Development thread for my project

At my college we have been told by our teacher to create threads on this forum dedicated to the progress and development of our game projects. This thread will (hopefully) be updated each time progress is made on my project. That is worth mentioning, of course.

As for my project (which I have yet to start) I intend to make a game like Super Monkey Ball as I have been playing it recently again and having a blast. The first one on the Gamecube that is, not the lackluster recent releases. Whilst playing I kept thinking to myself that I should make a project like this as the idea of Super Monkey Ball is very simple as it’s mostly physics based, though I don’t doubt it there is some pretty complicated code in the game for what makes it seem so simple.

For those not familiar with the Super Monkey Ball series, it’s basically just a Monkey (one of four) inside of a ball (who would have guessed?) and the aim of the game is to guide said in Monkey in said ball through each level of puzzles to the Goal.
Here is a video for those who wish to see game play here.

I most likely won’t replicate the whole game or it’s ‘world-tilting’ function which moves the ball. The world-tilting function looks like it would be complicated and I didn’t really want to go about using it in my project in the first place as it could cause nausea for some people.

I’ll also probably not add a character inside of the ball and just leave it as it is, the most I’ll be doing is tweaking the physics of the ball and building the levels like levels are built in the Super Monkey Ball games. In fact, the level design in SMB is very clever, it starts off easy and then gets progressively more difficult, but the way the levels are built later on is that it comes down to your skill of the game. There are even later stages some can find incredibly fun due to them not being as hard as previous levels, which is great level design in the end in which I believe that other game companies can learn from.
If anything the game might end up becoming a Marble Madness game which is actually the inspiration behind Super Monkey Ball. In the end it is what it is, a Puzzle game built on physics that I will try my best to make it fun.

So now I am waiting for 4.7.0 to download and once it’s done I will start building my project.

I’ve made the first level of the game. I made it similar to the first level in SMB1 but decided to also have a fence-less bridge to keep it different. As for the Goal, I didn’t want to copy the goal from SMB so I instead went with an arch that for now has a shiny Gold material on it which I found from a free pack of materials on the Unreal Engine 4 store. Whether I decide to change this arc to something else is left to be decided. The fences I have chosen are from a website Turbosquid by uroefl, I thought it would be better to have fences than just a block fence to keep the player from falling off in certain parts of a level.

The ball has a simple material on it right now and I’m not too sure what I’ll do with the ball other than keeping it the same shape. I’ll most likely leave the ball as it is for now until much much later.

As of right now I am attempting to create a second level as well as creating a trigger inside of the ‘Arc Goal’. This trigger will transfer the player to the other level once they come into contact with it. Polishing and fine tuning of this level transition part will be done much later as for now I need to focus on getting the basic parts of my game going.

I’ve begun creating a landscape for my game to use in all 10 levels of my demo, I plan on using this landscape as a sort of skybox. I’m wondering if I should make the player feel like they are tiny by adding large trees in the skybox. This is actually my first time using the landscape tool, so I hope this goes well.

I’m now up to level 7 of my project (level 7 is basically just a hollowed out circle and a square right now, I plan on making the hollowed out circle spin around and have a bunch of others).

The previous levels may still need a bit of work such as the level with the tube in which the player goes down in. I’m starting to implement a lot of animated objects now that I’ve remembered how to use matinee, I’ve even implemented a sign telling the players they have to jump on a certain level to reach the goal. The sign bounces up and down so it’s quite noticeable.

I still need to create a camera in which the player controls via the mouse and also add grip to the ball, though a better camera is much higher in my priority list.

I have just finished the 8th level for my game (the one with a ton of glass boxes around it which represent invisible walls) and have begun checking certain levels for the off-chance of accidentally falling/being flung too far and end up landing in a kill box in a different level. To avoid this, I have decided to add invisible walls so that players will bounce off of them to avoid falling into a different killbox and thus land into the correct killbox to make them spawn back into the level they were currently on.

I’m now applying Glass materials onto the tube shapes in the third level of my game.

I still need to edit the camera AND add grip to my ball as more than 1 person has noted that the ball is too ‘slidey’, I agreed.

Level 7, 8 and 9 are now made in terms of structure, the only level left to make is the tenth which is currently underway of being made. I just now built the lighting and the textures on some of the objects have changed/corrupted, not sure as to why this has happened but will get around to fixing it quickly. I won’t spoil too much but the last level isn’t what the player will first think of it, and yes those 3 rectangle objects do actually do something, they swing around like a pendulum.
This image is of Level 10.

This image here is of Level 9 which still needs to have materials applied to the objects. This level has invisible walls encompassing it in a cube-like format so the player does not enter any of the kill boxes from other levels.
The 4 tiny squares you see is the main gimmick of this level in which the player must use them for in order to reach the other side (the goal). The other sides of the level will soon have pickup items on them, once I get the item pickup system down.

If you are interested in Level 8, please refer to the post above this one.

The image below is Level 7, earlier I stated the level with the rings is level 7 but I was mistaken and counted the levels wrong, whoops. As you can see from this level and many others, I’m starting to bring animated objects into my levels to increase the difficulty of my game and bring new challenges into it, whilst still making it fun and enjoyable for the player as THAT is one of my biggest priorities as I believe it was also one of the big priorities for the original creators of SMB. And, well, game makers in general really.

I STILL need to edit the camera and add grip to my ball, some help would be GREATLY appreciated.

I’ve now finished Level 10 and also added a box in which the player is teleported to after they finish Level 10. More info below.

The image you see below is Level 10 in which I have re-designed the ‘pendulum’ objects to be more mechanical like as if they’re rotated around by a Cylinder object. The top and bottom rectangle objects spin in a counter-clock-wise fashion whereas the middle rectangle spins in a clock-wise fashion.
The four objects near the end of the level are designed to push the enemy off the level. The objects on the left move at the same time and speed, the same goes for the objects on the right. I animated these using matinee.

You can also see the goal in the middle of the stage, this is because I’ve still kept the idea for when the player presses down onto the sandstone button (where the ball is in the picture), the goal slides all the way to the end of the stage, tricking the player into thinking they’re in for an easy win. I did this by using a matinee actor for the sandstone object to sink into the ground when the ball overlaps the trigger element, which then plays the matinee event. This took a while to figure out and I owe it to my classmate Tony for helping me with this, turns out there’s a thing called Level Blueprints. I knew exactly what to do but I just couldn’t do it in normal blueprints, so I should keep in mind that there are functions I may not be able to perform in normal blueprints. Once the button (the sandstone object) is pressed onto, the other matinee event to make the goal slide all the way back is also played. The ring near the end is just a spinning ring, a cool effect I decided to add for the sake of cool basically.

After the player finishes the 10th level they are then teleported to a room half-encased in 4 rectangles informing the player they’ve won. It’s a bit of a silly room, yes. If the player goes to either the far right or left side of the box they are then teleported back to the first level using a ‘Set actor location’ node using the kill boxes blueprint below the first level. The Banana object I have placed into the room is an easter egg reference to the game in which I’ve based my game on, Super Monkey Ball. And the Shadow the Hedgehog character is just a T-stance model which I will soon remove, it’s only in there for fun and to see how it works, though if I can find a way to animate it I might just leave it in there for the sake of how ridiculous it is. I created the object by using the sign object I created in 3DS Max for the second level but just made a different version of it and applied a text image I made in Photoshop.

To achieve past the basic Pass criteria in my assignment I needed one more kind of input, at first I tried to put in a double-jump feature but I felt like that would just ruin the flow of the game as well as giving SMB fans a bad taste since jumping was NEVER a part of SMB; which basically increased the challenge by adding that limitation. The single jump gameplay element still exists in my game because many people always wanted to jump in SMB, so I left it in for people to see what it’s sort of like and since my game won’t ever be using the same gameplay elements or functions (such as the physics of the SMB ball) I’ve decided to keep it in as it makes the game quite fun and allows the player to play the game in multiple different ways. It’s also been useful as I can build levels based on it.
Anyways, the feature I added in was to push a single button in Level 5 to bring up the cylinders in quite a cool way (they basically come up at different speeds depending on the row of cylinders, you’ll see what I mean if you play it, it’s pretty rad). The player must use the ‘E’ key when they are up against the button to push it in (using a matinee and trigger event) event which will then bring up the cylinders (using a matinee event caused by the trigger element with the button) which the player can then cross to beat the level. I decided to create text to put up against the button and box to tell the player what they need to do, other than just guess what key you need to use to bring the cylinders up. I did this by receiving help from my classmate Tony who showed me how to create text, as well as make it so it is destroyed after a certain event occurs, in this case pushing the button. Seeing as how putting text into a game in UE4 is quite simple I’ll most likely be doing this more in the future as it is a BIG time saver, rather than having to create a sign in 3DS Max.

Now with the levels finally completed, I can move onto creating a landscape with mountains trees and more. Then I can start creating some visual effects too. Hopefully, this shouldn’t be too hard…

Here is an image of the Level Blueprint so you can see just how I managed to do the whole ‘matinee event activated via trigger element’ functions.

If you’re interested in seeing anything else to do with how I made certain things in my project, please say.

I’ve started creating the landscape for my project as well as add in tree models that I’ve found from various 3D Model sites. I’m not too sure how to add/fix the alpha channel on the part of the tree with leaves so for now they’re just square shaped until I find a way to fix them. I think the landscape and trees are looking quite well so far, though I may need to adjust some of the trees so some areas of the map aren’t blackened by the amount of shadows too much.
Though there is also a problem with the UV’s, the engine says that there are UV’s that overlap others on the trees. This problem will need to be fixed. Somehow…

How are you handling the world tilt? I’m making a rolling game as well and decided to go with adding torque to the ball instead.

I’m not adding the world tilt feature because it can make some people feel ill, and that it’d take some time.

I’ve started to add in more trees to my project, but most trees I try to add in either don’t work or are blender files and I’m using 3DS Max. So instead, I’ve decided to just re-use the same 3 trees.

I and my (very helpful and patient) teacher have begun creating cutscenes that show the overview of the level the player is currently playing on by using Matinee. This is done by placing a box trigger which is referenced in the level blueprint to play the Matinee cutscene which shows the overview of the level, where the player spawns. This in turn immediately activates the Matinee cutscene. However the player is still able to control their movement, which is what I and my teacher have been trying to cease the ability for the player to be able to control their movement entirely.

UPDATE: I’ve just now, with the help of my teacher, managed to implement the feature to restrict the player of all movement whilst the cutscene plays thanks to the help of a user on this forum named loon123.
Here is how I accomplished this:

I have now decided to replace all of the trees in my level with trees from the Tropical Forest pack by Manufactura K4. This pack includes some beautiful looking trees, grass, plants and cliffs so I recommend it to anyone looking for some really nice looking vegitation. What’s more, the trees, grass and plants are all animated!

Anyways, with this pack I removed the old trees and replaced them with the trees from the Tropical Forest pack. Because of this, I’ve decided to change the Park theme of my map to a Rain Forest theme, similar to the first theme in SMB. These trees also look a lot better scaled up massively compared to the old trees.

The cutscenes still work just fine, but when a player goes through a goal to the next level where it then plays the cutscene, if the player is still holding down on one of the movement keys they will continue moving when the cutscene ends unless they press that movement key again. This is a bug I’m not sure on how to fix, sadly. Any help would be appreciated.

As of now I’m focusing on both stopping the ball from moving when it respawns and is teleported to another level after going through the goal as the ball’s momentum carries on.
I’m also trying to make the camera movable by using the mouse so that the player can look around the map, an idea I’ve had from the start. Any help on this would be appreciated.

The college’s internet is acting up again which means I cannot post an image of my updated map right now, I will post an image later at home.
Sorry if this update is a bit lackluster or rushed, it’s insanely hot in this classroom today which makes it hard to focus.

I have decided to take out the feature of there being a overview of a level when the player is sent to the next as it is causing a lot of problems. Instead, I have decided to be a sneaky/lazy devil and create one big overview of the level that will play in the main menu of the game. This way, I’m giving the player an overview look of the level and meeting the ‘Second Camera usage’ requirement of my assignment. This also means I don’t need to create or add a back ground image into the main menu, but I still do need to create the main menu text that has my game’s name in it.

I’ve also begun working on a scoring system in my game with help from my teacher as it seems quite complicated, as of now I have nodes set up to create the foundation of the process of creating the scoring system. Right now I have a HUD and the pickup items. You can see part of the node setup I have currently in the picture below, as well as the HUD and items the player picks up.

As you can see, I’ve also changed the material used on my ball to a shiny metalic material. I wasn’t sure what to make my ball look like or what material to apply to it, so I just went for what Marble Madness did (or pinballs I guess) and make the ball look like a marble. Though I don’t really like how much shine or glare comes off of the ball, I’ve lowered how shiny the ball can be to decrease the amount though.

I’ve nearly finished the large overview cutscene for my main menu, but I’ve run into a problem. The ramps I used in some of my levels are either gone or are only visible if you go under them. However if you click on the underside of them that you can see, the entire object is then visible as it’s high lighted, but once you click away it goes back to being broken. However just now as I am writing this it’s now working again! I just ejected my portable hard drive and then re-insterted it and that fixed the problem. My hard drive sometimes just randomly ejects itself from the computer and then a second later it’s plugged back in, even though it’s already plugged in and nothing is pulling it out. Weird. Anyways problem solved thank god. Now back to work, I’m hoping to find a way to make my third person camera controllable today.

I have finally managed to make a rotatable camera, however problems have arisen because of it. For more info on this please click this link here to see what is happening.

Nearing the end of my assignment I have decided to remove the new camera I have implemented into my game and replaced it with the old camera. Reason for this being: I can’t fix the many annoying problems with it and haven’t the time to perform research on how to fix it, though I thank everyone who has helped me or tried. It is very much appreciated.

I’ve also just deleted all of the chocolate bar pick ups and the score system from my game as I’ve decided to scrap the score feature like I said. However I won’t delete the blueprints and visual nodes I have created for them as I’d like to come back to this project and try to fix the problems that populate it. I suspect that I’ll be finished with this project rather soon.

I was going to post an image below so you can see the chocolate bars have gone, as well as the score, and how I’ve organised my props into many folders to keep everything neat. However the college’s internet isn’t letting me upload an image on here or Imgur.

You’ve been walking a lonely road… The project looks fun. Are you thinking about it going multiplayer?