GDC

Pre Alpha

Senior Production

Post XIX


It has been a little while since I’ve made a post about my senior production team so I felt it was necessary to bring an update on my progress. These past few weeks have been interesting to say the least. Last week I was at GDC so I was unable to do any work and the week before was a lot of time spent on my other classes (in preparation for GDC). Not a lot has happened in the production space, but there are some features and upcoming deadlines worth mentioning.

Before I went to GDC I was working on the new Breaker Box system. While this system is still incomplete, it has progressed enough to warrant more information. I spent a lot of time thinking about how I was going to implement the system because a large majority of it needs to be completely dynamic. Since no two breaker boxes are guaranteed to be the same, the goal was to cut down on the amount of work a designer would need to do to both create new Breaker Boxes and to modify existing ones. While thinking about this, I remembered my solution for the radio conversations and it sparked an idea. I tried a few things but eventually settled on this solution.

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My biggest disappointment with this is that there is no easy way to store an array of structs while still providing nice editor access in Unreal. Not without making modifications to the engine and that is unfortunately not an option due to workflow concerns (as well as the time commitment needed to create this). Nevertheless, it works well and I even went a step further to provide the designer with safeguards incase they made mistakes. For example, the breaker box always verifies the settings before creating everything and It gives out helpful errors to the log which say what is wrong. The process to create a breaker box is fairly simple and is just 3 steps.

  1. Create a breaker box in the level
  2. Create a Blueprint class inheriting from BreakerBoxSettings and customize the properties available to you (as seen above)
  3. In the properties for the breaker box you put in the level, tell it to use the settings class you just created with the combo box

The result of this can be seen below!

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The next big step is to hook this up with the circuit breaker system. This is a work in progress and as of this writing isn’t complete. This would make the system fully functional in terms of the functionality the breaker box is supposed to have. However, there is also a huge part of the breaker box missing which is the way a player interacts with it. Unfortunately, this system hasn’t even been started and will take a bit longer due to needing a new interaction system. More info on this will be given in a future post.

I have also spent a little bit of time since coming back from GDC doing bug fixes for the game. Some of these have been outstanding bugs which have gone from sprint to sprint without being addressed due to being minor inconveniences and not game breaking. Others were newer and impacted gameplay systems. The most notable of these bugs was a bug with dropping items (in this case, we were dropping flares). Dropping a flare which had 50% of its energy gone would cause future flares that you used to start at 50% energy instead of 100%. This is obviously a major problem for gameplay and after half an hour of stepping through code using the logs for guidance, I was able to fix it. The reason it is notable is because the cause was due to a problem with the order of operations for dropping an item which would cause it to retain information on accident.

At the beginning of this post I mentioned upcoming deadlines. This could probably be figured out from the title of the post. Next week we are challenging the Alpha stage. This means that this coming week will be a huge crunch to make sure we are feature complete. This is only the start of the crunch though because for the next month or so (until the senior show at the end of April), we will be challenging a stage each week. This will be a tough month for all of us and hopefully none of us go crazy in the process.

This concludes my update for this week. I will hopefully have more to talk about next week with Alpha.

TL;DR:

  • Went to GDC
  • Started implementing the new Breaker Box system
  • Fixed some lingering bugs
  • This next month will be crunch
  • Challenging Alpha next week!