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Singmetosleep (atmospheric exploration narrative protoype)

I just tested my suggestion, it looks like it doesn’t work, no rotation or location changes has effect.

Thank you for sharing your camera “shaker”, much appreciated.

I’ve been working on Oculus Rift support with my DK1, performance is really good currently with no artifacts (postprocessing effects like bloom, dirt mask, etc work without artifacts). I’ve set up an unbounded PostProcess Volume that is enabled when the Rift is detected, which disables motion blur (for better latency) and switches AA from TXAA down to FXAA (which reduces texture artifacts, though I’m currently using zero textures).

FYI, I scaled down everything by a factor of 10, to give me much more room to build without running into floating point precision issues. I rescaled my character’s capsule half-height down to 9.6 (from 96), and moved the camera accordingly so that it would be where the “head” is, but otherwise I had no issues with scale or appearance in the Rift (even keeping the default IPD of .064):

RockLeeSmile did a great video preview yesterday on Indie Impressions!

Man beautiful and odd visuals, it feels like Ridley Scott and Stanley Kubrick had some sort of shared dream. Love the use of scale.

Howdy acatalept,

Fantastic work on this project. In your last video, at about 7 minutes in, the rotation of the rings is simply mesmerizing. I caught myself just staring into it. I really hope to give this game a try when it is fully complete. Keep up the great work and have a great day!

Hey,
Any idea when this game will be compatible with DK2 of the Oculus?

I was just working on this late last night and should be wrapped up soon, smoothing out a few obvious warts in the demo level design so it doesn’t look too horrendous :wink:

But LimasseFive just released an update for NaissanceE with DK1 support, and I feel compelled to defer my own project another day or two to help them test (and hopefully fix) DK2 support as well. Must resist… but NaissanceE in VR is just too tempting :wink:

Making progress on the updated demo with Rift DK2 support, still some very rough placeholders that I’m replacing with slightly less rough placeholders :wink:

In the meantime, a few people have asked me how I made the low-poly-ish, wind-sculpted terrain:

Here’s a video showing how it’s all done in the UE4 editor, using simple landscape editing tools:

EDIT: this terrain sculpt method relies on a “bug” (though I considered it a feature ;)) that was “fixed” in 4.5: Unreal Engine 4.5 Released! - Announcements and Releases - Unreal Engine Forums!

Sadly a pretty deep refactor was involved in fixing that bug: https://github.com/EpicGames/UnrealEngine/commit/ecdd802

So I hardly feel justified in politely requesting an option to turn it back on :smiley:

But the effect can be emulated (albeit rather more slowly) by not holding down the mouse button and dragging, but rather click/release, click/release to scoop out each chunk of terrain.

UE 4.5 update is amazing… using the new Distance Field Soft Shadows, plus Distance Field Ambient Occlusion, and Light Propagation Volume dynamic GI:

LPV GI, DFSS, & DFAO in motion:

Very interesting, love the strange atmosphere, can’t wait to give this a try with the DK2

If you’re not getting playable framerates in the current singmetosleep playable prototype (or parasomnia, my UE4 side project), I will have in-game video settings soon.

But in the meantime, you can do the following to improve performance:

Lower the resolution:

The game defaults to running fullscreen at your primary monitor’s desktop resolution. But you can get much better performance if you lower the resolution by editing the file “GameUserSettings.ini” in the subfolder “singmetosleep\Saved\Config\WindowsNoEditor”:


[/Script/Engine.GameUserSettings]

; 0 = fullscreen (traditional): best performance, supports all resolutions, but doesn't alt-tab as nicely
; 1 = windowed fullscreen (borderless): always at desktop resolution, better alt-tab app switching
; 2 = windowed standard: supports lower-resolution window with border and min/max/close buttons
FullscreenMode=0

; width and height of game window
ResolutionSizeX=1280
ResolutionSizeY=720

Disable dynamic shadows:

Dynamic light and shadows have a huge impact on the look and mood of the environments, but you can disable dyanamic shadows for a huge performance boost. While in the game, just press the tilde (~) key to show the debug console, then enter this command to turn off shadows:


show dynamicshadows

And enter the same command again to turn shadows back on (you can press the up key on the keyboard to go back to your previously entered commands instead of typing them again).

This setting will revert to the default each time you start the game.

I should have some real video options in the next playable prototype - thanks for your patience!

I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to improve performance, targeting different levels of hardware, and doing what I can to help lower-level hardware not have a second-class experience. Years ago I used to spend an inordinate amount of time struggling to tweak games to run on my affordable (and less-than-enthusiast-grade) hardware, and I always hated that I’d have to make so many sacrifices to visuals to get a playable framerate. So I’ve been attempting a different tack: rather than just turning off effects as a late-stage afterthought, I’ve been experimenting with ways of actually changing the experience, challenging myself to work within the constraints of reduced performance, cutting out what’s not necessary while maintaining the feel, and more importantly not letting any cracks show.

For example, one of the biggest performance gains, which carries the most obvious visual penalty, is completely turning off dynamic lighting/shadows. I’ve gone down the road and back of doing what I can with static lightmaps, which can look outstanding with some work put into them…

… but static lighting build times and memory requirements (both for building during development, and for the player to simply load the lightmaps) are prohibitive with scenes this big, even when I break the world up into manageable chunks – so dynamic lighting is my only realistic option. But dynamic lighting has a huge hit on performance, especially when I add in realtime global illumination (which I hope I can get looking the way I want in the final experience, for those who have the hardware to handle it).

So for now, I have a sort of master lighting and time-of-day system set up that enables toggling dynamic lighting (including dynamic global illumination) and some other effects. But when it’s turned off, rather than just look like a cheapened, flat, overbright version of “what could be”… the experience takes on a rather different look…

… which attempts to sidestep the complete lack of any shadow information and uses only a single, uniform, omnidirectional sky light. Compared to full dynamic lighting/shadows, the framerate on my dev system increases by anywhere from 75% to over a 100% gain. This is particularly critical when targeting the Oculus Rift, which suffers from pretty severe nausea-inducing judder and latency any time performance even briefly falls below 75fps @ 1920x1080. This has been my biggest hold-up in releasing a Rift DK2-compatible prototype (for those who have been waiting), which should now be ready very soon (sorry it’s taken so long!).

There are some tradeoffs: the end result is even more stylized and unrealistic than the lit/shadowed look, and some sense of depth and scale is lost in some areas. Though some of the much less expensive tricks in Unreal Engine 4’s toolkit, such as light bloom and screen-space ambient occlusion, tend to give back some substantiality and texture…

And there are always other ways of strongly driving home the scale of the place when lacking vast shadows cast across the vista…

(note the distant figure next to the massive structure)

Updated video and playable prototype (with Rift DK2 support) on the way…

Here’s a quick video of the Rift / midspec visuals in motion (also updated first post):

Love this so much acatalept!! One of my favorite projects that I keep an eye on! I will support you all the way big fan and thank you for sharing your terrain sculpt method! You inspire me! thank you so much!

Thank you so much :wink: I appreciate the kind words!

FYI, that terrain sculpt method relies on a “bug” (though I considered it a feature ;)) that was “fixed” in 4.5: Unreal Engine 4.5 Released! - Announcements and Releases - Unreal Engine Forums!

Sadly a pretty deep refactor was involved in fixing that bug: https://github.com/EpicGames/UnrealEngine/commit/ecdd802

So I hardly feel justified in politely requesting an option to turn it back on :smiley:

But the effect can be emulated (albeit rather more slowly) by not holding down the mouse button and dragging, but rather click/release, click/release to scoop out each chunk of terrain.

Soundscaping

Soundscaping has been a huge part of developing singmetosleep (as discussed in this post), and I’ve especially been concerned with, for lack of a better term, “high dynamic range” audio: audio with a wide range of dynamics from very subtle all the way up to “wall of sound” intensity. I want it to sound as much as possible like being in this other place, not a filtered, compressed, radio-friendly representation of it.

There are some challenges with this approach: The best experience of this kind of audio palette is decent headphones or a surround sound speaker system, but obviously I don’t want players with small desktop speakers or inexpensive earbuds missing important audio cues, so there will probably ultimately be a setting for “HDR” audio or standard (compressed) dynamic range. I’ve seen several games going this route in recent years (notably racing games which use it to great effect), so I’m not thinking this will be too off-putting to players.

I’ve also been struggling to build a soundscape that’s expressive and helps tell the story of this place, without overtly sounding like a “song”, or even necessarily a “soundtrack” overlaid on the experience, but almost sounding as if it exists naturally within this place – that almost begs the question, “Am I the player the only one hearing this, or would the in-game character be hearing this as well and responding accordingly?” My goal is the latter… The reasons for this will make more sense when the time comes :wink: I’m not there yet, but here’s an example of walking around the demo area with something akin to “in-world” soundscaping:

And I’m still not happy with the level of quality in my home-brewed sound effects, which has been holding me back a bit. This isn’t a sound-effects-heavy game, but those that are there should speak volumes. For example, here’s an experiment I did a while back using a bit of sound I sampled from Ben Lukas Boysen’s incredible Restive OST: hoe fight | ben lukas boysen | hymen records

I just can’t make any sounds that are nearly as intense as that :wink: Suffice to say I won’t be using that sound effect in the final game…

Attention to audio is particularly crucial for those aspects of the experience that I’m trying to convey via the player’s imagination versus simply dropping something in front of them. There’s an old adage writers go by: show, don’t tell. I would extend this further for visual mediums like film and games, where we find it comparatively easy (with the right budget and artistic resources) to show the viewer/player exactly what the artist envisaged… but this doesn’t have nearly as much potential for personal impact as what the viewer/player may themselves imagine when the right cues are presented, the right seeds are planted.

Don’t show, don’t tell: just suggest.

I adore your project, though I daresay I won’t get to play it (I’m a new UE4 adopter and working on a recent Mac). I’m also fond of your music, though now I discover some of it’s example music you can’t use! :slight_smile:

Are you able to get a reverb engine inside UE4? It seems like that would be ideal, then you just need sound sources. One thing that occurs to me is that you might find your ‘intense’ but unworldly sounds in the synth FM8. It’s a bit tricky but has great possibilities, especially when used with a controller with pressure aftertouch. I can show you what I mean as I’ve long been fond of just such unworldly visceral sounds: these two examples (in each case the sound is the ‘hook’) use aftertouch to control a filter changing the waveshape of the FM synth modulator (not the wave directly, but the thing that’s modulating the pitch is getting a sort of resonant filter effect). I’d happily give you this patch if you like :slight_smile:

https://soundcloud.com/applejinx/hiatus

Thanks! Why wouldn’t you get to play? I should be releasing Mac and Linux builds for the next demo (whenever that day may come), and it shouldn’t require the beefiest hardware, esp if you play in non-VR mode.

Just to clarify, for that “intensity” video I used a looped 5 second sample from the track “Hoe Fight” on the Restive OST by Ben Lukas Boysen (aka Hecq) (good write-up here btw: Ben Lukas Boysen – Restive | Headphone Commute) – cut up and crossfaded between an omnidirectional part that’s all around the player, and a directional part coming from the monolith at the end to sort of beckon the player to head in that direction (really noticeable with headphones). Obviously this sample won’t be in the final release: my intention was to provide a proof of concept, an idea of what could be, a lofty goal to aim for :wink: I hope to get there someday, but that intense part is only a small part of the whole experience, so even if I don’t get “there” I’ll come up with something…

In any case, all the other music from other videos besides that intensity example is mine, even though some of it’s work-in-progress.

Most of the experience will not be as instense as that example – here’s a more in-depth explanation of my sound design plans. And a better example of the overall final soundtrack would probably be some of the more ambient soundscaping I’ve done like singmetosleep: minimalist soundscape - YouTube and singmetosleep realtime dynamic global illumination in UE4 (2014-10-17) - YouTube.

To answer your question, UE4 has a basic reverb system built-in. But now with the recently released Oculus Audio SDK supported by FMOD and Wwise plugins, I should be able to get some impressively immersive audio that truly sounds like it’s in this immense space. But I have yet to open that can of worms…

Thanks much for the offer to share your patch, though I’m afraid I don’t have FM8 (it’s $200 just for one synth? don’t get me wrong, Native Instruments makes amazing stuff, but yikes). I do most of my sound/music work in Reason, which I managed to pick up cheap years ago and has some decent FM [and other more exotic] synths. I haven’t had time to play with sounds in a long time, but you inspired me to roll up my sleeves earlier tonight and I came up with this weird dark soundscape sketch:

http://acatalept.com/mp3/acatalept%20-%20stilted2d.mp3

The mix is too muddy, and it doesn’t go anywhere, but it sounds huge and intense. I keep telling people that I suspect half the reason I’m doing this project is just as an excuse to play at soundscaping :smiley:

In any case, good luck with UE4, it’s great to see so many people starting to use it, it’s been a blast for me!