lunes, 9 de noviembre de 2015

Review of My Game "Yoyalma"

[This post was done to be taken as Homework 8 for the FSU Video Game Design class]

1) The Tetrad


The story is about an Indian from America that is struggling in his village because the main cities where sending troops to take prisoners for sacrifice and indoctrinate everyone. He decides that he wants to escape and so he gets together with other members of the tribe to build a raft and escape. The scape goes without any troubles but soon everything turns grim as a storm swallows the refugees. You wake up stranded in an island as the last survivor. Your whole family is gone and everything is behind. You follow your instincts and try to survive but you soon learn that there is something inside the heart of the mountains. Writings on the wall tell the story of creation, the story of the god’s jealousy and anger, but also about their kindness and selflessness. Your will to survive and your curiosity move you forward, to uncover whatever lies beyond.


We are using Unreal Engine 4.9 to make the game, Blender to manipulate game assets and Audacity to create game sounds. Our game is meant to run on PC and is meant to be played with mouse and keyboard.


The art is simplistic, trying to resemble the art from Mesoamerican Indians. Nobody in my team is an artist, so we are having a tough time doing that aspect of the game.


The game is meant to be a mixture between a survival game and an adventure game. There are some elements of survival mainly that you have an energy resource that gets depleted with your actions and replenished by consuming food. There are also elements of an adventure game in the sense that you have to explore the island to move forward in the game. There are obstacles that don’t let you proceed and you have to find ways to overcome those obstacles by using items in the game. The combat is very simple, the enemies will do two types of attacks: auto attacks that go off on a certain interval and that activate when the player is in range and special attacks that go off on a marked are that the player has to move out from.

2) Balance

We have to balance the damage that all of the monsters and weapons do. We also have to balance the challenges in the game so that they scale well level by level. Another thing about balance that we need to keep in mind is that we have to distribute the “moments” in our game evenly. We can’t concentrate all of the content in one single level.

3) Emergent properties

There isn’t any customization of the character in the game so there won’t be anything about the character that the player can tweak it in any way. There is a possibility of emergent uses of the items that we place in the game, or ways to progress faster than we usually expected. But that is unlikely, since we don’t have many elements in the game there isn’t much the player can get away with.

4) Interest curves

The game starts with a basic tutorial moment. The player will hear the main character say that they need food to survive, the player will be standing in front of a crab and a message will tell the player to press the left mouse button to attack. This will get the player to kill the crab and get meat which he will use to survive. The next moments consists on a bunch of encounters with crabs and the first instruction to the power inside the mountain as a scream and a red screen. To complete the first level the player must get to a cave and retrieve the fungus so that he can cure the poison from the plants in the forest ahead.

We are aiming to peak the players interest at the moment of the scream. We are hoping that this will make the player interested in what is going on in the island. Then we are also hoping that the player will try to venture forward into the forest, to find that there are poisonous plants inside the forest. Then they will fall back and look around for clues and eventually find the fungus. We hope that the player feels engaged as he discovers this and feels the need to move forward.

The jungle will go on for a little while with just sound effects and trees. After a couple of seconds of walking the player will hear a roaring noise. If he goes further he will be attacked by pumas. This enemies will be particularly strong.

To proceed to the next part of the mountain the player will have to move a couple of big rocks. The last boss will be a god that is raging inside the mountain. The player will only have to dodge the attacks of the god until he eventually runs out of fury.

5) Explain the reasons you like or dislike the game and relate this to Game Design issues. 

I’m going to talk about the issues that I found in our process of design, since the game is not don’t I don’t have much to say in these category so I think elaborating in our issues on the process of making the game will be more worth it. I think that the main problem we had as a group is that we got too caught up thinking about what “type” of game we were going to create and which general “mechanics” we were going to have in our game instead of focusing on exactly the game we were going to create. We went on and on about the story and the general theme that we were going for, but we never sat down and actually try to go and create a level from start to finish in our heads. I think this was primarily because we had never worked on a videogame before and so we got caught up on all of the terminology and we painted the pictures with strokes that were just too broad for us to execute at the end. If we had just sat down and actually try to create, in our heads, how this videogame would have played out we would have been way better off. We are struggling to try to finish what we set up to do and I think that we had learned a lot though out this process. This has been a great learning experience that has given me an opportunity to really dedicate time to these passion of mine, with a real team of people that are as passionate as I am. The knowledge that I’ve gained will surely make my next game a way easier task.  

viernes, 30 de octubre de 2015

Game Repository

[This post was done to be taken as Homework 7 for the FSU Video Game Design class]

For next week I will work in AI and in fixing some problems with the blueprints that came up when we merged the projects.

viernes, 23 de octubre de 2015

Videogame Thoughts

1) The Tetrad

The story of Wildstar develops around two intergalactic civilizations, the Dominions and the Exiles. The Dominions are an empire that conquered the galaxy with by destroying and subjugating civilizations. As a result they created multiple enemies throughout the galaxy, a couple of these races banded together and created the Exiles, to protect their people and fight the Dominion. One of the Exiles explorers, Dorian Walker, happened to discover a planet called Nexus, habited by the super advanced Eldan that disappeared from the galaxy long ago. This naturally made both sides very interested in this planet, and so both the Domions and the Exiles set course towards Nexus, to conquered at make it their own. That’s where you come in. You are another citizen from the faction of your choosing and you must fight for your people and uncover the secrets of Nexus.

The game runs in PC and was created using an engine created by the game creators.

The art is very quirky and but it is also very cool. It has a very holistic aesthetic, in the sense that the whole game follows a very consistent theme that gives it its own character. The music is fantastic and all of the sound effects are pretty amazing. The game in super high resolution looks great, but sadly the constant server lag makes it a little bit difficult to play with high settings because it adds to the frame rate issues and so I usually run it on low graphics. But never the less, the graphic designers at Carbine Studios know what they are doing. They used an art stilly that could accommodate the cute and corny on one hand and the awesome and menacing on the other one. This widens the player base as you can now attract customers that want one or the other. Another great thing that they made concerning art is that they created a housing system that works much like Unreal. In game you can acquire décor items to put on your property and these items can be scaled and placed where ever the player desires.

Because this game is an MMORPG it has tons of mechanics, but I they can be divided into groups. For example the game has combat mechanics. You have a total of 30 abilities off which you can use a limited action set off 8 abilities. There is also a stat granting graph on which you can select a limited amount of nods to infuse your character with new powers. You can change this options around to create your own custom build that fits your playstyle. There are also social mechanics, to encourage and facilitate the interactions between players. These consists mainly on incentives and barriers that can only be earned and overcome when you find and train with a group of your own. The game has also crafting mechanics, market mechanics, and other mechanics that create the illusion of a vibrant world with infinite possibilities.

2) Balance
A game like this requires balance mainly in two very important aspects of the game, combat and resources. The combat is the main gameplay mechanic, so it has to be balanced so that it feels satisfying but most importantly fair. An unfair combat system, where one class is the king of all kings, makes for an frustrating experience. This is a problem that affects the more dedicated part of the community, but I think that this is one of the most important demographics, as they are the ones that live for and promote your game. And so it is very important that all classes feel equally powerful and that the game becomes a exercise of strategic skill and not just an unfair number check.

The other main component that need constant balancing is the resource economy. Players need resources to advance in the game and so MMO designers have to keep in mind that resources need to be challenging to acquire but not to the point of being frustrating. Another important thing is that the designers need to create different ways to get this materials. There can just be one way of getting the materials to advance or every single person is just going to do that and they are going to get bored pretty quickly. You need to spread this resources throughout the content that you think is fun and that is going to engage your player base, so they can feel like they are having fun as they progress.

3) Emergent properties
This game has tons of emergent properties, again because it is an MMORPG. The greatest source of emergent properties is combat. Even though Wildstar combat is not one of the most complicated ones, it is still complicated enough to make is very difficult for designers to imagine every single combination possible. That is mainly because, apart from the previously mentioned abilities that you can chose from, there are a many stats that can be tweaked to create different combinations. Although this is a something brings great work to designers it is ultimately very engaging for players. The most dedicated players enjoy discovering overpowered combinations that are viable until the designers discover it. It creates a very interesting dynamic between players and designers.

4) Interest curves
The game can be played many different ways that have totally different outcomes, but I can retail what I found to be the interest curves in my experience playing the game. First there is the discovery phase. This is the part where everything is new and you are learning all of the different systems and getting a feel for the game. This is one of the most exciting stages as you find yourself always wanting to get back to discover something new in the game. Then you start leveling and it all slows down a bit. You find yourself going around and turning quest, enjoy the music and the aesthetics, but in a more passive way as you make your way to higher levels. When you reach level 15 you can start doing group content with other people. This is the part where the game starts to get hard. Group content on Wildstar requires coordination and so this part can be either frustrating or engaging. I found it to be very fun, it encouraged to learn more about the game and the systems that were behind combat and the monster encounters. This is another pike in the interest curve and you start to really commit to the game. Then when you start to get a hang of the group content is starts to become more second nature and you start to teach other people that come with you to the group content what you learned when you completed it. After that you start to reach level 35 you start getting story quests that have a lot of interesting lore in them. This is when you start learning more about the secrets of Nexus. This quests are another pike as they are engaging with a lot of cinematics and voice acting. After this you reach level 50, which is the max level. At this level you do the hardest content in the whole game. I haven’t done it yet so I can’t say but it takes a lot of work and practice to get to that content.

5) Explain the reasons you like or dislike the game and relate this to Game Design issues.
 I like this game because it is very engaging. The combat is complicated but simple and there is a lot of hand eye coordination skill involved. Also the social aspect is very fun. You find yourself always talking to 10 people at once trying to coordinate to kill a boss or do an adventure. It’s a really big challenge to reach the hardest content in the game, that challenge is what keeps me going personally. The reason why I don’t like this game is that is not very well supported. Their launch was a great success but the player base declined to almost 0 I the months after it launched. Now they relaunched on a free to play model, and up to now they have been pretty successful. I hope that they get more support so they can create more content and fix the technical issues that ruin the immersion in the game.

Darkest Dungeon

1) The Tetrad

The story is about a noble with a lot of money that because he was bored with all of the partying he had to endure he decided that it was a good idea to instead focus on investigating ancient secrets underneath his mansion. He blows through his savings trying to reach this arcane power just to find out that it was a dark power that could destroy them all. He runs from the mansion and writes you a letter as the last heir to the state telling you to please clean up his mess right before he kills himself. So now you have to manage what resources you have left and send out heroes to fight for you and reclaim your lands.

The game runs on PC and was created with a custom engine. 

The art style is very grim and it adds to the gameplay experience in a great way. The game is mainly about the tolls that dungeon crawling have on heroes and so the art delivers that on that experience. The music is calm but spooky and everything from the footsteps to the light twiddling makes it feel like you are really alone in a dungeon filled with monsters.

On the core this game is mainly a turn base RPG, but it has many nifty mechanics that add very much to the gameplay experience. For example, every hero has a stress meter that goes up as they walk, if they get hit very hard, or with other procs from monsters. When this meter reaches 200 the character gets a resolve check. If he rolls positive then he becomes inspired and fights on, granting the rest of the party benefits for the fight. If he rolls negative then he becomes insane and brings the party down with him.  

2) Balance
There are many different levels of encounters and heroes, so they have to be tweaked appropriately for it to be fair. Personally, I’ve played the game since it got out and it has become much easier than then. But in the end you have to balance for the regular player so that more people play your game. There are also many different classes in the game and these need to be balance to keep the player interested. If there is one simple answer for what is the best combination to beat the game then you need to balance the classes more, to encourage your player base to try all of the content that you have created.

3) Emergent properties
The game doesn’t have many emergent properties. There is an item system on top of the class system which adds another layer of depth to the game’s combat. This item list is not that extensive and so most probably the designers have most of the combinations figured out, but there is still plenty to choose from. There are tons of ways to mix and match the different characters that you have, which is the main source of strategic play in this game.

4) Interest curves
The game starts off with a peak as it introduces you to the game in the form of a cinematic. Then you reach a valley as you are learning the ropes and getting to know the mechanics. In my opinion there is another peak every time you fight a different boss for the first time. After you beat the bosses the first time you just need to plan your expeditions well and its smooth sailing from there. The fact that bosses just increase their stats as you fight stronger versions off them is a little bit disappointing. Clearing the same boss you cleared the first time but being easier now because you know how to play is not a very good way to challenge and keep the player interested. And so the game losses a lot of its edge after that and land into a valley.

5) Explain the reasons you like or dislike the game and relate this to Game Design issues. 
This game is initially great. The whole introduction and first set of bosses are very exciting and nerve wrecking. This is the part that I liked the most. After this first set of bosses though, the game starts to slow down. It becomes a little bit grindy as you are getting to the second set of bosses, but when you eventually get there and find out that it is easier than the last one, well it just ruins the whole feel of the game. Another thing is that the game isn’t finished, so even if you drag yourself to completing the same bosses three time there is no goal at the end. Overall I think that my main concern is that the game became too easy at the end. If they made it so that I could choose from a set of difficulty level that I want to start my campaign at would be great. 

jueves, 8 de octubre de 2015

Item Blueprint Functionality

[This post was done to be taken as Homework 5 for the FSU Video Game Design class]

This post serves as a showcase and description of the main blueprint for in-game items that makes up the inventory system in our game. The following text will consist on a brief overview of the function of the blueprint as well as a more detailed description of its content. To start of let me clear out that I simply applied what I learned from an Unreal Engine Tutorial (link at the end), so I will be explaining it in detail in my own words to proof that I have learned the material and not just simply copied it. I will encourage anyone to look at this tutorial as well as other tutorials offered at Unreal’s Youtube page, they are very comprehensive. With that said let us start with the overview.

The blueprint system that I’m showcasing here is meant to provide the functionality to items in our game. The blueprint spawns a text on top of the item as the player get in range and this text follows the player around as he moves [Image 1]. The blueprint also enables the item to be picked up and stored in the inventory [Image 2]. And finally, it gives functionality to the item as it sets the different status modifiers triggered when it is used. This blueprint is made in such a way so that it serves as a template for all other objects that are going to be in the game. So we won’t have to make mayor alterations to the blueprint to include different items that do different things. Just to make this clear one more time, there are many blueprint that interact with each other to make up the inventory system, we will only get into the blueprint that directly controls the mesh object’s behavior.

Image 1 "It moves!!"

Image 2 "There it is in our inventory!"

Now that we have gotten the main function of the blueprint out of the way let’s talk about the contents. Let’s start with the first event that will run in this blueprint, the “Event BeginPlay” [Image 3]. The “Event BeginPlay” activates when the game starts and right after that the nod “Create Pickup Text Widget” follows, enabling the pickup text widget to appear in the game. This is then stored in a variable called “Pickup Text Reference” so we can change the two different values that affect our pickup text, the item under it and the text that need to be displayed. To do that we need to set the variables in the “Item Info” to the specific ones for each item each item. So we use the nod “Set members in Inventory Struct” to set the elements of the structure “Item Info” to their respective values. To call on these different elements we need to use the nod “Break InventoryStruct” to get the different values that this structure contains. Then we need to set those values to variables that will be then used by the “Pickup Text Reference” to display the right text on top of the right actor. After that we basically create a variable that references our character blueprint called “Character Reference” so we can reference the event in which the player picks up and item called “PickupItem Event”. All of this is done in an effort to make the name that appears on top of the items, as well as the other elements that make it unique, editable so that we don’t have to create a specific blueprint for each item that has a different name in the game.

Image 3 "Event Begin Play"

The second main event that interacts with our Blueprint is the event “PickupItem” [Image 4] which triggers every time we pick up an item. As this event happens a condition has to be met for the Blueprint to go on. The “Branch” nod works as an “if…else” statement that we can set to true if some condition is met. In this case we want this condition to be if player is in range (variable added from next step) and if the collision in the actor is enabled (i.e. if the item is not hidden) then continue the Blueprint, else do nothing. If the blueprint continues then it will add our item to the inventory menu which is in our “Survive HUD”, the UI blueprint. Then we remove the text from the top of the item with the “Remove from Parent” nod, hide the item from the game with the “Set Actor Hidden in Game” node, we use the “Set Actor Enable Collision” to disable the collision and finally we call the function “Refresh Inventory” from our “Survive HUD” which is a blueprint that adjusts our inventory to the new items.

Image 4 "Pickup item and add to inventory"

The events that add and remove the pickup text to the Viewport are the “OnComponentBeginOverlap” and “OnComponentEndOverlap” [Image 5] which are referencing a trigger box around our object. We use the “Cast To MyCharacter” nod so that the event doesn’t fire up when other actors collision with the trigger. Then we simply use the nod “AddToViewport” when “OnComponentBeginOverlap” triggers and “Remove from Parent” when “OnComponentEndOverlap” triggers. We set the target of both of those new nods to the “Pickup Text Reference” so that they remove and add the pickup text from our Viewport. After that we just set the variable “IsinRange” depending if the collision is happening or not so that we can reference is like we did on the previous event.

Image 5 "Pickup text trigger"

This next part of the blueprint is the part that controls the different functions that the item has in the game such as the health and energy it increases. When the event “Use Action” is called, which triggers when the player uses the item, the health, energy and heart rate values of our character get edited. So we get a reference to our character by using on the “Character Reference” variable and then use our variables for “Add Health”, “Add Energy” and “Add Heart Rate” to modify our current status values. We get the current value of all the statuses from the “Character Reference” variable then we add our modifiers and finally we set the max value for our modified statuses to 1 (or 100%) so we don’t go higher than that. After all of this is done we destroy the actor from our game with the nod “Destroy Actor”.

Image 6 "Item Functionality"

The final part of the blueprint is the one that lets us edit our different variables for the item mesh, the item pickup text, the item use text, the health value, energy value and basically all we need to make that item unique. The construction script is fired every time any changes happen with the blueprint. So what we do is that we use the “Set members in InventoryStruct” nod to set the values for the structure called “Item info” which will give the unique values for each item. Doing this in our construction script lets us access this variables from the details panel, which saves us a ton of time when working with a lot of items.

Image 7 "Construction Script"

So that is it for this description. Keep in mind that I’m not an expert so I may have missed something. Also this is a work in progress and I still need to work out a few bugs. And finally remember that this a component of the set that form our inventory system so you might not be able to create this same item with the images and descriptions that I have provided. Please if you want to do this successfully then refer to the link at the end for the post.

miércoles, 7 de octubre de 2015

jueves, 1 de octubre de 2015

Meeting Monday September 28th

Last Monday my team and I had a meeting in which we discussed our progress, worked on a video presentation for the game and settled on goals for next week. I presented the inventory system that I had been working on. The inventory consists on a blueprint actor that interacts with elements in the HUD to create and save variables for storage and inventory organization. The inventory slides to the side when 'i' is pressed and a drop down menu lets you interact with the item. The goal was to create a system that could create templates for all items in the game. I will give a more detailed explanation in my Homework 5. Jon expanded on his model of the level by adding palm trees and other elements and Kaleb showcased his work with attack animations.

jueves, 24 de septiembre de 2015

Meeting Monday September 22th

On Monday my team and I had a meeting in which we discussed the current state of our game and what we are going to focus on as we move forward. Since the story is pretty much established I started exploring the Unreal Blueprint system to create the game logic. From information that I took from different tutorials I created the Blueprints for a character from scratch and added some functionality to different objects. I also started developing the user interface for displaying the health and energy of the character as well as the logic behind the inventory and item pick up.

During the meeting Jon presented the level layout that he has been working on in unreal. He made a big green mountain, started to play with the water and lava textures and made a preliminary sketch of how the world is going to be organized. We also discussed new mechanic that could add survival aspect of the game, to me survival experience more real.