 - Fun with Clouds

A lot has been going on with the game this month. Here is a quick video showing off what I was able to accomplish today. (the music is custom and created by one of my good friends Skyler). [media] [/media] This shows off something we were able to get in the game today. It is a particle based cloud system that has some pretty decent performance despite being a full blown model. Here some screenies of me playing around: (cloudsim 2016 baby)

And here is a screenshot of some other work I have been doing. Clouds are not the only models I have had to add to the game this week:

The turret is fully animated and runs off of the trusty gumdrops!! We also have some Third person shooter mechanics in, but that is for another video and another blog! Thanks for reading and enjoy!




Pastry Party J002 - Update

We have been fairly busy with the game and I wanted to show some progress of what is in place so far. We have added a promo video which you can watch here: It is short and simple and will be used to gather interest early on. I know it doesnt define or explain anything (that comes when we have a few more bits of game design in), but it might grab the attention and show some flash which is all I really want to do right now anyway. Current Gamplay in place:
Placement of turrets
Destruction of turrets
Dynamic Wave system (changes with difficulty without you (designer) setting every round setting
Particle systems on death
Animations for death, spawn, and other
Traps: Poision, Blocker, Turret, Freeze, Catapult
Death and reward of killing gingerbread man
Music scores
Basic Level design
Basic UI
Overworld map concept
Level design

Things to be added:
Garage for customization of robot
robot types (heavy, light, medium)
More gingerbread types with different abilities
Gumdrop types (more for fun!!)
Overworld map design
Game saving/progression
Combat system
Gingerbread (NPC) AI
and much more!!

Doing some crazy stuff today so hope to have another post/video out showing off some cool stuff we have done. Thanks for listening/reading/watching these posts!




Shifting Gears

So, been rather silent as of late. Life has taken a huge toll on me and more or less stripped most of my freetime away. What time I have had available I have tried to do as much gameDev as possible. In my time away I have worked on the following:
Creating a Steampunk 3d asset set
Created a game for a UE4 gameJam
Created my personal freelance portfolio

Here are some screenshots of these things:

Luckily, my exams for work have completed so I will have a bit more time. I am working to get caught up and start fleshing out the portfolio. I also want to start keeping a regular weekly blog. All pipedreams right now, but who knows what will happen as things progress. Anyway, figured I would share with ya guys where I am and how things are going. Here is a video of the devweek for that game "Pastry Party" And, just for fun since my football team won this week! https://www.instagram.com/p/BA8J7RUmrCz/?taken-by=riuthamus




Week of Awesome III - Post Mortem (dont read if you have soft feelings)

[color=#b22222] WARNING: This might sound like a sore loser, but its not!! I am simply throwing out some constructive criticism.[/color]

After spending two years doing this competition I have noticed some very odd things. This post is an attempt to curtail such things and help to create a more "professional" style of GameJam. First off I want to say that I am very pleased we had one of these for this community. After looking at a few others that have been going on this one is ran by people who love and care for this community; which is why I know what I am about to say might sting a bit.

The judging for this competition is seriously off.

To whatever judge wants to comment I would greatly appreciate any insight you might have into the workings of the following:
What scale did you use to judge each category (by scale I mean metric)?
Did you compare each game to AAA standard, to each other, or to your own idea of what a gameJam game should be?
What is your model for how points are assigned?

Some of my observations are as follows:
There is no clear criteria for each category and what leads up to each score. When you want to decide the quality of something (like a score) you need to define the criteria clearly so that the people making it can match up to that. Without this you are just shooting in the dark and hoping to god you hit the target. This is a problem considering this leaves a lot of opinion to play into these categories rather than actual merit. The only category that should be judged based off of opinion is the 5 points at the end.
There is no way to judge difficulty of the game being coded for this event. IE: We went with 3d instead of 2d because we thought it would present more of a challenge and create a better end product. We could have gone with a 2d side scroller like all the other entries and had something far more developed. There should be a category for difficulty and it should weight how hard it was to complete the game attempted. It could be worth 10pts or something and would convey choices made by a team that might be riskier, but provide a better end game instead of making something that everybody else is doing (not to bash anybody who went with side scrollers)
I honestly feel that games are being judged differently based off of opinion. Each category should take the game that best defines that and give it a score of 20. Then judge the rest of the games from there based off of your best in category. (This could be another metric you can use for showing people "Best in Category") For example, if you have a game with EPIC graphics that scored a 20, you cant give a game with 2d thrown together art in 3 min the same score. If you do than it discourages people from doing extra work in those categories and just meeting the bare minimum to get the score. Furthermore, I saw some scores for art that was well below some of the best in the competition (not talking about just mine btw) that got high scores. This was almost a slap in the face. So, are they judging the game off of personal opinions of what the art makes them feel? Or is it using some kind of metric? (SEE POINT 1)

I did not expect to get first place this year, especially after we had some issues with the AI and the final build (6 hours wasted). However, 14th place left a bad taste in my mouth. I don't know, anyway.... I hope the judges can take these comments with an open mind and realize that some of us want clarity. Maybe I am the only one tooting that horn and if so just ignore me, but I don't think I am. We had fun for sure, but next year I would really like to see a bit more defined criteria for the categories.




WoA 3: Day 7 (POST FAIL)

Welp, rendering finally finished and we found out the problem. Point lights. They cause serious issues with the new rendering methods in Unity 5.0.

Here is the final version (doesnt count for the competition though)

Sad that it didnt get to the final release.... oh well, always next year!




WoA 3: Day 7

The bad:

So, last night after making the video I decided to release another build. I went in and pushed a build and realized that the build time was taking 1 hour. I watched the build for another 3 hours and did some research only to find that Unity 5.0 has an issue with prebake rendering and lots of objects. This means that we had to reduce the lighting bake options and pray it was enough.... or cut down some tree's.

After falling asleep on my floor (in my office) while waiting for the build to finish, I was woken by my roomate who said he needed me to be his "navigator" for an unsanctioned race. His Porsche club was doing a rally and he didnt have a navigator. Now, in this moment I assumed this was:
a race, so they would be finishing fast
this would be over really quickly because he is a hotthead who loves his car
his car has over 400hp

So, fearing for my life (I didnt want to end up like Fast and the Furious) I decided to go anyway. I get in the car and he says "Are you ready for a 5 hour trip?" I looked at him and said... WTF!

The worse:
So, shortly into my rally ride with my roomie I get a slack message saying the build times were taking ungodly long and we had build errors. Shadow found them after the build was over. I guess unity doesnt throw build errors until you build and this is a major issue when your build times are in the HOURS timeframe. Shadow and byte worked feverishly to get this stuff completed and updated so we could force push another build.

While that was going on Shadow finished the build for the "low resolution" lighting and then tested it. He said "This lighting is SHIT". It was not till I got home that I realized, indeed the lighting was shit. So in a frantic hurry we pushed the shit lighting build so we had something up there.

We are now working to build the Ultimate lighting package before the time runs out. it is a race of the clock and we dont know if it will finish in time for us to submit this final build.

What I had to do, to get home:

So the Porsches club nazi's were standing around waiting for the slow people to come back. (there were 5 when I left) instead of waiting for the finish of the trophy giving I grabbed an uber ride and got home. When I arrived I realized I had left the keys to the house with my roomie and I had no way to get in the house. I ran to the back door and hoped it was locked.

TUG, TUG, nope... fuck... locked.

So I did the next best thing (besides breaking the backdoor), I jammed a broom through the small hole in the side of the door so it would reach the lock. I hit the back of the broom as quickly as I could and wam the lock opened. SUCCESS I AM IN!

I pull open the door and am immediately greeted with the smell of shit. (I have two very young bulldogs) One of them decided to poop himself over my 5 hours while being out. So i rushed to get him out of his cage and the poop into a safe zone (out of smell range) so that I could start the build.

Where we are at now:

We are waiting on the build to finish on time. I am cleaning my dog outside and cleaning up the poop, and shadow and byte are talking on slack saying we should do another gam jam in December.

Final thoughts Pre-End:

I am tired, Unity build methods are shit, and I hate Porsches.




WoA 3: Day 6 pt2

This is the second portion of the journal for the day. I know this is the 7th day (tech.) but in Hawaii it is still the 6th day. I wanted to get out the video we had promised earlier in the day. What you are about to see is a highly polished turd! LMAO! Gameplay is there but still needs 3 or 4 days worth of work. That said, the coders on my team have been busting their butts to bring some quality gameplay to this badboy. I am happy with our stuff so far, but it certainly needs one more day of polish.

Final thoughts for the day:

What we have been able to accomplish in this short period of time has been nothing but amazing. It makes me realize how many wonderful tools are out there for people to use to make their dreams come true. WIth a few clicks and a lot of tutorials you can easily make something worth being proud of. I dont know how the guys who make custom engines in these 7 days do it!! I seriously would give extra points for you who do. With that stated, Unity is not without flaws. Many times we have fought the magical deletion of prefabs, or corruption of the map while baking lighting. I suppose any road you travel down this gamedev "road" is full of surprises. No matter the difficulty we all had fun. Often it would be late at night and despite our normal bedtimes we would stay up so we could add "ONE MORE COOL THING!".

I am happy with where this project has ended up, and with one more day I am looking to kill the competition with gameplay (not sure that will happen but I have to say it to be motivated to do it!! LOL). Thanks for reading and see you with tomorrows LAST blog post.




WoA 3: Day 6 pt1

So, beacuse there is going to be ALOT of work done today I wanted to make two journal entries. The first will be the progress that we have so far and more or less lay out where we want to go in the next two days. Part2 will tell you how close we got and come with a video!

UI Work:
I have created the topbar and some icons to work with it. Here you can see the progress so far:

Level Design:
I have been working to get the level design in place. The key to making this level work is having hiding places that help to avoid the humans.

Thought so far:

We are having a blast but the deadline is looming closer. We still need to get some sound into the game and make things a bit more polished. After Shadow got RAIN working we have some really nice AI going. This game might actually turn out to be fun!!! In the end, we are all burning at all ends of the stick here and have put some serious effort into this. We hope you guys enjoy it.. more to come soon.




WoA 3: Day 5

The issues:

While unity is simple to use, some of the finer features are annoying. Mechanim is giving us hell (doesnt help that Shadow is using Unity for the first time in a long time) and making it very hard to develop things fast. Luckily, Shadow has picked up the state machine within a day and we got a lot accomplished today.

Despite how many things we have done there still is the blaring concern of mechanim + AI. The AI has proven to be a bitch and is doing randomly odd things. Shadow has most of the day off today so we should get something from this. Our goal is to tweak the things in place now and make something FUN out of it. Right now the lacking AI is the only factor that is holding this game back from being great!

The video:

What is in play today:
Souls Gathered
Soul Use (spells)
Death of NPC's
State Machine
Level 1 design
Main Menu Art/Design

What is left to do tomorrow:

fix the borked AI
get combat between AI and Death (king) more fluid
create the chase dynamic I had envisioned from the start (more AI work)
balance AI vs Player
create another spell for knockback
And too much more

Current mood:





WoA 3: Day 4

Today has been somewhat productive. Sadly I do not have the time to make a video. I finished up work on the main menu screen and have started to work on some UI elements.

Main Menu Buttons:

From there I started to work on some level design and did not get far before I felt the sleep overtaking me! However, tomorrow is another day. Coders have proceeded to fix up a bunch of bugs and add some new features that I will show off in tomorrows video. Hope you guys like the new art!




WoA 3: Day 3

Today we added in some visual stuff, and fixed up some of the AI work.

AI Stuff:

Due to limited time and complexity of the AI we want we are only making one of the humans with the AI logic. He will instruct the others what to do and they simply follow and listen for a command. This is more or less like real life (in a squad system) as well so I think it will work out.

Animation Stuff:

Shadow spent the better part of the afternoon getting Mechanim to work with our animations. We have not added this to the NPCs just yet but that will be tomorrows job. Right now Death has all the animations in place and ready to go so we are happy.

Texture Stuff:

I had to create a custom texture for this model (which I did not make btw). In doing so I made it mostly emissive to give it a ghost like feel and added an emissive particle system to really enahance the look/feel.

A lot of work has gone into the backend and we hope to have some more stuff out tomorrow. Some of us are working through the late hours of the night so we are putting forth some serious dedication on this! Hope you guys are enjoying the progress and hope to have a playable demo shortly.



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