Bloody Hell…

Hey! Just a small, quick update! I’ve been working away at one of the Hell levels and I just wanted to post a few pictures of it. Please keep in mind there are not many props at the moment (Tortured corpses, floating bodies, heads on pikes etc.) I will come back to it later and add more visual details since I’m just concentrating on the layout and trying to establish the look right now.

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This is one of the many levels of Hell that you’ll be exploring. Some are pretty claustrophobic, some cavernous, some desolate and open. The deeper you go, the more f***** up it will be.

A thing I’d really like to explore is the contrast between the ‘normal world’ and ‘Hell’. Not just the obvious visuals but the atmosphere of it. I’d like the player to dread being in such a place, feel oppressed and constantly in a “WTF IS THAT?!?!” mentality and then emphasize a huge sense of relief when returning to the normal world.

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As it turns out, making a river of blood look like…well, a river of blood was harder than I thought! If it was too translucent, it just looked like red dyed water. Too slow and thick and it looked like gelatin. Took me a while to nail it down but I think it turned out alright.

I hope my vision of this place so far grosses you out! Now I’m onto the next map!

Autumn Scenery!

My absolute favorite season is here! I love everything about the Autumn; the colors of the leaves, the sounds, the grey sky on overcast days or the deep blue on clear afternoons. The smell of that chilly air first thing in the morning and the way the fog just clings to everything! Black coffee, pumpkin pie, cinnamon, nutmeg…man, I just love this time of year! With Halloween around the corner, that Occult-vibe really keeps me inspired during these months too. It’s no coincedence the setting of Out Of Hell takes place during the Autumn!

So I’ve finished up the Outskirts map and am hopping onto some Hell levels next. I initially had some areas fleshed out but looking at them now they just seem boring to me. It all looked like the classical vision of Hell with caverns, red sky, fire etc. The direction I’m taking it now will be much more…macabre. The archetecture/environment will probably appear nonsensical because I don’t want to be limited by…I guess rules of the physical world if that makes any sense. When we have nightmares we never stop and think about why things are the way they are inside the nightmare. The only thing that matters is the fear and I’m going to try to instill that in people.

Sep1

If you check out the screen just above, there is a lot going on. With a little trickery I was able to get just a ton of grass and vegetation in there. Lighting and shadowing is all dynamic, everything reacts to the wind and despite the amount that’s onscreen, I think the framerate is not too bad! (Hey, still runs better than the OoH 2009 Mod ;p ) I also have a middle-of-the-road to lower end PC now so I’m sure more modern systems will run this with no problems. Eventually I’ll revisit this and all the other maps to do some tweaking and a couple more visual passes but for now, it’s done and I’m moving on!

Poll Results!

Thanks to everyone that voted! I think it’s a pretty safe bet to go with the No HUD route. I came up with some neat alternative ways to display your health and ammo. The method for checking your health is quite unique; I haven’t seen it done in any game before.

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I’ve finished up the functionality (ADS, reloading, spread, etc.) for all the weaponry. I have Fully Automatic weapons, Semi-Automatics, Pistols, Shotguns, Bow and Arrow, melee weapons and I finished up the monster AI as well. Surprisingly, that all took me only a fraction of the time to do compared to the interaction/inventory! The inventory believe it or not was just a huge pain but all the legwork is done now and it’s a pretty robust system (outlines on interactable objects, picking up items, items counts that stack, item descriptions, dropping items from the inventory into the world)

Thanks again for voting! See you soon!

Need An Opinion!

Hey guys! It would be great if you just took a second to vote on which sort of HUD you would prefer to see in Out Of Hell! No matter which one you choose, I have some pretty creative ideas for them all so let me know!

(poll finished)

Framework Almost There…

I’ve been spending all of my time with Blueprints work and I have some pretty great things incorporated. Thank goodness there’s just a sea of tutorials out there! Back when I was trying (keyword here is trying) to code for the original Out Of Hell there weren’t as many thorough tutorials with Uscript (that I could find anyway) From what little I was able to grasp, I ended up just butchering the available code; cutting out what I didn’t need, adding pieces here and there until it was just a giant mishmash of hacky Frankenstein code! At one point, the error log was something ridiculous like 12 or 20 megabytes or something! That’s a HUGE text file!

Anyway, with the amount of tutorials out there I’m able to put together much cleaner code without warnings or errors and learn a little more along the way! My grasp of Blueprints is still novice-level at best but hey, it’s better than not knowing anything at all! And I actually forgot how much fun working on the coding side of things was and it’s sooooo gratifying when you get something to work the way you wanted it to. And as I said in a previous post, I now know what all goes into the code because I’m doing it, I’ve made notes in the Blueprints along the way and so if some bug appears later I may have an easier time tracking it down.

I gotta say though that with the amount of new, quality Frameworks appearing in the Marketplace I’ve had to fight the temptation to just fork over 20-40 bucks or so and just buy something pre-made. Who knows, maybe I will give in to that temptation if something just isn’t working out for me in the future but at the moment, what I have serves as a good base.

I just finished up the Inventory System earlier today and will soon be working on Monster AI and Weaponry. I’ve found that as an Artist I have to constantly resist the urge to make things “Pretty” first. If this were me a few years ago I’d have the Title Screen, Options Screen, HUD Graphics etc. all looking as slick as possible BEFORE even delving into how to make them work! This time, there are only ugly placeholder graphics everywhere but the game is functional at least! I’ll go back later and beautify it, which is the way it should be imho.

Thanks for dropping by and I’ll leave you with a screen of the first level you’ll be playing through in the final version of Out Of Hell! Doesn’t that make you just salivate?! ;p

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PREPARE TO PAY 79.99 FOR THIS!!!!!!!

EDIT: So I decided to revisit some of the old features and spice them up a bit. Interaction was originally a lot like it was in OoH 2009 where as you approach an item, door or note that you could interact with, there would be a small indicator hovering over it that said “TAKE, READ, PUSH” etc. I’ve now changed it so that if you looked at something and it could be interacted with, an outline would appear and a crosshair icon would also appear (eventually this would be an icon of a hand or something) I realize it’s redundant to have both a crosshair icon AND an outline so which of the two would you prefer? I basically added both because it was mostly practice to see if I could.

You’ll also notice that there’s a blue and red bar representing stamina and health. These graphics are just placeholders for me to test if certain things are working. In the end, there will be no stamina bar or health indicator. I’m trying to do things a little differently and so when the player is low on stamina, they’ll obviously move slower and have to rely on audio cues (heavy panting ==> light breathing  ==> no sound)

I came up with a unique (I can’t remember any other games doing this) method for health and damage but I’ll keep that close to the chest for the time being. I promise it will be enough to always keep you on your toes when facing a single monster or a mob of monsters! Anyway, back to cleaning some of this shit up (look at that tangled mess of spaghetti in the third picture!)

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Oh Man, Where To Start…

I look back on the last 10 years (yes, it has been a FREAKING DECADE since the release of OoH 2009, can you believe that?!) I just think about all the time that I squandered, all that time just…fumbling around in the dark, so to speak. How in the hell did I let it all slip away?

It was last year when I kind of hit rock bottom. It was just about life in general, my own personal development and the state of the project. There were times when I’d find a quiet place outside, sit on a bench with a cup of black coffee and just contemplate about my direction. There hasn’t really been a time in my life where anything has gone completely smoothly. Why do things have to be so difficult sometimes? Why couldn’t life just be straightforward?

When it came to this project there were always stumbling blocks. Whether it was the Engine itself or the Apps I use, there were always issues and limitations that I had to figure a way around. Any time I made a small advancement, there would just be something that would set me back 5 steps. Constant annoyances and frustrations sap away energy that should be put into creating. I really, really don’t know how I’ve been able to overcome these problems (I’m stubborn I guess and a little on the batshit-crazy side) but I’ve somehow been able to do it.

2019 so far has been the year of breakthroughs for me, both on a personal level and with this game. I just got tired of coasting through life like a lazy idiot and finally got my shit together. I stopped procrastinating because that is how 10 goddamn years passes by and it just feels like 2.

I reached several personal goals (I won’t go into them but they were very important) and took care of some health-related things I kept putting off. I made effort, I mean real effort, moving this game forward. You would be astonished if I were to show you exactly what it was I was doing behind the scenes for the last 5 months with this game. I crunched a lot of stuff in a relatively short amount of time. I managed to keep researching new methods of doing things in the Engine and even learned a few new programs pretty quickly. Sometimes I don’t know how I’m able to absorb all of this shit without going completely mad.

Interestingly, as if the Universe itself were giving me a nod to continue onward, out of the blue I recieved emails from several different contacts that I hadn’t spoken to in 5-7 years! Not only that but also a recent flow of emails from fans all wishing me well, telling me how inspiring OoH 2009 was to them and to keep going forward. I seriously don’t know why you guys have stuck by me for this long but thank you.

Jun3

I want to tell you about possibly the largest advancement ever made for this project. It is literally a game-changer. I managed to put together a fully dynamic lighting system and it runs smooth and looks good! Well, system is perhaps a bit misleading because there isn’t a drag and drop solution to the way the lighting is set up. There’s just a ton of fuckery going on here so let’s just say I came up with some methods to do this. Now, none of it is physically correct but hey, it works and it looks fine to me!

Ages ago I fiddled around with UE4’s LPV system but that’s been officially abandoned for some time and there hasn’t been advancement on the Dynamic Global Illumination front. I needed to have a fully dynamic lighting system for this to be the game that I wanted. When I couldn’t do this, I settled for Static Lighting and used workarounds to somewhat achieve the gameplay mechanics that I needed. This was all well and good but the problem with Static Lighting was the ridiculous render times it took on a large level. It takes time for the Editor to calculate all that gorgeous GI and bounced lighting but it got to the point where I just got sick and tired of waiting and I couldn’t work with it anymore. I decided I had to find another way around or not continue on at all. I was at that point.

Typically, I would build the map and set up lighting without rendering it (in essence, working blind) and in the morning before I left for work, I would render out the map. For the GPD Level, this process took nearly 4 hours! You can see why it takes me so long to do things. Any time I lit a new area of the map, I could only imagine what it would look like and if I wanted to see exactly what it looked like, I would have to wait 4 hours. It really sucked when the lighting didn’t look the way I thought it would have, so I’d have to make changes and then it would take me another 4 hours to see the result. Sometimes, I would come home to discover that the Editor crashed at the 92% mark and I’d have to do it all again. FUN! If there was a way for the Engine to ignore any data that hadn’t been changed and only render out any part of the Lightmap that was altered, that would speed up the process! But I’m not a programmer so I don’t know what that would entail.

Another problem was the Lightmap filesize. I essentially rendered each map 4 times to cover a morning, afternoon, evening and night phase. 4 iterations of a single map at over 700mb a piece?! Ridiculous.

Jun15

OOH-GPD1 is the Dynamic light version. NEWFOG is the the Static Light version. Look at the differences in the .uasset filesize.

Now with the Dynamic Light workflow, I lose the precalculated GI but am able to fake some of it to acceptable levels. Everything I see is in real-time, no more waiting 4 hours to see the results of any changes.

Jun4

You may be worried that because all the lighting is dynamic that the game would run poorly (Dynamic shadows are very costly) but I’ve done what I could to counter that. Almost all meshes in the game have multiple LOD‘s, I’ve set up Cull Volumes everywhere, Shadow-casting lights have cull distances, I’ve tried to limit the overdraw and my Materials are relatively inexpensive.

Jun1

Lots of Speedtree assets and grass naturally swaying and reacting to the wind yet still running at good framerates!

Jun10

I just love how organic Speedtree assets look!

It also took me some time to find the sweet spot for shadow quality but I think I got it. Initially the shadows looked even better but then I started getting these random Grey Screen Of Death crashes multiple times in an hour (tried the latest Drivers and even rolled back Drivers to no avail)

I had to set up autobackups to occur every 4 minutes because it was so bad. I finally narrowed it down to the lighting and shadow quality putting a strain on the GPU, made the necessary changes and haven’t had a crash since.

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Jun6

You’ll be seeing a lot of these guys…in one form or another. 😉

Jun5Jun2

When I first built the Day/Night cycle I was using Sequencer because Matinee was deprecated at this point. Despite the recommendation to use the advanced Sequencer compared to Matinee, I found myself having a tough time with it and found it very unintuitive! There are some quirks that really make me scratch my head as to why they chose to do things a certain way (But then again, that’s with every program I use) Since I already knew how to use Matinee because it was in the UDK, I got it up and running very quickly using just my knowledge from the UDK days.

Jun12

Timeline in Matinee. It’s streamlined.

Jun14

Jun13

Exact same Timeline converted to Sequencer. Ugh.

Im hoping (the word here is HOPING) to have a playable demo for some close friends in a couple months time to see if they like the direction I’m taking Out Of Hell.

Thanks for stopping by and now I’ve got to spend the next few hours backing up all my work!

Into Hell?

Hello guys! Unfortunately I don’t have any screens to show off this time; I just wanted to drop everyone a line so that you know I’m still here!

The last few months have been…intensive with this game, to say the least. I’ve been doing a lot of work under the hood and behind the scenes. Much of the work is with the framework of the game itself, which is why I can’t really show anything.

Some time ago I bought a framework off Marketplace which had all the bells and whistles; picking up items, movement, sprinting, health system, door physics etc. While it is a great system, I ran into some issues and bugs that I couldn’t fix. I thought that this would be a pain down the road if anyone else played the game and ran across bugs; I’d have to constantly try contacting the author of this framework to get these issues resolved. I decided to just build my own from the bottom up and that way, I would know what went into the Blueprints and thus could have an easier time troubleshooting.

I’ve been training through tutorial after tutorial for the last few months and I have some pretty neat things happening now: Full movement, jump, sprinting with stamina drain, panting/breathing, health and damage, flashlight, picking up items, examining items and notes etc.

This game is going to incorporate almost all of the gameplay ideas I had for Daemonicon with some of the themes and story elements of Out Of Hell. It is going to be a unique beast for sure!

Speaking of Out Of Hell, I am thinking of changing the name of this game (yes, AGAIN) This is mainly to avoid any confusion with the 2009 Out Of Hell mod and besides, this IS a different game at its core anyway. I was thinking “Into Hell” would be enough to differentiate it yet still have that spiritual successor sort of feel to it? Let me know what you guys think in the comments! Until next time, rest assured I’ve got my eye on the prize.