REFLECTIVE JOURNAL By Tom Griffiths

Week 1

Me and Shane shared some ideas about the general concept of the game including sound effects, interface and overall look of the game, our idea was to have the music speed up when an enemy is encountered to emphasise the rush and fast paced motion. This idea came to me through Skyrim where the music is a predominant part of certain scenes like combat and exploration. We have also discussed, researched and collected various pieces of sound and sound effects to use for different parts of our project . For example sound effects for things like ending the level, beginning a new level level, as well as enemy sounds such as attack sounds and dying sounds and also character sounds like attacking and dying, we have also worked on background music to make the game feel more intense and give it a more horror feel, we have discussed and collected uncopyrighted music that we will also use for the general game interface.

We have discussed the possibility of using snap cameras to introduce players quickly to new areas of the level, this mechanic is used to stick to the horror theme we have chosen where the character could get jump scared by an enemy once the camera snaps to a new level.

Week 2

Our original plan of having snap effects have now changed and we have decided instead to have a zoom in on the character to show the horror theme better by changing the camera boom to closer and the side few camera to a shorter width. Now we just need to stop the camera following the player when we jump and then we can work on the interface.

We just completed our PowerPoint pitch, in my opinion it went well and we definitely did not fail our pitch however I feel like nervousness caused me to repeat a lot of the things I said but lets hope it won't be used against me as I felt like overall we pitched our ideas well.

I have also started to add more of my own self created sprites to replace the standard ones that we had to use originally, my hope is that by Friday next week all the sprites will be replaced with my own ones.

Week 3

This week I have started transforming the enemy sprites into my own self created ones. First level of enemy sprites is done even though it took some time to originally figure out how to replace them from the blueprint class. I have took inspiration off enemy's from various games like Doom and Mario for my enemies but I think in the end my sprites have turned out unique and I am quite pleased with how they have turned out. Furthermore now I am slowly replacing all of the original sprites we were given with my own it seems to give my own unique touch to the game in general and makes it more immersive for me as instead of just having stock textures I have my own custom high detailed ones.

Week 4

This week I am mainly focusing on fixing all of the bugs in my level. I am having problems with clipping and the character keeps falling off the level.

Update: I have been fixing all my clipping bugs, I discovered that my level sprites were all offset on the Y axis so have brought them back all to 0 and as a result my character now sticks to the level. I have also been creating more sprites with Photoshop like a Medkit and metal blocks to replace the standard unreal ones in my game.

Week 5

Our second level so far

This week before Easter I am aiming to get level 1 and 2 fully completed along with all if not most of the bugs fixed. At the moment level 2 is plagued with clipping issues and the player keeps falling off the level near the end. After a team talk with Shane we have both decided on what we are going to do this week. As he is in charge of the game mechanics he is going to work on our checkpoint system and making the character do damage to the enemy bosses.

It was my idea to have an enemy boss at the end of each level so the player gets a real sense of completion after finishing the level along with a chance to drop a weapon. My team mate Shane said he is going to work on this and I will check up on his progress later in the week. I have also decided to start working on another character sprite where the character is holding a gun as so far when the player presses the space button, bullets seem to spawn from his chest and there is no explanation to why that is. So therefore adding a sidearm to the character makes sense. We also decided to add more weapons into the game to give the player an advantage over all the enemies they face during the level.

Originally we had the idea that the character would have a melee weapon to attack all the enemies with, but we have now decided to use a gun instead so the character can keep his distance if he wants too. Furthermore if the character should ever run out of ammo it adds an extra challenge to the game as the player must go scrounging for bullets.

Today on Thursday I have been further working on fixing the bugs and issues in my level, I had a deificult one where my character would fall through the level even if the objects were at y-0 and had collision se. I have fixed this by adding blocking volumes around. the objects.

Easter Holidays

In the first week I am mainly focusing my efforts on sprite sheets, as I want to add a physical gun to my sprite sheet aswell as make some small editions to the enemies on the level as I have been told that one of them looks similar to an enemy from the popular video game doom.

I have talked to my partner Shane and we both agreed that in my second week I should focus on completing my second level as at the moment it is incomplete and is riddled with clipping and barrier bugs.

Week 8

I have changed the bullet so that instead or blue and white flashing from the character, it is now red and black. I believe this goes in well with the horror aspect we are aiming for. Additionally although I did not intend this it has changed the bullets that the enemies fire aswell so that they now fire a different bullet but I have decided to leave this in as I believe it works well with our horror aspect as the colours red and black are dark colours and red is frequently associated with blood.

A picture of the new red bullet

Although I would say that our game work well and is very functional at the moment we still are encountering new bugs that we have to spend time to fix. For example lately we have noticed an annoying bug in our main menu where our character still spawns and is visible dropping as we progress through the menu. I have however thought of a way to fix this though and will test it out next time I get to work on my project. My idea was that maybe we could add a background over our main menu buttons to hide the character from view and set the background to a y of 1. Since the character is always set to a y of 0, then it should fix the problem, at least temporarily until me and Shane can figure out what is causing the character to spawn.

We have encountered issues with our sound on Thursday due to feedback from students yesterday. I am trying to import the sound files into Adobe Audition so that I can lower the sound and increase the quality of compression.

Week 9

This week I am aiming to get level 2 and 3 of our game completed. We have to submit our ..

games this month and I want to aim to get all our levels and bugs fixed by then. Today specifically my aim is to get all of level 2 complete as at the moment it is only half complete and is full of various glitches. Furthermore we are encountering an issue with our enemies. I have noticed this from the start of our game. The issue is with the movement. The enemies seem to move jaggedly and not smooth or fluidly moving at seemingly one frame at a time. Even though this is more of a mechanics issue I have decided to pay attention to it myself and sort it out so Shane can work more more on our sounds and main menu.

This is because we are still encountering issues with the character spawning in on our main menu and this needs to be fixed before we can improve our main menu.

Week 10

In my opinion our first level is now completely finished and I have decided to start focusing on our second. I have noticed that while it looks good and we have attached sounds of water dripping already to go with our sewer vibe I have one critical glitch and I do not know how to fix it. The problem is that the pipe I designed to suspend the lights on does not show up when running the game even though I've specifically put in in sight of the character in the level editor. When I run the game all I can see is the basic level outline and the lights suspended in the air, however nothing is holding them up. I have recognised that this is an overlap issue but I am confused on how to fix it. I have made sure that both the pipe and the character are set on y of 0 and this has still not fixed the issue.

I plan to ask my game design teachers about this next lesson issue to see if they can give me any insight to how I can fix this issue. Furthermore I am still not satisfied with our enemy movement and feel like it could be improved to look smoother and less juttery. Looking at my other colleges games I know this is possible with the engine so it is up my partner Shane to add these in and I will be asking him to add this in soon as currently he is working on adding maneuverability to the rat sprite in our second level.

So far I would say I am happy with our progress so far and I think we will have a full demo by the time our deadline is. However with our deadline fast approaching I feel like I am being inclined to rush through the work because I do not want an incomplete game and I feel like this could lead me to a rushed level but I will keep updating and try to include as much in my level as I originally intended too.

I have finally fixed the overlap glitch we were experiencing with our level. I asked my teachers and they linked me to a website in the unreal forums that contained the answer. I discovered that the sprite itself was set as translucent in unreal. And by changing the translucency sort priority in the sprite settings I could change the overlap over it so that it would be on top.

Week 11

I have started to direct my efforts towards our second and third level. This is because I feel like our first level is very well done and polished that I need to start redirecting my time towards adding new challenges and objects into our other two levels.

I have completely redesigned our second level to incorporate a drop and stretch it out so that it isn't over as quickly. To add an element of pace and swiftness I have also set up a boss enemy to chase you across the second level pelting you with projectiles.

Its has been suggested to me and Shane to add a tutorial level to our game, to help players learn the general layout and controls. However with only 2 weeks left till submission we have decided to scrap that idea and work on fine tuning our existing levels and make them more user friendly.

Fine tuning our level is going well, we have managed to fix all our second level glitches and I ahve decided to work on some main menu artwork so it adds some flavour to the menu.

Some of our new main menu artwork

Week 12

I have conducted an interview with my friend Sian who plays games on a regular basis and managed to get her to play my game. As well as using the interview to collect research on our demographic age I also used the opportunity to talk with her about our game and anything that needed refining. She told us that it was a very unique concept and that (thanks to Shane) it had some unique mechanics to a horror based sidescroller. This was good feedback to hear as it tells us early on that we are doing something in our game that the community likes. Additionally she also told us that we could try to improve our enemy movement as it is 'clunky and slow'. Taking this into account I have asked Shane to see if he can add anything into the game that will improve the movement to make it more smoother and fluid.

I myself am trying to add barriers and objects into our third - run and gun level. I want to make it challenging to the player but also give them time to take in surroundings so that it isn't over too quickly for them. So far we have only got three levels made. Because we have been devoting the majority of our time into giving players the best and less buggy experience rather than 10 levels but full of collision glitches and broken enemies. Therefore for the rest of this week I will be continuously play testing our three levels to make sure they are fully functioning and playable and I will be populating the third level with barriers and walkways to lengthen it out and give the player something else to look at aswell as a standard red background.

I've added some barriers to populate our third level. They also act as an obstacle for the player that he must jump over in order to escape his chasers.

I feel like so far the third level does still seem a bit empty even with the new barriers so with that in mind I am planning to possibly add another floor to it filled with things to catch the players eye along with a small scare at the end to go with our theme of horror.

I have now added another floor to the third level, extending it out and making it more of a challenge. While doing this I did encounter an issue as I had placed enemies on the second floor and they would keep hitting the end level flag. This would change the level back to level 1 without the player actually hitting the flag. To get round this I moved the enemies higher up on the floor so they would safely pass over the end level flag while tracking the player without advancing the level.

Doing this though opened up its own challenge as the enemies on the second floor have now turned invisible to the player but still shoot their visible red bullets which damage the player. I suspect that this may be something to do with the translucency setting once again but will investigate it further.

Half Term

I have been using this time to talk to my partner Shane and we have had several facebook calls talking through future plans with Shane. Unfortunately we both live far apart so meeting would be out of the question. So we have decided to use this time to talk over plans for our project. We've both been working individually on different parts of the game and will murge them together on the Monday after half term.

Additionally I have fixed our third level bug where the enemies were turning invisible. I had to set the background sprites translucency setting to 0 and set the enemies to 2. This seems to have fixed the issue and I am encountering no more problems.

Week 14

This is our final week on the project. Our hand in is this Wednesday and so me and Shane are using the time solely for bug fixing our level and getting everything to work perfectly for our half 12 hand in.

Over the course of the past 2 months me and Shane have been working on The Devil's Frustration, it was originally intended to be a 2D horror side scroller intended to test the player mentally and psychologically. However we discovered that if we focused less on the horror side we could put more time into the mechanics of the game itself and extending the Levels as we wouldn't have to be retexturing blocks and adding jumpscare mechanics. The result is a game that runs very smoothly with an instant reload on death system. We've constructed a game that is not only fun to play but also challenging enough to test the player throughout different levels and we've left the horror atmosphere in resulting in dark environments and blood red enemies.

It took us a few hours to think of a name for our game at first because we wanted something that would have significance and reflect through our game. At first we came up with the name 'Frustration'. This was because we wanted a game that would test the player and take them more than one attempt to complete. So naturally the name 'Frustration' would reflect upon the game by showing that it is indeed frustrating. However after deciding to use the horror genre for our game we decided we needed something a bit more sinister. 'The Devils Frustration' seemed to fit as it tells people from the name alone that this is a horror game. We wanted the enemies in our level to show this so I designed them to be red symbolising blood and called them 'Devils'.

The planning and research side of our game was increasingly more challenging than I initially thought aswell. And to this day I have still been collecting data for our project having recently designed a questionnaire to hand round and recorded an interview talking about my game with pro's and con's with one of my friends. At first I would say I expected the planning and research to be a lot easier but I think I appreciated the challenge in the end and enjoyed looking up games similar to mine and identifying the key features that made them work so I could take inspiration from them and move them over to my game. As the concept artist and level designer for our game when researching it was my job to look at a game and think 'oh I know why the level designer put that there' and what significance it has. Going off this in my game I designed specific areas so that they would reward the player for going off track an exploring, usually with a medkit to replenish all the health they had lost from encounters with the Devil enemies.

I designed the devils to be the ultimate enemy and with Shane's help we made that even more of a reality. I colored the devils to match the environments around them. So since the devils are red and black they would mold in with the first and third levels. Me and Shane discussed the Devils in great detail before we designed them but the hardest thing to agree of was probably the attack mechanic of them. We couldn't figure out whether they should act as a ranged enemy of a melee enemy. In my opinion the ranged version was very hard to get past as they would keep peppering you with bullets slowly bringing down your health and Shane thought the melee version was too easy as the character could simply jump over them to avoid them. In the end we decided to honor the namesake of our game and fuse the two together resulting in a much more frustrating outcome. The end result was a formidable enemy that while you could jump over you had to get up high top avoid his ranged pellets that he would fire out of his mouth.

As a concept artist and level designer I needed the levels to be dark and gloomy and show off our horror setting. I also wanted at least one of them to show off a slightly satanic scenario too. I designed 3 levels to the game and tried to populate each one with objects relevant to the scene of the level. For example Level 1 was a dark grim setting so I added a bat sprite to it to set the scene as bats have a sinister feel and they live in dark enviroments. Level 2 was set in a sewer pipe so I included some green liquid in a pool on the floor to reflect the kind of rotting gunk that you would expect to find in sewers. In my opinion level 3 was the hardest to decide what to do on. I initially created only 2 levels but I'd always wanted to have 3 so I was confused what to add. With only 2 weeks till our handin I decided the best course of action would be to check with Shane to see if there was anything he specifically wanted our third level to be about. In the end we both agreed to use level 3 as a classic run and gun level. With the player running away from multiple Devils chasing them and having to survive the whole way while picking up up multiple health kits along the way.

In conclusion I'm very happy with how our project has gone, me and Shane maintained a got level of communication all the way through and would always check with each other before adding anything new to the project. We've had our fair share of challenges and set backs but always managed to get past them. One of our worst ones was the sprite translucency issue where the sprite would turn invisible while ingame but show in the editor. But in the end we managed to figure out what the issue was by researching and looking through the unreal forums and when the issue came up again we knew instantly how to fix it. I am very happy with Shane's contribution with the mechanics and sounds for the project and if the opportunity arose again I would definitely work with him again.

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