Blockout and Implementation

Although slightly behind on deadlines I have been working no stop for the last week to bring back the hours and reach a point which I am comfortable of being. Since last week I have created my blockout and have implemented a AOE damage effect which applies damage to all “actors” within the area excluding the caster, which in this case, would be the “Elder” we talked about the last few weeks.

Firstly, it was necessary for me to add a health bar to illustrate the AOE effects on enemies but before we can do that we need to tell Unreal what health is and cast it to an actor. After we have set a max health and applied it to our actor we need to set up an event whereby the actor can actually take damage (for the sake of simplicity and “why not” I also added an event to heal the actor)

Next, we had to add some way to illustrate taking damage, the easiest way being a health bar. The event graph for this can be seen on the top image as it relates the actor’s “HealthAsRatio” as a widget, the widget being the health bar itself so it means if the actor takes damage it live updates the health bar to the actor’s current health.

So now our actor has a concept of health, we now need some way to inflict damage, so for this, naturally, I made an AOE damage effect (it doesn’t have any in-game assets to show the effect at this point, but it is more to show off the concept). To add to this, I needed to implement some hit points to the effect, basically what this means is that when the AOE is activated it will hit everything within the damage sphere, however, what the “hit-markers” do is they put small targets on points across the target’s hit-box. For my effect I chose 9 points of potential contact. When done in-engine we will see a few lines coming from the caster to the target, if any of these lines make direct contact with the target without being blocked by a solid object, the target will be hit and will take damage, however, if the target is behind a wall or something similar they will not take damage.These two images above show the event graph for the 9 hit points across the target actors. 1 in the centre and then the other 8 aimed at different sections of the character model, but to actually apply this to our AOE effect we need to plug it back into the effects’s event graph.

These 4 images above show the whole AOE effect’s event graph from the pressing of the button to activate the effect, producing the damage sphere, the hit tracing and line-of-sight damage to the amount of damage taken.

These two images show a before and after of the target actor taking damage due to direct line-of-sight and you can even see the AOE’s damage sphere and the hit-tracing lines making contact with the target enemy.

This is where I am currently at with my blockout. However when I tried to access my Unreal file on the morning of the 20th of November during my Seminar, the Project opened but it was a blank project with no real assets. My character had gone along with all of the blueprints associated. i am hoping this is just down to being on a different computer and hope that it has not overwritten all of the progress i have made up to this point. I did have the files backed up onto the cloud but that seems to be where the problem is so I will check to see if it opens on the computer I made the project on. If not I have my screenshots from start to finish which would make it easier if i need to redo all of the blockout.

For next week, (if my project has not undone itself) I would preferably like to give the AOE some visual effects but also may even give the effect some damage-over-time effects so it has a large burst of damage to begin with and then lingering damage for a few seconds after the initial “explosion”.

Week 5/6: Activation mechanic (finalisation)

Last week, I decided on how I was going to implement my artefact into “Troy: Total War” and decided on adding a character with 3 seperate iterations which improve in strength and ability sets as they are upgraded. In this update I will be explaining what abilities each of these iterations will have and how I will keep these balanced to keep the game and mechanis fair.

Firstly, Priests are the most basic of the three iterations and pocess the lowest strength abilities and are intended for the early stages of the game. For the priest, I got some feedback from my housemates who are all gamers (one of which is a games programmer so their input was very valuable), and we thought it would be nice to keep it simple with a basic “Heal” mechanic which does exactly what it says on the tin, it heals a unit in a medium area of effect.  It cannot bring defeated troops from a unit back to life but will simply heal the surviving units. I think despite how it may seem at face value this mechanic will not be broken or over-powered as it doesnt really do much besides just bringing what it remaining of the unit to keep on fighting a little while longer. The main intention of this isn’t so much to make units indestructable but more to keep them alive long enough for more advanced units to be broought in and fill the gap therefore acting more as a shield for the troops rather than a medic. I think this is very fair and balanced for how the game works and for how a game battle is played as it doesn’t make units unkillable but simply makes them hold on long enough for them to be replaced.

Futhermore, the Priests do have an offensive ability which is that they throw grenades which make a small fire explosion which inflicts a damage-over-time effect on the soldiers caught within the AOE. These are not massively effective and are not particularly stong but can either kill already damaged troops or weaken new troops making it easier for dedicated infantry to finish the job. I really like this idea because it is a kind of niche ability but I think it ties quite nicely to the idea of ancient priest engaged in combat and seems more plausible than a priest in full armour with a sword and shield, whereas with this fire grenade concept it has a more of a scientific feel and seems to me like a more inventive attack ability than simply carrying a dagger or something to that effect.

Next up is the Elders, these are very similar to the Priests in most areas but with a few minor changes and others that a bit more significant. Starting with the former, Elders, like Priests still have a heal ability with the only difference being it replenishes more HP and the AOE is slightly larger but not much more than that. Next up is the Fire bomb, this is still very much the same with the only differnce being the AOE is larger and does more damge to those caught in its explosion and follow-up fire effect that it leaves behind. A bigger change however, is that the Ekders have a new ability called either “Athena’s Curse” or “Ares’ Curse” depending on which side you are playing as, the Greeks havinf the former and the Trojans the latter. This ability places a curse on a unit which drains its morale to near-breaking for 2 minutes meaning that if they engage in combat they gain a significant disadvantage and makes them a lot easier for unit of equal or lower strength to combat. I absolubtly love this idea as it does call upon the Gods but not in an active way like say Zeus’ lightning storm but more of a passive debuff. I think this idea is quite clever in its design but also its simplicity as it is a simple click-to-apply but allows for big swings in the position of power within the battle. This ability does run off a significant cooldown system so the power can’t be over-used and therefore become over powered.

Finally, we come to the Overseers themselves. These units are more unique in terms of their “mythology” meaning they differ from regular religious figures and actually appear to be an extension of the Gods themselves. For instance, the fire bomb has been taken away and replaces with a fire breathing ability called “Prometheus’ Fire” which to normal human

s would be impossible but these units can actual breath fire but obviously has a small recharge time before it can be used again. With the healing ability it has gone one step further once again with the new ability called either “Apollo’s bleesing” or “Hermes’ blessing” once again depending on the player’s allegiance. This ability fully heals a unit and revives any lost troops within that unit for five minutes before they are taken back into the realm of the dead. However, the main ability which is the focus and the real basis of these

mechanics is the active, destructive abilities that the Gods can use. For the Greeks, they have “Poseidon’s fury” which is a large AOE earthquake which damages everything with the area of effect whether it be friend or foe. Likewise, for the Trojan’s is “Zeus’ might” whiich bears similarities to Poseidon’s rage in that it is a large AOE lightning storm, the main diffence being the lightning storm is more effective against troops whereas Poseidon’s fury is more effective against building and fortifications but still does significance to ground troops.

Week 4: Activation mechanic (decision)

After receiving feedback from my tutors, my peers and other members of my cohort I have decided to persue The “Priests, Elders and Overseers” route. To recap, this is was the adding of a mechanic which allows the player to call in a special, support unit called “Priests”, for my initial plan these are meant to be quite basic in terms of feesable use, they can provide morale boosts to fellow troops and can drain the morale of the opposing forces. They have very weak offence and defence and are more intended to sit behing the troops that are currently engaged in combat however I haven’t fully decided on their full ability list yet but intend to decide for next weeks update.

Elders are the second iteration of the priest and function very much in the same way only their abilities will be stronger and may even have more abilities to utilise. My original idea to upgrade a Priest to an Elder was to have the Priest fulfill a set of “upgrade criteria” which would need to be completed before being able to upgrade or promote the Priest to the Elder. These criteria are still to be determined and will also be decided on by next week. Once a Priest has been upgraded to an Elder they cannot be downgraded back to a Priest unless they are killed. If the Elder is killed, it willonly up a prompt to train an Elder direcly and will not have to complete the criteria again.

Finally, Overseers are the cherry on the cake. These units are the only way of harnessing the power of the Gods. Like the Elder, they require the completion of a set of criteria which allows for the Elders to be promoted to an Overseer. Differing to the Elder, the Overseer CANNOT be trained directly and must be trained as an Elder and then must complete the upgrade criteria to access this character again. I think this is a wise decision and balances the character as it means that the player isn’t able to train these character near inifinitly. However, to prevent the Overseer being killed off too easy, they will have a high health pool to prevent them being killed off-spawn or without any difficulty.

The Overseer will be able to call on the Gods once before a long cooldown time and will be able to use it again once that cooldown has finished. To avoid exploits the cooldown will blanket across all Overseers so only one effect can be called in and will need to wait for the cooldown across all of those units not just the one that cast the ability.