Sunday, 29 April 2012

Almost 1st submittal time...

So tomorrow I have the first submittal deadline at 6:30pm so I have been rendering turnarounds like nobody's business...there are a LOT of turnarounds...

But as for work it's gone quite well over the last few days, I got the crossbow to face the right way now. It wasn't to do with the coding which would explain why I couldn't see it, it was just one of the settings on the skeletal mesh editor that told it to rotate at 90 degrees for some reason.

I've also scaled the crossbow up and the club down so it is more realistic. I tried doing this before but couldn't get the sizes so change, apparently you have to rescale and then re-skin in Max before exporting again. So I just created a used a Scale variable in the code to save me time.

I got the arrow flying more realistically, although sometimes it would mess up... either travelling very slowly or seemingly not appearing. But I went back on to the net and found a different piece of code for programming projectile static meshes and customised that one to fit the crossbow and arrow. This has worked much better now and I even have it so that the arrows stick into walls and objects! It goes wrong when you kill a player as the arrow floats where it hit the player but there is a chance I wont be able to fix that in time as I wouldn't really know where to start.

Here's a video of the crossbow working correctly and the arrows sticking into the walls:

I've also set up some sound cues for the firing of the crossbow, the impact of the arrow and attacking with the club (although the club hit is really annoying and needs to be changed). I then linked them through the code so that they play at the times specified and hey presto!

I've also used kismet for the first time in this project to change the starting weapons of the characters...but this has been met with limited success so far. I tried to get it so that when a player spawns it removes the existing weapon (the link gun) and replaces it with a custom weapon (the club) but at the moment it removes everyone's weapons and only gives them a club every time a player spawns, which is annoying when your trying to use a crossbow. I'll have to look into this more but for now I'm making it so the player keeps the link gun but also gets the club, for testing it's fine as the AI prefer the club and it never runs out of ammo so they don't use the link gun, but that will need to change.

Here's a screenshot of the simple kismet I have set up:

Joe did find an error earlier with getting his code and my code to run in game, as his code is run before my code due to its placement in the config folder but it references my packages. We cannot load my packages first though as they all expand on the default UDK code.

Hopefully this wont be too much of a problem come the final submission but we may not have it working in time for the 1st submittal which is a shame, but for the first deadline I don't think we've done too badly.

Friday, 27 April 2012

3 day post streak!

This is now the 3rd day in a row where I believe I have enough work to warrant another blog post, which is great. Although I really don't think I'll be able to keep this up much longer, I'm starting to hit roadblocks now and works beginning to slow down.

Today I managed to update the flag texture somewhat. I added a bit of normal detail to the golden part as was my first intention, I did this by finding an image and then using it as a Mudbox stencil. I also wanted to add lots of cloth folds to the flag...but I didn't think it through when I upwrapped it and lay all of the flag pieces on top of each other meaning Mudbox cant render it out...ah well... lesson learned I guess.

Here's the flag now:

Its far from finished...but get the picture.

I now have the crossbow firing arrows semi-correctly. The arrow mesh now points in the direction you are looking, so the arrow no longer comes out sideways, and it now travels at a more normal speed. I also rescaled the arrow so that it is more realistic compared to the crossbow and players. The problem at the moment is it has a wierd bug while flying through the air and I'm not entirely sure what's causing it. Either the mesh emitter is firing more than one mesh and it's confusing it or something is going wrong while rendering it and it's not showing correctly. I'm going to try and take a closer look at this soon by getting the AI to fire some arrows and trying to observe it from a different angle.

I would post a screenshot of the arrow going wrong but I could be here all day trying to get the timing right.

Another thing I have managed to figure out is the weird shadows being cast on the main tent. This was, as suspected, a lightmass unwrap issue. I just had to go back in and take the lightmass unwrap to more extremes and it seemed to do the trick. It took some time testing it every time I tweaked it though, as I had to rebuild the lighting in UDK which currently takes around 5 minutes.

And last but certainly not least...I managed to playtest it today, with bots running round and managed to make it a proper capture the flag game that the bots join in and play, which is great. I would love to have seen the smile on my face for the first 10 minutes of playing it until I realised I should probably actually be working. I screen recorded a video of the bots all running round playing capture the flag, the quality may not be particularly good on here but I'll be doing a better render sometime before Monday's deadline anyway.

There are no Ogres or Mongolians running around at the moment as I haven't added Joe's script files or USk packages into my UDK setup yet, but that will be easy enough to sort out, I'm just waiting for them to be completed. The weapons are not running yet either although I have re-done the script for the club now and the AI can use the weapons. (They can use the crossbow anyway, I'm yet to test the club but it's using almost identical code) I decided to leave the weapons out as they are currently firing lasers to determine impact and the club is long ranged and problems like that so I thought for the viewing it would just be better to use the UT3 weapons.

Tomorrow I will probably use most of my time trying to get the weapon scripts working how I want them too, just so I have some kind of working weapons for Monday's first submittal, but if I find I'm getting nowhere with it I'll get on with some texturing as a lot fo that still needs completing.

Thursday, 26 April 2012


It was only yesterday that I last posted a blog entry, and already I feel I should make another. For saying I didn't start work today until around 7:30pm I got a fair amount done.

First things first, I already figured out what was wrong with the UDK viewports...well I didn't actually find out what was wrong, but I found a fix. There is a menu arrow in the corner of the viewport which you can click on, then go to show, then return it to defaults. That seemed to do the trick.

The flag is now mostly sorted out, I have the cloth physics working on it, although part of it is wrapping round so I will have to check the skinning of that later. It has very minimal textures but all of the coding for it is already complete. I have a red and a blue flag, both implemented into the game and you can pick one up and carry it to the other flag to score points, so I effectively have a capture the flag game using my own flags now.

There's not much here I can show you in pictures as its mostly code work. But I can show you a picture of the flag. The opacity map is currently in progress and that's why the flags are only partly ripped.

As a bonus to this I made a custom flag base, so that it didn't use the very sci-fi style UT3 one. It's nothing special but it's rather small in the game and wont attract too much attention so I would rather spend my time on other objects.

This is the base, modelled, unwrapped and with a base texture on it:

Then finally, as I have the script sorted for the base too I can get the flag to spawn above the base and can be picked up and used as normal. Here's a screeny:

Interestingly it tries to apply the original UT3 texture to my mesh when you actually run the game. There is probably a texture override in the code somewhere that I haven't found yet but I'm sure that wont be too much of a problem.

The flag also sits at a 90 degree angle to the base, which in itself isn't too much of a problem but when a player picks the flag up it partly hangs in front of their face, which is annoying to say the least... but that will be a simple changing of co-ordinates in the code...I'm hoping...

Either way I seem to be getting the hang of the code now, and I'm able to edit it fairly fast without too much trouble. I feel like I could do anything with it at the moment, but then I keep looking at the weapon scripts and thinking maybe not... but we shall see...

As a final bonus though...

0 Errors and 0 Warnings! I've not seen that since I first started up UDK and now I'm managing to keep it this way, which is awesome.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

I'm losing track on what's new now...

Its been around a week and a half since my last post... how bad of me...

Anyway, a few of the days of were spent on getting my essay done for contextual studies, I wrote it on the difference between Western and Eastern game titles and why they differ. It was quite a fun essay to write and research but I had some trouble getting quotes for it...I was pretty pleased with what I managed in the end though...probably one of my better essays...hopefully...

As the title suggests, I'm flicking between bits of work all over the place at the moment, trying to get everything finished of at least in a workable state before the 1st submittal this Friday... I highly doubt everything will be working as I want by then, as the weapon script is proving more difficult than I anticipated...but hopefully by the time the final submittal roles round they should be working...

I'm saying hopefully a lot, that probably isn't good...

But on to work!

I've solved the wall lighting issue where a seam would appear about 3/4 of the way up the mesh and it didn't seem to show on any texture maps. It was just a smoothing groups issue...the amount of times that catches me out... but that's all sorted now, and I even went back and made a slight improvements to the wall while I was there.

I got around the issue of not being able to fire inside the cave as I was using 2 landscapes to make the holes for the cave, as you cant make holes in the landscape as its still in early development. To get around this I just made a quick mesh in 3DS Max and then stole the UDK texture I was using on the other cliffs. It's by no means ideal and it still needs work, but it proved to be a fairly simple, quick fix so I'm not complaining.

I have rescripted the crossbow weapon using the UT3 shock rifle files and adjusting the code. I'm not going to post it all here because it is really long and in 5 or so separate files. But basically I have the weapon in UDK and you can fire it. Although at the moment the crossbow is held sideways, it shoots giant arrows that don't face the right way and lasers shoot out of it and explode yeah, not finalised yet. But I know how to solve most of them problems, or can at least work it out, the only thing I'm unsure about it the mesh emitter which is used to fire the arrows...but if worst comes to worst I can just use a particle emitter and try to make it look like a fast arrow.

Here's the crossbow being held wrong:

Here's the arrow not flying correctly:

As an added weapon bonus, I have the club pickup working, kinda... It's rotating above the pickup point fine, but I think the scale is too big and the pivot is just too high so when he holds it you can only make out the bottom of the handle, but that should be an easy change now that I have it working in game.

I've also made a flag tonight, working from since I left Uni and went shopping, I have managed to model, unwrap and skin a flag that will replace the default UT3 flag. It is 1144 polys, so that works out at 2288 tris in UDK. I have only got base textures on the flag at the moment, but I have a red and blue flag made on the same texture map so the team colours will work. I have not yet set up the physics and cloth on the flag yet so it is only static, but it should flow like the banners do on my environment.

I've made the game a Capture the Flag game mode now...but that only involves changing the prefix to the map name, but I have the flag capture points in now, so it's a playable CTF game!

Hmm, other things I have done...I have tweaked little bits of textures here and there, adding a few spots of mud or rips to the materials. But nothing too major there. Oh, and I made some blocking volumes to keep players for getting out of the level, it is a bit of a cheap way of keeping them in, but it saves no end of time play testing all the ways someone could escape from the map and then tweaking the map again so I'm not complaining.

An interesting error I have come across, which is almost 100% a user error not a program error, is that I have seemed to hide all of the textures and materials as well as deleting and not showing new actor classes. I have tried flicking it though all the different viewing modes but cant seem to figure it out, which is interesting...Luckily it's not just my map, the base UDK ones are like it too and the textures load when you play it, so I hopefully haven't horribly destroyed it a few days before 1st submission...

Makes it look snowy which is cool, but if anyone knows what has caused this could you just drop me a message with a fix? I'm sure I'll figure it out soon enough but any time saved on this project is a massive help. Maybe I only need a computer restart or something...but hopefully it wont stick around and be a problem...

I just managed to get no errors or warnings while compiling the UDK that's a nice little personal victory for me

I was writing this blog as I was working on my other screen and I'm just gob smacked at how fast I'm working at the moment, I cant keep up blogging with everything that's getting done, and that's a really good feeling


Sunday, 15 April 2012

Caves and Script Changes

It's not been as long as usual since my last update but I'm going to try and update more often in smaller bites for the next few weeks as we're coming to the end of the project and there will be lots of changes and rushing about to come in the future, so here goes...

Possibly the biggest change I have made since the last update is texturing the cave. I have made a very quick diffuse map and quickly gone over it in Mudbox. I still need to improve it quite a bit but for how quick it was to make I think the results have turned out well.

There were a few problems with the unwrapping though, and that has continued to be a pain throughout the texturing of the cave, there are quite a few seams and they don't seem to be connecting well with the normal maps taken out of Mudbox. I seem to remember reading about a fix to this but to save time searching I manually went in with viewport canvas in 3DS Max to fill in the seams of the diffuse and normal maps.

I do intend to expand on this texture, adding unique parts to it in different rooms such as scratches or cave paintings, but that will most likely be a tweaking thing towards the end of the project. Here it is as it stands now though.

The cave itself was around 800 polys but I was getting some big smoothing issues, I applied meshsmooth to it which brought it up to around 3500 polys and I liked the result, plus it fixed my smoothing issues so I decided to keep it. The game still runs at about 33FPS while inside the cave as opposed to around 28FPS outside so the extra polys can be spared.

I have also added a few more of the rocks from outside in the cave to build on the walls as I intended to only build the outline of the cave in Max and then improve on it my adding rocks in UDK. Also doing it this way saves on memory as the rocks are already instanced in the scene so they do not take up as much memory as a brand new mesh.

I also thought that I would post the script for the weapons on here which I did a few weeks back incase anyone is interested in that or can point out any of the errors. I have them recognising the mesh in the game and have them doing damage when 'firing' but I have not yet set up the animations as I don't have them yet, and the meshes don't sit right in the 1st and 3rd person perspectives so I need to tweak the code to get them to sit right.

Here are the 2 files used to make the club work:

Here are the 2 that make the crossbow work:

And here is the bit of code that I changed in the script for the weapon pick up to change the static mesh to the one I have made:

All of the code there was taken from Epic's official UDK help pages at UDN and then edited to pick up my skeletal meshes and to have the amount of ammo and do the amount of damage ect that I want it to do in my game.

I have commented out (text in green) the animation sections for now as I don't have the animation files but I will fix them as soon as possible.

I intend to get the weapons working correctly in the next couple of weeks before the 1st submittal deadline, although that will probably be without the animations. Hopefully I can get that done and we will have a finished looking game ready to show by then, even if it will need quite a bit of tweaking.

So much for shorter blog posts....

Thursday, 12 April 2012

It's starting to come together!

Been just over a week since the last update, kept meaning to do it but I never had the time. But I do now!

So where to start...lets have a screenshot of the environment so far

Its looking pretty good now... If I do say so myself... better than I could see it being a few weeks ago anyway. The biggest change since last time must be the cave, it's only a model at the moment and its in the stage of unwrapping (which is being a pain) but I will hopefully have that mudboxed and textured soon.

As the landscaping tools I used in UDK are still in their infancy it does not yet have the ability it but holes in it for the cave, so I have made a second landscape over the top of it, although this comes with a few problems...firstly the shadows seem to be messing up on the hills, not entirely sure why. Secondly when stood underneath the 2nd landscape all bullets seem to disappear...

The trees and rocks that have been added are just UDK base meshes that I'm using as I don't have the time to model all of the rocks and foliage as well as everything else. I did have to make a collision mesh for one of the trees and all the rocks but they only took a short amount of time.

There's banners outside the Mongol camp and the Ogre cave now. I didn't intend to make them in pre production but I was getting a lot of feedback saying the environment needed more colour so it seemed like a fun way to add a bit of variety.

There is also some torches in the scene now, although they have only been very basically textured. They have the same fire effect as the campfire that have just been scaled down slightly.

Anyway, enough of the text, more pictures are needed! This is a picture of the banner that's outside the Mongol camp, it is a skeletal mesh meaning it can be animated, and its using cloth physics on the flag, I was going to record a video of it flapping in the wind but it's not screen recording very well...either way it works...

And here is the one outside the Ogre cave:

As a side note the textures have been updated since these screenshots and I have used an opacity map to give it a frayed and damaged look.

Up next is the torch:

Like I said, the cave and the torches are not properly textured yet, but you get the point. The firs is above the torches and a separate light just in front of the mesh gives the cave its lighting. When I tried to add some of the lights on the torches in the Mongol camp it broke the world lighting so I will probably leave them as unlit torches, but the ones in the cave work and they are the important ones.

Next... some puddles...

I've added a plane of water to the environment but placed it so it only leaves puddles rather than swim-able water. There are multiple puddles in the cave (you might struggle to see them but once the cave is textured they will stand out more) and a large puddle outside the cave.

Finally, and least impressively...
I gave the Ogre a bit of war paint, more to come...

But it feels like a good amount of work for a week and a half-ish and I'm still getting lots of free time while I'm home! Now I just need to start finallising everything so it looks more polished and write my critical studies essay...but it's looking good so far!


Tuesday, 3 April 2012

UDK Extravaganza

Been a while since the last update and a lot has changed since then. I've moved back home for the next 3 weeks over Easter, which is nice because I get to see all my family and friends and it hasn't had an impact on my work so far...instead the opposite has happened, I've been getting more work done.

For a start I have modelled and textured 2 new assets over the last 2 days, well I kinda made 2... It more one that I have cut up to make 2 to save on asset creation time. They are a campfire and a weapon pickup point, they are simple but the plan was always to keep most of the props quick and simple so I can get more assets in. They both have diffuse maps but not specular or normal maps yet, I would leave them without normal maps to save on memory but they are using the same texture file as the walls and that already has a normal map, turns out using 1 map for many objects is actually quite rewarding.

Here is the campfire with fire particle effects (stolen from UDK)

And then the weapon pickup point is simply the campfire without the wood burning.

I need to look at the script a bit more but I should be able to set it so the weapons hover above the custom pickup point as they do in UDK. While on the subject I've managed to get the weapons into the engine so you can pick them up, took a while but it turns out you need a separate package for the weapons rather than a separate group like I was using.

Here's a screenshot of the crossbow hovering over the pickup point, they still need lots of work but it's a great first step.

I have added the barrels from the minor project assignment as they fit the theme of it quite well and its a free asset to add to the project without wasting much time, and every extra prop I add will increase the effectiveness of the overall feel of it.

These barrels also have physics materials attached to them and can be knocked over and fired around, the collision mesh has also been made in a way that means it will hit the tap and stop rolling in a realistic way without having an over the top collision mesh which is great.

Also I have remade the terrain as it was much larger than I needed it to be and it was having a negative impact on the performance. It also plays better now as it doesn't take so long to walk from one end to the other. The 3rd bonus to the smaller environment is that I have less space to fill with objects which also helps the performance as there's less meshes everywhere.

Finally I have the shadows working on the landscape better, turns out there is a setting for the quality of shadows in the landscapes properties that I changed from 1 to 10 and now it has pretty pretty shadows everywhere.

Also I have been improving the ogre texture and that is almost complete now as well as beginning a model for a banner that will be in front of the Mongol camp and in front of the Ogre cave...once that has been made.

So there's plenty more to do but I it has gone very well over the past week and if this keeps up I should have everything I need working with some extras if I am lucky :)