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September 25, 2021, 02:15:11 PM

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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsAgainst The Mountain - 1st Person Exploration/Platformer
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baftis
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« Reply #20 on: September 06, 2021, 03:15:36 PM »

DAY 14

I'll be short and sweet today. Worked on level design a bit. Managed to replace the greybox platforming area with some landscape. Worked nicely, although there will certainly be a problem with sequence skipping or going outside the intended play area in the future. This might not be a BIG problem though: as long as the player doesn't get out of bounds, he's free to go wherever he/she wants. That issue and the issue of a complete area skipping. These two issues are the most important to test.





Also started working on the next area, only managed to sculpt the landscape and place some water. Tomorrow I'll add the mechanics to it.





This area will have collapsing platforms and one more mechanic. Probably rope climbing or ziplining, but it's best to settle upon which mechanic after I'll test the area.

It didn't really took me a lot of time to put the above mentioned together, but I do need to set a limit to how much I work on the project. It's really taking a toll on me and I want to finish the project in one piece and with some down-time to gather my energy for the next day. So I shall impose myself working at least 30 minutes but at the very very most 2 hours at a time.

That's all for today. See ya tomorrow. 
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JobLeonard
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« Reply #21 on: September 07, 2021, 04:03:47 AM »

I love the evocative name of the game, did anyone give you compliments for that yet? It feels like you read Li Bai's famous poem (see below) and decided "I ain't gonna lose to no mountain!" Cheesy

The birds have vanished down the sky.
Now the last cloud drains away.

We sit together, the mountain and I,
until only the mountain remains.
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baftis
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« Reply #22 on: September 07, 2021, 06:51:14 AM »

Hey, JobLeonard. Thank you very much for the compliment, it means a lot to me and the development of the game. No, nobody complimented the name until now, so you're the first.  Beer! Beer!

And no, I have not read the poem nor knew about the author. But it is a beautiful poem, hits on so many levels related to mortality and fragility of humans. The real story is...

CHEESE ALERT!

The name came in a dream. Yes yes, it's as cheesy as it can get. But the name did not came for a game. I dreamt that is was for a band and that the album was self titled.

I can very vividly remember the cover for the album: The vinyl album cover depicts a straight road going towards the horizon and a silhouette walking on said road. At the horizon, a solitary mountain peaked, with very beautiful clouds and the overall atmosphere was sunset-y and warm.

That was 11 or so years ago, but the name and the image itself stuck with me. Even managed to write some songs over the years to put the dream in motion, but stopped because life got in the way... Until about 3 weeks ago.

It was around that time when one night I was taking a bath after work that this name and image came back to me again. I thought "Man, this could be a game...Nono... this SHOULD be a game". And started working on it as soon as I got out of the bathtub  Cheesy

And here we are today.

Come to think of it...This can very well be the box art for the game.
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JobLeonard
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« Reply #23 on: September 07, 2021, 06:58:04 AM »

Sounds like it could be, yeah!
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baftis
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« Reply #24 on: September 07, 2021, 03:30:50 PM »

DAY 15

Continued work on level design today. Placed collapsing platforms around the area and tested it to see how it plays and feels. Like it is now, it is unexpectedly challenging without being annoying or frustrating.



You start from here:



And end up here, where the grey button is:



But some ugly problems reared their ugly little heads.

1) The very first platform and one specific platform near the middle of the area are very tricky to get on to, because the player cannot properly asses the distance and leverage character movement, more specifically Air Control. On one hand, this can be filed under "things that the player can master", perfectly setting up the difficulty of the game. On the other hand, how this area plays and feels now is too much of a challenge so early in the game.

2) Another ugly thing that occurred to me is that is a bit too similar to the previous areas. Theoretically, you would be like 5 minutes into the game when reaching this area (2 min if you know what you are doing) and all you did now, besides some exploration and interaction with notes and tame machines, is a lot of jumping on "platforms" (technically some are rocks, but I'll go with the generic term). This needs some variety, some "mix'em-up" even if you're just 5 minutes in. I can't let the player with just jumping around on platforms.

I did state yesterday that I'll put in another mechanic. After testing, Rope swinging would be good here, but the rope I made is not really functioning properly (doesn't get the velocity of the jump when the player jumps on it) but it does swing. Would have to take a peek in that blueprint to see what's happening.

And to give the player a break from all the jumping, I'll add a tall and wide rock in the middle of that little lake and test it to see how it feels and plays. I'll add multiple levels to it for variety and possibly scenic purposes. I say scenic, because I'd like to add a spectacular waterfall there somewhere.

All in all, what I did today had surprisingly good results and I'm pleased with the challenging aspect, but needs more variety.

That's all for today. See ya in the next post.   
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Schrompf
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« Reply #25 on: September 07, 2021, 09:48:56 PM »

What happens if she misses a jump? Seamless beaming back up, or some annoying "You died" scene that she'll hammer left mouse button throughout to have another try? Or - god beware - a path back up she needs to climb everytime she fell?

You probably guessed from the word selection which option I deem the only viable one.
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baftis
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« Reply #26 on: September 08, 2021, 01:55:36 AM »

Hey Schrompf.

Seamless beaming back up sounds something like what Journey To The Savage Planet did with the player character when falling into the void.  I liked how it was implemented there. I don't really have a justification on how and why to do that in my game, though. In that game, the player character had a little robot that teleported him and it was probably the best "packaging" of this mechanic I've seen. I don't have anything close to that in my game, at least for now.

And to be perfectly honest, I haven't really landed on a specific way the player character "dies" since what I have in game and on paper is level specific death. I do have these options, though:

1) When entering the kill Z or death trigger or health reaches 0, the screen fades to black and then fades in again at the last checkpoint. Kind of in between the "seamless beaming back up" and the "annoying you died screen" but without the text or the input the player has to press that makes it annoying.

2) In some instances, the player does not "die", but instead is presented with another problem to solve. A hypothetical example would be this: in the above area, you jump on platforms but you miss one and fall in deep water. Instead of dying, you have the ability to swim and you are faced with the objective to drain the body of water, revealing an alternate route to the main objective of the level.

3) No matter how annoying it is, the "path back up" has to be on the options list in case all else fails. Dying via KillZ or death trigger may feel wonky and cheap, having an alternate route might feel out of place or forced. There's all sorts of foreseen or unforeseen scenarios that could happen for which I have to have a solution for. This helps me have a safety net. It might not be "climbing up", but a portal or a jump pad that (when overlapped) will land you at the last checkpoint? This might work elegantly.
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baftis
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« Reply #27 on: September 08, 2021, 03:18:30 AM »

Now that I think about it, I have to do some investigation into how various games handle player deaths. As it stands, the player deaths I have are pretty much "run of the mill", not counting the alternate route thing.

One option that sprang into my mind was to have a Rewind Token. This token, when picked up, allows the player to rewind time to the previous checkpoint in order to avoid death. I know, it does not relate to the actual death of the character, but if implemented, might offer an extra reason for the player to explore, enabling me to create much more difficult areas. The downside to this is that it's over my head scripting-wise or coding-wise, but it's doable.

I have to thank you, Schrompf. Your questions helped me push myself further.

 
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baftis
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« Reply #28 on: September 09, 2021, 01:24:09 AM »

DAY 16

Did not do much today...well actually yesterday. I felt so sick and pretty much devoid of energy, I just couldn't bring myself to write a devlog last night, so I'm doing it now. I'm much better today.

OK, so I've tested what was last implemented a few days ago and came to the conclusion that the collapsing platforms area needs to be grossly modified. It was too difficult to complete it. For context, I've tried to complete it about 10 times, but could not. Since this is an exploration game first and foremost, it shouldn't be this hard to finish an area. Especially considering it's at the very beginning of the game. I will make a note to have something similar and something as difficult much much later in the game.

I've tried placing a tall rocky formation in the middle of the body of water and make it so that it has a specific path the player has to follow. It did not work. It felt very contrived and cheap, but it did allow the placement of a zipline. As tempting as that sounds, I ultimately decided against both zipline and tall rock, because those did not bring much to the gameplay in this area.

What I did manage to do is replace some collapsing platforms with standing platforms (rocks). This gives the player a small breather after having to jump collapsing platforms. While having only collapsing platforms there was indeed intense without being frustrating or annoying, me not being able to complete the objective after almost 10 attempts says it all. It's too much. If one cannot finish a level in a maximum of 3 attempts, it's a no-go.

Here are some screenshots of how the area looks now:





That's all for now. See ya later, bye.
 
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baftis
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« Reply #29 on: September 10, 2021, 04:33:43 PM »

DAY 17

It took me awhile to figure out where this level is going to end, but I'm on my way there. I've figured it out in my head nearly 100%, now I just need to implement it in the game, which I'm at 50% or so.

I say nearly 100% because there is one thing that is bothering me: the water.

So far there are three sections where there is water and each section deals water differently.

In the first section where we have water, the player will simply swim in it if he falls. If the player falls in the water, he/she can swim until he/she is near the rocks and can get up on them.



In the next section, the water is basically a death trigger. You fall from the platforms, you die and reset at the last checkpoint.



The last section (the one I'm working on now) is a flowing river that will have the power to physically move the player. If he's not fast enough, the river will push him/her into the previous section, in which the water is a death trigger.



See, this is bad and confusing for the player. Three different bodies of water, three different rules in the space of 5 minutes or less. Not good.

My best bet is to lower the the second area water to near-ground level and add fall damage. And maybe add some stone spikes for decoration. That should do it.

At the moment I have not decided if there will be more areas in which the player can swim. If he/she does have more areas to swim in, that will be extra scripting on my part to do the oxygen bar. Which will prompt me to create a health bar. Yikes!

Speaking of new things, here is the (incomplete) new area:





I also started research regarding various exploration games to see where I stand and where I can stand.

I'm also researching other types of plots and premises for the game. I'm not 100% certain and/or positive that the current premise is the best premise for the game. If it turns out that "5 persons missing, go find them" premise works best, then this one it is.

Other than that, nothing much happened. So that's it for this post, see you in the next one. Bye
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JobLeonard
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« Reply #30 on: September 11, 2021, 04:11:44 AM »

I gotta second that the checkerboard pattern isn't even distracting so far, somehow. It already has a certain aesthetic
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baftis
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« Reply #31 on: September 13, 2021, 03:59:29 AM »

Hey Leonard.

Really? That's really nice to hear, although I have problems coming to grips with what you guys mean by this "not distracting" thing. Is it more along the lines of "Hey, I can see what you're going with and the cube textures don't get in the way of imagining how the environment might look"? Or more along the lines of "Hey, those default textures look dope as is?"

Funny you should talk about aesthetics, because that's what I've been doing over the weekend. I tinkered with some post process shaders. While I did state that I wanted something stylized, the only real direction I had was Firewatch combined with anime-style visuals. While what I'm about to show you isn't along those lines, I think I might've stumbled over something potentially great and unique. Here are some screenshots, three versions of the same scene:

Version 1


Version 2


Version 3


What do you guys think?
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JobLeonard
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« Reply #32 on: September 13, 2021, 04:13:20 AM »

re: "not distracting" or "dope", it's somewhere between either? I think I'm mostly reminded of the classic Sonic games Cheesy. But that also probably means that the checkerboard only works as long as the other visual elements that you'll eventually add will fit with that early nineties "geometric" style. Otherwise you're probably better off getting rid of it or at least modifying it.

Regarding the screenshots, they look interesting! One or three works best for me, although the second one is taken at a different angle so maybe doesn't quite get a fair comparison?
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baftis
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« Reply #33 on: September 13, 2021, 04:31:39 AM »

Here, a screenshot of version 2 from roughly the same angle



Yeah, getting rid of it at one point is the plan. And replacing it with some stylized ground, rock and/or grass textures.

I kinda went "..whaaa?" when you guys said what you said, honestly, because I totally did not expect that and did not know what to make of it. Smiley))
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baftis
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« Reply #34 on: September 13, 2021, 03:48:38 PM »

DAY 18

A big milestone was achieved today. The layout for the "first level" is functionally complete. Next up on the list for this level is to hook up the logic for it and then to set dress it. So the first level is technically 1/3 complete, but still a long way until I'll start set dressing it.

Here is a screenshot of the last area of the level:



And here is a bird's eye view for the entire first level.



Before you laugh your ass off at the gigantic door in the first screenshot, that thing came with the engine and is a big time saver, because it has the pivot exactly where it's supposed to be: at the bottom of the asset at the hinges and (most importantly) I can flip it on the Y axis like a draw bridge as I intend to. With that out of the way...

Next up on my list is to test the level front to back and to time it. After these two are done, I'll have to review the level for improvements gameplay wise and make adjustments accordingly. After that, I'll make a document for it and detail the level beat by beat. Somewhere in between all this, I'll make the logic for the level.

That's all I've got for today, see ya in the next post.
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baftis
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« Reply #35 on: September 15, 2021, 03:11:18 PM »

DAY 19

Did a pass through the level and tested it for playability and time. Some sections were very difficult to clear, so I've made them easier. Luckily, no major changes were made so far.

1) Extended one of the platforms at the beginning of the second section. This was done in order to not punish the player for a mis-step while platforming near the very end of this section. Tested, the setback is now at an acceptable level.



2) Slightly enlarged one platform at the last section of the level. This platform was particularly difficult to climb on, so it had to be re-adjusted. Tested, now it's much, much easier to jump on that particular platform. No before pic, only after.



3) Added climb-down aids at the last section again, this time the left hand side section. This was done in order to facilitate climbing down from the end of the left-hand side section without taking fall damage. No before pic, only after

 

Also, after testing, I realized that three things need to be done:

1) Platforms must strictly have a steep angle (80-90 degrees angle). If an edge has a 45 degree angle, it will bounce the player off. And that really feels annoying.

2) The big "door" does not need to fall on the Y axis to open, as originally intended, because it does not make any sense. I really did not think this one through. On either side of the Y axis, it falls onto the river, which feels really weird. Pulling it upwards is more believable, so I'll go with that.

3) At the "collapsing platforms" section (the U shaped area), I need to have an alternate route towards the end-goal. At the moment, when you fall, you do not have any way to get back up.

Also, I've mentioned before that I've imported some blueprints from  previous projects. Well, two of those are a swinging rope and a zipline. Right now, I'm working on making the rope function, because now it does not function at all.



At the moment, the capsule (highlighted in yellow) does not recognize the player. Even if it would've recognized the player, it would not inherit the velocity force that the player has when. So when a player jumps towards the rope and hangs on to it, the player comes at a standstill. But the good part is that the player can properly swing on the rope.

I'd also want to make the rope climbable, but that is a completely different kettle of fish. Not only that, but it might not be do-able. Right now, the player swings with the WASD keys (yes, it swings sideways). Climbing up or down the rope would require the use of those particular keys. Maybe by pressing the E key while on the rope will cycle through swinging and climbing??? That might just work. If it's at all possible.

That's about it for this post, see ya on the next one. Bye   
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baftis
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« Reply #36 on: September 16, 2021, 01:32:06 PM »

DAY 20

So guess what? Remember when I said that the doors are fixed? NOPE!!!! They are not fixed. In the sense that the doors do not communicate with the switches. Or the other way around, I don't know. The thing is I might need to re-make the doors-switches system. As they are they do not work, even if they previously kinda-sorta worked, so the system is not robust.

Back to the drawing board with this. And I did hoped I had this fixed....oh well....It's frustrating because It feels like I almost completely forgot how to properly use Blueprints. Plot twist: I never knew to begin with. Take THAT! HAHA! (proceeds to cry in the corner of the living room)

Goofy time over...

I made further alterations to certain sections of the level. Added 2 more platforms to the first platforming area and moved the button so that when you face the intended exit, you can see what is happening.





I added stair-like platforms to the collapsing platform section because of a design decision: you cannot die just by falling in water. Therefore you need an alternate route. I might alter it further, because I have some ideas.



Added some foliage and trees at the last section, just to see how it would look.



Had a surprise tester play my game and had very good feedback to give. Navigation worked as I intended and hoped it would work, but:

- A tutorial of sorts needs to be implemented, because the tester had difficulty when trying to platform not because it was difficult but because the tester was "inept at run-jumping" (tester's own words, mind you)
- Need to have a crack at character movement, especially jumping.
- Maybe give a quest for each audio log interacted with? (Tester expected this, for some reason)
- Definitely seek out potentially beautiful vistas and make them way way more attractive.

So that's about it for this post. See ya on the next one, bye.   
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baftis
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« Reply #37 on: September 17, 2021, 06:30:41 AM »

DAY 21

Had some down time today so I managed to tinker around some stuff I had laying around from the UE marketplace. Stuff I had that was useful but didn't know I had. I'm a hoarder like that Smiley)

Be advised that these assets are all still placeholder assets. With this out of the way, here are some stills from the first platforming area:



Found a great waterfall asset that I want to reverse engineer. Once I figure out how to do it, I would like to add some stylized caustics to all the bodies of water as well. At first glance, it doesn't seem to be difficult: Make a plane that is bent 80-90 degrees or so at roughly one tenth of the length. The materials needed for this look like some strokes painted horizontally on a transparent-ish blue color, with a Panner added to fake movement. Seems easy enough.

As you can see, I've replaced the checkerboard pattern material with some stylized landscape material. I did not spent enough time tinkering on this, so it doesn't look pretty at all, but it's there. I have zero experience with landscape materials, so my guess is that it'll take a while until something noteworthy results from tinkering.

Regarding level design, I've spent some time considering adding areas that are strictly for exploration purposes and so I've started adding these areas.

 

This is a very rough idea of what I'm going to do, but it's a start. What's also a rough idea is whether or not I would leave the player wandering and find his own path as well as the intended path in and out of the exploration area. This would present the risks of skipping certain sections of the map and/or spending less time than the intended path would be.

One idea is to have the pure exploration areas interconnected with the intended level design path without being really able to progress further unless the player uses the "golden path". Either this or have a secondary "hidden" golden path towards the intended play area. These could both work, but surely this would come at a cost. I'll have to test which one would work best.

That's it for now, see you in the next post. Bye
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JobLeonard
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« Reply #38 on: September 19, 2021, 11:18:27 PM »

> Doors are fixed

> Update: doors are not fixed

Another day in the life of a game dev  Wink
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baftis
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« Reply #39 on: September 20, 2021, 02:08:23 PM »

> Doors are fixed

> Update: doors are not fixed

Another day in the life of a game dev  Wink

Glamorous, isn't it?
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