Skip to content

The Weather Is So Miserable…It’s Perfect!

It’s no secret I love everything Autumn, especially the weather! I’ve tried my best to capture what it is that I percieve to be the visuals and “atmosphere” of Fall weather. It’s such a unique mood and I’m still surprised that it isn’t used more often in games.

I just uploaded a video of one of the early levels to show some rainy atmosphere. I could add a few more effects to it but as it stands I think it gets the idea across. I’m getting over 60 frames despite all the particles being spawned so I’m really happy with that. I find that I have to keep myself in check these days because I have a tendency to throw caution to the wind and go really overboard with effects. I don’t want this turning out to be the same slideshow as the mod version!

I don’t have much to report other than I’m still hammering away at the Police Station level (it’s a lot of work fixing that map) but I haven’t run into any problems with it; it’s just time-consuming. I also fixed a bunch of monster AI bugs that have been haunting me for months so that’s a huge relief.

One thing that I actually spent a lot of time doing (and re-doing) was the voice acting portion. There isn’t much of it but I actually found it a lot more difficult to perform than I thought! Sometimes what you think that you hear when you speak into the mic sounds a lot different when you open it up on the computer for editing. I recorded everything using my phone (which isn’t as bad as you would think) but a while ago I had set up a little recording space in a storage room of mine. Over the weeks I moved stuff around and when I came back weeks later to record some more voices, the sound came out way different (more hollow sounding) So I had to set up another room, re-recorded all the voices so the quality stayed consistent and kept the room exactly the same incase I need to record more down the line. I definately have a newfound respect for all voice actors now!

I’ll try to get a video of the Police Station up next. See you soon!

All Part Of The Process!

What an interesting little phase this is! I always expected to make changes but not this many. Some ideas I had sounded really great on paper but in practice it didn’t work out for one reason or another. I’ve had to remove things (some unexpectedly) and added other ones in. It is what it is you know!

One thing I originally wanted was to have ragdoll physics when a monster died but for the life of me I can’t get it to look good! In the mod I was able to have them just fall over as a ragdoll but not look too silly. Now, monsters flail and flop, limbs stretching into impossible positions or the entire corpse just rocketing across the map! It all just looked way too goofy so I decided to stick with plain-old death animations and a dissolve effect upon death.

Aiming down the sights (ADS) has now been removed. Initially I wanted players to have a “ready” stance and that normally the left mouse button would be used to examine things, open doors and interact but when you hold the right mouse button to ready your weapon or aim down the sights (if it was a firearm) the left mouse button would then fire/attack. I had issues with the toggling this mode in that if you spammed the right mouse button, it would completely mess up the order in which you fired or interacted if that makes any sense. For those that know Blueprints, I did try delays and booleans but it still happens sporadically so I removed it. Besides, I’ve never been a fan of ADS myself; it just seems like an extra step in the way of you wanting to fire/attack. Besides, isn’t that what the crosshair is for, so you don’t have to aim down sights? 😀

I also tried to code some functions to close down the inventory screen or any other screen if you got attacked. So for example if you are reading a journal entry and an enemy comes by and smacks you, the journal would automatically close. I got it somewhat working but the inventory screen in particular produces some toggling issues and a bombardment of accessed none errors.

I decided to just bypass it and leave that feature out so if you are reading something and get attacked, you’ll have to manually back out of it (which is just a click of the mouse anyway) Maybe I should have just sold this as actually being a realism feature! Imagine you are so engrossed in what you are reading that you just don’t want to put that journal down even if you are being clawed from all directions! 😉

I nearly axed the inventory management/dropping items because of a bunch of little bugs and issues.

In the end I was able to save it and the only 2 issues that remained are: items getting dropped into holes/cracks or unreachable places and items sometimes “sinking” into level geometry making retrieval impossible. I overcame these two issues with the following bug fixes:

1) If you drop something into a hole, you’re shit out of luck so be careful where you drop your stuff!

2) I increased the collision size of the items to prevent them from disappearing into the environment. For example, a small key will no longer have accurate collision that is the size of that key. The invisible collision will now be the size of a bowling ball so the key may appear to float off the ground a little bit but that prevents it from sinking into other geometry. I don’t have a more elegant solution for this.

I’m also currently fixing/cleaning up the Police Station map and oh man, this has been an absolute pain. It was the first map I fully built in UE4 and so the environment it is made up of mostly BSP. After that map was finished I built my other maps out of modular static meshes so going back in and replacing all that BSP by hand with static meshes is not the butt-clenching good time that it should be but it’ll get done.

I’m sure I left out a few things that I can’t think of at the moment (only because there were so many things that needed to be changed) but everything else is progressing very fine indeed! The first few levels are genuine nightmare fuel and some of the visual sequences that I had been holding onto in my head since 2013 have transferred nicely onto the computer screen.

There is a particular scene involving a Manipulator demon that I had playing over and over in my mind and I remember years ago wondering how on earth I would pull it off when the time came but the good news is that I did it and it looks even better than I had hoped!

Trucking Along!

Hey everyone! Just wanted to drop a small status update!

I ended up making some audio changes to the menu screen, made a few other tweaks to it and completed the tutorial level (I hate describing it that way but can’t think of anything better to call it)

It all turned out pretty good and I spent a week and a half just tweaking, crafting specific parts to it and finding and eliminating bugs. It’s much, much better than the first couple of levels in the original mod and nowhere near as confusing to navigate! Lessons learned!

I’ve also been making some voice recordings on my phone for placeholding purposes but they actually turned out really good after I cleaned them up in Audacity! When testing comes and no one says that the voices sound like muffled farts, I may just keep them in! It saves me a ton of money renting out a recording room for an afternoon.

I was also checking out Fiverr.com for some voice talent (I don’t need much but what I do need is very specific) but so far I haven’t gotten any responses to my queries (which seems strange)

Technically, I have enough to release a small demo right now that would establish the art direction, quality, atmosphere I’m trying to capture and the kind of gameplay you can expect but I don’t know if I should. I think it’s still too far away from the final release so I may hold off. Even the tutorial level will shock a few people with some of its content but if you see any of it now, I’m afraid it will have lost it’s magic when this releases next year. I’ve made a concerted effort to terrify players this time because in my opinion, though the mod had its creepiness in places, it wasn’t actually scary.

I’m just in this weird situation where I’m so damn giddy that I want to show off what’s been done but I also don’t want to spoil anything! Aaarrggh!

What’s On The Menu?

The main menu and almost everything attached to it is complete! There were a few challenges to overcome underneath the hood but I’ve got all the features working properly and bug-free! You can check it out right here:

I tried to have the camera crossfade with another camera but I couldn’t figure out a way to do it but the fading to black does the job. And for some reason the mouse cursor doesn’t show, even though I set the option in OBS to record the cursor! *headscratch*

This is only the second time I’ve teased some glimpses of “Hell” and the next time I’ll show it is when the trailer hits. I really do not want to spoil much but sometimes I can’t contain my excitement. Just know that the Hell(s) that you’ll come across are really, really messed up!

I have an odd fascination with different types of “environmental horror” I guess you would call it? As scary as it can be being chased through a dimly lit forest by blood-thirsty monsters, or exploring a dilapidated sewer surrounded by shadows, how much scarier would it be to be stalked through an undescribable hellish nightmare realm by demonic entities? *shudder*

Now it’s onto the intro movie and tutorial level!

Approaching Endgame…

Wow, if I could sum up this entire month from the the last post until now, it would be this screenshot:

Isn’t that great? It’s been nothing but error after warning after error.

I assumed that the animation process itself was going to eat up most of my time and getting it into the game should take mere seconds. It has been the complete opposite with all animations taking relatively no time at all and getting the stuff into the game and working was the real time sink!

Here’s an example with this error screen:

IMPORTED BONE TRANSFORM IS DIFFERENT THAN THE ORIGINAL.” Alright, so I take that as meaning something got fucked up with either the positioning, rotation or the scale of my skeleton. But…which bone? It doesn’t specify!

So I spend hours trying to figure out which bone is the culprit but no luck. I then spend a few more hours comparing the problem skeletal structure with my other skeletal structures that worked but no luck.

Hmm…could it be my export settings? I spend even more time trying out different exporting options and going through them one by one to make sure I don’t miss anything but DAMN! That doesn’t fix it either!

It has to be the import settings then! UE4 must be doing something funky with the skeleton after I import it so I go through all those options as well but still no dice!

Trying to figure out this problem alone has already taken me 3 days! I then notice something in my other skeletons. They’re all named something different such as “Blade or Axe or Pipe” etc. but this particular one was still named “Armature” which is the default name that is assigned by Blender. So just for shits and giggles I change the name to “FCUK” and reimport it…and…IT WORKED?!

You mean all this time when UE4 was telling me it was a problem with the BONE TRANSFORM that it was actually a NAMING ISSUE?!

OHFFSR2TQGEUAFHCVDA;HVN!!!$@@#%$!#@$%yw

After that was solved, I ran into other problems which I’m too exhausted to discuss at length. I had camera issues, inventory issues, more animation problems and on and on. I actually had to get rid of the True First Person view as well because I was having visual issues with blending and clipping issues with environment meshes. The functionality/code is still there and if I can figure out a way to fix it later on, I may include it again but as it stands right now it will be just like it was in classic OoH.

I also finished up the monster AI (I had finished it long ago but I had to go through it again to make sure there weren’t any issues I overlooked) and that was fairly straightforward. If they see you, they chase you. They’re just rotting zombie corspes afterall!

So now, what is the next step?

THE FINAL PHASE BABY! Now that all systems are in place, I go back to the very beginning and work my way through again with a fine-toothed comb (this is probably not the optimal way to do things but it satisfies my need to be mentally thorough from beginning to end) This is the workflow:

I create the intro screen, the title screen, go through all the options screens, doing the loading screens, creating the intro to the first level, go through and re-optimize all the assets in the first level etc. Move onto the second level, go through and place all notes, optimize layouts, assets, collisions, etc.

And I do that all the way until I design the final credits screen. This will take some time but if it all goes smoothly I should be able to have a few months to spare for testing and then on Halloween 2022 we lift off!

Just FYI, anything that I show in updates from now on will no longer be placeholder but as close to the final version that it can be, therefor if there is anything that you think needs improvement in any way, now is the time to let me know! Just drop by the Discord chatroom and tell me that it sucks or else that is going in the final version of the game!

OH FFS!

I just made the mistake of watching the video located right here:

https://www.unrealengine.com/en-US/blog/unreal-engine-5-is-now-available-in-early-access

and now I am:

All kidding aside, I have no interest in jumping onto UE5 until the UE4 version of Out Of Hell is shipped. Eventually I think an “Enhanced Edition” port could be made for UE5 and I would probably try to put together a team to do that but it’s still a long time away.

Just also wanted to mention there’s an Out Of Hell DISCORD channel now so head on over and say hello, hang out or drop a few suggestions if you like! I’ll be posting smaller progress updates there that don’t warrant a full blog post. Seeya there!

Well Well, Look Who Decided To Drop By!

It took me a few days of experimentation to sort out the animation workflow but I finally got a handle on it. What I assumed was going to take me months to do (all monster, NPC and first-person animations) won’t take me that long at all. All the monster animations have been tweaked and exported and are now in-game thanks to the ease of using Mixamo and the range of animations that they offer. I just uploaded my base monster meshes, Mixamo rigs them and then spits out the animation (pretty much)

There was a time where I would describe this as “cheating” but hey, at this point in I’m just ready for it to be done as quickly as possible. I don’t want everyone waiting any longer just so I can “do it all by hand” and puff up my chest and sit here with a smug grin. There is just no way in Neptune’s blue balls that my keyframe animations would ever look as good as those mocap animations so I’ll take the shortcuts, I’ll take the help and assistance if it delivers a better-looking product and also shaves off time.

A long time ago I made most of the Blueprints that I needed for the Out Of Hell UE4 framework. I coded my own stamina functions, health, fall damage, firearms, hunger system, inventory, text and note files, examining items, monster AI etc. I was proud as hell (because coding is not my specialty) that I made this all myself and it worked!

Over time I started looking into adding more functionality and just for fun, I perused the UE Marketplace to see what was out there. Some of the frameworks that were sold had demo versions so I tried them out thinking “Hey, what’s the harm in looking?” and OMG

What I saw was just on a completely different level in terms of functionality and polish! For example, my note system was “Approach note, press E to read, display large image with text on it. DONE.” but the methods I saw in this other framework was “Approach note, press E to examine note, have option to rotate note and look at backside, open note, display an image of the note, press E to darken the screen and display the contents of the note using engine font, use left and right arrow to flip pages etc.”

I mean, the level of attention put into this framework made mine look so very, very underdeveloped! And that was just the note system! I eventually bit the bullet and bought a freaking fantastic framework for this game. I heavily modified it for my needs and successfully merged/grafted whatever features I needed into Out Of Hell. It’s awesome.

It took me some time to come around to taking that plunge because there’s this part of me (I guess it’s the ego) that wants to do it ALL MYSELF or else it isn’t pure! But in hindsight that’s such a stupid, silly way to approach things. Why was I always trying to reinvent the wheel? And where is the line drawn with this kind of mentality?

For example, I would have a problem using a HUNGER SYSTEM that someone else offered because I myself didn’t make it from the ground up BUT I had absolutely no problem using a videogame engine or software that someone else made? And really, what is the difference between buying a banana model on a Marketplace (not that I did but just as an example) or employing another artist to model a banana for me if time was a factor? I already know I could do it (and have done: OoH 2009, YPAPSG) so what the hell was I still trying to prove to myself?

Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that to all those that believe in me and have been there since the beginning, to those who have had the patience to stick with this project for years and all the newcomers, I want to make sure you get the experience that you’re deserving. I won’t deliver a shitty, half-assed experience that doesn’t live up to the real potential just because I refused do what was necessary to take it to the next level out of some dumb sense of ego preservation.

So this is just a quick update on where I’m at right now. The monster animations are all done, the 3rd person player animations are done (I say third person because of body awareness. When you look down, you see the legs and body) and I just need to finish up the first-person weapon animations (there’s 18 wieldable weapons to do) And speaking of body awareness, look who’s here! Donovan Ling himself, no longer confined to a 64×128 dialogue portrait!

It’s not finalized (I’ll take care of that much later) I just needed it so that I could send it to Mixamo!