Devblog Week 1&2: Prototyping
Devblog Week 1&2: Prototyping
Welcome to the first Devblog, and to the start of this project! In the next few months we will be working on this game for our course "Game Projects" at DAE (Digital Arts and Entertainment).
Right now, we've reached the third week of this assignment, this will be a rundown of what we've achieved in the past 2 weeks, up to now!
Before I start, it's probably worth giving some background info. We're a team of 4; 2 programmers (Glenn & Senne) and 2 artists (Achielias & Alex). We started development on the project on the 12th of February, and it needs to be finished by the 27th of May. This period is divided into 4 separate sprints (we're using scrum).
The first sprint is the one we're in now, the Prototype Sprint, which I will elaborate on in just a moment! This sprint takes up the first 3 weeks, and in it, we're supposed to come up with a fun Party Game idea, and start development on a prototype. After the Prototype sprint, come two Production sprints, starting on the 5th of March, and the 26th of March respectively. Production ends on the 29th of April, and that's when the Polish sprint starts.
So... the Prototype sprint... or more exactly, the first two weeks of it:
BRAINSTORMING: WEEK 1
On our first day brainstorming, we threw around a lot of ideas, but the one that really stuck was a 2.5D Dungeon game, which, in essence, was a Top-Down Dungeon Crawler. The game would be made in Unreal ( as we (the programmers) had some previous experience in Unreal, thanks to our "Level Editing" course), as opposed to Unity, which we had never used. Our game would have at least 2 players (as it was supposed to be a party game), and they would go from room to room, fighting Monsters and solving Puzzles. Sometimes they could encounter race rooms, where they had to parkour to the end as quick as possible, or sometimes a room would have patrolling enemies, from which you had to stay out of sight of (using stealth mechanics). At the end, you would encounter a boss, and it'd have multiple phases to beat. Ultimately that was the goal at this stage of brainstorming; defeat the boss: win the game. Pure collaboration.
At this point we had our basic idea down, and were pretty happy with it, but we still had a LOT of unanswered questions... So, I spent the next week setting up a full list of questions about our game, from the obvious topic of the Theme, to smaller topics, like if we had a stamina bar, and what it would be used for. Besides that, I also spent the week watching a LOT of Youtube unreal tutorials, about very diverse topics I guessed we would have to cover. As a result, I quickly amassed a simple prototype of our game... before we actually had to even start prototyping!
BRAINSTORMING: WEEK 2
The first topic of week 2 was as easy as they get: We're thinking WAY too big. A game with this scope will take way more time to produce than the time we have. So, first topic of the day was getting rid of some "planned" features, and to focus on making the game FUN. Puzzles, race rooms and stealth rooms were removed until further notice from our plans.
Next up the actual questions: How many players? How do we differentiate them in a top-down view? What abilities should the characters have?
I could keep going, but I might bore you to death, so instead here's a giant list of topics we decided on... feel free to skip it, but I thought some might find it interesting to see!
- The Theme:
- Aztec / Mayan / Spanish Conquistadors exploring Middle / South America stumble upon a temple and explore it, inside they find all types of supernatural monsters
- The Art-style:
- Based on Firewatch, Breath of the Wild
- Cell Shaded
- Adaptive number of players (2-4)
- Sprint, Crouch, Dodge (360°), Melee Attack (light & Heavy), Ranged Attack
- Outline Through walls AND colored circle below feet characters to improve readability
- NO friendly fire
- Conquistadors? Priests?
- Natives, Skeletons
- Simple AI using NAVmesh
- Shaman (miniboss) summoner who summons skeletons
- when killed, chance to drop weapon they're holding / potions & gold
- Natives, Skeletons
- Mayan / Aztec Temple -> inside & outside(?) areas
- Lobby / Tutorial Area
- Defeat all enemies in a room -> Last one spawns Rune Tablet (required to open door, but you pick it back up), at the end of the game you need X rune tablets to summon the boss (the tablets also have inscriptions in the native rune language which point towards a hidden objective in the room they are obtained in (-> get rune tablet -> translate it (give an alphabet & runes menu) -> solve the rune "riddle") (solving the riddle is completely optional)
- Modular rooms, COULD be procedurally generated, but won't be because it's outside the scope of the project
- Interactibles for puzzles like torches / levers
- Spike traps, fireball through hallway traps
- Health Bar
- Enemies & traps damage you
- NO healing overtime, health potions randomly drop from defeated enemies
- room over -> heal to full (?)
- Death -> drop portion of gold -> become ghost -> respawn delay (everyone dies; Game Over)
- Run, Dodge, Heavy Melee Attack
- Empty -> can't do actions
- Inventory Hotbar
- pickup items (mostly weapons) and swap between them / drop them
- very limited -> 4/5 slots
- Title Screen, Main Menu, Player Select, Pause, Controls, Options
- Health Bar
- Diablo-like "top-down" 2.5D camera
- adapts to keep all players within sight at all times
- Spanish weapons (swords, rapiers, crossbows)
- Native weapons (axes made of bones, wood,...)
- No Armor / Shields; Out of Scope
- Potions (health & stamina) -> automatic pickup & regen
- Sound Effects + music:
- Hitting/being hit
- Shooting (Crossbow / Bow)
- Ambient Temple Noises
- Left joystick: move character
- Left Trigger: run
- Right trigger: light attack
- Right Bumper: heavy attack
- A: Jump
- B: Crouch
- X: Pick / swap items / interact
- Right joystick: dodge in direction you pushed.
- Score & Win Condition:
- Win: Working together & beating the boss
- Score: Gold earned from defeating monsters
- IN NEED OF IMPROVEMENT
Conclusion of Week 2 Brainstorming:
We came out of this with a clear view of what our game was going to be, and in many ways, how to achieve it. We had some feedback afterwards, and our mentors gave us some important points to think about. First off: WHAT MAKES OUR GAME FUN & DIFFERENT? Quite an important question, which we didn't really have an answer to yet. They also urged us to check out Gauntlet, Enter the Gungeon, Binding of Isaac, Nine Parchments and some Top-Down Lara Croft games, and to analyze what makes THEM fun, and what we can learn from them.
PROTOTYPING WEEKS 1 & 2:
First week I focused on getting some core mechanics in. Simple player movement, Jumping and Crouching (all of those were done using a model & animations from Mixamo). Next was player spawning, and the adaptive camera. The camera calculates the middle position between all players, and the longest distance between two players, then uses those to move & zoom in-out to keep all players within view. I also added a character outline, which doubled as a visual aid on-screen, and an aid to see your character when you're behind walls. Next I added Dodging; I was completely overthinking it at first, but managed to get a pretty simple implementation in the end. Then came Destructable props... because what is a dungeon crawler RPG-like game without some pots & vases to smash for your enjoyment? This was MUCH easier than expected, simply add the plugin and tweak some values! Next came the dreaded topic of interaction. Senne started this while I did Dodging & Destruction, and I helped solve some final bugs & problems with it. At that point, when we came close to our interactibles, they would be highlighted, and with a button press we could "use" them; whatever that would mean for that specific object.
Next up, were the Inventory & Equipment system; I decided to tackle these alone as they were quite complicated topics, and Senne didn't quite have as much experience with Unreal as I had at that point. Senne meanwhile made a first implementation of the AI. It's pretty simple, but it does the job. It roams around a location, once you're within sight, they move towards you, and "attack" (as of yet, unimplemented). Then, when you go outside of a certain range, they return to their roaming behaviors at their spawn location. Animations are not a priority, so they were left out for now. Meanwhile, I was messing around with the inventory. Emphasis on the mess. I didn't get a very clean implementation for quite a while, and when I finally did, I only got it to work for 1 player, and using mouse and keyboard... not ideal for a 2-4 player couch-co-op party game with controllers... but it will have to do as a proof of concept for now. Current implementation includes inventory and equipment menus, equiping items to sockets, and using / dropping items.
During development we did discover a few funny bugs... from simple things like stamina decreasing while simply standing still and pressing the run button, to movement being spawn dependent as opposed to camera-dependent (resulting in players 3&4's controls being reversed), to items falling through the floor when dropped from a certain height (still have to fix that one!).
Overall, we got a pretty detailed prototype by this point, with a lot of more advanced features already implemented (or, partially implemented, in case of the inventory). At this point, however, Weapon-related animations, and attacks in general, are not a part of our prototype just yet. These features are essential to our game, and are extremely high on our priority list now.
[Please ignore the terrible level & UI here... everything is a placeholder currently, and I'm a programmer, dammit! not an artist!]
We'll also include the first... "playable" (?) build of the prototype to this Devblog, so you can have a look yourself!
Use E and I to open the Equipment and Inventory menus, and use the mouse to manage them. Everything else does work with controllers; X to interact (try the weapons, or the... "key")
Use the left stick to walk around, left trigger to run, A to Jump, B to crouch, and right stick to roll in a direction.
Known Issues right now:
Dropped items fall through floor when dropped from certain height
Health & Stamina bars above heads only works for player 1
Character in Equipment looks terrible in packaged version
Inventory & Equipment only work for 1 player and with mouse & keyboard; jump (among other things) doesn't function when menus are open
When an enemy reaches you... they stop doing... well... anything.
That's about all I can think of for this Devblog! Thanks for reading through this entire thing, and we hope to see some feedback if you give our game a try!
Get [group11] Ruins Of Xolotl
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