I created this simple test in UDK for a unique, easy-to-produce, vintage style.  I developed the look inspired in part by voxel-based games like Minecraft, Cube World, or 3D Dot Game Heroes, and in part by collage-style games like And Yet It Moves or Tearaway.

The benefits of this style are improved engine performance, ease of creation and decoration, and unified feel across diverse level designs.  The Helios team doesn’t have much in terms of 3D artists, so I tried to come up with a style that would allow us to create and use our own assets without having to shape anything, but still allow us to have a look that was different from the standard Sci-Fi-heavy asset packages bundled in with the UDK.  Using N64/PSone-era imagery combined with the UDK’s ability to render beautiful depth and lighting seemed like an interesting experiment, so I gave it a shot.

The foreground actors that the player jumps on have very simple collision, but all of the other actors have none.  Every cube in the scene is the same mesh rendered at the same size, though materials vary.  The platform is the same cube, but rendered at different proportions than the others.

Leaves and grass are sprites generated from a simple texture file. The code used to create 2D sprites (the leaves and grass) is found here.  This code will require some adjustment, as the sprites created from this unmodified script will flicker in and out if their origin is obscured.  Hint: check out the standard Trigger actor’s defaultproperties, because it doesn’t suffer from the same blinking problem.

The background sky is just a big plane with a cloudy material and a panner node plugged in to give it a gentle, breezy motion.

I assembled the simple level in very short time using only materials found on the internet with Google image search, sometimes modifying them in GIMP.  To simplify my process, I searched for textures that were already proportioned to exactly 1024×1024.  This is because the UDK has some simple rules that must be obeyed for texture importing:

  1. Image must be perfectly square
  2. Image’s dimensions must be powers of two (32, 64, 128, 256, 512, and so on)
  3. Images must be in .bmp format
The mellow chiptune playing in the background is “Yellow Dust” by Rolemusic, and was found using the Free Music Archive.  Importing music into the UDK requires some finagling as well: you must upload only .wav files.  To change any music file into a .wav using only iTunes, check out this Apple tutorial.

This week was the first week we began working towards our Alpha Build. We came into this week with a basic prototype of our main mechanics in the game which give the player the ability to cycle between three different states of play, which are being described as “lights”. We have three different lights in the game: blue, yellow, and green.

The challenges that faced the team this week mainly revolved around our prototype from last week, which relied heavily on kismet. This week we decided to revisit our mechanics and make sure that they synergized with one another and fit the overall theme for the game. We split into three groups of two people that each took a light and worked together to make the required changes to it. We then came back together as a team to make sure that we agreed on everything.

The major takeaways from this week were that communication is necessary if you are going to be meeting milestones. We also have been looking for the best possible way to streamline our development process to increase workflow. We have also been successful in the sense that we involve the entire team in each decision that is made. We decided in the beginning of our game project that we were not going to get hung up on roles, which has actually benefited us in the sense that it has brought the team closer together and it has also helped all of us understand our game in every way possible. This wouldn’t be possible on a large team I’m sure, but luckily we are a small team.

This week, I primarily focused on improving our workflow in the later stages of production by doing things such as creating custom actors in Uscript. This would allow level designers to simply drag and drop actors into their levels instead of going through the hassle of setting them up manually. This speeds up production and clears up more space in terms of Kismet. My goal is to set up all object interactions in Uscript to be used as a drag and drop method for level designers later on. I also spent this week prototyping new object interactions such as:

1.       Rockslides

2.       Health Pools

3.       Other various interactions that needed tweaking from last week

All in all, this was a great week, and we learned where to go from here and what to take away to apply later. Something we have been doing at the beginning of each week is assessing where we are as a team, which has helped us maintain our scope and stay on track with milestones. I will be breaking down what I did in particular and going into more depth in upcoming posts so check them out!

This is our official presentation for our Game Design Final Project at Full Sail University.  Learn about the game, meet the team, and see our acclaimed prototype in action!
Team Chobits presented Helios to the FSO faculty and students at the end of our Research and Marketing course.  We were pleased when the presentation was met with general acclaim, and we're already moving forward nicely from the prototype showcased here.