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The Siege and The Sandfox - A Stealthvania set in an ancient desert kingdom

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  • [GAME] The Siege and The Sandfox - A Stealthvania set in an ancient desert kingdom








    A shining city lies besieged in the heart of a vast desert. As the moon rises over the royal palace, a notorious thief watches the king die at a traitor’s hand. Discovered, falsely accused, and thrown into the dungeon, our thief must make their escape before the siege breaks.

    Master acrobatic abilities and traverse the cavernous depths of an ancient underground prison, evade detection by your captors and discover a greater evil stirs in the sands below. Fight for your city – foil the enemy’s attempt to strike at the heart of the kingdom.


    The Siege and the Sandfox is what we have termed a ‘Stealthvania’. By infusing stealth into the typical Metroidvania experience we’re creating a unique twist on the ever-popular genre.






    • Deep, acrobatic control system - Wall running, grappling, swinging and more.
    • Metroidvania style open world - Gain new abilities to help you explore the ancient fortress.
    • Stealth focused - Systemic stealth inspired by Thief and Mark of The Ninja.
    • Narrative driven - Deep lore to be discovered through ambient story telling.
    • Pixel Art - Authentic feeling art style, combined with UE4's modern lighting and particle systems.




    • First Pass on character controller + movement. Includes sneaking, jumping, mantling, slides, wall jumps.
    • First Pass camera system implemented.
    • Tilemaps for all biomes created.
    • Tilemap markup + collision system implemented.




    The Siege and The Sandfox | Development Thread | Twitter | Twitch | Facebook

  • #2
    Hi Guys,

    Thought it was long overdue for us to say hello to the official Unreal Engine forums. From now on, we'll try and keep this thread up to date with whatever we're working on.

    In the mean time, if you've got any questions or comments, we'd love to hear them!

    The Siege and The Sandfox | Development Thread | Twitter | Twitch | Facebook

    Comment


    • #3
      Looks really nice,

      The swipe animation looks cool, but it feels strange to have such a heavy motion blur on the arm and almost nothing on the torch.
      Portfolio - Looking for work

      Comment


      • #4
        Totally love the pixel art art style and animations, can't wait to see some more! Plus I utterly love the pixel-version of the Unreal Engine logo at the start of your video

        Comment


        • #5
          Thanks, Jess!

          The artists are rightly proud of the work they put into it


          The Siege and The Sandfox | Development Thread | Twitter | Twitch | Facebook

          Comment


          • #6
            Hey, I'm one of the pixel pushing art types on Siege and the Sandfox, thanks for the nice words!

            After some internal review we decided that the lights in the game just weren't quite in keeping with the pixel art aesthetic, bit too much gradient/inner glow use and therefore too many colours so I went back and redrew the flames to be more cartoon-ish and energetic as well as reduce them to a six colour count. They lose a bit of their majesty without the particle effects and lighting on top from Unreal but the new flame still turned out nice in my opinion and looks more fitting in the game now than the old one did.

            - Original - New -
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            Next up is the smoke effects, they are a bit too busy and distracting and as such need a rethink, maybe ribbon particles for a simpler, more anime inspired look...

            The Siege and The Sandfox | Development Thread | Twitter

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            • #7
              I remember seeing you guys showing this off at GDC, great to see it on the forums finally!
              Check out our game Arcus!

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              • #8
                Thanks Steven, hope we gave a good impression despite being rather overwhelmed by the response!

                The Siege and The Sandfox | Development Thread | Twitter | Twitch | Facebook

                Comment


                • #9
                  Very nice! I'm loving the art and the direction this is going in general! Keep hammering away!!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    AI

                    My next job is to get cracking on the AI for the game.

                    It’s no secret that we’re all fans of immersive sim and stealth games like thief, and so I'm looking to take a similar approach ourselves. Obviously things are a bit easier as we’re only dealing with 2 dimensions!
                    The AI will use the AI Perception system and behaviour trees, as I've come to really like them while messing around with other projects. It may seem like overkill now, but it should pay off later when things get more complex.

                    I've broken down my tasks into 3 sections - Navigation, perception, suspicion.

                    Navigation

                    This is the most straightforward part! All our tiles project out collision in 3d space, and then we can just place a nav mesh volume over this.

                    Things started off bad:



                    But got better by the end:



                    As you can see, we had to work out a few issues with the nav mesh agent heights and so on, but our Engineer soon wrangled it into shape.

                    Perception

                    As said, we’re using the AI perception system here. It provides pretty much everything we need in a handy module, and plays nice with behaviour trees. At the moment I'm just using to check if a player can be seen in a very basic manner.

                    Suspicion



                    The suspicion system is what turns this from an action game into stealth. This is the system that makes the guards go ‘huh?’, investigate things and generally be interesting. Creating this ‘stretched second’ where you’re just about to be spotted is essential.
                    For now, there’s just one global suspicion value on the character, which ticks up whenever the player is in sight. It’s scaled by distance (it goes up quicker if the player is closer), but doesn’t take into account anything else just yet.

                    This value ties to 3 states:
                    • Not suspicious - Continue patrolling
                    • Suspicious - stop and look in the direction of the suspicion
                    • Pursue - Move towards the source of the suspicion


                    This value decays whenever the player isn't in it sight, and the tree structure means the AI gracefully drops back down to the previous behaviour.

                    Putting it together

                    Coming Soon! Have a bunch of non-Sandfox tasks to get rid of, but I'll make sure to post up how I get on asap. I'll make sure to include a lot more pictures too

                    The Siege and The Sandfox | Development Thread | Twitter | Twitch | Facebook

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Just a quick post to show a response to the criticism raised in the original post. Subtle tweaks have been made to the Torch bearing guard's Attack animation, adding a more recognizable tail to the flame as it follows the swing of the arm. Proof (if it was ever needed) that Leonardo da Vinci was correct.
                      "Art is never finished, only abandoned."

                      We are not abandoning this yet though!

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                      The Siege and The Sandfox | Development Thread | Twitter

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                      • #12
                        The polishing continues

                        With the teams desire to try and be more faithful to the 16 bit era and use less, if not any, obvious transparent effects. This meant ditching the smoke effects we have and trying to come up with something more in keeping with our aesthetic. Ribbon particles seemed to be a cool way forward and so I have thrown something together and am quite happy with the result for now. The video is not the greatest quality unfortunately, Youtube Fu is not my strong point...


                        Cheeky yawn from our hero, not as impressed as I am with the new effects!

                        We are rolling with particle effects still as hand animating everything is going to take a very long time and has the added problem of always looking exactly the same, the chaos of a particle system is much more natural. We could get around that a bit (and have done with other animated items such as wall torches) by giving each instance a random start frame so if we have multiple torches in one scene, they aren't all flickering in time with each other!

                        Other items to receive a bit of a buff are the doors. We felt they looked a bit too slim, unreadable to the player and when open didn't have any sense of depth as they kept the same 'lighting' as they opened or shut. At 8 frames, opening and shutting also felt a bit snappy when in reality, our hero would probably open and shut doors with a bit of care so as not to be discovered.

                        I went back, basically binned the entire animation for each door (always hurts to do that!) in each environment and redrew them, giving the door more vibrant, brighter colours when shut (and therefore appearing closer to the camera) as well as being twice as thick. I then "painted it into the background" with darker colours as it opened up, giving much more sense of depth so the player didn't feel like it may still block their progress. I also extended both open and shut animations by 50% so more frames had to be drawn and added secondary motion such as the handle "chases the door" as its opened or shut and rattles as the door ends its swing open.

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                        Old Palace Door | New Palace Door

                        Up next is probably making the night sky a bit more dynamic, as the dawn and sunset shots make it feels very flat and dull right now but that will be something for another post. Any feedback or criticism is appreciated!

                        The Siege and The Sandfox | Development Thread | Twitter

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                        • #13
                          I finally managed to spend a bit of time working on the AI today.

                          I had to make some changes to some related systems to allow everything to run properly in simulation mode. A few things relied on their being a controlled pawn within the world, so this was a good chance to clean that up. It feels much better to be able to play with the AI in simulation mode rather than having to navigate the player around to test things. For simple interactions I can just drag the player character around and check the AI response. I also set-up some basic way points to allow the AI to patrol:



                          You can also see what I like to call the 'perception biscuit' as part of the gameplay debugging tool. As it's designed primarily for 3d games it's of limited use from the perspective, and the following image might give you a better idea of what's going on:



                          Next on the list is getting the classification system working again. This is what takes the raw perception data, decides it's an enemy and if they should investigate. I'm hoping to get through some of that tomorrow, and I'll share any progress I make on here.

                          The Siege and The Sandfox | Development Thread | Twitter | Twitch | Facebook

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                          • #14
                            This looks amazing.

                            I got one question though, how did you made the lighting so good on the characters? Is there any way to use normal maps for Paper2D sprites/flipbooks?

                            Thank you and keep up the good work! ^_^
                            Fighting Game Template: PROJECT: Unreal Fighter 2D

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                            • #15
                              This looks amazing indeed. Glad to see these paper2d projects coming up! We need more paper2d in the engine. When can we expect to play this beauty?

                              Originally posted by Achilleon View Post
                              This looks amazing.

                              I got one question though, how did you made the lighting so good on the characters? Is there any way to use normal maps for Paper2D sprites/flipbooks?

                              Thank you and keep up the good work! ^_^
                              We need more paper2d in the engine. For our game, was have been using sprite dlight to get our normal maps, then we add them to our sprites. We haven't messed with lighting too much in our game, but it does work.
                              Good War Games.
                              Twitter: @goodwargames
                              Facebook: www.facebook.com/goodwargames
                              Unreal Engine WIP: Hyper:BAE
                              Unreal Engine WIP: Wasabi Horizon

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