I have made some progress with my Task 3, the Frogger Clone. I am now working towards creating something more original, starting by creating new artwork. I made some quick space-themed sprites, aiming for an arcade shooter feel. I replaced the Trucks and Cars with Asteroids and Meteors. The logs became light-beam platforms. This dramatically changed the theme but the gameplay still fits. I would like to work further into the artwork, but first I will turn my focus to improving the functionality. My next steps will be to add some kind of Score System and Win/Lose/Restart Screens.
Later down the line, I would like to improve the artwork further by adding some simple animations to the projectiles, platforms and possibly the background too. This will bring the scene to life a bit more and add more visual interest to the player. It would also be interesting to experiment with some visual feedback in the sprite when the player loses, such as the ship falling or exploding – right now it simply disappears instantly and is quite anti-climactic.
The third mini-task we have been set is to create a Frogger clone.
It made more sense for me to approach this task in Unity rather than UE4 as it feels more suited to 2D/sprite based games and my Unity experience means I can take the concept a little further. Although I would like to improve my very minimal knowledge of UE4 and Blueprints, for this task in particular it felt most logical to use Unity.
Above shows the current state of my Frogger Clone. I made use of tutorials to get to this point, using Unity. I used pre-made sprites while I got the game functioning correctly. Now, I would like to make the game more original and build in my own features and artwork.
A few things I would like to introduce next are:
I have finalised my Learning Agreement and Work Schedule drafts to be approved.
By planning my work in this way I can:
I now feel more confident in what I can achieve throughout this project and have a better idea of how manageable it will be. These documents will be useful to keep referring back to, making sure my work stays on the right path.
I attended an extra session today in order to begin learning Blueprints and UE4 first-hand. We covered:
I now feel much more confident about approaching my prototype. The Learning Agreement I’ve been working on now seems much more achievable and I can more accurately think about what is and isn’t going to be possible, as well as more reliably set schedules and goals for myself. My next step will be to plan a weekly schedule, setting myself mini deadlines or goals for what I could like to be completed each week. I will also continue experimenting with UE4 in my own time as well as attending any extra sessions I can.
The basics of Blueprints today will allow me to now begin experimenting with ideas more closely relating to my personal ideas. I can use the Ammo pick-up to work into my own Item collection script, for example. I can also try using the built in Flying game pre-fab, observing how its built and then try to edit it myself now that I have more of an understanding of how things function.
I have begun finalising a Learning Agreeement for each of my projects, starting with my Studio Work.
I’ve realised that it is necessary for me to move onto UE4 instead of Unity to develop my project while in my final year. This doesn’t feel ideal since I have become used to Unity and feel fairly comfortable using it. However, I believe that it is more beneficial than not, allowing me to learn new software and adapt. It broadens my skillset to be able to say I have experience with prototyping in both Unity and UE4. It encourages me to learn new techniques and step out of my comfort zone to continue pushing my learning further.
With this, I have begun seeking out learning resources for UE4.The above tutorial series is a good place for me to start to get to grips with the UE4 interface and creating something from scratch using Blueprints. It’s also relevant to my planned design, as it’s focusing on 3rd person gameplay.
Above is a snippet from a video I found on youtube showcasing someone’s flying game project. Unfortunately they give no information or guidance on re-creating this type of movement, but it’s very useful just to use as reference. This style of character and camera movement is perfect for what I intend to create, so this is a useful starting point for my own development. Although its a plane flying through the air, the movement very closely resembles how I would like my player to swim underwater.
Flight tutorials will likely prove as useful resources for learning how to develop this type of character and camera controller.
The above is a snippet from a pack of lowpoly resources that can be purchased and used in UE4. I saved this because the small section above is very representative for what I have in mind for a level design of my own. The colours, atmosphere, lighting and the way the camera navigates the space are all good reference to describe what it is I would like to work towards creating. I could also use this pack myself, put it into UE4 and break it down to get an idea of how I can go about creating my own similar assets. I can also use resources like this as placeholders while I’m in the process of designing the level but haven’t actually created the assets yet.
The first secondary task we have been given is to create something from the prompt “Insect”. I decided to go down the route of a Mysid, which is an order of small, shrimp-like crustaceans (which I feel is a close enough link to insects). I chose these creatures as they could be linked to my main Studio work, Weedy the Sea Dragon, as I have always planned Weedy would gain energy/powerups by eating small Shrimp-like creatures (as Sea Dragons naturally would eat similar creatures in nature). I gathered some reference material and did some rough sketches to start thinking about the shape and form of the creature and how I could recreate this in a different style.
I started by illustrating a Mysid in 2D and adding some quick and basic animation. This style follows the original 2D aesthetic of Weedy the Sea Dragon.I particularly like the colours used and feel like the design—although basic—does make a fairly unique character.
I then wanted to take the design a little further as I felt the previous illustration wasn’t really substantial enough to be considered as fully answering the task. I made a voxel version of the sprite.
I then made some quick renders in Blender to show the design. I don’t think that my response to this task is particularly strong compared to my other work, but it could work well as concept art for some potential future additions to my main Studio project. It also helped me get back into the 3D workflow and re-familiarise myself with creating Voxels, using Blender and rendering out designs — so overall I am still pleased with the result. If I were to re-visit this task, I could improve this design by adding some more unique characteristics (right now it’s based almost entirely from nature, without my own original input) or by recreating it in a stylised ‘Low Poly’ look rather than sticking just with the Voxels.
A sensible place to start will be to study 3rd person movement controllers and how to create them. Games such asMario 64 and Zelda: Ocarina of Time are a resourceful place to start, and are often considered pioneers of 3D space – or at least notable in how they did so.
Unfortunately, they don’t answer many questions about how to handle vertical movement, to simulate swimming underwater. The 3D Ecco the Dolphin game, Defender of the Future, is a useful starting point to observe how this could work. The gameplay GIF above shows this in action and also proves useful to examine how elements of the user interface can be handled. As the player swims, arrows and other markings appear on the screen around the character to guide them. This provides immediate and constant feedback on the location and goal of the player. Placing this information directly alongside/around the character works well – possibly better than if it were around the edges of the screen. This means it is where the player’s eyes are focused already, and may also make it easier to relate the information and map it to the 3D space they are exploring. However, having said this, I feel it is also important to be wary of detracting from the immersive experience of exploration. When creating a world, I want the player to become lost in it. Overlaying too many 2D, UI elements may start to take away from this experience and break the immersion. Perhaps the best option is to search for a balance between this.I’ve begun looking for some resources and tutorials online that may be a good starting point to decide whether I am capable of achieving this with my own game. I can follow the tutorials and experiment with the result to get a feel for whether this is a realistic goal, or if I need to rethink my plan.
All aspects of Journey are a huge inspiration for my own project. In particular, there are a few things I want to take away and learn how to recreate in my own way: