|||| 8 - 15 nov 2014 ||||
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Wertle
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http://www.wertle.com
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1

Verticorpse Plots and Plans #1
After getting in several games of Verticorpse between submission and now, I have some ideas for future improvements. I thought I'd start logging them here and explaining my logic behind them. One observation is that if you're fairly good at shooters in general, it can be a pretty dominant strategy to go HAM and move around constantly. I want to counter-balance this a bit to make it advantageous to hide, while still leaving room for running around. I think it's the most fun when people approach combat spaces with caution, so I want to make conditions for that more favorable. The Gun I put a slow reload on the gun with the intent that if you shot at a dummy it would alert everyone to your position and give them a window to react before you could fire again, hoping to make people more cautious about when they shot. This works a little bit, but I want to push it further, so I'm thinking perhaps an even slower reload on the gun, more of a railgun type situation. I'm also considering putting a more significant tracer on the gun, so when someone shoots and misses you have a bit of a better idea of where the shot came from. Advantages to Hiding One moment that happens a lot that's really fun is when I'm running down the hallway past what I think is a statue, and then it turns towards me and takes a shot. It's startling and delightful, but it's not so much fun when the statue misses. I feel like these moments should be more advantageous for the statue person than the runner. We were discussing this in the chat and one idea that came up was to give a person standing still some kind of accumulating auto aim or homing, or perhaps runners accumulating bigger hitboxes, So if you're standing still and someone dashes past you, it's a bit easier to hit them. Something like this might wildly knock the balance in the opposite way, which I'd have to be careful of, but I'd like to at least try it. Figuring out the fastest way to implement it to try it out will be the tricky bit. A less complicated way to try and address the same problem would be to just take out sprint, though I like the loud sprint sound that alerts everyone to your presence. I may give this a try first before trying any fancy complicated auto-aim stuff. People have also given me many wonderful suggestions for how to approach the art in the game, all of which are amazing, but are a bit beyond my abilities. I'll probably keep focusing on gameplay for the time being, and supportive art, before I get around to trying anything fancy. Stay tuned for more observations!
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Verticorpse Post-Mortem
I don't think this jam could have gone any better for me than it did, and that's mostly because of sharpened scope management and some good timing. As I mentioned in my initial post, my game, Verticorpse, was made as a gift for a friend. It was intended as a super simple mod, but I know that even super simple mods can pose great challenges, so I squashed any temptation to scope further. I feel scope estimation for jams is just a result of experience, so if you want to get better at accurately estimating your time, just keep making those games and doing those jams :) What went right: I finished the mod and the intended recipient of the gift loved it. SUCCESS. As I mentioned, another success was good estimation of scope. I knew that I was only going to have a couple hours each night to work on this, with a smattering more on the weekend, so I was able to prioritize things and get everything implemented in time without too much stress (though I did stay up a little later than I normally do this week). Challenges: My challenges are exactly what I predicted they would be: working with new tools (UE4) and the complications of online multiplayer. Unreal for the most part was a joy to use, but every step to implementing my mod involved a lot of digging and searching and discovering. I was up in the air about working with the shooter template or not, and it had its pros and cons. A lot of the stuff was built in already, especially mp replication, and that was super handy. However, because the shooter template has all the gameplay in C++, it meant I had to brush off some serious coding chops to make alterations in cases where I couldn't use the beautifully addictive blueprint system. What had the potential to go terribly wrong: I realized on Monday night that my plan to finish all the bones then and then work the rest of the week on a level was not going to pan out. I was worried I would just have to end up using one of the included template levels, which would have been a bummer, since I wanted a space that would specifically compliment the mechanic. Fortunately, I showed the prototype to Josue really early on, and he was excited about it and offered to build a level. Josue has waaaaay more experience than me as a MP level designer, so I was happy to oblige. Even though it's a little strange that this game was supposed to be a present for him and he ended up helping build it, I'm really glad to have had his expertise. I'm much slower at building levels and would have required a lot more iteration time. Things I wish I could have gotten in: The one thing that I wish I had a little extra time to do: We'd talked about doing an outliner shader that could be seen through the world that would pop up on someone when they shot and then disappear. The logic here being that it's really fun when someone shoots at a dummy and as a result reveals their location, and I wanted to reinforce that with extra feedback. Ryan Benno tried to help me with the shader, but I had trouble getting it to work and decided to spend that time on making a crappy lobby instead. Special thanks to Ryan, though, for helping me with lots of UE4 art things. In conclusion, even though this is an extremely simple deathmatch modification, I'm really pleased with the results of this jam. I did exactly what I set out to do and made my friend really happy. I can't wait to play it with people!
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Some Combat FPS Tips
Hey again, everyone! Today I was discussing general FPS creation tips with my co-workers at Insomniac (fellow designers and some programmers), and realized it might be handy to pass them along. So, here they are! Note, these are more centered around a traditional combat-focused action FPS, but perhaps people will find some use in them even if you're not planning on doing something like that. (or maybe flip them on their heads to do something crazy) 1. The defensive capability of a player has way more influence on your level design than the offensive capabilities or even enemy types, so keep this in mind when you're getting started. Do you have health regen? A cover mechanic? Is your damage model high or low? When the player is about to die, what will they DO to survive based on how your game works? This informs how you approach environment construction considerably. 2) The visual bullet trajectory may start at the gun, but the trajectory used for collision must start at the eye. (Otherwise you end up hitting obstacles that don’t look like they’re in the way) 3) Camera FOV is an incredibly important decision that will effect everything from your art style to your control scheme to your overall mood, so give it serious and sustained thought early in the development process, make an educated decision, and then stick to it or the whole thing is bound to collapse on you. 4) Always look at everything from the player’s camera height (usually 1.75m depending on your metrics), and FOV. ALWAYS. Build the entire world to this view. It's easy to accidentally build something that looks great with the scene camera but falls apart when you get in game. 5) Avoid more than 30m of flat ground (in an actiony, combat sort of game where you're on foot mostly) 6) Make sure there’s enough room for maneuverability. Often rooms in FPS’s tend to be 2x scaled in X/Z and 1.5x scaled in Y. Props often tend to be 1.2-1.5x scaled to compensate. Watch for low collidable objects – push chairs into tables for instance. Work on your movement code so that the hero cleanly slides through environments with complex collision rather than sticks on everything. Obviously the scale thing is dependent upon the normal player movement speed – slow survival horror allows tighter scale (RE), cover-based shooters are in the middle (Gears), non-cover mechanic shooters need the most room (Halo). 7) Keep action on-camera. Be aware that it’s really tedious to turn around in FPS games and you have ZERO awareness of off-camera action (and it’s expensive to build things the player won’t see). 8) Asymmetrical spaces. Make player choices meaningful. Two pieces of cover at the same distance on the same plane facing the same front aren't meaningful. Note: in order for choices to be meaningful, the player has to be aware that they exist – they have to SEE the choices when they walk into the scenario. 9) Every space should be significantly distinct and strategically different. Surprise the player often. Killing should be incidental. Your mission should always be to do something interesting that’s not killing. Shit should go sideways every so often (missions should not play out the way that you told the player they’re going to play out) 10) It's surprisingly tricksy to figure out what the player is looking at just based on their viewport, so if you're doing anything like triggering an event when the player looks at something, keep in mind that you'll have to handle distinguishing *looking* versus a chance pan. 11) Getting meleed from a bot from behind suuuucks. In the heat of battle, people won't notice that you're conveniently having enemies try to get into camera view before attacking, and they'll appreciate knowing where the threat is. Edit: Tips collected from me (Lisa Brown), Joel Goodsell, Ron Pieket, and Sonny Sidhu.
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Obligatory Introduction Post
Hi hi hi everyone! I'm Lisa, and I'm super stoked about 7DFPS :D I'm a fulltime designer by trade and cut my teeth in the industry on an FPS, so I'm excited to get back into it. I'm using this jam as an opportunity to make a gift for a good friend and fellow designer. Well, half a present and half to fulfill my own selfish purposes. Let me explain... One day years ago, he was telling me about his QA days on some shooter or another. There was a period of time where there was a particular bug on the project that actually turned into its own game for the QA team. It was pretty simple: the ragdoll was broken, so whenever someone died they just stood in place as a static model. The result was that the game started off as classic death match, but as the corpses stacked up, the testers started hiding among them, waiting in place to try and catch someone moving, pretending to be a corpse statue themselves. It turned from an action game to a sneaky game over the course of a match, and apparently all the testers were super sad the day the bug got fixed. "That sounds really fun!" I said to him, "won't you make this as a real game? Like a mod or something? I want to play it! Please make it!" "Ehhh i'm too busy." He would say, and I would grumble. Some months later, I would pester him about it again, because I REALLY wanted to play it, but he always shrugged it off. WELL SOMETIMES IF YOU WANT SOMETHING DONE YOU HAVE TO DO IT YOURSELF. Therefore, I shall make this game next week and present it to him as a gift and token of our friendship. Since it's such a super simple mod, I'll be focusing on adjusting weapons and level design that lend themselves to the mechanic. I'll also be taking some big ole risks in other areas, namely: 1. Online MP are you CRAZY?? Yes perhaps, but I have the luxury of an ace networking programmer as a partner 2. New tools for me (UE4). I am new to UE4 and have only dabbled previously in UDK, but have a lot of comparable experience in our proprietary tools. Plus, another friend offered to help with art who is a superstar at UE4, so I should have my bases covered. I realize this isn't a super dramatic experimental idea, but it's one I've been itching to play with for ages and I am excited to make a gift for my friend!
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