Expansions Ahoy!

Hi Everyone,

I thought I’d take the time before I call this very long day… a day… (yes, that didn’t quite sound as good on paper as it did in my head) to update you on my indie game.

Moving swiftly on… I decided a while ago to include regular updates on here about my game project. Internally, I had decided to only include crucial updates; updates that would mark the total completion of a particular element of the game: eg: A fully complete room with all assets modeled or a fully working animation set etc.

However, after having a conversation with a friend of mine today, they expressed interest in being able to track the development at more incremental stages, and despite my hesitance to blast my social media feeds with self-entitled blog updates, I agreed that it would be a good idea to at least keep a track record of the updates here. So; all y’all who are interested can read up about it here and if you’d like to receive automatic pings on updates, feel free to subscribe!

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Cue a super-sampled screenshot of the new progress to break up the ranting!

Recently, I decided to make a hard push to finish a ‘shippable’ portion of my game idea. I’ve been toying with the mechanics I’d like to feature and what-not and whilst I held a day job it made progress incredibly difficult and sparse. So, whilst I actively search for employment in the games industry overseas; I decided I owed myself and many of whom I have talked to about my game idea a proper; vertical slice of gameplay that would… not exactly serve as your PSN / Xbox Live AAA game demo download… but more of a demo that would act as a proof of concept to what could be expected. I’m very aware of suffering from ‘feature creep’ and actively revise my expectations throughout development.

I hear time and time again from various panels and those already in the industry that producing something shippable is the key to receiving employment opportunities in the industry. So, whilst I apply for game jobs, I thought to continue developing my horror game to see a playable alpha-release and also hope to catch the eye of the industry. My hope is that by providing something shippable to download and play and not only images and videos to look at, perhaps there may yet be a chance! I should make clear however, and state for the record that everything on here is my work alone, and the same applies to anything featured on my portfolio unless otherwise stated! – I have yet to buy / use any others’ assets 🙂

Back to the demo…

In total, I aimed for 20-30 minutes worth of playable content. I know; it’s not exactly ground breaking, but it would feature 5 fully-developed sections to the police station to which previously; only had it’s corridor featured. Borrowing from the genius of classic survival-horror game puzzle mechanics, the player will be expected to travel between these 5 different areas to solve a puzzle that instead of being an ornate; jeweled bronze statue with a missing piece, is highly practical in nature and one I feel simply makes more sense for a more modern gaming era. The Resident Evil game based in the Arklay mountains mansion, was a great way to keep players highly engaged in a relatively small environment. Using techniques that needed pieces fitting, doors to be unlocked with ceremonial keys and the odd zombie or two, it was a marvel of resource management and budget to provide such quality gameplay in a small package, and one I also have to mirror to get the maximum engagement and play time out of the restrictive environment size.

Whilst I refuse to give details out on what exactly that puzzle is just yet, the environment lends itself to being explored as players are subtly given clues rather than directives. One of the key themes to this game was to encourage exploration, rather than a linear narrative. The game does of course, possess a strong narrative in my opinion, but has much interaction in the environment. I try as much as possible to include functionality in draws, cabinets, doors and tables without overwhelming players with too many things to interact with. My hope is that using logic, players will be able to correctly locate required items and use them appropriately to overcome their obstacles.

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Environments are intentionally dark and difficult to see as the player will have a flashlight at all times, I made sure to not cake the entire scene in complete darkness.

Needless to say the investigation room pictured in this post has been eating up quite a bit of my time this past week, and making me rather anti-social as the asset list is extremely vast and I aim to get this out the door in the next couple of months. Anything from a power bar to furniture such as sofas and chairs have received a complete Substance Painter pass, resulting in high detail for simple assets that may be easily gleamed past. I take my inspiration from the talent of Naughty Dog and Santa Monica Studios in their creative work for Uncharted and The Order: 1886 respectively. One of the key points the artists both echoed was the realism in subtle wear and tear. It’s rare to have anything that is truly spick-and-span and without going overboard and using subtleness as key; each asset received a ‘wear-pass’ to help ground it in the world and make it feel all the more realistic.

I realise that whilst the assets aren’t completely realistic-looking (the sockets aren’t actual holes for example) I took care to mind the overall polygon count for the scene so that it wouldn’t be monumental. As it stands, I’m currently using a streaming pool of 2GB to buffer the scene as it demands a little over 1.2GB of memory to process the scene in UE4 in its current state. Also, I believe that although the quality isn’t a 100% replication of the real-life asset, and improvements could definitely be made, it comes extremely close to the real thing and is of acceptable high standard to move onto the many hundred other assets patiently waiting on my list!

So, without rambling on for too long and making unforgivable spelling mistakes and cringe (it’s rather early in the morning over here) I’ll finish up. I recently put out a survey to friends that was extremely helpful in determining the mechanics for the game, little comfort-of-life choices such as camera / flashlight control and movement preferences. I’ll talk more about this in my next post and leave you with 2 more screenshots of the police department’s investigation room below!

 

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