It has been a while since I did any game dev, so I wanted to explore some new Unreal systems and have a go at producing a vertical slice of a game I’ve had kicking around in my head for a while.
It is a faux sequel to my previous game, Save The Queen, but this time is a stealth only puzzle adventure. Inspiration was primarily taken from some of my favourite games: Tunic, CrossCode and Chess.
I will write a few blogs highlighting the systems and challenges, mainly to act as a portfolio piece.
The main character, You’ wakes up in their room. The room is sparce yet comfortable. There is no exposition, but there is a poster on the wall highlighting the game inputs. Another poster called ‘The Dream’, shows the motivation / current quest. In this instance it is to escape the fort. The character can only leave the first room, entering a fort and beginning their journey.
The first room has a single guard, who on sight, will shout and the game will return You back to their room. Each of the rooms will have a portrait/poster behind a curtain that must be reached in order to reveal. There are traps as well as guards, although the traps are not always activated, and some can be avoided or manipulated.
You will come across a clearly important room, possibly a throne room, with a large portrait hidden. This is the key puzzle for the dungeon. A large room full of traps and danger stands between You and the portrait. As such, a plan is required before moving through this room. Each of the revealed portraits will reveal the path required to be taken, which will be manually input by the user on entering the room. Once input, the user can execute the commands sequentially with a single button, waiting for opportune times to avoid the hazards of the room.
On revealing the queen portrait, the queen is missing in the image, with only a pile of clothes and a crown wrapped around a headstone in the image. This alludes to the overarching story, the missing queen. There is a mannequin next to the portrait, mirroring the clothing, but with a helmet where the crown would be. The helmet can be equipped to escape the fort.
The hero character, called ‘You’. A cute looking hedgehog who is not afraid, but not particularly capable. Can drop into a ball and use spikes to defend from soft attacks. Began life as a Cobblin, waiting and hiding under a dropping floor to spike and surprise any trespassers. An event, currently undecided, led to the sudden development of conscious and free will. Follows a poster called ‘The Dream’ which indicates the current quest.
There were challenges with character design and animation. Mixamo is a fantastic tool by Adobe that can really speed up character prototyping. As I do not have too many skills in this field, speed is of the essence! I wanted to retarget the mixamo models to my own model. This challenge was compounded by the fact that Mixamo models do not translate nicely from Mixamo into Unreal due to the differing unit systems. In order to fix this, I had to develop a Mixamo -> Unreal pipeline. I decided to go via Blender. The general process was;
- Rescale Root Animation of Default Mixamo Character in Blender by 0.001.
- Import the updated Mixamo Character into Unreal.
- Copy the Default Mixamo Character and open the copy in Blender.
- Delete the model but keep the skeleton and animation. Import my hedgehog model.
- Rig the bones as normal.
- Import the new character with bones into Unreal, in import setting set the skeleton to be the original Mixamo skeleton. All characters will share that same skeleton so animations can also be shared.
- Any Mixamo animation can then be bought to Unreal by changing the root animation in Blender and setting the target skeleton to be that defined in Step 2.
Either way, this is how it turned out, a bit buggy but not too shabby and cute / terrifying in equal measure.
Classic guards without any backstory, they follow patterns with AI, character sensing, Look at and return to pathing, different alert levels. The image is one of the rigged models available in Mixamo. There implementation will be described more in Section 3: Enemy Mechanics.
Take many animal forms, they live behind the wall do not have significant conscious or intelligence and live only to blindly follow the single order they have been given since birth. The player will unknowingly be trying to outwit them and their traps. Not implemented but their discovery will form the heart of the story.