I created a first pass of the models for the water corridor, simple as possible graybox just now to make sure that the idea works before spending time on textures and materials. The extruded parts along the wall are going to become mosaic tiles and the hanging parts will be for the water.
Thanks to a TRASHCLASS error when saving the map (my blueprints were pointing to external references that no longer existed) I lost a lot of the work I did yesterday. Thankfully, the blueprints were easy enough to reproduce, but it got me thinking about my corridors, and how I was going about them wrong.
I wasn’t working modularly for a start, which is really bad game art practice. It also meant that changing scale was going to be very difficult. I did some doodles of what I would like my corridors to look like, and I think I want the realistic part of the corridors to be reminiscent of an actual space, rather than just element themed.
For the water corridor, I looked at some water themed levels in various games, and then decided what I liked about them. Bright blues, roman architecture, stepping stones, shaped waterways and overgrown plants were really coming out at me, so I’ll create something along those lines for the water one.
Modelling wise, I created an arch like shape that can be joined together to create a spiral or curve. I then mirrored it in y to get the roof.
I reconnected my targets and triggers and got a level that’s much nicer than before!
I started off working on the hub room by creating my glowing orb and tree models.
The orb was simple. just an extruded sphere with a frosted glass material (low roughness value + clouds texture) and an emissive one.
The tree was created by drawing splines from my reference picture and extruding cylinders along them.
I made some tweaks to the trunk to make it seem like an old, gnarled tree.
And then started combining the branches. This got a bit difficult, as I gave gotten very used to working low poly, and I haven’t modeled in a while. It could have been cleaner, and I had a few normal issues, but as I am using it with an emissive material, I felt correcting it wasn’t a good use of my time.
This is what it looked like with the three orb colours in editor. Really happy with this – it has that magical/spirtual quality that I was after.
After that I set up the blueprints for the orbs. The idea is that upon reaching the end of each corridor, the player lights up one third of the tree. I started this by using add static mesh, which worked, but only one. It couldn’t spawn more than one mesh, not matter where, what or by which key press/trigger.
I added some prints and delays to try and work out what the issue was, and found that it wasn’t getting stuck at the spawn, it thought it was able to do it.
I had a look at the actor referencing guide on the UE4 documentation, and found that they used spawn actor from blueprint. This worked, and could do so more than once.
So I set up a blueprint for each orb set. This worked, but had the actors spawning in the wrong place. It turns out that the transforms of root components changed in the blueprint won’t be used when called in another blueprint. I used the roots as dummies, and attached new meshes that could be called. I set up my transforms in the actor blueprints.
This is working really nicely, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it feels when the prototype is completed.
I’m using the tree idea I explored earlier for the hub style room of the prototype. I started off by using placeholder assets to get a feel for the size of the room. I wanted to try and get enough room that the player could walk around the tree, but not so little that they could get lost in the dark, as I’m sticking to the darkness.
I then had a look at what I wanted to do with the fx corridors. I started off with a normal corridor, which I was neutral on. Its not bad, but its not particularly engaging either. I did think constantly walking forward could get boring, leading the player to think about other things, get distracted and not become relaxed.
The spiral staircase idea was one I loved in concept, as it has a lot of symbolic associations with creativity and transcendence. In practice though, it really does not work, especially with the oculus. Being able to see the stairs themselves loses a lot of the meditational, non-real space feel, and bumping up them is not a nice experience in vr.
I opted for a compromise in the end, taking the winding round from the stairs and putting it in a level corridor. This adds a bit of intrigue, as the player doesn’t know what’s round the corner, but feels still, non representative, and isn’t going to make the player sick.
The prototype starts off the same as before – with the long dark corridor, lit by candle flames, leading to the mandala. The difference this time is that I’m taking more care to design the prototype with the oculus in mind.
I added a post processing volume to create a kind of flash as the player moves though the mandala – I want to make it clear that is it a portal and make the player feel like they are being taken into the experience. This also takes away the weirdness of walking though the mandala. After walking though this, the player is spawned to the next room. I used triggers and targets instead of a full flowing level, as the room shape is very compact and separating this out will give me more room to work. On a design level this works, as this is not a real space, but a representation of the player’s mind – so why would it have to follow the rules of a conventional space? Using the portal style motif this makes sense as a decision. I created the sound cues the same as before, but made sure I looped the backing track, as this was an issue last time.
The current issues with this room is that I have some chromatic aberration problems with the rift (where colours don’t align correctly and you get a little wobbly flicker of each RGB value) – apparently you can change this in the ini files but it has to be done by hand, so I’m getting a more experienced dev to talk me though this tonight. So far its just the flame that’s doing this, I think it moves too quickly for the rift.
I took a day out of working on my submissions yesterday to video everything I’ve done so far, as I’ve spotted a few jobs I’m interested in applying for.