Beta is about to wrap up and we’ve been super busy pushing in features before our planned feature freeze! Find out what’s new below.
We’re really happy with how our sky boxes are starting to turn out and are excited to share them with you all!
Some awesome news this week is that Sky Noon is now playable online! Up until now we have only been play testing on LAN which has been great but has made is harder to get feedback from external play testers. This week we have been playing with a variety of people from around New Zealand and have found the latency has been pretty good but there is definitely work to do on net optimization.
Originally when the player ran out of ammo we would have a text output in the HUD to inform them they had no ammo. We really didn’t like throwing ugly text in the players face and it also doesn’t make a lot of sense to run out of ammo on a gun that pulls in air to fire. This week we have implemented a new weapon throw mechanic that takes place when the player attempts to fire when they are out of ammo.
We’ve been long overdue for a new ability in Sky Noon and this week we finally got one! The booster ability comes with three charges and is used to boost the user in the direction they are facing. If a player hits a game object or another player, they create an explosion where they hit which pushes people away. The booster is great for clutch finishes and epic saves when boosting to and from the map.
Our medal system is now fully implemented and the appropriate stat tracking is working in game. Below are the medals that we are currently tracking.
When you receive a medal in game it will pop up at the top of your screen and tell you what the medal is for. We are looking at adding some audio and animations to the medals but these will not be implemented until gold.
XP Level Progression and Stats Online
The XP and online stat tracking are now fully implemented and when you start up the game you are connected with your unique steam ID to our servers. XP is awarded for tasks like kills, wins, double kills etc and every time you sign back in to the game your existing stats are still there.
The main menu has had some minor updates and the player can now access character screen from the main menu so that they can check out their game stats.
The lobby has had some major updates! You can now see all of the active users in the lobby and chat to them using the new chat box. The host can change the game mode via the buttons down the bottom left and all of the active players see the selected game mode and map on the left as well.
In the new character screen players can see their stats and level progress that is saved on our servers.
We had a lot of feedback that some people didn’t like the way you had to hold down the right mouse button for grapple as well as some other basic controls. You can now customise your control scheme to your liking!
From the Artists
This week was all about finishing up the extra particles ahead of our beta milestone. The actual finishing for these particles did not take very long as I reused the base emitters and materials I had previously made. By mixing and matching materials and emitters I was able to create the majority of the miscellaneous particles. This week we came across the problem of plummeting framerates on the larger minecart map. We had been aware of it but hadn’t rushed to fix the problem due to planning. This week I was tasked with making the level of detail meshes for the environment assets. This had a noticeable effect on the frame rate in scenes with large view distances. This process is a lot of trial and error in figuring the best distance for switching meshes. The other major technical art task was rearranging the animation blueprint. This came about when adding the melee animations into the game. These animation featured animation on both hands but the system would only animate the left hand. The system was changed to allow the melee animation to animate on top of both arms to give the proper effect. Finally I will leave you with the air explosion the replacement for the original explosion effect.
I started the week by making a few more graphics for the medal system but quickly switched to working on the skyboxes since that was a higher priority. It took me a while to figure out how exactly I wanted to go about creating the skyboxes but once I did I could just focus on the design. Since our gameplay is quite quick and busy I didn’t want to divert the players eye from the important things that are happening on screen. To do this I used a lot of atmospheric effects and a narrow colour pallette, trying to focus more on silhouette, this helps in making the actual level geometry stand out. In future we will need more elements of the background as actual geo within the level to help the player understand their movement, particularly when the are falling off of the map or using the jetpack near the boundaries of the level. I also created some very rudimentary weapon skins to help demonstrate the customization feature that we are going to work more on in the next 8 weeks.
I got to mix up the routine a bit this week by doing some long needed UI design and concepts. I had a look at potential layouts and compositions for the main menu screen and set out what some important menus and pages look like. To follow through I also made some buttons. Also much needed was a redesign of the Sky Noon logo, which I had a go at it using a hand painted style to make it appear less gritty. Beyond that I am going through the usual processes of environment modelling.
From the Programmers
This week I added some more features to the game. First of all, I fixed the super machine pistol not behaving correctly and being actually worse than the normal one, which is a problem we’ve had a for a while. I also added an indicator to the HUD that shows which direction you received damage from.
An important feature that I added this week was the ability to customise basic game settings. Through the settings menu players can now switch the mouse buttons for grappling and firing, can set grappling to a single click or holding click, and can invert the mouse pitch. These settings were based on feedback from playtesters. Keys are currently not rebindable but the menu has been set up to enable this at a later date.
I implemented the animations for running out of ammo and the gun breaking. At the end of the animation, the player throws their broken gun away. I also added tiebreakers to the Free For All and Cart game modes.
Lastly, I added a new ability, the booster. The booster gives the player an impulse directly forward, then halts their velocity at the end. If the player hits something, they do a ‘stomp’, pushing objects and players away in a radius.
I learned a lot this week about using UMG for menus, particularly switching input modes to change focus to and from the gameplay.
This week was for adding the final touches to the user leveling system and making sure the stats that were being recorded were being submitted to the database as efficiently as possible and at the right time. After that I created the UI for the Profile page, which displays to the user their stats, and the UI for the end of the game, which shows the user’s stats accumulated from the game that had just finished.
In addition to this, I had some time left over to whip up our Time Trial mode which will feature levels that players will have to navigate in the fastest way possible and get to the finish. We want to keep this as freeform as possible where users can decide which ability they want to use that they are best with, instead of putting crates in the map which adds luck to a skill based mode.
I finally got around to updating the menu and lobby UI this week! Within the lobby every player can now see all of the other players that exist in the session. The host can change the game mode and all connected players will see the map change as well as an image of the map that they will be playing. I have started work on a chat box for the lobby as well and at the moment it works for the game’s host but the other players are failing to receive the chat data. I’m fairly sure this is because the server is trying to send the messages directly to the player controllers which aren’t replicated so I should be able to fix this early next week.
Sky Noon is now playable online after some digging through my original session code. I had been told that all I needed to do was to find all places where I had set bIsLan to true and change it to false but that didn’t work. This ended up being an easy fix! In the default engine settings I changed VAC to be disabled and this fixed the problem.
The build kept crashing this week because of my stat manager and I couldn’t for the life of me think of why this was happening. After some deep digging I found that the deconstructor was being called at exactly one minute after the stat manager was created which was strange. I added UPROPERTY(Transient) above the declaration of the stat manager in the player state which makes unreal handle the garbage collection for me and the problem is fixed now.