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Volcano for kid's science class

My 10 year old son brought home a paper from his teacher stating they have a volcano project due by the end of the school year. She said one of the options was a 3D model of a volcano, Hehe. My mind of course jumped to our version of 3D models, not the paper or foam versions you always see in class. Since my son told his classmates I’m working on making video games (even though I told him not to), they’ve called him a liar and teased him relentlessly. I hope this will help stop the nasty comments. Even if it don’t, I know I’ll enjoy working with my son on something we both enjoy.
I called the teacher and got permission to bring in a video game version of a volcano model. There’ll be a cut scene about the caldera under Yellowstone erupting followed by a 2-3 min game where the character will be running to safety. I have to remember this is just a 5th grade science project, not a AAA title. We’ll be the only ones with a computer model as well so we’re setting the benchmark ourselves.
I’m going to use the lava and smoke assets from the Elemental demo and tweak the appearance to fit in with the style I’m going for. This is as much about me learning new tricks as it is helping my boy. I have about two weeks to complete the project. I figure doing a side scrolling run would be the easiest option for a quick game and I’ll study the elemental and reflection demos to see the best way to go about creating the cut scene. If I can make something worthwhile, I’d like to share this with the community so other people can download, make tweaks and help their own kids with similar science projects.
I’m completely new to every aspect of game creation/design so I’m not sure how everything will perform when its all finished. I’ve already spent the past month learning as much as I can and experimenting so this’ll be a good test of my skills. Thankfully I’m retired so I’ve been able to commit around 12 hours a day to understanding the different programs we’ll be using. I hope to have something to share with the community by the first week in June.

Hi OscarMcFatty,

This is a pretty awesome idea, I look forward to seeing what you come up with and wish your son the best of luck with the project!

This is awesome, and we will give you as much tips and pointers as we can, just post some shot of what you got working and we will give you tips and advice :smiley:

Good Luck :smiley:

lol I’d love to see the looks on those other kids’ faces. This will be awesome. I’d get to work right away though.

Good luck man :slight_smile: hope you can pull it off and keep us updated!

Thanks for all the positive feedback. I spent most of yesterday getting the right look for the side scrolling portion; my son approved and now I’ll just need to add some ash fall, obstacles, damage and a zone to win the game. We’ll focus on only the essentials first and add refinements where we can before the deadline. I hope to add a custom character model, custom animations and a scoring system. Those aren’t a high priority but would be a fun addition. The sound will also have to be considered and I think my son wants to narrate the cut scene. Right now we’re using the basic hero character but we covered him in a wood material because my son said it would be way more funny (I have to agree).
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Here’s what it looks like so far after a few hours of playing around yesterday. Still a long way off but the basics are there. I’m gonna really try to not ask for help so I can learn what I need to from studying example content. If I find I hit a wall and need help however, I’ll definitely ask. I’ll update this thread with screenshots as I hit certain milestones. Any comments or feedback is always appreciated.

wow, keep at it, it will look awesome!

It’s looking very cool so far. Can’t wait to see the final product.

Particle effects in place, this is where the visibility is at its worst. The platforms here will be brutal. I have a few variations of the smoke and embers so the background will be more clear in other parts. I’ll also add some burnt trees on the hills in the back and smoldering logs in the foreground.
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I’m not gonna update every little thing, just when I make a dramatic improvement. I’ll update my blog with the various steps I took in changing the materials from the example content to what I have in game. When I do (after I’ve finished the project) I’ll link it to this thread.

Hey Oscar, Good progress so far, Keep it up. Anything you need don’t hesitate to fire away. Hope your Kid is happy ^^

You should toss the Elemental demo’s volcano in the background. There’s lots of lava and smoke effects in there you can use :smiley:
I love this idea and I hope it turns out and blows their little MINDS!

Hey nice job there! The Elemental Demo could probably aid you greatly in this little project, hope to see more!

Love the concept, and can’t wait to see the finished product. Keep us updated please! =)

He can’t wait to show the bullies what we’re working on. I keep telling him that this won’t make him more popular or get him friends, his nice guy personality will do that. Of course I hope this will give him a little more respect:) If nothing else, the other kids should stop calling him a liar.

I’ve hit a little wall. In the level blueprint I have it set so the pawn dies when it hits specific static meshes. I would rather be able to set it so the pawn dies when it hits either the custom surface type ‘Lava’, or the custom physical material ‘Lava’ (the surface type is assigned to the physical material, which is assigned to the material, which covers all the desired killing meshes). Another approach I tried was to assign a tag ‘Lava’ to the desired meshes and then try to get any mesh with that tag to kill the pawn on contact (that seemed even more complicated).
I’ve been playing around with this for a couple of days now and am totally stumped. For now I will just assign each mesh to kill the pawn, if anyone can give me guidance to get one of the other ways to work I’d really appreciate it.

Almost done! Even with being distracted by my six kids, having a few power outages and being slightly brain damaged (gotta love Iraq), I just have a cut scene to make and a little audio to add. It isn’t perfect but it should be good enough for a few 5th graders. I’m also adding (too many?) comments on the nodes in the blueprints so when this is shared it can be a bit of a reference for people who are just as lost as I am.
I can’t view the video tutorials most of the time so I’m learning everything by discovery, thankfully the content examples that are provided have just enough in them for me to figure out how to do almost everything I want to. Everything is simple enough I can even let my kids do a few things (add scenery, change materials, pin nodes) and my son really feels like this is his volcano.
That leads to a little question, does letting my kids use this violate the EULA? It’s for educational purposes but I’m not an educational institution.

I feel sorry for your son, being bullied isn’t fun :frowning:
Good Luck!

Look if they don’t release anything it is fine and nice job letting your kids play around in ue4, it’s a great engine!!!

I like how so many of the features are intuitive and easy to use. If my kids understand the basic elements I’m pretty sure there’s hope for me.

Well it was a hit! Even though my computer crashed a week and a half before the project was due and everything got erased, I was able to whip out a 2 min. side scrolling platformer for the kids. I wasn’t able to do the little cut-scene or add sounds but they still loved it. I was able to figure out how to give a little 3 hit health system and have it reflect on the HUD and make changes to the skin and add particle effects depending on the health level. Even with 3 hits and a few health pickups, only 2 of the kids were able to get it on the first try after seeing the mistakes of the others. This let me stress the importance of making mistakes and learning from them (mistakes were at my side constantly during the process). I’m gonna add a few node comments and some instructions and then I’d like to give this little project to the community. If someone can point me in the right direction on how to share it with everyone, I’d appreciate it.