[UE4] Dead Metal Punks game devlog. New Demo Available!

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pasco295 polycounter lvl 4
Hello everyone,

I've just started my Masters in games design and I'm using it as a way to create a game within the year. I am opening this thread to show the art/gameplay development over the next year. I'm using this to hopefully get some useful feedback on the project and some interest in it as it evolves. 

If anyone has any experience in creating games as a solo developer I would love some insight into your project and how you've created it. Here's a bunch of questions that relate to the research I need.
First off, what methods did you use to plan out the fundamentals of the game?

What major difficulties have you encountered during the project that you think could be avoided?

What gameplay elements would advise to stay away from for a small game?

Did you use any time saving tricks in asset or concept creation? if so what where they?

What element of the project do you think takes the longest period of time? Could it be shortened in any way?


Links

Blog: http://paulscottmagamedesign.blogspot.co.uk/ - this is the main blog where everything will be researched and posted. Follow if you're interested in the research part of this project :)

Website: http://www.paulscottdesign.com/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Pasco295

Artstation: https://www.artstation.com/artist/pasco295

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  • pasco295
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    pasco295 polycounter lvl 4

    Project Idea:

    My initial idea is to create a 3D sidescroller game in Unreal 4 which uses aspects of 3D which I would like to expand my knowledge on (Mostly hard surface and environment). The current idea revolves around a heavy use of vehicles and fun looking environments. A similar game to it would be Heavy Weapon, but I feel that game lacks a lot of character in how it looks and feels and I want to expand on the features and ideas present in that type of game.

    If it all goes well I want to split the gameplay into 2 different modes (vehicle and character modes) and each mode will play a little differently to give the player some variety. The vehicle one will be as described above, but the character mode will give off a metal slug vibe as I love those games and would like to explore how to create something similar.

    To give me a decent set of functional assets i'm going to begin by creating the rough version of the character's vehicle and a few enemy crafts. These assets are going to serve as high polys if I decide i'm happy with the designs. 

    I've created a set of building blocks for bashing together models quickly for rapid 3D prototyping. I'm going to focus on the player characters tank for this initially because this is one of the most important vehicle in the game. 

    For the modelling kit I decided to leave out basic body shapes because I think that would limit the creativity of the tanks right at the start of the design. 



    These initial 2 designs are ok, they have a couple of basic identifiers on them like the hatches and main cannons. I feel that they are boring though as there's nothing really unique about them at all and they have no elements that would help characterise them.

    For the 3rd attempt at the main characters vehicle design I began using exaggeration on parts of the model to give it some interesting features.  Once I had created the main structures I looked into adding aspects to give it character. I want the tank to be something similar to the characters home, so I took some inspiration from pack mules and loaded tonnes of junk on and around the turret.

    I then focused the design down to a few major assets on the tank to explain the tastes of the characters and how they could use the space. For example next to the machine gun is an open case full of ice and drinks, once of which is open with a straw pointing towards the open hatch. On the other side there is also an old CRT TV and an old games system, these don't just show the characters have an interest in games but also gives some idea of things available in this time period.





    I'm really enjoying this design at the moment but I think some of the clutter could use more detailed versions and some more variance just to make it a bit more interesting. Also maybe adding a deck chair under the umbrella would be cool.

    Any thoughts on anything that would improve the design?
  • AtticusMars
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    AtticusMars greentooth
    Can't really answer your questions but just want to say the designs look super cool, they feel really busy right now but I think that will ease up once you get materials on them and everything isn't the same color. 

    I also think maybe using fewer barrels/crates would be a good idea, if you need another boxy object, a minifridge would be a decent choice. It's also a bit rear heavy, depending on the players camera angle this may not matter much but its very odd from the side.

    Regardless, looks great. Lots of character.
  • cmc444
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    cmc444 polycounter lvl 7
    This is super cool I love the designs. I always think its visually interesting when the top parts hang over the base like you are doing with the umbrella and few of the top props. Make the silhouette really strong. 
  • pasco295
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    pasco295 polycounter lvl 4
    Thanks! I agree on there needing to be more variation on the boxy objects so I'll make more distinguishable junk to replace some of the boxes.

    The tutor has just changed how we are doing the project in a good way. The next 3 weeks will be used to create something to see if I feel the project is working etc, so for this I'm going to be getting some type of 1st level as polished as possible. Currently I have the level at about 4 minutes in length with 3 enemy types programmed in and 2 more with models to work with.

    Here's quick video showing what I've got this week. There's a few gaps in the attacking for dialogue or to give the player a break. Also there is going to be a boss instead of the last chunk of enemies, that's the main thing I have to work on currently.  What do you think?



    These are all the current enemies I have created over the week.


    Pretty happy with how the basic bomber has turned out. I think having the 2 top and 1 bottom cockpit helps emphasis the scale of this aircraft. I might have a play around with giving it a more interesting tail though.

    The fighter is the kinda boring now that I look back at it. I've done some quick sketches (Mainly the top 2) for new versions, anything in particular stand out?



    Not currently programmed in the helicopter, I'm loving the front and back views for it though. The curve of the body creates some nice shapes with the lighting. 


    This is my favourite of the bunch. I'm going to use them as living landmines mostly, hence the antenna to warn players of the location when buried. I've added some closed panels on the sides so later on I can maybe make variants of these that do different things.
  • pasco295
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    pasco295 polycounter lvl 4
    Since I'm wanting to do a full level in the next 3 weeks it's a good excuse to get the main characters tank through the pipeline so it's base version is all finished early on. 

    Done a set of 5 paint jobs/patterns. I'm liking 5 the most because the graffiti was fun to do and adds a lot of unique details around the tank. 2 is my second favourite but it might be a bit too saturated the rest are pretty standard.  

    I'll hopefully be adding multiple paint jobs later on so I guess having some regular ones fills up the choices the player can choose from.

  • pasco295
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    pasco295 polycounter lvl 4
    I've looked into how to plan out an effective way to create a map of what needs to be accomplished in each level and work out the gameplay progression. I found something called a Beat Chart, these charts are planned out in a way that explains the entire goal of a level. I'm going to test this method for the 3 week prototype so I can get the baseline for the goals of the level. 

    Scott rogers book 'Level up' has a nice example to show how to structure the Beat Chart, so i'm going to emulate this to a degree for this 1st level. Another more indepth chart is the one used on gamasutra's website, this one has a nice way of structuring a level that has several goals. The gamasutra one might be ideal later on but for now I only plan on having a single goal for the level.

    Level: 1-1

    Name: Concord City Outskirts

    Story: Lily MacKenzie and crew (Main character placeholder name) arrive at the boarder of concord city. They need to get inside the city to obtain a piece prototype equipment (This enables player customisation later on). When they arrive they learn that the city is surrounded by a huge wall and then need to get closer to investigate the path inside. Atlus are on alert and send out forces to stop the player in their tracks. 

    Progression: 
    • Player taught basic movement and combat through use of in-world UI
    • Player is introduced to the idea of scrap as currency (for use later on)


    Est.Play time: 4 mins runtime + 2-4 min boss battle (Depends on player skill)

    Colour map: Browns (Desert and rocks) Reds and washed out other colours (Billboards) Blues (Distant Objects)

    Enemies: 
    • Basic Fighter 1 (3 Bombs in a series) 
    • Basic Fighter 2 (3 Bombs fired at players location (No Homing) 
    • Basic Bomber (2 series of 5 bombs in quick succession) 
    • Bunker turrets (Rapid fire and basic)
    • Wall Boss


    Mechanics: 
    • Teaching that bombs can be shot down but red bullets cannot and must be avoided.
    • Use of jumping to avoid obstacles
    • Use everything taught over the level in the bosses mechanics
    • Introduce temporary power ups (Lasts a single level)


    Hazards:
    • Avoidable lines of fire 


    Powerups:
    • Increased fire speed
    • Increased shot amount
    • Special shot - Homing Rockets


    Abilities: No abilities yet (will be unlocked with customisation)

    Bonus material: Concept Art unlocked?

    Music Track: Remain - Acoustic Unleashed

    Alternate versions:
    • Night time (less visibility for players and player has vision cone of light) 



    I've added the extra set at the bottom because I think having ways to change a level to change the difficulty is an easy way to increase the amount of content that player has to play with. I decided to leave out adding abilities at this stage because I don't want to overload the player with tonnes of buttons and mechanics this early on. Once the player has the ability to modify their starting equipment I will be adding abilities.

  • pasco295
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    pasco295 polycounter lvl 4
    Finished the lowpoly and textures for the MC Tank, really happy with how it came out. The cutscene variant is 49k with 2 sets of 2k textures and the game version is around 6k with 512 textures. Added more images at the artstation so I don't fill this thread with tonnes of images.



    Artstation for more images: https://www.artstation.com/artwork/y6BAK
    model

  • Spencer_Holmes
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    Spencer_Holmes polycounter lvl 6
    Brilliant work. At which university are you doing your master's degree?
  • pasco295
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    pasco295 polycounter lvl 4
    @Spencer_Holmes

    Uclan in preston (UK) it's pretty good there, the tutors leave you to work on what you want unless you need help.
  • pasco295
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    pasco295 polycounter lvl 4

    So after I did the plan I went and rigged up the testing model so that I could start to program him in. Currently I have all the bosses fundamental attack patterns in and have each one of them introduced at a set time during the fight. I think that the boss works quite well but is lacking a few visual triggers for attacks (Laser charging etc) so I'm going to look into how to make some useful visual triggers using sound and particle effects.

    Also if I can get it working on a university computer i'll see what some other people think of the fight.





  • Martijn
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    Martijn vertex
    it looks awesome dude!! i love the style of the background!
  • pasco295
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    pasco295 polycounter lvl 4
    @Martijn

    Thanks :D 

    Today I've begun doing some more visual work, mainly particles effects at the moment.



    I got a bit carried away in the end and made 14 of them but at least that's particles I don't have to make later ! 

    The fire is is the only one that's used in engine as a scenery piece, the rest are explosions and such so I'll show them off in the next video sometime this week.

    Finally I have sketched up what I want the boss to actually look like based off the prototype I made. I'm really happy with the way this is going at the moment in terms of the design of the boss, however any thoughts on improvements to the boss or the overall piece? 
    I'll be painting this up a bit tomorrow hopefully if I have time after messing around with adding some more sounds to game. 
  • pasco295
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    pasco295 polycounter lvl 4
    Had some people test the game yesterday, it went well people seemed to enjoy it, but everybody was down to a single life for the boss. I decided the best idea would be to add some sort of building that gives the player a few lives just before the boss (In a higher difficulty I could turn it off).

    This is what I came up with. Spent from 11pm to 10 am doing the whole thing but it was worth it, I plan on having a few different jokey signs so its random which one is in the level. Can anyone think of funny names for the signs?

    The ingame version uses 2x1024 sets but I always paint at 4k for the hell of it.
    model

    Currently looks a little odd in game since no other scenery assets have texture yet. 

  • pasco295
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    pasco295 polycounter lvl 4


    New video is up with a lot of new stuff compared to the old version. Sharpened up the characters movements a lot now and everything has particles and sound effects!
  • pasco295
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    pasco295 polycounter lvl 4
    Got pretty much everything textured and cleaned up for game now. Will upload a new video soon with the current version.
    Was going to upload this stuff separately originally, but that's boring so I bashed it together into a condensed version of the game level. I think I might use this as the maps Icon on the level screen :D

    model
    Breakdowns at: https://www.artstation.com/artwork/DlPXn


  • pasco295
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    pasco295 polycounter lvl 4
    New video time!
    This ones got all the proper assets in it now


    Sketchfab of the boss' intro 
    model
  • pasco295
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    pasco295 polycounter lvl 4
    Been a while since I've posted because I have had to spend the last few weeks doing all my research stuff. It's all done now so I started concept art for the demo build this week :smiley:
    My concept list is small for now since I only have 5 weeks to get the second gameplay style in with finished assets and stuff. Anyway I have a proper concept for the main character now (instead of just the Chibi version I posted ages ago). Also a bunch of weapons and bullet types.



    Character process breakdown if anyone's interested.


  • pasco295
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    pasco295 polycounter lvl 4
    [Removed Duplicate Post]
  • pasco295
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    pasco295 polycounter lvl 4
    Quick Update: Since I only have 2 weeks left I'm low on time to get pretty renders/model sheets to show so I'll be doing some of them once Im past the deadline. For now I have lily's main 3D model finished and the 6 different weapons and she is working in engine will equipment and stuff. Made it so she can rocket jump as well because thats always fun.
  • pasco295
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    pasco295 polycounter lvl 4
    The demo for Dead Metal Punks is finished, free download in the description if anyone's interested in having a go!
  • Texelion
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    Texelion polycounter lvl 6
    Seems like you're a bit alone in here so I'll just say "good work". I like the art style, the game itself is not really my cup of tea so I can't tell. You did more and better alone than we did with 5 people for our game demo at school ^^.

    Is it a bit inspired by Tank Girl ? And that metal heal boss reminds me so much of Starfox 64, coincidence ?

    Well I just have 2 things to say if you ever gonna keep going on and improve on this project ( to make it a full game ) : 

    1) the nice renders you posted a while ago looked better and more cartoonish, I wonder why the game doesn't look like that : 



    2) the girl's animations could be a lot more dynamic and fun. That's probably the hardest part to do. It's already good enough for a demo/school project, but if you can take a look at Seraph, now that would be funnier to play. With a bit of gun kata from Equilibrium maybe ? ^^. Or she could be "dancing" to some metal/punk music while wreaking havoc shooting everywhere, like Vanessa in PN03.

    Yeah I'm just dreaming big I know... but I guess you should find a way to make it more appealing than most side-scroller shooters already available.

    Anyway, GG for now.
  • Ged
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    Ged interpolator
    Very good work, I feel like the background elements are a bit too scratchy on the eyes, if the ao/lines was toned down on the canyon parts etc or maybe a depth fog put in to soften those down then the foreground gameplay would be easier to look at :)
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