Game developer - Level Designer - Environment Artist - Author - Tutor - 15 Years of experience with Unreal Engine 1, 2, 3, 4
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A first few quick tips regarding working in UE4

More coming soon. My plan for the near future is to release a Solus starters project, with all of my material functions, some of my material setups, a bit of my Blueprint, and most importantly my Sky and Post Process setup. Also I intend to do a video in which I talk over the various features found in Solus and how I used UE4. Beyond that I also want to do an extreme beginners guide using the Solus content, followed by more serious videos. Long and in-depth.

I presented Unreal Engine 4 and Blueprint scripting at the Swedish Game Awards earlier this month, on behalf of Epic Games. The hour long presentation focuses on the new visual scripting system Blueprint and how it impacts the way we build games and levels. During the presentation I set up a lightning strike script, followed by taking a look at how Blueprint impacts the development of Solus.

The quality of the projector recording isn’t always superb but it will give you an idea of how scripting in UE4 works. have done an extensive and in-depth interview with me about Solus. Revealing lots of new details about how the game works and what I am trying to accomplish with the game.

    “Scavenging will be a double-edged sword. While you must find things to survive, Solus is not content to let you sit pretty in one spot. Instead, the need to scavenge will drive the need for exploration – and the need to move on. “You will need to keep moving and work for your survival if you want to make it through.” This means going from the surface to below ground to find the mixture of survival gear that you will be needing.”

Check out the entire interview here.

Also beyond that, we are moving forward steadily gameplay wise. Things shape up well, but it is still very much so work in progress. When the time is right I will release a new video of the game in action, but for the time being here is a first gameplay screenshot. Showing the PDA pocket computer that acts as our HUD and shows all vital stats. Note the crosshair is too large due a little scaling bug.

Epic Games have been so kind to feature a showcase and interview about Solus and my work at the website.

    “Blueprint is the game-changer for me. It goes far beyond Kismet in Unreal Engine 3 and is incredibly powerful. I am a designer and artist, and for the first time in my career, Blueprint allows me to make entire prototypes and games without requiring me to touch a line of code. Never have I come across any other visual scripting tool or editor that comes within a thousand miles of the power of Blueprint.”

I also received this poster from them:

In other news:

  • Solus develop goes well. Especially level and script wise. We are close to having the first 30 or so minutes of the game properly playable now. I managed to find a great cave style as well (more info on that later), and we got tornadoes in. Which are mightily impressive to see. The world also transformed into an archipelago for various design reasons. Once things are more final, I will begin showing the next batch of Solus media and talk some about why certain design decisions were taken.
  • My Prison level time lapse video made it to IGN’s front page and various other big sites. The video shows the creation of a level in 20 hours time. Rekoil by the way is due for release very soon. A level design competition for the Steamwork mod tools is also underway.
  • We’ve just released a brand new one hour long The Ball level on Steam, for free!

    Named Quizaz, the level is the product of some of the design students class 2012 at the Swedish game development education FutureGames. Hourences set them up with access to the The Ball editor, and guided them into and through development.

    Major credits to Anders Bergman, Jacob Antonucci, Björn Jonsson, Christoffer Näll, Claes Fornell, Ludwig Sjöstedt Samuelsson, Tobias Ekholm, Sebastian Contreras – and additional thanks to Peter Cornelius, Stefan Alfredsson.

    Steam users can find this level in their Survival menu. Let us know what you think on the Steam forum!

    I was interviewed by The Square, a site about the Swedish indie game industry.

    I spent the last couple of weeks entirely on visuals, in order to get the video and screenshots ready in time, so after last week’s deadline I now moved on full time to gameplay and scripting. Bianca Savazzi joined me to help out with scripting and programming. We are working next to each other actually, first time I work on one of my own things with someone else working next to me in person.

    What we did this week:

    • We researched and thought out how the entire survival aspect should be done. Wrote some documents, looked up a lot of information, and made a simple overview map that will help us with figuring out what you should talk to what (script wise).
    • World now correctly updates and communicates environment temperature, humidity, wind.
    • Player now has a PDA/tablet that holds his vital stats, instead of a HUD (Oculus and immersion preparation).
    • Player’s body temperature now gradually drops or rises dependent on environment temperature, humidity, wind.
    • Humidity updates realistically dependent on environment temperature and weather. Wind also picks up dependent on conditions.
    • Standing in sunlight is now actually warmer.
    • Local temperature/wind/humidity offset zones added (fires, shelters, etc.).
    • Fires, wind sounds and particles now increase in speed dependent on the wind values pushed by the atmosphere control system.
    • Player now has a compass.
    • Visors and damage events improved.
    • Voice acting evaluation and figuring out how to approach it.
    • Managed to improve FPS on the beach (you could see in the video that it was noticeably choppy) by about 80% through a combination of playing with shadow range, foliage shadows, and cubemap capturing.

    Also I received word my Oculus is due to arrive on Wednesday.

    Next week we will implement the basic sleeping system, food and water system. Possibly make a start on the item systems, and continued polish of previous things. Our deadline is end of December for a first playable build. Survive the beach. 15 minutes. That is it.

    So design wise the major features and elements we figured out are:

    • Wilson. The volleyball from Cast Away. This was the element I was looking for for a while. The game doesn’t has a clear icon, so I knew I had to find something that could help give it character (like the ball in The Ball, the heli in Unmechanical, the masks in Payday). A symbol similar to WIlson (Wilson being the working name) would do that. Also the problem is that the game relies on quite deep psychology, and I needed a way of portraying the impact the ordeal has on the player’s mental health somehow. Wilson fits that perfectly.
    • Decided to push through Water and Food. At first I did not want this in because it may make it too chore like to play the game, but I figured that a scavenging game must have consumable items or else there is too little to scavenge for. Thus there must be food and water. Also surviving is pretty much all about finding food and water in real life, thus it should be part of the game also. I do want to make sure it doesn’t get too annoying though.
    • Rebalanced the world so that the cave world has opposite dangers and opportunities from the exterior areas. Neither of the two should be perfect or save, but they should be different. Areas in general should all come with their own problems and dangers, challenges. Been going over how to balance them out to each other.
    • Humidity and wind got added. At first I had just temperature, but surviving is about identifying a problem, and trying to find some kind of solution/work around for coping with it. Thus I added additional variables. It will also lead to a more dynamic complex world.
    • The player’s mental health was mapped. He is expected to suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for one, plus various physical health problems such as dehydration and starvation will also have an impact on his mental health (confusion, hallucinations, etc.).

    Right now everything we got working was done without any programming at all, pure visual scripting, which shows the enormous power of UE4′s scripting system.

    I will post another update on progress next week. Hopefully some pictures also.

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