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  • Writer's pictureJunce Wang

Devlog #1

Updated: Jan 13, 2023

I have done a lot of work on this project in the past month in different aspects. So let me put here a brief list of work contents first.

All work is my own, except where I explicitly state that others have contributed or third-party assets are used.

  1. Updated game flow and theme

  2. BOSS Characters: Combat Design, Concept, block out model

  3. Project timeline planning

  4. Research on Motion Capture Workflow

  5. Combat system development: death, new actions of the player, state mode, property debugger

  6. Temporary audio update

  7. Debugging experience: the blend mask issue of animation blueprints

  8. Play God of War Ragnarok and earn the Platinum Trophy

Game Flow and Theme

The process of the game is determined to be BOSS RUSH. The player will control the main character to engage in actional combat with different bosses in sequence.

There are currently several different options for the theme of the game narrative. However, considering this game's development method and cost constraints, there is currently no plan to determine a plot outline. Instead, I plan to design a corresponding narrative package based on the actual combat experience of the BOSS battle in late development.

BOSS Character Development

Design approach:

The production of BOSS characters will follow this approach: first, design a well-polished BOSS as the final BOSS in the game, and this final BOSS has a complete set of combat moves. After that, make multiple sub-versions of the final BOSS. Each sub-version has only a part of the final BOSS's move set. These sub-versions of the BOSS will serve as the small BOSS encountered by the player in the early stage of BOSS RUSH. I want to say that it is similar to the Valkyrie Queen and other Valkyries in God of War 2018.

The combat concept design of the final Boss has been completed. The core idea is that the arms of the BOSS can transform into various modes and use different melee or ranged attacks in different modes. The player needs to react to these different modes of moves with correct reactive actions, and then it will create opportunities to counterattack. At present, about 8 modes are designed. The final BOSS can use all modes, while sub-versions can only use a few of them.

Concept Design:

The following is the concept art of the final BOSS and some modes of the transformable arms.

Concept art of the final Boss

Transformable arms: Three-edged thorn mode, Trident cannon mode, and Shield mode

These amazing concept designs are from the excellent artist Yiyu Wang (her Artstation).

Character model:

Based on the current character concept design, we made a block out model of the character to verify rigging and animation retargeting.

Block out model in Maya

Block out model rigging/animation test in Unreal Engine

Hi-poly model work in progress

The modeling and rigging of the character are in charge of excellent technical artist Zeshi Chen (his Artstation).

Project timeline:

Currently, this game is divided into 4 sprints:

  1. Combat system development - completed by the end of December

  2. BOSS Character Development - completed by mid-February

  3. Main Character Development - completed by mid-March

  4. Minor Systems and Polish - completed and released by the end of April

Character Development Workflow:

Character development is in the workflow of first blocking out and then high-poly model building. With this workflow, model production, animation production, and program function development can be paralleled, and the efficiency has been greatly improved.

Character development workflow (EN/CH)

Motion capture workflow:

I learned the workflow of motion capture in the school course this month. I experienced the whole process, from performance to data editing, and tried to make some verification assets. Next year I plan to use motion capture to make the animation assets for this project, and I may also need to be a mocap actor myself, lol.

Raw data in the mocap studio. One of the actors is me.

Data editing in Maya

Combat System Development

The followings are updated features:

1. Death function

Ragdoll death

Animated death. The weapon uses physical simulation.

2. New actions

Heavy attack

Charged attack. It's a two-stage hit, and the second hit can adjust the direction.

Sprint attack

3. State mode

The base of character functions was reconstructed into the state pattern, a software design pattern commonly used in action games. It can simplify the logic processing of action transitions. Currently, I use the most straightforward state machine implementation with an Enum variable to track the state. However, if the character logic becomes complex enough, I may consider using a state machine plugin such as Logic Driver in the future.

4. Property Debugger

This is the UE plugin recommended today. It can display the internal properties of actors in real-time, just like the health bar on characters. Most importantly, it's non-intrusive, so you don't need to modify any of your blueprints. This feature is very useful for multi-actor debugging, and this plugin is free, so I highly recommend everyone try it. Search for Property Debug Editor in the Marketplace to find it.

Property Debugger

Temporary audio update:

All actions that can perform follow-up combos use higher-pitched swing sound effects, such as all light attacks and the first hit of charged attack. On the other hand, actions that cannot be followed by combos use lower-pitched swing sound effects, such as the last hit of a light attack combo, heavy attack, sprint attack, and the second hit of charged attack. I want to show the difference in actions through the pitch change like this.

Action sound effects

Debugging experience:

During the development process this month, I encountered a bug that cannot be fixed temporarily. If you have experienced a similar situation, you can refer to it.

The performance of the bug is that the main character drawing and undrawing the weapon upper body animation cannot be correctly blended with the lower body locomotion animation when the engine starts up for the first time, but once the animation blueprint is compiled (no modification is required), this problem will disappear.

After investigation, it was found that this is caused by the Layered Blend per bone node. If it's in Blend Mask mode, it won't be activated until it is recompiled. Some users have reported the same issue on the Epic forum. It seems to be the engine (UE 5.0.3) bug.

I will try to update the project to UE 5.1 in the future or wait for Epic's continuous maintenance of 5.0 to see if this bug can be fixed.

Play God of War Ragnarok and earn the Platinum Trophy

God of War (2018) is the source of inspiration for this project; playing its sequel and getting a platinum trophy for all achievements, I think it is also part of the work of this project, lol

An excellent game!

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