SPECTRE – The Sewers

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U P D A T E
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Hey folks!

I notice that I have not updated this games online profile in a while. I have been busy working on it quite a bit and some of you who follow my work on discord have likely seen a lot more than I will show now. This is because I try not to utterly flood the thread with screenshots.

If you’ve been around the indie game development scene for a while you might have noticed that its pretty terrible compared to what it used to be… but thats not why I bring it up… I bring it up because you likely also saw statements like this on your own, Duchenkukes or my work in progress media across the web. “If you can do this in GG, imagine what you can do in unity or unreal”. Well, there is a certain amount of ignorance inherent to this statement as I have lamented many times. This kind of particular feedback usually comes from players who might have a relatively warped perspective of what goes into making an entire game. Making a video game is meta art. Meaning that you have to be relatively proficient or at least semi competent in all the artistic and technical skills it entails. 2d art, 3d art, music, code, writing and more. The reason I can make this kind of game is because game guru is easy to use. Believe me, I have many hours in both unity and unreal and can tell you long and drawn out tales about just how difficult it is to make a full game, on your own, in your spare time in such an engine. Sure, if you are the type that works well in a team and if you have the relevant skills to bring to the table, by all means… but for lone wolves like myself? Just nah.

Unless you are willing to make an entire game out of random stuff you got from the asset store in which case…why bother?

Well, the above tangent aside, I only bring this up because I have begun adding minor details to the third mission, which will serve as an early beta demo for the game. (its most of what you have seen in the more recent updates and what you will see in a couple more to come).
This meant that I had to do things I never actually made before with mixed results. My first attempt in making an animated decal is … well, almost decent. Some frames are out of order and the playback speed is warped but it shows some promise as can be seen here.

Another thing I needed to do was adding more variety to the characters. I went with the stock characters by choice and in fact, the CC system allows for relatively easy imports when it comes to custom faces and attachments. I’ve never done much character related work…you might have seen some in my 3d threads throughout the years…it must have been like 4 to 5 in a decade so I am quite glad that the hair I got going for my lasses looks more than alright.

As importing these into the character kit is relatively straight forward, I have also penned a tutorial about the whole ordeal which can be found here.

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So much for that. Another thing I added is the sewer level, this will be quite an eeriee level that will have a few surprises you might not expect. In any case, its mostly done and some screenshots can be seen here. Not too interesting to look at in pictures but I think it will make for a decent romp…. I mean… as far as sewer levels are concerned, its probably not going to be the worst in gaming history.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen its that most delightful place you all wish you could visit. The sewers! Wether you fancy a romantic picnic or a relaxing evening walk, the delightful scenery of the sewers has got you covered. Visit one of our many attractions such as “rusty pipe”, “wet concrete” or the all time favorite: “unidentified floating object in water”. Visit the sewers! Soon to be featured in the demo version of SPECTRE.

Oh well, thats it for now! Than you for reading and feel free to let me know what you think.

-Wolf

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Character Creator Attachment Tutorial

Character Creator Attachment Tutorial

Hello everyone!

After deciding to use the stock meshes as characters for my game project Spectre, I’ve recently imported my first custom hair style for the CC.
A user has masked me how to do this and while I gave him a short overview on how it works, I noticed that this was probably too cryptic for someone who is completely new to custom 3d imports and rigging.

The default collection for the CC is rather sparse and there are very few head and hair styles to select, resulting in numerous NPC’s in GG games looking the same. This tutorial will teach you a couple things on how you can have more variety and even import your very own custom meshes.

Notice also that I can not teach you how to make custom hair, helmet or head meshes on your own. That would require me to go through all the basis of 3d modeling and it would be pointless as many of you use various 3d software. Besides, I use milkshape 3D and writing out a full tutorial on how to use this ancient and outdated software wouldn’t benefit many of you as I assume that the software most used for 3D creation around here is blender.

I will however use fragmotion to rig the custom mesh in this tutorial. There is a free version available and besides, its a great tool to have in your collection for converting to .x meshes, converting numerous older formats the more contemporary 3d software no longer recognizes and its exports work flawlessly with GG.

To make sure that things go over smoothly remember to always do clean exports of your meshes….that means only 1 material attached to a mesh and only 1 texture as well. Delete any excess materials in fragmotion.

Now without further ado, lets get started.

Part 1: Custom face textures

This is just a short overview on how to create multiple face texture variants using the stock ones as a template. If you go into your files/characterkit directory you will find all textures, meshes and relevant files for the CC. You can copy any of the stock textures and start modifying it to your hearts content. If your image editor does not support .dds files, there is a free tool called paint.net that you can use to convert to and from .dds (direct draw surface) files. Once you have your custom texture ready (be this a whole new face or just different eye color, skin tone or some scars/tattoos) all you need to do is copy the .png and .cci file and enter the relevant information. Make sure that the .png files name ends in _thumb.png.


Notice that mesh, diffuse and normal requires you to enter whatever files you want to use for your new face. Chances are that the mesh and normal line remain the same, this works just fine if all you want to do is change the diffuse file.

So much for part 1 of this tutorial. Now on to something more challenging:

Part 2: Custom head attachment

For this tutorial we are going to add a new set of female hair. You can, however, import any mesh you want. A helmet, a hat, a pair of glasses, it does not matter.

Note: The CC differentiates between male and female variants using the cci and png name. That means that for the editor to know that your new attachment is for a female char, it will need to have “fmale” in its name. Please notice that the male head meshes are slightly larger than the female ones. So a hairstyle version rigged for a female character needs to be slightly larger for a male one, otherwise the head mesh will clip through.

Now, to rig the mesh, we will use the propellerhat as a template. It exists in both a male and a female variant, you have pretty good visual aid for how large your mesh has to be and where to position it and its the most useless prop in the whole CC, therefore its no big deal if you accidentally overwrite it



Your first import should look something like this in fragmotion. Be sure to use the 4 viewpoints mode to accurately place the mesh on top of the propeller. (Open the propeller head mesh and then merge it with your mesh). You can now scale and move the mesh so it perfectly overlaps with the propellerhat mesh.



There we go, now all you need to do is select your hair mesh (make sure the vertices are selected!!) and then you click on the skeleton panel. Right click on the bone, a menu will appear where you select “assign selected vertices to bone”



Neat, now a colorful bar will appear on screen. Here we will weigh the bone. Make sure you drag it all the way up in the reds… full weight needs to be applied, otherwise the hair will lag behind and hover around in the characters animation.



There you go. Now all there is left to do is export your creation and create the relevant cci and png file for the editor. And you are now done.





I think this covers pretty much all there is to it but feel free to ask any questions you might have here, I will check in periodically to see if I can answer them.. Cheers!

-Wolf

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SPECTRE – AUGUST 2021 WORK IN PROGRESS

Alright, update! I haven’t posted on here for a while so there is quite a bit to talk about.

First thing to mention is maybe the war memorial basement which will be the second level of the game. Its far from done and I have only a few things to show you. Also the lighting in it is a bit too krass and will likely need some touching up in the future before its in a playable beta state. Combat has also been overhauled so its currently about…maybe…sorta 30% less awkward and pathetic than regular GG combat.
I’ve also taken some care replacing the hit and bullet miss sound effects to make the combat at least sound less jarring.
There is a lot that still has to happen on this front and I am curious to see what I can really do with it. No telling if it ends up any good or fun but I will certainly try to make it that way.

The war memorial museum is built on a former military base that has been captured from the enemy, hence its basement structures are remains from that installation. Its labyrinthian in design and features quite a few statues, paintings and former exhibits for flavor. The panels of the “deep sea war graves” presented above are based on a special exhibit in the trier museum of history that had similar informational pieces on the 30 year war. This also gives a greater glimpse in the world around you as it suggests the oceans to be littered with wrecks from the eugenics war. Kind of a “missing link” between the show – don’t tell approach and just describing things in info dumps. Optional info dumps presented as visual story telling.

There is more to this level such as a war hero crypt with the names and faces of prominent historical figures as well as a wall blown out by explosives to show a hidden cavern. These areas, however are far from being done.

The SOCOM hand gun featured here is a place holder and will most likely be replaced by a far superior model of a silenced USP pistol later on.

The whole start of the game is very important as its the part that makes the player decide wether or not he is interested in the game so I decided to halt development on it and focus on some later missions first. Otherwise I will end up remaking it all from scratch anyway and this way I try to improve it as the rest of the game develops so it has the same or even better quality as other parts in the game.

The mission that is the furthest along is mission 3. Given that each mission is more or less self contained, I might also release the game in episodic formats or at least with a starter that allows you to launch each mission individually. A mission is 2 or 3 levels long.
Now this all largely depends on wether or not GG runs a larger game without crashes or media failing to load in due to poor memory management.

Mission 3, Level 1, Part 1: Arrival

When the player arrives at the loading docks, he can first explore the surrounding areas leading up to the actual docks. This is a small section with some smaller businesses, derelict apartment buildings and a dingy bar. Here you can either hack the door to the industrial loading dock or find another way in, involving some rooftop climbing.
Now, just to say, I managed to get working ladders into GG with a simple trick that I will present later.

I understand that the pronounced sun-set visuals with the orange tint and the oppressive concrete and rust nature of the cities design does not appeal to everyone but I am trying to create a somewhat immersive place rather than trying to wow the player with lots of neon advertising and flashing lights. There just wouldn’t be that much of it in an area like this and I hope that the restrain will make the game world feel more believable. Besides, I can not hope to impress someone with the way GG renders but I think I can make someone get hooked with some world building and exploration as well as believable places.

Mission 3, Level 1, Part 2: The Caiman Bar

You can also enter the bar and chat with some civilians. Who knows who might have information that could be helpful to you on your mission?

This however led to another issue… err… civilians. What do I do here? I own a large collection of low poly characters from FPSC that would allow me great variety in models and are easy to retexture. However, as this game has loads of civilians, the extremely awkward idle animations and the fact that the characters, something players look at more than some random level prop, would be much lower in quality than the rest of the map. Then there are the higher poly characters I own. I’d have to do a whole lot of messing around with the meshes in fragmotion to get those ready and given that that would mean an hour or 2 of work PER CHARACTER, that idea was a pipe dream. Now there is also fuse, but again, I’d have to make every character individually and then need to set them up properly. What I did do was just use GG’s integrated character creator. Why? These don’t look half bad if you tweak them a little and I have several more of Bond1’s models that are quick and easy to import into GG. You will see more of those at a later date as so far I just populated the level with CC NPCs for now.

The caiman bar is supposed to be a run down, harbor side dive and I think it comes across

Mission 3, Level 1, Part 3: The derelict loading docks

Now on to the other section of the mission, the combat area. This is a long abandoned loading dock that has been occupied by militia forces…err…the militia forces don’t have a name yet but they are simple terrorist types that will be the enemies for the first half of the game.

This area is simplified in geometry to allow the occlusion culling to do its thing and provide good FPS while fighting enemies. This will be a trend throughout the game that should not be too noticeable. Areas where the player explores and can talk to npcs are more detailed than areas the player will fight in. Optimization like this needs to be done in a weak engine like game guru.

And that was it for now. Long post, I know but if you made it this far, thanks for your interest and thanks for reading!

As always, your opinion is greatly appreciated!

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SPECTRE – Work In Progress Scifi/Cyberpunk Game



Hey gang!

Time for a small update. Now there is nothing all that new happening map design wise. I have made enough headway that I was mostly preoccupied testing things and creating game play. It will be quite a while until I will be able to show any of it but I started to import characters that will eventually populate this little world I am creating. Now I started with the easier things, basically the machine enemies as these are already rigged to a decent enough skeleton with single track animations. In this case it is the standard FPSC rig so I was able to just import them using the free DLC chars as templates. (If you can’t do that by yourself, you silly goose, I will write a tutorial about it within the next 2 or 3 weeks.



What I also am quite hard at work at is creating the sound scape. Now obviously these jungles, rivers and waterfalls require a very pronounced nature sound scape with birds chirping, insects buzzing, wind blowing through leaves and water running. I have to balance this rather “present” sound scape then with fitting music. I will go for the ambient synths I have used in previous projects such as Amytric Pulse, just with slightly more ethereal instruments. Then is also the task that I want these maps to have a certain spooky under tone that should reflect in the sound scape.

Lots to do and we will see how well I can pull it off, after all, I am not really a musician or a sound guy for that matter.



Apart from that I finally sat down and converted the media from the classics pack to go with my style. Meaning I would adjust them to GG’s PBR rendering system (just the materialindex value, I still refuse quite stubbornly to do any PBR maps apart from the obligatory normal maps and the occasional metallic map when absolutely need.) Made adjustments to the diffuse, in fact redesigned some to go with my cyberpunk theme and style and added default DNS shader maps. This took me longer than I initially expected (converting back and forth and changing values by hand) but I now have way more detail props at my disposal. I know that people complained about the quality of these models in spades but… well, making a game is a proactive, creative hobby. If you just wanna drag and drop content into the editor and expect it to look good out of the box, you might want to work with the vastly more expensive UE or Unity content (that still won’t gel together if you use numerous packs in a single project) or just play in a video game level editor. Making things to go with my idea and tweaking stuff has simply always been part of the fun and attraction to me. But that is just a little aside and a bit of a defense of the quality of the free DLC pack as you can make really nice things with it if you just have a little talent and a slight bit of skill in an image editing software.
In fact, several people asked me what pack I used to make the dungeon on page 4 in my Shavra: Renaissance thread, someone even asked to buy it, and its mostly just retextured modelpack 2 stuff blended with some of my own 3d work.

Another thing I noticed in GG games, especially the ones where you traverse lengthy stretches of terrain with little to them (you get that a lot in these atrocious zombie games… no seriously there are numerous people out there that create these really large outdoorsy areas and populate them with stock GG zombies. There are either so few that they don’t even remotely post a threat or so many that the engine starts to lack and their AI starts to break down. Its quite frustrating how common this is…) IS that the default camera movement is quite jarring.
To alleviate this I have shut off the head bob as it looks tremendously awkward when sprinting and increased speed slightly. My character is supposed to be very athletic anyway and the game is supposed to have a sense of flow to it so I felt the need to adjust this. I also increased jump height slightly which makes controlling the game a lot more enjoyable from the get go.
haha, excuse me for being slightly crabby but I have seen another iteration of these brilliant “zombie open world co op mega super” projects that look as appealing as getting gonorrhea earlier today

…its also unbearably hot despite my trusty old 90s fan doing its best to keep me functioning.

What I also did was add a basic mechanic that some NPC’s will trade basic items with you if you bring them certain objects. This is to make exploration more attractive and add some more dialogue that amounts to something and isn’t just there for atmosphere.

Now for some imagery:





This is an infantry support sentry. These machines are slightly larger than the average soldier and can generally be equipped with a fully automatic MG or a rocket launcher. Their programming is rudimentary but safe and effective making them the ideal heavy hitter in a gun fight. These are mass produced for security firms that generally maintain the peace and police farming settlements. While their shielding can take quite a beating they aren’t entirely impenetrable to gun fire and they are not properly shielded against EMP blasts. Their power source is an ion-battery that will have them operational for 3 days before they start to run low. Its no where near as efficient as military grade hardware from the eugenics war but, again, very cheap to produce, repair and find spare parts.



HEPDD,the hazardous environment personnel defense drone is an infantry support drone mostly used by the private sector. These are very well shielded against EMP blasts, amytric radiation and just general wear and tear that they are ideal for the exclusion zones. However, the environmental hazard shielding left little room for proper combat proofing them so they are about as bullet proof as a kevlar vest, eventually you’ll penetrate their hull. These operate quite well when remote controlled but their AI systems have always been flawed due to running on an outdated BIOS hard-coded into their firmware. Their targeting system is imprecise and so is their environmental awareness. While they do well with small groups of infantry being marked as friendly, and every one else as hostile, they have proven to be disastrous as automated security unity in chaotic places such as villages or military outposts. However, despite all that, they are more affordable than better alternatives and therefore still in use as automated guards by war lords around the world. They can be equipped with any current small arms, however, the less moving parts the better.

– These are models by Disturbing 13 that I have adjusted and converted to GG. You might have seen them in a previous game of mine. Compliments to D13 as they have held up really well! The good thing is that importing them was very straight forward. I have some more meshes like these stowed away that I am really looking forward to dusting off. Never mind the lenghty, rambling descriptions, I just wanted to add a little flavor text

Now on to screenshots, some areas you have seen before but I have improved them slightly:

UPDATE

Working on these makes me realize once again how much I rely on community content to make these levels. So I’d like to thank some long standing community members who’s media is featured prominently in this title. Now, I am not going to mention all of you here or it would be a very long list, just the folks that really did the lions share of things that are seen in this game.

So in no particular order:

Lee Bamber: He made Game Guru after all.
The Cosmic Prophet: Who’s Scifi Media has been a staple of my games for years now.
BSP: For his wonderful foliage and the weapons.
Lafette: For his great and extensive library of assets.
Errant AI: For the character models that will be used prominently in this title.
Arteria 3D: Once again, another creator who made plenty assets seen in this game.
Rolfy: For numerous rocks, the terrain and skies.
Teamhalo: For his useful basic assets such as walls, debris and so forth.
Amen Moses and smallG: A large amount of gameplay related scripts from their free sections.
Gtox: Animals to bring these forests to life
Wizard of ID: his modular architectural packs.

So what is new? well first of all, some of the areas have been re-designed to work better within Game Guru’s limitations. Mainly performance has been greatly enhanced, meaning that the levels now rarely dip below 40 FPS on my aging I5 computer.
This is despite the fact that the camera distance slider is currently not working as intended. If you happen to have any intel on why that might be, please post here and let me know.

Here are some samples:

Performance 2
Performance 3
Performance 4
Performance 5

All in all, given the smaller scope and setting of the game, this is the title that I enjoy working in the most. Its also great fun to me to just jump in the levels, walk through these areas with the lively foliage and the critters buzzing around. Its really like making a little world to me which is oddly relaxing. Game Guru is now, all these years in, also in a very use – able state… so if you haven’t tried it in a while, you can do so now, I’m sure its performing far better than you remember.

I’m about to show screenshots of a level that I added in between level 1 and 2, as level 2 has proven to be a bit too difficult right off the bat so I needed a tutorial sequence. That is what happens in the new level 2. Balancing wise this also allows me to ramp up the difficulty more smoothly and introduce better equipment more gradually. (this means that you will not have access to the guns seen on the screenshots now when you play this level yet.)

Well, I couldn’t decide what screenshots to post so I figured I’d just drop all of them. There will be a video eventually, but not until music and full SFX are in, so thats quite a while off from now. As always, feedback is welcome and than you for reading!

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Spotlight : Emerald Lake

Title : Emerald Lake

Developer: Peace/ Jack Twin

Genre: Horror Adventure

FPSCreator

LINK TO GAME

Emerald Lake is a first person horror adventure game where you search for keys and escape a deranged serial killer. On the surface it seems like standard fare for indie horror games but there is more to it than is immediately obvious.

First of all, this game has been made in FPSCreator and does a damn fine job in sidestepping and working around FPSCreators numerous and dire short comings. While it does not manage to avoid these entirely, it is seriously the best effort I have seen so far in dealing with them.

You play as a young man looking for his missing brother and uncovering a deranged killer stalking an abandoned summer camp alongside some feral former occupants of said camp.

Where the game shines is this: First of all, the presentation is stellar. The plot, while simple, is delivered in a clear fashion and its visually out-fucking-standing for an FPSC game. In fact, this is the best looking FPSC game I have played to date. Peace/Jack Twin can certainly do a lot more in terms of shaders and dynamic environments than I can do. The environments use FPSC’s shader effects without any of them having this off putting shiny/plastic look to them, there are dynamic rain, water and lighting effects as well as little dynamic touches that really create a foreboding atmosphere. Be it little things like a beer bottle rolling away, being able to rotate inventory items on screen or seeing a folder being opened before reading the text or large scale things such as fully animated characters stalking the grounds and interacting with their environment. The game is chock full of elements that are simply not common in FPSC games.

Now I understand that the bar of quality for FPSC games is generally perceived as low but this game manages to feel like something developed in a far more modern engine most of the time.

FPSCreator has a long history of ambitious defs and desastrous failures and sadly, that DNA is still in Emerald Lake, even though very well hidden. The big one is the memory cap. While peace tried his best to keep the player occupied in very small, detailed levels (slow moving speed, hidden key  and keypad puzzles, backtracking and so on) its still very clear how small the environments really are. Sadly there will also be loading screens every couple of minutes. This can not be avoided if the game is to look like it does. The other memory related issue is that the game will crash eventually. This makes dying twice as frustrating as you know that the game might not load your safe. If it does crash, all you can do is start it again and continue where you left off. This is tolerable for other FPSC fans but likely very off putting for a general audience.

 

Another thing I need to talk about is that this game understood gameplay. Lets face it, looking for keys isn’t a fun mechanic. Never was, never will be, but peace managed to mix it up with keycodes, fuseboxes, safes and chilling encounters to keep the player interested.

Thankfully there is also combat towards the end of the game, making it more tense. It works quite well and the enemies are a welcome change from these atrocious indie games where they take away any kind of combat mechanic…but also don’t provide anything interesting in its stead.

Now I will list a few things that I noticed to be exceptional in this game and have simply not seen this well put together in any other FPSC game.

Something I noticed to be a bit off was the sanity mechanic. It doesn’t need to be there… I have a feeling that its only there because well, most modern horror adventure games have some kinda dumb sanity mechanic. Here its really just sorta there. The player remarks early in the game how “he needs to take a stress pill” and then proceeds to swallow random pills he finds scattered through the map. Whatever these are, I am sure that by the third pill he wouldn’t be able to function and must have certainly overdosed by the end of the game. There is no real merit to them as well as you find them all across the map. Add to the ridiculous randomness to just taking pills you find lying around that part of the plot is how anti psychotic drugs turned camp residents into feral monsters and you have a really weird mechanic that just shouldn’t be there.

* Small animated details like being able to open cupboard and furniture doors, animated locks and books. None of them stood out and they all integrated into the game world seemlessly.

* Animated encounters with characters and enemies that must be the best in FPSC to date.

* You actually find your brother and escape alongside him. It would have been so much easier to just find his static corpse and continue from there, but no, the game actually manages to have an animated char (altough he got stuck on a door in my first playthrough 😉 ) be part of the plot line without it seeming out of place.

* There is an enemy breaking through a wall that was just cool.

* the game over screen is animated, which is something I have not seen before in these games.

* the ending cut scene is quite nice and wraps the short but fun romp up very well.

If you want to give this game a whirl yourself and support the developer: Here is a link:

https://store.steampowered.com/app/1363660/Emerald_Lake/

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S P E C T R E

Title: S P E C T R E
Genre: Cyberpunk FPS Adventure
Developer: Wolf

Plot Outline: In the far future, a mutated special operative gets called in for a job at a remote military outpost. A supposedly routine mission quickly spirals into a crisis when an unknown assailant tries to harness illusive and extremely dangerous technology from a past global war.

Intro:

I’ve never been particularly good at filling my free time with constructive things to do, especially now that Lydia left me to fend for myself in this cold, unfeeling city …and just when I felt that the ceiling was closing in on me I got the call.
A certain Dr. Amado was suspiciously careful to make it sound like just a routine job. 2 Weeks work under the banner of the Acythian Military, standard pay but she was really spotty on the details, said she’d fill me in on location.
The location being the Dhaka exclusion zone, formerly India, a thick jungle littered with old tech from the war.
In my line of work, one thing is certain, any job in these exclusion zones is never routine and always dangerous.

The South Harriette-Jadovsk Military Science Complex is one of these reclamation outposts in the back end of nowhere. The surrounding area is crawling with bandits, anarchists and if you’re particularly unlucky: Old war drones that are still active and usually dangerously trigger happy. They can’t risk flying me in as the location is known for military craft being shot down and having entire crews vanish in the difficult, overgrown terrain. So they’ll handle all transportation with small boats, usually only moving in the cover of darkness. 3 days trip from the nearest base with functional air travel to my destination.

Well, I got bills to pay, no other employment options and after how I treated Lydia, I deserve every bad thing that is coming my way.

About: Hey there forum! This is my little project I have been working off and on for the past couple days. its a cyberpunk action adventure game with a decidedly small scope. The entire game can only have a total of 8 levels and there are no level overarching inventory or plot systems implemented. While simple at its core, I hope I can deliver something that is still a rich and atmospheric experience. This game is developed without a specific pace to it, I get to it whenever I can and feel like it, but I have made some major strides yesterday and figured it was time to open a good ol’ thread. Truth be told, I wanted to hold off on publishing it before I had a playable demo but it just doesn’t feel right to work without a work in progress thread
You might notice that I have re-purposed some levels from previous wip projects to speed up development. However, its all overhauled to work with this titles aesthetics that are decidedly more tropical than previous installments in the Acythian universe.
I’d also like to drop special thanks to Duchenkuke and Avenging Eagle which both inspired me to try my hand at another GG title… and well, I’m really having fun with it so far.

Planned Features:

8 handcrafted and detailed levels.
Carefully designed visuals that play to game gurus strenghts.
An arsenal of 9 customized and well balanced weapons.
Planned and scripted enemy encounters
Diverse cast of animated characters, animals and machines.
Dynamic environments with light puzzle elements
Occasional voice acting and branching text based dialogue.
Obnoxiously long loading screens

Work in Progress Screenshots:

Thanks for viewing! And if you made it this far, please drop me a comment. I always appreciate your feedback!

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Unreal Engine 4 learning experience

Hi!

If you have followed this site you might have come across several posts on getting to grips with the unity engine. Well in order to learn UE 4, I have recreated the same map I made for the unity project (or at least a very similar one) to learn its editor. Here are the results:

LINK GALLERY 1

LINK GALLERY 2

Generally speaking, I prefer UE over unity, altough its quite an undertaking to make a working, fully featured game in either of these engines.

My unity work can be seen here. Ultimately I stuck to unreal (after a short incursion into cry engine) here are my reasons:

1. If you happen to screw up a script or any other asset in unity and it is still part of your library or any other object in your library depends on it, the engine insists on you fixing it even if that asset is not used in the map you are currently working on in the editor. This can make importing third party content a grind for finding the obsolete code line or broken asset.
2. You will likely want to use third party content, be that a set of models or just a good character controller… the choices are endless, so are unity versions and I can guarantee you that your collection will not work with all unity versions. Using the latest unity version absolutely, positively gimps you from using the majority of content out there, making you stuck with some 2018 ass version just so you can use your favorite set up.
3. Newer versions insist that you make prefabs out of your assets, no more dropping in meshes on the fly.
4. Everything is a plug in. Node based/ visual scripting is also an expensive plugin while there is an integrated system in UE ready to go.
5. Lighting is inferior and can be a real mess if your workflow is different from what the engine expects you to do. Lightmapping large level assets can be a major issue unless you go with full dynamic lighting (using the deferred renderer).
6. Good luck linking asset packs with each other. This is far easier in UE’s blue print system.
7. The community is weirdly cult like, akin to blender users.

Naturally this is just my unqualified opinion… however, this is the impression I got. If Unity is your thing, then by all means, enjoy!

SCREENSHOTS:

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You can’t make open world games in Game Guru, here is what you can do.

Howdy!

Open world video games, from fun sandboxes with many possibilities, over tightly structured quest lines that can be tackled numerous ways to hollow empty wastelands with occasional activity hot spots. A genre that has gained more and more popularity as media streaming and hardware have drastically improved from what we had in the 32 bit era. (Regardless of this, the Elder scrolls series like Daggerfall, Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim have all been 32 bit games. More on that later.)

Now, its not hard to guess how so many GG users have gotten inspired to try the open world route, and given the fact that GG is entry level technology, its easy to understand why so many people jump right into a project without testing wether the engine can do what they want it to as they have no idea how a game engine works in general.

I’m writing this because I find a lot of GG users try to make something open world, usually a zombie apocalypse or something inspired by Behtesdas Fallout games… something generic down those lines, which will inevitably fail (or end up a 10 FPS slog with some zombies scattered around a horrendous level, which is also a failure). In fact, 3 users have already hit me up working on something that was supposed to be a dynamic open world game and one of them even made substantial strides and was now of course suffering performance and stability issues. You also find several projects like this on YT or Game Jolt if you go looking for them.

So, I will take a couple minutes to explain why open world projects are not practical in game guru and what you can do if your game idea absolutely has to have some sort of non-linear design or similar.

1. The default size of buildable space in a game guru map is 1298*1298 meters (alternatively I have heard 768*768 but I asked someone to run a script and it gave a larger number). While that can make for a nice spacious level, it does not make for an entire game world. Even if you plan on something smaller, you can not use the entire
space of that level without running into heaps of problem. So using half of that space and reserving the rest for background decor works best. So you might say, okay, then I break up my world into several levels that the player can travel to and from:

2. No! Every level load in GG is a bit of a gamble when it comes to stability. Will it crash? Even if it doesn’t, most world-values, by that I mean permanent scripts like inventory items, the players cash and so on will not carry over from level to level. Here you will run into a brick wall as far as most open world survial designs are concerned. Then you have the memory issues that pile on and make a level increasingly less likely to load all its media the more often you load a level. Adding “allowfragmentation = 2” supposedly aleviates the issue but it does not fix that. Add to that, that, I can be wrong on this part but I am pretty sure its true. There can only be one player start position per level making traveling back and forth not align thematically. Also note that all enemies killed before will naturally be there once you travel back.

3. Open world implies that all your functionality is in the same level. While you can spawn enemies to improve performance you will end up running a lot of scripts in a level that is probably full of models already. Having this many things run in tandem with each other will likely crash…if by some miracle it doesn’t, it will lag.

4. The good old memory cap makes large levels impractical and unstable.

5. Game Guru loads in all its content at once. That makes for longer loading times, the larger your level is, the larger your level is, the more can cause a runtime error and the more likely will it lag. Open world games like morrowind or skyrim where 32 bit games when they came out, so they had less address space themselves, how did they do that? Loading in cells and unloading them on the fly. GG can not do any of this, no content streaming, no nothing. A level loads in all media and there it is.

Now here are some things you can do, that are practical :

1. Focus your game to have a maximum of 15 levels. I know that, if you are a beginner, that this might seem to be way too small to fit in your epic idea but just go ahead and make a couple playable levels, find out how long it really takes to make a game, even in Game Guru (unless you just use pre-made assets, then it goes fast). The reason I say this is because you can somewhat realistically fit a working game in 15 levels if you play your card rights. A more cynical and probably more realistic estimate would be 6 levels but lets be optimistic here.
2. If the player has to return to the same village, outpost, castle or whatever throughout your story: You can simply manually copy and paste your level, and then edit the level according to what has to happen in the story. This will then be a whole new level but it looks like returning to the same place for the player. It would look something like this in your level load order:

Level 1: Hub World Castle
Level 2: Spider Dungeon Quest
Level 3: Hub World Castle 2

3. It is possible that loading in a smaller level from time to time, without lightmapping, might free RAM space more efficiently (?) so having a small Hub world would be beneficial.

4. Design your game to follow these principals:
Number 1: Linearity isn’t always bad, even though some youtube game critics think it is (the best shooters so far where all linear).
Number 2: Make a few notes of what has to happen during a level so you can make sure that not too many dynamic scripts operate at once.
Number 3: The ideal level size is half the default buildable space or lower (especially lower). You can use the remaining space for background decor like billboard trees, lowpoly houses or what not.
Number 4: Make prototypes and test! If your game is supposed to have dialogues to convey some kinda story, prototype that before you make the levels so you know wether your features can even be implemented or not.
Number 5: Try to design a game that does not need an inventory to carry from level to level.

And here it is, I hope this is useful to someone out there. If I can make at least one person not sink countless hours into an idea, inspired by current gen games, only to end up staring at a run time error, this served its purpose.

Additional Comment by T-Bone:

I’m glad this topic was brought up and I think it should also be carried over to Steam. A lot of people have high expectations that they can make the next Fallout or Skyrim in GG Classic. Its simply not possible. Defy did a pretty good series of memory tests and found a lot of limitations in this area (hope we hear back from him again soon).

Unlike GG Max, GG Classic doesn’t have a terrain neighboring system (similar to cells). If you are planning to make a large outdoor level, you will have to consider reusing instances of a few entities for rocks and trees. You will encounter memory issues over time if you expand too much with too many unique objects – while also running other media into memory such as sound and image sprites.

It should be noted that using entities with LODs actually uses more memory than an entity without LOD stage meshes. These types of models are for maintaining stable FPS performance. Also if you are doing an outdoor level, you may have to consider not using PBR models as well, as those models use a lot more textures than the typical DNS.

I would highly recommend creating linear games with Classic, using memory clearing between levels. Similar to a lot of the PS1 and PS2 game era. There’s even a lot of games back then that do not carry over any values between levels.

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Shavra – Small Update

****Small Update****

No earth shattering news but as you know, games like this grow in small increments.
I have been adding to existing areas, which I hope you’re not tired of seeing A few other tiny things have happened too though.

I have finally gone through my asset library and fixed materialindex issues and some transparency issues. If you also have foliage that doesn’t work quite right, with it obscuring objects behind it or having outlines around the leaves/branches do this:

1. Make sure the occluder/occludee setting is proper for the way you use it (duh!)
2. Make sure the line “transparency = 5” is added to the .fpe.
3. Be sure to quickly edit the texture to make sure the part that has transparency to it (leaves, grasses, branches) don’t touch the edge of the texture.

Now you should be all set and they should (mostly) render as intended. Special thanks to Duke for giving me the hint about that last part.

Also this: All you script savvy folks might be able to point me in the right direction:
For the game, I want the player to be able to carry only 2 weapons. A light one and a heavy one. So whenever he finds a new light weapon (dagger, shortsword…so on) he will have to switch it with the one he has currently equipped. Same with the heavy weapons. The other 7 weapon slots should be reserved for spells, where the same system applies.
Is that at all achievable in LUA? I wouldn’t know how to go about that so I am looking for input

So, here is some more wandering through the nature of Sha’Rath: I am in no way advocating for anything but I must say that I think the final game will also be fun to stroll through while stoned.

***Changelog***

Fixed some media to render properly
Additions to levels

As always, thanks for stopping by and I am always grateful for feedback!

So long!

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Shavra – 2020 Rebirth

As for now, I have gotten around working on this again and made some progress. The overwhelming majority of things are still in a very early, rushed state. Mostly because I never actually did much LUA for this, unlike Acythian, so I have to do almost all in-game systems from scratch. I have an inventory framework and even figured out a work around to having a key or quest object simoultaneously show up in the players inventory but also acting as a standard key. So thats good. However, now I struggle to add more player attributes than health to flesh out the game. If anyone made some headway here or has suggestions of what can be done, I am always open for ideas.

On the visual front of things I have taken the time to brush up my old stuff. I mean old stuff. I have some fantasy props from the FPSC community that date back to 2006 and while I could just remake them from scratch, with a higher poly count and generally increased detail I decided to just use my texture library (mostly stuff from textures.com and davegh in this case) and quickly spruce them up with new textures, UV’s and shaders. I mean, the original ones used solid colors on some.
Now this is mostly sentimental value because I have used these props so often throughout the years that I grew kind of attached to them.
Here is a selection so you know what I am yapping on about:

More pillars

Small stuff

Plinth

Stuff I

Stuff II

Grave Pillars

I have also gotten valuable feedback from this community that the ambient settings of my earlier screenshots didn’t quite cut it so
I have overhauled them. While test runs with beautiful blue skies or an evening sunset looked the best, I did want to maintain the slightly more eeriee overcast nature of the scene and thanks to rolfy, I found just the skybox and adjusted the level to that. See here:

And on a final note, to my surprise this map still ran with a solid 60 fps after I have added all the environmental critters. Frogs, Moths, Dragonflies and bugs all thanks to Gtoxs extraordinary artistry. Now I did the same thing on this map in an earlier version of game guru and straight up lost 20 fps.

Changelog

Implemented rudimentary inventory system based on moshrooms great code.
Upgraded Weapons and Hands to PBR
Overhauled ambience of the journey maps that lead from the Apothecary to the village of Ramak.
Imported collection of old environment props
Created several detail props
Implemented simple journal system

As always, I am grateful for your feedback and there is more to come!

*********************

Hey gang, its been a while so I’d like to update this with some more recent stuff.
Now, not THAT much has happened but I did get around to improve a few more aspects of the game. Its all going well and things are progressing. I also retain 60 FPS on my rig, which is marvelous. I’ll keep you all updated on how that fares in the future as well as I think its important.

I said before that even though this project started when GG was in its prolonged infancy, that I dont have as much gameplay related stuff ready as I have for Acythian as I shelved it pretty early on simply because there was no way I could pull it off in older GG versions. I try not to endlessly chip away on a “pipe dream” but as I stated, I always wanted to make this game. I bring this up because I realized by working on it just how much I am on square one with it. Maybe square 2 with a lot of generosity and faith

That being said, a lot of things are not yet decided. I do have pretty neat characters, you’ve seen glimpses of them in previous screenshots but I am also interested in seeing the new and improved character editor that is promised to be in GG max. I plan to have this game have occasional spoken dialogue bits but mostly written multiple choice dialogue sequences…. but with an easy lip sync system I might just get a couple buddies together to voice it and see how that fares. So thats all pretty much in the dark still.

Speaking of GG max, Lee has promised us backwards compatibility but I am cautious about that, so I am on the fence of fully plunging into some mechanics right away because… well, I am fairly certain I can just pop my levels, at least the static geometry and basic animated stuff, straight into GGX but I do have my suspicions when it comes to global parameter heavy scripts like an inventory system. So I will likely get a few levels made, pop in basic combat and exploration and wait to sink my teeth into the real meat of the game later on. If you have thought about that for your own works, lemme know.

So the game is intended to have between 15 or 20 Levels. That would make it the larges GG game to date, I am aware of that, but hey, its a project that is very dear to me so I want it to fill a couple evenings for the player.

Some frustration came also in realizing that the exteriors don’t quite look the way I want them to. Some of that is down to GG’s rendering but most is because I simply don’t have the right assets yet so I am also working on that. There are some great games out there with a visual style that I intend to come close to from the early 2000s and I do need a few more passes to get that right.

Allow me to also post a few screenies from an area I have been working on. This is part of the main quest and you will get to deal with some nasty critters. Keep in mind looking at this that you will hunt (or be hunted by) giant spiders here that creep up on you through the foliage. You can not always see them coming until they are close which is a nice added effect. I’ll be sure to record some eeriee audio for them sometime this week. This all leads up to an abandoned mining village where they dug up a subterranean spider nest. You will be tasked to play exterminator here and destroy the nest. Nothing too special but a neat creepy aside from the main story line in my mind.

As always, the soundtrack will make or break this scene. I intend to have thick swamp sounds with frogs croaking (and be actually visible in the game for that matter) and a subdued tribal music suite that flares up every now and then. We’ll see how this goes.

Here is something that will amuse some of my fellow GG users, I have a lot of unity packs ready to go that are far superior, but a lot of the fun to me is making or modding my own stuff. So these are the cartoon props from the classics collection remade:

Changelog

Polished some of the levels, including new foliage and other environment models
Increased grass draw distance and thus improving look and feel of exteriors (thanks guys!)
Changed PBR rendering values to improve metallic and glass objects (soon to be seen)
New architectural content as seen above. More to be added soon.

As always, thanks for reading and all the amazing support I’ve gotten for this project so far! Cheers!!

********************************

Hello again!

I’ve been working on improving the existing maps a bit and also added a new one. Dungeons, crypts and mines are of course an integral part of the fantasy adventure genre and I do intend to both make them interesting and engaging. For that I have specific ideas to stretch the gameplay to last at least 15 minutes per level. The “indoorsy” nature of these areas allows me to optimize them to both be quite large and labyrinthian while maintaining a flawless frame rate (See my old optimization tutorial in the tuts section if you too would like to know how to do this. Specifically, turn off the terrain and water whenever the player can not see it.)

Shavra takes a lot of inspiration from older fantasy games, stuff that came out in the late 90s and early 2000s simply because those games had very isolated gameplay beats. You reach a puzzle, you solve it, you move on, you encounter an enemy, you deal with it, you move on… this is in contrast to newer games like “The Witcher” or “Kingdom Come: Deliverance” where there are constant interconnecting systems engaging each other and plenty of stats being updated, changed…so forth. I don’t intend to make the game feel simple by any means, there is just less number crunching under the hood because I know well enough that I couldn’t code that in LUA. So if you encounter a trap in Shavra, you will have to deal with it independent of your current relationship to the kings wife or what potion you drank 2 levels prior.
I ..err… hope this makes sense

So this level is far from done of course but I decided to lightmap an early version of it and the results can be seen below.

I am also still in the process of converting media. Currently on the chopping block are unfamillias cartoon assets, which will be remolded to go with my art style but are otherwise quite useful and the stock medieval buildings by arteria 3d. Not only do these get a fresh coat of paint and shader maps but I also managed to reduce their polycount by several hundred polygons. File and texture size are also far more lightweight

You see that the dungeon is a bit too colorful for my taste and not everything is 100% polished, at this stage nothing is, but I will not tweak it too much as this will eventually get ported to GGX. So there is little point in fine tuning a lighting system that will be replaced anyway.

As always, thanks for reading and please let me know your thoughts

Changelog

Just improved maps.

 

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