Move + Progress Update
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Moving on, the funding campaign is coming to a close with about a week left to go. Even though the goal hasn’t been reached, I’m still very thankful for everyone who came out and showed their support by backing the project, making a donation and spreading the news. During times like this I know money is tight for many people which is why I really appreciate that you’ve pulled money out of your own pockets and donated. Every single penny that has been raised so far will be set aside for development costs and every last bit will help me out in the long run. From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU for your support.
I’d also like to post a small update on some of the progress that I’ve been making. First, I’d like to show some comparison shots of the previous dynamic lighting system and the new one:
The pictures on the left represent the old system and the ones on the right represent the newer one. I’m always going to strive for more realistic visuals and considering that everything is dynamically lit with no precomputed lightmaps, I think the new lighting is an improvement, what do you think?
The best thing about the newer system is that it runs even faster than the previous one (a few frames actually gained) This is about the third major iteration of the lighting system since I started and the setup is more optimized and much less confusing to work with.
I also had problems with interiors that didn’t respond properly to the light outside (interiors remained brightly lit regardless of obstructing geometry) I tried a couple of workarounds that ended up being costly in terms of performance and it wasn’t until recently that I had a ‘Eureka!’ moment and came up with a simple solution. Now, interiors no longer appear to be uniformly lit along with exteriors. Very tricksy indeed!
Below, I’d like to show a few in-game features that are running. The HUD graphics, layout, crosshair and default UDK Player model are temporary. Please keep in mind that these are placeholders and only serve to show functionality.
The 3rd person camera is working great. It follows behind the player and depending on the angle the player is looking, it smoothly pans from left shoulder to right shoulder. The camera may seem close in those screens but when the player is running, it zooms out so that most of the model can be seen.
You can also see the HUD extension of the experience system. At the moment, each monster that is destroyed will give the player experience points. When a certain number is reached, the player gains a level and new skills are unlocked.
I mentioned in a previous post that I discovered a (slightly hacky) method of doing foliage that I was quite proud of (looked great, modeled grass not billboard) but eventually became too inefficient for uneven ground and slope placement.
When Epic incorporated the new Foliage Toolset I was ecstatic at first but I must admit, I had a lot of trouble getting the foliage to look and function properly. No longer did it sway the way I wanted in the wind (my grass ended up looking like a bunch of flailing Ramen noodles sprouting from the ground) It wasn’t until 2 weeks ago in a sort of ‘Eureka, I’m such an idiot!’ moment that I figured out that I was approaching it the wrong way. The setup for the wind was fine but I was actually over-complicating things when the solution was to take a simpler approach with my grass geometry.
Don’t make your grass geometry too complex if you don’t have to and it will function better when affected by wind (examples on the right of the arrows) Now the foliage looks and works beautifully and I can cram much more grass into view with no extra cost to performance.
The below shots show the flashlight in action (the lens texture is only temporary) The flashlight is coded (no Kismet trickery) and can be switched on and off at any time. It also casts dynamic shadows, which it didn’t when I first brought it in.
So thanks for tuning in everyone! Work will continue as planned (albeit a little slower without the full funding needed) but some time after the funding drive is complete, I’ll post a more meatier update. I’m still looking for donations so if you are able, please contribute before the end of March! See you soon!