The Thumblog! Day 2 - Ideas born out of debris / by Andreas Kopriva

Hello and welcome to the second installment of our Thumblog(!), the bit on the site were we share our experiences with game development. 

So onto developments! 

Basically, concepts were designed, decisions taken and some pretty awesome progress was made. 

Cthonosis

or "the dematerialisation of matter before a Cthonic entity's presence"

Following the experimentation with Apex destructibles I undertook in the last post, the joke about the game being an awesome 'bump-and-break' simulator actually began developing into a legitimate first idea for a game. In other words, I went with Option 1 and began considering as to whether it would be possible to have a game mechanic where you could have destructability through simply looking at things. Sharing that with our associated programmer, Achilleas and Frixos, the term Cthonosis (or "the dematerialisation of matter before  Cthonic entity's presence") was born! 

Furthermore, my tests with UE4 revealed my current ineptitude with the blueprints engine therefore I was faced with two choices : 

  1. Either spend the next few months/years/decades learning C++ and/or the Blueprints system inherent in UE4 (which does not sound like a bad idea, but it'd be cool to have a game out before I'm of retirement age) 
  2. Or try to expand the team and get someone who knows what they're doing to tackle the coding and mechanics

Enter the, abovementioned, Achilleas who has exhibited a motivational enthusiasm in getting involved with this and (hopefully!) future projects. 

Frixos on the other hand will be handling the development of the initial concept, which at the current moment revolves around an individual who can apparently cause pretty much everything to fall apart through his/her gaze.  We've briefly bounced around a few ideas on how this could develop such as having the character not have any control over this sudden ability, and then gradually get a handle on it, or perhaps waking up in a lab facility with this 'power' at hand and having to use it to navigate a series of puzzles (ala Portal). It's pretty early on at this point, and we've still got quite a long way to go before we settle down on something. 

We're basically at that point where we have a potential game mechanic, and we're discussing the directions that this could take. The only certainty is that this particular project will end up being a first-person perspective game. Well, I say certainty, but tomorrow that may change :). 

Unto technical developments!

Ruins and Misery

What has been worked on over the past few days has been the conversion of a few simple test meshes to APEX destructibles to figure out how the Destructive Gaze mechanic could work in UE4. The goals are grandiose, with as fully a destructible map as possible, so there are obviously a few challenges up ahead (include optimization to ensure good functionality on mobile platforms in the future). 

Firstly, a test was made using the Pot object introduced in the previous entry where the fbx file was imported into UE4 and converted into a destructible mesh using UE4's Voronoi fracturing algorithm. Achilleas then coded a potential mechanic which led to the following behaviour : 

Essentially, success! Therefore we move on to bigger and more ambitious things, such as partial destruction of meshes. 

Therefore a 'wall' (simple cube mesh) was built which was imported into the Lab and a Fragmentation Mesh Map (quickly designed in Photoshop) was applied unto it. This led to the creation of the following composite mesh : 

We have our support mesh (the one on the left) which serves as the indestructible component and which will remain in the game space regardless of how much damage it receives, and we have the twice fractured outside mesh which will serve as the destructible component and which will fracture based on localized damage and fall apart based on the map applied. 

We then spent close to 4 hours in a Google Hangout with Achilleas, trying to figure out how this could be behave as expected within UE4. At around 4am I kinda passed out, but Achilleas soldiered on and shared the following video illustrating that the mechanic had been implemented successfully : 

There appears to be a glitch in that, upon hitting a number of walls or generating enough debris, the destructability of the wall is confined to removing those fragments from the gamespace, 

Either way, the effect is pretty cool to begin with and at least we're moving in the right direction :) 

Next step is to begin considering test levels and playing around with a variety of effect to be applied to the gaze mechanic - perhaps a levitation and analogously gradual disassembly could look cool. Time will tell. 

It's off to build assets and learn how to break them up :) See you all soon, and we're open to your suggestions and ideas. 

-Andreas Kopriva