My week in review

This week for me started with an awesome talk from Prideful Sloth, with their Pre Mortem on their game Project Columbus. So much information to process, but it is definitely clear they know what they’re talking about!

I’ve been battling with FMOD most of this week. With the need to implement 3D sound I was on a quest to find out why the hell the events are not being played when the game starts. I embarrassed myself on the FMOD forums which inadvertently lead me to the realisation that the events were not being loaded when the game was running. Or so I thought. Sounds that I made 2D worked fine, but 3D sounds still eluded me. I thought it had something to do with the pathing of files which had been changing when we’ve been doing our manual build updates (shudder) It turns out that I wasn’t setting the position of the sounds when they are playing. Once I told the sounds to be playing at the object’s transform position, everything started working.

fmod3Daudiopositioning

The most frustrating part was finding out how to do that, which took me the better part of a day and I found the answer in a Reddit post, where one of the commenters put it in there as a reminder to the OP of something that needs to be done for 3D panning sound. So, ADA’s audio is in game with placeholder audio and so is the Jorm’s audio.

We’ve made a lot of progress this week with the first 5 minutes of ADA coming together nicely. The intro cinematic has been blocked out and we’ve got the tutorial in a playable state. Our plan of getting people to test our game has been pushed back due to the team’s realisation that we’re not happy with where the character controls are, so there’s no point asking what other people think of them if we’re not happy with them ourselves.

The internal test that we did produced a list for us to work on for our next sprint cycle. The plan is to polish what we have and only add to the game with assets that help achieve the level of polish we’re looking for, for our assessment build. The next few weeks should be spit and polish with a few additions that make sense for the game play that we’re trying to achieve. That’s it from me, until next week…

ADA Character Animations

This week I will be discussing different kinds of walk cycles we made for the main character for our game ADA – Automated Discovery Android.  Whilst the character is not humanoid, it has many humanoid elements, and a rig that in a lot of ways is far more complex than a standard biped rig.

ADA-PlayerCharacter

Adorable!

One of the major considerations for this character and rig, were to make it as animated and filled with personality as possible. The rig consists of 72 bones in total, with 27 controllers. In a rig of this complexity, a lot of the bones are simply used as constraints, or in conjunction with other bones for example in Inverse Kinematic setups. As such, not having a good controller system for the actual animation phase, would make life very difficult.

AdaRigAndControllers

Left: Bones    Right: Controllers

The rig consists of many similar controllers you would see in a standard humanoid, such as hips, ears, and a body controller to lift and drop the body as the robot moves. These were specifically designed into the concept; realistically a robot does not need to move its hips as it moves, nor does its body need to lift and drop with footsteps, but it adds a great deal of character, personality and most importantly sass.

In terms of reference, most of ADA’s design and movement was created uniquely through the creation process itself, inspiration however was drawn from certain cartoons, namely Adventure Time. Our colour palette especially was created with the idea of a bright cartoon aesthetic, and it was important that we were able to recreate bombastic over the top animations such as bendy stretchy arms for example.

An example of this in practice can be seen below.

ADAExtended
Actually animating this character, especially in the arms can prove problematic. The arms are very complex, but moreover it is difficult to recreate a natural look to rope like arms moving. To create this look in the second animation, it was necessary for us to draw a sine wave to follow and animate the arm along; this is a bit of a tedious process, but really the only way of getting this sort of look and feel.

 

Previously on Triluminati!!

Our big main project right now is ‘ADA – Automated Discovery Android’, the game is a third person platformer, centering mainly on adventure, and story elements. You play as a robot, and the game takes place in a solar system. You can navigate the solar system in a spaceship, and land on planets, basically anything you can see you can fly to and land on.

Each core planet is essentially a level and has a unique theme (ice, desert, forest), the player can explore to find wildlife, predators, resources, and dungeons.

The dungeons are in theme with the planet, and involve platforming, puzzle solving, and story based elements as well as basic combat. Wow, that was all direct and to the point huh?

ADA Concept

This was a project myself and Chris Osmond thought about in earlier semesters, with the basic concept of making a game that involves the player navigating spheres or small worlds akin to Mario Galaxy.

So when asked what project we wanted to do over an eleven week period, with three other subjects to worry about in the second semester of our second year, we pitched this idea… because deep down inside we fucking hate ourselves.

The first ever prototype I put together looked like this:

Wow! Yay! The thingie moves around the moon whatsit! This is obviously going to work and be cake! We all left early and got sandwiches.

Obviously it wasn’t going to be so easy. What you see here is a very basic gravitation system and player controller, which over time, we had to change completely.

You see we didn’t like the idea of the planets floating static in space, so wanted to add rotations for real time day night cycles. We also didn’t like the idea of load screens, so the entire solar system was to be visible at all times. We didn’t want the player to just appear on the planet, we wanted the player to fly to the planet, have the ship get caught in its atmosphere, and beam down.

Did I mention we were second years with no industry experience that fucking hate ourselves?

1280-picard-blooper

Basically our project pitch was a combination of all these kinds of systems in a kind of alpha, and a whole tonne more, like shaders, optimisation magics, and a player controller that behaved like a regular third person platformer but on a spheroid type planet.

Through sheer determination, luck, and a bunch of moxxy, we actually got it all done.

Yay! Leave early for sandwiches!

High5Chris.jpg

CHRIS OSMOND: “SICK!”

What we didn’t have was gameplay… I mean, it WAS an Alpha, we damn well never promised gameplay, and in fact took umbrage to the fact it seems like no one knows what a damned Alpha version of a game is. Also: Did I mention we were second years at the time with eleven weeks to do this in? I MEAN GET OFF MY CASE YEEEEESH.

The team was pretty broken up over it all, and everyone was ready to ditch the project and make phone games for the rest of our lives. After a nice relaxing holiday period, we decided we still hated ourselves too much to ditch it, so here we are, back at the base of the mountain pushing that boulder.

This year we hope to get AI and gameplay popping off, and extend what started as an uni project into something special. Me and the team will be updating this space on the regular with the projects progress, and fun write ups on some of our cooler processes.