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DOGEcrash - A dystopian cyberpunk procedural death labyrinth rocket jumper

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    #91
    I had a flash of inspiration after-hours yesterday and took a second look at the smog layer beneath the traffic. It was barely visible and not contributing much visually, but after seeing the frequency with which people were dying at the live demo I realized that the city's underbelly needed to be more attractive and look less like you were seeing the edge of a finite virtual world. I whipped together a material that conveys a sense of pollution so thick and caustic it's almost liquid:



    The refraction and weird surface normals blend very nicely into the smog particles, making it harder to tell where they begin and end:



    Here's what it looks like should you get close enough during gameplay:






    After that I realized that even though the buildings are ridiculously tall, you could still see something that resembled their bases down below when you die. In order to maintain the illusion, I added a gigantic distant plane which emits an off-white colour and depth-blends into the runtime generated buildings. It's meant to look like a volumetric brightness emanating from a city bathed in permanent light:



    This also recaptures some of the glaring angles I liked from earlier builds which proved unsuitable for general gameplay.

    During a run, this is probably the most you'll see of the lower city:

    Senior CEO in Chief of Game Builder Club and Building 3d Game Birds Gameapp Maker Co.

    Oldskooler PreDigital CRTify illustrious Patreon

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      #92
      During the demo I noticed that new players spent a large amount of time with their face smeared against the building walls, particularly at lower elevations where they have reason to spend time getting into a less dangerous position. The buildings don't hold up well to that kind of close scrutiny due to the parallax effects on the metal bars, plus untextured glass just isn't that interesting at point blank. I decided they needed some kind of detail texture to draw the players' eyes to the surface of the wall.

      First I tried a few different masks on the solar panels, and settled with the concrete grime I was already using, albeit at higher frequency. This made the roofs look much better at close range:



      However I was disappointed with how much more repetitive and dingy the same effect looked when applied to the glass walls. Eventually though I came up with the solution to scale its intensity with world height. This added quite a bit to the immersion, since it looks like the pollution is coating the glass, without needing to sacrifice their unsettling sleekness when you're up higher:




      I also disabled the depth of field effects entirely. This saved me quite a bit of processing power, and actually improved the visuals! The chunky aliasing occurring on my bloom was due to the gaussian blur, and bokeh was far too expensive. The game turned out to be dreamy and surreal enough that I couldn't otherwise tell the difference:



      I've also cleaned up the sound system and added some atmospheric ducking to the explosions and such. I'm going to see if I can add some cool dynamic filtering effects on Monday:



      I spent a little time implementing more of the pause menu and trying to decide on some silly post effects to turn the game into a decent background for it:



      And here's another screenshot of the player dying because I like the effect so much:

      Senior CEO in Chief of Game Builder Club and Building 3d Game Birds Gameapp Maker Co.

      Oldskooler PreDigital CRTify illustrious Patreon

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        #93
        That's awesome news about how well the meetup went. It looks like you got some really good feedback, which you are using to make your game even more awesome.

        I agree that the death visual effects are looking really good. Whenever you release the game and I am able to get a chance to play it, I will probably spend some time just falling off of buildings. :P
        Engine Support Technician

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          #94
          Very glad to hear that! I figured that in a death labyrinth where game overs are going to happen extremely frequently, it's important for death itself to feel like a satisfying punctuation mark on a good run rather than a disciplinary measure.

          So first off I further improved the rocket trails. They look more voluminous and taper their colours more nicely now, yet use half the particles compared to before!






          I added muzzle flashes to the runner's rocket launcher. I put this off until late in development because it seemed like an extraneous feature, but I was surprised how much it affected control "responsiveness". Don't underestimate the amount of feedback that visual effects can give your players!





          I added some barely noticeable heat ripples to the explosions and heat/smoke to the gun, because why not it's not like I have major gameplay elements still missing






          I took a second look at the traffic particles and made them both more efficient and more consistent with my visual style. The fresnel highlights do a good job of making them look lit when they're not, and the sickly palette + lack of windows makes them way more intimidating.










          I remembered that the skyscraper material was written back when I was just learning the editor and was a complete mess. I've totally refactored it and added some new features at the same time. For starters, the solar panels now use iterative parallax mapping:



          They're also set up to add scalable detail to the large hexes through a parameter:



          A requirement of adding the parallax mapping was to not let the artifacts get in the way of the aesthetics, especially since roofs will be viewed up close and at oblique angles quite frequently. The answer here was to integrate the artifacts into the aesthetic, and try to make the "pancaking" inherent to the method look like a deliberate visual feature:




          The completely non-tessellated grooves look surprisingly deep for a method with no self-shadowing or occlusion.

          The walls were much trickier. Here's a bunch of failed attempts that made for appealing screenshots, but were ugly/distracting during real gameplay:










          I stumbled on a couple gems though. For one I found that a really sleek, reflective window pattern looked decent in motion:



          That's just a mockup but it's given me a bunch of ideas for future texture randomization.

          I also had this weird fractal-esque parallax artifact happen once when the height offset values were set way too high:



          Those grids in the back would twist and shift from certain viewing angles, then line up with mathematical precision from others. This gave me the light bulb moment that I needed for the menu designs, and I hope to show you the fruits of that soon.

          The look I settled on allows for quick silhouette acquisition during fast gameplay, dramatic light gleaming at oblique angles, and avoidance of texture swimming artifacts by means of a scratch layer that lerps in at close ranges. The scratches remain somewhat present at a distance as well, further implying a sense of surface to the glass and depth to the metal underneath.






          It's hard to tell in static shots but the bars subtly parallax beneath the glass in 2 layers. Also seen in that last shot: The lowest level of hex detailing for the solar panels.

          Next on the todo list is giving the shooter drones their particle effects, adding the propaganda randomizer, and working on the menus.
          Senior CEO in Chief of Game Builder Club and Building 3d Game Birds Gameapp Maker Co.

          Oldskooler PreDigital CRTify illustrious Patreon

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            #95
            Added a new building type for the aesthetic randomizer: Steel arcologies.



            Here's a bunch of screenshots of them taking shape:


















            It kind of blows my mind that I did all of this in a day.
            Senior CEO in Chief of Game Builder Club and Building 3d Game Birds Gameapp Maker Co.

            Oldskooler PreDigital CRTify illustrious Patreon

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              #96
              Fantastic job SF! I remember first seeing this thread about DOGEcrash about 3 months ago and I thought to myself that this game looks pretty cool. Since then, this project has gone from pretty cool to awesome to Amazing! Keep up the fantastic work and thank you for keeping everyone updated! Who doesn't like to look at pretty screenshots every now again?!

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                #97
                This looks amazing, I love the art style!

                It's so vibrant, but also has a Cyberpunk grittiness to it, not quite sure how to describe it, but it looks awesome.

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                  #98
                  Thank you both so much!

                  Originally posted by rb2610 View Post
                  It's so vibrant, but also has a Cyberpunk grittiness to it, not quite sure how to describe it, but it looks awesome.
                  I'm really glad the art's been working out in that regard. I wasn't sure if the loose mental image I started with would pan out at all, but I knew I wanted to do something that conveyed "grit" without being as lifeless and brown as most games (FPSes especially) that attempt it. I think some really successful examples of dark-yet-colourful include Hotline Miami, Max Payne 3, and DmC, which are three of my favourite games come to think of it. My next game, the other dystopian one about privatized fire fighters, is going to have a very different aesthetic, but will attempt to follow a similar principle.


                  So big news: The project is (probably) getting a new name! The new name is Sky Scraper and I'll update the wiki etc. when I get around to it.

                  Doge is a stupid meme and what was supposed to be an incidental joke kept threatening to eclipse the actual content, and basically no one reacted positively to hearing it. It wasn't even supposed to be about the meme but not enough people knew about dogecoin to get the difference, and even then a weak pun on Snowcrash wasn't really worth it. The coins are staying as an easter egg. If anyone agrees/disagrees with this strongly please let me know.

                  So I forget why I took these screenshots but they're nice looking:





                  As for updates, I refactored the particle system controlling the traffic. It's no longer 4 distinct systems facing in different directions (I assume just 1 with lots of emitters is easier for the engine to optimize) and it's now several layers deep. I don't have a screenshot that shows it decently but it does a better job of conveying a flickering buzz of hostile movement that you don't want to touch, and also makes it look like there's more down below you'll never see.

                  Speaking of below, I've improved the lighting from the undercity. Here's what it looks like in the editor with only the skyscrapers enabled:



                  In fact I've improved the lighting in general. Apparently a level full of big-*** occluders and only a few light sources means you can get away with more dynamic shadowing than I thought! This has really improved atmosphere, colour variation, and depth perception. It's also solved issues of building visibility in the dark areas, which I no longer need to handle manually in their materials:









                  And then I learned about volumetric translucent shadowing with spherical particle normals and immediately knew that I needed to reinvent the rocket effects:









                  The coloured lighting on the smoke does a really good job of letting the player know which vertical slices of space are directly above the lethal zone.

                  And while I was at it I gave the miner drones more efficient effects that also have some lighting:







                  This flurry of graphical work is happening since the next live demo is rapidly approaching and it seems more sensible to focus on than UI when 4.4 stable + UMG is just around the corner.

                  I'm also improving the surreal vista silhouettes, but here's what they looked like when I accidentally broke them twice:


                  Senior CEO in Chief of Game Builder Club and Building 3d Game Birds Gameapp Maker Co.

                  Oldskooler PreDigital CRTify illustrious Patreon

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                    #99
                    I like what you've done so far!
                    I would really like to try this...

                    Do you have a recent video of it? Perhaps should you update the first post with links to last updates. Or maintain a small website to show a video and a few screenshot, as well as information like ETA for release date?

                    Keep up the good work!
                    [Gamedev programmer at Darewise (Paris) - We are hiring]
                    UE4 Git LFS 2.x Source Control Plugin 2.14-beta for UE4.23 - (v1 integrated by default since UE4.7)
                    UE4 Plastic SCM Source Control Plugin 1.4.6 for UE4.23 - (integrated by default in Beta status since UE4.24)

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                      Anything new with this game? Been a while, hope things are still moving along. =)

                      Simulacrum Game | Play The Alpha | Caldera Entertainment | Twitter | ArtStation

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                        Sorry for being quiet everyone! I've been coping with "real life" issues and also had a case of the sads so I got out of the habit of posting long-form updates. I have been working this entire time though, and updating you on everything new might take an entire afternoon. So instead, you'll just have to play it for yourself a bit after 4.5 comes out









                        Expect a new thread in the Released Projects forum.
                        Senior CEO in Chief of Game Builder Club and Building 3d Game Birds Gameapp Maker Co.

                        Oldskooler PreDigital CRTify illustrious Patreon

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                          It's great to hear from you again, SF! I had been wondering how things were going, but didn't want to be a bother.

                          So, getting ready for release? I can't wait.
                          Engine Support Technician

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                            Originally posted by Tim Lincoln View Post
                            It's great to hear from you again, SF! I had been wondering how things were going, but didn't want to be a bother.

                            So, getting ready for release? I can't wait.
                            Never a bother! I'm still a nobody so it's not like my inbox is ever swamped and when I'm absent I'm often just too shy/underconfident/folded over in pain to write something meaningful. If I only have the mental stamina for one thing on the computer during the day I try to make it the actual work.

                            And yes!! All the things holding up release have been taken care of!

                            Namely these were:
                            • UMG not being ready yet
                            • The weird corner landing bug
                            • Having no ideas for the endgame


                            I also have a much more solid roadmap for post-release and how the game will slowly grow into a "full" title alongside my other projects.

                            Actually this is making me realize I do have a lot more I want to talk about so perhaps I'll post a big changelog here later this week that just doesn't go into as fine detail as previous posts.

                            As always my Twitter remains an up-to-date news source if you can tolerate the *** jokes and making fun of gamergate.
                            Senior CEO in Chief of Game Builder Club and Building 3d Game Birds Gameapp Maker Co.

                            Oldskooler PreDigital CRTify illustrious Patreon

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                              I'm way too busy to make decent posts so I'm just going to barf out a bunch of screenshots and you can ask me questions about them if you want:










































                              Senior CEO in Chief of Game Builder Club and Building 3d Game Birds Gameapp Maker Co.

                              Oldskooler PreDigital CRTify illustrious Patreon

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                                Beautifully vibrant screenshots as always. I particularly like the 10th from the bottom. Keep it up!

                                Simulacrum Game | Play The Alpha | Caldera Entertainment | Twitter | ArtStation

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