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Thread: Planet Alpha 31

  1. #1
    Samaritan
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    Planet Alpha 31



    Experience an immersive, story driven puzzle platformer, mixed with bits of agility, action and exploration taking place in a beautiful but dangerous world.











    Hello,
    I want to share with you the little game I'm developing in the spare time of my spare time: Planet Alpha 31 is an immersive, story driven puzzle platformer mixed with bits of exploration and action.






    When mankind is forced to abandon Earth a team of explorers is send in space to find a new home. 
After years of drifting into nothingness a suitable planet – Alpha 31 – is found and the Terra-formation begins.

    About half way through the process an unknown incident causes the Terra-formation to revert with catastrophic consequences.
    You, one of the last engineers left, are send to investigate the events and to resume the Terra-formation process in a race against time.

    What caused the incident, where is the alien native population and why is there a hostile human military presence on the planet?






    Planet Alpha 31 is an immersive, story driven puzzle platformer, mixed with bits of agility, action and exploration that takes place in a beautiful but dangerous world. 

    A tribute to the old-school games I grew up with, there will be little to no hand-holding in Planet Alpha 31.

    During your stay on the planet, you will face both alien and human enemies, each having to be overcome in a different way.
    To survive you will have to explore and to be observant of this strange place - head on approach rarely works - think before you shoot.

    The events take place in a living and constantly changing alien world: realtime day and night cycle affects everything on the planet, the Terra-formation process shapes the landscape before your eyes and the 2nd dimension that became accessible during the incident will offer a special experience.

    The ability to change the planet rotation will allow you to control alien technology and to affect the planet biosphere - this special mechanic is tied to every part of the gameplay, from puzzle solving to platforming and action.

    While exploring Alpha 31 you will be aided by PIA – Personal Intelligent Assistant. 
    She will help you investigate the events and slowly unfold the true story of what happened before your arrival.






    - Diverse gameplay that includes puzzles, agility and action, making use of both human and alien technology.

    Planet Alpha 31 has an unique mix of platforming, puzzle solving and action elements, while offering breathing moments to explore and enjoy the beauty of this planet.
    

You will need to overcome both alien and human challenges in your quest to solve the mystery behind the incident and save the human race.


    The daytime manipulation ability is one of the core game mechanics that ties into every aspect of the game-play
.

    - Ability to change the planet rotation that controls special alien structures and affects the biosphere.

    Similar to the ancient civilizations on Earth, the native Alpha 31 population worshiped the sky and linked their technology to the Day and Night.
    

By acquiring the power to change the planet rotation - going fast forward or fast backward - you will be able to make use of special Alien Technology and to change the behavior of the different lifeforms that are populating the planet.


    While for some structures it has a similar effect, changing the planet rotation is not the same with going back or forward in time. However the differences and similarities and what actually is time travel are an interesting topic to discuss.


    - Real-time day/night cycle changing both the environment and the game mechanics.

    The planet flora and fauna, and all the strange lifeforms in between, react naturally to the succession of day and night. 

You will have to observe and make use of the different behaviors in order to survive on this beautiful but dangerous world.
    

While the day and cycle is real time, Alpha 31 has a much shorted rotation compared with Earth so you won't have to wait 24 hours for a day to pass.





    Other Notable Features
    - Retro sci-fi atmosphere that combines a sense of wonder, loneliness and danger during the exploration of Alpha 31.


    - A mysterious 2nd dimension accessible through the portals that appeared after the incident.


    - The Terra-formation process that constantly morphs the landscape.


    - Multiple environments to explore, both on Alpha 31 and outside, each offering an unique experience.


    - Use a wide range of gadgets to help in your quest.


    - Unfolding story told by PIA – your Personal Intelligent Assistant – that will keep you engaged until the very end.


    - Next-gen graphics powered by Unreal Engine 4 including fully dynamic lighting, global illumination, GPU particles and more.





    The little I have shown of Planet Alpha 31 so far received great attention, including:

    "Building a platformer to manipulate time" - 80 Level

    "The story behind Planet Alpha 31 surprise wins" - Haogamers

    Three awards during the 1st public hands-on demo

    "The idea is to interact with a living world" - Siliconera

    A Day on Planet Alpha 31 made it on IndieCade ArtWall

    "The process of finding a solid concept, long and chaotic journey" - Nordic Game Bits

    "A beautiful game" - Epic Games, Unreal Dev Grant

    "Screenshot Monthly - December 2014" - Indie Game Magazine

    "These Planet Alpha 31 screens are gorgeous" - Pixel Dynamo





    Follow the game development also on these platforms:

    Facbook
    http://www.facebook.com/planetalpha31

    Twitter
    http://twitter.com/PlanetAlpha31

    Vimeo
    http://vimeo.com/album/2854435

    Official Website
    http://www.planetalpha31.com/








    Latest
    Hi all,
    Casual Connect Singapore 2015 and the Indie Prize event were a blast!
    Planet Alpha 31 took home 3 trophies during the Indie Prize Awards event for Best in Show - Critic’s Choice, Most Promising Game in Development and Best Game Art.



    The game had its first public hands-on demo during the Casual Connect Asia event held in Singapore when for 3 days visitors got the chance to try the not so casual game.
    With an average play time of 12 minutes the game was played by more than 120 people from casual to hard core gamers, 80% completing the challenging demo level.
    The following Indie Prize Awards event confirmed the success that the still in development platformer had with the audience, being awarded three trophies for Best in Show - Critic’s Choice, Most Promising Game in Development and Best Game Art.



    Read the full press release here: http://www.planetalpha31.com/news/pr...esingapore2015

    A huge thanks to Epic for the Unreal Dev Grant that made this trip possible!

    Follow Planet Alpha 31 also on:
    Facebook: www.facebook.com/planetalpha31
    Twitter: www.twitter.com/PlanetAlpha31
    Website: www.planetalpha31.com
    Last edited by AdrianLazar; 06-14-2015 at 09:40 AM. Reason: Heavy development direction changes

  2. #2
    Samaritan
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    Bellow is the original direction that the game had - Growing Up

    Growing Up started at the beginning of the year as a pet project made in Unity but a couple of weeks ago I decided switching to Unreal Engine.

    Summary
    Growing Up is the story of a little boy that uses his imagination to escape the hard times of growing up. The adventure begins when the boy football gets stolen by the bullies that are terrorizing the neighborhood.
    Immersed in the fantasy world he created, our hero will have to solve puzzles, prove his agility and confront the monsters of his imagination in the quest to retrieve the stolen ball.

    The game plays as a rewarding 2.5D Puzzle Platformer mixed with bits of Exploration and Action, all taking place in a sci-fi - fantasy world. The visuals will paint a colorful image of our protagonist imagination, combining surreal and abstract elements, with everything being wrapped in an artistic layer.




    Hi guys,
    As I was saying the project started at the beginning of the year in Unity and I want to show you where I got until 2 months ago when due to lack of time I put the project on hold:

    Some screenshots from Unity - more here










    I'm pretty happy with the look I got in the Unity version but I know there is no chance to get 100% same result in Unreal so I'll not to even try.
    While I want to keep the main direction, switching engines is got me the opportunity to do some extra style exploration and one of the things that I want to change is having real-time day/night cycle.

    So currently, besides watching all the tutorials I can find about UE (Zack you're awesome!), I'm porting the assets over and I'm doing rough lighting/materials exploration:

    Last edited by AdrianLazar; 11-05-2014 at 07:33 PM.

  3. #3
    Samaritan
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    Btw, this is what I got after about 4 months in Unity:



    And this one: https://vimeo.com/90508900 - apparently there's a limit of 1 video in a post

    Anyways, one of the reasons that made me switch is that because I'm lacking advanced C# skills so I ended up spending more time trying to debug and bug fix the scrips then I was doing anything else. But it's much more than that and so far I couldn't be happier with the choice I took - keep up the great work @epic!

  4. #4
    Good game reminds me OddWorld.

  5. #5
    love the sytle!

    Also have you looked into using Fraps or Shadowplay to record your videos?

    If you have a G-Force Card in the GTX 600 series and up you can use Shadowplay (which comes with the Gforce Experience App), and it works pretty well with very little impact in frame rate.

  6. #6
    Samaritan
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    Glad you like it guys
    Bookman, I was working on a MBP when Growing Up was developed with Unity and ScreenFlow is the closest you have to Fraps on OSX - however I was still unable to capture smooth FPS.
    Anyways, working on a WinPC now so I can do proper fraps

    So lately I worked on the day/night cycle, both how to achieve it technically so I can have as much control as possible but also artistically, exploring color themes for light, etc.
    Bellow is a capture from the 1st test and it's done with one directional light and a shader for props where I can control the left and right rimlight. Parameter collections and material functions are super awesome btw!

    It's super rough and I'll probably keep tweaking the colors for a while:


  7. #7
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    Superb Job AdrianLazar! Very glad to hear that you will be using UE4 for Growing Up! The gameplay, even though it is from Unity, looks awesome and I can't wait to see how it looks in UE4. Be to keep us updated as you progress with the development of your game. Have a great day!

  8. #8
    Samaritan
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    Hi Sean,
    Thanks a lot for the kind words!

    Here's another update on the Day/Night Cycle look:


    I changed the proportions of some props, added new ones and worked a bit on the colors in general. I'm starting to feel happier with how the day time look but night is still terrible - I'll have to find a way for the sky to not become so dark but also the color scheme for night doesn't really work right now.

    Does anyone know if it's possible to change the colors of the atmospheric fog? In my case I would like to prevent the sky from becoming pure black during night time. I'll try to keep the light at a certain rotation so it will stay at late dusk or something but would be good to know if there's a way to hack the atmospheric fog colors.
    Last edited by AdrianLazar; 07-30-2014 at 11:22 AM.

  9. #9
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    AdrianLazar - this looks incredible! Absolutely love the art style, super attractive looking game. Please keep sending updates as you get further along!

  10. #10
    Samaritan
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    Thank you Chance, I'll do my best to keep the thread up to date, helps my motivation

  11. #11
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    Looks great, couldn't you keep the colour of the sky dome brighter instead of playing with the fog at night?

  12. #12
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    Glad you like it Anadin.
    All I have as background is an atmosphere fog without a skydome and that produces pretty good colors for day, dawn and dusk based on the sun rotation. I was thinking about adding a skydome visible only at night but maybe I should try to have one all the time.

  13. #13
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    Very cool work, AdrianLazar!
    I like it, keep it up!

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    Quote Originally Posted by AdrianLazar View Post
    Glad you like it Anadin.
    All I have as background is an atmosphere fog without a skydome and that produces pretty good colors for day, dawn and dusk based on the sun rotation. I was thinking about adding a skydome visible only at night but maybe I should try to have one all the time.
    Ah, I assumed you had a dome there because of the stars - what is driving them?

  15. #15
    Samaritan
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    I wanted a bit more control over the stars, as well as a parallax effect for when you move in the level so I ended up doing a 3d mesh made of planes that looks like this:


    Then the material is changed using by the Day/Night Cycle Blueprint using a Material Collection Parameter.

    Actually I was thinking about making a short video about how to model a procedural start field in Houdini.

  16. #16
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    I think it looks good enough for now plus I'm getting tired of tweaking colors so I'll stop with this and continue with something else. I would like to make the night a bit desaturated but for that I need to figure out how to change the post-effects realtime using the blueprints.
    Plus I'll most likely tweak the day/night colors until the end of the project



    I also worked on the platforms but still have a few bugs to squash :P
    -Adrian

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    Sweet. The Post Process thing is not not too hard, either have an unbound Post Process Volume in the level and do this in the Level BP or in like this example, in a camera or player controller or pawn/character BP, you can Break and Set the Post Process of the camera. For some reason you need to link up that Blendables Array for it to compiles though

    Name:  Screenshot 2014-08-04 22.50.49.png
Views: 5312
Size:  240.7 KB

  18. #18
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    Awesome, thanks Anadin!

  19. #19
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    Found a bit of time to work on Growing Up and this time I focused more on game-play than on visuals.

    New:
    - Platforms
    Platforms have a key role in the game so I'll keep working on them for a long time. Currently I have static platforms, platforms that fall after a certain time from when the player landed on them, and platforms that blink (go on and off).
    Also you can reveal / hide platforms using buttons - the reveal effect is still WIP and while I want to add some particle effects I would like to keep it simple.

    - Buttons
    Very early both in functionality and look, this button type can reveal / hide a number of platforms in certain order.

    - Camera Volume Control
    Volume that when a player steps in can pull/push camera from the player - it will be used for vista shots or when the player needs to see more of the screen, like an agility section.
    You can set the distance, the adjustment speed and if on exit the distance should stay or return to the previous one.

    - Player Camera Behavior
    Ability for the camera to pan slightly forward or backwards depending on the player running direction. The implementation is still very crude and I'll have to tweak it until it feels smooth and natural, for example delay a bit the panning.

    That's about it for now:


    fullsize: https://vimeo.com/102717516

    -Adrian
    Last edited by AdrianLazar; 08-06-2014 at 09:18 AM.

  20. #20
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    Interesting, how are you doing the green flash and making the platforms disappear? it is just alpha?

  21. #21
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    I have the platform broke in 9 different pieces that I unhide with a random time between them and when all the pieces are revealed I hide them and unhide the full (intact) version.
    As for the flash, that's just the bloom picking up on the emissive material from the inside part of the pieces.
    Hope it makes sense

    -Adrian

    later edit: btw the environment is fully 3d

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    Haha, nice one I always think there has to be fancy ways to do stuff but thats a great solution, is this desktop only? (thinking about drawcalls)

  23. #23
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    Yep, desktop and who knows if turns good hopefully next gen consoles as well. Developing for mobile involves so many extra - time consuming - steps that I'm not sure its worth the effort. Unfortunately it's almost impossible for premium apps/games to make a profit on mobile these days.

  24. #24
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    The 1st implementation for props that can be pushed and dragged - not pretty without animation support but it works.

    I tried different approaches, starting with physics objects that quickly proved too unstable, to pawns that lacked gravity and finally settling on using a character for the props that can be pushed/pulled - they are stable (don't tip over), react to gravity and can go over small obstacles like buttons.
    And while their physics is not accurate in this case I prefer stability over looks.

    The player character speed can be affected by the props that he needs to push/pull, so for heavier props he will move slower.


    fullsize: https://vimeo.com/102910079
    Last edited by AdrianLazar; 08-08-2014 at 05:04 AM.

  25. #25
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    A quick video about how to create a procedural starfield in Houdini.

    This video is intended for people that are new to Houdini, if you're already familiar with the software you'll find it quite basic. The scope is to show the advantages of a procedural workflow that offers a high degree of flexibility and since Houdini just launched the indie version for just 199USD/Year I recommend everyone to take a closer look at it's capabilities: http://www.sidefx.com/index.php?opti...2853&Itemid=66

    Recently I needed to create a star-field for a pet project of mine - the starts needed to have a stylized look and a parallax effect between them so basically it needed to be a 3d mesh.


    fullsize: https://vimeo.com/103061317

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by AdrianLazar View Post
    A quick video about how to create a procedural starfield in Houdini.

    This video is intended for people that are new to Houdini, if you're already familiar with the software you'll find it quite basic. The scope is to show the advantages of a procedural workflow that offers a high degree of flexibility and since Houdini just launched the indie version for just 199USD/Year I recommend everyone to take a closer look at it's capabilities: http://www.sidefx.com/index.php?opti...2853&Itemid=66

    Recently I needed to create a star-field for a pet project of mine - the starts needed to have a stylized look and a parallax effect between them so basically it needed to be a 3d mesh.


    fullsize: https://vimeo.com/103061317
    Pretty cool, I was unfamiliar wit Houdini until now. Would UE4 integration be simlar to just bringing in a mesh?

    Chance

  27. #27
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    Yep, Houdini can export fbx files in two ways: from the file/export fbx menu similar to other 3d apps or you can use a Geometry Render Operator (node) that offers a lot more flexibility since it can be part of a network and supports expressions.

    I guess when released Houdini Engine for Unreal could a good alternative to the fbx format - if I understood correctly (haven't followed the development too close) I would be able to bring inside Unreal the entire startfield system and tweak there all the parameters like changing the volume, number or stars or even replace the stars with actors that I created in Unreal. So in theory this should allow for a lot of flexibility and interactivity directly inside Unreal, eliminating the need to constantly export/import fbx's when doing iterations.

    And honestly, as indie devs with limited resources to produce assets having access to a procedural and flexible pipeline can be a huge time saver so I'm really looking forward to see how Houdini Engine will turn out

  28. #28
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    Short video showing the game slowly advancing forward.


    fullsize: https://vimeo.com/103245609

  29. #29
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    Looks great, love the style and it reminds me a bit of 'Another World' type game play / logic problem solving wise. Look forward to future updates

  30. #30
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    Thank you xrouter!

    The beam particles are my new favorite toy as you can see in the Mechanical Platform implementation - probably I over done it a bit but they look so cool


    fullsize: https://vimeo.com/103415159

  31. #31
    This looks fantastic! Your lighting is incredible! I especially like how you lit the character. Do you think you could share some thoughts on how you achieved your lighting on the character?

  32. #32
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    Hi Syntaks,
    Glad you like it - lighting is often overlooked in videogames development but it's super important and I'll probably tweak the values until the end of the project.
    In this case I'm taking advantage of the side-scroller perspective - I know this is the only angle the player will see the game so I'm focusing mostly on the left and right rimlight.

    I have two directional lights - one for the sun and one for the lightshafts. The light used for the lightshafts has a slightly different angle compared with the one used for the sun so I can force the lightshafts in the scene. The color of these lights are controlled by the Day/Night Cycle Actor.
    In addition to the two directional lights, every material has an emissive color from the left and another one from the right (rimlights) - this two colors are also controlled by the Day/Night Cycle Actor using the Timeline and a color variable - and they have a greater impact on the scene look than the two real lights.

    Hope makes sense

    Lately it's been quite busy at my job so I didn't had much time for my pet projects. I managed however to start working on the portals - used to teleport the player and other close objects between dimensions.
    The portals have 2 states:
    1. Closed - when the player is out of reach.
    2. Open - when the player is close to it.
    Visually the portals are almost done but they still require some tweaks - I'm not really happy with the distortion effect for example.


    fullsize: https://vimeo.com/104393690

  33. #33
    Wow...The portal effect looks amazing and your art style is very pleasing to look at, and the Unity gameplay already looks great so I am sure in Unreal it will look even better. Great job!
    Web developer by day, hobbyist by night. - - @vitaliyvitaliyz

  34. #34
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    I agree with vitaliy 100%. The portal effect looks fantastic! I have been watching this thread closely and, with all of the updates that you have been provided, I have been very, very impressed. Keep up the great work and can't wait for the next update!

  35. #35
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    Love the portal! Super smooth, overall great effect

  36. #36
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    Thanks a bunch guys, glad you like it.
    Hopefully by the end of September I'll be able to show a longer gameplay video

    -Adrian

  37. #37
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    I have only just found this thread. I have read through it all, watched every video and I must say, I love what you have done so far. However, I am very disappointed that there isn't anything else to read or to watch! I felt very sad when I realised that I had seen everything in the thread! I need more!

    Cheers

    Jay.

  38. #38
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    Haha that's sweet of you to say Unfamillia - I'll try to update this thread as often as possible
    -Adrian

  39. #39
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    From the moment I started working on this project I wanted to add clouds but I kept pushing back the task because I feared it would take too long time to find a matching style. Also, before rebooting the project in UE4 there was only night time and the stars were doing a good job filling the empty sky.

    But now with the day/night cycle I needed something on the sky during day time as well so I started working on the clouds. I quickly tried some stylized / hard edges shapes and while they didn't looked bad they pushed the entire image a bit too much towards a vector look that I'm trying to avoid - I find it too tiresome on the eyes and it can become boring after a while.

    So reluctantly I rendered some more realistic/fluffy clouds in Houdini and to my surprise they actually complement the hard edge environment quite well - I'm still not happy with the overall ratio between hard and soft looking props but with time more soft effects will be made so hopefully in the end the game will have an unique art-style.

    Here are a few screenshots with the clouds during different time of day:












    And here is how the clouds textures look - inspired by an old "relight in comp" trick I used back when working in post-production:



    The idea is very simple: render the 3d object using 3 light colors: one pure Red, one pure Green and another pure Blue. In this case I have the Red and the Green light acting as strong rim-lights (Right and Left) and the Blue light as a general weaker rim-light. Then in Unreal I separate the RGB components and I use them as masks to drive the color changes during the day/night cycle.

    I'll try to post a video tomorrow showing how the clouds react to the sky changes.

    -Adrian

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    Awesome method! I like that a lot. Looking forward to the vid.

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