Its been a week of interruptions for the team as this week we had the New Zealand Game Developers Conference. It was great to meet a bunch of talented, like minded people at NZGDC but we’re looking forward to being back in the swing of things next week. Check out the stuff we did manage to get in this week below!
Sky Noon Logo
Our original Sky Noon logo was created a while back and since then we have changed our art style so it seemed appropriate to also update the logo.
Up until now our duel game mode was played on a map with no lights created by one of our programmers so this week the map got some munch needed love from an artist. The duel mode is made for 1v1 match ups so the map is built from small, burst encounters with lots of use of turbines to push the players around. We have only recently begun play testing this mode properly but it is quickly becoming a new fan favourite with the new map.
We wanted to create a single player Sky Noon experience that encourages replayability and uses our existing movement mechanics. Work has begun on a new Time Trial mode where players must use the grappling hook to get to the end zone of a map in the fastest time possible.
Another new ability this week as mines have been added! We wanted to implement a set and forget ability that players could use and forget about. Mines can be thrown and they attach to whatever surface they hit, after a small delay they are activated. When an enemy comes close to a mine they explode and push the enemy away.
We got a lot of feedback that it wasn’t obvious that the turbines pushed players around so we’ve added some particle effects to better communicate this mechanic.
Work has begun on creating destructible meshes in game! We thought this would be a neat little feature to add a bit of juice to the game. At the moment we have destructible bases in the mine cart mode and a prototype destructible cactus.
From the Artists
This week was a light week with the interruption of NZGDC on Thursday and Friday and the entirety of Wednesday being taken up with presentations. However on Monday and Tuesday I got some significant work done. On Monday I broke down the character mesh so it is ready to be moved into the character customisation systems. This was primarily separating the mesh parts and re-skinning them to the skeleton so that the parts can be swapped when the player customise their characters. Talking with Logan we decided to split the character into: Head and hands, Hat, Belts and Base.
I also worked on implementing particles for the turbines. This was to add more feedback to the turbines to warn players that the are active and will push the player around.
Going to the NZGDC was a really good experience. All the talks were interesting and allow us to re-evaluate our game in light of our new knowledge. One piece of advice that stuck with me was it is beneficial to build up the narrative of your world early and allowing that to help you craft the aesthetic and tone of your world. When we rethought the artstyle we did so with a more fleshed out idea of our universe and let that change how we envisioned the guns. Looking back once again will allow us to better create a narrative through the world build in each level. Currently the minecart track is the most fleshed out of the levels yet doesn’t have a particularly clear narrative. This raises the need for us as a group to construct a lore bible to drive all new content in a constructive fashion.
For this short week my main priority was to create a video representing the latest build of the game for our presentations on Wednesday and also to show off at the gamedev meetup later that night. On Monday however I had some time to dress up the duel map and try to encourage fast rounds with some simple design elements. To do this I used a lot of turbines to create points of danger near the super crate spawner which can be used as a tactic against the other player, I also placed a jumper turbine on the lowest island to allow for faster traversing. After finishing the design for the Duel map it ended up being way more enjoyable than it had been originally and forces players to be far more creative with their abilities, hopefully we can encourage this type of strategizing in other game modes in the future.
As I’m sure everybody else has said already this has been a light week with all the events and presenting going on. My job was to do UI art for lobbies including the new Sky Noon logo, with some touch ups to the level design of the cart map along the way. I also put some time into behind the scenes modelling and asset generation for the cart map, things such as UV maps and sculpts. The biggest annoyance has definitely been the foliage bug that Unreal 4.12 has, causing a fatal error every so often and making the project impossible to open without a revert. It seemed that the issue appeared randomly upon interacting with the foliage in any way, being completely unpredictable and very frustrating. I lost a fair few important map changes this way. Upgrading to 4.13 should apparently fix the problem, but until then I’m worried about making changes at all and would consider deleting foliage entirely until then.
From the Programmers
This week was busy as we had both our Beta presentation and the NZGDA meetup on Wednesday, both of which we were set to show our game at. At the beginning of the week I implemented a new ability, Mines. Mines can be thrown and will latch to whatever object they hit. After a short delay, they will arm. When a player goes near a mine, it will explode and send them flying.
I fixed some bugs this week, including a bug which didn’t let players use escape to close the in-game menu. I also made melee and the pull-hook award kills, and stopped self-inflicted damage from awarding a kill. The pull-hook is now also easier to pull players off ledges above you.
Besides this, I spent time balancing the game this week, and giving more UI feedback. I added info to the info widget about the new abilities (mines and booster) and updated the Duel HUD to show correct scores and no time. I rebalanced most of the explosive abilities to make them more effective, and lowered the power of dynamite when used on self so that it is easier to use to traverse the map.
I learned this week what it is like to prepare a game for an event. Unfortunately we were unable to have a playable build of the game at this week’s game dev meetup due to inaccessibility of computers. However, I’m happy with the progress we have made so far and the skills I have learned.
This week was a rough week, with lots going on, so production was minimal. However, I did have time to finalize the Time Trial by giving players the option to choose an ability to have for the map, as we didn’t want times to rely on random drops from crates. I would have also liked to get down the system for Character Customisation but unfortunately did not have the time, and this will have to be done sometime in the coming weeks.
I also created Blueprints for the artists that would allow us to have destructible meshes in the game, as Unreal already supports destructible meshes, it was only a matter of getting this to work with our weapons and on the clients properly, with zero load on the server, as replicating the positions of the destructible meshes wouldn’t be efficient. With what I’ve learnt about networking with this project, this was not a big task.
It was a short week for me this week as I spent all of Wednesday showcasing our game and then the end of the week at NZGDC. I managed to get my chat working in the lobby early in the week. I figured out the problem I was having was that I was calling a server RPC on the Game State which is not owned by a local controller on the clients so it only worked on the server. Once I moved some functionality to the Player State instead it worked fine. I also changed the HUD pop up for when you get a kill so that it fits in the screen space better when you are awarded a medal.