Added Thursday, June 27th, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

At one point during the game’s development, we were planning on having the Destrozar shoot bullets from its smaller side turrets.  I made a bullet texture that I used for both the bullets and the particle that emitted when the bullets hit a surface.  The bullets themselves were just three or four intersecting planes with the material assigned to them.

It was pretty cool having Destrozar relentlessly shoot at you, but we ended up not including the feature in the final build.  That said, the functionality was still in the game, so I turned it back on for the sake of the video.  I also made it so the shooting was continuous and endless, because why not? :P

Added Thursday, June 20th, 2013 @ 12:01 AM

One of my Grapple tasks was to work on the minimap.  Originally, I was simply going to outline the borders of the mountains and buildings, but I quickly realized there could be some problems with that.  There were many areas of higher elevation that covered navigable ground below them.  The most noticeable example was a large platform far above that covered the ground below it–ground that Amina could (and would) easily and commonly walk on.  If I used this platform as part of the map’s border, and Amina were to walk below it, it would look like she were breaching the bounds of the level.  Likewise, the game’s multistory buildings had the same issue with their multiple roofs.  So the question became, “How can I design the map so that Amina never hits an ‘invisible wall’ or breaches a wall?”

One idea I had was to outline different borders at different elevations.  Then perhaps in game, all of the elevation layers would be visible in the minimap with those closest to Amina’s height being the most opaque and the ones farthest from her height being the most transparent.  The opacity of the different borders would constantly change as Amina grappled through the level.  This way, all of the borders would always be visible on the map, but only the most relevant borders (those at Amina’s height) would be emphasized.

So how could I accomplish this?  I had the level in Maya, so I needed to adjust the near/far clip planes of the top camera.  That, however, quickly proved to be a hassle that I didn’t want to deal with… at least not by guessing and checking the clip plane values.  It was taking far too long.  If only there were a way to visualize the clip planes’ positions, then I’d at least be able to see how far off my guesses were…  I couldn’t find a way, so I made one myself (if there is a native way in Maya, then I feel silly >_>).

I created two planes and tied their Y positions to the values of the camera’s clip planes with simple expressions.  Now I was not only able to visualize the clip planes, but I was also able to move them directly (versus typing in a value, hitting enter, typing in another value, hitting enter, etc.).  This setup made the whole process infinitely easier and faster.  I could simply sandwich the area that I wanted to outline between the two planes, and I would get just the lines I needed without the outlines of objects above or below that area covering the lines I wanted.

With this setup I rendered out the outlines of different elevations in the level and then drew over them in Photoshop to give the map a hand drawn look.

Unfortunately due to time constraints, we were not able to try out the map transitioning between elevations.  Regardless, this method did help in creating the final map, plus it was a neat and effective solution (I thought :P ) to a problem that I had not only encountered in this task but also in the past (and likely in the future).

Added Thursday, June 20th, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

Here is the work I did on Grapple’s minimap and its icons.  The minimap took more work than I was expecting, so I made a neat little setup in Maya to help with that.  The icons were more straight forward–one for Amina, one for power lanterns, one for objectives, one for a lantern thief holding a lantern, and one for a lantern thief not holding a lantern.  These were all mock-up icons, so they are not the final ones used in the game.

Added Thursday, June 20th, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

We had thought about making a new grappling reticle, so I have a sheet of redesign concepts for that (we ended up just having it change colors depending on what was being grappled to).

We also wanted a way to see the lantern thieves aside from the beams of light, especially since we had so many tall buildings, and it wasn’t uncommon for the beams of light to be occluded by the buildings.  I came up with a design, and tried out a bunch of color variations for it .  The design felt too Halo-y for me, but I had to move onto other tasks :-/

Added Wednesday, June 19th, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

After we had tried and discussed a few other options for conveying damage and Amina’s health, we decided to try some kind of red flash onscreen when hit.  We did have our hesitations with that option as it is so overused by games, but we tried it anyway.  Maybe we could push it more towards blood/dirt/oil getting onto the camera or something…  At first, I just made a blood splatter image  in Illustrator so that we could see kind of what it would look like.  After that got fairly good feedback, I made a more grungy looking image to replace it.  Then in the shader, I was able to give it a dissolving effect when it appeared/disappeared.

Added Wednesday, June 19th, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

This is a flyer I made for the big, joint public playtest we had for our Capstone games.  Members from each team went to UCF one day, and we set our games up in the student union for people to play, test, and give feedback.  We handed these flyers out to get people’s attention.

The smaller image (with the date, time, and place) was the actual flyer.  We cut out the individual games from the larger image and placed them on our tables to label which area was for which game.

I did not create the logos or character art (artists below).  I did, however, assemble the pieces from the different teams, lay them out, and give them some nice backgrounds :P

Warp Derby: Ryoma Tazi

Pitch Jumper: Jen Melnick and Kyle Prichett

Eshcerreal: Miguel Espinoza and Caitlyn Trout

Grapple: Karen McCarthy

Added 6/18/13 @ 12:00 AM

One of the things we wanted to achieve in Grapple was to have a very non-intrusive HUD with minimal, if any, UI (we did have to make some exceptions).  With that said, we needed a way to show players where lantern thieves were in the environment.

Within the game’s fiction, we had talked about the power lanterns giving off a kind of gaseous material or vapor of some sort.  I took that idea and made a particle out of it.  The idea was that the sparkly blue gas would rise into the air, high enough for the player to see, and the player could follow the trail down to find the lantern thief.

A few weeks later, I made another effect to potentially be used for the same purpose.  I made a giant pillar of light that would emanate from the lantern thieves into the sky for players to see.  I included several parameters in the beam’s material, such as tiling, panning speed, and color so that we could have easy control over the look of the beams.

After considering both options, the team decided on the beams of light.  More people liked how they looked, and they were less expensive (since they were just single planes rather than particles).

Once that decision was made, I created two UDK actors in UnrealScript to make it even easier to use and control the beams of light.  One actor was simply a plane with the material assigned.  This allowed us to drag it into the scene already made (rather than having to recreate planes and reassign the material), and it could be spawned, controlled, and destroyed via code.  The second actor housed all of the different parameters in the material plus an XYZ scale for the plane.  Changes made in this actor would affect all instances of the beams of light in the game at once, allowing us to quickly and easily globally affect the look of the beams.

Added 6/18/13 @ 12:00 AM

Here are a couple of HUD items I created.  We used the bars for a while to bookend any text appearing on screen (instructions, subtitles, etc.).  The lantern collection bar was a preliminary design for a HUD item that would allow users to see how many power lanterns they had collected.  The lantern model that I used for the silhouette was created by Nisa Martinez.

Added 6/13/13 @ 12:00 AM

Here are some renders from a scene in Maya using global illumination.  Nothing fancy, we were just playing around with global illumination and its settings in class, and it turned out some pretty results :D

Added 6/11/13 @ 12:00 AM

A particle level of detail system that I created for our FIEA capstone game, Grapple.  Our game uses many, MANY particles, but they were slowing the game down significantly.  With this new system, we can use many more particles than we could before with a MUCH better frame rate than using just a few particles without this method.

Smoke particle and particle LOD system by Adam Grayson

Fire particle by James Diab

Amina (main character) model by Karen McCarthy and Nisa Martinez

Amina rig by Robert Campbell

Amina animations by Robert Campbell and Jacob Hemphill

Added 6/3/13 @ 12:00 AM

While we wanted to have minimal UI in Grapple, one of our exceptions was an indicator telling players where the power generators were.  These icons appear when players pick up a power lantern.  They point towards the generators (where the players have to return the power lantern).

There are two icons with the same design.  There is a smaller one that usually hangs around the edges of the screen, and there is a bigger one that is displayed in the environment.  The smaller icons are used to point the players toward generators when the generators themselves are occluded by walls, buildings, etc.  The larger icons float and bounce above the generators within the world as if to say, “HEY, PLAYER!  COME OVER HEEEEEEEEEEEERE!!!”

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