Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Shaggy Spiders And Splattery Goo

Spiderpig, Spiderpig, does whatever a Spiderpig does ...

Placeholder Cube under attack from (not very hairy) spiders ...

Variety is the spice of life ... allegedly ... anyhow, I am trying to have a varied and interesting range of enemies. As an easy introduction for the player I have started out with ye dull olde zombies before venturing into more interesting adversities such as velociraptors, strange deer headed Wendigo creatures and insectoid aliens. However they are all rather ... two legged. So I decided to get away from bipedal creatures and into more ... well, legs. Thus, spiders! Now as we all know spiders are complete bro's, and anyone who says otherwise is probably a fly or mosquito or something.

I wanted hairy spiders, but quickly found that sticking hairs all over them did not really show up very well, what with the distance of the camera, so instead ended up making the spiders more shaggy. The larger the spider, the shaggier. Making shaggy spiders ended up taking way longer than expected, just like everything gamedev related ... :/

Testing various levels of spider shagginess, before I added hairs to the legs

Having a spider level, I wanted a variation in spiders themselves, and chose 3 types with obvious visual differences to help the player understand what each type does. These are, rather unsurprisingly, small, medium and large.

Small spiders are thin, smooth and spindly, without addition hairs. Small and fast, they charge at the player with a toxic bite.
Medium spiders have hairy bodies. In addition to the standard bite attack, which is less toxic than the small, charging spiders, they have a spitting attack for use at range.
Large spiders are the hairiest and serve as damage absorbing tanks. They are also the heaviest, so trying to push them aside is difficult, especially for player characters with long range weapons who are the physically weakest - eg: default gun player character. Whilst I have coded a shotgun player character I have yet to design the data for melee based ones.

A range of spiders (and some test ones at the bottom)

Here is a good 13 minutes of testing the spider level in combat. I accidentally used the wrong model for the smallest spiders, and later also changed how the hairs cast shadow as they made the largest spiders look too dark from certain angles.

Action Spiders!

I also spent sometime thinking about general combat. First I created a "miss" effect for melee attacks which do not hit the player. For standard melee attacks this is a small distortion flash and some sparks, whilst for larger monsters there is an accompanying puff of dust. Attacks which do hit the player trigger an on-screen damage effect so there is no reason for additional effects.

I enhanced the blood decal effects too. Previously these had been a single, randomized decal. Now there is a splatter effect of blood going outwards. Standard deaths have a single additional splatter, whilst decapitations and full body explosions have considerably more.

New splattering effects before I honed and increased their randomization

All this and various additional and general gameplay tweaking - and some sun bathing because there was a heatwave - took up the whole of August.

So, what's up next. Good question. I've been rethinking my list of levels and extending it. Deer monsters level needs an additional enemy which are likely to be fast moving spritegirls with a ranged special attack. Insectoid/Mantis aliens need a melee based tank/brute. Interdimensional Shadow Knights have been modeled but are still in need of animations. There are a couple of planned levels with no modeled enemies, and all the level bosses and player characters are currently placeholder cubes. Several special attacks still require fancy models and of course all the actual levels are just the single test environment. Originally I was planning on creating whole levels out of meshes and lightmapping it all to save CPU/GPU load but now I am not so sure and might use the more "traditional" methods of creating the environments.

So, lots to be cracking on with ...

Monday, 30 July 2018

Of Wendigos And Monstrous Morris Men

There's been a heatwave ... and I have got "The Dreaded Lurgy". It's not been a great combination. However, though only tenuously attached to this mortal coil with sickness, I have risen from my death bed to write this blog, and show the work I've been doing whilst on death's door ...

I was going to do some spiders as enemies for the player, but instead ended up grappling with some sort of Wendigo/Beast of the Wilds/Herne the Hunter sort of thingy-majig. I have bought a number of models, mostly for the animations, and have decided to retro-fit and modify them for my purposes. So I amalgamated a number of models in creating "The Deer Hunter", a sort of archetypal monster of the wilderness which I intend the player to come across in a rather desolate and windy steppe-like grassland.

The Deer Hunter, available in four earthy flavours

I was umming-and-ahhing a bit about how to spawn them in the level as it seems almost everything comes out of the ground. One it's convenient and two it sort of fits that creatures emerge from their own lands. To give a bit of variation, and to avoid everything clawing it's way out of the ground like a zombie, I decided that the Deer Hunter would rise up as though propelled on a lift (that's an elevator to our former colonial cousins), holding it's skull in it's hands, and then fit it's head into place. I thought it was a rather amusing effect.

Over here son, on my head!

I also thought that this might be a good time to introduce the player to invisible enemies. They come in two types based on the shader effect I used. One is a slightly wavy Predator style optical camouflage effect which produces near invisibility whilst the other has an internal shadow which makes the distortion more noticeable. I still fondly remember playing Doom against a horde of pink Demons when suddenly I realised I was getting bitten by an invisible one. Learning that some enemies are (semi)invisible is always a nice shock for the player.

Another variant on this stag monster was the "Monstrous Morris Man".  This is basically the Deer Hunter with different antlers, wearing a Morris Dancer style rag coat (a coat covered in strips of rags). That's the bit inspired by Morris Dancers and thus there is a lot less drinking ale and prancing about waving a sticks, and no guy called "The Fool" with black smeared on his face. Why has he got black smeared on his face? Because he's covered in shit and doesn't know it. Why doesn't he know he's covered in shit? Because he's "The Fool".

Monstrous Morris Men in colourful rag coats

The rags themselves were looking a bit flat, so I created a second UV channel and unwrapped it using Blender 3D's automated lightmap unwrapping, so that none of the polygons overlapped and that they were all clustered nicely side by side. I then baked ambient occlusion to this channel. Once exported and in-game, I added the new ambient occlusion image (with alpha inverted of course!) into the Overlay channel of the material file.

Ambient Occlusion from the additional UV channel helping add depth

The Monstrous Morris Man comes with a long range special attack, and is able to throw some sort of energy bomb over distance. Other than that, all these creatures are melee based. Below is a video showcasing various spawning, deaths and finally special attack.

Another month, and more progress ... and a being ill in a heatwave, which is a real annoyance. So next month ... maybe get those spiders working.

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Monster Modelling Mayhem

Apparently the UK is under a LEVEL 2 HEATWAVE WARNING ... not that I'd know about such things as I am covered in a blanket of fog with a chill wind coming from Svalbard, to the extent that I am expecting angry undead lepers to start banging on the windows demanding their stolen gold back. But as this is not the Weather Channel, on with the show ...

 Not the heatwave you are looking for ...

I am currently at the stage of development were I am replacing the beloved placeholder cubes with actual models, thus creating unique enemies per level with their own abilities and statistics. So far I had wanted to introduce the player with some familiar enemies for level 1 in the shape of 3 different types of zombies (it appears I am the only person on Earth who has never really been into zombies, Day Of The Dead being the only zombie movie I ever had any interest in). After this I had some rather spiffing Velociraptors and even gave one type the ability to shoot "frickin laser beams" out of their mouths as a long range special attack.

Everyone loves dinosaurs ... until they're eating you ...

For some later levels I had thought about going for a riff on the classic black knight look. I came up with the idea of interdimensional knights who suffer instability, constantly being dragged in and out of their own dimension. To this purpose I used an animated texture with various changes to alpha and a patterned diffuse with the edges of the various elements of the model picked out in colour.

There are 2 types of Shadow Knight, Axeman model shown here

The Warp takes me! It's feels slightly off putting ...

Spawning, pre audio effect

These still need animating. Whilst the models were of good quality (though needed a fair bit of work to make them useable through Blender) their stock animations were a bit ... average, so I intend to go through my huge library of mocap BVH files to find something more exciting. As interdimensional entities I'm thinking that they might just float around rather than run.

Noting that most of my game enemies are melee based, I came up with a plasma rifle toting "Mantisman" alien. This is an actual Torque model by GarageGames back when they still made game engines so you'd think that it would be set up the same as the other stock stuff. Alas no, as it was plagued with various inconsistencies such as strange bone settings whilst used the animation files to fix the baffling rotational default offsets. Needless to say this really made it not just a pain in the arse to modify the base mesh but also meant that it's animation were not compatible with the other GG models. In the end I scrapped trying to retrofit the multiple death animations and came up with a simple solution - just make the damn thing explode on death. Problem solved. Another major issue was that the stnadard aiming animation method just did not work at all. Flcuk knows why but I ended up having to use the old Mark 1 Eyeball with trial and error adjustments which ended up with around a 20% offset from -85 degrees (which is the stock downwards aiming constraint). The alien rifle needed a good remodelling too.

Mantisman in action, and now renamed "Kralmok Warrior" after the gun

Initially I just used a variation of the zombie explosion death, using the engine automated "blowUp" function. With MantismanKralmok Warriro being a larger model than the zombies and thus splaying further forwards so that it's not centralized to it's origin (another inconstitency that made me wonder what were they thinking) it ends up looking a bit obvious when the mesh disappears and goo rains down. To get around this annoyance I made a custom explosion debris featuring various recognisable body parts of the main model.

Boom Splat!

The plasma rifle got a remodel and some custom projectiles. I also gave it a long range special attack that features a barrage of bullets with long tails, whilst the standard shot it an energy ball.

So, next up, more modelling. The Shadown Knight's need animations and the Kralmok Warrior needs a bit of tweaking and multiple skins/textures for some variation. Next enemy on the list - Spiders! Cos everyone loves spiders!