Posts Tagged ‘unreal engine’

[Almost] One Room Post-mortem – Part 2

Posted by
Thursday, December 22nd, 2016 6:21 pm

On the first part I wrote about how it was the birth of the idea. Today I want to talk about execution and learning, because if you remember correctly, the main idea was to learn Unreal Engine 4.

The starting point was to let the player find a number combination for a door. Every number will be in a copy of the same room, but every room will be lightly different.

We started thinking how to hide the numbers and we wanted to go beyond the easy way of hiding behind the furniture. We wanted the player to think out of the box, and our main fear was to make puzzles too hard to be guessed. With the time restrictions of a jam the harder part is to balance a game, and to balance something as subjective as a puzzle difficulty is only doable if you can make people play it, we hadn’t people.

The first thing we did was to draw a generic room layout with 4 doors, one on every wall but not in the center. Rooms in real life don’t usually have the door in the center, it wastes too much space and from a gameplay perspective, it will limit what you can place there and may compromise room walkability.


On the other hand I’ve started “coding”. For those who have not worked yet with Unreal Engine 4, it has a visual programming system called blueprints. In the editor you create logic by connection boxes; for example, you have the “branch” node, it receives a boolean expression and it has 2 outputs, one for true and the other one for false evaluation, the flow of the code will go from one output or another depending on the result of the expression, exactly like an if-else statement on traditional programming.

The first thing I coded was the num picker the player will use to put the numbers of the combination. The idea is simple, you will have a collision box to know when the player is next to the picker and everytime the player hits the mouse left button, we will increase the number up to 9, then, it will go to 0. Also, we will need various of these number pickers because the combination will have 5 numbers and every picker lets the player to select 1 number from 0 to 9. To be able to reuse this asset we will create a Blueprint Class, something like a object oriented class that groups code and other assets. In our number picker blueprint class we will have a box mesh, a UI text widget, the collision box and the code. We will be able to instantiate as many as we need and we will be able to access its public local variables to interact with them in the level blueprint.


Honestly, I’ve been coding for more tan 15 years and the mental switch you need to do to work with blueprints it’s remarkable. Not in terms of difficulty, in the end it’s logic flow and it does not matter if it’s a box or a code block, but more in terms of how do you have to do the flow. It’s hard to describe to me, because it’s not something specific. For example, for the num picker you need to increment an internal integer that stores the number on the picker, something that for me was a single line of code ( this.number = (this.number+1)%9 ) transforms in some nodes: a getter to get the value, next increase the number, then get the module and finally store it in the same variable. It can be done in less steps with a Math Expression Node, but it’s an example. What I’m trying to explain is that even when you know how to code the learning curve of the Engine, specially learning where do you have to go in the editor because it’s full of buttons and windows and tabs.

Back to puzzle design, we decided that we will need to teach the player that he needs to find numbers. That’s why we locked all the doors in the initial white room and put a first codelock there. Also this first puzzle is the easiest one, a giant black 35 in the ceiling, only partially hidden due to it’s like an humidity stain. Locking the player also gives us the moment of surprise when he opens the doors and finds the same room over and over again.


Once Carlos told me how the basics of blueprints and the event system I started to prepare the door unlock code. Meanwhile Carlos was working in the assets we will need, the furniture, doors, etcetera. We needed functional and easy to create assets and whats more generic, easy and reusable furniture in the world? Disclaimer, no brand or company funded the creation of our game. IKEA of course! :V

We relied in UE4 vertex painting tint every room, we used a material with a color parameter in some assets, giving us an incredible power to get all the rooms done with a minor impact in performance and a huge time saving. The only texture applied to the assets was a baked ambient occlusion to give them the correct shading.

Finally to create the puzzles we used different techniques. For the distance one is a simple material that changes the opacity depending on the distance from the camera. Something similar happened with the reflection, we have a copy of the same room below and the floor uses a material that changes the opacity in this case with a Fresnel function. We wanted that the details that changes in every room helps the player to find the clue. For example in the light one there is a second lamp, no other room has it, the green room is the only one where the statue is different.

And it’s all, we wanted to do more content, but I’m happy because we marked us a minimum product and we delivered it as we imagined it, but the process was good enough that if we had more time, more content would be done fast, spending again the major part of the time designing new puzzles.

Many thanks for reading, please play the game, rate us and please comment, we need your feedback!

[Almost] One Room Post-mortem – Part 1

Posted by
Monday, December 19th, 2016 6:16 pm

Ludum Dare #36 was very special to me. I was on my town, at 1400m above the sea, with barely no connection to the Internet (only a weak WiFi signal from the town hall, no mobile access). I was alone, and I wanted to use the jam a perfect moment to learn Unity3D. I spent the days before the event day to watch some videos and I was able to complete a little but full game.

By creating [Almost] One Room for this one I wanted to repeat in the sense of learning. But this time I was not alone, I joined forces with Carlos Coronado (@carlosgamedev); he’s the creator of Mind: Path to Thalamus and an unnoficial Unreal Engine evangelist. He is also a friend of mine and one of my clients. Some years ago a guy of barely 16 years came to the gamedev forum I had and asked for a project to join and learn, we made a barricade system for L4D. Now this time it’s me who is asking him for help.

The idea was simple, I’ll “code” (with blueprints) and Carlos will do the art and will show me the basics of the engine and will aid me every time I get stuck and ¡spoiler alert!, it was often.

In fact we have not opened UE4 until the afternoon because Carlos was late and I spent the whole morning taking notes on paper about ideas with the theme in mind. When Carlos arrived I presented the best idea I had and we wanted to spend as much time as we can in the design stage.

We wanted to make a puzzle game playing with the idea of a room escape. For me it’s very important to find a twist to the Ludum theme, to go further than the obvious choice and that’s why I did not want to make a game with a single room. I played with ideas like turning the words, “What’s behind Room One?” or “You’re the room”, tried to think in a twist in the “CounterStrike rats map” making the players not humanoids. Finally we found something in the Room Escape idea that we liked, only one room, but many times.

The initial idea was to be locked in a room like a normal room escape but once you opened the first door you will find the same room again. From this point we started to think how you will need to open the doors, from lockpicks with mini-games to find-the-pieces ones, but it was hard to find something really fun, or something that the player cannot solve by trial and error. And more important, something we can achieve in the given timeframe.

At some point we though we nailed it, the room will be “the same” but in different timelines, past, present and future, and you had to change things in a time to affect the others and unlock the exit door. It was great, but it was impossible to find something readable enough to be solvable and not frustrating.

Time was running out and finally we went back to the beginning and started again to think. Then we decided to follow the KISS principle and we decided to make a simple puzzle game: Find the combination of the exit door. The twist? That the number will be hidden in the room, one number per room on different versions of the same room.

We then started to design how to hide numbers, but I will write about it in the second part 😉

Finaly we did it!

Posted by
Monday, August 29th, 2016 1:26 pm

15 hours before the end of the Jam, we decided to participate: Tom Avatars and me.

This great theme make us want to do something experimental…

…I think we got something! X’-D



Finally some visible progress

Posted by
Saturday, April 16th, 2016 12:58 pm

First Ludum Dare day almost ended, but we’re happy with the results we got so far. Here are some concepts and screenshots from us. Enjoy. :)

Prototyping the level based on concepts:

Fireline Games - Prototyping Levels - LD35
Fireline Games - Prototyping Levels - LD35












We also did a quick study on how we should place rocks and trees so that they look natural:

Fireline Games - Prototyping Levels - LD35

And last but not least, our main character, fully textured and rigged ready to kick some ass in the game:

Fireline Games - LD35 Character

Continuing My LD:34 Compo Entry

Posted by
Saturday, January 2nd, 2016 1:28 pm

So this was my very first game jam, and while I really enjoyed the accelerated development period, there was a lot I wanted to clean up or add to the game “Safe or Sorry” ( ). So now that it’s over I’ve decided to do just that. It was nice to watch “let’s plays” of my game and streams. It showed me a lot of areas where there were things I needed to fix. So far my fix list includes:

  • A redesign of the games monster
  • Smoothed monster’s movement
  • Fixed bug with monster’s vision not being consistent
  • Fixed scoring issues so hiding is not beneficial
  • Cleaned up levels, added some details like skirting boards
  • Fixed game end screens
  • Fixed hit box for the buttons so they are easier to hit.

Below are screens showing the games monster before and after the redesign. On the left is the original on the right is the new one.

Front View

Side View

Rear View

If you are interested in following my development as I turn this into a real game you can follow me @JimmothySanchez. Thanks for reading!

Respawn Crash fixed in Solar Gun

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015 1:41 pm


Move the location of the player when you touch the darkness to the respawn points was crashing the game with the first versión. We fixed the problem, and we hope you enjoy a great experience.

We are working in more maps, and mechanics a round the Solar Gun to the steam versión.

You can find our game here, thanks!

Finally here’s SolarGun

Monday, April 20th, 2015 8:23 pm

I had no intention of participating in this #LudumDare. But when I woke up on Saturday with this idea. I said I have to do it!


The story is:

You have just arrived to Weird Gun Store. Despite the haste, in truth there´s no weapon left to choose. Really.

Disappointed and shocked, you ask the shopkeeper how is that possible if you are V.I.P. there.
He tells you as an excuse that many customers appeared and took them because of “Ludum Dare #32 challenge” taking place this weekend.
He was dazzled with hundred of visits of programmers, game designers, martians and half-gods.

However, luck is on your side, because this awesome shopkeeper lends you an unusual weapon to face this Ludum Dare and your daily mindblows.
You have the chance to test an experimental weapon. Solar Gun, they call.

With such a cool name you can´t say no to this unique opportunity. Actually, you needed it before you even know this marvel/– existed.
To use it you need a license (duh! what were you thinking of?). Then you should go to the special lab facilities at Solar Factory.
Once there, a new and completely different adventure with your shiny-brand-new-super-cool weapon will begin and test your skills.
And you will wonder… is it worth it, downloading this 136MB?
I will answer to your silly question, mortal… Could you keep living your normal life without doing this… and not knowing Solar Gun?

Lets Go! And enjoy the game! Ty!

Tetris with guns (name pending) status update

Posted by (twitter: @antti_tiihonen)
Saturday, April 18th, 2015 2:33 pm

Alright, the bare functionality of what makes this game the game it is, is starting to be complete!

There’s enemies, which shuffle your blocks around if they manage to land, and you can combat against them by placing your blocks which will then shoot to all cardinal directions. This creates an interesting balancing act between trying to find the right place for the block to create neat rows and combating against the ever-increasing enemy menace. Btw, the math of speeding up the enemy spawn is still a little off making the difficulty ramp up very very suddenly at one point, causing the enemy onslaught to look like a stream of blood with these placeholder graphics 😀

Anyways, I’m about to get some sleep soon. Tomorrow it’s the time for graphics, sounds and gameplay polish! And voting too since we’re having an election day here in Finland – I won’t stop LD from performing my duties. :)

– Post Mortem-
1. Theme
At first when I heard the theme, I was less than excited. But after some thought and debate with myself, I started to really like the theme and I knew right away that i did not want to create a space game, or a game that relied on characters with switchable worlds, or had multiple worlds that you could interact with at the same time. I wanted to create a game where you had to take some lovable rects and help them back to their own world or be selfish and go yourself and by doing so maybe teach you something about yourself.

2. What went right
 I created an entire game in 48 hours. Complete with graphics, music, sound fx, levels, game-play, and even morality choice.

3. What went wrong
Pretty much everything. Dial-up internet, that speaks for itself, i almost missed the submission time-frame because of dial-up. I failed in the designing stage, the game I made did not resemble in any way to what i had designed on paper. At first I started with a 2d plat-former, by the end of a few hour long rampage of making the 2d game mechanics and art I realized it’d be better as a 3D plat-former. I had created mechanics and the art assets for a game I was never going to keep or finish, so I delete it all ! Big mistake, in retrospect i could and should have kept the art and tried to reuse them but i didn’t. I failed at creating a HTML5 port, mostly due to me never trying to build a UE4’s HTML5 project before and the UE4 HTML5 tool-chain being super finicky and really un-intuitive. Next LD I will have a proper build process for HTML5 ports before hand as well as offering support for Linux and OS/X platforms.

4. Conclusion
Having proper design choices before development is key. Also having and knowing your tools for ports is highly important. Better than dial-up net, i should have taken my laptop to the local free wifi and uploaded it there. But regardless im getting better than dialup soon. In the end I don’t think I could have squeezed out much more efficiency in my work. Focusing that efficiency on the other hand was a huge problem. My development style was so erratic, i went from making music and mechanics to sound fx to art back to music back to mechanics to level design, and so on and so forth, but in the end I am happy with what I made and to me that makes me a winner of LD48.


-The Red, Gre²n, and Blu Explanation-

The game is about racism, segregation, and self-image. Where you and these lovable rects come from & Where you and they are going in this all connected world. Red, Gre²n, and Blu all come from different worlds but you the player are a mix of  Red, Gre²n, and Blu, but somewhere along the way you lost your color, that thing that makes you, you; your self image. You are told that by helping these lovable rects to get back to their own world, that would some how help you get your color back. During the game you are either desperately trying to use the others as stepping stones to see their worlds, or helping them get back to their own world. All to reclaim your lost color. No matter what you do or how you do it in the game, at some point you need the help from the lovable rects.

Yep, you read that right AffixIt is about race, segregation, and self-image. not sure if it is really clear within the game but if you read this and have played AffixIt, now you know what I was aiming for and if you haven’t played it go check it out before you read the rest of this.

The game heavily relies on the fact the player is given a choice, either travel yourself, or put one of the lovable rects through the colored world portals. No matter your choice in the game all the portals lead to the same place at the end, where you can reflect on what you did, maybe in every level you helped only one color to their colored portal, maybe you tried to help one color per level, maybe you said screw these rects, im gonna invade their worlds. Maybe you noticed it didn’t matter their color and that any one of them could travel to any other colors world. Maybe you didn’t do any of those. No matter what you did or how you did it, all of our worlds are interconnected, it doesn’t matter where you come from. We all need help at some point from others to accomplish things. You cant do everything on your own. In the end we all end up in the same place. Maybe my game helped you realize something about yourself, maybe you thought it was pretentious, and to some extent it probably is.

Working title: Hexapotato

Posted by
Sunday, August 24th, 2014 11:28 pm

Yo! Who needs sleep anyway? Here’s a doctored screenshot and a progress video of the transdimensional wipeout-style racer I am working on with my dear Irish friend Scott:

Totally not a doctored screenshot.

Totally not a doctored screenshot.

Here’s the Video of today’s progress

pick ONE

Posted by
Saturday, December 14th, 2013 5:13 am

everything will be explained in 2 days and 13 hours time


so it begins

Posted by
Friday, December 13th, 2013 8:36 pm

test Highres_Screenshot_00000 Highres_Screenshot_00002

i might be over reaching my self here

i might be over reaching my self here

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