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Look At All That Beautiful Garbage!

It’s funny when you think about it, but when I said I was going through the “Cleanup and Polishing Phase” of the maps, one of the things I was actually doing was making things even dirtier and less polished-looking. XD

It’s great fun diving back into the maps that I haven’t seen for months with a fresh pair of eyes and fixing up things here and there. It’s probably my favorite part of the development process; adding all the little subtle details that give this stinkhole of a city that grimy and “lived in” look. Most of the debris and garbage is actually 3D now as well (as opposed to an alpha texture on a flat plane) and I think it adds a subtle improvement when the light hits it at certain angles.

Here are some simple before and after editor shots:

Hang in there guys! It’s getting there fast and when it’s finally on your computer, you will love spending time in this world. It’s full of little nuances and things for you to explore and think about. You’ll see why and where I put all the time into this and when this beast hits, you won’t be disappointed. I promise! 🙂

Meet The Crew!

I thought the day would never arrive when I’d be adding in the contributor NPC’s and implementing all of their interactions! If any of these Level 3 contributors for the Indiegogo campaign are still following this project, well, I finally did it and I hope you’re thrilled to see these screenshots!

Each character has several dialogue interactions with Donovan that should provide a little more insight into what is going on.

As the story goes, this unit was on its way into Grinwood to provide assistance to the GPD, but ended up getting trapped in an area of Hell. What happens after Donovan meets up them will be up to the player to decide.

I ran into a few issues with the HUD as a result of reorganizing the layout, but it’s all fixed and now I think it looks much cleaner than before. I also hit another framerate issue that got progressively worse for some reason:

I hadn’t really added anything new to the level because it was pretty much done, but the framerate started to tank whenever I was testing out the dialogue tree for the NPC’s. Then it dawned on me that it may have been a rendertarget issue!

I remember reading a long time ago that using too many of them was costly. I won’t get technical here, but basically all of the portraits are 3D models being projected in realtime (for a really cool effect) as opposed to a static 2D image file being displayed (like it was in the mod version)

Each NPC has it’s own camera to capture the portrait (totalling 9 in this map) and that is exactly what’s bringing the framerate down. I removed all the rendertargets except for one and the framerate jumped back up:

I had to go back and make a really convoluted system of using only one rendertarget and hiding/unhiding specific models and lights depending on which dialogue window was open. It was a pain to implement, but worth it to keep the framerate running smooth!

If any of the contributors are reading this update, regardless of level, thank you again!!! 🙂

The Blood Marshes!

A very small update but I am moving at a pretty crazy speed. This is one of the earliest maps (which I bet no one remembers) I partially made for UT2003:



It was supposed to be the “Hell” version of an environment I had in my head that I just couldn’t realize properly. Looking back at those screens, it’s hard to imagine where I was trying to take it. Here is what I was wanting to do!

Everything is murky and difficult to identify but that’s deliberate. For more context, I was going to accompany these images with a video (hence why there aren’t many images) but then decided after the video was compiled that it would be best if you experienced it yourself later. There are some pretty vomit-inducing things in it so I don’t want to have you accustomed to seeing too many of these things now.

The layout may look familiar to the “Outskirts” map I showed in the last update because you get to this place through there. It’s not quite complete yet (still adding details and bug-testing) but I tried to play with the idea of which place being worse to be in; a derelict (but familiar) city crawling with the undead or a strange, unknown hellish landscape…also crawling with the undead!!!!! XD

Keep It Simple, Stupid!

My stretch of time off is nearing an end but I managed to do quite a lot in these 1-2 weeks! I finished cleaning up nearly 2 full maps and I’ve never done even 1 map in that amount of time before!

I’ve completed “The Outskirts” map and I’m really happy with how it turned out. It was one of the first maps I did years ago and I actually dreaded coming back to it because I realized that I had to redo a lot of things. For example, when I started using UE4 I didn’t use the Landscape tool to create large areas of land but instead I created the whole thing in Blender, chopped it up into several huge chunks and imported the land as staticmeshes. Now, there isn’t really anything wrong with that method but it can be limiting and not as flexible as using UE4‘s built-in Landscape tool which allows you to make changes to the terrain on the fly.

I had to update all that and thought it was going to take forever but it turned out to be pretty easy. I had to repaint all the foliage onto the terrain again, realign old staticmeshes like rocks and buildings but it was all fairly quick. For the fans of the mod, you’ll recognize this map as taking place at night where Donovan tries to sleep in an abandoned truck but it’s too cold and he tries to start a fire.

This is based off of that map (or rather, what that map should have looked like back then!) and it occurs in the early evening this time. According to the story you’ll have to fulfill some objectives like finding a suitable place to rest and building a fire to keep warm until dark (Donovan needs to wait here until midnight for something to happen)

I chose certain colors to make it seem as cold as possible (we’re in mid-Autumn by now) and tried to keep things uncluttered. Keeping it simple is a difficult thing for me to do because I like to go overboard and cram as much shit as I can into every scene but in this case it would have ruined the realism of an area like this. K.I.S.S principle!

Just A Few Quick Screens!

This is the second day of my time off and I just wanted to post a little screenshot update! These are all screens from a section of the the police station and some of you might recognize these places! I’ve expanded on them and given the areas a more realistic layout this time.

You’ll also notice that there are lights in all these images. Normally, it would be pitch black in most places in the city (it’s explained in the story why) and you’ll have to stumble through using your fairly weak flashlight but in this level you have the option of finding and starting up a generator which restores power to the station.

Of course you’ll have to complete a series of objectives to do so but it makes life a little easier in the long run if you do. However, you don’t even have to do that at all and can just run through with your flashlight if you wish! I’ve structured the game in a way that allows you to play any map in any order you like and you can spend as little or as long a time as you want.

The game ultimately rewards exploration and conserving supplies because the final level will be a…well, you’ll find out soon enough! 😉

That October Feeling!

Just wanted to do a quick update and video! Everything is still moving along smoothly with the optimizing phase. I’ve also got a bit of time off coming up pretty soon that I can throw all into the game work.

There were a couple of maps (such as the one shown in the video) which didn’t take too long to do because it was fairly fleshed out already. I did have to fix a few things here and there but it didn’t eat up much time. There were a couple of other maps that needed some serious work with the visuals and though it’s taking longer than I want, it was (visually) worth it in the end.

I had comments from people who loved the small swirling leaf gusts in the original mod. Well, you’re really going to love them this time because they’re actually leaf meshes randomly swirling around instead of flat textures on a ring (that’s how I did it in the mod) I also found some great sound effects for them and you can hear the dry leaves brushing and skidding across the asphalt. It’s nice taking a moment in-game and just listening (that is, until an angry mob of psychotic zombies finds you)

I spent a little bit of time trying to upgrade to the latest (and last?) version of UE4 and even tried downloading UE5 (I can’t even launch it on my system. I’m not sure why, there’s no prompt) The reason I wanted to upgrade to the latest version UE 4.27 was because there were some improvements to dynamic light bouncing, volumetric clouds and other features BUT I found that it all fucked with the art direction. I had created this fake global illumination system in version 4.20 that is really clunky (took years to get it working the way I wanted) and even though it is completely inaccurate, it served the art style really well.

When I tried using the the new effects from 4.27, even though it was more accurate to real life (I guess?) it just changed the look of everything too much. Though I would love to have more realistic dynamic lighting, I’m afraid it would change the whole grimy/gritty/muddy look that is such a core part of the Out Of Hell atmosphere. So screw all of the upgraded versions; this is the style and that’s how it’s going to stay.

I get really, really restless sometimes when I’m working on these because I want to reveal so much of it to you guys but I know that I have to wait. Since the original release date for this Halloween couldn’t be met, I was going to release a demo on Steam instead but I decided it was best to hold off for now. My plan is to release a trailer for Out Of Hell first, followed by a demo shortly after and then the full release once I get feedback from the demo and implement any changes needed.

In the meantime, check out the video below to hear more of Sergey Yukon‘s music! I hope I nailed that “Late October sunset in an abandoned city” feeling!

 

It IS Hell, Afterall!

It’s been an event-filled time since the last update but the polishing process is still running smoothly. I haven’t run into many issues that have held me back for too long (used to take me potentially days to fix issues)

I’ve come up with some pretty grisly setpieces that I think you will all love when you play it. I’ve almost held nothing back on some of the horrific things you’ll find. This is me finally being able to express the vision that I’ve wanted to for over 10 years ago with the mod!

One of the things I set up in the story is that there are different Hells and not just one so it allows me the creative freedom to explore different concepts and visualizations. As you can see from these screenshots, this Hell is a fiery torture chamber whereas some of the previous pictures I’ve shown are cold, bloody pits shrouded in darkness.

The hooded fellow you see is a boss monster called “The Hangman” and you have no idea how great it felt to finally get him in-game and working properly after all these years of sitting on it.

I tried to introduce some interesting scenarios and had this “boss fight” in my head for a long time. It only existed in a very basic, blocked-out form up until a few months ago. I think the intensity of it will really freak people out and I can’t wait to unleash this!

Do check out the Youtube channel for some videos that I’ve recently uploaded and come join us in the Discord for some interseting discussions!