Week 15: Videos, Presentations & Lockdown!!!

Weekly Development Roundup

This week has been busy in the development of Fury of the Gods. It’s the submission deadline next week and things are moving along quickly. This week I’ve made another small improvement to the artefact I’ve built, and I got to grips with OBS Studio to make the presentation video for the ability I have built. You can find this video Below.

Now, on to the small improvement I made to the artefact. Well, it’s more of a refinement than an improvement. As I have mentioned during the development of the project, the ability is supposed to be locked out until the player achieves 2 worshipped Gods. Until now, this was not the case for the constructed artefact. This week I implemented the ability lockout to prevent it’s use when the player has less than 2 worshipped gods. This means that if the player does not meet the minimum requirement for using the ability, the button itself is automatically locked out. You can see this below.

Finally, for my video of the project, I decided to do a PowerPoint Presentation to show off the ability and explain it in some detail. I chose this format because my ability does not have many visual aspects as implementing them would take significantly longer than I have to complete the submission. I begin by explaining the Gods of Total War: Troy in their current form and how I planned to change them with my ability. I then went on to show the upgrade system for the ability and finally a few example clips of the artefact in action.

Locked down… Again

Unfortunately this week, only just after writing my previous blog post we entered yet another national lockdown, plunging the UK into an even more uncertain time and changing everyone’s plans for a while.

I was supposed to be returning to my Uni accommodation next week, right after the project submission. I now find my self in a sort of limbo with no idea when I’ll be able to return to it.

The message is much the same as the lockdown we saw in march of 2020. We are now all ordered to stay at home to protect friends, family, others and of course, the NHS. It will be a difficult time but thankfully, there is light at the end of the tunnel and the end of the pandemic may now finally be in sight as the vaccines begin to role out to the most vulnerable of society, giving us hope that some day soon we may finally be able to get back to normal.


Well, another week gone, another lockdown begun. There’s now less than a week to go until the submission of the project. Over the next few days, I plan to write my report and prepare my submission. I’ll then submit it through blackboard and the project will be done. I’ll be back next week with a final blog entry after I have submitted my project, as I say goodbye to the industry briefs module and prepare to enter a new semester. Until then, stay safe and I’ll see you all next week.

Week 10 – 14: Videos, Tiers & Christmas!!!

The Development Roundup

It’s been a busy month for the world and for the development of the Fury of the Gods ability. This month I had to submit my first assessment for one of my other modules. This consumed most of my time but since then I’ve found more time to continue building the ability.

The month picked up where the last blog post finished off. I managed to get the basics of the ability functional by having a UI element for activating the ability and having two enemies be destroyed as a result. This marked a big step up in the development of the ability because it was now functional. You can see the result below.

As I mentioned in my last blog post, the next step was to implement some of the upgrade system that was discussed in my project proposal. Many of these upgrades wouldn’t have been particularly visual so I decided to implement the on that was, the 3rd enemy being destroyed at 7 worshiped gods.

To do this I had to find a way to check how many gods the player had achieved worshiped favour level with. Since I don’t have access to Total War: Troy’s systems themselves, I had to create a stand-in. For this, I created a variable called worshiped gods. This was a simple integer storing a placeholder value for the number of gods.

Next, I created another integer for the number of gods needed to destroy a 3rd enemy, this, of course being 7. I then setup a math node to check if the number of worshiped gods was greater that or equal to the 7 worshiped gods variable. This then outputs a true or false condition to a branch module which is basically an if statement. If it’s true then it will run a set of modules that destroys another enemy and if it is false then it simply deactivates the button. The result can be seen below.

As you can also see above, the final thing that I did was begin recording video clips of the project. This is in preparation for the submission which is now less than 2 weeks away. For recording I am using OBS Studio because it is an easy to use video recorder with ability to add multiple effects and layers during recording which reduces editing time. In fact, both of the above videos were made entirely in OBS Studio and are completely unedited.

Lots of Tiers 

Unfortunately, this month saw the global situation of the Covid-19 pandemic rapidly and severely deteriorate once again. A new much more contagious variant of  Covid-19 was discovered in the UK and has continued to spread at an alarming rate and drastically faster than the previous variant of the virus. In just a couple of weeks, despite all the precautions, the new variant of the virus has rapidly found it’s way into almost every part of the country and into many parts of the world.

This prompted the government to take some very harsh but necessary action to try to contain it. This time in the form of adding a 4th tier to the current 3 tier system of restrictions. This 4th tier sees almost everything shut down with only essential shops remaining open plunging many people into what was essentially another lockdown. Tier 4 has since worked its way across most of the UK and uncertain times lye ahead.

Christmas & New Year

This month it was of course Christmas. Though it was very different from a normal one. Usually Christmas would see families and friends come together in celebration. This year due to the pandemic, that couldn’t happen. However, people still tried to make the best of it. People still gave as many gifts as they could and found ways to connect with each other as they had been forced to all year. There were Christmas lights everywhere. In fact there seemed to be a lot more of them this year as people attempted to bring hope in the darkness.

Now, it is of course a New Year. We enter 2021 in a very different way to 2020. This year there were no parties, it wasn’t safe. However, despite the situation we are in right now, if find that in this New Year there is a change in the air, whilst the pandemic continues to escalate, there is finally a light at the end of the tunnel for many as the UK becomes the first country to distribute not one but two vaccines for the virus, finally giving people hope that some day soon this pandemic may come to an end.


So that’s it for another week, another month and another year. I’ll be back later this week with another blog entry as I prepare my submission and make my video and report. Until then, stay safe. Happy New Year!!!

Week 9: Exploding, Destroying & Space!!!

Weekly Project Roundup

Lots of progress has been made this week in the production of the Fury of the Gods ability. This week I finally managed to get the mechanic working. I had to build a rather large and messy blueprint to run the process. The blueprint can be seen below.

Much of the above blueprint is made up of repeated processes that will be neatened into a loop in the coming weeks. The basic process begins by getting all of the actors with the enemy unit tag and adding them to an array. Then randomly selecting on one of the entities in the array and adding them to a variable called current target. This is then used to spawn an explosion effect at the location of the target and then finally the target actor is destroyed and a new target is selected. After 2 actors have been destroyed the button is locked out.

The result of the blueprint is that when the button is pressed 2 randomly selected enemy units will explode and disappear. Next week, the plan is to expand on the ability by adding in some of the locks and upgrades based on the number of gods that are worshiped.

A Raid in Space!!!

As mentioned in last weeks entry, the brand new raid, Deep Stone Crypt, released in Destiny 2. As also mentioned I didn’t get any further than the second encounter. Well, this week with the help of 4 of my clan members and a friend picked up from the tower on opening night, I finally completed the Deep Stone Crypt Raid.

Whist completing the Raid, I witnessed possibly one of the best and most unique levels I’ve ever seen in Destiny. The middle of the raid featured a level that took you into orbit above Europa aboard a golden age space laboratory. At one stage you have to go outside the station and space walk along it’s hull to the next encounter. It is an incredibly graphically stunning moment with an amazing soundtrack to boot.

You can listen to the soundtrack and see an example of the scenery I was graced by during the space walk below.

Track 6 – Deep Stone Lullaby – Destiny 2: Beyond Light Soundtrack


That’s, it for this week. I’m going home for Christmas next week so progress may be impacted by traveling and preparations to. I will be back next week with another update. Until, then take care and I’ll see you all next week.

Week 8: HUD, Button & Raid!!!

Weekly Project Roundup

Welcome back! This week in the construction of the Fury of the Gods ability, I built a minimalist heads-up display to operate my ability during testing. This HUD includes a single button that will be used to trigger the mechanic. The finished button can be seen below in the play test window.

The first step was to create the HUD widget. This was as simple as right clicking the browser at the bottom, going to User Interface and selecting New Widget Blueprint. I then had to add the button to the interface by simply right clicking and creating a new button, positioning it where I wanted it and adding the texture to it.

I then had to make sure that the cursor would be shown so that the button could be clicked. This is done in the graph view of the Widget Blueprint. I attached two nodes to the “OnConstruct” event. The first of these was a “GetPlayerController”  function which routed into a “SetShowMouseCursor” variable. This section of the blueprint can be seen below.

Lastly, I had to make sure that the HUD was actually displayed on the player’s screen. This was another simple process that occurred in the level blueprint. In the same area that I added my camera last week, I added a create widget function and a “add to viewport” function and attached these to the end of the camera functions. This change can be seen below.

 

Hunting Wrathborn & Raiding a Crypt

This blog may be starting to feel a little bit like a miniaturized version of “This Week at Bungie!” However, Destiny is an important part of my life and my weekly schedule and I think the most interesting development blogs are the ones that give you an incite into the personal lives of the developers so here we go!

This week at… oops wrong blog. Anyway, it was an exciting week to be a Guardian again this week as two more significant releases happened following the release of Beyond Light last week. Firstly, upon Tuesday’s reset we found out that a fabled old friend had lost his Ghost and his light, and that someone we put down had been brought back to life as a Guardian! They brought with them the news that a hive god was building herself an army by corrupting the enemies of the world. We then set out to hunt down these enemies known as Wrathborn and put a stop to this hive god’s plan.

The second exciting event this week was the launch of the brand new raid last night. On Europa an ancient facility had awakened that was key to the creating of the Exos, a race of humans that had transferred themselves into robotic bodies. One of the Fallen house salvation’s lieutenants had entered it to resurrect a familiar foe.

This facility was called the Deep Stone Crypt and Guardians, myself included, entered the facility in teams of 6 to stop the lieutenant’s plans. As is tradition, the Worlds First race began. As the new raid opened, teams entered the crypt in the hope of being the first in the world to complete the new raid.

This was actually my first true attempt at competing in a World First race as I entered with a rag tag team of Guardians to take on the challenges the Crypt had to offer. We didn’t manage to complete the raid but we did manage the personally impressive achievement of completing our first ever launch day raid encounter. This was a big moment for me as I had never really attempted a launch day raid, let alone completed a whole encounter.


I’m feeling a little worse for wear today after staying up all night playing the new raid. Time for some rest I think. I’ll be back again next week with another blog post… and probably another Destiny news update. Next week, I’ll be building the bulk of the mechanic itself. Until then, whatever you got up to, I hope you all have a safe week.

Week 7: Tags, Blueprints & Darkness

Project Weekly Roundup

This week in the development of Fury of the Gods, progress was slow. The main achievement this week was getting to grips with the gameplay tags system and implementing it into blueprints within my project.

Firstly, I had to learn how to create and use gameplay tags. This was a challenge in itself since the tags system is difficult to find. A couple of Google searches & YouTube tutorials later, I had figured out how to create them and add them to objects.

This was done by adding a variable to the blueprint of the project. I then had to add it to all of the enemy units. This is so that I can track the number of enemy units to run the calculations for the mechanic itself. This meant creating one blueprint and then using it to replace the placeholder enemy units I put in earlier in the project. You can see an example of the tag system below.

 

Wielding the Darkness!

This week was an exciting week  for me as a Destiny 2 player. Last Tuesday, Bungie released Destiny 2: Beyond Light, the latest expansion to the game. This installment in the franchise saw the Last City’s Guardians cross the line between light and dark by wielding the darkness itself as a weapon. It granted them the terrifying new power of stasis which Bungie refers to as cosmic ice. It gives Guardians various interesting and creative ways to freeze targets solid before shattering them into pieces.

The expansion was kicked off, however by a different event entirely. The conclusion of Season of Arrivals saw every living Guardian return to the Last City after the Traveler, a celestial entity that is the source of Guardians powers, began acting strangely. It was building up its energy and later in the event, it was revealed that it was healing its wounds and readying itself for fights yet to come. At the same time, the darkness, the travelers enemy, retaliated by physically removing 4 celestial bodies from our solar system.

Time for healing!

I’m telling you all this because I feel, in the current state of the world, the idea of what the Traveler was doing is a lesson we could all learn from. Lockdown really sucks and much of normal life is put on hold. However, this time doesn’t have to be negative. Since we have all found ourselves with more time on our hands than usual maybe we should also, like the Traveler, take this time to heal our own wounds and recuperate to prepare for all the battles that await us when lockdown ends, so that, hopefully, we can push forward into the new world that Covid-19 has force us into.


That’s all for this week! Next week, I’ll be back with more on the progress of this project, and maybe a few more useless stories for you all. Until then, remember to take the time to heal yourself, take care and I’ll see you all next week!

Week 6: Blueprints, Lockdown & Home!!!

Project Weekly Roundup

This week in the development of Fury of the Gods, as expected it was a significantly smaller week in terms of progress due to the last minute change of plans caused by the lockdown announcement.

What I did however, manage to achieve this week, was my first venture into Unreal Engine’s blueprint system. This is essentially a visual scripting method designed to allow game designers to build levels and mechanics without the need to write any code.

I have never used it before and this week my first test was getting the camera I added last week to act as the camera that was used when the scene is run. The process for this was much simpler than I expected. All I had to do was create a begin play event node, a reference to the camera, a get player controller function and a set view target with blend function and then tie them together in the correct way. You can see what that looks like below.

 

A Trip Home!

As mentioned in last week’s blog post, this week, following the announcement of lockdown, I went home for a few days at the start of the week. It was great to catch up with friends and family, many of which I hadn’t seen since arriving at Uni.

Whilst I was there, I took a trip to what I like to refer to as my second home, the fabulous We’ll Meet Again Museum, to run some updates and maintenance on a project that I built during the first lockdown. I worked with the owner of the museum to build an absolutely incredible Lancaster bomber virtual reality flight simulator a few months back, a project that has already gotten me mentioned in the media twice since the end of the first lockdown. You can check it out below.

We’ll Meet Again Museum Facebook Page

Boston Standard Museum Report

BBC Radio Lincolnshire Museum Report

A Second Lockdown

Unfortunately this week from Thursday we entered a second lockdown which is having a major impact on every aspect of our lives. After an experience earlier this weekend, I’d just like to speak on a personal note.

A couple of days back now I hit a real low point as the reality of lockdown and life at university set in. I felt as though I was all alone and I had no one to talk to, such is the reality of lockdown. I’d just like to say to all of my fellow students, please, find someone to talk to and socialise with and remember that you are not alone. We all need a friend or two and it’s important to make sure you have someone there for you in the current world. Most of all remember to take care of yourself and don’t let these dark times drag you down, and please, remember to take care of each other. Something as simple as a “how are you?” or a friendly smile in the laundry room can make all the difference to someone who’s feeling down.


So that’s it for another week. Over the next week I’m going to try to make more progress on the project and my other assessments. I have something to look forward to this week as Destiny 2: Beyond Light releases on Tuesday evening. After all, a good designer, must always keep playing too.

Whatever you get up to this week, stay safe and take care of each other.

 

Week 5: Units, Cameras, Tunes & Covid

The title of this weeks entry really sums up the past week in the construction of the Fury of the Gods ability for Total War: Troy for me. As I mentioned in my entry last week, I was putting the finishing touches on the terrain I had build to host my demonstration in, and building the background structure of Total War: Troy, that I needed to make my ability work. The image below shows my current progress in the project.

Above you can see an in-engine image of my current progress. This week I’ve added some block-outs to represent both the Allied and the Enemy units. They will each have a script and tag attached to them to count the number of units on the field. This will then be used by the mechanic to determine which units are removed by the attack and which are damaged by it.

The other piece that was built this week was the camera that will be used to display the demo of my ability. This is simply a camera that will trigger when the play button is pressed inside the engine and it is linked to the scene itself through a script on the “player” entity.

Building to a Tune

Personally for me this week, whilst, building the project, my progress has been very much focused by the music I list to while I’m working and it can make all the difference to my level of focus.

This past week has seen some very exciting reveals from various developers in the gaming world, and as always comes from new trailers and reveals, there have been some very  brilliant pieces of music that have been added to my library. Check out a few of my favorite reveals, trailers and tracks from this week below.

Bungie ViDoc – Forged in the Storm

Destiny 2: Beyond Light – Launch Trailer

Sebastian Bohm – Paint It Black(Epic Cover)

Ascension – Nuclear Winter

External Factors

The Covid-19 pandemic continues to have a lasting impact on every aspect of our lives. It was Halloween this weekend and it felt very different from normal. There were almost no trick or treaters this year and parties were very small. Everyone has felt the effect and everyone is struggling with the new world we live in.

However, a major dampener was put on the Halloween weekend when on Saturday came the news, that for some will be genuinely terrifying, of a second national lock-down beginning this Thursday.  It’s going to be difficult for everybody and our thoughts should be with those who are suffering from the virus and those fighting it.


That’s all for this week. Over the next week I will begin to dive into the more technical aspects of the project as I prepare to build the mechanic itself into the scene I’ve been designing. I’m expecting next week’s entry to be slightly smaller than usual. I was planning to take a visit to see family and friends at home next weekend but with the announcement of the lock-down starting on Thursday, my trip has moved from the weekend to the start of this week.

See you next week! Stay safe and Happy Halloween!

Week 4: Recreating Total War: Troy!!!

This week I began to build my Fury of the Gods project for Total War: Troy. This ability relies heavily on the inner workings of Total War: Troy, much of which is not available in the public domain. My original intention was to use the official development tools that the studio releases for community content creators. However, with the recent delays cause by bugs in the game and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Creative Assembly decided to delay the release of the development tools.

This has meant that I’ve been unable to get my hands on them and build my ability into the game itself. To counteract this I’m having to re-create a standard battle scene and the relevant scripting from scratch in the Unreal Engine 4. The creation of the terrain has been the focus of this weeks work. My current progress can be seen bellow.

So far I’ve created the project in Unreal Engine 4 and built the terrain. This has occurred in two parts. The first was sculpting the terrain using the built in terrain tools in Unreal applying various effects such as erosion to make the valley look more realistic. The second part was painting the terrain with the correct textures. I began by applying a green, grass base layer and then I added basic dirt and snow textures to the tops of the mountains that for the valley.

Next week I will begin to add the units and build the necessary background scripting to make my ability possible. That’s all for now. See you next week!

Week 1 – 3: The Project Begins

To begin with, the last 2 weeks has involved 2 main jobs. The first of these was to begin by researching Total War: Troy and putting together a small research document to assist me in designing my artefact. The Second was to decide what the artefact was going to be and writing a proposal document to detail the basic design of my artefact and get approval from my lecturer to begin the build. Here’s a little more detail on these sections.

Firstly, I researched Total War: Troy so here is a little background on what I found. Total War: Troy is the latest entry in the Total War franchise and takes Total War in a new direction by going further back in time than they have ever gone before. It looks at the events of the Trojan War, where the myths of Helen of Troy originate from and where the fable of the Trojan Horse came from. It is a turn based strategy game with the unique feature of up close real-time battles.

Total War Saga: TROY on Steam

Finally, I will talk briefly about my artefact. I want to build a new, interesting mechanic. My plan, is to add a new ability for the player to use in battles. In Total War: Troy, the gods are a background system that provide bonuses based on the level of favour you have with each god. The ability I am designing relies on this system. When the player reaches maximum favour with at least 2 gods, they will gain access to an ability in battles called Fury of the Gods. The ability will instantly wipe out 2 of the enemies low level units and will then go on cool-down for 25 turns. Each maximum favour God the player gains past 2 will upgrade this ability in some way as shown below.

No. of Gods with worshiped favour level Effect on ability
3 Cool-down Reduced to 20 turns
4 Cool-down Reduced to 15 turns
5 25% chance to damage units surrounding those destroyed
6 Cool-down Reduced to 10 turns
7 Destroy an additional unit per activation and higher chance to destroy powerful units

That’s all for this week. Sorry it’s been a little word heavy as this was my first entry. Next week, I will begin to build my artefact and I will be back this time next week to talk about my progress.