Relict – FPSCreator Fantasy Game – 2010

2010

FPSC

Hello there!

Relict is a project still close to my heart. Game development is a particularly frustrating art form as its very possible to pour a lot of work and time into a project and yet still end up with nothing. The project has evolved alongside my skills and technical knowledge and eventually migrated over to the unreal engine. (See here)

Swapping the engine was the last one of a long sequence of mistakes that eventually doomed the project to fail. Working on it, however, taught me a lot of valuable lessons. I dabbled into writing,scripting, music and sound design as well as improved a lot of my game development skills. In this archival post I’d also like to share the primary reasons of why you can not download and play it now and all I can show are screenshots. But first lets take a look at the actual project:

I designed the plot line to play to FPSC’s strength, at least partially. It would take place in a single areas that offered too locations. An idyllic abbey and a large dungeon complex underneath. The game would first take you through exposition and tutorial type levels through the abbey, levels I have decorated with a lot o attention for detail. This was also the time that I have adopted the widespread use of normalmapping. Afterwards you would be on a dungeon crawl through an ancient and increasingly dangerous underground temple complex.

As I was aware that character interaction and dialogues would have been hard to deliver convincingly I wrote in a demon character that possessed the protagonist and would taunt him as well as offer comic relief. This was supposed to be very similar to Clarence in Penumbra or Xana in Dark Messiah.

Throughout development, character meshes would change/where replaced/retextured and upgraded.

The lower picture shows an early test of a light spell that would allow you to illuminate darker areas. Working torches or flashlights where either rather silly or barely functional in FPSC at the time due to its static lightmapping system and the general gist of how light and shadow work in it. This spell is a work around and is based of the feature that guns briefly light up the area when shot in the engine.

I initially wanted to copy in the plot line I posted in a forum when I presented this game, but my english skills where vastly inferior at the time and it makes me cringe now. You can look at it here…if you want to.

A short, vague and ultimately bland summary is this:

In a world ravaged by war, a clash between the forces of magic and the upcoming power of technology, a young thief finds himself a key figure destined to shape events.

As generic as this sounds, I did write a rather servicable script for this that featured several fresh ideas for me to convey plot and lore with the limited tools I have had. Serviceable enough that its likely that I pick this project up again in a different engine some time in the future. 🙂

The feature list as presented at the time was:

  • *Mystical and Dark Ambience
    *Dialogues, short side quests and hand to hand combat
    *Parcour and Puzzle based gameplay
    * Nice Effects!Fire,Water, Magical Energys, Rain, Lightray, Fog…this game will have it all
    *A lot of animals (small and large ones)
    *Outdoor levels
    *Selfmade models, paintings and a huge load of re-textures to give this game its own look

These are examples of in-game interactivity. The inventory system was largely “fake”. It presented items that you can gather in boxes in a way that implies that you have an inventory you can access but in reality things where either consumed/read/activated immediately or became part of your HUD and thus activated with a designated key.

The second picture here shows how I have gotten around the fact that I was unable to get any cursor/mouse interaction going for menus so I attached functions to convenient keys.

Now on to the downfall.

The truth is that when I was working on Relict I was a different, much younger and much more naive person. My enthusiasm made the project grow way beyond my capabilities and means (and beyond the scope of the engine I developed it in) and now that I am older and wiser I just know that THIS game would have been impossible to finish. Later titles failed due to inadequacies with FPSC then but this one…its almost all on me. You see, FPSCreator has the following issues:It does not flush the ram properly after a level is finished (and my levels loaded in a lot of content), it had a memory cap allowing one to only design very small and very well planned levels, its hilariously unstable once games are built and its combat system did not allow one to make particularly convincing magic and melee systems (altough I tried my best using the fantastic models by Errant AI)

Speaking of the melee system. The main flaw was that one could not properly chain attacks which made sword fighting rather awkward. Rather than being able to swing your blade around you would hit…wait for it to get to starting position and then hit again. This works for back up melee weapons in shooters but not so much a full fledged fantasy games. Spells would be disguised “modern” weapons.

However! The brawling in the game was really fun, I gave the enemies a few delightfully insulting taunts and the awkwardness of everything added a certain charm to it.

Another glaring issue was the sheer amount of scripts always active in every level. I wanted to give the player the “immersive sim” experience masterfully provided by games like Thief or Deus Ex. Lots of variables, lots of HUD overlay’s being triggered…no surprise a lot of things would overload or not activate properly. Levels started to look like this in-editor:

A lot of concepts, ideas and artworks I have made for Relict have eventually migrated over to projects like Shavra and Acythian. Sure, I’d be proud to have released this game but the sheer workload I thought I could manage and all the features I thought I could “figure out later” makes me now see clearly that this whole thing was simply impossible. I am still thankful that I started it and I had a lot of fun just toying with creating this little world.

Huge shoutout to the FPSC community who helped and supported me while I was dabbling with this.

Thank you for reading! I leave you now with a collection of screenshots from the project:

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[Tutorial] – Lightmapping in Game Guru

Hi!

First of all, I don’t claim my lightmapping to be particularly great. However, I was one of the first to dabble into GG’s stubborn lightmapper and am sad to see that so little have yet dared to experiment with it.
Those of you familiar with my work might remember that I wrote a similar tutorial back in 2011 for FPSCreator. However, a lot has changed with how GG handles its lightmaps and GG users around the web are amazingly inept when it comes to this crucial, if not vital, part of level design that I think its time that someone writes a tutorial on how to do it.

Okay, now that I have successfully alienated the majority of my audience, lets get this puppy started:
Introduction

Now lets read what uncle Wiki says about lightmaps: “A lightmap is a data structure used in lightmapping, a form of surface caching in which the brightness of surfaces in a virtual scene is pre-calculated and stored in texture maps for later use. Lightmaps are most commonly applied to static objects in realtime 3d graphics applications, such as video games, in order to provide lighting effects such as global illumination at a relatively low computational cost.”
Now for all you shrimp with a short attention span out there, this just means that lightmapping is a process that saves illumination data in a picture and later puts it over the static geometry of your map. Like a warm and cozy blanket. Here is an example of what that looks like:
 

Example of a lightmap texture 

 

GG Level without textures and only lightmaps.

Now everyone who has ever worked in traditional art, photography or film nows how crucial lighting is and if you are just starting out in game development you might have never thought about it. Visually a level is made up in 3 equally important parts.

How it looks and the story it tells (this includes the quality of the assets, how they are arranged and how much the player can immersive himself)
How it functions, how its navigated and how clear that is communicated to the player (this is where all things gameplay fit in. Nobody likes an impressive level where you can only go straight)
And how its lit. (lighting can dramatically change the mood of the level and determines what the player sees and what he does not see.)

Since everything is constantly changing so does the hobbyist or how its now called “indie” game development scene. When I started out, people where very interested in learning new things and honing their skills but that has certainly been distorted in time. Now that Game Guru has brought in a whole new crowd we still get people who like to get to the meat of things and learn but you also get a whole new bunch who are more interested in pretending that they are a “game studio” and announce their first project right away as a work in progress blockbuster on IndieDB, social media and Steam. This type of crowd usually deflects inquiries about their skills or technical background of games and claims to add features in later or do it in post processing. One bloke even told me that he was in the process of modding the engine to incorporate state of the art lighting effects (I’m well aware that this is impossible). People that are new seem to think that they lose face when they admit that they are new and thus naturally inexperienced. The opposite is the truth. Now more serious developers told me that they had issues and then opted to use dynamic lights. Thats okay for exterior maps but can be a serious problem when working with interior levels. I’ll address some problems those folks might have encountered too but first I want to rant more about horrible poser-developers:
Now this type of developer has multiplied over the last few years and they have contributed to sites like IndieDB being mostly a graveyard of concepts and ideas and there being a fatigue for no- to low-budget indie games manifesting in the gaming crowd. There is also the steam witch hunt for asset flips.
Oh well! I suppose there is little one can do to keep this sort of thing to happen. A lot of you probably remember the individual that makes money releasing stock GG demos on steam.

I don’t quite understand this mindset but this thread is about lighting and lightmapping… so:

Long story short: I made a picture using some great work by other artists in the unreal engine to show how crucial lighting is to a map and that its indeed not a skill that can be postponed if you are at least somewhat serious at designing levels.
 

How to lightmap (the tutorial)

Its good practice that after you conceived a level ( be it on paper or in your head) that you start with outlining the general architecture.
Follow this up with a bit of detail and then start a first lighting pass. Now you can experiment with the colours and the mood you aim to realize in your level. This can be quite fun. Once you settle on a colour scheme (there is a lot you can read up on binary contrasts…just keep in mind that every other movie is already toned in oranges and blues so you might as well do something different. Just see what works! ) you can keep that in mind and start with the detail passes.

Before I get into the meat of things, I am always surprised how many game designers end up having light sources (or other objects) awkwardly float a few inches away from the wall they are supposed to be mounted on or terribly mounted on a wall texture. Please don’t add to this.

The basics for lightmapping are this:

Add a light marker and make sure that its static ( press the “y” button or adjust it in its setting. It should now be displayed with a red tint. The ring around it indicates the radius the light will have. Be sure to be generous with this, its better to have too much than too little as light in real life tends to reflect from surfaces. ) As game guru does not support directional lights (altough if you absolutely must have this feature you can easily do it by hand by adding invisible meshes to direct the light.) its best to keep the light a bit away from the light source. (i.e. lamp or fire) This will make sure that the shadows will look more natural and don’t generate any harsh black spots.

I’ll use the sewer map from my game Acythian as a sample in this tutorial:
 

Light placed below a handmade fluorescent lamp.

Colour is an essential component for lightmapping. There are very few rules here. Use what suits the tone and style of your project just remember this:
Never use plain white, even for bright neon lamps. A greyish, blueish or yellowish tint will look a lot more naturalistic.
Fire does not emit red light. Go with a orange/yellowish tint.
 

Colour is selected on the left side of the screen.

These are now shots from my previous tutorial in the FPSC engine. However, the principal here is almost identical.

Select light colour


I rarely opt for the default suggestions. Click “other” to define your very own scheme.


A lot of you are working on grunge/military style or horror games. The lower part of colour intensities is best suited for these genres.


You can adjust the brightness of your light source with the slider on the right. Don’t be afraid of experimenting with dark colours. I recommend mixing them with brighter ones to simulate naturalistic light reflection.

Now all you have to do is hit F3. (F2 and F4 are also valid options. However the F2 option produces a lesser result and the F4 option is supposed to end up rendering better, sharper lightmaps however apart from it taking significantly longer I have never noticed much of a difference myself.)
After a lengthy rendering process ( this is the right moment to grab a cup of tea and check your mail.) you should be able to see your first results.
Your first results are terrible and there are tons of issues

Haha! You didn’t expect it to be that easy, did you? I know that Game Guru is the easy game maker but the truth is, making video games is just never easy. This is also the part where I’ve seen some developers try to stick to dynamic lights and disregard lightmapping entirely. This works for games that are almost entirely set in outdoor areas but its a really poor design decision if you have interiors.

Lets go over the typical mistakes that new users make:
1. I don’t even see my lightmaps.

In order to see your lightmapping you will have to adjust a few sliders in the TAB menu. The sliders make your life really easy compared to some earlier engines. The gist is, in order to see the lightmaps your ambience setting will have to be low and your surface level setting rather high. Make sure that the RGB values of both the ambience and surface level settings complement each other. You’ll end up with better results.
Since I know that people can do the weirdest things with these sliders I saw it fit to add the settings for the sewer levels as a template:
 

2. Some of my entities are not lit or too bright

Hehe! I know it comes across a bit like an elitist statment but it holds true that you only make about 20 to 30% of your game in the GG editor. Scripts, Models, Textures and their adjustment are done outside of the convenient GG drag and drop interface. The thing is that a lot of models don’t use the proper shader. The default choice by the time I am writing this is “effectbank\reloaded\entity_basic.fx”. You will need to make sure that this is a part of the .fpe files of your models (a .fpe file can be modified with the standard windows notepad.) If you know the basics of texturing (and if you are at least somewhat serious about the whole game making thing…you’ll have to get this down.) you can also add normal and specular maps if missing. However, this is not part of the scope of this tutorial.
Note that a lot of models from the steam dlc’s are also missing the shader line.
3. I get a weird plastic like glisten on models in dark areas. 

 

Special thanks to Avenging Eagle for this screenshot!

These are normalmaps reacting to the default sun. (which can not be turned off to my knowledge. At least not at the time I am writing this). In order to rectify this you can either flatten or at least weaken the normalmap intensity or you will have to add near by lights. Adding dynamic lights in the mix with your static lights can also lessen the effect. This is something that will need some practice but I’m sure that you will quickly get the hang of hiding this problem.

The setup.ini

The setup.ini can be found in your game guru install folder. It holds a lot of settings that you can edit manually. Make sure that GG is closed when you are doing this. Here are my settings (feel free to experiment with them)

lightmappingquality=1024
The resolution of the lightmaps (see above) You can go as low as 64 and as hight as 2048. However I dont recommend using 4096 for now.
lightmappingblurlevel=100
What I assume to regulate the sharpness of the lightmaps.
lightmappingsizeterrain=2048
The resolution on the terrain plane.
lightmappingsizeentity=1024
The resolution on entities (hallways, buildings and rooms are also entities)
lightmappingexcludeterrain=1
Use this setting if your game does not use the terrain. It speeds up lightmapping and saves memory.
Be creative

Despite what the marketing of several engines out there will make you think, you can get a lot of advanced engine effects down with trickery (after all, what else are video game graphics?)

These are screenshots from the game dark messiah of might and magic. It uses plain simple textured planes to simulate volumetric light. This can be done the same way in game guru and does barely impact the performance.

This is a terribly clumsy copy of an effect rolfy used a few years ago in his game eldora. You can use illuminationmapped, transparent planes to simulate stained glass windows shining in:

These are just examples! I think its important to have a mindset that allows you to at least try to find a solution for what you wish to accomplish rather than immediately halt production and wait for Lee to implement a new feature for you.

Notes from a previous thread:

If you have models glitch out, rescale or distort:

Open them in fragmotion, uu3d or a toaster for all I care and remove all the bones. Static objects don’t need them anyway.
Remove all .dbo files in the entitybank.
(untested) Someone mentioned that adding “resetlimbmatrix = 1” to the fpe helps in some cases. I can not verify this.

If you get models that reflect oddly or look like they are covered in wax or wet plastic

The lightmapper can react oddly to normalmaps in its current state, your normalmap might be too strong. replace it with a less intense version.

If you get bad results

Mess with the surface level settings and lower the ambience (depending on scene).
Increase settings in the setup.ini (advanced users only)
Check if the lights that are supposed the be static are static.
Lightmapping examples:

Here be tons of screenshots from my games.

Sewer area




Examples from my “flagship” project:












 

Links

Previous topic on lightmapping by me

Bolt Action gamings lightmapping tutorial series

Bugsy’s thread on mixing dynamic with static lights

Thank you for reading

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Kshatriya Origins Teaser Trailer Released!

A teaser for Kshatriya origins, by Wray has been released!

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Redacted 2 – Bulletblues – Experimental Edition (Free FPS Game)

▌│█║▌║▌║ redacтed² – вυlleтвlυeѕ ║▌║▌║█│▌

A sequel to a test game seems odd and I have no illusions that this is a very basic game. There are no grand features nor ambitions apart from releasing a game in the current state of game guru. That has left its mark, I can assure you.

What is this game?

Redacted 2 uses the same tropes and mechanics as the first game and continues its plot line (for that one person out there that cared about Hired Guns plotline!) It is an amalgamate made out of a city map I am very proud of and 2 levels from earlier incarnations of Acythian that have been cancelled. I did of course do a lot of touching up here so these integrate seamlessly.

Whats it about?

A cybernetic agent is sent to infiltrate a hacktivist gang to retrieve the data compilation necessary for a terrorist sect to arm a weapon of mass destruction.

Full Briefing in Snippet!

+ Code Snippet

What is the gameplay like?

The enemies in Redacted² are a bit less lethal as they where in the first installation, simply because I have noticed that a lot of players didn’t get all too far into that game. They are however still not balloon animals (well, sometimes they are) and you will need to use caution and a certain awareness of your surroundings to proceed.
If you have played games like Ghost Recon you should feel at home. Stick to cover, don’t stay out in the open during firefights and take enemies out as fast as you can to survive. Retread whenever you are wounded, the reconstructive nanites in your bloodstream will heal you after a while.

Features??

– 3 Levels

– somber futuristic aesthetic and atmosphere

-decently lit graphics (for a game guru game)

– checkpoints

– balanced arsenal of weapons, two animated by bugsy

– a faithful reimplementation of the longest loading screen ever from redacted 1.

Defects and Shortcomings READ BEFORE YOU PLAY

Redacted² is in an experimental state has it has more flaws than even the test game. Some are my faults, other GG’s. You should know what you are dealing with if you want to try this out:

* Level 3 will sometimes not load entirely and be unplayable as a large amount of architecture can be missing
* The first 2 enemies dont react to you…one might stick in the floor
* Several enemies might stick in the floor (yes, I did the forcesimpleobstacle thing, smartypants )
* I had to redesign level 1 so instead of colorful cyber gang members you fight default enemies which ruins the increasing difficulty a bit
* Levels have fewer enemies than intended
* Second voice actor and cutscenes where cancelled
* Production quality of menue and loadingscreens is not as good as it was in the previous game

D O W N L O A Ds 

Redacted²-Bulletblues Mirror One 

Previous games in the series 

Redacted – Hired Gun (2016)

Deprivation : Direct Action (2009) 

S C R E E N S H O T S

Thanks for playing to all those who dare

Please let me know what you think!

-Wolf

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OPS : Escape (2011) Free Full Game

Title: OPS: Escape

2011

Developer: Bugsy

Story: This time they’ve taken it a step too far! The insurgents have converted an abandoned warehouse into their new weapons shipping plant, and what’s more, they’ve captured the first spy sent to destroy it. It’s time to carve a path straight through that god-forsaken hellhole and take down every single one of the captors on your way to rescue your comrade. In fact, command’s just given green light on the op. get going.

Description: Ops: Escape is one of Bugsys earlier releases but already shows clear signs of where his style will take him. The levels are striking, yet very sparce in design. The game only uses what it needs to create an effective high-tech warehouse ambience and the music clearly drives the action. The assets used are well chosen and I’m proud that I have also brought a few textures used in this game to the table.

Its a minimalistic game and definately an artifact of its time…but all in a good way.

Also, Please note these specs: (assumes no reshade or EBE is active)
Minimum System Specs (the game will likely lag)
2.3 GHz of processing power (multiple cores preferred)
2gb ram
GeForce 8600 256mb graphics card or equivalent

Reccomended System Specs (the game probably won’t lag ever)
3.0 ghz multicore processor
4gb ram
GeForce GTX260 1gb or equivalent video card

Requires DirectX9. And if your computer does not support DX9 by now, why are you reading a game dev website?

Download Mediafire

184mb

Requires 7zip or similar archive program… the thing is a .7z, ya figure it out, you’re not stupid.

VIDEO LEVEL 1

VIDEO LEVEL 2

Enjoy

 

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Spotlight : Fate – Outpost November (Free Demo available) (2010)

S P O T L I G H T

Fate – Outpost November

Developed by: PWProductions

2010

The saddest part about amateur game developer is that a good 90% of decent projects around the web will end up being vaporware. Forgotten potential and often far better ideas than what the studios drop on us year after year. Another sad part is that games do get released, even decent ones but fall into obscurity and will be entirely forgotten mere weeks after release. There are some truly decent projects that have been overlooked due the constant onslaught of throwaway, cash grab horror games that are nothing but youtuber fodder and unbalanced multiplayer survival monstrosities.

Fate does not necessarily fall into any of these categories. A demo has been released and, while decent, the project is not some unsung indie master piece. However, its a very solid and atmospheric scifi horror game that I quite liked to follow. The development of the project was interesting. Sadly, the demo is very short and has its problems but it also has a bleak tone and is oozing with atmosphere. The seemingly random and not very fitting choice of enemy models is keeping the game from feeling like it has a unified tone but the level design and sense of claustrophobia it offers are worth trying out. Neat little things, like slightly displaced lights and good use of textures give it some charm.

I can recommend it to fans of old FPSC games and anyone who feels like wasting a few minutes on an homemade horror game demo. A demo of a more ambitious project that sadly never was.

 

There is a personal element to this game as it looks quite similar to work I did during the same time period. Others have pointed this out as well and the developer replied as follows:

Well, I’d like to start out by saying, “No, I was not inspired by Wolf’s level design in ANY way.” I was chatting with a handful of people on MSN this morning and all of them thought the screenshots I showed them were like Wolf’s. I guess you could say my ‘style’ is similar to Wolf’s (although I’ll never be as good as him), but I wasn’t inspired by him. I was inspired a little bit by his story in his game Sybmiotic.

MSN… aaah! 😀 It seems so long ago. Anyway, this is Symbiotic.

The similarities are there but I am very willing to agree with pwp that its more coincidental. Replaying it, I am also very convinced that he could indeed have become just as good or a better developer than I was.

Unfortunately I have lost all ties to pwproductions and his website as well as original materials of his work in progress media are lost.

I am now quoting the storyline from his development threads and will then also drop a download to the demo he released all these years ago.

Storyline: Humankind has tried to artificially evolve themselves to fast. Technology grew and grew, yet like all things, problems started to generate. The technologic problems started with BioChem Industries, an organisation which caused mankind numerous diseases and deformations beyond imagination. One of the mass breakouts was known as V87-HB. It caused massive deformities and mutations. It’s life-changing capabilities earned it the name ‘Fate‘. The start of BioChem was never found. Survivors sacrificed themselves through hunts for the beginning of the corrupt industry. Yet all who tried either came back beyond distortion, or did not come back at all… You, Shaun Pyrril, a left-to-die survivor of the diseased colony ship ‘Marina‘ have found your way to a BioChem outpost. From there, you may find clues and intel on how to reach the BioChem headquarters and relinquish Fate once and for all. That is… if you survive the outpost.

Development Thread  // Demo Thread

D O W N L O A D

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Autumn – 2015 – Leadwerks Prototype

AUTUMN

2015

I admit that this post is rather low on content but I wish to have it on here for completion sake. Back in 2015 I have experimented with the Leadwerks engine. I have offered my modelpacks ready for said engine and it struck me as a very competent pacakge. Thus I prototyped a little project in it.

Autumn was geared to be a survival horror game set in medieval times where you would take the roll of a young witch and attempt to escape execution by the inquisition. Little did you know that the wretched practices of the inquisition has opened a portal to a demonic realm which invaded the castle you where held in.

Now, I will likely reboot this plot for a future project but until now it lies dormant.

The Leadwerks engine is quite a powerful tool but I quickly learned that, in order to develop basic gameplay, I had to reinvent the wheel for me and adapting to an all new engine would have been too time consuming for me to be worth it.

However, here are some early screenshots using my own media and some stuff from arteria 3d. Observe:

To all you code fanatics and everyone who would rather have a decent underdog engine than those overbearing gorillas of UE4 and Unity, you can get Leadwerks 3d on Steam

Leadwerks on Steam

Website

I highly recommend it!

 

-Adrien

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