A lot of blueprinting went by and also a lot of thinking and finding solutions. Obstacle avoidance should be easy, but add variable object size and physics simulation, and the potential for bugs multiplies tenfold. I managed to create a simple obstacle avoidance, which is far from perfect, but an AI ship can now check if there is an obstacle to its target, and if there is, fire several rays in a star pattern to find the closest open space it can go to and then resume its path to target. I will leave AI at that for now because it was pretty hardcore.
I started the mission system and made basic mission managing. It’s very simple and linear, but there can be as many missions as needed in a level. At the start of the level, Event Dispatchers are bound for Starting, Advancing and Completing the Mission. These will manipulate the array of objectives, and see what their state is. The events can be called by any actor, but I think the Level Blueprint will do most mission scripting, where references of level triggers can be easily grabbed. This was pretty interesting to do, but I’ve seen enough blueprints to last a lifetime now. I’m itching for some art now =D
After completing the racing course (you can see a video of it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_vIEi0v7h0 ) I decided to take my Patreon account down. In spite of having steady supporters from beginning to end, it wasn’t enough to stop me from worrying about bills and so I had to keep paying attention to commissions too. In effect, Patreon was straining me to complete some kind of content every month in addition to commissions and that workload wasn’t realistic nor it provided me with a large enough engaging audience, nor I could keep them interested for long. So, now I can work on the core game without worrying about dealing finished content to supporters.
About development proper: the good news is that now I have a pretty tidy spaceship class with all the core mechanics completely independent from the Controller class. This means that the Player should be able to pilot and fight in any spaceship in a level. Then I had to revamp other systems like the targeting system and docking. A complete revamp of the turret class was also made to be more clean, faster and to ensure that their convergence accounts for target distance and the currently selected camera. The navigation seen in the racing video is now called Drone mode (forward orientation controlled by mouse) it makes it easier to navigate in smaller ships without turrets.
With all that said, I wonder if in a real mission, the ship won’t be too hard to pilot, which probably begs for a tight control of a ship’s maximum speed and UI feedback of movement. So now I’ll be moving onto basic AI functions: seeking/fleeing, targeting and shooting, because shooting against drooling AI isn’t fun =)
Finally, I’m back at The Hologram. Ran into a few troubles in December, lost my computer and then I got sick. I didn’t really stop working and completed quite a few paintings, but had to stop with The Hologram for a moment there. I also had time to brush up some “research” into other video games like Elite Dangerous and I finally got Homeworld Remastered Collection which is kind of my source inspiration. Homeworld is a great lesson in economy: of design, polygons, visual storytelling, etc.
I’m highly motivated to push this forward and naturally I started with a painting of something I always wanted to do: the Pleiadean Council, where gods get to debate life, the universe and everything. It’s a place to debate current creative technologies and philosophies and where general Pleiadean laws are issued. The current Council is composed of Wadjet, Zeus and Svarog.
At first I was expecting to add more characters and make it more like its source inspirations: Hémicycle by Paul Delaroche and the School of Athens by Raphael. But as soon as I started, it became clear that I put more on my plate than I can chew, so to speak, and solving the illumination for this was a challenge unlike any other I’ve had before. It’s far from perfect, but I think I achieved at least a reasonable light bounce on the three main characters and I refrained from adding more people and instead, give the buildings some personality. If you see the full resolution image, there’s also a wink to cellular biologists, who might recognize the aminoacids circle in Zeus palm projection.
Next week I’ll get my head around visual development, so, enjoy and see you later
I dropped the b in Devblog, that’s what I have to say this time… no, just kidding. Just did that promised video with spaceship movement and firing, it’s probably very boring, no sound, but it’s my first serious incursion into the unreal blueprint black magic. The video shows in detail what is done, except pawn possession
This was fun to do, because difficulty was just around the curve. It got a bit frustrating when dealing with the multiple turret aiming, but I finally managed to get it right after learning that I had to convert the direction coordinates to local space with the InverseTransformDirection node.
Anyway, this little incursion happened because I feel a bit stuck in the main ship design and story design. The story is complete, but it doesn’t pack the punch I want. It doesn’t convey the wisdom, or the themes of humans as one organism and human cooperation I want to pass to the player. At the moment, things happen, there’s certainly wonder and incredible events never seen before, but they would translate best to a linear game, and not a game where the player feels he’s in control of his own story. In short, I want the player to feel that stuff happens to him, and that he influences the events, completely immerse him in the game.
In concept art I need to go back to ship design, maybe if I start with every other ship and then go back to the player’s ship, I’ll have some ideas then. But first of all, I have an idea for another character, Zeus to be precise, and I intend to do that first.
It doesn’t make much sense to hold back the identity of my IP, especially by obscuring it with a title as generic and bland as Working Title. So, the actual name for this project is The Hologram. Most of its universe was written almost a decade ago as novels, so no lack of lore here. The plot is being ret-conned and characters restructured because I wrote a convoluted plot while trying to figure out everything. That rarely produces good stories.
At the moment I have the basics of the story up to the end of the game which is usually the most difficult part in any kind of fictional creation. Now it’s time to let the stuff breathe, characters will soon bring themselves to life as soon as they are put in certain situations.
At the moment I’m designing the main character, but will only show when finished. Patrons on Patreon are getting progress images. I have another painting from another main character, but that is for later 😉
I have painted the other sketch for the human flight commander, Esther King. A Canadian war veteran, she’s now in charge of the Rapid Response Force, a WSO Unit in charge of Peacekeeping.
I haven’t been recording my paintings because I’ve been watching Space Battleship Yamato 2199 while I paint. It gets me a lot of inspiration and great ideas and totally recommend to scifi fans.
I’ve been thinking about the spaceship window dilemma and I noticed some interesting things about ships with windows. They allow the pilot to be seen from the outside, potentially showing his face. That in the case of this game wouldn’t make sense, because pilots will have a full helmet without glass parts, and that’s not up for debate. Another thing is that sunlight is allowed to enter the cockpit and can cast shadows. I noticed this in Elite Dangerous, rotating a ship and see the light shine on the cockpit is really an interesting and immersive feeling.
Other things about the nature of the main character are up for decision, but it’s something that will impact heavily about everything. Anyway, I want to star prototyping the game, Unreal 4.9 is looking really bloody solid and I can’t wait to put my hands on it again, but I also have tons of ideas for characters that I’d love to paint, so much fun to be had, so little time.
I’m also looking for work, commissions included.
I pondered long and hard about doing a video game based on my own scifi universe, and I could keep pondering about it, and about all the stuff that could go wrong (and will certainly go wrong), but life is short and if I’m to make my own philosophical space opera, I better do it while I’m not dead (hah, although batshit crazy is probably a requirement).
I’ll begin with pre-production, which at this point to me, means painting concepts like there is no tomorrow while I figure the details of the project. Meanwhile let’s call it Working Title. Another dimension to it is that I want to attract as much attention to my patreon and commissions as possible as a way to gain my own financial independence and so, later in the project, money will be necessary to complete work I’m not proficient in. So expect high resolution files, .psd and videos to be monetized, I will still obviously document my progress and share all I can.
What can I say about this video game? it’s mostly science fiction in a near future, it will have hard scifi elements but also really wonky stuff and the main system will be an space flight sim. Main inspirations are probably games like Freespace, Homeworld, and movies like 2001 and Interstellar.
So, this was my first piece, a station in Low Earth’s Orbit (LEO Station) where humans wander around and do all their space business. It is essentially a tale of humanity’s upbringing set in the near future. There will be conspiracies, space battles, and aliens, of course =)