[UE4] Simulacra - Twin stick exploration game

Hey all!

I've started working on a twin stick exploration game in UE4 for fun and wanted to start sharing it as soon as possible to get as much community input as possible.

The game is very early in development but I am shooting for something that feels like a hybrid of This War of Mine and Super Metroid with a dash of Xcom (In overall vibe, not necessarily gameplay).

I would absolutely love any feedback that people might have and will be aiming to update often so that ideally the community's voice has a direct impact on development. I'm trying to be as creative in this regard so things are fun an iterative for everyone. An example is I have started prototyping the strategy layer of the game in text adventure form as this is a good fit for how it will appear eventually in game. It also means people can play it directly in their browsers and I can make rapid changes.

Thanks for taking a read through! Any and all feedback is welcome!

- CJ




  • Francois_K
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    Francois_K polycounter lvl 4
    I'm having a bit of trouble downloading it via mega , it's giving me errors and doens't respond. Maybe it's just me.

    But judging by the screenshot move up the name a little bit as the 'y' in Evelyn is covered and might cause some issues for other words if there would be any. Also the level '2' , the 2 is quite dark and hard to read.

    Since your mentioend it's really early in development , it's probably just a makeshift UI but I don't know.

    Hope this helps somewhat.
  • Eric Chadwick
    Since you're seeking feedback, this belongs in 3D Art Showcase & Critiques instead of General Discussion. Moving in 3... 2... 1...
  • JoscelinFrost
    Francois - Good to know about the mega trouble, I haven't had too many test cases so far so there may indeed be a problem. I'll try to look into it.
    And yeah, you are definitely right that the UI is very temporary. At least for now the player character's name is fixed but may change due to possessing other characters, I'll still change that for visual clarity. Same goes for the level number.

    Eric - Thanks for doing that, I wasn't sure where game dev oriented content should go.

    Thanks for the feedback! - CJ
  • JoscelinFrost
    Copypasta from blog:
    Hey all!

    This week was an exciting one for me, to finally have the game shared with the public is something I've wanted to do for a long time. I will try to do these weekly wrap ups to share any progress from the week, and it will also help me to stick to a bi-weekly build release. Look forward to a new build next week!

    This week mainly consisted of:
    General - Getting the game posted and setting up a few main threads to share it (Polycount, IndieDB)
    Art - Greyblock modelling for base architecture and some initial texture and material work.
    Design - Minor work on Design Test text adventure. New version posted on the game page.
    Design - Cleanup and rework of design doc to prepare for next steps.
    The main focus this week was Art, specifically for the game's base of operations. The location is intended to be a semi-derelict medical facility/bunker. I greyblocked (rough un-textured proxy) models for the various areas and started doing test decoration of the spaces. The current idea is to have four main sections; Clinic, Fabrication/Engineering, Lab, Bunks/Dorm. The layout is still quite temporary, it still needs to be informed by the design and narrative needs of the space but that being said I'm still happy with it as a start. I continue to enjoy making "smart" art using UE4's blueprints, using procedural rules to make it faster and easier for me to decorate.
    For example, a simple blueprint that stacks a randomized number of crates on top of each other, randomly rotates each in 90 degree increments to break up the faces, then offsets and rotates by a couple of degrees for a more naturalistic final look. A pretty simple example but hopefully gets the idea across.

    If you haven't already, please download and play the main game from the game page, or if you are short on time, take a look at the design text adventure.

    Have a great weekend!

    - CJ

  • JoscelinFrost
    Copypasta from: http://joscelinfrost.blogspot.com/2015/10/friday-wrapup-spooky-edition.html

    Happy Halloween everybody!

    This week didn't quite go as planned but still managed to make some progress here and there. The barrier of course was my storage hard drive dying on me, but fortunately I already have a replacement installed and a couple week old backup of the data restored. I did end up sending out the dead drive for data recover, we will see how that goes. So in the meantime I am switching over to parallel tasks that won't require ugly reintegration should I get the data back in a usable form.

    So this week was mainly:
    • Fighting with my hard drive
    • New text game build - More in depth design work, specifically on the text game test and its role in character abilities and upgrades.
    • Writing some basic lore and game premise info (will be shared soon, needs editing)
    • Made a material orb to be used as an standard primitive when authoring smart materials. More info below.

    Please take a look at the text game and leave feedback and thoughts. The game is a lot cleaner now, and though it still doesn't have much in the way of player choice, it is getting closer to a rough "alpha" state.
    The one art task that I focused on this week was to make a material orb for use when authoring textures. I've wanted to make one for a while so I could standardize and make it easier to craft "smart" materials more readily.
     If you aren't familiar with the concept of smart materials, they are a relatively new way of texturing models. By supplying the material with a small set of support textures that are baked for each asset, the material is able to adapt the visual detail to the contours and shapes of that specific asset. This means that if you make a "smart" metal material and then apply it to two different models, it will generate textures for each with the rust accumulating in all the right cracks and oil residue dripping down the surface in the right direction, etc. This coupled with physically based rendering makes it much easier to achieve good looking art that doesn't need adjusting in different lighting scenarios.
     A material orb simply makes this process a bit simpler and more streamlined as you can test the materials against the same model, and because it is built with this in mind, will look good on a variety of surfaces. By decoupling the material authoring from the unique model you can make a handful of materials that can texture an entire environment, and using newer previs techniques, use the materials to inform both the concept art and final models without any extra work.

    Happy Halloween all!

    - CJ

  • JoscelinFrost
    Started working on a couple new assets as a way to learn Modo (was in desperate need of an update from my ancient version of Max). This is one of the more simple designs I started working on, a simple utility locker. Did all the texture and detailing in Substance designer, following a cool tutorial by Nick Quackenbush on cageless normal map baking:
    I'll probably be making a few variants of it for areas in the game but am definitely happy with the progress. Some of the other assets are a bit more complex but will post them as I make progress. All thoughts are welcome, more game info on the blog if you are curious.
    Thanks! - CJ

  • JoscelinFrost
    I've been working on the concept design for the main character of the game recently, I'm pretty happy with the way she has turned out. Any thoughts on her? She is meant to be kind of a medical droid, a computer piloting a synthetic body.
    More info on her on my blog here if you are curious.
    Thanks all!
    - CJ

  • JoscelinFrost

    This week was a fun one for me as I had a bit more time to delve into the game than usual. The two things I chose to focus on were artistic process and management design (more on the design on the blog).

    I've always been a bit fan of workflow improvement and optimization and was really inspired by Michael Pavlovich's GDC talk "Blurring the Separation Between Concept and Production." This led me to try out a new twist on my modelling process with the intent of getting things in engine faster. In general it is:

    1. Greyblock model - Quickly test something a very block, ugly version in engine to test overall scale and sillouhette
    2. High poly - Still focused on large shapes and not on details, using tools like Zbrush's Zremesher to get sculptable topology.
    3. "Auto" low poly and unwrap - Using tools like decimation master and unwrap in zbrush to get quick representative models
    4. Batch texture - Pipe low poly and high poly into Substance designer or Quixel suite to both bake and texture.
    5. Import into engine.

    There are still a lot of steps I would like to streamline and automate more but I really like this process because it means in a very small time I can go from high poly to having something in engine that I can actually look at. Where this really shines is the fact that I can go back to any step in the process, refine something, and everything will update with very little to no effort.

    Using the above process I made this crate, medical tub, and partition curtain. I'd like for everything to feel almost like a handpainted miniature, very tangible when I'm done so they all were piped through the same slightly dirty clay substance for now. I will be doing more of this work to flesh out the other models in the base before refining anymore textures too much so the area feels more lived in and less empty.

    Also, I also sat in on the weekly Unreal Engine twitch stream. This week they talked about developing the characters for Paragon and rendering challenges. Lots of fun to watch and interesting to hear them talk about some of the more technical aspects and developments. New upcoming tech includes:

    • New hair shading solution - Anisotropic highlights on masked hair with supporting techniques that get rid of most hard edge penetration issues.
    • New eye shading solution - Similar to skin shader but allows for more convincing wet surface. Coupled with material techniques for recreation of the lens, iris and other physical phenomena associated with the eye.
    • New cloth shading solution - Based on research and work done by Ready at Dawn for the Order, adds "fuzziness" which enables the recreation of a wide range of cloth types without fresnel fakery.

    *Above character are from Paragon, not made at all by me!*

    Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!     - CJ

  • CarlK3D
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    CarlK3D polycounter lvl 4
    Really cool stuff, looking forward to more
  • JoscelinFrost
    Thanks, I appreciate it!
  • JoscelinFrost

    This week I had quite a bit of fun digging into Plant Factory to author some new plants. I'm also trying out a gradient mapping technique for coloring the plants in engine so I can hopefully both balance the color of each environment and also get lots of good variety out of each asset.

     Happy holidays! - CJ

  • JoscelinFrost
    Just a quick note, the game is still alive and well, progressing quite nicely. I haven't posted much here as most of the updates have been fairly gameplay centric in nature and I try to keep this thread as art focused as possible. Hopefully I'll have more art to share soon, but feel free to check out the IndieDB thread for more frequent news. Thanks!
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