Wednesday 30 October 2013

Off the Map Competition Runners Up!

(Presenting at GameCity 8)

Quite a lot has happened with this since the last entry.  We were very happy to be shortlisted for the final three, and had to do a presentation at an event during this years GameCity in Nottingham.

Our entry had a working Scaleform title screen, two cutscenes, two levels with level transitions that loop back to the menu when completed.  It also had basic puzzles and platforming, so we managed to squeeze a lot into it.  The part we were most happy with was that it was one of the few entries that contained gameplay.

The presentation went very smoothly despite being a bundle of nerves beforehand.  But even with such positive feedback on the forums, from judges and the audience, we were unable to obtain the winning place.

This competition has been a valuable learning experience for the team and gave us a better understanding of how parts of the industry works.  It was a lot of fun but it had to end sometime.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday 15 September 2013

End Sequence

(Video showing the destroyed version of Stonehenge)

The last thing we wanted was for the game to just end abruptly, so we decided to include a short end sequence.  This was created in the trackview, with a bit of flowgraph to get it to play when the player reaches a certain point.

The video shows parts of the map from angles you wouldn't normally be able to see in-game.  It meant we could also showcase some of the assets in more detail.

Though the project was hard work, we all believe it was worth the effort.  Hopefully anyone who plays it will enjoy what we've produced.  A playable build may be made available on the Crydev site at some point in the future, but for now it has been entered into the competition.

Thank you.

Friday 13 September 2013


(Example flowgraph from the second map)

To get the level running we had to use Flowgraph.  This is a way of visually scripting aspects of the game, connecting various nodes together as shown in the picture above.

There was quite a bit of Flowgraph used in this project for things like the teleporters, particle effects, playing cutscenes, layer switching, as well as hide some of the default aspects like the HUD.

Gameplay Aspects

Though we are focusing most of our attention on the visual style, we still wanted some element of gameplay. We're happy that the player can interact right away, with the menu in place, but we felt it needed more than just the ability to walk down a path from A to B.

We decided on a simplistic puzzle style so the whole map is easily accessible.  By touching crystals, the player activates platforms, allowing them to progress in the level.  The crystals have particle effects attached that, when touched, disappear to show that they have been activated.  The particle effect is present to show the player that the crystal is interactive.

Following the crystal puzzle, players need to navigate through a platforming section, leading to teleporters and a final climb up a giant root structure.  Again, particle effects signpost interactive elements.

Building a Path

(Screenshot of the path being made using grass assets)

It was important to block out where playable areas were going to be, to save putting assets where they weren't necessary.  The path was created using grass assets on a vegetation layer.  The rest of the grass was made up of standard meshes to help save on resources.

The terrain was painted green where the grass assets were so that if any models disappeared due to distance, it would still give the impression of a grassy area.

Solids were used to create collision for the path to save on draw-calls.  We thought that putting physics proxies on the grass might have been a bit too much, considering the number of instances used.

Game Assets

This post is to show some of the 3D assets that have been made for the project, including some that may not be in the final entry.

 (Low poly beetle enemy)

(Bluebell details) 

(Coltsfoot which was never used in the final entry) 

(Cowslip with yellow flowers) 

(Purple texture variant of the Cowslip)

(Blue texture variant of the Cowslip) 

(Foxglove used in level) 

 (Different variations of mushrooms)

(Work in progress shot of the wasp enemy, which was never used)

Stones and grass assets can be seen quite clearly in screenshots from other blog posts, so they're not included here.

Design Changes

(New level design with numbered references to other sketches)

Our design changed considerably from the original concept during production.  The main cause of the changes was the art style.  Because of the artistic (almost cartoon) style we decided to change the game type to an exploratory rather than one focused on combat.

The other significant change was the camera.  Originally we wanted a third person perspective, however, after the whitebox testing we decided against it.  This is due to the grass assets being 3D rather than sprites.  With a third person camera, more of these assets would have needed to be placed to cope with the higher camera angles, with a possible drop in performance, meaning lower spec computers wouldn't be able to run it at all.

(Opening area of the playable map, #1) 

(Concept showing path, #2)

(Path concept, #3) 

(Path opens up, #4) 

(Open area with overhead roots, #5) 

(Root tunnel, #6) 

(Final part of the level section, #7)

Though the original concepts didn't show specific areas of the level in detail, these ones were made to show most of the playable level, particularly the path that the player will take.  They were created to speed up the placement of assets in engine.  Following this section will be some simple puzzles and some possible platforming sections.