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[GAME] Grimmstar - An Open Universe Space Fighter

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https://youtube.com/watch?v=I188draGCkM

Hi, everybody! We’ve been working hard on a game that started as a project of passion from a group of aspiring game developers and industry professionals. That project has come to be known as Grimmstar, an immersive space fighter game with ARPG and fleet management twists.

Story

In the not-too-distant future, humans have begun to touch the stars. Earth has remained a central hub for the unified governmental system as pockets of mankind began to expand through the galaxy, but right when mankind’s greatest era of prosperity has been reached, everything is set to turn to ash.

Earth has suddenly gone quiet. Little is known why, but as you progress through the game, secrets will be revealed. With Earth unresponsive of spreading rumors of impending doom, the distant pockets of human civilization have gone in to chaos and disarray.

This is where you come in. As the player, you become entangled with a mysterious object that appears to be of great importance. Traversing from solar system to solar system, you will be on the run as you fend off advances from the enemy and their vast fleet.

More will be revealed as we get closer to our launch date.

Description
When playing, you will gain access to entire solar systems with which you can explore at your own leisure. Each solar system will act as their own mega sandbox level and your primary objective is round up and save the remaining pockets of mankind.

You’ll also have to manage your own fleet and the ensure the population is kept safe and flourishes. Otherwise, all of humanity will perish. During all of this, you’ll have the ability to gather materials, research upgrades to your fleet, and discover new technologies with the hope of one day being able to overpower the enemy.

This mixture of sandbox space fighter mixed with fleet management and multiple upgrade/research trees allows you complete freedom to choose the path you deem best fit for the survival of mankind.

Features

6 Degrees of Freedom
Grimmstar features a full 6 DOF, physics-based flight mechanic for some insanely fun and intuitive maneuvering possibilities.

Modular Ship Designs
As the player, you’ll be able to customize not only your ships weapon loadouts, but also the ship’s components and pieces themselves. Each different loadout will change the behavior of your ship’s flight, combat, and defensive capabilities.

An Intense, Gripping Story
Grimmstar is a single-player game with a focus on delivering a theatrical telling of an incredible story that tests the will of mankind.

A Semi-Procedural Level System
While the story delivery will remain rather consistent, there are plenty of opportunities to play through entire solar systems that you’ve never been to before with each new playthrough. This allows for new opportunities and forces a dynamic approach for fleet management and player ship advancements.

Manage your fleet
Add new ships to your fleet as you rescue colonists and stranded military patrols throughout your journey. Research new defenses for the Capitol Fleet using mysterious technology and salvaged supplies. Random events will test your fortitude as you choose who lives and dies for the continuation of the fleet.

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Our goals

This started out as a project of passion. Right now, all the work being done on this game is outside of our own jobs that pay our bills. Some of us work in the industry already, while others are aspiring to break into the industry. We are planning to have a full vertical slice demo that features every aspect of our game out later this year. We want to give you a taste of our vision while we continue to develop the game in to a full-fledged title.

We also want to give back to you! For any current or aspiring developers, we will be posting helpful tutorials with a focus on areas that haven’t been well covered from our own experiences. We want to cover all areas of development, from asset pipelines to sound development and implementation, to particle effects, to C++ and Blueprint integration. The goal here is to help others ramp up their production and to encourage everyone to make incredible games.

Lastly, we would love your participation! To us, Grimmstar will be the best game it can be by getting your feedback and thoughts. As we post progress updates, please feel free to reply back with any questions, suggestions, comments or critique. You can do that here or in any of our social media channels below.

Thank you for taking the time to learn a little about our game! We can’t wait to share more with you!

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Mankind was always destined for the stars. We began as wanderers, and we are wanderers still. The next great age has come upon us and as we reach further in to the vastness of space with all its glory and beauty to behold, we call upon you to help serve for our future. Come train with the galaxy’s finest and become more than just what you were meant to be.
[HR][/HR]
In Grimmstar, you represent the savior of humanity. There will be losses, causalities, and sacrifices to be made, but your choices will shape the future of the galaxy.

You will be able to customize your player ship to your own liking, with each different piece playing their role in your ship’s agility, speed, firepower and defensive capabilities. Whether you choose to go in heavy and strong, smashing your way through conflict, or if you prefer to take a more distant approach, packing a punch from a distance… it’s all up to you.

But not every battle can be won by a single hero. As you save colonies from imminent destruction, you’ll be able to utilize their resources and knowledge to help further not only your own ship, but your fleet’s ships as well. The enemy forces are numerous and strong, so if you see yourself becoming overwhelmed, call for reinforcements and let the capital ships wreak havoc for you.

You’ll have to be careful though. Suffer too many casualties and the chances for survival of the human race will wither away.

These aren’t easy decisions to make. Every action has consequences. How will you choose to carve your path through the galaxy?

Arsen is our sound guy. He’s amazing. On his first project, we gave him some verbal explanations of the sound we wanted, followed up by one or two audio references and the very next day, he had something almost in place that was nearly perfect.

Here’s his write up about his process, along with an accompanying YouTube tutorial video.

You can find more tutorials from as on our page and we’ll continue adding more as time fits. [HR][/HR]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKEmPpv-RUk

The first audio task I tackled on Grimmstar was the sound of the engines. It was a particularly important sound because it not only helped set the tone/aesthetic of the game, but also because the player will be hearing it for a large percentage of play time. While making the tutorial video, I thought it would be best to approach it as simply as I could by answering just one or two questions. The video, for me, ended up being broken down into two main categories: How it was done and Why it was done.

The How:

The default engine loop sound is comprised of 8 seamless loops, with an engine kick up and engine power down event played over it. The goal for the loop was to break it into different parts of the frequency spectrum so that 1. the sounds didn’t fight too much, and 2. the parts could be interchangeable in case the player upgrades their engines or we re-used these sounds in other engine assets in game. The engines powering up and down needed to be something quick and recognizable, but not too fatiguing when used over and over.

For the engine loop sound design process, I used audio recordings, Reaktor, and various plug-ins to create the sounds I wanted for the base element. I ended up using sounds from actual rocket launches, synthesized elements that sounded like actual rocket launches, and finally, synthesized elements that sound like ‘BWAAAAAAENNOUNGHG”. The powering up and down layers for the engine were made with straight forward psycho-acoustic cues in mind. Synths being pitched up with some doppler effect when engines kick on and then pitch going down when the engines slow down. These are also punctuated with kick drums and other samples, for another layer of beef and transient continuity. When all these sounds come together, it should register a recognizable impact in the game. Luckily, our middleware solution should take care of turning that into something usable.

In our case, FMOD took care of mixing these sounds and giving them dynamic parameters that could be modified in-engine. By default, the 8 sounds that comprise the loop are full frequency and quite loud. FMOD takes care of mixing these by using everything from simple filter sweeps and volume automation, to more complex pitch shifters and reverb wet/dry signals. By default, the engines idling should be quite tame, and not too noticeable. This was achieved by making two audio states that the engines could be in (0-full thrust) and interpolating between the two (with a little finesse and massaging to not make it a direct linear movement). The idle sound is heavily filtered, with a lot of the synth elements turned down in volume, while the full thrust sound opens all of these sounds up and added effects like distortion and reverb really push the larger than life effect. This “Thrust” parameter is being manipulated by the game engine and was already available through blueprints (to me) as a 0-1 float, so making the audio connection to in-game parameters was relatively simple.

On the unreal side of things, we needed to hook up the engine loop as always active, and then when the player presses the ‘forward’ or ‘backward’ button to trigger the engine and power up and down sound, respectively. Most of this work was piggy-backing off already existing structures and blueprints that made the player behave the way they should. Once this was plugged in, we had a good basis for the engine sound, but a small element remained to make the whole thing come together.

The Why:

“The sound should be realistic, not cartoony or sci-fi” would become my mantra when developing sounds for Grimmstar. Luckily, I always had great references for what we were trying to emulate. From actual anti-aircraft weaponry references, to specific shuttle rocket launches, there was always a good direction in terms of audio.

The main problem with these sounds is they are far too fatiguing to be used in a game. I developed a simple system to alleviate that by setting up a timer that counted to 5 anytime the forward or backward thrust button was pressed. After being pressed the system would apply a sweeping low-pass filter (plus other super special audio secrets ®) to whatever the sound of the thrusters were in in their given state. This gives us many distinct and unique combinations of audio based on where the player has their thrusters set, and ultimately gives enough variation to make the engines feel living and dynamic.

This engine system as you hear in the video is not in its final mixed state, but the core sound is there, and a great place to start mixing from.

Stay tuned for the next audio dev vlog, which will cover procedural music generation, i.e. space is large and writing that much linear music is crazy pants.

Grimmstar features massive, open sandbox “environments” that allow you to traverse through entire solar systems as you deem fit. There are plenty of opportunities for exploration and discovery while you battle for survival.

In order to achieve this immense scale, we made use of Unreal Engine’s World Composition. Through some learning, we have a basic system in place that allows seamless transitions between points of interest with level streaming and origin rebasing.

Alex has made a high-level tutorial for you to learn how we went about this:

https://youtube.com/watch?v=XI9EsCuHHn0

We recently made the switch to 4.22! Along with the incredible performance improvements, we’re now utilizing RTX for our lighting It brings with it some lighting rework that we have to go through, but it’s already made quite an impact. While testing, I just had to sit and enjoy this view…

https://youtube.com/watch?v=xSeT1z46w30
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In Grimmstar, you’re able to travel throughout an entire solar system as you deem best fit. Each solar system is their own level within the progression system of the game and with so much space for points of interest, the possibilities are nearly limitless. In order to achieve this, we had to utilize Unreal’s World Composition. This allows us to stream levels in and out as we see fit for better resource management. Adding to that, with Unreal’s World Origin Rebasing, we’re able to keep calculations for everything around the player precise, no matter how far they travel across the galaxy.

For a quick overview of how we achieved this, we’ve created a high-level tutorial that can be seen here:

https://youtube.com/watch?v=XI9EsCuHHn0

Here are some of the concept art we’ve been working on for the game:

First up is the hangar. You’ll be spending a lot of time in this place, as it will act as an interactive menu for you between missions. You’ll use the hangar to change out parts on your ship, upgrade your fleet, manage your population, and research new discoveries.

Next up is our first enemy ship, the Swarmer. This ship is nearing completion and about to be implemented in game, so we’ll be showing off more of it shortly.


Part of the Swarmer’s deadliness is its ability to send out Seedlings. These guys are still a WIP, but they’re current concept is laid out here:

And as a last piece, our concept artist, Travis, has been working on some exploratory environmental pieces. This was one of my favorites:

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We’ve been working on getting real-time ray tracing with DXR support in our game and the results have be phenomenal.

Being a space game, we can’t really bake light maps without having enormous files from all of the empty space being accounted for. Because of this, we’ve been using “Force No Precumputed Lighting” within Unreal to keep everything dynamic. While Unreal does a great job of making things look pretty darn good, the addition and implementation of DXR is a game changer for us (pun intended). Just take a look at the difference here:

https://youtube.com/watch?v=cCmqOvsnakg

There’s also been a lot of work done to get the warp effects up to the level of what we want. Thanks to the feedback of many, many people, we’ve made some adjustments that we think are really starting to hit the mark. Take a look here:

https://youtube.com/watch?v=J6cQRoALIkA

Lastly, we wanted to show you guys the ever-important OM-2 Mining Frigate. These little guys will be called upon to gather resources for your fleet. You’ll be able to designate salvage or material locations (such as mineral-rich asteroids) and call the OM-2 Mining Frigates to collect the resources for you.

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Loving the work here, and appreciate the visuals a lot.

Have followed your YT and def see your videos pushed around Discord.

I love projects of this kind… :smiley:

Thanks for the kind words! We should have out second devlog out within the next couple of days. Lots of things to update :smiley:

Some more concept art for everyone:

Here’s a look at your civilian ship that is currently being grey-boxed. It’s taking a lot of work to try and get this done right because its size is… quite large. See Astronaut for reference.

And here’s a first draft of one of our military capital ships that will begin development shortly. We’re making the fleet ships modular so that you can outfit them as you want while you progress through the game.

And last, we have a mysterious object being uncovered from an asteroid that was being mined. You’ll discover what these are when the game releases :wink:

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Our second devlog video is now available! Lots of fun updates and announcements!
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https://youtube.com/watch?v=ijotfeRZJ54

We have another showcase for real-time ray tracing in Unreal 4.22. It’s made a huge difference for one of our still in progress space stations!

https://youtube.com/watch?v=G0xB5EQk8o0

Another Sunday means more concept art!

The enemy Rammer packs quite a punch, literally. Be careful if you hear this beast charging up its thrusters, or else you risk being torn in half by this giant rock cleaver. These pictures show some progression from basic form to finalized concept:


The enemy carrier will house multiple Rammers and Swarmers that will unleash hell upon you and your fleet. They pack a large amount of firepower and are heavily armored. You’re probably best avoiding them unless you absolutely have to engage.

And another environment piece:

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We’ve been working to increase performance for utilizing real-time ray tracing in our scenes. Things are going quite well!

We also got our first enemy ship in the game!

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Oh, man. What a busy past couple of months. After being fortunate to show off our game at multiple events, we’re finally back to making some progress on areas of the game.

Right now, programming is being done to implement our inventory system along with our mining mechanics. On top of that, early work has started on the ability to call in a capital ship and fighter squadron for reinforcements. We’re super excited to get these in!

For some fun visual, we’re still working on our civilian capital ship, the Terranova. It’s a long and arduous task, but we’re getting ever closer. Player ship for scale!
(remember, still WIP, so entire chunks are missing)



And lastly, because mining is coming in soon, we began working on some crystal assets and a custom crystal shader. Let us know what you guys think!

Here’s a little sneak peek at a new level we’re designing. It may look pretty, but it’s definitely no safe haven. Large clouds of charged particles limit vision and strike stellar storms. The thicker clouds, like what lies directly ahead of the player ship, are generally advised to avoid at all costs.

We’ve been featured in Nvidia’s GeForce YouTube Channel for our implementation of RTX technology!

https://youtube.com/watch?v=RYqijVMOAnQ

Congrats :slight_smile: