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So today I find myself back in front of my PC after just over a week away, loading up Unreal Engine ready to work on my project. Only there was one problem, something was missing... My productivity. Now this is an issue for a variety of reasons, the main one being I have a hard deadline to complete it - April 30th. Also, this is essentially my equivalent of a dissertation, I need this to finish my degree in May. So, I've come up with a plan to push myself into action, because I damn well need to! What is this plan you may ask, well, you're reading it right now. I plan to post on here at least once a week with progress updates and screenshots of my work for you all to see. Now then, time to fill you lot in on all the details. What is the project? I'm building a Virtual Reality traditional sword fighting training game that will help provide tutoring on the grading syllabus, used either in coordination with standard classes, or for those interested in the sport but not yet been to training. It's being built for the Oculus Quest though it has easy potential to be ported over to the Rift as well. I'm basing the system on English Country Backswording, which is something I have been training in for the past 4 years. I'm focusing on implementing all the training required to complete the first grading due to the time limit, though further grading levels can easily be added at a later stage. I'm building it on Unreal Engine as I used it last year for my previous VR game - Castle Seige, which while not complete, a video of which can be found on my YouTube channel. I will also be implementing some motion capture footage to act as a guide to users on how to properly move. What I've done so far Training rooms are built and textured Menu system is working for the most part Assets have been gathered Theory content overlays have been made Things still to complete Volume bar in setting menu needs functionality Implement timings and prompts for theory content Create overlays for practical content Capture MoCap footage + clean it up Import MoCap into project Implement timings and prompts for practical content Add tracking hitboxes for each practical move More to be added
So it's time for the first update of hopefully many! I've been getting work done over the past few days, admittedly not as much as I would have hoped for, but something is better than nothing! So, yesterday I spent making widgets that could pop up once a tutorial mode has been selected. There's not many different types - Cuts, Guards and Drill 1 for practical lessons, and for the theory lessons there is the 4 governors, 4 grounds and true times of a fight. I began with making the widgets for the Cuts, as these are the easiest to describe to a user, and as I was trying to cut down on how many I made I wished to implement all 8 cuts into one widget. To do this I attempted adding an animation which cycles through each text box hiding and displaying the relevant one at the correct time, however when it came to actually displaying this it always glitched out and not hiding any layers, making one big mess of numbers. Nothing I did would fix this, so I've reverted back to one widget per cut, and as there's 8 there's a lot of widgets now! I have now realised this is a better route anyway, as I can only display the next prompt once the user has successfully been through the correct action, instead of only having a 5 second time limit to try to learn in. I am in the process of creating the hit boxes that register if the user has performed correctly or not, and the blueprints to summon these and the widgets into existence are working successfully! Today I continued on with the widgets, however I noticed one big issue whenever I tested out my levels - When you open the world it's huge, and you feel like an ant in a giant's world. Clearly this was a scaling issue, and after some time finding out standard player height for Unreal Engine is, I managed to go through each level and correctly scale everything down, by approximately 50%. The feel of the world is much more natural now and I'm glad I spotted this now, instead of further down the line where I'll have to edit where anything spawns as well. Finally, I had a meeting with my supervisor for this project yesterday, and for the most part this was pretty standard - just reviewing a previous hand-in for the write up side of the project, going through things to change and such. Then he brought up something that I'm super excited to be involved in - the motion capture element of this build. Now, the original plan was to use the motion capture facility the university has, it's a bit basic but gets the job done, and I'd have to clean up any footage captured, which to be honest I have no idea how to do as I've got zero experience with mocap. Last week he had hinted that the university was in talks with an external motion capture specialist studio about using their faculties, and yesterday he confirmed this is indeed going ahead! They would film everything, and clean up my footage ready to be imported straight into my project, to call it a lifesaver would be an understatement! Immediately I pulled together a shot list for what I require to be sent off to them and hopefully I'll be hearing back soon about a date later this month to start filming! That's all for now, folks! I'll be continuing on with playing around with widgets in the meantime, as there's a lot to create, and hopefully should have a more productive update for you all in a few days time!
Yes, I know an unusual title and to be honest, slight clickbait because what it should really be titled is 'Motivation'. This is the key ingredient to video game development, particularly if like me you are starting out for the first time, because it will determine whether or not you complete the project or suddenly give up. For the last two years I have learnt the following; there are two types of people: those who like the idea of something and those with ambition to see it through. The first group are motivated by the romantic idea that the process of making a game will be fun because it will be simple and it earn millions. However, once they discover how hard and technical development is they give up. If this is you please do yourself a huge favour right now: stop. You are not going to achieve anything and you will burn out. Game development its a hard and time consuming task that often means you have to stay up late and be anti-social in order to find out why one aspect of the game does not work. An example of this is when I first started out using Unity and I managed to create a terrain and in my eager bid to try a character controller on the terrain and incorrect triggered a spawning effect whereby infinite models of the play model kept appearing. That stupid mistake took 2 weeks to fix and before I realised my mistake. This is also the difference with those that see the task through and are motivated by the passion of the process and learning something new. You have got to be ready to learn from your mistakes whilst maintaining that it is worth it because it is a creative outlet you. That was true in my case. During the initial development I burnt out because I had placed unreasonable deadline. When I resumed I chose to scrap the deadline in order to create something to help me deal with what I was experiencing. The sudden death and loss of my father in law and my grandmother. Both have had some an impact on me that I began to struggle with things in real life, except when I was focusing on a creative project. This in turn motivated me to try again and focus on what was more important. ADVICE NUMBER 1: Take your time and focus on your motivation to complete the project. Do a little bit every night for an hour. Although it seems little, you will see how it impacts on the bigger picture.
Developer: Steel Mantis Platforms: Nintendo Switch (reviewed), Steam, Xbox, PS4 Price: $24.99 Genre: 2D, Action, Platformer Metal. Gore. Destruction. Insanity. After playing several hours of Valfaris, you'll understand more about these words than you ever have in your lifetime. From the team that brought you Slain: Back from Hell, Valfaris sets to deliver a new type of experience, with similar mechanics and gameplay. It has all the attributes of a heavy metal concert and 90's sci-fi movies all mixed into one. Grab your pick of destiny and get ready to ROCK! Whether you've played Slain: Back from Hell or not, Valfaris is a great game to get your feet soaked in blood. You play as Therion, son of Vroll, and he is on a mission to reclaim Valfaris for his own. Vroll has taken control of Valfaris and tainted it with evil spread across every inch of the grandiose citadel. A bit full of himself and riddled with puns, Therion seeks to strip his father of his powers and will rip through anything to find him. After a short introduction scene opening the game, you finally get thrown into a 2D post-apocalyptic world with a hint of cyberpunk like colors. I was pleasantly surprised by the tight mechanics of the game but wasn't completely satisfied with the button layout. Lucky for me, I was able to swap out certain functions with others—happy with the new button layout, I was on my way. Right out of the gate, you are overwhelmed by hordes of bloodthirsty foes. Equipped with trusty weaponry, Therion is ready for anything the darkness has to throw at him. There are three types of weapon classes: Sidearm, Melee, and Heavy weapons. Sidearms are quick and easy to use without having to consume combat energy. Melee is close range, risky, but useful in gaining additional combat energy from enemies. Finally, Heavy weapons are meant to output massive damage but consume the most combat energy. As far as defensive actions are concerned, you also wield a shield that acts as a form of parrying if timed just right. Another neat feature with this shield is that you can hold projectiles and redirect them at your foes! Over time you'll collect new weapons that add a new way to play, and I found it's a good thing to swap these out from time to time based on sections where enemies would prove to be more difficult than others. Weapons add some sort of strategic value to the game, and you'll want to balance what weapons work best for your play style, but also weapons that are the most effective. Valfaris has a system of making upgrades to your weapons. Be on the lookout for piles of skulls that may contain an upgrade material known as 'Blood Metal.' Certain enemies may drop this material as well, and eventually, enough upgrades will warrant a new material you'll need to collect to make this final upgrade. Resurrection Idols are placed throughout the game and play a vital role in how checkpoints function. If you've got a big set of balls on you, hold onto those resurrection idols and increase your health bar and combat energy. However, if you're like me, I prefer to use them at each checkpoint, so I can avoid having to backtrack as often. You do eventually collect enough to build up your health bar and combat energy slightly. There comes a point when you reach, what I like to call, a 'vending machine.' This vending machine gives you blood metal, in return for resurrection idols—choose wisely if you're low on idols but desire to upgrade a weapon. One of the biggest challenges of the game is the fact that you encounter so many varying enemies and bosses with unique traits. Keep your eyes peeled for traps and other inanimate objects that seem to crush, suffocate, and impale you, too. You'll get familiar with dying, so prepare for the worst—I say this because everything WILL kill you. Fortunately, you won't encounter a "You died" or "Slain" phrase each time you kick the bucket. The best way to stay alive is to be vigilant and hope enemies drop additional health or a blue skull to replenish your combat energy. If not used, the hearts and blue skulls will disappear after a short time, so make use of these promptly. Anyone a fan of mechs? That's right, you reach a point when manpower is only so much and you'll need aid from a big, beefy bit of machinery. Causing complete chaos, you feel like nothing can stand in your way. Similar to how you play with Therion, there are three types of attacks and a booster jump that will crush enemies below. It's a little clunky, but ultimately I think it's a solid addition to keep things fresh within the game. Everything from gameplay to enemy and level design meshed very well, though, my only real gripe of the game is how you aim. There were times when I would attempt to shoot down, and Therion would only crouch. Movement is key to staying alive, and despite being able to freeze your character to aim, I thought crouching was a bit redundant. I fully understand why it's there it just didn't work all that well for me. One more thing to plug here is Steel Mantis has been hard at work to bring you a New Game + mode called "Full Metal Mode" that will challenge the player even more than Valfaris already does! The update will feature: All weapons, upgrades, and upgrade items will be carried over Enemies and bosses will be more aggressive The player will take more damage Players will have access to one additional Destroyer class weapon At the time of writing this, there is no set date on when the update will be released and it will be free across all platforms. Finally putting this review to rest, Valfaris has an enticing story and wicked cool visuals that will keep your lust for blood quenched. I found the soundtrack and SFX to be quite gritty, grungy, METAL and I loved every second of it! The game is brutal but it's doable—challenging in just the right way. Valfaris is an indie title you should be eager to drop some cash on. Grow that hair out and get ready to ROCK! Game code was generously provided by Big Sugar for review purposes only on the Nintendo Switch. We appreciate your willingness to spare us a code!