Skip to content

Beautiful Day For A Stroll!

Here’s the progress on the Midtown area that some of you should recognize from the original! I drew inspiration from some of the key areas and just expanded and improved upon them (mainly, having everything make a little more sense from a real-world perspective) These days I just like updating when I hit a personal milestone because I find it harder and harder to contain my excitement as we get close to the end.

As you can see it’s a fairly big map that’s presented as one piece (in the original, it was broken into several maps) and it’s a ton of work to get the little details and nuances in there, but it’s completely worth it. Everything you see is placed by hand; no auto-generated bullshit for this!

The green lines mark the streets that still need to be done, but it shouldn’t take much longer. This is the last “big” outdoor map and the remaining handful are much smaller, indoor ones. Here’s a WIP video in the meantime!

“Why would you want to go back to that dirty little town?!”

A portion of one of my favorite lines from the 1990 “IT” TV movie that Eddie Kaspbrak’s mother says to him when she finds out he’s going back to Derry. I always thought that described Grinwood really well! Why would we all want to go back to Grinwood anyway? 🙂

The polishing phase is moving along at a great speed. I only have a few more maps or so that I have to fix up after this one and then…more testing! XD But at least you can expect a trailer around that time and a short demo shortly after (I’m thinking maybe the first 2 maps) As is always the case, I overestimated the amount of work it takes to polish a map but much of it is little things like the movie posters and signage, garbage, grime etc. All those little things don’t seem like much in my head because I think of them individually (Oh, I just have to make up graphics for a couple sandwich boards. No big deal!) but I always forget about how much of it there actually is as a whole.

The good news is I go to bed every night feeling happy and satisfied that I accomplished what I set out to do for the day and when I wake up in the morning and head to work, the thought of getting home so I can continue my art drives me and helps me tolerate the…people I’m paid to tolerate for 8 hours! :(|)

I’ve been asked by different people how I was able to stay so focused and stick with this for so long. Perhaps that’s the secret…you really need to hate your job, have a project that can potentially lead to things better than your current job and that’s all the motivation that you need to keep going! 😉

Urban Decay!

One of the things I really like doing is watching urban exploration videos where people visit abandoned areas (If you get the chance, look for videos about Centralia) My imagination usually takes over and I try piecing together things that may have occurred in these places before they were left behind and forgotten. Well, that’s one aspect of the atmosphere I tried to convey in the mod and which I’m spending an untold amount of time trying to accomplish here.

I want to make players feel as though they’ve stumbled onto an entire city that is forgotten and decaying. One of the things the testers really liked is the amount of environmental storytelling that’s present. Again, you can ignore all of it if you choose, but if you decide to pull on that thread there will be a lot of things that you can piece together to find out what happened before you came!

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!