Thank you so much to all the amazing people that up voted Sky Noon on Steam Greenlight! We were Greenlit in just six days! Its so humbling to get such a welcoming reception from the community and we can’t wait for everyone to get their hands on Sky Noon when it is ready!
We had an awesome weekend at Armageddon Expo in Auckland over the weekend where a bunch of the public got their hands on Sky Noon! We were stoked with how quickly people picked up the game mechanics and started battling against their friends. Thanks to any of you who made it down to the show floor to check it out! We are looking froward to showing more people at PAX Australia next week.
The revolver has had some serious work this week and we reckon its looking pretty awesome! It has been modeled, textured, rigged, animated and given particles all in the same week. Check out the new animation reel below!
We have been wanting to change the way that spawns work in Free For All for a long time and getting ready for Armageddon was a great excuse to finally implement it. The game mode now chooses a random FFA spawner and will launch you toward the map. For the longest time we had spawned players without a load out so they had to find a crate to start with but we got a lot of feedback on how it took away from the gameplay rather than adding to it. Upon spawning, players are now given a crate with a random weapon and ability. Newly spawned players have also been made invulnerable for a short period to ensure they can reach the map safely.
Mine Cart Updates
Some small adjustments have been made to the mine cart game mode to make it more user friendly. We found that players were struggling to work out which direction they were supposed to be moving the carts so we have added these track indicators to better show which way you are going.
From the Artists
Looking forward to Armageddon I was tasked with finishing up some feedback we needed to best showcase our game. First up I started migrating the shader I was working on earlier into the kill sphere in Sky Noon. This went smoothly except when it came time to trigger a ring on death. To easily accomplish this I set the blueprint to trigger on EndOverlap but this would end up triggering on any pawn class including the grapple projectile. I have set up the material as best I can and need to pass it of to the programmers to smooth out the implementation. I made sure to include scalability in the material function so i can support up to 8 players dying at once. Next up I was tasked with rigging the Revolver that Logan had just finished. Looking back at my old rigs I have come to the conclusion that to make the rig as user friendly as possible it is best to have all the controllers zero’d out when in the bind pose. To do this I have each controller inside a group that is set to the bind position of its corresponding joint. This process can be repetitive and time consuming. In the future I would use a quick python script to automate this process but can’t when working in Maya LT. Working right up until the deadline I was working on particles for the Dash. The trouble with the dash is that it is almost instant and has no windup. The particles then have to be readily visible while rushing quickly across the screen. The particles are set up so that the first few frames of the sprite are the apex of the “explosion” so that the explosion reads better when it flies past the the camera. This week for me has seemed very productive, the deadline for Armageddon pushed me to get things done in time for the final build. I very proud of the build we had to show at Armageddon.
This week I continued with the revolver so that we could have it relatively polished for the Armageddon build. I spent most of my time on retopology and did some additional detailing as I went, my main goal was to avoid any baking issues that would slow me down later so I took my time with the retopology and UV unwrapping. I also did a first pass on the textures, creating some alphas to stamp on additional details around the areas that would be most visible in the first person view. I made some baroque engravings to mirror what we did with the grappling hook and to some extent the shotgun. It was really awesome to get the revolver in the game along with the new spawning system, the gameplay loop has become even more cohesive in the last few weeks and I’m really proud of the build that was at Armageddon.
There was an Armageddon this week so I had to prepare for it with supplies and a suitable bunker. If not prepared I would not have survived, and what’s better for survival than a revolver? I got that thing all animated so that people could play with it and not become too confused. The plan was to quickly whip up the necessary animations, specifically shoot and reload, as I didn’t have the time to spend too long perfecting things. It all went super smooth and it looks pretty cool.
Other than that I didn’t have much on my end that could be done before the Armageddon came. The new free for all map would not be ready as we don’t yet have the assets required to build a new unique map. We would prefer to avoid over use of the same assets and are looking at solutions for future level visuals. One such solution is to use a modular building set through a new method we have learned, which I also worked on during the week. By making trim and surface tiles for buildings first we can then construct the assets while snapping the UVs on the grid as we go. All textures can be immediately applied without the lengthy process of sculpting and texturing per individual object. Our hope is that with enough tiles we can effectively produce a huge amount of unique structures for our maps while saving massive amounts of time.
The next concern is over use of rocks as all our maps our currently made of the same ones. We will likely make more rocks moving forward possibly with the same tiling method (or not), or at the very least do a hue shift on the colours of our existing rocks to give a different feel to the level. This should have a drastic effect, as most of our aesthetic comes from these rocks. One idea we have is to create a cave-y level with darker rocks, dripping pipes and denser vegetation. We’ll see how it goes from here.
From the Programmers
This week was spent preparing for the Armageddon expo, which meant tidying up systems and making sure the game is free of crashes and game-breaking bugs. While I thought I had fully completed control customisation last week, a few problems popped up which needed to be fixed. One such problem caused the game to not properly unbind old inputs when the user customised controls. This bug was harder than I anticipated to fix, and took up a lot of my time, but I learned a lot more about Unreal’s input system from it.
I completed many tasks that were on the backburner but necessary for a fluid experience. I reworked melee in order to make it easier to hit, I rebalanced the pull hook so it wasn’t overpowered, and I made the booster collision wider to make it more useful offensively. I also balanced many of the abilities. One of the bigger things I added this week was friendly fire detection, so that you can’t accidentally (or purposefully) knock your team mates away in the cart game mode. This was easier and quicker to implement than I thought, once I changed kill detection from player characters to player states (which are never destroyed mid-game, and store a team value). I added the ability to jump while grappling, giving you more air to get on ledges, and I helped implement the new kill-sphere effects with Alex.
The game was in a good state for Armageddon and we received great feedback from people who played it.
This week consisted of getting the game as polished as we could for the Armageddon Expo. We selected the FFA Map to be our main showcase as it was the best to show considering the number of computers we had. The game was well received, and it was good to see a lot of people playing our game. Primarily my jobs for the last week were fixing and adjusting the revolver and adding a Super version of it, of which we are quite happy with as its forgiving yet dangerous. I fixed some User Interface issues we had, made the Time Trial mode its own seamless experience. Some adjustments were made to the Cart Mode, which created discussions about static and dynamic teams. In the end, we thought having Static Teams were more readable, and will go forward with having a Red base and a Blue base, of which each team belongs to, for readability and cohesion especially within communication.
I spent a lot of my week getting things sorted for Armageddon like setting up the PCs that we needed to work on LAN without an internet connection. My other main task for the week was to get the FFA spawners to work properly. I made a blueprint implementable event for when a spawner is activated from c++ and was hoping to be able to make the spawners appear and disappear after the activation but ran into some problems with how the visibility was being replicated. Instead the spawners are never visible and have their collisions turned on and off upon activation and deactivation. I also did some work with updating sessions and I think I have done everything I need to do to update game mode stats externally using my sessions system. This will need to be tested next week as I need to implement some UI to be able to test it.