The Last Light

Gold Master

Senior Production

Post XXI


This will be the final blog post for capstone. I will be writing a post mortem in the future for this project, but otherwise there will be no more updates. Since my last update, a ton has changed in our game. If you took a look at our game less than a month ago and took another look at it today, you would be blown away. With that being said, however, it makes it difficult to talk about what specifically I did. These past 2 weeks in particular have been so filled with production work that my memory is all melted into one big ball and I can’t really remember specifics. I do know that a lot of my time was spent making builds, testing, fixing bugs and implementing last minute “features” which were necessary for our game. This past weekend in particular saw 25+ hours of work put into it from myself as well as similar hours for many of my team mates.

One of the goals that we were supposed to hit for the senior show is “Gold Master”. Basically just meaning a stable and “complete” build of our game. And by complete, i just mean that it is fully playable from start to finish and has all the art, systems and design we wanted to have in the game. Obviously its impossible to get this because things never work out how you would like them to, but given what we accomplished, we definitely reached the spirit of what Gold Master is.

With our final build submitted and the senior show coming up this Friday, the team is now shifting gears towards preparing for the show itself. Luckily for us, most of it will involve showing off team and individual reels. Afterwards, we get to spend time talking with people about our game as they come to play it and learn more. It should be an interesting experience and I hope that it all goes well.

Our team’s reel can be viewed below. It honestly is more like a teaser than anything, but it should give you a decent grasp of different aspects of the game. It has puzzles, monsters, narrative and cutscenes.

 

This is all I have to talk about in this post. I will be making a post mortem post in the future (not sure when yet since i’m very busy). We also made a page on itch.io which you can check it out here if you want to download and play the game or find out more about it!

TL;DR:

  • We hit Gold Master
  • There was lots of crunch
  • Senior show is Friday
  • Post mortem coming soon to a blog near you

Beta Crunch

Senior Production

Post XX


Recently I have been swamped with work between deadlines at work, deadlines in production and my already busy schedule. But in this madness, some good progress has come for the game. Last time I talked about the Breaker Box system for the game and some of the things I had done for it. But the biggest problem this had was that it was all visual and was not in any way functional as a system. After some complications with integrating it with the circuit system we have, the Breaker Box is finally in a completed state. This isn’t the only thing I’ve done though. I’ve also spent time making builds, bug fixing and polishing features.

The Breaker Box system was much larger than I had originally anticipated it to be. It also to some extent slowed down our progress a little bit which is unfortunate. But now that it is fully functional, it gives our designers the ability to fully implement our levels. So what does this functionality include? I think this GIF will be able to show it first and then i’ll explain what happened. (Please excuse the terrible GIF quality, i’m bad at making these)

breaker_box

What you’ll notice is a few things. First, when you interact with the breaker box, the door animates open and you can see a light turn on. Then you can also notice that the mouse cursor appears, indicating that the controls have switched to mouse controls unlike the normal controls seen in the game. When i mouse over switches, they highlight and clicking on them flips them on/off. You can also see that when I flip the top switch on the first time, it turns off all the switches. This is showing what happens when the circuit is overloaded by too many things being on. Then when I flip the switch again, you can see the gate in the background starting to lift. When i toggle it back, the gate drops because the power has died. Finally you can see the door closing and the light turning off as the controls go back to their previous state. During this whole process of interacting with a breaker box, you can’t move and your camera is stationary. It might not seem like a lot, but this is a fairly large system which was nearly more trouble that it was worth due to the circuit system and its “problems”.

Beyond the Breaker Box which is finally complete, I also spent time doing bug fixes and polishing features. Since we’ve been doing a lot of crunch lately to meet our upcoming deadline of April 25 (when the final build is due), I’ve been making a lot of builds for QA and class. Unfortunately, due to our workflow, we don’t have an easy way to do something like continuous integration or even setting up a build server to handle it for us. This means I’ve got to do it manually each time. And since it would be too easy for things to work on their own, the build always has problems which I need to fix before I can release it to the team. Most of the time, they tend to be bugs which crash the game, but sometimes its because a feature isn’t working as intended or because its just completely missing for some reason. This is probably my least favorite part about working on this project, but it is necessary and helps move our game forward.

I mentioned in the previous paragraph the deadline of April 25. This deadline is when our class requires us to have a final, stable and complete build of our game. What this means for us as a team is that we have roughly 3 weeks to make sure that everything is in, working and feels good. This isn’t really a lot of time, especially since we only just recently became feature complete (our narrative, art and audio isn’t even all in yet!). It is going to be a long crunch these next three weeks and all of us can feel it. The good news is though that once that day hits, we are free from the crunch and will have a few days to relax from the pressure before the senior show which is on the 29th.

This is all I will be talking about in this post. I will probably be making only 1 or 2 more updates before the 25th depending on what gets done by me and how busy I am. This will all be followed by a post mortem after everything is over, including the senior show.

TL;DR:

  • Breaker Box is done
  • Fixed bugs and made builds
  • Lots of crunching…
  • Deadline is in 3 weeks

 

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!

Slowdown

Senior Production

Post XVIII


This week’s post will be short and uneventful but i’ll give a quick status update. After a long, crazy week with the Montreal Game Festival, we have slowed down a bunch and priorities have shifted. This week hasn’t had a large amount of progress on the programmer side due to an upcoming due date for an assignment in another class which every programmer is currently worrying about and scrambling to finish. This isn’t to say nothing has been done though.

This week we got a lot of small features in such as a new Light Actor system which will allow the designers to place lights in the level (our special actor for this) and it will already come with useful features such as a mesh, the light, direct integration into the circuit system and so forth. It will make the process of creating the updated level 1 a bit easier in terms of setting up the lighting system. Item Dispensers have also seen a slight upgrade and they can now have set quantities available to be dispensed. They can also be destroyed upon running out which is a useful feature. This makes it more robust and can now be used as a general purpose dispenser in levels, without having to create a new blueprint explicitly for each item pickup. The monster has also had some slight upgrades visually and is now less smoky and more bug like (think bees).

Our group has also focused this week on meeting the Greenlight requirements. This is something specifically for the class which is required and is more or less a bunch of documents. It happened to work out nicely for the programmers as this meant we didn’t need to implement a lot this week, allowing us to focus our energy to the other 3 programming classes we have.

This is all I have to talk about this week. Hopefully this next week i’ll be able to show off a new system currently in the works which involves the breaker box.

TL;DR:

  • Not a lot of programmer features added this week
  • We are doing the Greenlight stuff
  • New Breaker Box system coming soon