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So we published the game on Thursday, and the response we’ve had is insane. We published on Thursday, and even now we are on the front page of Steam. We’ve had thousands of downloads, and immensely positive reviews. Some of the reviews are hilarious, and it just feels so good seeing people loving the game I made!
The last bit of engineering I did on the game on Thursday was getting Steam achievements to work. Tony had plugged them all in, and they worked when we ran the game from editor, but they simply didn’t work through Steam. The problem as it turns out, was that Unreal had been compiled with an earlier version of the Steamworks SDK, and we were trying to use the latest version. Using the older version worked, and we have Steam achievements now!

We are on track to publishing the game. We have 14 levels all ready to go, with art, and juice done, no apparent bugs (there’s always some hidden bugs SOMEWHERE), the Steamworks pipeline setup and ready to go, and even a small beta test ready to roll out. This is the first time we have a big deadline, and we are actually going to meet it easily, and without any crunching. This just shows how much we’ve learned and improved. As part of this final push to the game, I also helped in adding juice to a level. Not much else to say about these last two weeks, other than more fixes, and making sure everything works. Watch out, 404Sight will be available here soon!

We’ve been busy fixing stuff and adding polish, and we were hit by more good news. Epic picked us as one of the winners for Unreal Dev Grant this week. That means we are getting $13,000 to help us! This is just amazing!
As for the game, I implemented more of Joe’s effects into the game. He made a bleed effect for the slow lanes, which looks really cool. We then had the idea to use that, and the pixelization effect he had made earlier, to create the respawn effect for the player. We’ve had problems with people sometimes not understanding that they had died. And we wanted to keep the respawn short. The result, a really cool looking fade out and fade in for the character when they died, which clearly gets the message across.yo2jAn I also fixed a problem we’ve been having with our launch tiles, that they feel slow. Instead of having a flat value for air friction, the value now changes based on whether the player was launched, or jumped on their own. This makes the game feel much faster now, which is what we wanted.

Remember how I talked about launching our Greenlight last week? Yeah, we got greenlit. That means 404Sight is coming to Steam soon! I can’t believe it! I’ve been playing games from Steam for years, and now my own game will be available on it! After the downer that was the Intel thing, this is huge! This has boosted the team’s confidence, and we ready to face the challenge of finishing up the game in about one month. We picked April 16th as our launch date, as it is after major releases, is right before a weekend, and gives us time after launch for fixes and patches. This week started off a bit slow, as it was right after GDC, but being greenlit so quickly has boosted our performance. We are now focusing on adding more levels, more art, and fixing everything. We have feature locked now (for reals), and are just working on content and polish. I’m really excited for Steam!

So yeah, GDC happened. And our game broke. Yup, as soon as we started up the game on the first day of the expo, the game crashed. We figured out the problem, which was that Unreal 4.7 had changed the way Unreal handles HTTP connections, and as a result, no internet connection caused the game to crash. Weird, but it happened. We managed to fix it, by logging into our lab computer by using Teamviewer, removing the internet component, doing another build, uploading it, downloading it at GDC, and then getting the build running. That was interesting. Besides that, GDC went well for us, with a lot of positive feedback, and a bunch of new bugs. We also released our Greenlight campaign. The Intel event also happened, and although we didn’t win anything, it was still an amazing experience. Overall, GDC was amazing as always. I experienced a broken build right before a big event, had lots of people play my game, participated in a great event, and had a fun time.

Its been a crazy two weeks. We’ve been preparing for GDC and the Intel event, and have been pumping out levels, polish, fixes, tweaking….basically everything. We added a shift to sprint, since the game is about speed, reworked the ability to destroy inhibitors into a speed burst, which blows up the inhibitor which you hit, then removed the shift to sprint, because having two different buttons to speed up didn’t make sense. Yeah, all that happened over two weeks. The Speed Burst
The decal update proved to be amazing, as we have three levels finalized and with art, and 5 more test levels ready to go. The UI has also been updated, and the level loading has now been changed to give a much smoother and seamless experience. With the reduced level size, and the new loading, the players don’t even see a loading screen anymore. We have also been working on a new GDC trailer, which looks really good. These past two weeks, I’ve been all over the place, helping out pretty much everyone on stuff they’ve been working on, fixing bugs, ALL THE BUGS. We all decided to go for Steam Greenlight, and will be launching our campaign over GDC. Another major change that happened, was that we had been waiting for Unreal 4.7 to drop for a while, as we’ve had a lot of problems with UMG in 4.5, and 4.6 had fixed those, but broke all the materials that Joe had been working on. So Tuesday morning, we decided to update to 4.6, and lock engine version on that. So after spending an hour upgrading to 4.6 and getting everyone on the team on that version, end of class, 4.7 was released. We immediately decided to upgrade to 4.7, and have now engine locked to 4.7. Yeah, we changed engine versions a week before GDC. We crazy like that. See you after GDC!

So this week we were told that we have been picked by the faculty to represent the university at the Intel University Game Showcase, at GDC. This is a massive opportunity for us, and as a result, we’ve kicked into high gear. We decided to present a polished vertical slice of the game, both at GDC and the Intel event. So everyone is now working hard to get the game ready. I also finished the decal update, and now we have proper materials on all decals, along with a very smooth interaction between them and player. We also finished up the inhibitors, which now have a proper model and a nice decal effect associated with them. Another thing we introduced was the bandwidth meter, which works with the player’s speed, and acts as a health meter and a power meter. Using the “charge ability” to destroy inhibitors uses up bandwidth, and if the bandwidth runs out, the player dies and is reset. This makes the game more strategic, as the players have to now think about how and when to use their bandwidth. I am excited to see all these changes, and with the Intel thing, and GDC, we will be able to see how well they work with the game.

The final semester started two weeks ago, and after a nice winter break, we were back into developing our game, with full steam. One of big things we got from the EAE day last semester was that there was no reason to turn the ping off. In attempt to fix this, we decided to introduce “inhibitors”. These are giant things that fall out of the sky, and the player can either turn off their ping, or use a new ability to blow them up. Although the biggest thing that happened this semester was the decal system. Up until now, we were using tiles to make our levels, which was a slow process. The resulting levels were also massive (memory wise), and building lighting took hours. I worked with Joe to completely change that. Now, instead of using tiles of fixed sizes, we can use re-sizable brushes to create the level layout, and then place decal actors to place fast/slow/launch decals wherever needed. These decals can be scaled and angled almost anyway, allowing for a lot of freedom in level building. Using giant brushes also greatly reduces the number of objects in each level, reducing the memory footprint, lighting times, loading times. This change should give us a massive performance boost. This would not be possible without Joe’s amazing materials, which also makes the game look much smoother. While this also means that all levels will have to be remade from scratch, and that I re-did all the mechanics in the game, I am sure that this update will help us a lot.Ignore the materials in this

For our game engineering final, we had to use everything we had learned so far in the semester, and build a game using all that. I decided to remake a simpler version of my thesis game, 404Sight. It is a firs/third person runner inspired from Mirror’s Edge, with the eagle vision from Assassin’s Creed. The player uses their ping ability to reveal parts of the environment, using which they get have to get to the end as quickly as possible. I chose this game because I knew how all the mechanics worked, and wanted to see how simply I could replicate them in an engine I made from scratch. For my final, I decided to remake our first level, called the hallway. It’s straight path to the end, but the way is littered with fast and slow tiles. To reveal the tiles, use left click. Movement is through the WASD keys. You can rotate the player character around by using Q and E, but the movement axes are fixed for now. One of my goals for next semester is to get a third person camera implemented. The game exits when you make it to the end. The game name in the top left is a 2D Sprite. Another thing I want to implement is a timer, using a spritesheet. I learned so much in this class, about how to setup pipelines, which made it easier for me to add assets to my game, and I had negligible graphics programming knowledge before taking this class. Now I feel I know atleast the basics, and can now go deeper into graphics programming, and be able to render something that looks much better. I also delved a bit into making plugins for Maya, as I modified the Maya plugin given to us by the professor, changing the way it exported multiple meshes. I also added sound, which is the music that plays in game in 404Sight (The real one). Here are a couple of screenshots of my game:

game1 game2

In the debug build (both release and debug are linked below), you can press F1 to toggle debug lines. The debug line I have right now changes size based on the player’s speed. This helped me debug whether I had the intended interaction with each tile. You can find the debug build here. The release build is here.

Whats game development without a little crunch? Similar to the IGF week, this as another crazy one. We couldn’t get a lot done Tuesday, as everyone was waiting for everyone else to finish whatever they were working on, so as not to cause conflicts. But who CARES? Thursday, though was a whole different story. We got the new open level thing working – relatively bug free- at about 6PM. We had also reverted the ping to an older version, the one before the active reload. We also added the sounds and music that was made for the game by Keaton Anderson. Got the checkpoint-progress thing also working, and did a massive lighting build, which showed us the power of swarm. All in all, it was long week, and we left the lab at about 2AM. It was the same four people as last time, me, Tony, Kyle, and Matt. Matt worked on a video loop that we should on EAE Day, while Kyle added a new skysphere and some post process settings, which made the game look amazing. But as per tradition, I spent the morning of EAE Day fixing some last minute bugs, and getting a final build ready for the day. EAE Day itself was a massive success, and our game was well received. I also spent the next couple of days fixing some of the big bugs we found on EAE Day, in order to get this build ready for another IGF submission. Here is the video loop from EAE Day, showing the old trailer, as well as some sick new gameplay footage: